Cover for No Agenda Show 613: Carbon Overload
May 1st, 2014 • 2h 31m

613: Carbon Overload


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

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Presidential Proclamation -- National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, 2014
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:04
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2014
- - - - - - -
Sports keep children healthy, teach them to work as part of a team, and help them develop the discipline to achieve their goals. During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we encourage America's sons and daughters to get active and challenge everyone to join the movement for a happier, fitter Nation.
For 4 years, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative has worked with community and faith leaders, educators, health care professionals, and businesses to give our children a healthy start and empower schools to build active environments. My Administration launched the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, replacing the old Physical Fitness Test to put a stronger emphasis on students' health. We also created the new Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, which encourages all Americans to commit to eating right and getting regular exercise. Because everyone should have the chance to get active, the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition is expanding I Can Do It, You Can Do It! -- a program that creates more opportunities for Americans with disabilities to participate in fitness and sports. For more information or to learn how you can get involved, visit and
By leading more active lifestyles, we can invest in our futures and encourage our children to do the same. This month, let us champion fitness to our family, friends, and colleagues. Let us give young people the chance to find a sport or physical activity they love, boost their energy and confidence, and reach their fullest potential.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2014 as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. I call upon the people of the United States to make daily physical activity, sports participation, and good nutrition a priority in their lives.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thisthirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Presidential Proclamation -- Jewish American Heritage Month, 2014
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:04
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2014
- - - - - - -
For thousands of years, the Jewish people have sustained their identity and traditions, persevering in the face of persecution. Through generations of enslavement and years of wandering, through forced segregation and the horrors of the Holocaust, they have maintained their holy covenant and lived according to the Torah. Their pursuit of freedom brought multitudes to our shores, and today our country is the proud home to millions of Jewish Americans. This month, let us honor their tremendous contributions -- as scientists and artists, as activists and entrepreneurs. And let all of us find inspiration in a story that speaks to the universal human experience, with all of its suffering and all of its salvation.
This history led many Jewish Americans to find common cause with the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans and Jewish Americans marched side-by-side in Selma and Montgomery. They boarded buses for Freedom Rides together, united in their support of liberty and human dignity. These causes remain just as urgent today. Jewish communities continue to confront anti-Semitism -- both around the world and, as tragic events mere weeks ago in Kansas reminded us, here in the United States. Following in the footsteps of Jewish civil rights leaders, we must come together across all faiths, reject ignorance and intolerance, and root out hatred wherever it exists.
In celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month, we also renew our unbreakable bond with the nation of Israel. It is a bond that transcends politics, a partnership built on mutual interests and shared ideals. Our two countries are enriched by diversity and faith, fueled by innovation, and ruled not only by men and women, but also by laws. As we continue working in concert to build a safer, more prosperous, more tolerant world, may our friendship only deepen in the years to come.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2014 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit to learn more about the heritage and contributions of Jewish Americans and to observe this month, the theme of which is healing the world, with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Foster Care Month, 2014
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:56
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2014
Every child deserves to grow, learn, and dream in a supportive and loving environment. During National Foster Care Month, we recognize the almost 400,000 young people in foster care and the foster parents and dedicated professionals who are in their lives. We also rededicate every child a sense of stability and a safe place to call home.
While the number of young people in foster care has fallen, those still there face many challenges, including finding mentors to guide their transition into adulthood and getting the support to make that transition a success. One third of foster children are teenagers, in danger of aging out of a system that failed to find them a permanent family.
Across our Nation, ordinary Americans are answering the call to open their hearts and homes to foster children. From social workers and teachers to family members and friends, countless individuals are doing their part to help these striving young people realize their full potential. My Administration remains committed to doing our part. This year, the Affordable Care Act will extend Medicaid coverage up to age 26 for children who have aged out of foster care, allowing them to more easily access quality, affordable health coverage. We are working to break down barriers so every qualified caregiver can become an adoptive or foster parent. Additionally, in the past year, we awarded grants to States, tribes, and local organizations to give communities new strategies to help foster children, including methods for finding permanent families, preventing long-term homelessness of young people aging out of foster care, and supporting their behavioral and mental health needs.
This month, and all year long, let us all recognize that each of us has a part to play in ensuring America's foster children achieve their full potential. Together, we can reach the day where every child has a safe, loving, and permanent home.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2014 as National Foster Care Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by taking time to help youth in foster care and recognizing the commitment of all who touch their lives.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Building Safety Month, 2014
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:56
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2014
America's buildings do more than house people and goods. They embody innovation; inspire creativity; and provide foundations for families, businesses, and communities. During National Building Safety Month, we celebrate the dedicated professionals who keep our buildings secure, and we recommit to maintaining resilient, energy-efficient infrastructure.
Because this is not a task for government alone, my Administration has fostered partnerships between the public and private sectors. Joining with building officials, design professionals, scientists, and engineers, we continually develop new guidance and tools for increasing disaster-resistance and meeting building standards. For additional information and resources explaining simple steps people can take to better prepare their homes or businesses for a disaster, visit
As Americans, our spirit is strong and resilient, and our buildings should match that spirit. From our homes to our high-rises, our museums to our malls, let us work to keep structures sound and up to code. By doing so, we can conserve energy, protect the environment, and help communities withstand the impacts of natural disasters and climate change.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2014 as National Building Safety Month. I encourage citizens, government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and other interested groups to join in activities that raise awareness about building safety. I also call on all Americans to learn more about how they can contribute to building safety at home and in their communities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Presidential Proclamation -- Older Americans Month, 2014
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:07
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2014
Older Americans have fortified our country and shaped our world. They have made groundbreaking discoveries, pioneered new industries, led our Nation's businesses, and advanced our unending journey toward a more perfect Union. They have raised strong families and strengthened communities. And with unwavering courage and patriotism, many rose in defense of the land we love. This month, we celebrate the remarkable contributions and sacrifices of our elders, and we offer our renewed gratitude and support.
With decades of experience and unyielding enthusiasm, seniors continue to lift up our neighborhoods, offer perspective on pressing challenges, and serve as role models to our next generation -- proving Americans never stop making a difference or giving back. I encourage older Americans to learn about service opportunities in their area by visiting
My Administration stands with older Americans as they make their mark, which is why we are fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. Through the Affordable Care Act, we lowered prescription drug costs, prohibited insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and enabled seniors to receive recommended preventive health care at no out-of-pocket cost.
As vital members of our communities, seniors deserve the resources and information to stay healthy and safe. This year's Older Americans Month theme, "Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow," raises awareness about injury prevention. To take control of their safety, seniors can talk to their health care provider about the best physical activities for them, make sure their homes have ample lighting, and install handrails wherever they are helpful -- particularly near stairs and in bathrooms.
During Older Americans Month, we pay tribute to our parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, and every senior near to our hearts. We strive to build a bright future on the strong foundation they have laid.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2014 as Older Americans Month. I call upon all Americans of all ages to acknowledge the contributions of older Americans during this month and throughout the year.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Senior Corps | Corporation for National and Community Service
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:08
Senior Corps connects today's 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most. We help them become mentors, coaches or companions to people in need, or contribute their job skills and expertise to community projects and organizations. Volunteers receive guidance and training so they can make a contribution that suits their talents, interests, and availability.
Conceived during John F. Kennedy's presidency, Senior Corps currently links more than 360,000 Americans to service opportunities. Their contributions of skills, knowledge, and experience make a real difference to individuals, nonprofits, and faith-based and other community organizations throughout the United States.
Codebabes email
In the morning,
Long time boner, first time, umm... potential business offer. If you Google the domain from which I am sending you this email, you will see immediately why the Curry-Dvorak consulting group is uniquely qualified to help us in our endeavor. The media has gone hog-wild with our little website, and we need to start controlling the message. We could use your assistance in starting/controlling the propagation of a profitable narrative.
We're not sure if this is something that you would be interested in, but if so, please reply, your confidentiality is assured.
Thank you for your courage,
The most hated website on the internet this week.
A couple of boobs.
F-Russia / Ukraine
Contain China
Slow or Stop the Eurasian integration process
Syria = pipeline from Qatar vs Iran-Iraq
Timing with Pipeline cut off through Ukraine
Chiner$ support Russia
China-US-Russia: Chinese National TV published the following report on its web site. "The Chinese government has been maintaining close contact with all sides in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. But in some of its strongest words yet on the Ukrainian crisis, China's Foreign Ministry has criticized this latest imposition of sanctions by the US on Russia."
"'Imposing sanctions is not helpful in terms of solving the problem. It will only exacerbate the tension. We call for all parties to continue dialogue and negotiation, and promote a political solution. Imposing sanctions goes against the interests of all parties,' said Qin Gang, Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry."
Putin, Lukashenko and Nazarbayev Hold Eurasian Council Summit in Minsk | nsnbc international
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:08
nsnbc : Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev arrived, today, in Belarus to participate in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Council, hosted by the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. The agenda of the summit includes talks about progress made in the work on the draft Eurasian Union Treaty and the implementation of the roadmap on Armenia's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union.
The summit discussed the accession of Armenia into the union.
Speaking at a press conference at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in the capital of Belarus, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said that there are a number of outstanding issues about the establishment of the EEC, but that the three countries can further explore them and find compromises. Putin stressed that a lot of work had been done already, saying that the union is the most advanced integration project in the post-Soviet region. Putin underlined that the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is functional already and that it yields real and tangible benefits. He added:
''We see the results in the economic performance of our countries. This, is absolutely obvious. '... But we can take one more of the steps (which we have agreed on), one further step to deepen our cooperation, to advance our cooperation to a higher level''.
Putin praised the progress which the three countries governmental experts had made with regard to drafting the treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union. Referring to the 600-page draft document Putin said:
''This will allow us to improve the competitiveness of our economies, make the more efficient and attract both domestic and foreign investment. The huge market of 170 million people, which we have created, can acquire an entirely new quality, become attractive, more effective and more meaningful''.
Putin acknowledged that there are some remaining issues which have not been solved on an expert level and added that this is why the three heads of state have gathered in Minsk for the summit of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev told reporters that remaining disagreements about the European Economic Union are resolvable, that there is no need to rush things. Addressing the progress made, also with regard to Armenia's accession, Nazarbayev said:
''I don't think that we should rush the matter. There is, however, a possibility to meet the deadline and address all the issues. We can come to an agreement. '... We are nearing the signing of the document, and I agree with what Alexander Lukashenko has said, that we have covered the bigger part of this way. '... In his words, the experts worked hard and today other partners show interest in this union. ... I agree they should do all the same things we talked about from the very beginning. We respect these wishes of the countries and it is clear that our union appeals to them''.
The host of the summit in Minsk, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, said that the integration of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia should not be turned into a process for the sake of the process, and that the efficiency of the union will depend on its attractiveness for other states. Lukashenko said:
''The union itself should acquire greater integrity from its expansion. '... No one is pushing us. We set are setting our own schedules. But, I think that we should not turn it into a process for the sake of the process itself''.
Lukashenko suggested that the admission of new members could be based on a package principle, providing no special conditions or statuses. He said:
''I believe it will be fair, first of all with respect to our countries that implemented every stage of this integration process in full''.
Today's summit has been held against the backdrop of a deepening crisis in Ukraine, growing security challenges in the region and western sanctions against Russia. Economic analysts consider greater Eurasian integration as prudent, considering the increasing propensity toward the collapse of the Bretton Woods monetary systems.
Ch/L '' nsnbc 29.04.2014
Ukraine crisis strengthens China's partnership with Russia½'Politics½'News½'
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:32
A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-35 fighter. (Internet photo)
The crisis in Ukraine has strengthened Russia's strategic partnership with China, says Vassily Kashin from the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, according to Vedomosti, a Russian-language business daily.
China is currently the only nation on the UN Security Council to retain cordial relations with Russia after the latter moved its troops into Crimea, said Kashin. Even if the United States and other NATO countries do not impose sanctions against Russia, it will be very difficult for Moscow to continue normal economic relations with Western countries.
As Japan may become the only nation of the Group of Eight which will still seek cooperation with Russia, China's position as one of Russia's only trusted allies can be strengthened. Russia will seek to speed up its negotiations with China regarding both military and economic cooperation pacts, Kashin said, specifically suggesting that Moscow should sign contracts on the provision of natural gas and the sale of the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter to China before President Vladimir Putin embarks on a visit to Beijing in May.
To demonstrate Russia's sincerity towards China, Kashin believes that the advanced Su-35 fighters may be turned over to China earlier than expected. Russia may also launch more joint military exercises and even expand its military relationship with China, according to Kashin, who told Vedomosti that China may become the only beneficiary of the Ukraine crisis.
Ukraine-China economic, military ties have great potential -
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:32
Ukraine and China have seen their bilateral relations and cooperation continuously strengthened and enhanced in recent years, especially in the economic and military areas.
Trade relations between Ukraine and China have developed smoothly and entered a new era in the past three years, according to Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Zhang Xiyun.
The two-way trade reached 9.8 billion U.S. dollars last year, a 40-fold increase since the two nations established diplomatic ties in 1992.
Ukraine is now China's second-largest trade partner in the Commonwealth of Independent States, while China is Ukraine's biggest in Asia.
The two countries aim to see bilateral trade reach 20 billion dollars in the near future, and to that end they have recently agreed at the working level on a program of deepening their strategic partnership during 2013-2017.
According to the document, the military-technical sector, energy, agriculture, road construction and modernization of sea ports are the major cooperation areas to be enriched and developed.
The program also envisages easier entry for Chinese tourists to Ukraine and enhanced communication between the two peoples.
Ukraine intends to attract more visitors from China, including international students and tourists, while China is becoming an increasingly popular tourism destination for the Ukrainians due to its attractive tourism resources, hospitable people and reasonable prices.
According to the Ukrainian State Statistics Service, more than 37,000 Ukrainians visited China in the past two years, up 31 percent from the 2009-2010 period.
During a recent visit of Chinese Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang, the two sides agreed to further enhance bilateral ties and cooperation in various fields.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych highly appreciated Xu's visit, hoping it would inject new impetus into the development of the bilateral ties.
Yanukovych said his country has taken a strategic and long-term view on developing relations and cooperation with Beijing in various fields, including the military one.
Ukrainian officials said the two nations have signed 200 contracts in the military-technical area since 1992, which contributed to the building of trust at a high level.
Ukraine regards China as one of its main partners in the fields of military and military-technical cooperation, and is willing to strengthen their ties in these promising areas.
The milestones of military cooperation between the two countries are joint training exercises with the Chinese Navy, visits by Chinese military officials to Ukrainian centers of international peacekeeping activities, cooperation in the field of military aviation, and joint efforts to combat piracy and terrorism.
Jack Lew
GE & Siemens / Germany email from Sam
Moving on, I just heard your analtainment on the silkroad and a the possible economic rubblization of Germany and after hearing some stories on German public radio, something clicked. I'm not sure if this is being covered on the US side but zee Tchermans are gettin all wet about it.
Apparently GE had the aquisition of Alstom(makers of the TGV) in the bag, until Hollande came out of left field and halted the deal. [VIDEO] That gave Siemens the chance to make a counter offer. The interesting part is, that the Siemens offer to buy Alstom included a promise to halt production of the German fasttrain ICE in favor of the production of the TGV. Siemens supposedly made the concession in order to get their hands on the energy branch of Alstom's business.
If the sectoral sanctions against Russia could influence the 'new silkroad' train system, then the failed deal with GE would be another reason for the US to 'fuck the EU'.
Why is Putin in Washington's Crosshairs?
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:12
By Mike WhitneyWashington wants to weaken Moscow economically by slashing its gas revenues and, thus, eroding its ability to defend itself or its interests. The US does not want an economically-integrated Europe and Asia. The de facto EU-Russian alliance is a direct threat to US global hegemony.''
April 29, 2014 "ICH" - "CP" - US provocations in Ukraine cannot be understood apart from Washington's ''Pivot to Asia'', which is the broader strategic plan to shift attention from the Middle East to Asia. The so called ''re-balancing'' is actually a blueprint for controlling China's growth in a way that is compatible with US hegemonic ambitions. There are different schools of thought about how this can be achieved, but loosely speaking they fall into two categories, ''dragon slayers'' and ''panda huggers''. Dragon slayers favor a strategy of containment while panda huggers favor engagement. As yet, the final shape of the policy has not been decided, but it's clear from hostilities in the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands, that the plan will depend heavily on military force.
So what does controlling China have to do with the dust up in Ukraine?
Everything. Washington sees Russia as a growing threat to its plans for regional dominance. The problem is, Moscow has only gotten stronger as it has expanded its network of oil and gas pipelines across Central Asia into Europe. That's why Washington has decided to use Ukraine is a staging ground for an attack on Russia, because a strong Russia that's economically integrated with Europe is a threat to US hegemony. Washington wants a weak Russia that won't challenge US presence in Central Asia or its plan to control vital energy resources.
Currently, Russia provides about 30 percent of Western and Central Europe's natural gas, 60 percent of which transits Ukraine. People and businesses in Europe depend on Russian gas to heat their homes and run their machinery. The trading relationship between the EU and Russia is mutually-beneficial strengthening both buyer and seller alike. The US gains nothing from the EU-Russia partnership, which is why Washington wants to block Moscow's access to critical markets. This form of commercial sabotage is an act of war.
At one time, the representatives of big oil, thought they could compete with Moscow by building alternate (pipeline) systems that would meet the EU's prodigious demand for natural gas. But the plan failed, so Washington has moved on to Plan B; cutting off the flow of gas from Russia to the EU. By interposing itself between the two trading partners, the US hopes to oversee the future distribution of energy supplies and control economic growth on two continents.
The problem Obama and Co. are going to have, is trying to convince people in the EU that their interests are actually being served by paying twice as much to heat their homes in 2015 as they did in 2014, which is the way things are going to shake out if the US plan succeeds. In order to accomplish that feat, the US is making every effort to lure Putin into a confrontation so the media can denounce him as a vicious aggressor and a threat to European security. Demonizing Putin will provide the necessary justification for stopping the flow of gas from Russia to the EU, which will further weaken the Russian economy while providing new opportunities for NATO to establish forward-operating bases on Russia's Western perimeter.
It makes no difference to Obama whether people are gouged on gas prices or simply freeze to death in the cold. What matters is the ''pivot'' to the world's most promising and prosperous markets of the next century. What matters is crushing Moscow by slashing gas revenues thus eroding its ability to defend itself or its interests. What matters is global hegemony and world domination. That's what really counts. Everyone knows this. To follow the daily incidents in Ukraine as though they could be separated from the big picture is ridiculous. They're all part of the same sick strategy. Here's a clip from former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in Foreign Affairs explaining how''as far as Washington is concerned''it makes no sense to have separate policies for Europe and Asia:
''With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and historical legacy.'' (''The danger of war in Asia'', World Socialist Web Site)
It's all about the pivot to Asia and the future of the empire. This is why the CIA and the US State Department engineered a coup to oust Ukrainian president Viktor Yonuchovych and replace him with a US-stooge who would do Obama's bidding. This is why the imposter prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has ordered two ''anti-terror: crackdowns on unarmed activists in East Ukraine who oppose the Kiev junta. This is why the Obama administration has avoided engaging Putin in constructive dialog aimed at finding on a peaceful solution to the present crisis. It's because Obama wants to draw the Kremlin into a protracted civil war that will weaken Russia, discredit Putin, and shift public opinion to the side of the US and NATO. Why would Washington veer from a policy that clearly achieves what it's supposed to achieve? It won't. Here's an excerpt from an article on
''Reports out of Moscow say that President Putin has ''shut down'' all talks with President Obama, and say they are ''not interested'' in speaking to the US again under the current environment of threats and hostility.
Putin and Obama had been speaking regularly on the phone about Ukraine in March and early April, but Putin has not directly spoken to him since April 14, and the Kremlin says that they see no need to do any more talking.'' (''Putin Halts Talks With White House Amid Sanctions Threats'',
There's nothing to be gained by talking to Obama. Putin already knows what Obama wants. He wants war. That's why the State Department and CIA toppled the government. That's why CIA Director John Brennan appeared in Kiev just one day before coup president Yatsenyuk ordered the first crackdown on pro Russian protestors in the East. That's why Vice President Joe Biden appeared in Kiev just hours before Yatsenyuk launched his second crackdown on pro Russian protestors in the East. That's why Yatsenyuk has surrounded the eastern city of Slavyansk where he is preparing an attack on pro-Russian activists. It's because Washington believes that a violent conflagration serves its greater interests. It's pointless to talk to people like that, which is why Putin has stopped trying.
At present, the Obama administration is pushing for another round of sanctions on Russia, but members in the EU are dragging their feet. According to RT:
''At the moment there is no consensus among the EU members on which economic measures against Russia would be acceptable, or even if they are needed at all,'' a European diplomatic source told Itar-Tass.
The diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said only an open military invasion of Ukraine or irrefutable proof of Russian clandestine military presence in Ukraine would tip EU's stance toward economic sanctions. So far every piece of evidence that Kiev and Washington made public of alleged involvement of Russian agents in Ukraine was either inconclusive or simply false.'' (''US failing to push economic sanctions against Russia through EU allies'', RT)
Once again, it appears that Washington needs to draw Russian troops into the conflict to achieve its objectives.
On Sunday, RIA Novosti published satellite images showing a large buildup of troops outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. According to a report in Russia Today:
''160 tanks, 230 APCs and BMDs, and at least 150 artillery and rocket systems, including ''Grad'' and ''Smerch'' multiple rocket launchers, have been deployed to the area. A total of 15,000 troops are positioned near Slavyansk, he said'....
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the large buildup of Ukraine troops, as well as war games and additional deployments of armed forces to the NATO states in the region have ''forced'' Russia to respond with military drills of its own'.....If Kiev choses to escalate the crackdown on the protesters by using heavy arms against them Russia says it reserves the right to use its own military to stop bloodshed.'' (''Tanks, APCs, 15,000 troops': Satellite images show Kiev forces build-up near Slavyansk'', RT)
Putin has stated repeatedly that he will respond if ethnic Russians are killed in Ukraine. That's the red line. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated the same message in an interview last week with RT's Sophie Shevardnadze. The usually soft-spoken Lavrov, condemned Yatsenyuk's attack on Ukrainian civilians as ''criminal'' and warned that ''an attack on Russian citizens is an attack on the Russian Federation.''
The statement was followed by ominous reports of Russian troop movements near Ukraine's border indicating that Moscow may be preparing to intervene to stem the violence against civilians. According to Russian Russia's Itar Tass ''Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, ''As of today exercises of battalion tactical groups has begun in the border areas with Ukraine.'' Also aviation will conduct flights to simulate the actions near the state border.''
So there you have it: It looks like Obama's provocations WILL draw Putin into the fray after all. But will things turn out the way that Obama thinks they will? Will Putin follow Washington's script and leave his troops in the east where they'll be picked off by US-funded paramilitary guerillas and neo Nazis or does he have something else up his sleeve, like a quick blitz to Kiev to remove the junta government, call for international peacekeepers to quell the violence, and slip back over the border to safety?
Whatever the strategy may be, we won't have to wait long to see it implemented. If Yatsenyuk's army attacks Slavyansk, then Putin's going to send in the tanks and it'll be a whole new ballgame.
Mike Whitneylives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at
Vladimir response to sanctions
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 14:32
Photo: the Presidential Press and Information OfficeAnswers to journalists' questions following the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit. April 29, 2014Full captionFull caption|||Minimise
QUESTION: You have not reacted yet to the latest US and EU sanctions against Russia. How do you explain these sanctions and what impact do you think they might have on Eurasian integration?
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: They will not affect Eurasian integration at all. Only the countries actually carrying out this integration can affect it. Today we made a big step forward in our work. It is not always easy to reach agreement at the expert level on various matters of interest to the different negotiating parties, but today we have made real progress and we have every reason to expect that we will sign the agreement within the set timeframe. There are still some matters that need a little more work, but on the whole we have settled practically everything now.
As for the sanctions, I consider the first package of sanctions an unlawful and hostile act against Russia, and a step that will definitely damage Russia-US and Russia-EU relations. But as for the second package of sanctions, it is not even clear exactly what they are all about, because they have no cause and effect link to what is happening now in Ukraine and in Russia.
I think they are linked to the fact that our partners tried to settle the Ukrainian crisis using force, then realised what this leads to and are now looking for someone to blame. Let me say though that this has nothing to do with Russia. People say our special forces are present there, say we have sent instructors there. Let me say in all responsibility that there are no Russian instructors, special forces or troops of any kind there. We have no one there. They cooked up this whole mess themselves and are now trying to resolve the problem by using us.
Can the situation be resolved? It probably can, but this would require the parties to the conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and respect the Geneva agreements. This would mean that the authorities in Kiev would have to release from prison the people in whom Ukrainians have placed their trust and chosen as leaders, and would have to begin direct dialogue with these people. It would mean disarming the radicals, Right Sector and other radical groups, and clearing them out of buildings in Kiev rather than legalising their activities. It would mean equal respect too for the lawful rights of people in other parts of Ukraine, especially in the east and southeast of the country. Engaging in dialogue and looking for compromise solutions is something that must be done. The wrong thing to do is to start looking for scapegoats elsewhere.
You know, it was handing out those pies on the Maidan that paved the way to this crisis. We need to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and be equally serious about looking for solutions. Let me say again that there is nothing good in these sanctions '' they will be damaging. The Russian Federation Government has already proposed some countermeasures. I do not see a need for us to take countermeasures, but if this kind of situation continues, of course we will have to start looking at who is doing what in Russia in different sectors of our economy, including the energy sector. We really have no desire to resort to these kinds of measures, take our own steps in response, and I hope that things do not reach this point.
QUESTION: How do you view the fact that the USA has taken the lead in the situation with Ukraine, pushing the EU into a background role?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that what is happening now shows us just who was really directing this whole process right from the outset. Initially, the USA preferred to stay in the shadows, given that US interests converged to some extent with those of their European partners, seeing as the European Union, led by the European Commission, wanted to sign the agreements we know with Ukraine, agreements that I think did not offer advantageous terms for Ukraine. The former government attempted to resist this and do something about it, but as I said, the Western community decided to take another road and use force, bring about an anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power, and it seems they miscalculated as to what this would actually lead to. Some liked the idea, gave it their support, and probably a good number of people in Ukraine support it too, as we see. But more people do not like it and do not agree with this form of power. There is nothing democratic about it. These people's views must be taken into account too, and their lawful rights respected. That the USA has now taken the lead in trying to settle the crisis suggests that it was they who headed the process from the start, but are only now stepping forward as the leaders in the whole thing.
QUESTION: A group of military observers was detained recently in Ukraine. Ukraine had invited these observers to the country and was supposed to guarantee their security. What is your view of this situation?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is nothing good here at all, neither in the fact that they were sent in this capacity, nor in their detention. If the Ukrainian government or those who call themselves the government in Kiev invited observers, all the more so military observers, as experienced people they should realise they are heading for a conflict zone, entering a region that does not recognise the legitimacy of the current authorities in Kiev, and they should have been aware of this and reached agreement with the people who are in control of the situation in those regions. They did not do this and therefore ended up in the situation we see today.
At the same time, we understand the concerns of our partners in Europe. I had a private meeting yesterday, met with the former German chancellor, Mr Schroeder, and he also expressed these concerns, given that a German citizen is among those who were detained. I hope that this conflict will be settled and that these people will be able to leave the region without hindrance, but everyone involved in this process should draw the according conclusions from what has happened and make sure to avoid any such mistakes in the future.
Thank you very much.
Treasury Sanctions Russian Officials, Members Of The Russian Leadership's Inner Circle, And An Entity For Involvement In The Situation In Ukraine
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:21
Sanctions Target Russian Government Officials, the Inner Circle that Supports Them,
and Bank Rossiya, the Personal Bank for Officials of the Russian Federation
WASHINGTON '' The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated sixteen Russian government officials, members of the Russian leadership's inner circle, including a Russian bank pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13661, which was signed by President Obama on March 16, 2014. E.O. 13661 authorizes sanctions on, among others, officials of the Russian Government and any individual or entity that is owned or controlled by, that has acted for or on behalf of, or that has provided material or other support to, a senior Russian government official.
The sixteen individuals being sanctioned as Russian government officials are: Viktor Ozerov, Vladimir Dzhabarov, Evgeni Bushmin, Nikolai Ryzhkov, Sergei Zheleznyak, Sergei Mironov, Aleksandr Totoonov, Oleg Panteleev, Sergey Naryshkin, Victor Ivanov, Igor Sergun, Sergei Ivanov, Alexei Gromov, Andrei Fursenko, Vladimir Yakunin, and Vladimir Kozhin
Those being designated for acting for or on behalf of or materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation are: Gennady Timchenko, Arkady Rotenberg, Boris Rotenberg, Yuri Kovalchuk and Bank Rossiya. In addition to being designated for providing material support to Russian government officials, Bank Rossiya is also being designated for being controlled by designated inner circle member Kovalchuk.
''With its currency near an all-time low, its stock market down twenty percent this year and a marked rise in interest rates, Russia has already started to bear the economic costs of its unlawful effort to undermine Ukraine's security, stability, and sovereignty,'' said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. ''As President Obama has made clear, we will continue to impose costs in direct response to Russia's provocative acts, even as we have made clear there is a path to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and takes account of Russia's legitimate interests.''
Russian Government Officials and Members of the Inner Circle:
Government Officials
The following sixteen individuals are being designated because they are officials of the Russian government. Although not the basis for the designation, several are also very close advisors to senior Russian government officials.
Viktor Ozerov is the Chairman of the Security and Defense Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Ozerov supported Russian President Vladimir Putin's appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.
Vladimir Dzhabarov is the First Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Dzhabarov supported the Putin's appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.
Evgeni Bushmin is the Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Bushmin publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Nikolai Ryzhkov is a Senator in the Russian Upper House of Parliament (Federation Council). Ryzhkov publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Sergei Zheleznyak is the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
Sergei Mironov is a Member of the Council of the State Duma, a Member of the State Duma Committee on Housing Policy and Housing and Communal Services, and Leader of the Fair Russia Faction in the Duma of the Russian Federation.
Aleksandr Totoonov is a Member of the Committee on Culture, Science, and Information, Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Totoonov publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Oleg Panteleev is the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Parliamentary Issues. On March 1, 2014, Panteleev publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Sergey Naryshkin has been the Chairman of the Government Duma of the Federal Gathering of the Russian Federation since December, 2011. Additionally, he is a member of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation and of the United Russia party.
Victor Ivanov has been director of the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) of the Russian Federation since May 15, 2008; he was appointed as a member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation on May 25, 2008. Ivanov has served in a number of other government positions prior to that; he was Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation from 2004 - 2008; and Deputy Chief of the Administration of the Russian Federation from 2000 - 2004. Ivanov joined the KGB in 1977 and eventually rose to become the Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service. Ivanov is a close ally of Putin and served alongside Putin as the chief of staff of the St. Petersburg Mayor's office in 1994 when Putin was first deputy head of the city's administration.
Igor Sergun is the head of Russia's military intelligence service (GRU) and is Deputy Chief of the General Staff.
Sergei Ivanov is the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
Alexei Gromov is the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
Andrei Fursenko is an aide to the President of the Russian Federation and has been in that position since May 21, 2012. Fursenko has held a number of positions in the Government of the Russian Federation since 2001, including Minister of Education and Science from 2004 - 2012. Although not being designated for being a member of the Russian leadership's inner circle, Fursenko first met Putin in 1993 and they remain closely associated.
Vladimir Yakunin was appointed as chairman of the board of the Russian state-owned company Russian Railways on June 15, 2005; he has remained as head of the company ever since. Yakunin is being designated because of his official position in the Russian government, but he is also a close confidant of Putin. Yakunin regularly consults with Putin on issues regarding the Russian Railways company. In addition, Yakunin accompanies Putin on many domestic and international visits. Yakunin met Putin while both were working in St. Petersburg. Yakunin decided to create a business center in the city and contacted Putin for his support. In addition, Yakunin became a member of the board of the Baltic Maritime Steamship Company on Putin's instructions. Yakunin and Putin were also neighbors in the elite dacha community on the shore of Lake Komsomolsk and they served as cofounders of the Ozero Dacha Cooperative in November 1996.
Vladimir Kozhin was appointed the Head of Administration under the President of the Russian Federation by Putin on January 21, 2000. He has served continuously in that position until the present time. Kohzin is responsible for overseeing a staff of 60,000, over a hundred enterprises and institutions including the Kremlin and several other government buildings, and over four thousand vehicles. Kohzin's positions have been variously referred to as Head of Administration, Head of the Presidential Affairs Office, Head of the Presidential Business Management Directorate of the Russian Federation, and head of the Presidential Property Management Directorate.
Members of the Inner Circle
The following individuals are being designated because each is controlled by, has acted for or on behalf of, or has provided material or other support to, a senior Russian government official.
Gennady Timchenko is one of the founders of Gunvor, one of the world's largest independent commodity trading companies involved in the oil and energy markets. Timchenko's activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to Putin. Putin has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds.
Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg have provided support to Putin's pet projects by receiving and executing high price contracts for the Sochi Olympic Games and state-controlled Gazprom. They have made billions of dollars in contracts for Gazprom and the Sochi Winter Olympics awarded to them by Putin. Both brothers have amassed enormous amounts of wealth during the years of Putin's rule in Russia. The Rotenberg brothers received approximately $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Olympic Games and their personal wealth has increased by $2.5 billion in the last two years alone.
Yuri Kovalchuk is the largest single shareholder of Bank Rossiya and is also the personal banker for senior officials of the Russian Federation including Putin. Kovalchuk is a close advisor to President Putin and has been referred to as one of his ''cashiers.''
The following entity is being designated becauseit is controlled by, has acted for or on behalf of, or has provided material or other support to, senior Russian government officials.
Bank Rossiya (ОАО АБ РОÐÐÐЯ)is the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation. Bank Rossiya's shareholders include members of Putin's inner circle associated with the Ozero Dacha Cooperative, a housing community in which they live. Bank Rossiya is also controlled by Kovalchuk, designated today. Bank Rossiya is ranked as the 17th largest bank in Russia with assets of approximately $10 billion, and it maintains numerous correspondent relationships with banks in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. The bank reports providing a wide range of retail and corporate services, many of which relate to the oil, gas, and energy sectors.
As a result of Treasury's action, any assets of the persons designated today that are within U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen. Additionally, transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States involving the individuals and entity designated today are generally prohibited.
Identifying Information
Name: Viktor Alekseevich Ozerov
DOB: January 5, 1958
POB: Abakan, Khakassia, Russia
Title: Chairman of the Security and Defense Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation
Name: Vladimir Michailovich Dzhabarov
AKA: Vladimir Dzhabarov
DOB: September 29, 1952
Title: First Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation
Name: Evgeni Viktorovich Bushmin
AKA: Evgeny Bushmin
AKA: Yevgeny Bushmin
DOB: October 10, 1958
POB: Lopatino, Sergachiisky Region, Russia
Title: Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation
Name: Nikolai Ivanovich Ryzhkov
AKA: Nikolai Ryzhkov
DOB: September 28, 1929
POB: Duleevka, Donetsk Region, Ukraine
Title: Member of the Committee for Federal Issues, Regional Politics and the North of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation
Title: Senator in the Russian Upper House of Parliament
Name: Sergei Vladimirovich Zheleznyak
AKA: Sergei Zheleznyak
AKA: Sergey Zheleznyak
DOB: July 30, 1970
POB: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Title: Deputy Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation
Name: Sergei Mikhailovich Mironov
AKA: Sergei Mironov
DOB: February 14, 1953
POB: Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Title: Member of the Council of the State Duma, Member of the State Duma Committee on Housing Policy and Housing and Communal Services, and Leader of the Fair Russia Faction in the Duma of the Russian Federation
Name: Aleksandr Borisovich Totoonov
AKA: Alexander B. Totoonov
AKA: Alexander Totoonov
DOB: March 3, 1957
POB: Ordzhonikidze, North Ossetia, Russia
POB: Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russia
Title: Member of the Committee on Culture, Science, and Information, Federation Council of the Russian Federation
Name: Oleg Evgenevich Panteleev
AKA: Oleg Panteleev
DOB: July 21, 1952
POB: Zhitnikovskoe, Kurgan Region, Russia
Title: First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Parliamentary Issues
Name: Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin AKA: Sergei Naryshkin DOB: October 27, 1954POB: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Name: Victor Petrovich IvanovAKA: Viktor IvanovDOB: May 12, 1950alt. DOB: 1952POB: Novgorod, Russia
Name: Igor Dmitrievich SergunDOB: March 28, 1957Title: Lieutenant General; Chief of the Main Directorate of the General Staff (GRU), Deputy
Chief of the General Staff
Name: Sergei Ivanov AKA: Sergey Ivanov DOB: January 31, 1953POB: Saint Petersburg, RussiaTitle: Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office
Name: Alexei GromovDOB: 1960POB: Zagorsk (Sergiev, Posad), Moscow Region, Russia Title: First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive OfficeTitle: Presidential Administration Deputy Chief of StaffTitle: First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff
Name: Andrei Alexandrovich Fursenko
AKA: Andrei Fursenko
AKA: Andrey Fursenko
DOB: July 17, 1949
POB: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Title: Aide to the President of the Russian Federation
Name: Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin
DOB: June 30, 1948
POB: Zakharovo Village, Gus-Khrustalnyy Rayon, Vladimir Oblast, Russiaalt. POB: Melenki, Vladimir Oblast, Russia
Name: Vladimir Igorevich Kozhin
DOB: February 28, 1959
POB: Troitsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia
Name: Gennady Timchenko AKA: Gennadiy Nikolayevich Timchenko AKA: Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko AKA: Guennadi Timtchenko Address: Geneva, SwitzerlandDOB: November 9, 1952POB: Leninakan, Armeniaalt. POB: Gyumri, ArmeniaNationality: Finland, Russia, Armenia
Name: Arkady Rotenberg
DOB: December 15, 1951
POB: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Name: Boris Rotenberg
DOB: January 3, 1957
POB: Saint Petersburg Russia
Name: Yuri Valentinovich Kovalchuk
AKA: Yury Valentinovich Kovalchuk
DOB: July 25, 1951
POB: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Name: Bank Rossiya
FKA: Aktsionerny BANK Russian Federation
Address: 2 Liter A Pl. Rastrelli, Saint Petersbrug, 191124, Russia
ITAR-TASS: Economy - Putin: Sanctions may benefit Russian economy but MasterCard, Visa made mistake
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:25
ST. PETERSBURG, April 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Economic sanctions may benefit Russia by helping de-offshorize its economy and create better conditions for doing business inside the country, President Vladimir Putin said.''Many people who take their savings and business to low-tax areas are already thinking whether it would be better to carry out all of their economic activities, including registration, at home,'' the president said at the Media Forum on Thursday, April 24.
''As for de-offshorization, the Russian authorities are facing many important and necessary tasks to create better conditions for doing business inside the country,'' he said. ''This means the tax system, its stability, rates, the fight against excessive bureaucratization and corruption, and many other things.''
Putin believes that sanctions will also prod the Russian authorities into working harder and taking measures to strengthen the sovereignty of the national economy by creating a national payment system or drafting a law on enhanced sovereignty in strategic industries.
''The world is globalizing and the economy and politics are closely interdependent but excessive dependence leads to the loss of sovereignty,'' Putin said with regret and cited the country's gold and currency reserves as an example. ''Some countries with large gold and currency reserves diversify them one way or another,'' he added.
''We did not create our own settlement system as Japan or China did, and this makes us completely dependent on our partners,'' the president said. ''We have always believed that our partners, both Visa and MasterCard, are depoliticized economic entities and companies. However, as it turned out, they, too, are under strong political pressure and influence and give in to it right away,'' he said.
''From the economic point of view, this is a big mistake because MasterCard and Visa control 90% of the Russian market, which we gave to them of our own free will, and all payments inside the country go through these systems and to a large extent through serves located in the United States. But that's nonsense! Why did Japan do it and can use a national payment system now, but we are using their [American] systems inside the country, I am not saying abroad where you go on a business trip or vacation,'' Putin said''This is a very big business for these companies. By acting the way they are acting in Russia, they are undermining trust in themselves and therefore will certainly lose the market,'' he said.
At the same time, he noted that the Russian authorities were not planning any retaliatory sanctions against MasterCard or Visa. ''However not only have we thought about it but we have also started creating our own national payment system,'' Putin said.
Putin said in March that Russia would create its own payment system. ''These systems work successfully in such countries as Japan and China. They started off as national systems for domestic needs only but are now becoming increasingly popular,'' he said.
The Japanese system now operates in 200 countries. ''Why shouldn't we do the same? We should and we will,'' Putin said at a meeting with the leadership of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.
The Central Bank of Russia is already making plans for creating a national payment system in the country.
''We should create a system that will ensure uninterrupted domestic payments that make up about 90 percent of the total. We are preparing measures that should be realistic, easy and gradual. At the initial stage we should ensure technological compatibility between processing and operating centers of major banks so that they could switch over quickly,'' Central Bank Chair Elvira Nabiullina said.
A draft law ensuring uninterrupted money transfers within Russia will go to the State Duma, lower house of parliament, shortly. It bans all participants from terminating transfers unilaterally. Clearing centers will not be allowed to provide information about money transfers outside the country or make such information accessible from other countries.
In 2011, several MPs called for creating a domestic processing centre. The relevant law was adopted but processing operations were not transferred to Russia despite the risk of losing access to international payment systems for Russian banks. This is precisely what happened on March 21, 2014 when Visa and MasterCard, both headquartered in the United States, suspended operations for several Russian banks.
The blocking of access to the SWIFT inter-bank payment system makes online payments in any currency, except the national one, impossible.
Presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev suggests creating a single processing centre for payments within the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Customs Union created by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
BBC News - IMF approves $17bn Ukraine bailout package
Thu, 01 May 2014 01:23
30 April 2014Last updated at 19:19 ET The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $17.1bn (£10.1bn) bailout for Ukraine, to help the country's beleaguered economy.
The money will be released over two years, with the first instalment of $3.2bn available immediately.
The loan, pledged in March, is dependent on strict economic reforms, including raising taxes and energy prices, and freezing the minimum wage.
The IMF loan will also unlock further funds worth $15bn from other donors.
The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said the loan was given the go-ahead because "decisive measures were taken by Ukraine".
Ms Lagarde said the IMF would check regularly to ensure the Ukrainian government followed through on its commitments.
"There will be review of the performance every two months in the first sequence in order to make sure that that determination is actually followed through."
The bailout had to be approved by the IMF's 24-member board, which includes a Russian representative.
Further fundsThe money from the IMF unlocks other funds pledged to Ukraine from the EU, the World Bank, Canada and Japan, among others.
It will also make available $1bn in loan guarantees from the US, which was recently approved by Congress.
"Today's final approval for the $17bn IMF programme marks a crucial milestone for Ukraine," said US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.
He added that the bailout will "enable Ukraine to build on the progress already achieved to overcome deep-seated economic challenges and help the country return to a path of economic stability and growth".
A cut in energy subsidies to consumers has been one of the conditions of an international rescue deal, and last month Ukraine's interim government agreed to raise domestic gas prices by 50%.
Earlier on Wednesday, an international conference in London ended with a commitment to help Ukraine recover tens of billions of dollars worth of assets which were allegedly stolen by the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and his allies.
IMF Approves Loan (To Pay Ukraine's Gazprom Bill): Putin 1 - 0 IMF
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:24
After 'billing' Ukraine this morning, Gazprom must be jubilant this evening as news exudes from Washington that...
*IMF SAYS IMMEDIATE UKRAINE LOAN DISBURSEMENT TO BE $3.2 BLNSo that won't even cover the $3.49bn they already owe to Gazprom? (In fact, $2.2bn is approved for dissemination to Gazprom)
Remember we were already told by Ukraine that:
As Bloomberg reports,
The government plans to use $2 billion from the first disbursement to support the budget as it seeks to trim the fiscal gap to 8.5 percent of gross domestic product this year and 6.1 percent in 2015, according to the document. The shortfall includes subsidies to state-run energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy.
Part of the IMF money will help Ukraine settle $2.2 billion in back payments to Russian state-controlled OAO Gazprom for natural gas and pay for future imports. Gazprom said it will ask Ukraine to pay $485 per 1,000 cubic meters in the second quarter, more than the European market price.
After twice freezing loans to Ukraine since 2008, the fund is banking on the interim government's resolve to tackle unpopular measures such as the phasing out of natural-gas subsidies.
The fund approval clears the way for additional aid from the European Union and the U.S. just as they widen sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
''The authorities' economic program supported by the fund aims torestore macroeconomic stability, strengthen economic governance andtransparency, and launch sound and sustainable economic growth, whileprotecting the most vulnerable,'' the Washington-based IMF said in an e-mailed statement today.
Remember, this is all about ensuring Europe gets it gas - since Russia/Gazprom had said no more through Ukraine pipelines if the bill was not paid since they were afraid of stealing.
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Russia has entered recession, IMF says
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:33
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BONDS-FINANCE-FRUSSIA-Background Conference Call on Ukraine Sanctions | The White House
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2014
Manila, Philippines
9:24 P.M. PHT
MS. HAYDEN: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining. We're here to talk about the new sanctions that will be going out today on Russia. We have senior administration officials to speak with you on background. There is no embargo on this call. Again, it's a backgrounder; these are senior administration officials.
And with that, I'll turn it over to our first senior administration official.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, everybody, for joining the call. We just wanted to update you on the sanctions that are being imposed on Russia today. I'll just give a brief opening and then hand it over to my Treasury colleagues to walk through the details.
First of all, this comes in the context of Russia continuing to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and completely failing to meet its commitments under the agreement that was reached in Geneva. That agreement did provide a basis for de-escalation. Yet, over the course of the last days and weeks we have not seen the Russians follow through in urging separatists to stay back in eastern Ukraine to, for instance, lay down their arms, vacate buildings, and begin a process of dialogue and lead to a de-escalation.
Because of that failure, the President convened a call with several of his European counterparts over the weekend. And those consultations led to a very strong G7 statement over the weekend that found that Russia was not meeting their commitments, and therefore urged additional targeted sanctions to impose a cost on Russia.
Today, the United States is doing its part to move out on those sanctions. And as you've seen, this includes sanctions of a number of individuals, a substantial number of companies, as well as limits on exports of certain high-tech materials relevant to the Russian defense industry.
I would also just say that we've already seen that these sanctions and the isolation of Russia has had an impact, a substantial impact, on the Russian economy. We believe that with these additional steps, the impact on the Russian economy will only grow, just as Russia's political isolation is growing because of its actions in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
At the same time, it's also important to note that we will be continuing to consult and coordinate with our partners about the types of targeted sanctions that we're pursuing, but also we have additional options available to us should Russia further escalate the situation. For instance, should they move their troops into Ukraine across the border, we have made very clear through the G7 and with our European allies that very robust sectoral sanctions on the Russian economy could be imposed -- will be imposed if we see that type of escalation.
With that, I will turn it over to my colleague to walk through the details of the sanctions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. Good morning, everybody. I'll basically discuss the sanctions imposed today. And as my colleague explained, these are in response to Russia's continued destabilizing, provocative, and dangerous actions in the Ukraine.
Treasury today is imposing sanctions on seven Russia government officials and 17 entities under Executive Order 13661. This executive order, which is part of the administration's broad, flexible, and powerful sanctions program directed at the situation in Ukraine, targets among others Russian government officials as well as those who provide critical support to -- or derive critical support from senior Russian government officials, or so-called oligarchs or cronies.
Of note, in today's set of sanctions are two key members of the Russian leadership's inner circle. They are Igor Sechin, who's the President and Chairman of the Management Board of Rosneft, Russia's leading petroleum operation; and Sergey Chemezov, the Director General of Rostec, a very large industrial conglomerate in Russia. We are imposing sanctions on Sechin and Chemezov individually.
In addition, each of the 17 entities sanctioned today are affiliated with the oligarchs we designated a few weeks ago, on March 20th, including the Rotenberg brothers and Gennady Timchenko. Among these entities are Timchenko's holding company, the Volga Group, and three banks -- InvestCapitalBank, SMP Bank, and JSB Sobinbank.
The April 17th Geneva joint statement provided an opportunity for Russia and Ukraine to work together, supported by the OSCE, to deescalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and make progress towards a diplomatic solution.
As my colleague noted, it's clear that the Ukrainian government at all levels has been following through on its commitments under the Geneva agreement. And as Secretary Kerry detailed in his remarks on Thursday, and as my colleague reiterated this morning, the government in Kyiv is taking concrete steps to fulfill its obligations under the Geneva agreement.
In stark contrast, Russia has done precisely nothing to fulfill its obligations -- not even calling on those who have illegally seized buildings to relinquish control. To the contrary, Russia in word and deed has continued to provoke unrest in an illegitimate and unlawful effort to destabilize Ukraine. From the very outset of Russia's illegitimate and unlawful actions in Ukraine, we have been clear: The United States, acting on its own and alongside our international partners, will impose increasing costs on Russia if it persists in its efforts to destabilize Ukraine and will hold Russia accountable for its provocative actions. Today's steps underscore our commitment to this promise.
And we can see the impact of our actions in Russia. President Putin himself acknowledged last week that the sanctions are causing damage -- his words -- causing damage. Indeed, the facts speak for themselves. Already, this year, there has been a huge rush of capital out of Russia. The $60 billion in capital outflows from Russia this year exceed all the outflows last year. This is contributed to sharp declines in the value of Russian equities, which are down almost 15 percent this year, and the Russian ruble, which has depreciated almost 9 percent against the dollar since January 1st.
The Russian stock market is performing worst among major emerging market economies this year. And the ruble is also the worst performing currency among major emerging markets over the same period.
Our sanctions and the overall increase in uncertainty in the Russian economy have led investors to demand significantly higher risk premiums to hold Russian government debt, causing the country's 10-year bond yields to increase nearly 175 basis points since the start of the year. That is worse performance than high-risk borrowers such as Greece and Portugal. Russia's 10-year bond is now trading at about 9.7 percent, and things are so bad that the Russian government was forced to cancel a recent bond auction because of a lack of investor demand.
The Russian corporate sector is faring no better. In the first quarter of this year, bond issuance was down more than 70 percent compared to the same quarter last year. And some Russian companies have been unable to refinance maturing debt.
And to top things off, last Friday S&P downgraded Russia's credit rating to BBB-, which is just one step above junk status. Overall, economists have lowered their expectations for Russia's 2014 GDP growth, and the Russian Central Bank recently downgraded its own 2014 growth projection to less than 1 percent.
As the President has made clear, we continue to work very closely with our allies to increase the costs on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. On a daily basis we are coordinating with the European Union and other partners on increasing sanctions in response to Russia's refusal to deescalate the situation and its provocative actions. As other speakers on this call will note, we expect the EU will announce additional sanctions today.
And one final point -- we have at our disposal additional, even more powerful sanctions, including the ability for the Secretary of the Treasury to identify for sanctions certain sectors of the Russian economy, such as financial services or energy, and to sanction individuals and entities determined to operate in those sectors. We have not yet done so, and our preference is for the Russians to abide by their commitments in the Geneva agreement and deescalate the situation. But no one should forget that the President has put in place a sanctions program that gives us these tools.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Meanwhile, the violence in eastern Ukraine continues with Slovyansk becoming quickly the Bermuda Triangle or mafia central of eastern Ukraine. You all will have seen today that south of Slovyansk at the Kramatorsk Airport, there was another effort to seize that flight that was repelled by the Ukrainians. There was another Ukrainian servicemember shot, and a Mi-8 helicopter was fired at by an RPG, by militants.
In addition, the mayor of Kharkiv, the pro-Kyiv mayor was shot and seriously wounded by unknown assailants. He is in the hospital today for surgery. And also 30 pro-Russian separatists seized (inaudible) in Konstantinovka today, also at Donetsk Airport. And just to remind that we still have eight OSCE Vienna Document observers who are being held captive by militants, we believe in the basement of the Public Administration Building in Slovyansk, the same place where our American journalist was held and beaten.
You will have seen over the weekend that these guys were paraded on television like POWs, forced to make a statement to the press. There is broad belief that they have also been abused in captivity. And meanwhile, the Russians have the gall to blame this abuse of people who are in Ukraine at the government of Ukraine's invitation and with diplomatic privileges and immunities on the inability of the Ukrainians to provide security. And as far as we can tell, Russia has done also virtually nothing to get their release. I'll pause there.
Q Hi, guys. Thanks for doing the call. I appreciate it. Two things -- can you say how closely aligned this list today will be with the EU? What will be the difference between this list and theirs, and if, in fact, does it make a difference that they might not be the same people; for instance, Sechin obviously has these joint ventures with Exxon Mobil. And then, secondly, there has been talk that Alexey Miller was on one of the draft lists at least. What was the thinking going on in not including him on the final list? Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, I'll say a couple of things and then let my colleagues add in. Well, first of all, we have been moving in concert and coordination with the Europeans since the beginning of this crisis, both in terms of our support for the Ukrainian government and also in terms of imposing costs on Russia. That was the case with previous rounds of sanctions. That was the case with the G7 statement over the weekend.
In terms of the lists that are published today, I expect there to be a divergence in the lists. They have not in the past matched up exactly, and it will continue to be the case given the different nature of our sanction regimes that we hit different targets. I do think it sends an important and powerful message of unity in the international community that we do move together -- the United States and our European allies -- in imposing costs.
Importantly, I'd also note that the most severe sanctions that we have in reserve should Russia further escalate the situation are the sectoral sanctions. And on that score, based on the conversations that the President has had both with the G7 and with European counterparts, we're also confident that the Europeans are with us in their commitment to impose those sectoral sanctions should we see, for instance, Russian troops move across that border.
I don't know if my colleagues want to add to that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are in very close touch with the Europeans about sanctions in general. On sectoral sanctions, we and the Europeans have been both thinking internally about our options and discussing these options with each other. This process is intense, ongoing, and I'm confident that it will continue. So we will be ready if we need the sectoral sanctions.
Q Thanks for doing this, guys. I want to ask -- first of all, there had been talk last week, particularly in Moscow, about some of the key banks, like Gazprombank and VEB being sanctioned. And now that they haven't, some of their stock has rallied. And I want to get your response to those bankers who are feeling that these sanctions are weak, and also to the question of whether, if Putin hasn't responded so far to sanctions, what makes you think he's going to respond to these?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll take the second question first, and then my colleague can take the first question.
Look, we've been very clear that we're going to keep ratcheting up the costs on Russia for continued destabilization and violation of international law on Ukraine. And clearly, President Putin's calculus has not changed sufficiently because Russia has continued its destabilizing actions and has completely failed to live up to the commitments that they agreed to in Geneva.
So we don't expect there to be an immediate change in Russian policy. What we need to do is to steadily show the Russians that there are going to be much more severe economic pain, much more severe political isolation, and frankly, that Russia stands far more to lose continuing these actions over time than pursuing de-escalation. And ultimately, we believe that that can affect Russia's calculus over time and give them the incentive to deescalate this situation.
So, again, it's important that we are ratcheting up this pressure to impose very concrete economic costs on the Russians through these types of sanctions. It's also important that, together with the additional prospect of sectoral sanctions, Russia sees the dead end that it's going down in Ukraine and, frankly, the fact that their interests will be severely compromised and set back in the world if they continue down this course. And that's the purpose of this series of escalatory actions that we've taken in concert with our European allies.
You may want to take the first question.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Look, and I've seen articles where there's been speculation and -- armchair designations done by people outside thinking what we should and shouldn't do. I would urge you all to pay attention to what we're doing and not the wild speculation.
And what we're doing is having a very significant impact. These are calibrated and firm moves that have, as I noted in my opening, had a significant impact on the Russian economy. It has worked against an economy that was already in a weak state to further exacerbate the weakness in the Russian economy. And every indicator shows, both on the public sector and the private sector in Russia, that they are feeling the heat from our actions.
Now, there may be daily fluctuations here and there, but the trend is unmistakable, and that's that Russia is suffering from its actions in Ukraine as the market punishes Russia for this, and as the market responds to the sanctions that we've imposed and, frankly, the sanctions that we can impose. And just to emphasize one point that my colleague just made, we have at our disposal additional sanctions, very powerful sanctions that can target sectors of the Russian economy and entities within those sectors. And I think the deterrent value of that should not be underestimated.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would just add to this that we have noted a distinct uptick in the last three days from major European capitals beginning to look very hard at sectorals in response to the egregious treatment of the Vienna Document monitors in Slavyansk, and that's really been galvanizing -- both the viciousness of their treatment and the fact that Russia has done nothing to restrain them.
Q Thanks very much for doing the call. Just to briefly -- I've spoken to Ukrainian officials who are not happy with the degree of the sanctions, the degree of the pain so far. They'd like to have seen not only sector sanctions immediately, but also they're looking for, as you know, more robust aid, including in the category of military aid. And I wonder if you could just react to that criticism.
And second, you mentioned about raising the cost if Russian troops crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, that the intention of these sanctions in effect deter that. And I just wonder, is there any intention at this point to reverse Russia's annexation of Crimea? Or is Crimea, in effect, granted?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There's a lot there. Let me just say a few things, Jim. First of all, with respect to Crimea, we've made very clear that we're not going to recognize that annexation, and so have many of our allies around the world. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed resolutions condemning that. And we're just not going to recognize it. And there are sanctions that were put in place because of that and will continue. And that will continue to be our position that we don't recognize the legitimacy of either the referendum or that annexation.
With respect to sectoral sanctions, number one, it's important, as my colleague said, it's important that there be a spectrum of options that we have so we can escalate if we see severe escalation by the Russians. So we have very powerful sectoral sanctions that could allow us to inflict significant damage on the Russian economy.
At the same time, clearly you have to weigh those options and calibrate the pressure based on what we're seeing in Ukraine, based on the fact that there are considerations as to how you manage the impact on the global economy, how you prepare those sanctions together with the Europeans. So that's what we're doing in terms of having those sectoral sanctions prepared over time, discussing with the Europeans what the triggers for that might be. We've been very clear that one trigger would be a Russian invasion across the border.
So we do have those available. But simply to cock every bullet in our gun in the current context in our view does not make sense. It's better to ratchet up the pressure while having further deterrent value in these more robust sectoral sanctions that have been prepared together with the Europeans.
With respect to assistance, we've been talking to the Ukrainian government in Kyiv every single day. We have committed a billion dollars in a loan guarantee; we have committed tens of millions of dollars in additional technical assistance. We've committed nonlethal military assistance.
With respect to lethal assistance, the President addressed this today. The fact is there's not going to be any scenario where the Ukrainian military is brought quickly up to parity with the Russian military. This is not the type of action that usually has the most significant deterrent on Russia's calculus. We have a far greater ability to affect Russia and impose a cost on Russia by imposing sanctions rather than by that type of provision of assistance.
Similarly, with the Ukrainian government, we believe that the best thing we can do is help them stabilize their economy and prepare for very important elections this May. And that's what has been a focal point of the United States and our allies.
So we're confident that we have a policy that is effectively calibrated, that is imposing a sufficient cost, that has also an additional escalation that we can pursue up to sectoral sanctions, and that provides the best type of support for the Ukrainian government. And I think that we do need to recognize that there's not a silver bullet of some type of military assistance that is going to level this playing field in this very difficult situation. We have to be using all of these tools at our disposal to support the Ukrainians and to impose costs on the Russians.
I don't know if any of my colleagues want to address.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I want to underscore what my colleague said about non-recognition of Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. That is not simply rhetoric. We have the ability under our executive orders and the intention of imposing further sanctions. On April 11th [we] imposed a sanction on one of Crimea's major economic firms, Chernomorneftegaz, an energy company which had been illegally expropriated by the separatists in Crimea. We are looking at additional steps. And we'll make it clear that our non-recognition of the illegal annexation is not rhetorical vitriol. And we're working with the Europeans as well on this.
Q Hi, thanks so much for having this. I'm just wondering, are there any new levels of sanctions between what we're seeing now, which are senior officials and kind of crony financiers and smaller companies, and the sector sanctions? In other words, would it ever be ratcheted up to publicly traded companies, major billionaire oligarchs, et cetera? Or will we just see more Russian officials, more state-controlled companies, or move all the way up to sector sanctions if there's a troop invasion in Ukraine? Thanks so much.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What we have designed is a sanctions program that is scalable, is flexible, and we can impose sanctions on a range of actors from the ones we've done already through the big state-owned companies that you've referenced.
I don't think it serves anyone's interest to preview what the next step might be. But I think the important point is that we have available to us a range of options. The sanctions that we've imposed particularly on those close to Putin have significant impact not only on them, but on the companies that they are in complete control of. And we are going to continue to calibrate our steps in response to the situation on the ground. I'll leave it at that.
Q Hi, thanks very much. Thanks again for this. I'm calling from Moscow. I wanted to ask two questions -- one about -- a very simple one. You mentioned in the explanation that a number of these companies help provide services to a senior official of the government of the Russian Federation. I'd like to ask who that senior official is. And the other question -- this situation with OSCE observers and the increasing possibility of sectoral sanctions from Europe, has there been any thought given to economic aid or any other policy changes to help Europe weather any sort of economic impact from any broader sanctions that they would do that would affect the European economy more than the American one?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll just make one comment. On your second question, I think everybody recognizes that if we move to sectoral sanctions, that would have an impact on the global economy and on national economies. And so, again, there has been discussion and dialogue about what the respective impacts would be. I think that everybody recognizes that it's important that we do this together in part so that there's a shared commitment, but also one nation isn't bearing a significantly greater share of the burden as against other nations with different interests in different sectors.
We have had dialogues, for instance, around energy. We saw the energy ministerial between the U.S. and the EU in discussions on ways of over time certainly diversifying the European energy picture. And you've seen us already approve licenses for exports of natural gas to Europe, so that's one example of an area where there has been initial discussion with the Europeans set against the backdrop of the prospect of sectoral sanctions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Each of the 17 entities is being designated for being owned or controlled by a person who has been previously designated for either providing support to or deriving support from senior Russian government officials. So they're all in one way or another affiliated with either the Rotenberg brothers or Timchenko. The seven individuals who are being designated today are all being designated for being Russian government officials. But of course, everybody knows who Sechin and Chemezov are, and the role that they play in both the Russian economy and, frankly, in the leadership circle in Russia.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would just say that (inaudible) there is a conversation about possible counterbalancing and compensatory measures for those states who might have to take it on the chin more if and when sectoral sanctions come on. So they're talking about helping each other internally there. But, again, as our colleague said, the key here is to do this in a way that balances the equities within Europe.
Q Yes, thank you very much. I would like to ask you about the change in defense export regulation; says that it will halt pending applications for export of defense articles to Russia. I'm wondering if you could explain what are those pending defense applications? How many are there? What exactly are the items they're asking for? And also, do you have a view on NATO and defense sales to Russia, including the French sale of the amphibious warship, the Mistral? Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can address the first part of the question. Between the Department of Commerce and the Department of State, we have quite a few license applications pending, because we put them all on hold since the beginning of March. We are now in the process of going through them and really scrutinizing them to see which ones involve technology that the Russian defense industrial complex is in need of, and those are the ones that will be denied. So we're in the process of going through --
Q Do you have any examples at all?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, generally, I can tell you in the area of microelectronics is one particular area.
Q And on the Mistral?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is out of my lane. Maybe one of my colleagues can answer.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I will simply say there that, again, in the context of evaluating what kind of sectoral sanctions might be necessary, the Europeans are looking at defense industry, including this. The French themselves have made a number of comments in regard to the future of the sale, and I would refer you to those comments.
Q Thank you, and thank you for doing the call. All of this of course is very regrettable. And from the Russian point of view, as you understand, all of this comes back to the illegitimacy of the current government of Kyiv. So my question to you is if you are satisfied with the way the situation has evolved, and whether you have any regrets? With the benefit of hindsight, would you have done something differently, not to bring this to this point?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd just make a couple of comments there. Look, we have been focused on one thing and one thing only for the many months that the situation in Ukraine has been unstable, and that is that the people of Ukraine should have a government that reflects their aspirations; that the country of Ukraine should be able to make its own decisions about its associations, and that there need not be conflict and destabilization; that Ukraine could have productive relations with both Europe and Russia, as well as the United States. And those principles have guided us throughout this series of events.
Again, in terms of the government in Kyiv, since President Yanukovych packed up and left town, again, we believe that the government has shown extraordinary responsibility in terms of their commitment to both set a path towards elections in May, which provide a very important opportunity for the people of Ukraine to be heard on their future; in terms of tackling the economic situation in partnership with the international community so that they are working to stabilize the economy and improve the situation for the people of Ukraine; but also, in terms of being willing to engage in dialogue within their country and with Russia about the pathway to deescalate this situation.
And since the Geneva agreement was reached, we saw the government in Kyiv take important steps to live up to their end of the bargain in terms of addressing the nation and stressing the necessity of national unity; in terms of their commitment to move forward with an amnesty law so that those who lay down their arms and leave buildings know that they have amnesty; but also to initiate a dialogue around decentralization of power so that they can assure that the rights and interests of people in eastern and southern Ukraine are met within the context of Ukraine's future and that that was a dialogue that could include Russia and the European Union and the United States as well.
And so we saw the Ukrainian government living up to their end of the bargain. Unfortunately, Russia did not live up to their end of the bargain -- again, not just in completely failing to use their influence to encourage groups to lay down their arms and leave buildings, but also, outrageously, to be associated in any way with the types of individuals who have taken key diplomats hostage. That is not something that should happen in the 21st century, that a diplomatic monitoring mission can't even operate in eastern Ukraine in the context of an agreement that was reached among a number of members of the United Nations Security Council.
So -- have been clear that the government in Kyiv has lived up to their end of the bargain and that Russia has not. So we have no regrets whatsoever about supporting the Ukrainian people's right to make decisions about their own future. I do believe that if Russia continues down this path, they will severely regret the decision to take a path of international isolation, politically and economically. And ultimately, that's what we have to continue to show, which is that we recognize that there's no immediate solution to this crisis, even though there is a pathway that was set in Geneva. We recognize that Russia cares deeply about its interests in that part of the world, and we have sought to address those interests through dialogue and a process of de-escalation. But at the same time, over the next several weeks and months, if Russia continues down this path, we believe ultimately it's going to find itself in a position of much bigger isolation internationally, much bigger economic pain than they were before and that they have been at any time in the recent past.
I don't know if anybody else wants to have any final thoughts.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would just add two pieces here. First, with regard to the legitimacy of the current government in Kyiv, just to remind that it was ratified by a vote in the Duma and supported by every single political party across the spectrum with the exception of a communist -- so more than 80 percent of Rada supported it.
Second, just to say if you care about the choice of Ukrainians across the spectrum in their own future, the next major decision point there is the May 25th elections, where you have more than 20 candidates representing every political color in the Ukrainian spectrum running for office. And while we negotiated the Geneva Accord, we wanted the U.S., the EU, and Ukraine to add a line expressing our support for free, fair elections on May 25th so that the Ukrainian people could make that leadership choice in their own future. And Russia refused to add that line and has continued to pass doubt on whether elections are possible or advisable. So my question to Russia is how do you aspire to get legitimacy in government if not by elections. Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And I'd add just one final point, which is that from the sanctions standpoint we have been clear from the outset that the preference is to see the situation deescalate in a fashion that's been described. But if Russia persists on destabilizing Ukraine, persists on fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, or takes additional steps with respect to Ukraine, we have at our disposal additional tools, including the ones that we have used today, as well as those that we have in our pocket that can ratchet up and continue, frankly, to have very significant impact on the Russian economy.
And so I think another question to be asked in Russia is whether the cost to the Russian economy as a whole, to the Russian people, is worth it when there is a clear and legitimate path to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, thanks, everybody, for joining the call. We'll continue to keep you posted on these matters in the days ahead.
MS. HAYDEN: And just as a reminder, this call was on background. Those were senior administration officials. Thanks, everyone, for joining us.
END10:07 P.M. PHT
Asia-Pacific Perspective: Russia Writes Off 90% of North Korean Debt to Facilitate Gas Pipeline to South Korea.
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:34
from In order to facilitate construction of gas pipeline to South Korea, Russia has agreed to write off almost $10 billion of North Korea's Soviet-era debt, reports news agency Reuters.On Friday, the State Duma lower house ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea's debt, which stood at $10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.As per Reuters report the rest of the debt, $1.09 billion, would be redeemed during the next 20 years, to be paid in equal installments every six months.Gazprom has been planning to build a gas pipeline to South Korea via North Korea which would carry 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year.Russia has been trying to diversify its energy sales to Asia away from Europe, says Reuters. Moscow aims to reach a deal to supply gas to China, after a decade of talks, this May.
Russia preparing to test-run joint railway with N. Korea: Seoul official
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:13
SEOUL, April 30 (Yonhap) -- Russia appears to be preparing for a test operation of its newly renovated railway linked to North Korea, but the economic feasibility of South Korea's joining the logistics project remains to be seen, a Seoul diplomat said Wednesday.
Late last year, Russia reopened the 54-kilometer track linking the Russian eastern border town of Khasan to the North's port of Rajin following a five-year renovation.
"I have been sensing that Russia is preparing to export its coal through the Rajin-Khasan railway in the near future as part of an experiment," Lee Yang-goo, council general in Vladivostok, told reporters. "But it seems that there is no substantial demand for the rail line now."
The project is part of Russia's ambition to set up a rail road linking Asia to the Eurasian region. Last year, South Korea agreed with Russia to extend the track to South Korea.
Seoul officials said that they may be able to finish linking the rail to South Korea's southern port city of Busan and put it into operation as early as next year, but experts have said feasibility of the plan remains to be seen.
Several factors, including economic and technological ones, should be taken into account before South Korean firms can join the logistics project, the council general said. "The economic feasibility should be reviewed foremost."
Touching on the shock execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek late last year, Lee said that "in the initial stage (following the execution), I have seen a tense mood among North Korean diplomats, but now it seems to have gone back to normal."
Currently, about 20,000 North Koreans work in Russia, mostly in the construction sector, and three-fourths of the North Korean laborers are located in the Far East area, the official said. "North Korea relies on Russia mostly for labor export."
South Korea's Council General in Vladivostok Lee Yang-goo hold a group interview with reporters on April 30, 2014. (Yonhap)
Russia keen on gas investment in Turkey
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:34
ANKARA - Reuters
Energy Minister Yıldız chats with the reporters in a plane on his way back to Turkey from Norway, where he met with some of top energy officials in the country. AA Photo
Russia has expressed interest in acquiring or building Turkish gas-fired power plants and will also propose building a natural gas storage facility here, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters.Russian energy officials are investigating a location for the facility, officials said.
Turkey has storage of about 2 bcm and is building an additional 5 bcm of capacity. Officials say this still falls short of its storage needs.
Yıldız also said he did not expect that political tensions in Ukraine would affect the flow of gas to Turkey on the Western pipeline, which delivers 16 bcm of Russia fuel to Turkey.
''I do not foresee any cuts in natural gas on the Western pipeline but if there were, some issues on Turkish supply security would emerge, but not for electricity. I don't expect such a risk,'' Yıldız said.
Yıldız also said Turkey hopes to renew its liquefied natural gas (LNG) contracts with Algeria but it must first ensure that deliveries are timely. Turkey's contract to acquire 4 billion cubic meters (bcm) of LNG from Algeria's Sonatrach expires at the end of the year, and officials from both countries are in talks to renew it, Yıldız said.
''We want to renew this contract, and they do as well. We have reached a basic understanding but we made it known that we do have a couple of wishes, the most important of which is that we want the deliveries made on time,'' he said.
South Steam Pipeline via Turkey?
Sun, 27 Apr 2014 13:57
April 16th, 20146:11pmPosted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas, News By Country, South Stream Pipeline, Russia, TurkeyNew possibilities have emerged for the South Stream pipeline with Turkey offering to consider passage through its territory.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz commented that Turkey would consider granting access for the Russian gas pipeline if a formal request was presented.
''We are open to assessing any request for the line to pass through Turkey's territory," said Yildiz.
Russian officials including Gazprom deputy head Alexander Medvedev will be meeting next week in Ankara to discuss energy related issues including gas supply and pricing.
"It is said that there could be such a demand. If there is a request, we will consider it," said Yildiz, due to hold talks with Alexander Medvedev, deputy head of Russian state-controlled Gazprom, in Ankara on Monday.
Potential scenarios could see South Stream shift its route from a crossing under the Black Sea with landfall in Bulgaria to an overland passage to northwest Turkey, providing supply to regions such as the Marmara region, which has high levels of gas demand.
Alternatively, the undersea leg of the pipeline could remain with gas then routed from Bulgaria to western Turkey, instead of to Italy.
The former-CEO of Italy's Eni Spa, Paolo Scaroni, recently commented that the on-going crisis in Ukraine could come with some complications for the South Stream pipeline project.
According to Scaroni, the Crimea crisis could undermine the permitting process for the pipeline. Eni holds 20% of the company in charge of the offshore section.
Italian gas demand peaked around in 2005 and has returned to the levels seen in 2000. The situation is dramatically different in Turkey, with gas demand more than tripling since 2000.
Turkey has already requested that Russia consider increasing the capacity Blue Stream that brings Russian gas via the Black Sea to central Turkey. Turkey is seeking an increase of 3.5 billion cubic metres annually in addition to the current 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.
Ukraine crisis: Obama says Russia has 'hand' in 'disruption and chaos' | World news |
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:26
The US has promised Ukraine non-lethal military aid after the low morale among the country's soldiers became evident in confrontations with pro-Moscow separatists, but the White House urged the Kiev to act in a ''measured and responsible way'' in responding to unrest in the east.
The American offer came ahead of today's talks over the fate of eastern Ukraine. Those negotiations began this morning in Geneva amid low expectations and battling narratives over what is going on the ground.
Asked if he is expecting any progress, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, simply shrugged. He held separate meetings this morning at the Intercontinental Hotel with the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, the Ukrainian foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytisa, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, before all four began a plenary session.
Deshchytisa said he had come with ''optimism and goodwill'' but Lavrov did not hold a separate meeting with him. The ballroom set aside for the closing press conference has been decked out with the US star and stripes but no other flags.
The White House press secretary, Jay Carney noted today's Geneva meeting represented the first time for the four foreign ministers, known as the 'contact group', has met since the crisis erupted in February.
He said the US was considering requests from Kiev for support for the army, but stressed it would not be lethal aid in the form of arms or ammunition. Press reports have suggested it would include items like uniforms, but stop short of body armour.
Briefing journalists on Air Force One, Carney, urged restraint on Kiev, saying ''It is certainly appropriate for Ukraine to take action to restore law and order, but we believe that they should continue to do so in a measured and responsible way.''
US troops arrive in Estonia
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:51
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US Army forces from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) arrive in Estonia to conduct training exercises with their Estonian army counterparts. Soundbites from US ambassador to Estonia, Jeffrey D Levine and President of the Republic of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
Atlantic Council - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:57
The Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan think tank that promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic Community in meeting global challenges. Founded in 1961, the Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic shifts in economic and political influence that are shaping the twenty-first century by educating and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of international political, business, and intellectual leaders. The Council's ten regional centers and functional programs shape today's policy choices and foster transatlantic strategies to advance international security and global economic prosperity. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
History[edit]The Atlantic Council was founded in 1961, with the mission to encourage the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began in the immediate post-war years. In its early years its work consisted largely of publishing policy papers and polling Europeans and Americans about their attitudes towards transatlantic and international cooperation. In these early years its primary focus was on economic issues'--mainly encouraging free trade between the two continents, and to a lesser extent to the rest of the world'--but it also did some work on political and environmental issues.[1]
Although the Atlantic Council did publish policy papers and monographs, Melvin Small of Wayne State University wrote that, especially in its early years, the Council's real strength lie in its connections to influential policy makers. The Council early on found a niche as "center for informal get-togethers" of leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, with members working to develop "networks of continuing communication".[1]
From its inception, the Atlantic Council has worked on issues in regions other than North America and Europe, with Asia figuring prominently in the Council's work. The Atlantic Council was among the first organizations advocating for an increased Japanese presence in the international community, and in recent years has expanded its focus with the opening of its South Asia Center and Program on Asia. Its Asian programs have expanded in recent years due to the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the new challenge of coordinating with India and China on climate change efforts.[1][2]
In February 2009, James L. Jones, then-chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama's new National Security Advisor and was succeeded by Senator Chuck Hagel.[3] In addition, Council members Susan Rice left to serve as the administration's ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke became the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki became the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter became Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Senator Chuck Hagel stepped down in 2013 to serve as US Secretary of Defense. Gen. Brent Scowcroft now serves as interim chairman of the organization's Board of Directors while a search for his successor is under way. In January 2014, it was announced that the post would assumed by former Governor of UtahJon Huntsman, Jr..[4]
The Atlantic Council has earned praise from across the international community, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling the Council a "pre-eminent think tank" with a "longstanding reputation",[5] and former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) noting that the Council is "held in high esteem within the Atlantic community".[6]
Political stance[edit]The Atlantic Council has, since its inception, been a nonpartisan institution, with members "from the moderate internationalist wings of both parties." Despite its connections, the Council is by charter independent of the US government and NATO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[1]
The Atlantic Council has traditionally been a meeting place for heads of state, military leaders, and international leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, the Council hosted NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's first major US speech, in which he discussed issues such as Afghanistan, Russia, and the broader transatlantic relationship.[7] Prominent members of the US Congress have also appeared, including Senators Richard Lugar and John Kerry.[8][9] The Council often hosts events with sitting heads of state and government, including Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,[10] Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko,[11] and Latvian President Vaira VÄÄ·e-Freiberga.[12]
The Council has hosted many military leaders from both sides of the Atlantic as well. The Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security has since January 2007 held periodic events known as the Commanders Series where it invites military leaders from the United States and Europe to speak about conflicts of interest to the Atlantic community.[13] As part of the Commanders Series, American military leaders such as General George Casey[14] and Admiral Timothy Keating[15] and European leaders like French Chief of Defense General Jean-Louis Georgelin[16] and Dutch Major General Ton van Loon[17] have spoken on issues as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan, and security threats in Asia and Africa.
Its flagship annual events are Distinguished Leadership Awards in Washington, DC; the Global Citizen Awards in New York City; the Freedom Awards in Wroclaw, Poland; and the Atlantic Council Energy & Economic Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
Programs and Centers[edit]The Program on Transatlantic Relations promotes dialogue on the major issues that will affect the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. At the heart of the program is the conviction that a healthy transatlantic relationship is an essential prerequisite for a stronger international system. The Council seeks to strengthen the transatlantic relationship by addressing specific areas of policy differences by identifying areas of potential cooperation and by building the personal networks and mutual understanding that form the basis for an effective partnership.
The Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security examines U.S. relationships with allies and adversaries in an effort to build consensus around policies that contribute to a more stable, secure and well-governed world.
The Global Business and Economics Program works to build upon and strengthen the already deep economic integration between Europe and the United States as well as promote Transatlantic leadership in the global economy. Bringing together top business leaders, government policy makers, and economic experts, the program explores transatlantic and global issues of importance to the U.S. and European business community.
Under the leadership of Shuja Nawaz, the South Asia Center is the Atlantic Council's focal point for work on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan as well as on relations between these countries and China, Central Asia, Iran, the Arab world, Europe and the U.S. As part of the Council's Asia program, the Center seeks to foster partnerships with key institutions in the region to establish itself as a forum for dialogue between decision makers in South Asia, the U.S. and NATO. These deliberations cover internal and external security, governance, trade, economic development, education and other issues.
The Energy and Environment program explores the economic and political aspects of energy security and supply, as well as international environmental issues. It promotes open access and clean air and offers policy recommendations to meet developing countries' needs through the increased flow of capital, technology and know-how in the energy and water supply sectors.
The Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center fosters dialogue among regional leaders, as well with counterparts from key neighbors and global leaders. Combining in-depth understanding of Eurasia's history with expertise on politics, economics and energy, the Center provides distinctive research and advice to governments and businesses worldwide. It seeks to promote an agenda of regional cooperation and integration based on shared values and common interest in a free, prosperous and peaceful future.
Launched at the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Young Atlanticist Network brings together a community of emerging leaders who share a vision of closer Euro-Atlantic cooperation based on common values. Through online tools and regular events, the Young Atlanticist Network serves as a forum for open dialogue between young Atlanticists so they can exchange their views on a range of international issues. As a meeting place, the Network serves as a stage for global leaders to address the next generation and to share the perspective on current issues.
The Africa Center was established in September 2009 with a mission to help transform US and European policy approaches to Africa by emphasizing the building of strong geopolitical partnerships with African states and strengthening economic growth and prosperity on the continent.
The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East seeks to produce original analysis of the forces transforming the region, as well as policy recommendations for the United States and Europe about how to promote closer and more productive relations with the region.
The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center promotes a stronger partnership between Latin America, the United States, and Europe based on a shared foundation in transatlantic values and common strategic interests, and engages its robust network of political, business, and NGO entrepreneurs to develop ideas for policy and business leaders seeking innovative solutions to regional and global challenges. .
Leadership[edit]Jon Huntsman, Jr., Chairman of the Atlantic Council International Advisory BoardFrederick Kempe, President and CEODamon Wilson, Executive Vice PresidentBeverly Armstrong, Chief Financial OfficerFran Burwell, Vice President and Director, Transatlantic Relations ProgramBarry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International SecurityJason Healey, Director, Cyber Statecraft Initiative[18]John Lyman, Director, Energy & Environment ProgramShuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia CenterJ. Peter Pham, Director, Africa CenterRoss Wilson, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia CenterDavid Kirk, Director, Young Atlanticist ProgramPublications[edit]The Atlantic Council produces many publications and issue briefs about important global challenges ranging from NATO's global role to energy security. A full list of the Atlantic Council's publications and issue briefs can be found on the Atlantic Council website.
References[edit]^ abcd"[1]"^[2][dead link]^Exclusive: Senator Hagel succeeds Gen. Jones at Atlantic Council, Politico, 11 February 2009^Howell, Tom (16 January 2014). "Jon Huntsman tapped as Atlantic Council chairman". The Washington Times. Retrieved 16 January 2014. ^[3][dead link]^[4][dead link]^NATO Secretary General Rasmussen: First Major U.S. Speech, Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009^Senator Richard Lugar: Congressional Perspective on the Future of NATO, Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009^Kerry and Hagel Unveil Atlantic Council's Pakistan Report, Atlantic Council, 25 February 2009^Council Hosts Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Atlantic Council, 24 September 2008^Council Hosts Ukrainian President Yushchenko, Atlantic Council, 23 September 2008^Young Atlanticist Discussion with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Atlantic Council, 3 May 2007^Commanders Series, Atlantic Council^General Casey: Complex Operations and Counterinsurgency, Atlantic Council, 28 May 2009^Admiral Timothy Keating: Asia-Pacific Security Challenges, Atlantic Council, 29 June 2009^General Jean-Louis Georgelin: France in NATO, Atlantic Council, 10 September 2009^Ton van Loon: Taliban Have Lost the War, Atlantic Council, 5 June 2007^"Healey, Jason". Retrieved 2014-04-22. External links[edit]
About the Atlantic Council
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:56
The Atlantic Council promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic Community in meeting global challenges.Founded in 1961, the Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic shifts in economic and political influence that are shaping the twenty-first century by educating and galvanizing its uniquely influential, nonpartisan network of international political, business, and intellectual leaders. Through the papers we write, the ideas we promote, and the communities we build, the Council's ten regional centers and functional programs shape today's policy choices and foster transatlantic strategies to advance international security and global economic prosperity.
The Council is home to ten regional centers and functional programs that advance the organization's mission.
Without an extraordinary crisis, little is likely to be done to reverse or limit the damage imposed by failed or failing governance.-War on Terror Is not the Only Threat
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:59
August 15, 2013
Unspecific warnings last week about an al-Qaida terrorist plot were taken very seriously.With the anniversary of September 11th looming and the tragic killing of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, last year still open political wounds in Washington, it was unsurprising that the United States, Britain, and France ordered the closing of a score embassies and posts throughout North Africa and the Middle East and issued travel warnings for the region. In the United States initially, there was general bipartisan support for the closings.
Critics of the Obama administration were quick to point out that the war on terror was far from over and pronouncing the "decimation" of al-Qaida premature. As the word "decimation" was wrongly used yet again -- it means a 10 percent degradation -- so too has been the collective failure by the West to recognize the tectonic changes that are reshaping the international geostrategic system far beyond the reach of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
Hence, the counter-terrorism responses have been technical and tactical rather than strategic and aren't addressing the forces that are dramatically altering the nature of international politics.
In simple terms, al-Qaida is symptomatic of far greater changes in the structure of the international system. The major enemy and adversary are no longer states bent on disrupting or dominating the system despite those who see China as a future foe.
Instead, the more immediate danger rests in the dramatic empowerment of individuals and groups, for good and sadly evil, often lumped together as "non-state actors."
Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, countless "hackers" and anonymous people mailing anthrax-filled letters whose actions have indeed constituted real threats and systemic disruptions are among the former. Al-Qaida and other radical groups reflect the latter.
In essence, the 365 year-old Westphalian system that placed sovereign states as the centerpieces of international politics is being tested and in some cases made obsolete by the empowerment of individuals and non-state actors. As former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft observes, global politics has entered a post-Westphalian era. But very few have taken note and fewer have acted on this realization.
The fundamental cause of this empowerment is the diffusion of all forms of power writ large commonly called "globalization," accelerated by the information revolution and instantaneous global communications and the real and perceived fragilities and weaknesses of states to intervention, interference and disruption by non-traditional actors.
September 11th could become the demarcation point of this new era much as 1648 and the Treaty of Westphalia marked the beginning of the state-centric system of the international order.
While the analogy is loose, it won't take centuries for the effects of globalization and the end or at least the transition of the Westphalian era to take hold.
Beyond this inflection point in international politics, still unabsorbed and misunderstood by most governments and people, a second reality complicates taking effective action in what could truly be a "new world order," the description coined by U.S. President George H.W. Bush after the implosion of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago.
Failed and failing government from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe with Brussels and Washington in between is the largest collective impediment to the betterment of mankind.
Without an extraordinary crisis, little is likely to be done to reverse or limit the damage imposed by failed or failing governance. The United States is Exhibit A although there are far too many competitors for that title.
However, the changing Westphalian system can and must be addressed if there is to be any chance of success in containing, reducing and eliminating the dangers posed by newly empowered non-state actors.
We have been here before. Sixty-eight years ago this month, the nuclear age dawned over Hiroshima. Over time as nuclear and especially thermonuclear weapons were seen as more than just extensions of conventional munitions and potentially existential, a theory of deterrence emerged. We are at similar juncture regarding cyber where we lack an overarching understanding of the implications and possible consequences of this domain.
The first step as the Westphalian system faces profound redefinition is understanding and recognizing that these shifts are under way. From that appreciation, specific concepts and ideas can be fashioned to help guide us on this journey.
The path will be difficult and tortuous. Politics and ideological preferences will confuse and distort clear vision. The tendency to overreact, as occurred after September 11th and the Snowden and Manning leaks, will collide with budget realities in which a great deal less will be spent on national security. And because of the pernicious nature of the U.S. system of government, finding institutions with the objectivity, courage and perseverance to chart this new unknown won't be easy.
Yet this must be done.
Harlan Ullman is senior adviser at the Atlantic Council, and chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders of government and business. This article was syndicated by UPI.
Putin: Washington behind Ukraine events all along, though flying low '-- RT News
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:07
Published time: April 29, 2014 19:26Edited time: April 29, 2014 20:33Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk, on April 29, 2014. (AFP Photo / Alexey Druzhinin)
The US has been behind the Ukrainian crisis from the beginning, but was initially flying low, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. He added that if sanctions continue, Russia will have to reconsider who has access to key sectors if its economy.
''I think what is happening now shows us who really was mastering the process from the beginning. But in the beginning, the United States preferred to remain in the shadow,'' Putin said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
Putin stated that since the US has taken a lead role in resolving the political crisis in Ukraine, it is ''telling that they originally were behind this process, but now they just have emerged as leaders'' of it.
The "Maidan cookies" policy paves the way to a broader crisis, Putin warned, referring to US officials showing up in central Kiev and encouraging protesters during demonstrations.
''It is necessary to understand that the situation is serious and try to find serious approaches to the solution,'' he said.
Putin said that he has called on Kiev to start an all-Ukrainian dialogue, adding that other countries should not be blamed for the crisis.
''[They should] treat equally the rights of those living in other areas of Ukraine, first of all, I mean, the east and southeast, establish a dialogue, find a compromise," he told journalists while speaking about the measures necessary to put an end to the crisis. ''Here's what you need to do; searching for the guilty outside Ukraine is wrong.''
Regarding the last row of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and the EU, Vladimir Putin said he sees no need for counter sanctions.
"We would very much wish not to resort to any measures in response," he told reporters. "But if something like that continues, we will of course have to think about who is working in the key sectors of the Russian economy, including the energy sector, and how."
At the same time, the US and EU sanctions will not harm the Eurasian integration process, which is meant to lead to the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, based on a Customs Union and common economic space among Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, he said.
After new sanctions on Russia, Ukraine moves closer to civil war
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:02
By Barry Grey30 April 2014In the wake of new sanctions against Russia imposed by Washington and its G7 allies in Europe, Canada and Japan, the rebellion in eastern Ukraine against the US puppet government in Kiev has spread, plunging the country closer to civil war and increasing the danger of a military confrontation between the Western powers and Moscow.
On Monday, the day the US outlined stepped-up penalties targeting Russian officials, oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin and companies linked to Putin's inner circle, pro-Russian militants captured the city council building and police station in Konstantinovka and demanded a referendum on autonomy from the regime in Kiev.
The same day, a demonstration by pro-regime Ukrainian nationalists in Donetsk was broken up by anti-government protesters, sending 14 people to the hospital. Later in the day, Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, was shot in the back by an unknown assailant. He was moved to an Israeli hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced that one Ukrainian soldier was killed by an explosion in the Donetsk region and another wounded.
On Tuesday, a crowd of people numbering between 1,000 and ''thousands,'' according to various reports, stormed the regional government building in Luhansk, an industrial city of nearly 500,000 residents situated 25 kilometers west of the Russian border. Activists proclaimed the ''People's Republic of Luhansk'' and announced plans to hold a referendum on autonomy on May 11, the same day the neighboring ''People's Republic of Donetsk'' plans to hold its own referendum.
Militants then took over the Luhansk regional prosecutor's office and the regional television center, and some 20 gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles on the local police headquarters, demanding the police surrender their weapons.
Also on Tuesday, protesters raised the flag of the Donetsk People's Republic in five more towns and villages. The two regions, Luhansk and Donetsk, make up the bulk of Ukraine's heavily populated industrial base in the Donbass coalfield.
The responsibility for the civil conflict in Ukraine and arguably the greatest crisis in Europe since the end of World War II rest overwhelming with the United States and its imperialist allies in Europe, beginning with Germany. In announcing the new sanctions Monday, the Obama administration formally accused Russia of violating the four-party agreement reached April 17 in Geneva to defuse the crisis over Ukraine.
This charge only underscores the hypocrisy of the official Western propaganda on Ukraine prior to and since the February 22 coup that toppled the pro-Russian government of President Viktor Yanukovych and installed an ultra-nationalist regime pledged to join the European Union and impose IMF-dictated austerity measures on the Ukrainian working class. The putsch was led by the US-backed neo-Nazi paramilitary Right Sector and the fascist Svoboda party, whose representatives now occupy prominent positions in the Kiev government.
Washington knew that the installation of a rabidly anti-Russian government in Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic and current home to Moscow's main naval base with access to the Mediterranean Sea, would provoke a response from Russia. That has taken the form of support for a separatist rebellion in Crimea and incorporation of the peninsula into the Russian Federation.
The Geneva meeting came after a failed attempt by the Ukrainian military to smash the protests and occupations in the east, following a secret visit to Kiev by CIA Director John Brennan. That the US signed the agreement in bad faith was quickly demonstrated by the visit of Vice President Joseph Biden to Kiev and a second military attack on eastern Ukraine protesters that followed within hours of his departure. That attack killed eight people.
According to a statement released Monday by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Kiev government has deployed 11,000 troops in southeastern Ukraine, plus 160 tanks, 230 armored personnel carriers, at least 150 artillery systems and ''a large number of planes.''
At the same time, the US and NATO have launched an unprecedented deployment of military forces to former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact nations, bringing western military forces right up to Russia's western borders.
The only voices of dissent from within the political and media establishment to the administration's incendiary policy are those attacking Obama for not taking a more confrontational line. The Washington Post ran an editorial Tuesday dismissing the sanctions announced Monday with the headline ''More half-measures.''
A number of Republican politicians are demanding that the administration announce a program of arms shipments to the Kiev regime. In an interview in Beijing with the Financial Times, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: ''I personally would hope there would be a much more robust deployment of American forces'' to Eastern Europe.
Two opinion polls released this week attest to the broad popular opposition that exists to Washington's war-mongering policy, despite a relentless barrage of anti-Russian propaganda from the media, and the utter disregard of the ruling elite for the democratic will of the population.
A USA Today /Pew Research Center Poll found that a narrow majority of Americans supports tighter economic sanctions on Moscow, but the public opposes by more than two-to-one (62 percent to 30 percent) the dispatch of arms or military supplies to the Ukrainian government.
A Washington Post -ABC News poll found that Obama's approval rating has fallen to 41 percent, down from 46 percent through the first three months of the year and the lowest of his presidency. Only 34 percent approve of his handling of the Ukraine crisis, while 46 percent disapprove.
While the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin is signaling that it wants to ease tensions and find some basis for accommodation with the West, Washington is giving no indication of a desire to reciprocate.
Late Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in a telephone conversation with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, reiterated Moscow's denials that its forces are behind the rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Shoigu urged Hegal to ''tone down the rhetoric.''
The Russian defense chief told Hagel that Russian troops near the border with Ukraine had returned to their barracks after the Kiev government said it would not use military units against ''the unarmed population.''
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that Moscow had no intention of invading or annexing eastern Ukraine. ''We have absolutely no intention, and I stress it, to repeat the so-called Crimean scenario in Ukraine's southeast,'' Ryabkov said in an interview.
The Pentagon confirmed the telephone call between Shoigu and Hagel, but spurned Moscow's conciliatory gestures, saying Hagel had demanded that Russia cease ''destabilizing'' Ukraine and had warned against ''continued aggression.''
Senior US and European Union officials are scheduled to meet Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the next steps in the confrontation with Russia. Washington has been pressing the Europeans to take a harder line against Moscow.
Later this week, President Obama will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the White House.
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$30 Billion Oil Pipeline to Be Built from Russia to India through Northwest China
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:58
Talks on the construction of the Russia to India oil pipeline project should conclude by mid-2014, officials from ONGC said.
Thus, Russia is changing its energy export policy vector as strong demand for hydrocarbons, both in China and in India, one of the largest economies in the world, continues to grow. The benefits are obvious, including those in connection with India's plans to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). China supports the pipeline oil supplies to India, which is not surprising. One of the project's options is the construction of a pipeline from the Altai region through the north-west of China to the north of India. Director of the Center for Strategic Studies in Energy of the People's Republic of China, Xia Yishan says, ''The project is beneficial for both India and China, as it would allow China to become an oil transit in addition to its 'status' of recipient of the Russian oil.'' For Russia, the project's additional benefit is providing oil to the SCO market.
''Russia and India have agreed to establish a joint group to study the possibility of direct ground transportation of hydrocarbons'' the joint statement by Vladimir Putin and Manmohan Singh in December. The discussion of such a project began back in 2005. At the end of last year, ONGC supported its implementation, by saying ''The pipeline from Russia seems appropriate. The details of the project will be clarified with the Russian partners.''
According to the director of the Gas business agency Michael Yermolovich, the project may be associated with the creation of a Russian-Indian petrochemical joint venture in Gujarat. Investment in this venture is estimated at $450 million, its capacity is estimated at 100,000 tonnes of finished products per year.
In general, India is planning to significantly increase its reserves of the black gold, due to an increase in domestic demand. Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ajay Bisaria said that ''in 2013, the oil purchases in Russia amounted to $176 million, but India intends to buy more. This requires an overland route.'' Up to 35 percent of the pipeline falls in mountainous terrain. The project's preliminary cost would be $30 billion and the completion of construction is planned for 2020-2022.
As for the Western market, due to the crisis in the Eurocurrency zone, the demand for oil there is very volatile. In addition, if they want to ''put pressure'' on Moscow, the EU can increases its import of crude from Norway, North Africa, the Gulf and even Trinidad, but this is the EU's problem.
In addition to that, the EU complains about the low domestic prices for oil and gas in Russia, that is why many goods manufactured in Russia are taxed by antidumping restrictions. Timur Nigmatullin, analyst in Investkafe said, ''The use of so-called energy corrections by the European Union looks like an attempt to level one of our economy's key competition advantages. This approach introduced unjustified anti-dumping duties, which is why Russian businesses annually lose more than $600 million.''
In short, there is a need for new markets, especially those where integration processes with Russia's participation are developed. This is primarily the SCO. ''The growth of mutual investments by Russia and China is accompanied by greater activity of the Russian and Chinese business in other SCO countries, '' said the president of the International Organization of Creditors Robert Abdullin. ''Economic growth in these countries is more favourable than it is in the industrialized countries.'' Countries like India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Vietnam and their neighbours would naturally be attracted to working in close partnership with the SCO, including a partnership in the energy sector.
First published in Russian in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
China to build Israel's Eilat rail line
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:14
Memorandum of understanding signed
Israel's Minister of Transport Israel Katz and China's Minister of Transport Li signed the memorandum of understanding in Beijing.
The main project is the construction of a freight rail line that will link Israel\'s two Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa with Eilat Port.
The 180 km line will run through the Arava Valley and Nahal Zin. The estimated cost of the line is at least ILS 20bn (US$4.9bn).
The route to Eilat crosses hundreds of kilometers of rough desert terrain, with frequent elevation changes and the potential for flash floods. This is particularly challenging to high-speed railway construction whose aim is avoid sharp curves along the route.
The topographically-challenging nature of the route (and consequently the large investment is therefore required) is one of the main reasons the railway hasn't been constructed until now, despite the frequently-expressed desire of various Israeli governments for such a line to be built. Now it will be constructed at last.
The Chinese proposed the financing of part of the cost through the Chinese government-owned China Development Industrial Bank, and that Israel handle the project\'s operations.
Israel is considering awarding construction of the project to Chinese companies, because of their rapid work, and is therefore considering a government-to-government agreement to bypass the Tenders Law in awarding the franchise.
The inland canal port north of Eilat is an idea of the Government of Israel which examined the feasibility of establishing a canal port at north east of Eilat bay. The Government signalled its support for the plan, following offers from Chinese companies to build the port. The idea is to offer an Israeli rail landbridge alternative to the Suez Canal. The existing port at Eilat has poor inland connectivity and the local topography makes the cost of building a rail link prohibitively expensive.
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EU states strike lucrative military contracts with China overriding embargo - report
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:06
Published time: April 30, 2014 14:14Edited time: April 30, 2014 14:46Helicopters fly past the Chinese Jiangwei II class naval frigate "Luoyang" (Reuters/Guang Niu)
'‹Europe is powering the military rise of China, approving multi-million dollar deals for the transfer of weapons and dual-use technology '' despite an arms embargo stemming from the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, AFP reveals.
China is the world's second largest military spender and the fastest growing military market, with Beijing setting aside $132 billion in defense spending. While they are yet to touch the US' massive $495.6 billion defense budget, China recently announced they would increase military spending by 12.2 percent for 2014.
''It will take China a long, long time before its budgets will effectively alter the military balance with the US,'' Jonathan Holslag of the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, recently told Stars and Stripes.
''But that's not the main concern. While the US still has some scope to respond, neighbors are getting much more nervous'... Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines all know that they could be the first victim if the balance of power shifts at America's detriment.''
Although Western partners in the East are skittish about China's rise, Europe seemingly cannot resist the allure of Beijing's billions.
French designed helicopters bolstering China's air force, British jet engines driving fighter bombers and anti-ship strike aircraft, German and French engines providing the rudder to the Chinese navy '' the role European exports play in China's military is undeniable.
''Without European technology, the Chinese navy would not be able to move," Andrei Chang, editor of the Hong Kong-based Kanwa Asian Defense Review, told AFP.
EU weapons manufactures received licenses to export equipment worth three billion euros ($4.1 billion) to China in the decade to 2012, annual EU reports on trade reveal.
The most recent document said arms exports totaling 173 million euros were given the green light in 2012, 80 percent of which were issued by France. A French parliamentary report said the country delivered arms to China worth 104 million euros.
The PLA consists of four main service branches: the Ground Force, the Navy, the Air Force and the Second Artillery Corps. The total PLA forces hovers at just under 2.3 million. Currently, the Chinese nuclear stockpile is estimated at between 50 and 75 land and sea based ICBM's. The country is believed to have approximately 9,150 tanks. They also are in possession of an estimated 4,788 armored fighting vehicles and 1,770 multiple-launch rocket systems. The country's air power consists of 2,788 aircraft, including 1,170 fighters, 885 fixed-wing attack aircraft, and 856 helicopters. China has 76 Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighters, another 73 Sukhoi Su-30MKK multirole fighters, and 165 domestically manufactured Shenyang J-11 air fighters. China also boasts 1 aircraft carrier, a 520 vessel strong navy including 45 frigates, 24 destroyers, 9 corvettes, and 69 submarines.
''Already, cynics claim that if the People's Liberation Army went to war tomorrow, it would employ an arsenal filled with equipment from Germany, France and Britain," Emil Kirchner, an EU policy expert at Britain's University of Essex, told said.
The European Union imposed an arms embargo on China following the killing of hundreds, if not thousands of protesters during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Analysts, however, say EU states have free will to interpret the embargo as they choose, a reality which has generated tension with the United States.
An EU spokesman said in a statement that "the final decision to authorize or deny the (arms) export is the responsibility of EU member states."
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which monitors arms transfers, estimates that France, Britain and Germany account for 18 percent of Chinese military imports. Russia still provides the bulk of military hardware exports to China.
At the heart of China's military modernization is its powerful new submarine fleet, which relies on state-of-the-art diesel engines designed by MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH of Friedrichshafen, Germany.
For Western states, these exports can impact the security of their allies. In January 2013, tensions nearly boiled over after a Jiangwei-class Chinese frigate locked fire-control radar on a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense destroyer and a helicopter near the disputed Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands.
Military experts believe the ship relies on diesel engines produced by German firm MTU, AFP reports.
Another Chinese ship, a Jiangkai-class vessel, uses engines made by SEMT Pielstick, a French diesel engine manufacturer owned by German firm MAN Diesel and Turbo, according to analysts and specifications posted on Chinese military websites.
MAN told AFP that its Chinese licensees have supplied about 250 engines to China's navy. MTU said it "acts strictly according to the German export laws," without elaborating.
Meanwhile, in March Airbus Helicopters and China's Avicopter '' the helicopter business unit of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) '' penned a joint agreement for the production of 1,000 new generation EC175/AC352 rotorcraft at the Elys(C)e Palace in Paris. Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Francois Hollande were present for the signing.
Citing the co-production deal signed in France, Chang said: "China uses the name of civil purchase to purchase French helicopter engines, and they shift those engines into military helicopters.
If (China) knows how to design the middle-sized EC175, they will know how to design a middle-sized military transport helicopter.''
Meanwhile, the Netherlands is also behind 18 million euros' worth of "vessels of war" or their accessories and components, while the acquisition of a British-made Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform for the latest Chinese surveillance aircraft has provided a boost to the People's Liberation Army Air Force.
The Chinese defense ministry has previously said reports of the People's Liberation Army dependence on foreign arms technology are exaggerated. "According to international practice, China is also engaged in communication and cooperation with some countries in the area of weaponry development," the ministry said in a statement responding to this series. "Some people have politicized China's normal commercial cooperation with foreign countries, smearing our reputation."
Putin approves sale of newest S-400 air defense system to China
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:39
Putin approves sale of newest S-400 air defense system to ChinaDEBKAfileApril 30, 2014, 9:06 AM (IDT)
Coinciding with the last day of US President Barack Obama's Asia tour, Vladimir Putin Tuesday gave the green light to sell China Russia's newest S-400 air defense guided missile system. Moscow says this will give Beijing an edge in the airspace over the Taiwan Strait and the Diaoyutai islands disputed between China and Japan. China voiced strong opposition to Obama's pledge a week ago in Tokyo to come to Japan's defense in any conflict with China over the islands.
Former US envoy not optimistic about Syria solution - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:49
George Mitchell waves upon his arrival with his then-adviser Frederick Hoff at Shaab Palace in Damascus, July 26, 2009. (photo by LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Author: As-Safir (Lebanon) Posted April 15, 2014
During the past three years, the map of conflicts has changed across the world in general and in the Middle East in particular.
Summary'Ž Print Former US envoy to Syria Frederick Hoff told As-Safir that a political solution to the Syrian crisis is not likely to happen, as the regime prepares for presidential elections.Author Ali ShukairPosted April 15, 2014Translator(s)Sami-Joe Abboud
As the Syrian crisis stalls, at least at the political level, the Iranian nuclear dossier developments that occurred in November, a comprehensive and durable agreement with Iran that is expected to be reached in May and the settlement negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis that are still deemed as ''nesitive'' [negative + positive] are all factors that have affected in one way or another the international strategy of perceiving balances and solutions, especially now that the Ukrainian crisis has joined the US-Russian skirmishes line.
Is a political solution still possible in Syria? Can a party settle the issue militarily? What about the Turkish role in Kassab, the rapprochement with Iran and the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry in the peace talks?
''I'm not very optimistic about [finding] a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis,'' said Frederick Hoff, former US envoy for the transitional period in Syria, in an interview with As-Safir on the sidelines of the fourth regional conference held by the Center for Research and Strategic Studies of the Lebanese army, which concludes its work today [April 12] at the Monroe hotel in Beirut.
When As-Safir asked Hoff about the US optimism that the solution in Syria would be political, Hoff said, ''At the moment, I am not optimistic, as the Syrian regime made it clear in the two rounds of negotiations in Geneva, and even clearer when it announced holding the upcoming elections, that it is not interested in applying the Geneva I formula.''
''In all cases, that is the formula agreed upon by the five permanent members of the Security Council. These consider that this is the only formula for negotiations and for a solution, and I do not think that the regime is interested in participating in such a formula,'' he added.
The former envoy tackled the upcoming Syrian presidential elections and the nomination of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a third term. When As-Safir asked about the possibility of Assad's re-election and whether this stage was critical in the course of the crisis, Hoff jokingly replied, ''If I look into my crystal ball, I can predict that Assad will win the presidential election. The analytical question I am thinking of is whether he will win with a 93% or 97% rate?''
The US official did not mention the political fragmentation plaguing the Syrian opposition and the infighting between armed parties fighting the regime. He also avoided mentioning the Arab, regional and international parties sending arms and militants to Syria, while he stressed the need for the United States to support, albeit with caution, these parties with weapons.
He continued, ''The administration of US President Barack Obama is currently facing the same challenge that it confronted when John Kerry became secretary of state. Back then, Kerry said that the challenge at that stage was rechanneling and changing the Syrian regime's calculations and equations in the negotiations.''
''What I can say now is that the situation and the balance of power on the ground are the only things upon which the regime is relying to make its calculations, as it receives tremendous support from Iran by sending armed men, and from Russia as well. The only way through which the US administration could change the equation is by significantly increasing its assistance to the Syrian opposition. The US must know who is the real national opposition, and what it should get, and this is very important for the support it provides not to be given to the wrong people,'' Hoff added.
In an attempt to explore the reality on the ground, As-Safir tried to ask Hoff about the role of the Turkish regime in the currently raging Aleppo battle. ''It is hard for me to define this role. I see a lot of conflicting reports on the situation on the ground as well as the motives of Turkey. I cannot talk about this subject with certainty,'' he replied.
While Americans always insist on ''the protection of minorities'' in Syria, the Armenian presence in Kassab is currently threatened as the 100-year anniversary of the Turkish genocide against the Armenians approaches.
The US diplomat said, ''Americans in general are deeply interested in the Syrian situation and in the latest mass killings that occurred in various areas of the country. We Americans have a tendency to say that 'the situation is actually terrible, but is it really our business? Or is it that of someone else?'''
He added, ''The only way to overcome this kind of behavior, which is not necessarily good but understandable, is through presidential leadership. That was the case in the 20th century when the US was facing similar difficulties. At the time, the US decided that there must be some kind of [military] intervention and the issue was successfully explained to the people in Congress.''
Iran and the P5 +1
Hoff showed great optimism about the Iranian issue and confirmed that an international agreement is very likely to be formulated within the set deadline, which expires in July.
''As a US diplomat, and given that we are part of the P5+1, I can affirm that there will be big efforts in order to reach a final agreement,'' Hoff added.
''There are obstacles and different points of view within Iran, and I think that the decision will be ultimately taken by the supreme leader of the Republic of Iran [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]. Obstacles are likely to emerge. Although I have been away from government work for a year and a half, I have many colleagues involved in the nuclear negotiations, and I can safely say that the tireless work and efforts will lead to a good and solid agreement.''
Settlement negotiations
Hoff asserts that the negotiations will ultimately lead to a result, but did not say what kind.
''I cannot believe that something that John Kerry put his heart and soul into can come to an end. He is exerting tremendous efforts to reach an agreement,'' Hoff said, adding, ''Kerry will maintain his persistent efforts to keep the negotiations ongoing, and I am sure that he will be able to forge an agreement.''
Read More:
Russia and Iran set to strike $10bn energy deal '-- RT Business
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 10:00
Published time: April 28, 2014 20:33RIA Novosti/Dmitry Astakhov
Iran and Russia are negotiating a power deal worth up to $10 billion in the face of increasing US financial alienation. The construction of new thermal and hydroelectric plants and a transmission network are in the works.
Iran's Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian met his Russian counterpart Aleksandr Novak in Tehran on Sunday in order to discuss the potential power deals, according to Iran's Mehr news agency.
''[Expansion of] Iran-Russia relations are not only to the benefit of the two nations, but also are beneficial to entire region,'' Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, stated in a meeting with Novak in Tehran on Sunday, reported Iran's FARS news agency.
Plans include the construction of hydroelectric and thermal generating plants and a new transmission network. The possibility of Russia exporting 500 megawatts of electricity to Iran is also on the cards, said Mehr.
The strengthening of economic ties between the two countries is of heightened significance given both economic sanctions on Iran, imposed with the aim of encouraging Iran to cut its uranium stockpiles, and new economic sanctions on Russian officials imposed on Monday.
On Sunday, Chitchian reportedly stressed ''the need for further expansion of economic ties between Tehran and Moscow, particularly in the energy and commerce spheres,'' stated Mehr.
Moscow has additionally been discussing the trade of 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil for Russian goods with Tehran. The protracted deal, first reported at the beginning of April could be worth as much as $20 billion, and has rattled Washington because it could bring Iran's crude exports above one million barrels a day - the threshold agreed upon in the nuclear deal between the P5+1 powers - US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany '' and Iran.
Moscow and Tehran are far from finalizing the contract, according to Russian business daily Kommersant, which first broke the news. Nonetheless, the Obama administration has expressed distaste at the reports.
Tehran's ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanaei said on Friday that the implementation of Iran-Russia energy agreements hold the key to economic expansion.
Sanaei underlined the importance of promoting of Iran-Russia cooperation and called for the implementation of oil, gas and electricity deals, according to Press TV.
Russia-Iran trade is currently worth $5 billion a year, but economists say the two countries can at least quadruple the volume of trade.
Earlier this month, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the Islamic Republic is determined to raise the volume of its ''economic transactions'' with Russia.
Trains Good, Planes Bad (Whoo Hoo!)
Another Train Carrying Crude Oil Derails In Lynchburg
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:33
LYNCHBURG, VA - First responders are on the scene of a train derailment near Ninth Street in downtown Lynchburg. Flames and black smoke can be seen billowing into the sky.
About 12 to 14 cars of a CSX train have derailed - three or four are breached and leaking crude oil, according to Joanne Martin with the City of Lynchburg, some of which has leaked into the James River.
"It twisted several other cars... And immediately after that there was an explosion about six cars back is what I counted when I went out and took the pictures a huge fireball shot up into the sky that you will see in the pictures that was at like," said Don Hullings, who works two blocks from where the train derailed.
Hullings' office is on the ninth floor, and he saw the train derail, saying that tanker trains frequently pass through.
"It was not moving at any significant speed or anything like that I watched and it looked like one car started to tilt and it rolled it actually rolled and you could see it laying on its side toward the James River," Hullings said.
The City of Lynchburg has stated on their Twitter feed that the fire department "has assessed the situation and is allowing the fire to burn out."
Martin said 300 people have been evacuated from nearby buildings, but no injuries have been reported at this time.
Tennessee Will Now Criminally Charge Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs
Ted Cruz Votes Against Minimum Wage To Help Young People, Huh?
FAA Grounds All Flights From West Coast Due To Computer "Glitch"
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:26
Update: ye olde CTRL+ALT+DEL trick seems to have done it and the computer "glitch" has been fixed.
Now if only it was this easy to fix the busted economy and the rigged market.
* * *
The FAA has declared a "ground halt" on all flights at the following airports: BOS, BWI, DCA, EWR, FLL, JFK, LAS, LAX, LGA, MCO, MIA, PHL, TEB
*COMPUTER PROVIDING AIR-TRAFFIC RADAR DISPLAY MALFUNCTIONINGLAX is citing "computer issues" as the reason (and a radar system crash across at least 3 Western states) which could mean delays up to 90 minutes.
According to the FAA site, the following airports are also on ground halt...
BOS - General Edward Lawrence Logan InternationalBWI - Baltimore-Washington InternationalDCA - Ronald Reagan Washington NationalEWR - Newark InternationalFLL - Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood InternationalJFK - John F Kennedy InternationalLAS - Las Vegas McCarran InternationalLAX - Los Angeles InternationalLGA - La GuardiaMCO - Orlando InternationalMIA - Miami InternationalPHL - Philadelphia InternationalTEB - Teterboro
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 3.8(4 votes)
Drone Nation
NYTimes: Senate Drops Bid to Report on Drone Use
Net Neutrality
Network Admin/Engineer email
Hi Adam,
I'm a network engineer: Cisco Certified Network Professional, etc. I know about Quality of Service, Traffic Shaping, Packet Queuing and Prioritization. I can explain how to implement them on routers and switches using Access Lists, Traffic Classes and Policy Maps, but I won't. It's boring. Suffice it to say, I know a little bit about this stuff. I didn't specialize in this area during my first 15 years in IT and I can confidently say that most people who don't specialize in it don't understand it at all because I was one of them. Being good with other techie things or knowing how to configure your home router don't even come close.
Anybody who suggests that "all bits should be treated equally" is deeply ignorant of networking and would be better served to take some classes rather than spouting such nonsense. If I continue their stupid analogy about roads, it would be like arguing that all traffic should drive the same speed, whether it's a semi or an ambulance or whether it's through a residential zone or on a highway. It's ignorant nonsense and I don't want to propagate the stupidity.
Traffic Shaping protocols exist for a reason. They were created to improve the performance of a network. Time sensitive traffic should be prioritized over traffic that is not. Bandwidth-hogging traffic should be rate limited and segmented from other traffic so that everything performs better. Failure to do so is negligent and wasteful and increases the amount of congestion. None of these protocols were developed to make someone's experience worse and to suggest that they will is ignorant nonsense.
All of these methods are standard practice in a corporate network. If I went to my bosses and insisted that all packets should be treated the same, I would be fired. If our CTO instituted a policy of net neutrality and proposed buying more hardware to solve the congestion instead, they would be fired. Anybody who argues that carriers and ISPs should not be allowed to use the protocols and best practices of network engineering and Traffic Shaping should be fired… or at least shut up until they know what they're talking about.
Sorry for the long rant but I had to say it to someone...
Thank you for your courage,
NN should thus also mean that I can run any server I want on any port?
Or do the NNNazis only care about the downstream?
Tim Wu in his original paper states:
Network neutrality, as shorthand for a system of belief about innovation policy, is the end, while open access and broadband discrimination are the means.
Fight For The Future
Email that I received
Kevin here from Fight for the Future.
I noticed you haven’t signed this important petition yet. Will you stand up for net neutrality?
Last Wednesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal for new rules that would allow for a “ fast lane” of Internet traffic for content providers who are willing (and able) to pay a fee. [1] The proposal reverses the FCC’s previous commitment to net neutrality and open internet and allows ISP’s like Comcast or Verizon to slow down and censor services that don’t pay the toll.
We have to be totally honest, this situation is seriously grim. But there is still hope. The FCC already knows that the Internet community wants net neutrality, but they think they can put their spin on these new rules and sneak them through. If we can prove them wrong right now with a massive public outcry, we can literally save the Internet once again.
We need you on this one. Click here to demand net neutrality!
We need to stop the FCC now. Big business groups are already ramping up lobbying efforts with the FCC in swarms since Wednesday’s announcement in support of censoring the open Internet and to ensure this dangerous proposal moves forward. [2]
This is a critical moment. In the last few weeks more than 65,000 people have taken action with us. Can you help us get to 80,000 by the end of the day today?
Click here to take action to keep the Internet free.
More people than ever are fighting back to restore net neutrality. With your support, we have the power to stop the FCC from censoring the Internet.
Fight For The Future
P.S. Want to support us in the fight for Net Neutrality? Donate $15 today.
Legal Disclaimer - money trail
Important Legal Information
Financial Donations
Fight for the Future was established in late 2011 under the legal name Center for Rights in Action,
with seed funding from Media Democracy Fund, a project of the Proteus
Fund. Because we lobby for Internet policies in the public interest,
contributions to the Fight for the Future are not tax deductible as
charitable contributions or as business expenses under IRC §162(e).
Click here for a copy of the latest financial reports filed by Center for Rights in Action.
You may make a tax-deductible donation to our sister 501(c)3 organization, Center for Rights, through its 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, the New Organizing Institute Education Fund. To do so, please make a donation through NOIEF, reserved for Center for Rights.
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If you are interested in joining the Leadership Circle or would like to learn more about this special opportunity, please contact us.
Family Foundations | Proteus Fund
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:16
Throughout our history, Proteus Fund has managed and provided a range of services to family foundation clients. These foundations turn to us because we provide a personalized approach and scope of work tailored to their specific goals and support needs, and because they share a belief in Proteus' values and mission. Proteus Fund also connects our family foundation clients to national movements, strategies and resources that help grow the foundation's profile and leverage greater impact through grant making.
New Organizing Institute
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:21
Senior Organizer State Training Program
Senior Organizer State Training Program
State Training Program Placement Lead
Senior Organizer State Training Program
Senior Organizer State Training Program
Senior Organizer State Training Program
Deputy State Training Manager
Climate Data and Outreach Fellow
Senior Organizing Training Fellow
Election Administration Government Liaison
Citizen Engagement Labratory :: Home
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:25
When Partners Come Together, a Choir Becomes a Chorus.Powerful messaging is central to any winning campaign. But purposeful coordination can be the difference between a powerful message that fades away and one that turns into a crescendo of voices that can't be silenced.
What We Do
Powerful Communities
Social Change Can Happen Faster When You Have a FormulaWe know from experience that the right mix of powerful communities, innovation, and collaboration can yield transformative results--and we help it happen faster.
What We Do
Powerful Communities + Savvy Campaigns = Social ChangePowerful Communities leverage technology to identify and connect people who seek to create change in the world. Savvy campaigns aggregate and amplify the voices of concerned citizens channeling them to a tipping point moment.
What We Do
Powerful Communities Grow Members and Strength Over TimeWhen organizations and leaders have the sustained resources they need to grow from one campaign to the next, they can become powerful forces of change for the long haul.
What We Do
Pervasive Problems Require Distributed SolutionsMany societal problems are so widespread that they can seem insurmountable. But by getting the right tools into the hands of passionate individuals and activated community groups, distributed organizing can help concerned citizens make an impact on the issues closest to their hearts, and their homes.
What We Do
Social Change Can Happen Faster Than You ThinkIf you can capture the hearts and minds of people, political change is possible. When authentic messengers share their stories and inspire communities to take action, systemic change becomes within reach.
What We Do
Reaching New Communities Calls for Testing New Tactics.Sometimes, multiple pathways are required to meet people where they are and keep them connected. CEL helps organizations find the right mix of online and offline strategies to maximize their reach and accelerate their impact.
Learn More
Large Scale Change Requires Innovative SolutionsWe take an agile approach to social innovation. CEL's innovation fellowship program allows leaders to design and test new strategies quickly so they can learn and improve before going all in.
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When Leaders Get What They Need, Communities Get ResultsCEL's resources and training empower leaders to turn organizing moments into longstanding movements. Our Powerful Communities program helps leaders and organizations go from good ideas to game-changing action.
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First You Build Power, Then You Build an OrganizationCEL helps organizations scale quickly by handling back office responsibilities, allowing leaders to initially focus on campaigning. We handle the details at first so they don't get bogged down, helping accelerate their path to becoming powerful communities for change.
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The Right Resources at the Right Time Can Make All the Difference.Hitting a window of opportunity requires putting together all the pieces before it's too late. CEL's experience working across the field helps projects know what existing tools they can leverage and what needs to be custom built, enabling campaigns and communities to launch faster.
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We Have the Power to Amplify Voices and Shift CultureBold offline actions combined with savvy online organizing creates a potent combination to help new frames and messages get widespread adoption, faster.
Learn More
CEL :: Board of Directors
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:27
Jessy TolkanJessy Tolkan works as the Global Director of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development for two multi-national automakers.
While currently focused on creating massive shifts in the auto-industry with an eye towards ensuring a more sustainable planet, Jessy has spent the last decade as an activist and movement leader working to build progressive change in the United States. Most recently Jessy served as CEL's Co-Executive Director.
Prior to her leadership of Citizen Engagement lab she was a Senior Fellow with the New Organizing Institute where she focused on progressive infrastructure building, the 2012 youth vote, and the next steps for the climate & energy sector. Before switching her attention to the progressive movement at large, Jessy was the Executive Director for the Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 leading youth organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 2004, as state director for the New Voters Project, Jessy helped to register more than 130,000 young voters and produce one of the highest youth turnout rates in the country.
Jessy has worked with some of the nation's leading advocacy and grassroots organizations including: United States Student Association, Young Democrats of America, and Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. She received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Political Science. In 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the 100 agents of change in America.
How Netflix and Google Could Lead the Fight For Net Neutrality | Business | WIRED
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 20:50
Kevin Spacey in the Netflix original series House of Cards. Image courtesy Netflix
As the President's Day weekend approaches, Americans are preparing to show their patriotism by binge-watching the new season of House of Cards, the hit political drama served up by Netflix. And according to new data from the video streaming outfit, there's no faster way to watch than Google Fiber.
Google and its broadband loom in the background as potential salvation, since Google's business depends on an internet where all traffic is free and equal
That's not just good news for residents of the few cities where Google offers its fledgling high-speed internet service. It's good news for Netflix itself as it faces a fight over what's known as net neutrality. After a recent court ruling struck down net neutrality '-- the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally '-- traditional internet service providers appear to be free to throttle Netflix's streaming video. They might do this in an effort to wring money from the company and to make it more difficult for Netflix to compete with their own movie and TV offerings. But Google and its broadband loom in the background as potential salvation, since Google's business depends on an internet where all traffic is free and equal.
Anxiety over ISPs slowing or blocking access to Netflix and other bandwidth gluttons has surged since a federal court gutted FCC net neutrality rules last month. In the wake of the ruling, there appears to be nothing stopping Verizon, for example, from charging Netflix a toll to transmit data. Verizon, the plaintiff in the case, recently told The Washington Post: ''We treat all traffic equally, and that has not changed.'' But legally, it seems, the telecom giant is free to change its mind.
On the surface, Netflix would seem to have no choice but to pay. If would-be House of Cards viewers spend this coming weekend watching the buffering wheel instead of Kevin Spacey, Netflix no longer has a business. And if it does pay up, it may have no choice but to pass those costs onto the viewers. But it may not play out this way. Netflix has its own leverage in the battle over net neutrality, with some possible heavyweight backup from Google.
Netflix: On Demand, In DemandAs Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said as he tried to reassure shareholders that the company wasn't worried about the recent net neutrality court ruling, broadband providers may stop short of throttling its traffic just to avoid alienating their customers. After all, Netflix is not niche. It's a very popular service that's setting the pace for how television will work in the future. Despite its own data showing that its service has slowed on Verizon and Comcast in recent months, Hastings said during the company's last earnings call that he believed customer demand would trump all.
''Consumers purchase higher bandwidth packages mostly for one reason: high-quality streaming video,'' he said. ''ISPs appear to recognize this and many of them are working closely with us.''
Because Netflix and other streaming video services are such a big, shiny carrot enticing customers to pay for pricier broadband, it seems unlikely that providers could make more money extorting Netflix on the backend rather than just offering better service '-- though stranger things have happened on the internet.
Netflix Goes DarkThe demand for Netflix gives the company a big stick to wield against less enlightened ISPs. Its regular release of ISP speed metrics is one way Netflix shames the worst performers. But the company could go even further.
Imagine the hit an ISP would take if it started dialing back Netflix, which responded by pulling itself from the provider's pipes altogether. When CBS and Showtime went dark on Time Warner Cable for a month, the cable company lost 306,000 TV subscribers. Netflix is hardly without leverage.
Still, in many markets, consumers only have access to one broadband provider. And even in those markets where people have choices, Netflix would be playing a game of chicken. All the major broadband providers could decide '-- each on its own, of course '-- that Netflix should have to pay. If the ISPs all set up a toll gate that passes antitrust muster, the options for Netflix would seem to shrink back to one. Especially with its original shows driving its stellar growth, Netflix can't afford clogged pipes.
Google the Selfish SaviorBut here's where Google could also ride to the rescue. Of all the companies streaming Netflix, Google is the only one where the case for full-on net neutrality makes bottom-line sense. Much like its Android operating system for mobile phones, Google Fiber is not so much a business in itself as a way to feed Google's core advertising business into more parts of people's lives.
Of all the companies streaming Netflix, Google is the only one where the case for full-on net neutrality makes bottom-line sense
Some have questioned whether the company really wants to become a full-fledged infrastructure company. But as Fiber expands into more cities, Google is getting good practice at acting like one. If traditional ISPs start to squeeze the throttle too tightly in a post-net neutrality world, Google might feel compelled to lay its own fiber to protect its own business interests. In fact, it already owns fiber lines across the country. If other ISPs start abandoning neutrality, metering the flow of data, Google could set itself apart as the net-neutral alternative, stealing broadband customers from the incumbents and setting Netflix free, among others, in the process.
To be clear, Google wouldn't take up this fight for altruistic reasons. Many would argue the company's stance on net neutrality is far from pure. But other recent acquisitions by Google unrelated to networking show it's a company moving with new aggressiveness into the physical world. Putting its own pipes in the ground could be one more way of advancing that strategy. If one side effect is freeing up the internet for everyone else, including Netflix, binge watching could become one more piece of our everyday lives colonized by Google.
EFF Warns That FCC Net Neutrality Rules Are A Bad, Bad Idea | Techdirt
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 20:44
We've been pointing this out for years, but it seems that many of the "tech elite" are so focused on the phrase "net neutrality" that they're willing to jump on any sort of regulation that says it's "net neutrality." So, it's nice to see that the EFF is not following suit, but instead is warning that the FCC does not have the regulatory mandate to do what it's trying to do with net neutrality -- and if it is given that control, it will inevitably lead to much more internet regulation that we will all come to regret.We're wholly in favor of net neutrality in practice, but a finding of ancillary jurisdiction here would give the FCC pretty much boundless authority to regulate the Internet for whatever it sees fit. And that kind of unrestrained authority makes us nervous about follow-on initiatives like broadcast flags and indecency campaigns. In general, we think arguments that regulating the Internet is "ancillary" to some other regulatory authority that the FCC has been granted just don't have sufficient limitations to stop bad FCC behavior in the future and create the "Trojan horse" risk we have long warned about.
In discussing this stance with Wired, Abigail Phillips, a staff attorney at the EFF said she wasn't sure what "the right solution is" to the question of keeping the basic end-to-end principles of the internet in place. I still don't think the "solution" is that complex. For over five years I've been pointing out that if there was real competition in the marketplace, net neutrality wouldn't even be an issue, because customers would go to ISPs that didn't discriminate. The real problem is how deeply connected our government is to a very small number of giant broadband providers. They've set the game up so that there's very little real competition, which allows those ISPs to pull stunts like trying to doublecharge, favor certain content, and do metered billing. Get more competition, and none of those things fly.
Former Comcast and Verizon Attorneys Now Manage the FCC and Are About to Kill the Internet | VICE United States
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:43
The open Internet may soon become a thing of the past.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal dropped something of a bombshell with leaked news that the Federal Communications Commission is planning to abandon so-called ''net neutrality'' regulations'--rules to ensure that Internet providers are prevented from discriminating based on content. Under the new proposed system, companies such as Comcast or Verizon will be able to create a tiered Internet, in which websites will have to pay more money for faster speeds, a change that observers predict will curb free speech, stifle innovation and increase costs for consumers.
Like so many problems in American government, the policy shift may relate to the pernicious corruption of the revolving door. The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.
The backgrounds of the new FCC staff have not been reported until now.
Take Daniel Alvarez, an attorney who has long represented Comcast through the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. In 2010, Alvarez wrote a letter to the FCC on behalf of Comcast protesting net neutrality rules, arguing that regulators failed to appreciate ''socially beneficial discrimination.'' The proposed rules, Alvarez wrote in the letter co-authored with a top Comcast lobbyist named Joe Waz, should be reconsidered.
Today, someone in Comcast's Philadelphia headquarters is probably smiling. Alvarez is now on the other side, working among a small group of legal advisors hired directly under Tom Wheeler, the new FCC Commissioner who began his job in November.
As soon as Wheeler came into office, he also announced the hiring of former Ambassador Philip Verveer as his senior counselor. A records request reveals that Verveer also worked for Comcast in the last year. In addition, he was retained by two industry groups that have worked to block net neutrality, the Wireless Association (CTIA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
In February, Matthew DelNero was brought into the agency to work specifically on net neutrality. DelNero has previously worked as an attorney for TDS Telecom, an Internet service provider that has lobbied on net neutrality, according to filings.
Around the time of Delnero's hiring, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a former associate general counsel at Verizon, announced a new advisor by the name of Brendan Carr. Pai, a Republican, has criticized the open Internet regulations, calling them a ''problem in search of a solution.'' It should be of little surprise that Carr, Pai's new legal hand, has worked for years as an attorney to AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, and the U.S. Telecom Association, a trade group that has waged war in Washington against net neutrality since 2006. A trail of online documents show that Carr worked specifically to monitor net neutrality regulations on behalf of some of his industry clients.
Many have expressed shock that the Obama administration would walk back one of its biggest promises. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama said that he is a strong supporter of net neutrality. During a question and answer forum in Iowa, Obama explained, ''What you've been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you're getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites '... And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet'--which is that there is this incredible equality there.''
In his first term, Obama's administration proposed net neutrality rules, but in January of this year, a federal court tossed the regulations in a case brought by Verizon. The decision left open the possibility of new rules, but only if the FCC were to reclassify the Internet as a utility. The Wall Street Journal story with details about the FCC's leaked plans claims the agency will not be reclassifying broadband as a utility. The revised rules to be announced by the FCC will allow ISPs to ''give preferential treatment to traffic from some content providers, as long as such arrangements are available on 'commercially reasonable' terms,'' reports journalist Gautham Nagesh.
Critics have been quick to highlight the fact that chairman Wheeler, the new head of the FCC, is a former lobbyist with close ties to the telecommunications industry. In March, telecom companies'--including Comcast, Verizon, and the US Telecom Association'--filled the sponsor list for a reception to toast Wheeler and other commissioners. Many of these companies have been furiously lobbying Wheeler and other FCC officials on the expected rule since the Verizon ruling.
Notably, though the FCC staff tilts heavily in the direction of telecoms, Gigi Sohn, Wheeler's advisor on external affairs, is the former CEO of Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that supports net neutrality.
But overall, the FCC is one of many agencies that have fallen victim to regulatory capture. Beyond campaign contributions and other more visible aspects of the influence trade in Washington, moneyed special interest groups control the regulatory process by placing their representatives into public office, while dangling lucrative salaries to those in office who are considering retirement. The incentives, with pay often rising to seven and eight figure salaries on K Street, are enough to give large corporations effective control over the rule-making process.
Of course, ISPs have many tools for shaping policy at their disposal. Giving cash to third party groups is another avenue for influence. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-funded non-profit political shop, aired deceptive advertisements claiming that net neutrality is somehow a plot by bureaucrats ''to takeover the Internet.'' Asian American civil rights group OCA was one of several nonprofits caught accepting telecom money while penning a letter to the FCC in opposition to net neutrality.
The revolving door, however, provides a clear and semi-legal way for businesses to directly give unlimited cash and gifts to officials who act in their favor. One of the most famous examples of this dynamic is the case of Meredith Attwell Baker, an FCC Commissioner who left her job right after voting in favor of the Comcast merger with NBC. Her next career move? She became a high-level lobbyist for Comcast, the company she had just blessed. Earlier this week, she announced her next gig, as president of CTIA, the primary wireless industry trade group. She'll have her work cut out for her in lobbying her former colleagues. CTIA has already warned the FCC from taking up any new net neutrality regulations.
Lee Fang, a San Francisco-based journalist, is an Investigative Fellow at The Nation Institute and co-founder ofRepublic Report.
Internet Freedom
For companies | Telecom Industry Dialogue
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:32
The Industry Dialogue welcomes new members in the telecommunications industry committed to advancing freedom of expression and privacy rights in the sector.
Industry Dialogue members commit themselves to:
Endorse the Guiding Principles publicly at the highest levels of managementParticipate in the joint work of the Industry DialogueChampion the issues of freedom of expression and privacy as they relate to the telecommunications sectorPromote the Industry Dialogue and its Guiding Principles with other potential new membersParticipate in the two-year collaboration between the Industry Dialogue and the Global Network Initiative
For more information on joining the Industry Dialogue, please contact Lisl Brunner.
Freedom Online Coalition meeting in Tallinn, Estonia | Telecom Industry Dialogue
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:31
Monday, April 28, 2014 to Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Several members of the Industry Dialogue will participate in discussions with governments and other stakeholders in the context of the Freedom Online Coalition conference in Tallinn, Estonia. The goal of the conference is to reach agreement on a set of Recommendations for Freedom Online in the areas of 1) Fundamental Freedoms Online, 2) the Role of Business in Advancing an Open and Free Internet, and 3) One Internet.
Shut Up Slave!
Hate Crime Statistics Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:07
The Hate Crime Statistics Act, 28 U.S.C. § 534 (HCSA), passed in 1990 and modified in 2009 by the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act,[1] requires the Attorney General to collect data on crimes committed because of the victim's race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The bill was signed into law by George H. W. Bush, and was the first federal statute to "recognize and name gay, lesbian and bisexual people."[2] Since 1992, the Department of Justice through one of its agencies, the FBI, has jointly published an annual report on hate crime statistics.[3]
Sen. Markey and Rep. Jeffries Introduce Legislation To Examine and Prevent the Promotion of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech in Media - U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:03
Wednesday, April 16, 2014Sen. Markey is author of original provision calling for examination of telecommunications influence on hate crimes
Boston (April 16, 2014) '' Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced legislation to examine the prevalence of hate crime and hate speech on the Internet, television, and radio to better address such crimes. The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 (S.2219) would create an updated comprehensive report examining the role of the Internet and other telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and create recommendations to address such crimes.
In 1992, then-Rep. Markey, through the Telecommunications Authorization Act, directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to examine the role of telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes. Senator Markey's legislation will provide a comprehensive updated report on the current prevalence of hate crimes and hate speech in telecommunications, as the last report was conducted and submitted to Congress over two decades ago, in December 1993. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3878.
''We have recently seen in Kansas the deadly destruction and loss of life that hate speech can fuel in the United States, which is why it is critical to ensure the Internet, television and radio are not encouraging hate crimes or hate speech that is not outside the protection of the First Amendment,'' said Senator Markey. ''Over 20 years have passed since I first directed the NTIA to review the role that telecommunications play in encouraging hate crimes. My legislation would require the agency to update this critical report for the 21st century.''
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
''The Internet has proven to be a tremendous platform for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. However, at times it has also been used as a place where vulnerable persons or groups can be targeted,'' said Rep. Jeffries. ''I commend Senator Markey for his longstanding leadership with respect to combating Hate Crimes in America. He understands that in the digital era it is important to comprehensively evaluate the scope of criminal and hateful activity on the Internet that occurs outside of the zone of First Amendment protection. With the introduction of Senator Markey's bill, we have taken a substantial step toward addressing this issue.''
''I thank Senator Markey for his career-long commitment to ensuring that we have the data necessary to confront and combat hate speech in the media that targets our most vulnerable communities,'' said President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition Alex Nogales. ''NHMC has long-recognized that an update to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's 1993 report, 'The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes', is long overdue and desperately needed given the incredible evolution of our communications systems over the past 21 years as well as the ever-increasing numbers of hate crimes targeting Latinos and others. As the author of the original piece of legislation directing the 1993 report, there is nobody better than Senator Markey to join Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and others in calling on the NTIA to study this pressing issue once again.''
Big chill: Feds want to scour Net, media for 'hate speech'
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:03
If two Democratic lawmakers have their way, Barack Obama's Justice Department will submit a report for action against any Internet sites, broadcast, cable television or radio shows determined to be advocating or encouraging ''violent acts.''
This according to the text of a new bill from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.
The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 ''would create an updated comprehensive report examining the role of the Internet and other telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and create recommendations to address such crimes,'' stated a news release from Markey's office.
The one-page bill, reviewed by WND, calls for the Justice Department and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to ''analyze information on the use of telecommunications, including the Internet, broadcast television and radio, cable television, public access television, commercial mobile services, and other electronic media, to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.''
The bill does not define which actions by broadcasters would be considered to have encouraged violence, seemingly leaving that open to interpretation.
Once the report is compiled, the bill calls for ''any recommendations'' for action ''consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States'' that is determined to be an ''appropriate and necessary'' way to address the purported encouragement of violent acts.
The Boston Herald took issue with the bill, calling it ''frankly chilling'' that Markey is seeking to ''empower an obscure federal agency to begin scouring the Internet, TV and radio for speech it finds threatening.''
''Perhaps he could crack a briefing book on the crisis in Ukraine rather than looking for his own extra-constitutional methods of punishing speech he finds unacceptable,'' added the Herald editorial.
With additional research by Joshua Klein.
New York bans e-cigarettes in public places
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:33
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Stackable container homes tested in NYC - New York News
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:28
Activists pressure lawmakers to ban horse-drawn carriagesActivists pressure lawmakers to ban horse-drawn carriagesUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 6:03 PM EDT2014-04-29 22:03:26 GMT
Animal rights activists lobbied City Council members who are undecided on banning horse carriages in New York City. PETA and NYCLASS brought with them a tourist from Oklahoma who took pictures of a carriage horse who fell on Fifth Avenue last week. Stefanie Sinclair and her boyfriend Roger Curlik say the horse Spartacus was mistreated by the carriage drivers after falling.
Animal rights activists lobbied City Council members who are undecided on banning horse carriages in New York City. PETA and NYCLASS brought with them a tourist from Oklahoma who took pictures of a carriage horse who fell on Fifth Avenue last week. Stefanie Sinclair and her boyfriend Roger Curlik say the horse Spartacus was mistreated by the carriage drivers after falling.
Montreal-style bagels in New York CityMontreal-style bagels in New York CityUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 5:43 PM EDT2014-04-29 21:43:02 GMT
Bagels are a staple of the New York diet, and you can get them pretty much anywhere in the city, but now one place is changing up the formula. And it seems to be working. "What we've done is taken a New York bagel dough and we're preparing it in the style of a Montreal bagel," says Noah Bernamoff, co-owner Black Seed Bagels. Step one: hand roll. Step two: boil in a honey water kettle. Step three: bake in a wood-burning oven, and flip regularly to achieve perfect texture.
Bagels are a staple of the New York diet, and you can get them pretty much anywhere in the city, but now one place is changing up the formula. And it seems to be working. "What we've done is taken a New York bagel dough and we're preparing it in the style of a Montreal bagel," says Noah Bernamoff, co-owner Black Seed Bagels. Step one: hand roll. Step two: boil in a honey water kettle. Step three: bake in a wood-burning oven, and flip regularly to achieve perfect texture.
Police: teen confessed to stabbing Maren SanchezPolice: teen confessed to stabbing Maren SanchezUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 4:34 PM EDT2014-04-29 20:34:54 GMT
A teenager charged in the fatal stabbing of a Connecticut high school student told a police officer after the attack: "I did it," according to a court filing released Tuesday. The 16-year-old defendant, Christopher Plaskon, has been charged with murder as an adult in the slaying of Maren Sanchez, a friend who was killed last week in a hallway of Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
A teenager charged in the fatal stabbing of a Connecticut high school student told a police officer after the attack: "I did it," according to a court filing released Tuesday. The 16-year-old defendant, Christopher Plaskon, has been charged with murder as an adult in the slaying of Maren Sanchez, a friend who was killed last week in a hallway of Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
John DegnanChristie recommends Democrat to chair Port AuthorityChristie recommends Democrat to chair Port AuthorityUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-04-29 20:02:06 GMT
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has put forth a former state attorney general to be the next chairman of the embattled transit agency that runs the bridge at the heart of the traffic jams scandal that has engulfed his administration. Christie announced Tuesday that he's recommended John Degnan to replace David Samson, who resigned last month from the job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has put forth a former state attorney general to be the next chairman of the embattled transit agency that runs the bridge at the heart of the traffic jams scandal that has engulfed his administration. Christie announced Tuesday that he's recommended John Degnan to replace David Samson, who resigned last month from the job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
'A Gentleman's Guide' leads Tony nominations'A Gentleman's Guide' leads Tony nominationsUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 10:15 AM EDT2014-04-29 14:15:41 GMT
Suspense was the mood on Broadway in the hours before Tony Award nominations are announced, with no obvious front-runners for best musical or play emerging this year. The nominations will be revealed Tuesday in a televised event co-hosted by the star of HBO's "Looking," Jonathan Groff, and "Elementary" cast member Lucy Liu. The awards will be handed out June 8.
The musical "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," a comedic romp in which a poor man eliminates the eight heirs ahead of him for a title, has nabbed a leading 10 Tony Award nominations. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a cult off-Broadway hit that this season stars Neil Patrick Harris, won eight nominations. The awards will be handed out June 8.
Electronic cigarette ban takes effect in New York CityElectronic cigarette ban takes effect in New York CityUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 8:19 AM EDT2014-04-29 12:19:05 GMT
Electronic cigarettes in New York City are now regulated like tobacco. Starting Tuesday, e-cigs were banned from bars, restaurants and many other public locations. Critics say little evidence exists on the effect of the devices on smoking -- whether as an aid in quitting, a gateway for non-smokers or a bridge to keep smokers hooked longer.
Electronic cigarettes in New York City are now regulated like tobacco. Starting Tuesday, e-cigs were banned from bars, restaurants and many other public locations. Critics say little evidence exists on the effect of the devices on smoking -- whether as an aid in quitting, a gateway for non-smokers or a bridge to keep smokers hooked longer.
Kindergarten show canceled so kids won't miss more classKindergarten show canceled so kids won't miss more classUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 8:02 AM EDT2014-04-29 12:02:23 GMT
Welcome to the Elwood School District, Long Island, where kindergarten is very serious. Evidently, two days spent singing, dancing, and acting might cost the 5- and 6-year-olds of the Harley Primary School their chances at college and a future. So the school cancelled its year-end performance. As you can imagine, that logic made perfect sense to the district's parents.
Welcome to the Elwood School District, Long Island, where kindergarten is very serious. Evidently, two days spent singing, dancing, and acting might cost the 5- and 6-year-olds of the Harley Primary School their chances at college and a future. So the school cancelled its year-end performance. As you can imagine, that logic made perfect sense to the district's parents.
Cheerleading as a sportCheerleading as a sportUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-04-29 11:45:46 GMT
Competitive cheerleading is a step closer to becoming an official sport in public schools across New York State. The State Board of Regents is expected to recognize cheerleading as a sport on Tuesday. The classification would ensure that coaches are properly trained and schools would be required to follow universal safety standards.
Competitive cheerleading is a step closer to becoming an official sport in public schools across New York State. The State Board of Regents is expected to recognize cheerleading as a sport on Tuesday. The classification would ensure that coaches are properly trained and schools would be required to follow universal safety standards.
Baby, mom among 3 shot in New JerseyBaby, mom among 3 shot in New JerseyUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 7:12 AM EDT2014-04-29 11:12:32 GMT
Police say a 1-year-old girl and her mother are among three people who suffered gunshot wounds after someone opened fire on a city street.
Police have left the scene of a shooting that left a 1-year-old girl, her mother and a man wounded on the streets of Asbury Park. Police say as many as 15 bullets were fired as children played on Comstock Street Monday night. Police say the 29-year-old mother and her baby were innocent bystanders. But officers are not sure why the 19-year-old man was involved.
House denies chimp attack victim's bid to sueHouse denies chimp attack victim's bid to sueUpdated:Tuesday, April 29 2014 7:07 AM EDT2014-04-29 11:07:16 GMT
The Connecticut House of Representatives has sided with a legislative committee that recommended a woman blinded and disfigured in a 2009 chimpanzee attack should not be allowed to sue the state for financial damages.It would have been unusual for the House to overrule the recommendation of the Judiciary Committee, which upheld last year's decision by the Claims Commissioner's office, which refused Charla Nash's request for permission to sue the state.
The Connecticut House of Representatives has sided with a legislative committee that recommended a woman blinded and disfigured in a 2009 chimpanzee attack should not be allowed to sue the state for financial damages.It would have been unusual for the House to overrule the recommendation of the Judiciary Committee, which upheld last year's decision by the Claims Commissioner's office, which refused Charla Nash's request for permission to sue the state.
Leave UN position for Sudan etc
No with GF who Was Princess Leha's lawyer. Ukraine!
Clooney in EU!
Amal Alamuddin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:38
Amal AlamuddinNationalityBritish-LebaneseOccupationBarristerPartner(s)George Clooney (2013-present)Amal Alamuddin is a British-Lebanese lawyer specialising in international law, human rights, extradition and criminal law.
Early lifeAlamuddin's family fled from war-tornBeirut to London when she was two. They settled in Gerrards Cross where she attended Dr Challoner's High School in Amersham.[1] Her mother, Baria, 66, is the foreign editor of Arab newspaper al-Hayat. Her father Ramzi, a retired professor of business studies at the American University of Beirut, returned to Lebanon in 1991.[2] Alamuddin has three youngers siblings; a sister, Tala, and two brothers Samer and Ziad.[3] Her grandmother was said to be the first woman graduate of the American University in Beirut. Alamuddin was educated at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, where she received an Exhibition,[4] and at New York University School of Law,[5] where she received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award[6] (conferred for excellence in the field of Entertainment law).[7]
CareerBefore becoming a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London, she worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon and at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.[8] She has been involved in high-profile cases representing the state of Cambodia, the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdallah Al Senussi, Yulia Tymoshenko and Julian Assange.[6]
Alamuddin has been appointed to a number of UN commissions including as adviser to Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Syria, as Counsel to the 2013 Drone Inquiry by United Nations human rights rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC into the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations,[9] and as an adviser to the King of Bahrain in connection with the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry headed by Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni.[6]
Alamuddin has also lectured students on international criminal law at SOAS (University of London), The New School in New York, The Hague Academy of International Law, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.[6]
Personal LifeAlamuddin is allegedly engaged to actor George Clooney, She is fluent in Arabic, French and English. .[10]
ReferencesExternal linksPersondataNameAlamuddin, AmalAlternative namesShort descriptionLawyerDate of birthPlace of birthDate of deathPlace of death
Amal Alamuddin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:38
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BBC News - George Clooney ends UN peace role
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:55
30 April 2014 Last updated at 11:04
George Clooney has visited Sudan and South Sudan on several occasions Actor George Clooney has ended his role as a United Nations "Messenger of Peace" after six years.
The Hollywood star used the position to help raise awareness of conflicts in countries like Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Hollywood star "feels it is time to retire his official role".
Clooney has campaigned about the Darfur crisis and violence in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011.
AnalysisBy James CopnallSudan analyst and author
As an activist, George Clooney is most known for campaigning about Sudan and South Sudan - but this has largely taken place independently from the UN.
His most prominent engagement has been with the Darfur civil war in western Sudan, though he has also travelled into another Sudanese conflict area, South Kordofan, and on advocacy trips to South Sudan before and after its 2011 independence.
His presence has generated interest in the Sudans.
But he and the Enough Project are accused of distorting complex issues, and even of making it harder to find a solution to the Sudans' many problems.
James Copnall is the author of A Poisonous Thorn in Our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan's Bitter and Incomplete Divorce
Two million people have been displaced by the conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, since a civil war began in 2003. Meanwhile, South Sudan descended into violence in December - just over two years after it became the world's newest nation.
As well as his UN role, Clooney joined fellow actors including Matt Damon and Brad Pitt to form the charity Not On Our Watch, which aims to "bring global attention to international crises and give voice to their victims".
He also has close ties with campaign group the Enough Project and helped found the Satellite Sentinel Project, which uses spy satellites to track human rights abuses and atrocities in Sudan.
The UN says its Messengers of Peace are high-profile people who raise awareness of the organisation's work around the world.
"The competing demands on their time from their professional and advocacy lives sometimes make it difficult for high-profile individuals to carry out a formal United Nations role," Mr Dujarric said.
The spokesman added that Clooney's move would allow him the independence to pursue "other personal advocacy projects and activities".
Other UN Messengers of Peace include actors Michael Douglas and Charlize Theron, musicians Lang Lang and Stevie Wonder, and author Paulo Coelho.
BBC News - George Clooney is engaged his fiancee's firm confirms
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:06
28 April 2014Last updated at 11:28 ET Reports that George Clooney is to wed his girlfriend, lawyer Amal Alamuddin, have been confirmed by her law firm.
"The barristers and staff of Doughty Street Chambers offer their best wishes and congratulations... on their engagement to be married," the London firm said in a statement.
The 52-year-old actor and his 36-year-old fiancee have been dating since last October, according to reports.
Clooney was previously married to Talia Balsam, whom he divorced in 1993.
Since then, the Oscar-winning star has been seen as one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors.
Alamuddin was educated at Oxford and New York University and was recruited by her current firm in 2010.
The British human rights lawyer has represented Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in extradition proceedings and advised United Nations former secretary-general Kofi Annan on the Syrian crisis.
Doughty Street chief executive Robin Jackson said Alamuddin had been "utterly wonderful" since she joined the firm in 2010,
"She brings a bright light to everything she is involved in and I am so delighted at her happy news," he said.
A fluent French and Arabic speaker, Alamuddin is said to have spent time with the Ocean's Eleven star in New York, Tanzania and the Seychelles.
Speculation that Clooney was planning to remarry escalated over the weekend after his girlfriend was seen wearing a ring on her wedding finger at a Los Angeles restaurant.
The actor has been linked to a number of women in recent years, among them model and DJ Lisa Snowdon, Italian model Elisabetta Canalis and former professional wrestler Stacy Keibler.
Amal Alamuddin's connection to Julian Assange | Fox News
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:29
In this Thursday, Nov 24, 2011 file photo, lawyer Amal Alamuddin, left, is seen walking alongside WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as they leave Belmarsh Magistrates Court in south east London after his extradition hearing to Sweden to be prosecuted over claims of sexual assault.Reuters
Amal Alamuddin may forever be known as the woman who altered bachelor George Clooney's views on marriage, but before her name was making headlines alongside Clooney's, the lawyer was linked to another very prominent man: Julian Assange.
In 2011, she represented the WikiLeaks founder during his fight against extradition to Sweden.
Assange was ultimately granted political asylum by Ecuador.
''Amal is a friend and a lawyer with a global perspective who is not afraid to deal with corruption of power or to tackle politicized cases,'' Assange told the London Evening Standard.
Mark Stephens, one of her colleagues, told the Standard that her high-profile cases have often put her in the spotlight.
''She's used to being in the limelight and doing difficult and complex '-- and politically tricky '-- cases,'' he said. ''She is a fabulously bright woman, she's independent, and has a Rolls-Royce mind.''
The Beirut-born, Oxford University-educated attorney has advised former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Syria and helped ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko challenge her imprisonment.
Alamuddin was first photographed with Clooney late last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
George Clooney withdraws from UN peacekeeping role - Telegraph
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:58
Academy Award winner George Clooney has stepped down as a UN "Messenger of Peace," the United Nations said on Monday, suggesting the newly engaged actor did not have enough time for the role promoting the world body's peacekeeping efforts.
"After six years in this role, Mr Clooney feels it is time to retire his official role as Messenger of Peace," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, wishing Clooney well on his engagement to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. The engagement was confirmed by Ms Alamuddin's law firm on Monday.
"The competing demands on their time from their professional and advocacy lives sometimes make it difficult for high-profile individuals to carry out a formal United Nations role," he said.
As a messenger of peace, Clooney travelled to Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Mr Dujarric said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hoped there would be future opportunities for collaboration between Clooney and the United Nations.
In 2010, Clooney helped found the Satellite Sentinel Project, which tracks human rights abuses and mass atrocities in Sudan. "Retiring from his UN role will afford him the independence to move forward with this and other personal advocacy projects and activities," Mr Dujarric said.
When Clooney was named a UN Messenger of Peace in 2008, Mr Ban cited his work on raising awareness about violence in Sudan's conflict-torn western Darfur region, where he advocated for aid for the millions of people displaced by fighting.
Edited by Bonnie Malkin
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Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson trumps Donald Sterling with racist slur
Thu, 01 May 2014 12:42
America clearly doesn't have the market cornered on filthy rich guys in the public eye muttering some pretty unbelievable racist slurs.
The ink is barely dry on Donald Sterling's lifetime NBA ban, and now it's the turn of Britain's Jeremy Clarkson to draw fire, according to a report from the Daily Mirror.
Clarkson, one of the world's most-watched TV celebrities, was caught using the n-word during the filming of Top Gear. He was reciting a racist version of a children's rhyme: ''Eeny, meeny, miny, moe '... (in a mumble) catch a n**** by his toe.''
Wow. Not sure Sterling could top that, even in his most loose-lipped moments. The bit was edited out, and the cut version aired last year, the Mirror reported.
Like Sterling, Clarkson has courted controversy before. He was once accused of using the term ''slope'' when filming in Thailand. Last week, Twitter called him out for naming his dog Didier Dogba, after the Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba.
And it's not always because of something rooted in racism: His big mouth has drawn flack for calling Prime Minister Gordon Brown a ''one-eyed Scottish idiot,'' and he once gave a Nazi salute while presenting a Top Gear piece on Germany's BMW. Those are just a few. Read more about his top 10 most outspoken moments.
Obviously, if Clarkson owned an NBA team (and he probably could afford a piece of one, considering the reported $20 million-plus he earned last year), he'd surely get nuked from the sport like Sterling. But will he get fired from his plush gig?
''Clarkson has to be sacked,'' one lawyer told the Mirror. ''No matter how much money he makes for the BBC. Use of that word is not acceptable.''
'' Shawn Langlois
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Kim and Kanye cover tops Beyonc(C) to shatter Vogue sales record
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Black congresswomen ask Hagel to reconsider hairstyle regulations
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:11
(U.S. Army)
The women members of the Congressional Black Caucus have written a letter to Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel asking him to reconsider the updated regulations on women's hairstyles, which caused a backlash among some African American women soldiers who saw the rules as culturally biased.
The recently released Army regulations specifically address hairstyles that are popular with African American women, and came out of a focus group of senior women, according to Army officials. The move sparked criticism and a White House petition, that now has nearly 16,000 signatures.
The letter says that the updated rules, which ban twists and dreadlocks and mandate that braided hair be of certain style, assume that people with such hairstyles cannot maintain a standard of professionalism, which indicates ''a lack of cultural sensitivity conducive to creating a tolerant environment for minorities.''
''African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace. Understand that these standards should shift based on each community's unique and practical needs. New cultural norms and trends naturally change, ensuring that no person feels targeted or attacked based on his or her appearance. We believe the Army's updated rules and the way they are written fail to recognize this reality.''
The new regulations refer to unkempt and ''matted'' hair, words that the Congressional Black Congress members said are offensive and biased. The congresswoman, including CBC Chairman Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), said that although they understand the intent of the rules, there is little regard for what is needed for women of color to maintain their hair.
''We strongly encourage you to reconsider the updated regulations as it relates to grooming standards and how it allows individuals from every community to feel proud and welcome to serve our nation's Armed Forces. Many African American women put great effort in ensuring their hair is maintained in a way that allows them to be acknowledged for their ability and commitment to the tasks and challenges before them, rather than their appearance. We urge you to consider the direction in which the updated regulations will ultimately lead the Armed Forces.''
Pentagon: Army to review controversial ban on twists, other natural hairstyles
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:11
The Pentagon said Tuesday that the military would review controversial grooming policies that led some to accuse the Army of racial bias.
Grooming guidelines released in late March, known as Army Regulation 670-1, included rules on hair grooming. Among the ''unauthorized styles'' were natural hairstyles popular among African American women, including twists. A White House petition, asking the Army to reconsider the ban, gathered more than 10,000 signatures.
(Courtesy U.S. Army)
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced the impending review at a regular briefing Tuesday.
From the transcript:
ADM. KIRBY: Finally, I have an update for those of you who have been covering congressional '-- concerns from congressional members about grooming regulations for African American females, and if you'll allow me to put my spectacles on, I'll read this. He just sent a letter to the Hill just today ''
Q: Who did?
ADM. KIRBY: Secretary [Chuck] Hagel '-- sorry '-- sent a letter to the Hill today directing the deputy secretary of defense to work with the service secretaries and military chiefs to review their respective policies to address the issues raised by members of Congress about grooming standards, particularly for African American females. So within the next 30 days, each service will review the definitions of authorized and prohibited hairstyles contained in each of their respective policies and revise any offensive language.
Number two, during the next three months, each service will review their hairstyle policies as they pertain to African American women to ensure standards are fair and respectful of our diverse force while also meeting our military services' requirements.
And he said after he gets '-- after he gets these reviews, after a thorough review of the service recommendations, he will make whatever appropriate adjustments to DOD policies are necessary.
Last month's release of the guidelines sparked criticism among some African American women for being culturally insensitive and failing to acknowledge different hairstyle textures and preferences.
The women members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking that the regulations be reconsidered.
Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) welcomed the review.
''I want to thank Secretary Hagel for his thoughtful response to the concerns of Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and to many women of color currently serving in our Armed Forces. Secretary Hagel has committed to careful review of each Service's language and grooming policies to ensure both are clear of offensive language and are respectful of the diversity within our Armed Forces. Secretary Hagel also assured us that the Army's intent with AR 670-1 was not to offend or discriminate against women of color,'' she wrote in a statement. ''Members of the CBC appreciate Secretary Hagel for his prompt response to our letter and for seriously considering our concerns. Secretary Hagel's response affirms his commitment to ensuring all individuals are welcomed and can continue to be proud of serving in our Armed Forces.''
Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, who started a White House petition that garnered some 16,000 signatures called the move a good first step. Her first reaction when contacted by a reporter about the change was: ''Wow.''
''It's inspiring to know that the secretary of defense is getting behind something and it goes to show that the regulations are absurd when it comes to African American women,'' Jacobs, who wears her hair in two stranded twists and is a member of the Georgia National Guard in an interview. ''The fact that Hagel is calling for a review means there might be a way to revise these guidelines and come to some common ground.''
She said that there a lot of African American woman felt like nothing could change, but seeing the women members of the Congressional Black Caucus and now Hagel respond to criticism has made a difference.
''This is empowering for women in the military,'' she said.
Witnesses to Clayton Lockett's Botched Oklahoma Execution : The New Yorker
Thu, 01 May 2014 01:14
On Tuesday night, just after 8 P.M., a series of chilling tweets from an Associated Press reporter in Oklahoma City, Bailey Elise McBride, began to circulate widely. Before joining the AP, McBride was a high-school teacher. She writes a blog called PBR & Pearls, on which she logs inspirations and interests; most recently, a ''mild obsession'' with the band Tiny Ruins. At work, her subject matter tends to be darker. In addition to covering a mysterious case of dead birds dropping from the sky and the financial complications prompted by a bridge closure, McBride was one of the reporters following Oklahoma's plans to execute two death-row inmates, on the same night, by lethal injection.
Both executions, of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, were to be carried out by midnight, and, as the Fordham law professor and death-penalty expert Deborah Denno told the Los Angeles Times, ''The world was watching.''
Oklahoma had run out of lethal-injection drugs for the same reason that other death-penalty states have also run out of them. As Jeffrey Toobin described in a Talk of the Town piece, the sole American manufacturer of sodium thiopental, a key ingredient in lethal injections, stopped making the drug in 2011. Death-penalty states turned to European manufacturers, but it became impossible to import the drugs to the United States, owing to the European Union's commitment to wipe out capital punishment worldwide. Left with dwindling supplies, states shifted their execution protocols toward the improvisational, recombining drugs and seeking the services of compounding pharmacies, which are loosely regulated by the federal government.
Where are states getting these chemicals? And how are they tinkering with them? These are excellent questions, but new secrecy laws allow certain states, Oklahoma among them, to remain completely silent on the matter. Constitutional challenges based on Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment have failed. Lethal injection'--supposedly ethically superior to hanging, gas, electrocution, and firing squad'--has been employed with untested and controversial drug combinations that are bought, with legally protected secrecy, from companies that want anonymity. Texas is refusing to reveal the source of its newest compounded drugs; Georgia considers the names of its suppliers a ''state secret.'' Secrecy laws involving lethal injection have been attacked, unsuccessfully, in Missouri and Louisiana.
Executions, meanwhile, have continued, some of them with horrific results. In January, the Oklahoma inmate Michael Lee Wilson said, during his execution, ''I feel my whole body burning.'' An inmate in Ohio spent ten minutes ''struggling and gasping loudly for air,'' NPR reported, and made ''snorting and choking sounds.'' It took nearly thirty minutes for him to die.
For the execution of Clayton Lockett, Oklahoma used, for the first time, the midazolam (a sedative) in combination with vecuronium bromide (which paralyzes the respiratory system) and potassium chloride (which stops the heart). The drugs are delivered intravenously, in that order. The suffocating pain caused by the second and third drugs would be agonizing without the sedative effects of the first.
Oklahoma's secrecy laws make it impossible to know anything beyond the names of the ingredients injected into the condemned prisoner. The state has declined to provide the public with reasons for selecting a particular drug cocktail, or with any details about the drugs themselves, or about the supplier. The state reportedly buys the drugs with petty cash, to make the purchases more difficult to track and, therefore, harder to legally challenge.
What is known, though, is that, ten minutes into Lockett's execution, a prison official told a doctor, ''Go ahead and check to see if he's unconscious.''
After checking, the doctor said, ''Mr. Lockett is not unconscious.''
''I'm not,'' Lockett said.
Courtney Francisco, a reporter for KFOR-TV, in Oklahoma City, was one of the witnesses at the execution. She told the BBC that Lockett, strapped to the gurney, was moving his arms and legs and mumbling, ''as if he was trying to talk.''
McBride's tweets told the rest of the story:
''He was conscious and blinking, licking his lips even after the process began. He then began to seize.''
''At 6:33 the doctor said Lockett was unconscious and then at 6:34 Lockett began to nod, mumble move body.''
(Witnesses reported that Lockett seemed to try to sit up. At one point he said, ''Man.'' Observers heard a prison official say, ''Something's wrong,'' and then the blinds on the observation window were closed, and the witnesses were led out.)
''Checking to see the status of Lockett and whether he is alive or dead or in transport to the hospital.''
''Sedated 7 minutes into execution, at that time began pushing 2nd and 3rd drugs. Some concern drugs were not having an effect.''
''7:06 inmate Clayton Lockett suffered heart attack and died.''
''Prison Director has stayed execution for (the second inmate) Charles Warner for 14 days.''
''Lockett's vein blew during the execution preventing the chemicals from effectively entering his body.''
One of Lockett's lawyers, a witness, later told reporters, ''It looked like torture.''
Lockett was executed for a crime he committed in 1999: he shot a nineteen-year-old girl named Stephanie Neiman with a sawed-off shotgun, and then he watched as a pair of accomplices buried her alive. Charles Warner, the inmate who was to be executed after Lockett, was convicted of raping and killing an eleven-month-old girl in 1997. ''This is not about whether these two men are guilty; that is not in dispute,'' Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Oklahoma office, said in a statement. ''Rather, it comes down to whether we trust the government enough to allow it to kill its citizens, even guilty ones, in a secret process.''
After defense lawyers argued for disclosure about the drugs, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed to a temporary stay, but the state legislature threatened to bring impeachment proceedings against the justices, and Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma governor, threatened to fight the delay; the execution went forward as planned.
Fallin spent today addressing the fallout, which included a statement from the White House saying the execution had ''fallen short of humane standards.'' Fallin stayed Warner's execution for fourteen days and has ordered a full review of execution procedures, ''to determine what happened and why.''
McBride, meanwhile, has fielded media calls from around the world'--her tweets from the prison were retweeted or favorited more than two thousand times. Before signing off for the night, she made it clear that she had not been tweeting about the execution as it happened'--she reported the events after the fact, according to the AP, based on information from prison authorities and from her colleague Sean Murphy, who was one of the witnesses. ''Live-tweeting an execution seems unnecessary and kind of sick to me,'' McBride told her readers, just before 10 P.M. ''After what happened, I felt like it was important for people to know.''
Above: Clayton Lockett. Photograph courtesy Oklahoma Department of Corrections/AP.
Do Cali's Wiretapping Laws Give Donald Sterling The Juice?
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:21
April 30th, 2014
'''...the invasion of privacy resulting from the continual and increasing use of such devices and techniques has created a serious threat to the free exercise of personal liberties and cannot be tolerated in a free and civilized society.'' ~CA Penal Code, Section 630-638
HSK Exclusive - The NBA may have publicly announced Donald Sterling's ''impending punishment'' '-- during yesterday's now-historical press conference '-- but sources say the racist at the center of it all ''has not been official notified.'' ''I just spoke with Donald Sterling on the telephone,'' Jim Gray reports. ''He is unaware of what is going to happen to him. He has not been notified.''
That's the REAL story '-- as countless media outlets focus on Sterling's refusal to sell the Clippers. Know why? The NBA's April 29th public spectacle may prove to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors'... ''to kill the noise''. To be sure, not only is 80-year-old Sterling long been known for his racist and shred reputation '-- clearly displayed in that recently leaked audio '-- according to California law, that audio was illegally recorded. The NBA is certainly no stranger to Cali's wiretapping and eavesdropping laws.
California's wiretapping law is a ''two-party consent'' law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632. The statute applies to ''confidential communications'' '-- i.e., conversations in which one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation. See Flanagan v. Flanagan, 41 P.3d 575, 576-77, 578-82 (Cal. 2002). A California appellate court has ruled that this statute applies to the use of hidden video cameras to record conversations as well. See California v. Gibbons, 215 Cal. App. 3d 1204 (Cal Ct. App. 1989).
Here's what NBA newbie-commissioner Adam Silver told the press:
''I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him. I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force the sale of the team. I will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens.''
Is Staples Center the NBA's true trump card, those moment The Clippers' lease expires? Of course! Just ask Magic Johnson.
DoD Commits to American-Made Shoes
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:09
DoD Commits to American-Made ShoesApril 30, 2014
The Department of Defense (DoD) announced on April 25 that it will ensure military recruits buy American-made athletic shoes when using an allowance provided by the government.
The Berry Amendment, which has been in effect since 1941, requires the military to buy equipment, including clothing and food, that is manufactured in the United States. However, the military has used foreign-made footwear in the past because there weren't any domestically made shoes available on the market.
In a memo released last Friday, Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox said that once a domestically made shoe is approved, officials ''should ensure that recruits are able to purchase these shoes, and only these shoes, using their one-time cash allowance.''
Instead of providing recruits with athletic shoes, the military gives them an $80 allowance to spend on a pair of their choosing. There is, however, a concern that this allowance system may allow the military to circumvent the Berry Amendment when purchasing other products that do have an American-made option. In the memo, Fox writes that this cash allowance system ''falls outside of Berry Amendment restrictions.''
There is an ongoing audit by the Office of the Inspector General into whether or not the military was previously violating the Berry Amendment. It is also investigating whether the military was complying with the Buy American Act, a law passed in 1933 that compels the entirety of the government to buy American-made products. Results from the audit are expected to be released in September.
Another possible loophole in these two laws exists in the form of minimum purchasing thresholds. If an order is under $150,000, the military can legally buy from foreign manufacturers under the Berry Amendment. For the Buy American Act, orders must be less than $3,000. The Berry Amendment's comparatively high threshold makes it easier for the military to avoid buying American-made products.
Though the memo acknowledges that there are still no American-made athletic shoes available, companies such as New Balance and Wolverine Worldwide '--of which Saucony is a subsidiary'--have expressed interest in supplying 100% domestically made shoes that would comply with the Berry Amendment. According to Made In America Expo, Wellco, Danner, and Capps Shoe have also said they could produce a Berry-compliant shoe. Having multiple companies supplying shoes would not only eliminate the possibility of one company having a monopoly on the market, it would also give recruits more options when choosing athletic shoes.
According to the memo, recruits will only have to buy American-made shoes if they are ''at a cost and durability similar to that of shoes currently offered.'' Recruits will also have the option, as they do today, of buying any type of shoe with their own money.
The shoe industry's efforts to create Berry-compliant athletic shoes are finally allowing the DoD to adhere with domestic preference laws. In the future, the Department will be better able to support American businesses, care for American troops, and follow the law. Jobs will undoubtedly be created when shoe companies expand their domestic operations, and the companies themselves will be able to participate in a substantial market; since 2002, the military has spent about $180 million providing allowances for athletic shoes. Servicemen and women stand to benefit as well. The Berry Amendment was passed to protect domestic industry, but it also exists to ensure the military doesn't have to rely on foreign materials any more than necessary. The more the military buys products made in the United States, the more likely it is that troops will continue to receive the supplies they need in wartime.
Image by the U.S. Army.
Anaika Miller is currently an intern with the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics:Contract Oversight
Related Content:DOD Oversight, Defense
Authors:Anaika Miller
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murder inequality-Tale of Two Chicagos: Violence Plagues City's South, West Sides - NBC
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:44
After church and Easter dinner with relatives, 11-year-old Tymisha Washington wanted to play before the street lights came on. She joined four friends'--none more than 15 years old'--at a park near her house on Chicago's South Side. Then a dark car pulled up to the group, and a passenger asked the kids about their gang affiliation. They have none, their parents told police, but the questioner opened fire anyhow, sending a bullet into Washington's chin and another into her lung.
For more than a year now, the Chicago Police department has been on a triumphant run. Murders fell almost 20 percent citywide last year, according to department data, and the first quarter of 2014 saw the fewest murders in any first quarter since 1958.
But then the mercury started to rise.
Over the last two weekends'--the first warm ones in the city this year'--shootings spiked. Washington was one of more than 70 people wounded (she's still listed as critical). More than 10 others were killed.
''A bad week," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told NBC News. ''It doesn't wipe out what's happened over the past two years, but it certainly is a wake-up call that we have a lot of work to do."
McCarthy has ordered stepped up patrols in communities hardest hit by the violence. He has overhauled the department's gang strategy, relying on real-time intelligence and the new science of social network analysis to stop the next bullet before it's fired. He has also welcomed the creation of a 16-member, Chicago-based task force of federal prosecutors, announced on Monday by the U.S Attorney's Office, whose sole goal is to lock up violent criminals.
John Brecher / NBC NewsChicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy calls recent violence in the city's most dangerous neighborhoods a "wake-up call." (John Brecher / NBC News)
But for any of this to help, it will need to change trend lines that have been telling the same grim story through more than two decades, numerous mayors and police superintendents and the rise and fall of the crack cocaine epidemic. It's a classic tale of two Chicagos, one of them safe and prosperous, the other one dangerous and poor'--and both of them growing more so.
''We've talked about homicide in Chicago at least one million times but I don't think this has come up,'' according Daniel Hertz, a prominent blogger and public policy graduate student at the University of Chicago, who has crunched the citywide data on homicides and income. The ''something'' is how the murder rate has fallen overall, but fallen unevenly.
The North Side experienced huge 20-year drops in the homicide rate. In Rogers Park it was down more than 80 percent. The parts of the South and West sides of the city closest to downtown'--Bronzeville, the Loop'--also got a lot safer. ''But most of the rest actually got worse,'' says Hertz, including the parts of the city (Englewood, Garfield Park) that were already among the most dangerous.
He did the analysis because he was tired of hearing Chicago called America's ''murder capital,'' aka ''Chiraq,'' when in fact the city was arguably safer than at any time in its history. Now he understands why some people talk that way, even locals. They persist in believing that the city has gotten worse, because, if they live on the West or South sides, Hertz says, it has gotten worse.
"That sense of joy, that sense of [being] carefree should not be determined by where you live."
NBC News confirmed the idea of two Chicagos in an analysis last year. Between 2007 and 2012 the murder rate in the most dangerous of Chicago's official community areas was as much as 80 times higher than the rate in the tonier, quieter area's Chicago's north side. We've all heard of income inequality. Hertz calls this: ''murder inequality.''
It's unclear what's causing it, but Hertz points to another troubling trend. In a new research published late last month, he looked at 40 years of median family income data in Chicago, broken down by race and neighborhood. What he found makes it possible, he argues, ''to watch Chicago's middle class vanish before your eyes.'' And the areas among those hit hardest by falling wages? You guessed it: the neighborhoods on the city's murderous South and West sides, which are disproportionately black and brown.
As jobs leave and communities break down, gangs seem to move in and violence follows. ''The goal is not merely to depress you,'' Hertz concludes, ''but to suggest just how dramatically the reality of Chicago's 'two cities' has changed over the last few generations, how non-eternal its present state is, and that a happier alternate reality isn't just possible, but actually existed relatively recently.''
McCarthy and his boss, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel are waging a very loud, very public battle to bring it back into existence. In a speech today to a new class of police officers, Emmanuel said the recent shootings had been on his mind as he biked along Lake Michigan on Easter weekend. He saw families enjoying themselves, their children carefree.
"That sense of joy, that sense of [being] carefree should not be determined by where you live," he told the graduates. The new officers will soon be assigned to Chicago's 20 ''impact zones,'' the places where gun violence is highest and the city is ramping up community outreach as the temperatures rise.
''It should be the expectation for every child of the city of Chicago,'' the mayor continued. ''I will not rest'--and I do not expect anybody to rest'--until every child in the city of Chicago can enjoy that sense of freedom."
First published April 21 2014, 3:45 PM CONSPIRACY THEORY: Will Magic Johnson End Up Owning the Clippers?
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:22
An investment banker friend emails:Remind me again; what was the Instagram root of this story?What adds a bit of credibility to this theory is that the release of the Stiviano-Sterling tape damages Sterling. If Stiviano was just after money, she could have let him become aware of the tape without publishing it and he would have paid off before it went public.
Exit strategy for NBA, Donald Sterling: Sell Clippers to Magic Johnson - Yahoo Sports
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:22
For all these despicable revelations tumbling out of the hateful heart of Donald Sterling, there promises construction of a roadmap to redemption for the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA. There's a way out for the most hated man in Los Angeles now, a way out for the commissioner's office and the owners responsible for long legitimizing and harboring a bigot and slumlord.
Magic Johnson and his billionaire backers, the Guggenheim Partners, want a chance to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told Yahoo Sports. "Magic's absolutely interested," one source closely connected to Johnson's business interests told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night.
To bail themselves out of the NBA's worst crisis of credibility since the Tim Donaghy officiating scandal, the easy part for the NBA will be enlisting the eagerness and financial muscle of Magic Johnson and Mark Walter of the Guggenheim Partners '' owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For commissioner Adam Silver, the chance to turn the Clippers over to Magic Johnson and his partners is the best possible of solutions. Exit Sterling, enter Magic. It would be the greatest trade in sports ownership history since, well, Magic for the McCourts, with the Dodgers.
Magic Johnson is the ultimate cleanser in sports, and steering a Clippers sale to him could be transformative for the franchise. Truth be told, it could change the balance of basketball power in Los Angeles forever. To keep Doc Rivers as president and coach, to hold together the core of a championship contender and keep building it, Magic can make it happen.
The NBA hopes to quickly resolve its investigation of Donald Sterling. (AP)
Make no mistake: Magic's Dodgers group is angling for a Southern California sports empire. Magic Johnson and Guggenheim had been aggressive in pursuing a purchase of the Los Angeles Lakers '' only to have the Buss family make clear to them the franchise isn't for sale, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Nevertheless, this is business and Magic's willing to change colors and make himself a Clipper. Between the Dodgers and Clippers, Magic Johnson could be the face of two championship contenders.
Magic could have it all.
"This is 100 percent Magic's plan," a league official intimately involved in the buying and selling of franchises told Yahoo Sports.
As an exit strategy, Sterling could walk away with a $1 billion-plus sales price for his franchise, and a final act of goodwill to soften his exile into the sports netherworld. Sterling will be reviled forever, but he has to understand clearing the way for Magic Johnson and the $200 billion-plus group backing him could be a decent farewell punctuating a most indecent ownership tenure. Sterling made Magic Johnson a part of those hideous audio tapes that have started to crumble his Clippers ownership, and here's the old man's way to make it right.
After all, he has little choice left. Sterling will never be able to sit courtside for a Clippers game again, never be able to march through his locker room glad-handing players. All the reasons Sterling has loved owning an NBA team, well, they're all gone.
Across the league now, owners want Sterling out. They should've done so years ago, but understand every franchise will now pay a price for failing to remove Sterling. Finally, they're pushing Silver to find a way. These owners are on the clock, and they know it.
Magic Johnson has said Donald Sterling should not be allowed to own the Clippers any more. (AP)
"If the owners can't force [Sterling] to sell, they need to be held accountable to change the bylaws so they can," one member of the NBA's Board of Governors told Yahoo Sports on Sunday. "A fine and suspension is meaningless, and that'll be seen as a lack of acceptance that the league and owners are responsible for this ass----."
The Dodgers group is serious about owning an NBA team, and the league knows it. Together, they arranged for Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners to purchase the WNBA's cash-strapped Los Angeles Sparks in February. The league office needed someone to spare it the embarrassment of the WNBA's flagship franchise folding, and Magic and Guggenheim bailed it out. This hadn't been born out of a sense of benevolence, but rather a pragmatic move to deeper ingratiate themselves with the NBA.
So Sunday, Johnson goes on national television and tells everyone: Donald Sterling should lose the Clippers. He's right. The NBA will move to suspend Sterling in the short-term and turn its army of lawyers onto a way to force Sterling into a sale. Magic Johnson could always see the court, the next play, and it's unfolding now. It won't be easy. It won't be tidy.
For now, it's the ultimate escape plan for the NBA, the ultimate exit for Donald Sterling. Magic Johnson wants the Clippers, and it could change Los Angeles basketball '' change the NBA '' forever.
BasketballSports & RecreationLos Angeles ClippersMagic JohnsonNBADonald SterlingGuggenheim PartnersLos Angeles
Stupid Democrats Are Being Set Up '' Democrat Donor/Bundler Being Accused Of Racism'... There's More To This Story'... | The Last Refuge
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:39
Lies, regardless of origin, are horrible. However, when they are done to purposefully manipulate and create a narrative, lies can become worse.Progressives should be *REALLY* careful with this story. Progs -as a collective- (the various grievance check box groups) are being set up / used for the financial benefit of V. Stiviano and her attorneys. {{{pass-the-popcorn}}}
Donald Sterling is a Democrat Fundraiser , and a democrat supporter/donor. He's a slimy bastard and has been for a long time, but the current accusation is constructed for financial benefit.
Sterling is the owner of the L.A Clippers his ''former'' girlfriend is V Stiviano a woman of dubious character. She is, by race, Mexican and Black. She is also being sued by Sterling Inc. for ''embezzlement'' of almost $2,000,000 ($1.8 million) from him. Embezzlement is what they call it in Hollywood when you charge a Ferrari, two Bentley's, and a $1.8 mil condo to drop your panties.
Donald Sterling Inc. also includes Mrs. Donald Sterling '' D'oh'.... Who is suing the ''girlfriend'' for return of family assets. So, after Stiviano gets handed papers for the lawsuit she hires an attorney and tells Sterling she would ''get him back''.
She's set him up.
The ''set up'' is constructed around an oft argued personal issue they have/had historically between themselves.
Stiviano had often complained to Sterling that her friends didn't like him -and consequently leery of her- because they thought her boyfriend, Sterling, was a prejudiced bigot, which he probably is '' but that's not the substance of the latest construct.
Against the backdrop of the prior conversations about her friends, and their racist opinion of her boyfriend within her social circle, she recorded a phone call.
THE SET UP '' Stiviano calls Donald Sterling and gets into a conversation of familiar historical reference. She records the conversation, without his knowledge, because she wants to set up a racist element to assist her legal team.
During the conversation, to get the desired end result, Stiviano says she publicizes her friendships and relationships with black people (Instagram picture with Magic Johnson etc.) specifically because she needs to counter weight the opinion, within the circle of her friendships and relationships, that her former boyfriend, Sterling, is a racist bigot.
Stiviano is proclaiming because of her relationship with him, her reputation has been damaged. Ergo she needs to re-image herself without the toxic relationship weighting down perceptions of her.
Mr. Sterling is telling Ms. Stiviano she doesn't need to do that.
Sterling is telling her on the phone call that she does not need to broadcast herself with such intentions because a.) he doesn't care, and b.) he doesn't need her efforts creating issues in his own racial Public Relations or brand.
The ensuing disagreement is about Ms. Stiviano saying she has a need to re-brand, and Sterling saying ''fine'', but her re-branding is creating issues that he then has to deal with. {{{whatever}}}
In essence he's saying, 'I don't give a flip who you hang out with, have sex with, or whatever you do whatever you do with'... I don't need your assistance managing public perceptions of me. And your decision to re-create your own image is your own issue. However, when you emphasize your own racial-rebranding componentry, I end up with phone calls having to deal with whatever it is'. {{{It's an LA thing '' apparently}}}
The recording was done April 9th '' after they had already broken off the relationship and after the Donald Sterling Team made the decision to address the embezzlement with Stiviano.
TMZ Edit Script from Audio
'' ''It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?'' (3:30)
'' ''You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that '... and not to bring them to my games.'' (5:15)
'' ''I'm just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don't have to have yourself with, walking with black people.'' (7:45)
'' '''...Don't put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games.'' (9:13)
The Donald Sterling issues with Magic Johnson are less to do with race than the rivalry between the LA Lakers (Johnson) and the LA Clippers (Sterling).
During the legacy of the Magic Johnson basketball era the LA Lakers became a dynasty. The Clippers, um, not-so-much'....
That Magic Johnson is black is generally secondary to the reasoning that Sterling doesn't privately like him. However, for the sake of immediate value Johnson played an important role in Stiviano's scheme.
Stiviano knew that another publically broadcast picture of herself with Johnson would irk Sterling. Hence the foundational door for the phone call is established.
Johnson probably doesn't even know he was played as a useful pawn. And probably doesn't care now that a person of dubious moral character, that owns a competing franchise -that he generally didn't care for- is going to be attacked as a construct of his participation.
Hey, if the Clippers suffer '' the Lakers reap the benefit, right ? Win/Win.
All is not what it appears'....
'..... but hey, let's not tell the sheeple masses that part.
Lo-Fo's are a valued commodity amid the various Grievance Industrialists.
What is going on? The Nevada Rancher & Clippers Head making racists statements. BUT the Gov. of Georgia allowing guns in churches? What?'--Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) April 26, 2014
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Stiviano's Ex-Associate Set To Sue TMZ Over Donald Sterling Report!
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:37
April 28th, 2014
Her HomeGirls Jump Ship Amidst Alleged Extortion Plot'...
HSK Exclusive - A former close associate to V. Stiviano says ''TMZ will be hearing from my lawyers within the next 48-hours.'' According to Rachel Rodriguez [she's the woman featured in that now-infamous Magic Johnson image], TMZ concocted a story to coincide with V. Stiviano's recorded telephone conversation with Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.
''TMZ pulled a 34-week-old pic from my Instagram account'... obviously to attach Magic Johnson to the whole thing, which made it even juicier.''
Just yesterday, TMZ ran a story titled ''Donald Sterling: The Magic Picture That Triggered Racial Rant''. Rachel Rodriquez says not only is the story NOT true, she tells HSK that Sterling's racist statement has nothing to do with the instructions he gave to Stiviano, a woman reported to have accepted BIG BUCKS from Sterling.
''V was supposed to use the Clippers court-side tickets to bring girlfriends.. not the Black guys she was smashing.''
Here's the drop:
''V. Stiviano was taping her phone conversations with Donald in order to extort him. She used TMZ to leak the tape, and they spun it. Whether or not he's a racist has nothing to do with what she told him she was gonna do. He paid her well.''
Check out what TMZ reported on April 27, 2014:
''This is the picture that triggered the conversation between L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend '... the conversation in which he said he did not want her bringing Magic Johnson or any other African American to his games.
In the pic '-- obtained by TMZ Sports '-- V. Stiviano is on the right. The woman on the left is V's friend, Rachel Rodriguez.
Stiviano says on the audio '-- and Sterling acknowledges '-- he made her take the pic off Instagram because he didn't want her seen in public with an African American.
In another tape '... Sterling expressed similar disdain for posting this pic (above) '-- also obtained by TMZ Sports '-- of Stiviano with L.A. Dodger Matt Kemp.
Both pics were taken months ago '-- apparently at Dodger Stadium '-- but she posted them only recently and then took them down at Sterling's behest.''
Was Donald Sterling exposed as a racist YEARS AGO? Of course! Just ask the Department of Justice.. the entity responsible for suing Sterling for 'housing discrimination', back in 2003.
Sterling - Media Spins Jewish Racism as White Racism -
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:29
April 28, 2014
(Left, Sterling & Stiviano. Basketball team owner's racist remarks ignite controversy.)By spinning Jewish racism as white racism,the mass media reflectsthe real race-hatred:Illuminati Jewishhatred of white Christians andgoyim in general.
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."- Voltaire
Latest- Sterling "suspended for life." Fined $2 million for a private conversation. Heeb Magazine's Take
by Henry Makow Ph.D.
Donald Sterling (nee "Tokowitz") owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team sparked national outrage by asking his girlfriend not to broadcast (over Instagram) that she came to games with black men, in this case ex-great Magic Johnson.
The girlfriend, a Ms. V. Stiviano, recorded the conversation in which she pointed out the absurdity of his request, given that the NBA is three-quarters black. Stiviano herself is black and Mexican; Tokowitz-Sterling is Jewish and 81-years-old.
President Obama has called Sterling's remarks "racist and incredibly offensive" but a reflection of challenges still facing America. Basketball star LeBron James was among numerous players saying there is no place for Sterling in the sport.
There is no mention in the mainstream media that Sterling is Jewish, and that this is an example of Jewish racism. It's OK to condemn a white man's racism but God forbid we a Jew's. We can't recognize Sterling's attitudes for what they really are.
I am not saying Jews in general are racist. Some are. Many, including myself, are not. But Judaism is racist. Israel is a racist society. Israelis have told me that Arabs are no better than donkeys. This attitude is evident from Sterling's remarks where he admits that even colored Jews are persecuted.
DS: It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.
V: So do you have to treat them like that too?
DS: The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?
V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?
DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.
V: And is that right?
DS: It isn't a question--we don't evaluate what's right and wrong; we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.
V: But shouldn't we take a stand for what's wrong? And be the change and the difference?
DS: I don't want to change the culture, because I can't. It's too big and too [unknown].
V: But you can change yourself.
DS: I don't want to change. If my girl can't do what I want, I don't want the girl. I'll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl--because I tried to do what you want. But you're not that girl.V says that because of the holocaust, a Jew of all people should be able to understand discrimination. Sterling's answer shows how Jews are often blind to their own faults.
V: It's like saying, "Let's just persecute and kill all of the Jews."
DS: Oh, it's the same thing, right?
V: Isn't it wrong? Wasn't it wrong then? With the Holocaust? And you're Jewish, you understand discrimination.
DS: You're a mental case, you're really a mental case. The Holocaust, we're comparing with--
V: Racism! Discrimination.
DS: There's no racism here. If you don't want to be... walking... into a basketball game with a certain... person, is that racism?THE HYPOCRISY OF "RACISM"
Illuminati Jews have pinned the racist label on whites as a way of dis-empowering whites. They championed civil rights not for its own sake, but to create a multicultural society which they can dominate. With Hispanic migration, whites are quickly becoming a minority.
For whites to defend the racial character of their society is considered "racist." This is why Sterling is condemned. But, Tokowitz's racism is not white. It is Jewish. Israel is a blatantly racist society where non-Jews can't become citizens, intermarry or own land.
According to Judaism, Jews are "God's Chosen People." Non-Jews are considered subhuman, fit only to serve Jews. In Sterling-Tokowitz's case, we are not talking about white racism. We are talking about Jewish racism. But there is no mention of this in the Zionist-controlled mass media. We are supposedly confronting some racial truth when in fact we are evading it.
It's time to admit that political correctness ( condemning "racism") is a racist Illuminati Jewish tool to disinherit people of European Christian background.
Related-What Real People Are SayingWhat crime exactly is he being charged with? So, if I tell my mistress in confidence that I do not want her to be seen in public with Swedish people, and she tapes this, will I have my livelihood confiscated and will I be crucified by the media? Why is the American president commenting on this, other than he is black? Something is not right here...
Player Reaction to SterlingZionists Poisoned 100,000 Sephardic Jewish ChildrenAnti Semiticism is Zionism's Bread & ButterWhat "Average" American Will Look Like in 2050
Examples of Jewish behavior passed off as Gentile behavior:Does Hollywood Airbrush Jews & Gays? "Solitary Man" Jewish Morality TaleA Touch of Crass
Sterling history from Wikipedia
First Comment from Anon: This is really about jealousy and image-
Henry, it seems to me that most of the world is unable to process things from a realistic perspective. Well, except for your commenter Dan and I. He hit the nail on the head. From the first time I looked at this nonsense, it was obvious that he was asking her to please not embarrass him by making it obvious that she was banging other guys by going out in public with them.
Just as Dan said, he wants his business associates to see him as virile -- not just sexually, but financially and in social presence in general, like the eldest of the silver backed gorillas (to make a terrible analogy) '‹, but what she's doing with her lack of common sense and self control is causing him grief on the back end. He more than likely gets calls from his associates and he has to deal with it, and its a hassle that he shouldn't have to deal with given their arrangement.'‹ I
ts obvious that she is absolutely nothing more than arm candy for him, and it speaks a multitude to her intelligence to even make this recording. He's her meal ticket, and she STILL can't even respect him enough'‹ to not screw it up. What a complete moron this woman must be! '‹
This whole thing reeks of political opportunism, just as the whole Cliven Bundy "the old white racist" smear job failed, here comes this smear peace against another old white guy. It's pretty obvious that the media is trying to tar-and-feather older whites. I wonder who put her up to this? Does she have a new sugar daddy? Does she have any media ties? Or better yet, wheres the illegal wiretapping lawsuit? What she did is illegal, unless the other party receives disclosure about the recording prior to the recording being made. He should sue her for defamation of character, and go after her for every last penny that he ever spent on her. She violated their "agreement" and should be dealt with in the same context. These bimbos need to be reminded of their true place... after all, they're nothing but "high class" prostitutes when it comes right down to it!
Comments for "Sterling - Media Spins Jewish Racism as White Racism"
Maurice Pinay: What People Should be Learning from the Donald Tokowitz "Sterling" Scandal
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:26
I've often commented that the rabbis and machers are perilously close to being trampled by the anti-European-Christian golems they create through culture shaping and population transfer. We're seeing this happen this week with Donald Tokowitz "Sterling's" traditional Judaic bigoted comments being made public. But there's a lot of Judaic establishment framework still in place preventing clear thinking on the matter.At Mondoweiss, the Judeo-supremacist anti-Zionist outfit, commenters are spinning in circles of pilpul as to whether it's permissible to identify Tokowitz as a Zionist. The more 'progressive' Judeo-supremacists and their goy sidekicks chomp at the bit to claim modern Zionism as the explanation for Tokowitz' bigotry as if he learned it from Theodore Herzl. But not one will address the obvious fact that is, practically speaking, kicking them in the head; Tokowitz' recent descent from the anti-goyite, anti-black, Judeo-supremacist religious/cultural community (likely Russia, Poland and/or Eastern Germany) governed by the canonized texts of rabbinic Judaism which authoritatively teach that black skin is a curse of servitude and that Ham's progeny were cursed with dark skin because, inter alia, he had sex with a dog. There's the proper context for understanding Tokowitz' statement of black skinned people that "in 'Israel' these people are treated like dogs." It's true, in Counterfeit Israel, one nation under the counterfeit holy texts of the Talmud, which teach that black skin exists because Ham had sex with a dog; in Counterfeit Israel black skinned people are indeed treated like dogs. What else would one expect from a community laboring for centuries under such hateful, bigoted religious delusion with only recent strained pretentions to enlightenment from it.
These people are covering up the truth just as Tokowitz attempted to cover up his Judeo-supremacism and predation with the comically disarming surname, "Sterling"!
One hopes and prays that truth seeking black people will come to understand how the anti-black religion of rabbinic Judaism has been the source of anti-black oppression and hatred from Sephardic Judaic slave traders of the past to the Ashkenazic Judaic NBA team owners of today, and how these hate mongers have divided and ruled by creating strife between white and black common people.
The fall of Donald Tokowitz | David Suissa | Jewish Journal
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:21
Donald Sterling Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
My head is spinning from watching the horror show of Donald Sterling and his racist rants and his subsequent lifetime banishment from basketball. In case you've been on Mars the past week, Sterling is the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was recorded spewing racist bile to his mistress, telling her, among other things, not to bring ''black people'' to his games.
The sin of cheating on a spouse is bad enough, but in today's world, the sin of racism looks even worse. It's not simply that bigotry of any kind has become so frowned upon. It's also the new media environment we live in.
Put it this way: If you want to be a racist today, you'd better keep it to yourself. We can't legislate decency, but we can shame bigotry like never before. In a digital world, where millions of sound bites can spread in seconds and never go away, unleash your bigoted impulses and watch your legacy go down in shame.
When Donald Sterling's great-great-grandchildren Google his name a hundred years from now, the first thing they'll see is that their famous ancestor was famous for being a racist. They'll learn that he was sued by the Department of Justice for refusing to rent to minority tenants, and that the bigoted rants revealed in April 2014 were only the latest in a long pattern of racist behavior.
They may also learn that he grew up in Boyle Heights and saw his father wake up every morning at 2 a.m. to buy produce and resell it to local restaurants. And that he picked up his father's strong work ethic to work his way through law school, and when the big firms did not hire Jews at the time, started a thriving practice to help everyday people get legal assistance.
They may learn all that, but in the end, it is the bigotry and racism that will stick.
His descendants may also learn that Donald changed his last name from Tokowitz to Sterling to give himself an aura of success. The name Tokowitz, apparently, sounded too Jewish.
I guess you can say that his name change was good for the Jews.
Can you imagine the anti-Semitism that would have been rekindled today had it been billionaire Donald Tokowitz spewing these racist rants? Not that people can't do quick research and figure out that Sterling is Jewish, but in our Twitter-dominated world, ''Toko-witz the racist'' is exponentially worse for the Jews than ''Sterling the racist.''
How's that for delicious irony? By selfishly worrying about his own reputation, he ended up protecting '-- somewhat '-- his own people's reputation.
There is something pathetic about an older man caught in the vise of bigotry. Of all that I've read about this saga, maybe the saddest thing is that Sterling doesn't have any tenants in his Beverly Hills office building. Apparently, that's so he can ride up in his gold-plated elevator alone. God forbid he should come into contact with ordinary people.
It makes you wonder: Was there anyone he respected in his inner circle who could confront him? Or did they all laugh at his jokes, funny or not, as cronies are wont to do?
Beyond the issue of Sterling's personal failings, there is also the hypocrisy of those who have enabled his behavior '-- groups such as the National Basketball Association, which for 30 years failed repeatedly, until now, to punish his misconduct.
Another example that comes to mind is the NAACP, which gave Sterling a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 '-- the same year he paid out a record $2.75 million to settle allegations of discrimination against minority tenants '-- and recently announced that it planned to give him another award at its 100th anniversary gala in May.
Of course, after this latest eruption of bigotry, complete with smoking gun, the NAACP's leaders have seen the light and announced they will not honor Sterling in May and are taking steps ''to rescind the previous award they bestowed on him.''
Sorry '-- nice try, but too little, too late.
It's no secret around town that organizations desperate for funds have been honoring Sterling and his wealthy connections for years while closing their eyes to his racist indiscretions. All these groups were playing with fire, but the NAACP, for obvious reasons, should have been extra careful not to associate with someone with such a shady record in race relations.
If the NAACP is looking for someone to honor at its May event, I have an idea: Honor the Jews who helped start the NAACP a hundred years ago '-- like Julius Rosenthal, Henry Malkewitz, Lillian Wald, and Rabbis Stephen S. Wise and Emil Hirsch.
Those Jews never felt a need to make their names sound less Jewish. They didn't have to '-- they had nothing to hide.
The memory of these people may not raise as much money or sell as many tables as a billionaire slumlord does, but their great-great-grandchildren are a lot more proud when they Google the name of their ancestors.
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The ugly truth behind Donald Sterling's racist comments - The LighthouseIsrael News - Haaretz Israeli News source
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:13
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif... / Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sport...By Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
Published 17:25 28.04.14
I am doubly embarrassed by Donald Sterling's contemptible, racist comments that surfaced this week. Once as an Angeleno and a second time as a Jew. Indeed, the world's most racist basketball franchise owner is one of our own. Worse, in the course of his rantings, Sterling attempts to justify his racism by invoking his people and our homeland.
''DS: It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.V: So do you have to treat them like that too?DS: The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.V: And is that right?DS: It isn't a question - we don't evaluate what's right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.''(via Deadspin)
My initial reaction was outrage and disgust. How dare this despicable human being lie about his fellow Jews and Israeli culture to hoodwink his girlfriend into believing that it is acceptable to mistreat black people? I was outraged. After all, black Jews are obviously not treated like dogs. White Jews do not really think that black Jews are less than white Jews. Preposterous! The nerve of that man!
Then I realized that, while Sterling's choice of words was inelegant and imprecise, he wasn't lying. Too often, white Jews do treat black Jews poorly. We do have a bit of a race problem in our communities.
Ashkenazi bias against Sephardic Jews is common. Examples abound. A few years ago, Ashkenazi girls in Immanuel stayed home from school because their school had been desegregated by court order. Israeli courts found that there was in fact discrimination in Immanuel.
Many Orthodox Jewish communities still divide themselves along ethnic lines. Social groups are often formed based on skin color or ancestral heritage. Because many Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews prefer to pray in synagogues of their own tradition, it can be hard to reach across color lines. I myself have heard Ashkenazi acquaintances use racial slurs and ugly stereotypes when referring to Sephardi Jews. I can only assume that the people using this kind of language took for granted that I would be comfortable with their epithets. I am not.
Many Orthodox Jews live in insular communities. When one lives without outside influence it's easy to fall into the trap of xenophobic tendencies and even outright racism. Without friends and colleagues from diverse ethnicities, one may rely upon stereotypes that would be debunked after just one encounter. But diversity is not a value in Orthodox Jewish communities while insularity is a value.
Additionally, many Orthodox Jews do not imbibe in popular culture and media. Thus, there is no external force that is informing them that the old stereotypes and prejudices are factually incorrect and morally wrong. It can be difficult to navigate around negative feelings about people outside one's group without data to deconstruct those firmly held beliefs. The result is a culture that tolerates blatant discrimination against minorities and no social stigma against using racial epithets.
Of course, there are many Orthodox Jews who would never dream of thinking white people are superior to non-whites. The community is trending in the right direction, but there is work to be done yet. Just last year, a prominent Orthodox politician used blackface as part of his Purim costume. He did not even know that people find blackface offensive. He found out pretty quickly once the media started reporting his faux pas. But he learned his lesson, and hopefully the rest of the community will continue learning these lessons.
But it's not just Orthodox Jewish communities that need to improve. The African migrant worker issue in Israel has uncovered pockets of racism in the secular Israeli communities as well. Violence and hateful speech targeting African asylum seekers and others prompted President Shimon Peres to issue this reminder to the citizens of Israel in 2012. ''Hatred of foreigners contradicts the fundamental principles of Judaism. I am well aware of the difficulties faced by the residents of south Tel Aviv [and other similar areas], but violence is not the solution.''
Donald Sterling had no right to say that white Jews treat black Jews like dogs. That's simply not a true statement. He is also incorrect that black Jews are less than white Jews. Jews are Jews no matter their pigment. Colors are for artists. Skin tone is the color of one's skin.
It's true that some Jewish people do not treat all ethnicities equally. But there are people of every race, creed, culture, and color who discriminate. That's not something Jewish people do more than others. But we can do better. We should do better. Our insular communities can do more to prevent xenophobia and our diverse communities can do more to see past color and beyond stereotypes.
Yom HaShoah is an excellent time to redouble our efforts to make sure that Donald Sterling is the last of his kind. We have been victims of discrimination and hate enough times to know better. Let's commit to making Sterling's offensive comments about his fellow Jews even more preposterous than they are now. This Yom HaShoah let's broaden "Never Again" to include all hate and discrimination so there is no comfortable place for new Donald Sterlings in our society.
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In surprise move, NBA bans Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life (+video) -
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 04:05
Acting with breathtaking speed and decisiveness, new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life on Tuesday, fining the NBA's longest-standing owner $2.5 million for privately making racist remarks against black people.
The unprecedented decision came less than four days after news broke that a surreptitious audio recording revealed Mr. Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to Clippers games. In the recording, Sterling also chastised the woman for posting Instagram photos of Hall-of-Fame player Magic Johnson.
The recordings caused an immediate and widespread furor during the NBA's lucrative series of playoffs '' the most visible time of the year for the league.
''The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,'' said Commissioner Silver in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, saying the NBA had confirmed that the voice on the recordings was indeed Sterling's. ''That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural, and multiethnic league.''
For the new commissioner, the stakes couldn't be higher. In February, Silver succeeded David Stern, one of the most successful commissioners in the history of professional sports, helping to shape the NBA into a global phenomenon during his 30-year tenure.
''Wow. Just wow. I did not expect this,'' says Mark Conrad, director of the sports business program at Fordham University in New York. ''This was really a bold, gutsy, and important move by the new NBA commissioner, and I think he'll have a lot of support in the public. He'll certainly have a lot of support from the players, and I think he will have support from many owners, given what has happened.''
Silver, who said this has been a ''painful moment for all members of the NBA,'' will also urge the NBA's board of governors to exercise its authority and force a sale of the team, which requires a three-fourths majority vote of NBA owners. ''[I] will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens,'' he said at Tuesday's press conference.
The outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, had expressed caution Monday about forcing Sterling out as owner, saying it would be a ''very, very slippery slope'' to disenfranchise an owner for something said in the privacy of his home.
''What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent,'' Mr. Cuban said before Monday's playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs. ''There's no place for racism in the NBA, any business I'm associated with. But at the same time, that's a decision I make. I think you've got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It's a very, very slippery slope.''
But after Tuesday's press conference, Mr. Cuban tweeted, ''I agree 100% with Commissioner Silver's findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling.''
Sterling's comments caused an uproar late last week, sparking protests from players and others. Even President Obama, during a trip to Malaysia, condemned the statements.
By Monday, many of the Clippers' financially critical sponsors had fled. Virgin America, State Farm, Kia Motors America each announced that it would no longer support the team, Reuters reported. CarMax Inc., Red Bull, and AQUAHydrate, the water brand of entertainer P. Diddy, also withdrew their sponsorships.
NBA players rallied around the commissioner, via Twitter, after Tuesday's press conference.
"Commissioner of the @NBA just showed us how he drops the hammer on ignorance," tweeted Jason Collins, the NBA's first and only openly gay player.
"Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerful league!! Great leader!!," tweeted two-time champion LeBron James, star of the Miami Heat.
"Way to go, Commissioner Silver! The NBA stands for everybody!" tweeted Magic Johnson, who had been disparaged by Sterling in the recordings.
Silver's actions Tuesday were swift, severe, and, in many ways, unprecedented. The NBA has banned only four people for life since the 1970s '' each of them minor players who had violated the league's substance abuse policies
Major League Baseball banned for life its all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, in 1989 after an extensive investigation found that he had gambled on baseball games, including those he managed. More recently, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from the sport.
Many observers surmised before Tuesday's categorical ruling that Major League Baseball would provide some precedent for punishing owners. In 1993, the league suspended Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott for a year, fining her $25,000 '' or the equivalent of at least $40,000 in today's dollars '' for using racial slurs to refer to Jews and blacks.
Baseball also banned Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from day-to-day operation of his team for life in 1990, after he hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on a black player. Steinbrenner was reinstated in 1993, however.
In 2011, MLB also took over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, its finances in a shambles under the ownership of Frank McCourt. The Dodgers owner vigorously contested the action, but by 2012, Mr. McCourt's ball club filed for bankruptcy, and he eventually sold the team for a record $2 billion to a consortium that included Magic Johnson.
''The one issue that's going to be big is, can you force Donald Sterling to sell his team?'' says Fordham University's Mr. Conrad. ''So there is the potential for lots of litigation on something like this, and who is to say Mr. Sterling, a former litigator himself, is going to take this sitting down.''
The same consortium that includes Magic Johnson and his backers at Guggenheim Partners are reportedly very interested in buying the Clippers, which some analysts are saying could cost $1 billion. The Guggenheim group currently owns the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, one of the league's flagship teams.
For many around the NBA, a Johnson-led ownership would provide a kind of redemption to the ugly ordeal, not only buttressing black ownership in a league in which more than 3 of 4 players are black, but also making Johnson the front-and-center owner of two championship-caliber sports teams in Los Angeles, where he won five championships as a player.
Currently, there is one black principal owner among the 92 teams in the three major American sports leagues, including the NFL: Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Bobcats.
The NBA commissioner said Sterling's record $2.5 million fine, the maximum amount allowed by the league's constitution, will be donated to organizations promoting tolerance. These organizations will be selected by both the NBA and the players association.
''Silver is a brand new commissioner, he has not garnered his own gravitas yet, succeeding someone who was very powerful and successful,'' Conrad says. ''And I think he could not afford a revolt in the league among the players, among the public, and among the sponsors.''
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:28
We, Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, join the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel, inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid. We also call on others to do the same.We are devoted to the promotion of just peace and true democracy in this region. We are particularly opposed to Western governments' decision to boycott the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, most especially in besieged Gaza. This is particularly outrageous given the same Western governments' prolonged support of Israel's apartheid and other daily violations of international law.
Ministry of Truth
NYTimes: After 33 Years of Sterling, a Boiling Point
Ben Rhodes’ brother, David, is the president of CBS News, the network that used to employ investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
Agenda 21
Eating salad from your building email
LEED is the certification they get. The link above can keep a person busy for several hours.
Thats a great scam. Even better than building a green building: creating an organization to certify it. They have different levels of certification and a points system. Its really well done.
Step 1 - pick industry
Step 2 - create organization
Step 3 - Assign yourselves to create standards and practices for it
Step 4 - create certification and system
Step 5 - make lots of money - because it cant be cheap
About | U.S. Green Building Council
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 14:43
We believe in better buildings; places that complement our environment and enhance our communities. Places that give people better, brighter, healthier spaces to live, work and play.
Green building is a win-win, offering both environmental and economic opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85 percent of future demand for energy in the United States and a commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million jobs.
Who we areUSGBC is made up of tens of thousands of member organizations, chapters and student and community volunteers that are moving the building industry forward in a way that has never been seen before.
We are a diverse group of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofits, teachers and students, lawmakers and citizens. Today we are 76 chapters, 13,000 member organizations and 188,000 LEED professionals strong that share the same vision of a sustainable built environment for all within the next generation.
What we doWe are transforming the building landscape in a number of ways. Here is some of our best known work:
LEED '-- The most widely recognized and widely used green building program across the globe. LEED is certifying 1.5 million square feet of building space each day in 135 countries. LEED is a certification program for buildings, homes and communities that guides the design, construction, operations and maintenance. Today, more than 54,000 projects are currently participating in LEED, comprising more than 10.1 billion square feet of construction space.Greenbuild International Conference & Expo '-- The world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Each year, tens of thousands of professionals from all over the world attend this can't-miss event.Advocacy '-- At every level of government, USGBC provides policymakers and community leaders with the tools, strategies and resources they need to inspire action toward a sustainable built environment.Credentials '-- The LEED Green Associate credential and the various LEED AP credentials offer professionals a designation designed to help them stand out in the building industry. The LEED Green Associate and LEED AP credentials help demonstrate knowledge in sustainable design, construction, operations and maintenance of buildings and communities.Education '-- USGBC provides green building educational programs in a variety of formats for professionals from all sectors of the building industry. Thousands of designers, builders, suppliers and managers have attended our seminars. All USGBC educational offerings support the LEED professional credentialsChapters '-- Through an actively engaged network of over 76 regional USGBC chapter organizations, our reach is nationwide with resources, education and networking opportunities in every community.USGBC's missionTo transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.
USGBC's visionBuildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation.
Leading by exampleAt USGBC, we practice what we preach. Our headquarters, located in Washington, DC, is LEED Platinum. Request to tour our headquarters
Our 75,000-square-foot open workspace featuresfloor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer abundant natural lightinga two-story waterfall that brings the outdoors in and helps control indoor humidityan electronic dashboard system that provides real-time feedback on energy useGoalsreduce water use by 40 percentreduce energy use by more than 50 percent over a typical office
Study: It Is "Very Likely" That Scientists Are Confusing Us About Global Warming | Mother Jones
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:09
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a big, big production. Its reports, released roughly every five years, are considered the gold standard of climate science, and are always a major media event. Thousands of scientists contribute to the reports, all of them volunteering their expertise to make the world just a little bit better.
There's just one problem: According to a new paper out in Nature: Climate Change, the IPCC may be dramatically undermining its own work through one of its trademark tools: A system of language that the group uses to describe how certain (or uncertain) researchers are about its scientific findings. According to the new study, this system (which involves describing conclusions as "likely," "very likely," and so on) has the unfortunate effect of making people less sure than they ought to be of the IPCC's most important conclusions.
Unintentionally, then, the IPCC seems to be doing just what climate skeptics and deniers are so often accused of: Sowing doubt.
The new study, by psychologist David Budescu of Fordham University and his colleagues, is actually the latest in a string of papers by these researchers showing that people systematically misunderstand what the IPCC means when it uses phrases such as "likely" and "very likely" to describe the strength of its conclusions. Take, for instance, the IPCC's famous finding, in 2007, that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-produced] greenhouse gas concentrations." According to Budescu's research, while the IPCC intends for "very likely" to mean a greater than 90 percent likelihood, that's not necessarily the message the average person hears. Instead, when Budesco and his colleagues asked members of the public to assign a probability to the term "very likely," the mean estimate people gave was just 62 percent.
Unintentionally, the IPCC seems to be doing just what climate skeptics are so often accused of: Sowing doubt.
In general, Budescu finds that when the IPCC assigns a high level of certainty to a conclusion, using terms like "very likely" or "extremely likely," people adjust their interpretation downward, taking the conclusion to be considerably less certain than it actually is. When the IPCC assigns a low probability, meanwhile, people adjust their assessment upwards, taking the conclusion to be considerably more certain than it actually is. Thus for instance, when the IPCC calls a conclusion "very unlikely," it means there is less than a 10 percent chance that it's true. But the mean estimate given by members of the public for what this term means is 41 percent. To see how much confusion this can cause, just consider another 2007 IPCC statement: "It is very unlikely that climate changes of at least the seven centuries prior to 1950 were due to variability generated within the climate system alone."
Budescu and his colleagues have found these results consistently, across samples. In 2009, they found as much with a sample of college students and members of a single university community. In 2012, they did so again with a nationally representative sample of Americans. And in the new Nature: Climate Change study, they present the same finding with citizens of 25 countries, having now conducted the research in multiple languages. Again and again, it would seem that the IPCC's language about uncertainty backfires, and undermines itself. It sows doubt in the minds of the public.
Moreover, given that Budescu's first paper on this subject was published in 2009, the IPCC should presumably know by now that its practices appear to have caused the public to be far more doubtful than it should be about the science of climate change. In fairness, the current approach exists for a reason: It avoids requiring scientists to be too precise about their level of certainty, and it allows for the possibility that different scientists would come up with somewhat different numbers for their extent of certainty.
"I think that they are finding their way slowly, and they are trying things," remarks Budescu of the IPCC's uncertainty practices. "A lot of the things that they are trying make sense, and are reasonable. I think they are slow in adjusting."
Solving this problem would be quite simple: Budescu's research shows that people's misunderstanding of the IPCC's language about uncertainty decreases if you simply include a numeric value next to the standard uncertainty language. Thus, instead of merely saying "very likely," the IPCC could just prominently add "(> 90% likelihood)," or something similar. As it is, these numerical values are included as a footnote in the IPCC's widely read "Summary for Policymakers" reports, and a box in the much less widely read technical report; Budescu's research suggests they should appear throughout the text.
It is critical to underscore just how problematic the IPCC's ill-calibrated uncertainty language is. The IPCC produces many thousands of words in its reports, and spends five or more years doing so; and yet generally, there is one sentence from each report that is almost universally quoted in the press, on blogs, and beyond. It is always the sentence that describes how certain the IPCC is about the conclusion that humans are causing global warming; and that sentence always contains the IPCC's confusing uncertainty-speak. In 2001, the IPCC found the conclusion "likely"; in 2007, "very likely"; and in 2013, "extremely likely." To the IPCC, that meant "greater than 66 percent likelihood," "greater than 90 percent," and "greater than 95 percent," respectively. Based on the latest research, the public took away a very different message indeed.
Journalists may partly mitigate this problem, to be sure. Outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, in their coverage of last year's IPCC report, took it upon themselves to include a numerical probability value as they explained the IPCC's conclusion that it is now "extremely likely" that humans are driving global warming. Yet not all media outlets did: Take this report from ABC News, for instance; it included a clip of an IPCC official saying it's "extremely likely" that humans are causing climate change but did not include any numerical explanation of what that means.
The IPCC has been extensively faulted in the past for a wide range of communications failures. Not all of them have easy fixes, but this one surely does.
Network for Good - Donor Form
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:54
Hip Hop Caucus | Supporters
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:51
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. He works tirelessly to encourage the Hip Hop generation to utilize its political and social voice.
In 2010 he was named one of the 100 most powerful African Americans by Ebony Magazine, and one of the 10 Game Changers in the Green movement by the Huffington Post. In 2008, Rev Yearwood created the Hip Hop Caucus' ''Respect My Vote!'' campaign with celebrity spokespeople T.I. and Keyshia Cole, which turned out record numbers of young people on Election Day.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Rev Yearwood became National Director of the award winning Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign where he led a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors.
He served as the Political and Grassroots Director of Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Summit Action Network in 2003 and 2004. In 2004 he also was a key architect and implementer of three other voter turnout operations '' P. Diddy's Citizen Change organization which created the ''Vote Or Die!'' campaign; Jay Z's ''Voice Your Choice'' campaign; and, ''Hip Hop Voices'', a project at the AFL-CIO.
Rev. Yearwood is a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer. He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and currently lives in Washington, DC. He has been seen in such media outlets as CNN, MSNBC, BET, Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Nation, MTV,, The Source Magazine, Ebony and Jet, Al Jazeera, BBC, C-Span, and Hardball with Chris Mathews and featured in the Washington Post, The New York Times and VIBE magazine.
The Food Growing on This Building Will Be Served at a Restaurant Inside
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 23:31
France will make quite a statement about feeding the world when it unveils its pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015. Not only will vegetables, herbs, and hops grow on the building's exterior, but that same food will also be served at a restaurant inside. In fact, the whole place is set up to be like a market from the future.
With rolling ceilings and arches throughout, the award-winning, all-wood design by X-TU Architects is meant to mimic France's rolling countryside. It's sort of like the architects took the hills and turned them upside down. "Below the horizontal roof, the Great Market presents itself as a 'reversed' and spectacular landscape that makes the buzz, a landscaped ceiling that evokes the French identity born from territories," the architects say in a statement.
But it's the outside of the building that really stands out. The outer fa§ades are designed to accomodate a network of hydroponic gardens that will adorn the building's exterior. If all goes according to plan, chefs will harvest the crops and serve them at a restaurant above the market.
This is just the latest in a long tradition of building-integrated architecture, that dates as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Even some housing projects in New York City are running their own hydroponic gardens.
The architects have high hopes. "At the time of short-circuit retail, [the project] reinterprets the market model," they explain. "Once a place of exchange, tomorrow's market will be a place of production to be consumed on the spot."
It's as if your farmer's market was also a farm and a restaurant'--which isn't a bad idea. [Dezeen]
Images via X-TU Architects
France caught between nuclear cliff and investment wall.
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:31
By Michel Rose
PARISWed Apr 30, 2014 3:06am EDT
A general view shows France's oldest Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station, outside the eastern French village of Fessenheim, near Colmar, November 14, 2013 .
Credit: Reuters/Vincent Kessler
PARIS (Reuters) - France must decide in the next few years whether it wants to continue its nuclear-driven energy policy at a cost of up to 300 billion euros ($415 billion) or if it wants to embark on an equally costly route towards using other fuels.
Most of the country's 58 nuclear reactors were built during a short period in the 1980s, and about half will reach their designed age limits of 40 in the 2020s, pushing France towards what industry calls "the nuclear cliff."
Public support in France for nuclear power has traditionally been strong but is looking shakier since the 2011 nuclear reactor meltdown at Japan's Fukushima facility following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
And French President Francois Hollande has said he wanted to cut the share of atomic energy in France's electricity mix to 50 percent from 75 percent by 2025, reduce oil and gas consumption and boost renewable energy.
A replacement of the nuclear plants run by state-controlled utility EDF (EDF.PA), or a switch towards alternative sources would cost huge amounts of money.
"There's a problem, which is decision-making. Are we going towards a new nuclear fleet or not? This needs preparation," Jacques Repussard, the head of state-funded nuclear advising institute IRSN told Reuters in an interview.
EDF has advocated an extension of the reactors' lifespan to 50 or even 60 years, arguing that they were modeled on similar reactors in the United States which have been granted 60-year licenses.
But French nuclear watchdog ASN, the only authority allowed to grant this extension, has so far repeated that the utility should not take this extension for granted and would only give a first opinion next year and a final one in 2018-2019.
That may leave France with no other choice than hastily building coal or gas-fired plants to back up the expansion of renewable power, supplies of which can fluctuate depending on weather conditions and time of day.
"If there is no extension, clearly the answer to fill the gap would not be nuclear plants, it would be gas-fired plants or something like that," Dominique Miniere, head of production and engineering at EDF said.
Putting a price tag on replacing the nuclear fleet with other plants could involve a variety of calculations, depending on the mix of energy sources chosen.
The cost of electricity produced by the current nuclear fleet was put at around 50 euros per MWh in 2012 by the state auditor, compared with a cost of 62-102 euros/MWh for onshore wind and 114-547 euros for photovoltaic power. EDF said the cost of new gas- or coal-fired electricity would be between 70 and 100 euros per MWh.
With costs huge in either case, the government has so far been undecided.
On the one hand, EDF wants to cash in on its nuclear know-how through exporting its technology and services, including to Britain's nuclear investment power programme.
Yet EDF also faces a 55 billion euro upgrade of its existing reactors by 2025 and will have to decide on how to finance their ultimate replacement, at a potential cost of up to 240 billion euros, about six times EDF's existing debt pile.
"If you close down all nuclear reactors when they reach 30 or 40 however, you will need to build a huge new fleet, that would be a massive challenge not only from a financial point of view but also from a project management point of view," said Laszlo Lavro, head of the International Energy Agency's Gas, Coal and Power division.
Within the government, ministers have voiced contradicting views on nuclear energy, even though the departure of the Green party from the government has made the pro-nuclear case stronger.
An energy transition bill now slated for July has been repeatedly delayed, with Paris naming its fourth energy minister in less than two years earlier this month.
Newly appointed energy minister Segolene Royal, a powerful voice in the new government, has skirted questions on nuclear policy at a news conference earlier this week.
Decisions cannot be delayed indefinitely as building new energy infrastructure, especially nuclear power plants, takes time.
Construction of France's pilot new generation reactor in Flamanville, which started in 2007, has seen repeated delays and cost overruns and is currently expected to be finished in 2016.
Building thermal power capacity instead may be cheaper in terms of investment and also faster, but it is also problematic because they are dirtier and many are also uncompetitive due to high fuel costs.
Natural gas prices have been high as a result of production outages in North Africa and because of booming Asian demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments.
Burning more coal, which is relatively cheap as a result of global mining oversupply, would run against France's commitments to cut emissions, seen as responsible for climate change.
IRSN's Repussard said that meant a French nuclear lifespan extension beyond 40 years was therefore likely under certain conditions.
Extending the lifespan by 10 or 20 years would give France more time to think whether it needs to build safer but more costly new reactors such as Areva's (AREVA.PA) newest models currently under construction in France, Finland and China.
Operating the old reactors, which have been fully paid off, for longer would also bring some much-needed funds to debt-laden EDF to scale what experts call the "investment wall" it faces in the coming decades.
EDF's Miniere said each running 900-megawatt (MW) reactor brings 200 million euros in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) per year.
Prolonging the lifespan of the existing fleet would also require expensive work. EDF says upgrading the fleet would require 55 billion euros of work by 2025. Post-Fukushima work required by the ASN would cost another 10 billion euros, upping EDF's total nuclear investment programme to over 300 billion euros, more than three times the amount spent in the 80s and 90s to build the whole existing fleet.
"I think this cost bump that was made public has curbed the enthusiasm of many, it seems like a gigantic investment," said Denis Baupin, a Green MP who heads a parliamentary committee to investigate the cost of nuclear energy. ($1 = 0.7223 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Marion Douet; editing by Keiron Henderson)
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France caught between nuclear cliff and investment wall.
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:31
By Michel Rose
PARISWed Apr 30, 2014 3:06am EDT
A general view shows France's oldest Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station, outside the eastern French village of Fessenheim, near Colmar, November 14, 2013 .
Credit: Reuters/Vincent Kessler
PARIS (Reuters) - France must decide in the next few years whether it wants to continue its nuclear-driven energy policy at a cost of up to 300 billion euros ($415 billion) or if it wants to embark on an equally costly route towards using other fuels.
Most of the country's 58 nuclear reactors were built during a short period in the 1980s, and about half will reach their designed age limits of 40 in the 2020s, pushing France towards what industry calls "the nuclear cliff."
Public support in France for nuclear power has traditionally been strong but is looking shakier since the 2011 nuclear reactor meltdown at Japan's Fukushima facility following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
And French President Francois Hollande has said he wanted to cut the share of atomic energy in France's electricity mix to 50 percent from 75 percent by 2025, reduce oil and gas consumption and boost renewable energy.
A replacement of the nuclear plants run by state-controlled utility EDF (EDF.PA), or a switch towards alternative sources would cost huge amounts of money.
"There's a problem, which is decision-making. Are we going towards a new nuclear fleet or not? This needs preparation," Jacques Repussard, the head of state-funded nuclear advising institute IRSN told Reuters in an interview.
EDF has advocated an extension of the reactors' lifespan to 50 or even 60 years, arguing that they were modeled on similar reactors in the United States which have been granted 60-year licenses.
But French nuclear watchdog ASN, the only authority allowed to grant this extension, has so far repeated that the utility should not take this extension for granted and would only give a first opinion next year and a final one in 2018-2019.
That may leave France with no other choice than hastily building coal or gas-fired plants to back up the expansion of renewable power, supplies of which can fluctuate depending on weather conditions and time of day.
"If there is no extension, clearly the answer to fill the gap would not be nuclear plants, it would be gas-fired plants or something like that," Dominique Miniere, head of production and engineering at EDF said.
Putting a price tag on replacing the nuclear fleet with other plants could involve a variety of calculations, depending on the mix of energy sources chosen.
The cost of electricity produced by the current nuclear fleet was put at around 50 euros per MWh in 2012 by the state auditor, compared with a cost of 62-102 euros/MWh for onshore wind and 114-547 euros for photovoltaic power. EDF said the cost of new gas- or coal-fired electricity would be between 70 and 100 euros per MWh.
With costs huge in either case, the government has so far been undecided.
On the one hand, EDF wants to cash in on its nuclear know-how through exporting its technology and services, including to Britain's nuclear investment power programme.
Yet EDF also faces a 55 billion euro upgrade of its existing reactors by 2025 and will have to decide on how to finance their ultimate replacement, at a potential cost of up to 240 billion euros, about six times EDF's existing debt pile.
"If you close down all nuclear reactors when they reach 30 or 40 however, you will need to build a huge new fleet, that would be a massive challenge not only from a financial point of view but also from a project management point of view," said Laszlo Lavro, head of the International Energy Agency's Gas, Coal and Power division.
Within the government, ministers have voiced contradicting views on nuclear energy, even though the departure of the Green party from the government has made the pro-nuclear case stronger.
An energy transition bill now slated for July has been repeatedly delayed, with Paris naming its fourth energy minister in less than two years earlier this month.
Newly appointed energy minister Segolene Royal, a powerful voice in the new government, has skirted questions on nuclear policy at a news conference earlier this week.
Decisions cannot be delayed indefinitely as building new energy infrastructure, especially nuclear power plants, takes time.
Construction of France's pilot new generation reactor in Flamanville, which started in 2007, has seen repeated delays and cost overruns and is currently expected to be finished in 2016.
Building thermal power capacity instead may be cheaper in terms of investment and also faster, but it is also problematic because they are dirtier and many are also uncompetitive due to high fuel costs.
Natural gas prices have been high as a result of production outages in North Africa and because of booming Asian demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments.
Burning more coal, which is relatively cheap as a result of global mining oversupply, would run against France's commitments to cut emissions, seen as responsible for climate change.
IRSN's Repussard said that meant a French nuclear lifespan extension beyond 40 years was therefore likely under certain conditions.
Extending the lifespan by 10 or 20 years would give France more time to think whether it needs to build safer but more costly new reactors such as Areva's (AREVA.PA) newest models currently under construction in France, Finland and China.
Operating the old reactors, which have been fully paid off, for longer would also bring some much-needed funds to debt-laden EDF to scale what experts call the "investment wall" it faces in the coming decades.
EDF's Miniere said each running 900-megawatt (MW) reactor brings 200 million euros in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) per year.
Prolonging the lifespan of the existing fleet would also require expensive work. EDF says upgrading the fleet would require 55 billion euros of work by 2025. Post-Fukushima work required by the ASN would cost another 10 billion euros, upping EDF's total nuclear investment programme to over 300 billion euros, more than three times the amount spent in the 80s and 90s to build the whole existing fleet.
"I think this cost bump that was made public has curbed the enthusiasm of many, it seems like a gigantic investment," said Denis Baupin, a Green MP who heads a parliamentary committee to investigate the cost of nuclear energy. ($1 = 0.7223 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Marion Douet; editing by Keiron Henderson)
Link thisShare thisDigg thisEmailPrintReprints
Common Core
Louis C.K.: Common Core makes my kids cry
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:19
(Update: More tweets)
Here's a series of tweets that Louis C.K. wrote on standardized testing and the Common Core.
(If you don't know who Louis C.K. is, I can't help you. Google him.)
He further tweeted the following:
Bad schools are 'eating our young': Blackstone CEO - CNBC
Thu, 01 May 2014 12:33
Munshi Ahmed | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP.
America is in the process of destroying what made it great'--its educational system, and declining rates of reading, math and problem-solving skills relative to other countries are proof.
At least that's what one billionaire investor thinks, continuing a long-standing fight between Wall Street philanthropists bent on shaking up public education and teacher unions and others opposed to the test-heavy charter school movement and other proposed fixes.
"This is something going really wrong, really fast," Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of $272 billion Blackstone Group, said about declining American educational attainment.
"If you don't turn it, there are going to be all kinds of really significant problems: societal problems, political problems you're already seeing. We're going to take a wonderful society and have basically vastly diminished it," he said Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.
Read MoreThe business schools that are consultant factories
He cited Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data showing that Americans now lag behind peers in countries like Japan, Finland and the Netherlands in basic tests.
Schwarzman said a fundamental problem is that public school teachers cannot easily be fired, even if their performance is poor.
"We have to get control of that system. There are political inhibitions apparently, but we're sort of eating our young, and it's unfair. It you want to use words like immoral, it's sort of immoral, too," Schwarzman added.
Read MoreSummer camp may boost college admissions odds
He said charter and other private schools were getting far better results than public schools.
"We've got to protect this, and we actually have actively not been protecting what's essential for upward mobility: competitiveness," Schwarzman said. "We're completely dropping the ball."
Snowden, Poitras Awarded Truth-Telling Prize for Exposing Illegal NSA Surveillance
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:09
Snowden, Poitras Awarded Truth-Telling Prize for Exposing Illegal NSA SurveillanceApril 30, 2014
Edward Snowden accepts the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.
Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who exposed, arguably, the biggest government overreach into Americans' privacy in the nation's history, and Laura Poitras, the journalist who helped bring the story to the public, were honored Wednesday with the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.
Accepting the award over the Internet, Snowden, who has temporary asylum in Russia, said he wanted to share the prize with the many NSA employees he knew who were also dismayed by the agency's tactics.
''I have to say that although I am honored to be in the company of so many distinguished Ridenhour honorees, this prize is not just for me, this prize is for a cohort of so many people'...all the other intelligence officers throughout the intelligence community who remember that the first principle of any American intelligence official is not an oath to secrecy, but a duty to the public,'' Snowden said.
Poitras, who also appeared via the Internet, remarked that she could never have imagined the twists her life took in the last year. Snowden approached the documentary filmmaker early last year. She then helped connect him to journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian. Poitras, Greenwald and Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman won the Pulitzer Prize for their work on the Snowden story.
Snowden and Poitras both singled out Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower who was honored with the same Ridenhour Prize in 2011. Drake, who exposed NSA wrongdoing, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, though the charges were later reduced to a misdemeanor. However, the vindication came at the cost of his career. Drake and several other past winners were in the audience.
Seeing what Drake and other national security whistleblowers went through is what prompted Snowden to flee. Unlike national security whistleblowers who are government employees, Snowden was an intelligence agency contractor and had no real protections under federal law.
''There literally are no meaningful and safe channels through which Snowden could have made his disclosures and certainly not with the impact we have witnessed,'' said Project On Government Oversight Executive Director Danielle Brian, who emceed the award ceremony and also sits on the Ridenhour selection committee. ''After much discussion, the selection committee was clear: Edward Snowden's disclosures about the NSA's domestic surveillance have had a historic and positive influence.
''Snowden along with the work of co-recipient filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras have allowed a public debate on the proper role of national security agencies and freedom that those in other countries including Russia and China are not able to have.''
Although Snowden is a polarizing figure, his revelations about the NSA's mass surveillance of American citizens have spurred Congress and President Obama to rein in the agency. Lawmakers have also introduced the USA Freedom Act aimed at reforming intelligence gathering.
For these reasons, Snowden was honored at the 11th annual Ridenhour Prizes, which were held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The Ridenhour selection committee chooses winners each year who uphold the spirit of Ron Ridenhour, who worked doggedly to expose the atrocities carried out by the American troops at the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.
The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize was awarded to Gideon's Army, a film produced and directed by Dawn Porter. The film exposes the challenges faced by public defenders, including low pay and staggering case loads, as they try to give their clients the representation they deserve in the criminal justice system. While addressing the crowd, Porter said that 80 percent of people arrested are represented by public defenders.
Journalist Sheri Fink was given the Ridenhour Book Prize for Five Days at Memorial, about the ethical challenges faced by doctors at a hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., chief counsel of the Brennan Center, was given the Ridenhour Courage Prize for his lifetime commitment to truth-telling. Schwarz was the chief counsel of the Church Committee, which Congress formed in 1975 to investigate illegal intelligence activities done during the Nixon administration.
Last month, Schwarz wrote in the Nation that the country needs a new Church Committee to fix its broken intelligence system.
In accepting his award, he said there are many parallels to the Cold War intelligence activities and those of after 9/11.
''The basics are identical,'' Schwarz said. ''Fear is the underlying motive for government going too far and secrecy is the key device for the government accomplishing what it does.''
Image by Andre Francisco.
Avery Kleinman is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics:National Security
Related Content:Ethics, Government Secrecy, Intelligence, Defense
Authors:Avery Kleinman
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Latest PodcastPodcast: Exploring Transparency for Oil and Gas ExtractionMia Steinle talks about POGO's involvement in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the hurdles to increased transparency for oil, gas and hard rock minerals here in the U.S.
Failed twice, revived again: CISPA returns despite concerns over privacy, data sharing
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:08
Summary: Privacy experts warned of catastrophic privacy invasions by the U.S. government, but the cybersecurity and data-sharing bill that just won't die has been revived once again by the Senate.
(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)Nuked twice, third time's the winner? With more lives than the average cat, it's the controversial bill that just won't die.
The re-branded bill, dubbed Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), bears all the hallmarks of what we previously knew as "CISPA," just with a letter "P" missing '-- for "Protection," no less, which some argued was in name only.
In a statement on Wednesday, Feinstein and Chambliss introduced the new cybersecurity and data-sharing bill that will allow:
"...companies to monitor their computer networks for cyber attacks, promotes sharing of cyber threat information and provides liability for companies who share that information."
Which isn't so far removed from what CISPA previously was.
We all knew that new cybersecurity legislation was coming. Both senators have been working on this new draft since October 2013, when they announced the bi-partisan bill was in the works.
The bill is currently in "discussion" draft and aims to garner feedback from private industry groups and the executive branch for later consideration.
But privacy advocates and legal experts were highly critical of the bill, calling it a "zombie bill" by one group, and a "step back," according to American Civil Liberties Union, speaking to the Washington Post earlier in the year.
Feinstein has been hellbent on the issue and notion of cybersecurity data sharing '--even after the Edward Snowden leaks, and has publicly been outspoken of the whistleblower while trumpeting the work of the National Security Agency '-- whose work has been already called into question by a number of federal courts and secret surveillance hearings, as well as international bodies alike.
As a recap, CISPA '-- or any similarly named or like-minded bill '-- is a friend of private industry, Silicon Valley, and Internet companies.
It is, however, not a friend of the average user of any social network, Internet or email provider, or anyone with landline or cellphone service.
CISPA would have allowed Silicon Valley giants, like Facebook, Twitter, Google '-- or any other technology or telecoms company, including cell service providers '-- to hand over threat-related data and customer data to the U.S. government and its law enforcement, in efforts to protect cyber-attacks and patch security vulnerabilities.
Companies would be immune from criminal or civil prosecution as a result. The "P" in CISPA stood for "Protection," but as it turns out it was for the companies, and not their customers or users.
The upshot is that the U.S. government, including the Dept. of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, will be allowed under the law to share threat data with the private industry. The hope is that such a move will allow the prevention of attacks and data breaches before they happen.
But Feinstein and Chambliss' new draft gives companies a far greater scope of latitude to share customer and threat information in real-time with anyone from state troopers to the federal government, according to civil liberties experts.
It's little surprise to many that the bill has reared its ugly head again.
In recent weeks and months, former and incumbent senior Obama administration officials have trumpeted the idea of cybersecurity and data-sharing between government and the private sector.
That's in spite of the White House previously saying the President would veto such a bill should it pass to his desk.
Tired of waiting for a Congress at loggerheads to come up with a legislative solution, President Obama signed an executive order into law in February 2013 that laid the groundwork for data sharing between companies operating critical national infrastructure with the government, without unravelling privacy protections in place for the ordinary citizen.
Former Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano warned of a "cyber-9/11" if cyber-threat data couldn't be shared, months before Obama's executive order.
And, at the new National Security Agency director's confirmation hearing, Vice Admiral Michael Rogers offered lawmakers a similar line of thinking to make the nation safer. Suggesting a two-way flow of sharing real-time cyber threat information, he added: "I believe to be successful, we ultimately have to provide the corporate partners that we would share information with some level of liability protection."
Security industry experts at a panel in New York City last Thursday agreed with remarks, calling such laws a "step in the right direction."
Right now, it's unclear exactly how far Feinstein and Chambliss' new Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act will go in Congress.
But rest assured. If today's statement is anything to go by, listen carefully to the pipes of the Internet. Because you can bet your bottom dollar the roaring screams of anger will surface soon enough.
'‹Verizon to monitor wireless devices, computers and share data with advertisers
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 04:15
Verizon Wireless will monitor customers' activities on wireless devices as well as wired or Wi-Fi-connected desktop computers and laptops. Collected data on users' online activity will then be passed to marketers for targeted advertising.
Verizon customers recently began receiving a notice from the company that it is ''enhancing'' its Relevant Mobile Advertising operations to glean more information from its customers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
''In addition to the customer information that's currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites,'' Verizon Wireless tells customers.
''This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network.''
The telecom giant will automatically download a ''cookie,'' or tracking software, onto a user's computer or device without explicit warning when the customer visits the company's ''My Verizon'' website to view a bill or watch television programming online, according to Verizon spokeswoman Debra Lewis.
The cookie will give a data-collection company working with Verizon '' though Lewis declined to identify the entity '' to monitor the user's actions online, even after leaving ''My Verizon.''
Lewis told The Times the data are ''anonymized'' to shroud customer identity. The information is shared with marketers, which will use the collected dossier to provided targeted ads to customers on their wireless devices or computers.
While the cookie is quietly installed onto a Verizon user's device or computer without immediate notice, Lewis said one can visit My Verizon's ''notification center'' for more information.
How to opt-out of the program, though, is up to the customer to figure out, as Verizon's notice to customers is short on details, according to The Times.
''Some people may want to see advertising that's more relevant,'' Lewis said in denying that Verizon's move was intrusive. ''There's potential benefit for marketers and potential benefit for consumers.''
AT&T and T-Mobile told The Times they don't have similar programs. Sprint did not answer a request for comment.
Internet companies like Google and Yahoo have long offered up user data to marketers, though they also provide many free services that are open for consumer use. The Times pointed out that the upfront fees Verizon customers pay for service set the phone company apart from the internet corporations. Any additional revenue Verizon takes in from offering data to marketers is purely extra income on top of service charges.
''The holy grail for profiling people is to follow them from one device to another,'' said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. ''We're going to see more and more of this.''
Verizon Wireless sells out customers with creepy new tactic -
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:25
As far as corporate notices go, they don't get much creepier than this recent alert from Verizon Wireless.
The company says it's "enhancing" its Relevant Mobile Advertising program, which it uses to collect data on customers' online habits so that marketers can pitch stuff at them with greater precision.
"In addition to the customer information that's currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites," Verizon Wireless is telling customers.
"This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network," it says.
That means exactly what it looks like: Verizon will monitor not just your wireless activities but also what you do on your wired or Wi-Fi-connected laptop or desktop computer '-- even if your computer doesn't have a Verizon connection.
The company will then share that additional data with marketers.
Joanne Schwartz, 65, of Tustin received the Verizon Wireless notice last week.
"Verizon makes it seem like they are doing us a great favor," she told me. But what the company is really doing, she said, is collecting data on her whole family's computer usage and sharing it with its business partners.
Schwartz's verdict: "Horrible."
Even worse, Verizon is enrolling customers in the "enhanced" program by automatically downloading software into their computers, which customers may not even know is happening.
If Verizon Wireless customers want to keep their computers off-limits to the company's marketing affiliates, they'd have to go to the trouble of opting out.
This is one of the more outrageous examples of how businesses loudly proclaim their commitment to safeguarding consumers' privacy while quietly selling us out to the highest bidder.
"The holy grail for profiling people is to follow them from one device to another," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego. "We're going to see more and more of this."
I wrote last week about how Verizon and AT&T slap customers with hefty monthly fees if they want an unlisted phone number. Call it a privacy premium.
What Verizon Wireless is doing with targeted ads is basically what Google, Yahoo and most other big Internet companies do '-- leveraging data about your cyber-behavior to boost marketing money.
But here's the thing: Google and Yahoo offer lots of cool free services, such as Gmail and Yahoo Finance. Their aggressive data collection is how they help subsidize these offerings.
In Verizon Wireless' case, customers pay them upfront for the services they receive. Thus, any additional revenue the company can pocket from data collection is above and beyond what it's already earning.
Since Verizon Wireless clearly isn't offering its service at a loss, this extra cash is nothing but gravy.
Customers may be hard-pressed to understand fully what's going on with the "enhanced" program. The Verizon Wireless notice is decidedly short on details.
Debra Lewis, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman, explained to me that when a customer registers on the company's "My Verizon" website to see a bill or watch TV online, a "cookie," or tracking software, is downloaded onto the customer's home computer.
FISA court rejects Verizon suit vs. NSA telephone metadata surveillance
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 15:07
By Eric London28 April 2014A previously classified FISA court (FISC) opinion made public last week underscores once more the secret court's role as the rubberstamp legal authority for the government's erection of the framework for a global police state.
The opinion, penned in March by Judge Rosemary Collyer, reads as a brief for the military-intelligence apparatus.
Her order denies a petition filed in January by Verizon in which the corporation expressed doubts on the constitutionality of the warrantless bulk metadata collection program put in place by Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
As a preliminary matter, Verizon filed its petition not as a defender of democratic rights, but as a formality that the company hopes will ensure its own legal immunity. The complicity of Verizon and other corporations in the state surveillance programs is underscored by the fact that Verizon's petition was the first challenge of its kind ever filed in response to a FISC metadata order, despite their issuance every 90 days by the FISC.
According to the newly-released FISC opinion, Verizon's petition ''arises entirely from'' a December decision from the District Court of the District of Colombia, in which Judge Richard Leon ruled that the government's metadata collection program violates the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects the population from ''unreasonable searches and seizures.''
In his opinion in Klayman v. Obama, Judge Leon explained the fallacious legal rationale provided by the government to justify its massive global surveillance operation.
In ruling that the metadata collection program is ''almost Orwellian,'' Judge Leon rejected the government's contention that the bulk collection program does not amount to a ''search'' and that the population is therefore not entitled to those protections guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Judge Leon put a stay on his own decision, however, so as not to hamper state surveillance while his ruling is on appeal at the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
Coming in the wake of Judge Leon's decision, Judge Collyer's FISC opinion takes aim at Judge Leon and seeks to aid the Obama administration in the removal of any obstacles that might delay the rapidly expanding state surveillance campaign.
In authoring the opinion, Judge Collyer plays less the role of an independent representative of the judiciary and more the role of legal clerk for the National Security Agency.
Decrying the arguments asserted by Judge Leon as ''immaterial,'' ''misplaced,'' and ''irrelevant,'' Judge Collyer repeats the basic legal refrain of the Obama administration.
She explains that the protections of the Constitution do not apply because metadata collection does not constitute a ''search'' for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Judge Collyer reaches this conclusion by claiming that the population does not have a ''reasonable expectation of privacy'' in the detailed information included in telephone metadata because individual phone users have turned this data over to the phone companies.
In other words, the FISC opinion concludes that hundreds of millions of phone users forfeit their Fourth Amendment rights because they ''voluntarily conve[y] [metadata] information to the telephone company,'' and that when users sign a phone contract, they therefore ''assum[e] the risk that the company would reveal [the metadata] to the police.''
This rationale relies on direct quotations from the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland, where police'--without seeking a warrant'--required a local phone company to install a pen register device on a criminal suspect's phone. Over a 13-day period, police then recorded the phone numbers dialed by the suspect and used the information to convict the suspect. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a pen register did not constitute a search and was constitutionally permissible under the circumstances.
Judge Collyer wrote that ''[t]he information Verizon produces to NSA as part of the telephony metadata program is indistinguishable in nature from the information at issue in Smith and its progeny.''
That the government is forced to rely on such clearly false assertions points to the unprecedented character of the constitutional violations it is attempting to paper-over. As Judge Leon wrote in relation to Smith, ''the notion that the government could collect similar data on hundreds of millions of people and retain that data for a five-year period, updating it with new data every day in perpetuity, was at best, in 1979, the stuff of science fiction.''
The government also claims that a similar rationale grants the government the right to gather and store the content of peoples' emails, phone calls, text messages, cell phone app use, license plate data, bank statements, and other information.
According to the Obama administration and the FISC, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act creates a sweeping ''foreign intelligence'' exception to the Fourth Amendment. Under Section 702, the Fourth Amendment requirements for warrants, probable cause, and individual suspicion do not apply, provided the government claims it has a ''reasonable belief'' that the ''target'' is a non-US person located outside of the US.
The government treats as merely technical those minimal restrictions that are included in the FISA statutes. As Edward Snowden has explained, ''the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc., analyst has access to query raw [signals intelligence] databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want.''
The recent FISC decision makes clear that contrary to the repeated assertions of the Obama administration, the vast surveillance apparatus is being expanded with no oversight whatsoever.
Judge Collyer and her colleagues on the FISC operate as a secret parallel judicial body whose purpose is to rubberstamp the executive branch's unprecedented constitutional violations. It decides constitutional questions in a non-adversarial ( ex-parte ) format, hearing only the government's arguments and receiving only the government's briefs, and it issues its decisions in secret ( in camera ). As Judge Collyer herself recognized, the recent opinion was only made public (in redacted form) because of the Snowden revelations, or, in her words, because of the pressures that have arisen ''in light of those disclosures'' that have been made ''since last summer.''
Furthermore, the FISC's patchwork legal justifications for state surveillance are an exercise in ''teleological jurisprudence,'' a process practiced by Nazi jurists through which judges first reach a decision in defense of the military-police apparatus and then backtrack to provide a pseudo-legal rationale for their anti-democratic and unconstitutional conclusions.
Judge Collyer's decision is not the first and will not be the last example of the courts abrogating those basic democratic rights protected by the Constitution. But the decision is another expression of the fact that in its drive to war and social counterrevolution, the American ruling class increasingly views the Constitution as a dead letter.
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Microsoft vows to appeal federal email privacy ruling - Computerworld
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:07
By Loek Essers
April 28, 2014 08:04 AM ET
IDG News Service - Email providers have to turn over a user's emails and other data to U.S. law enforcement when issued a search warrant, even if the data is stored overseas, a U.S. judge ruled Friday.
Microsoft must hand over a user's emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland, ruled magistrate judge James Francis of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.
In December, Francis authorized the search and seizure of the contents of all emails, records and other information regarding the identification of one of Microsoft's webmail users.
While Microsoft's Global Criminal Compliance (GCC) team turned over so-called non-content information stored on U.S. servers, such as the user's name and country as well as address book information, it refused to hand over the contents of the emails because they were stored on a server in another country. For this reason the company sought to quash the search warrant, arguing that U.S. courts are not authorized to issue warrants for extraterritorial search and seizure of emails.
Judge Francis, however, disagreed and denied Microsoft's motion to quash the verdict.
"Microsoft's argument is simple, perhaps deceptively so," Francis said in his ruling.
If the warrant had been a conventional search warrant Microsoft could have been right since there are territorial restrictions on those warrants, Francis said.
However, a search warrant on electronic communications is not conventional but rather a hybrid: part search warrant and part subpoena, he said.
"It is executed like a subpoena in that it is served on the ISP in possession of the information and does not involve government agents entering the premises of the ISP to search its servers and seize the email account in question," he said.
If the territorial restrictions applied it would be very easy for criminals to evade such search warrants, Francis said.
Service providers are not obliged to verify information provided by a new user when an account is created, he said. Since Microsoft assigns each newly registered account to the closest datacenter based on the country code that the user enters at registration, warrants could be evaded by simply giving false residence information causing the ISP to assign an account to a server outside the U.S., he said.
Moreover, if treated like a conventional warrant, "the burden on the government would be substantial, and law enforcement efforts would be seriously impeded," Francis said. To obtain the contents of emails stored abroad, U.S. law enforcement would have to comply with treaties that require the cooperation of two governments. Such requests could be time consuming or even denied, Francis said, adding that the U.S. does not have such treaties with all countries.
Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
Phones are giving away your location, regardless of your privacy settings - Quartz
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:21
Sensors in your phone that collect seemingly harmless data could leave you vulnerable to cyber attack, according to new research. And saying no to apps that ask for your location is not enough to prevent the tracking of your device.
A new study has found evidence that accelerometers'--which sense motion in your smartphone and are used for applications from pedometers to gaming'--leave ''unique, trackable fingerprints'' that can be used to identify you and monitor your phone. Here's how it works, according to University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor Romit Roy Choudhury and his team: Tiny imperfections during the manufacturing process make a unique fingerprint on your accelerometer data. The researchers compared it to cutting out sugar cookies with a cookie cutter'--they may look the same, but each one is slightly, imperceptibly different.
When that data is sent to the cloud for processing, your phone's particular signal can be used to identify you. In other words, the same data that helps you control Flappy Bird can be used to pinpoint your location. Choudhury's team was able to identify individual phones with 96% accuracy. ''Even if you erase the app in the phone, or even erase and reinstall all software,'' Choudhury said in a press release, ''the fingerprint still stays inherent. That's a serious threat.''
Moreover, Choudhury suggested that other sensors might be just as vulnerable: Cameras, microphones, and gyroscopes could be leaving their smudgy prints all over the cloud as well, making it even easier for crooks to identify a phone. ''Imagine that your right hand fingerprint, by some chance, matches with mine,'' Choudhury said. ''But your left-hand fingerprint also matching with mine is extremely unlikely. So even if accelerometers don't have unique fingerprints across millions of devices, we believe that by combining with other sensors such as the gyroscope, it might still be possible to track a particular device over time and space.''
There's not much that can be done to address this issue at this point, Choudhury said. It's basically impossible to manufacture millions of cellphone components without each one being the tiniest bit unique, and there's no good way to mask these signals to attackers. One way of maintaining privacy would be to cut off the flow of data from smartphones to the cloud'--so, giving apps processed information instead of raw data to send to the cloud for processing would do the trick. But today's mobile devices lack the processing power (and battery capacity) to do so.
So for now, this just serves as yet another reminder that even innocuous, seemingly anonymous data is information that can be exploited.
NBCUniversal Exec: Twitter Doesn't Really Work
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:13
Twitter still doesn't make money, which is a problem when you're a publicly traded company. Part of the social network's financial ascendance could be the pitch it's making to TV networks: we will bring you (and your advertisers) valuable eyeballs. What if that's just not true?
According to a new Financial Times report, a top figure at NBCUniversal says the Twitter Effect is a bust'--so far at least:
NBCU had expected social media to have a dominating effect on viewership for the Games. However, during the 18-day period of coverage, just 19 per cent of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, the broadcaster found. [NBCUniversal's head of research Alan] Wurtzel said that a show's ratings are more likely to drive activity on social media rather than vice versa.
"A lot of people want to show that they are on the cutting edge. One of the things that is on the cutting edge is social media," Mr Wurtzel said. "Why wouldn't I want to say to you, 'We have a potent new way in which we can drive ratings?'
But "it just isn't true", he added. "I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers."
It's easy to mistake (or intentionally swap) cause and effect when it comes to Twitter. The company sprinted to trumpet The Great Many-Headed Ellen Selfie as a giant digital coup, when it was just old media flexing its old muscles. Similarly, there's every reason to believe Twitter owes TV networks the gratitude, not the other way around'--how many times have you absentmindedly tweeted while staring at your big screen, as opposed to times you've found the nearest TV because of a tweet you read?
Photo: Shutterstock
Google is building up a digital superstate, says German media boss | Tech | The Guardian
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:57
Google has been accused by a German newspaper publisher of behaving in a way that 'in less reputable circles would be called a protection racket' Photograph: Regis Duvignau/REUTERS
The chief executive of Europe's largest newspaper publisher has accused Google of abusing a monopoly position in the digital economy to discriminate against competitors and build up a "superstate".
In an open letter to Google's Eric Schmidt published in Wednesday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the head of Germany's Axel Springer SE publishing house, Mathias D¶pfner, said the US company was operating a business model that "in less reputable circles would be called a protection racket", discriminating against competitors in its search rankings. Google's motto was "if you don't want us to finish you off, you better pay", he said.
D¶pfner '' whose publishing portfolio includes Europe's best-selling newspaper, the tabloid Bild, as well as the centre-right broadsheet Die Welt '' admitted that his own company was completely reliant on Google, a fact that made him and other publishers scared.
"Google's employees are always decidedly friendly to us and other publishing houses, but we don't communicate on a level playing field. How could we? Google doesn't need us. But we need Google."
D¶pfner argued that there had been a "fundamental shift in opinion" about Google among European citizens since Edward Snowden had revealed "close connections between big US online providers and the US intelligence agencies" last year. "No one knows as much about its customers as Google. Even private and business emails are read by Gmail and analysed if the need exists," he said. He described the view, which he attributed to both Schmidt and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in response to the NSA revelations, that "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear", as disconcerting.
"It stands for a mental attitude and a view of the world that is common in totalitarian regimes, not in free societies. The head of the Stasi or any other secret service in a dictatorship could have come out with a line like that."
Referring to Google's recent acquisition of drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace he said: "Is Google really planning a digital superstate ... ? Please, dear Eric, explain to us why this interpretation of what [Google co-founder] Larry Page does and says is just a misunderstanding."
Responding to an opinion piece by Schmidt published in the same newspaper, D¶pfner denied that his concerns were born of a "Luddite conspiracy theory".
"To criticise Google is not to criticise the internet. Those who are interested in a flawlessly functioning internet have to criticise Google. For us as a publishing house the internet is not a threat but one of the greatest chances in recent decades."
D¶pfner, a former journalist who wrote a PhD thesis on the history of German postwar music criticism before editing a string of newspapers, also took to task the work of the European competition regulators, who in February reached a settlement with Google after investigating the company in an anti-trust inquiry.
"Will European politicians fold or wake up? Institutions in Brussels have never been as important as they are now," he said.
In Germany, Axel Springer has in the past been accused of exercising a monopoly role similar to the one D¶pfner accuses Google of benefiting from. Its newspapers' largely conservative views turned the publishing house into one of the main bogeymen of the 1968 student movement.
Recently, Axel Springer SE has expanded to eastern Europe but closed down some of its magazines and local newspapers with the reported aim of concentrating on its expansion as a digital media company.
Whistleblower Claims Google Stole Money From Publishers Using Adsense
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:53
An anonymous individual claiming to be a former Google employee posted detailed allegations about the search giant on Pastebin today. The self-stylized whistleblower claimed that Google managers directly ordered employees to steal money from publishers through AdSense, its ad placement service, and that the scheme has been active for years.
The anonymous poster said the subterfuge began in 2009, after Google suffered serious losses and that "many" AdSense employees were involved.
The main reason, the publishers made too much money. But something quite devious happened. We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period (which is why account bans never occur immediately after a payout). The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense, while having already served up the ads to the public.
This way the advertiser's couldn't claim we did not do our part in delivering their ads and ask for money back. So in a sense, we had thousands upon thousands of publishers deliver ads we knew they were never going to get paid for.
Google reaped both sides of the coin, got money from the advertisers, used the publishers, and didn't have to pay them a single penny. We were told to go and look into the publishers accounts, and if any publisher had accumulated earnings exceeding $5000 and was near a payout or in the process of a payout, we were to ban the account right away and reverse the earnings back. They kept saying it was needed for the company, and that most of these publishers were ripping Google off anyways, and that their gravy train needed to end. Many employees were not happy about this. A few resigned over it. I did not. I stayed because I had a family to support, and secondly I wanted to see how far they would go.
The "leak," as the poster describes it on Pastebin, does not offer any evidence of this theft, short of the lengthy description. It could very well be Microsoft's most dastardly Scroogled ad yet!
A spokesperson for Google told Valleywag that the allegations were "complete fiction" and that AdSense does not operate in the way the supposed whistleblower describes:
"This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction. The color-coding and "extreme quality control" programs the author describes don't exist. Our teams and automated systems work around the clock to stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users.
All publishers that sign up for AdSense agree to the Terms and Conditions of the service and a set of policies designed to ensure the quality of the network for users, advertisers and other publishers. When we discover violations of these policies, we take quick action, which in some cases includes disabling the publisher's account and refunding affected advertisers."
Last year, Google paid out $9 billion to 2 million publishers around the world, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. The company's policy prohibits "Invalid Clicks." When Google disables a publisher for privacy violations, its policy is to withhold payment for the 60 days prior and return the money to impacted advertisers. Google has previously claimed that "clickbombing" only represents a small percentage of the invalid activity on the AdSense network.
However, there have been numerous complaints over the years about Google's "mysterious methods for determining when to ban (and when to reinstate) participants." There was even talk of a class action lawsuit back in 2011. The charge was lead by Jason Timmons. He claimed that a nine-month investigation conducted by a team of "well trained investigators" found that Google had defrauded publishers:
The suit will allege that in the vast majority of cases which we reviewed Google has mislead and defrauded publishers by deliberately terminating accounts and withholding earnings based upon a speculative assertion that the accounts posed a risk of generating invalid activity, without any foundation to support this conclusion whatsoever.
Around the same time, MarketingLand said when publishers complained about bans, Google was more focused on its advertising customers:
Google's argument in similar past situations is that it can't get into too much detail about its click-fraud monitoring, as explaining its methods would give would-be fraudsters too much information about how to potentially bypass the systems in place to protect advertisers. Additionally, Google seems to focus its attention on servicing AdWords advertisers '-- its customers '-- rather than AdSense publishers, who are partners, rather than customers.
The Pastebin document alleges that Google settled legal action from publishers. That prompted AdSense schemers to come up with a new policy by December, 2012: "shelter the possible problem makers, and fuck the rest." This is where the color-coding that Google said does not exist comes into play:
The new policy; "shelter the possible problem makers, and fuck the rest" (those words were actually said by a Google AdSense exec) when he spoke about the new procedure and policy for "Account Quality Control". The new policy was officially called AdSense Quality Control Color Codes (commonly called AQ3C by employees). What it basically was a categorization of publisher accounts. Those publisher's that could do the most damage by having their account banned were placed in a VIP group that was to be left alone. The rest of the publishers would be placed into other groupings accordingly.
The new AQ3C also implemented "quality control" quotas for the account auditors, so if you didn't meet the "quality control" target (aka account bans) you would be called in for a performance review. There were four "groups" publishers could fall into if they reached certain milestones.
Google's response to these allegations is clear. Whether or not there is any truth behind the claims on Pastebin, publishers are once again fighting back against the quasi-monopoly. Earlier this month Mathias D¶pfner, the CEO of Europe's largest newspaper publisher, wrote an open letter to his friend Eric Schmidt about Google building a "superstate":
[D¶pfner] said the US company was operating a business model that "in less reputable circles would be called a protection racket", discriminating against competitors in its search rankings. Google's motto was "if you don't want us to finish you off, you better pay", he said.
Where's the Counterforce when you really need them?
To contact the author of this post, please email
Twitter Is Losing Momentum and Money
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:51
The internet service we use to follow celebrities and call people racist just broke some bad news to Wall Street: Twitter is still unprofitable, and not enough people are even willing to try it out.
It's actually sort of hard to come across as financially toxic when you're a Silicon Valley firm'--after all, this is the land where profit is pointless, valuations are imaginary, and WhatsApp is worth $19 billion. But once you actually do slide on your church clothes and make a go at publicly-traded respectability, investors are going to start to ask real questions. Like: do enough people really use Twitter for it to be a viable business now, or in the future? Can Twitter command enough influence to make it worthwhile to advertisers?
The answer all along has been a sheepish "maybe." The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Twitter tasked its CFO as a fixer just to boost user growth, which has been lackluster:
The Internet masses still don't get [Twitter].
To address it, the eight-year-old social broadcast network has called on its Mr. Fix-it: Ali Rowghani, Twitter's 41-year-old chief operating officer.
The company badly missed its own user-growth projections. In early 2013, Twitter executives aimed to reach 400 million monthly active users by year-end, two people familiar with the matter said. Twitter instead reported 241 million active users'--just one-fifth the user base of Facebook Inc. and about half the size of WhatsApp, a younger messaging app.
Twitter's gulf between 241 and 400 million is Brobdingnagian, and investors were hoping today's financial report would bring news that the company is picking up the pace when it comes to growth. Instead, it got the opposite:
While Facebook is about as ubiquitous as handjobs and oxygen, with about a billion and a quarter users across the planet, Twitter is struggling to reach 300 million. Even when it comes to opaque vanity metrics that Twitter made up like "revenue per 1,000 timeline views," Twitter is dropping off:
That, plus the underwhelming 255 million users it reported today are not enough to calm investors, and that's why Twitter stock is down about 10 percent in after-hours trading, below $40 per share. It was at over $70 in December.
Maybe Twitter hasn't figured out a good enough way to pitch itself to non-nerds. Maybe it doesn't look enough like Facebook to draw in users. Maybe it looks too much like Facebook. Maybe writing 140-character messages and reading them from strangers and friends isn't something that more than several hundred million people are ever going to want to do. There's no reason to believe Twitter will ever be as inherently charming as Facebook, which seduced us with IMs and photos when we were young those things were still dreamy. If you're someone who already uses Twitter, that's fine! We never needed to be tweet-peers with the world. If you're a Twitter investor, this is about as bleak a hypothesis as you can fathom.
For now, the company will have to walk around with two black eyes instead of one: Twitter loses money, and it might never be alluring enough to change that.
Image: Shutterstock
A Note From Raj
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:50
Dear Friends,This month, millions of Afghans braved the threat of violence and arrived at polling stations in record numbers to vote in the nation's first democratic presidential transition. I am extraordinarily proud of our teams who have worked over the past several years to ensure that Afghan's electoral institutions were ready, women candidates had training, polling stations had observers, and strategies to mitigate fraud were effective. Earlier this month, I testified before the U.S. Congress about the importance of investing in precisely these kinds of efforts to advance our mission and deliver results by maximizing the impact of every dollar. Members of Congress asked pointed but important questions about our work in some of the world's toughest spots.
We are proud to have launched the U.S. Global Development Lab, a significant milestone for our Agency that embodies our new model for development and brings science and technology to the fight to end extreme poverty. Ultimately, the only way we're going achieve this mission in two decades is by inspiring others to join us.
The launch buzzed with optimism and camaraderie as hundreds of people arrived with one goal in mind: applying their energy to help end extreme poverty. I was deeply inspired by the DevTalks that highlighted how we are bringing new tools and ideas to challenges both old and new. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke glowingly about the potential of the Lab, and Secretary Kerry has also shared both his and President Obama's commitment to its success. I encourage you to set aside some time to watch these videos.
Raj ShahUSAID Administrator
About DIV | U.S. Agency for International Development
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:51
DIV holds a year-round grant competition for innovative ideas, pilots and tests them using cutting-edge analytical methods, and scales solutions that demonstrate widespread impact and cost-effectiveness. DIV's tiered-funding model, inspired by the venture capital experience, invests comparatively small amounts in relatively unproven concepts, and continues to support only those that prove they work. Visit he DIV portfolio to see DIV the evidence-gathering and scale-up activities of DIV winners around around the world.
DIV's objective is to support the discovery of better ways to solve big problems. America is facing a time of austerity, but significant development challenges drive a strong imperative for our action as global citizens. As a result, we need to work harder than ever to implement solutions that get the biggest bang for our development bucks.
The DIV model is designed to help us advance what works while avoiding long term investments in what doesn't. DIV blends best practice due-diligence strategies in its exciting new development approach that turns bright ideas into bold results: the DIV model includes tiered risk management systems from venture capital; research approaches from economics; and development expertise from nonprofits and government.
Our model is simple: we hold a competition for bold development ideas, we pilot them in small increments and test their effects, and we scale those that demonstrate widespread impact and cost-efficiency. In the innovative process, we find both failures and successes: but when ideas fail, we learn that quickly and at relatively low expense; and when ideas succeed, we find out how to reach millions of people at a fraction of the usual cost.
For more information on how DIV works, please visit our model in detail. To see the DIV model in action, check out our portfolio of grantees.
3,727 applications have been submitted to DIV since October 2010.70% of DIV's applicants are new to USAID (since July 2011).DIV has invested in 88 solutions in 8 sectors and 29 countries around the world. More are under negotiation.DIV's diverse portfolio is composed of grantees from the private sector (33%), NGOs (53%), and academic institutions (14%). 83% of awards involve a coalition of partners with distinct skills (and 62% of awards involve 3 or more partners): 63% of coalitions contain at least one NGO; 40% include a social enterprise; 35% include an evaluator or academic; 26% include a for-profit firm (other than a social enterprise); and 17% include local government. Plus, 93% of coalitions include at least one member based outside of the US. (As of end July 2013)
DIV invests in ideas across three stages of their growth. 59% of DIV's awards are at Stage 1: Proof of Concept (average investment of $119,000); 40% of DIV's awards are at Stage 2: Testing at Scale (average investment of $700,000); and 1% of DIV's awards are at Stage 3: Widespread Implementation (average investment of $5.5 million)The average DIV grantee brings $0.79 in cost-share for every $1 of funding from USAID.51% of DIV's grantees are conducting randomized control trials. For details about when a randomized control trial is most appropriate for a DIV applicant, please see DIV's Annual Program Statement.Numbers updated December 2013
USAID launched Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) in October 2010 to find, test, and scale ideas that could radically improve global prosperity. DIV is part of USAID's commitment to invest in cost-efficient innovations that address global development challenges.
Last updated: April 28, 2014
GATES FOUNDATION-Rajiv Shah | U.S. Agency for International Development
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:54
Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 9,600 professionals in 80 missions around the world.
Since being sworn in on Dec. 31, 2009, Shah managed the U.S. Government's response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; co-chaired the State Department's first review of American diplomacy and development operations; and now spearheads President Barack Obama's landmark Feed the Future food security initiative. He is also leading ''USAID Forward,'' an extensive set of reforms to USAID's business model focusing on seven key areas, including procurement, science & technology, and monitoring & evaluation.
Before becoming USAID's Administrator, Shah served as undersecretary for research, education and economics, and as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At USDA, he launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which significantly elevated the status and funding of agricultural research.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Shah served for seven years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including as director of agricultural development in the Global Development Program, and as director of strategic opportunities.
Originally from Detroit, Shah earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his master's in health economics from the Wharton School of Business. He attended the London School of Economics and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Shah is married to Shivam Mallick Shah and is the father of three children. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Silly Con Valley
Bulding Death Syndrome email
I liked your comment about new buildings being an Albatross. Every company I've worked out have grown to the point they want to build a land-marque building to make a statement. This has all marked their demise as a company.
benghazi_email_large.jpg (852—1111)
Thu, 01 May 2014 02:35
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New White House Emails Reveal Effort to Portray Benghazi Attack as Being 'Rooted' in an 'Internet Video,' Protect President's Re-Election |
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:33
Top-ranking members of the Obama administration coordinated in 2012 to portray the deadly attacks on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, as being ''rooted in [an] Internet video'' and not ''a broader failure or policy,'' according to newly declassified emails.
A Libyan military member stands guard following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. (AP)
The emails, released Tuesday by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, show then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes collaborating with other senior White House officials to shield President Barack Obama from criticism.
Several top White House staffers, including political strategist David Plouffe and press secretary Jay Carney, were involved in these emails, some of which were circulated just a day before then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on television to blame the attacks on a YouTube video.
The ''goal'' going forward, one Rhodes email said, is ''to underscore that these protests are rooted in [an] Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.''
The 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents released Tuesday show that Rice received her talking points directly from the highest reaches of Obama's inner circle.
''[W]e've made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it,'' Rhodes said in an email.
''We reject its message and its contents,'' he added. ''We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.''
Obama's then-communications adviser also suggested in an email to Rice that she portray the president as ''steady and statesmanlike.''
''I think that people have come to trust that President Obama provides leadership that is steady and statesmanlike,'' he wrote. ''There are always going to be challenges that emerge around the world, and time and again, he has shown that we can meet them.''
Ben Rhodes' brother, David, is the president of CBS News, the network that used to employ investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
Attkisson achieved notoriety recently when she resigned from CBS amid claims network officials worked to stifle her reports on White House scandals, including the IRS' targeting of conservative groups and the deadly attacks in Benghazi.
Perhaps most damning in the trove of newly declassified emails is a Sep. 12, 2012, note written by Payton Knopf, former deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Knopf in the email informed Rice that the attacks on the U.S. Consulate were ''complex'' and pre-planned and not ''spontaneous,'' as Rice would later insist they were.
The emails also show that then-CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell was the one who changed his agency's talking points on the assault.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice looks on alongside President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting with Philippines President Benigo Aquino at Malacanang Palace in Manila, April 28, 2014. (Getty Images)
''The first draft apparently seemed unsuitable '... because they seemed to encourage the reader to infer incorrectly that the CIA had warned about a specific attack on our embassy,'' one email reads. ''Morell noted that these points were not good and he had taken a heavy hand to editing them. He noted that he would be happy to work with [then-deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton] Jake Sullivan and Rhodes to develop appropriate talking points.''
The immediate takeaway from the email dump, according to Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, is that the White House was most concerned in the days following the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks with protecting the president.
''Now we know the Obama White House's chief concern about the Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good,'' Fitton said in a statement. ''And these documents undermine the Obama administration's narrative that it thought the Benghazi attack had something to do with protests or an Internet video.''
''Given the explosive material in these documents, it is no surprise that we had to go to federal court to pry them loose from the Obama State Department,'' he added.
(H/T: Washington Free Beacon)
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Programming note: For more on the Benghazi story, watch TheBlaze TV's all-new For the Record episode ''Zero Footprint,'' Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET.
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CDC: One in 13 Children Taking Psych Meds
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:29
The New Americanby Raven Clabough
Data from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that there continues to be a significant increase in the number of school-age children on psychiatric medications to treat emotional or behavioral problems. A new health study shows that 7.5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 are on psych meds based on data collected from interviews between 2011 and 2012 with parents of over 17,000 children.
''Over the past two decades, the use of medication to treat mental health problems has increased substantially among all school-aged children and in most subgroups of children,'' the report's authors explained.
Unfortunately, the survey did not identify which diagnoses were being treated by the medications, but estimates indicate that a majority of the drugs are to treat ADHD symptoms, a point that critics are likely to seize upon. As noted by the UPI, ''The study may lend credence to critics who say America's children are over-diagnosed with ADHD '-- and subsequently over-prescribed and over-medicated.''
According to the American Psychiatric Association, five percent of American children have ADHD, but studies reveal more than 11 percent of American children are diagnosed with the condition.
What may be more alarming is that there is increasing evidence that ADHD may not be the epidemic that some are claiming, and in fact, may not even be an actual condition.
Dr. Richard Saul, who has been practicing behavioral neurology for 50 years, and is the author of the new book ADHD Does Not Exist,writesin a March 14 Time piece,
The fifth edition of the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] only requires one to exhibit five of 18 possible symptoms to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. If you haven't seen the list, look it up. It will probably bother you. How many of us can claim that we have difficulty with organization or a tendency to lose things; that we are frequently forgetful or distracted or fail to pay close attention to details? Under these subjective criteria, the entire U.S. population could potentially qualify.
Saul's analysis confirms what critics have been saying regarding the growth in the rate of mental illness issues: that it may in fact be the result of expanded medical terms and definitions. warned of such a thing last April:
Beware the DSM-5, the soon-to-be-released fifth edition of the ''psychiatric bible,'' the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The odds will probably be greater than 50 percent, according to the new manual, that you'll have a mental disorder in your lifetime.
Although fewer than 6 percent of American adults will have a severe mental illness in a given year, according to a 2005 study, many more '-- more than a quarter each year '-- will have some diagnosable mental disorder. That's a lot of people. Almost 50 percent of Americans (46.4 percent to be exact) will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes, based on the previous edition, the DSM-IV. And the new manual will likely make it even ''easier'' to get a diagnosis.
The expanded definitions have resulted in significant increases in diagnoses of mental disorders, particularly ADHD. Dr. Saul writes, ''The New York Times reported that from 2008 to 2012 the number of adults taking medications for ADHD increased by 53% and that among young American adults, it nearly doubled.''
But Saul contends that the diagnosis of ADHD overlooks the real problems. As Kyle Smith at the New York Postreports:
One girl he [Saul] treated, it turned out, was being disruptive in class because she couldn't see the blackboard. Correct diagnois [sic]: myopia. She needed glasses, not drugs.
A 36-year-old man who complained about his addiction to online games and guessed he had ADHD, it turned out, was drinking too much coffee and sleeping only four to five hours a night. Correct diagnosis: sleep deprivation. He needed blackout shades, a white-noise machine and a program that shut all his devices off at midnight.
Smith concluded, ''One by one, nearly all of Saul's patients turned out to have some disease other than ADHD, such as Tourette's, OCD, fragile X syndrome (a genetic mutation linked to mental retardation), autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities or such familiar conditions as substance abuse, poor hearing or even giftedness.''
Some believe that the increase in these prescriptions results from parents looking to find an easy solution to their children's behavioral problems.
''There's a societal trend to look for the quick fix, the magic bullet that will correct disruptive behaviors,'' said David Rubin, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. ''But for those looking for a quick solution to escalating behaviors at home, the hard truth is there is unlikely to be a quick fix.''
Psychologist and parenting columnist John Rosemond echoes this sentiment, asserting that childhood misbehavior resulting from lack of discipline is incorrectly diagnosed as ADHD. As such, it is turning a discipline problem into a psychological problem.
Consumer Reports indicates, ''Doctors are prescribing antipsychotics even though there's minimal evidence that the drugs help kids for approved uses, much less the unapproved ones, such as behavioral problems. And to make matters worse, the little research there is suggests the drugs can cause troubling side effects, including weight gain, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.''
Consumer Reports also notes that the increase in the prescribing of antipsychotics can be attributed to several other factors, including aggressive drug marketing that overhypes the benefits of the pharmaceuticals and downplays their risks:
Antipsychotics have become huge moneymakers for the drug industry. In 2003, annual U.S. sales of the drugs were estimated at $2.8 billion; by 2011, that number had risen to $18.2 billion. That huge growth was driven in part by one company '-- Janssen Pharmaceuticals '-- and its aggressive promotion of off-label uses in children and elderly patients, relying on marketing tactics that according to the federal government, crossed legal and ethical lines.
And the NCHS study reports that children from poorer families are more likely to be medicated, a point observed by Dr. Rubin last year.
''Use is really high among kids in the Medicaid system where decent non-drug services may be difficult to find,'' says Rubin, who also points out that even kids with private insurance often don't have coverage for psychiatric care or counseling.
Research shows that doctors are prescribing the drugs for ''off-label'' uses such as for ADHD and other diagnosed behavioral problems, which involve a significantly higher percentage of children than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
''What started out as a treatment with some level of evidence for a small sub-group of youth with significant development disabilities '... has been extended to cognitively normal kids without any strong evidence,'' Rubin said.
Critics observe that the side effects of anti-psychotic drugs could worsen '-- or in some cases actually cause '-- symptoms of mental illness.
According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHRINT), there is abundant evidence proving a connection between psychotropic medications and violent crimes, and government officials are well aware of the connection: ''Between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S. FDA's MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence,'' says CCHRINT, including 300 homicides.
The New American
How Zoloft & Prozac are Linked to Child Suicides & Mass Shootings
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:28
Occupy Corporatismby Susanne Posel
Researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Gillings School of Global Health (GSGH) published a study that found ''children and young adults initiating therapy with antidepressants at high-therapeutic (rather than modal-therapeutic) doses seem to be at heightened risk of deliberate self-harm.''
Matthew Miller, lead author of the study and associate professor at HSPH asked : ''The design of the study was meant to really address the question, does dose matter? If I were a parent, I definitely wouldn't want my child to start on a higher dose of these drugs.''
The research was conducted on Celexa, Zoloft and Prozac.
In their conclusion, the researchers warned that their ''findings offer clinicians an additional incentive to avoid initiating pharmacotherapy at high-therapeutic doses and to closely monitor patients starting antidepressants, especially youth, for several months.''
In patients younger than 24, it was shown that 18% were prescribed higher initial doses of anti-depressants which is in violation of ''current medical guidelines''.
Indeed, this study showed that ''suicidal behavior is twice as likely when children and young adults are randomized to antidepressants compared with when they are randomized to placebo.''
The ''health care utilization data'' was collected on ''162,625 US residents with depression ages 10 to 64 years who initiated antidepressant therapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors at modal or at higher than modal doses from January 1, 1998, through December 31, 2010.''
It was deduced by the findings that ''the rate of deliberate self-harm among children and adults 24 years of age or younger who initiated high-dose therapy was approximately twice as high as among matched patients initiating modal-dose therapy.''
With estimations at 1 out of 150 patients being prescribed ''high'' does instead of ''modal-dose[s]'' it is clear that this study questions the practices of doctors and psychiatrists who prescribe anti-depressant medication with regard to appropriate dosage for children and young adults less than 24 years of age.
The study revealed that the risk of suicide was greatest within the first 3 months of treatment.
Miller commented: ''It certainly is one more piece of information that should make doctors reluctant to start younger patients on high doses; even if those doses are within the therapeutic range.''
The International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) released a statement after the Sandy Hook shooting wherein they called ''for an inquiry into the connection between these acts of mass murder and the use of psychotropic drugs.''
In their press release, the ISEPP pointed out that:
James Holmes the Colorado batman shooter, had taken 100 milligrams of Vicodin immediately before he shot up the movie theaterChristopher Pittman was on antidepressants when he killed his grandparentsEric Harris , one of the gunmen in the Columbine school shooting, was taking Luvox and Dylan Klebold, his partner, had taken Zoloft and PaxilDoug Williams , who killed five and wounded nine of his fellow Lockheed Martin employees, was on Zoloft and CelexaMichael McDermott was on three antidepressants when he fired off 37 rounds and killed seven of his fellow employees in the Massachusetts Wakefield massacreKip Kinkel was on Prozac when he killed his parents and then killed 2 children and wounded 25 at a nearby schoolIn fourteen recent school shoots, the acts were committed by persons taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in over 100 wounded and 58 killedIn other school shootings, information about the shooter's prescription drug use and other medical history were kept from public recordsOccupy Corporatism
Polish $300 Billion Aid Package Hides EU Expansion Flaws.
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:09
The pristine metal and glass laboratories and landscaped lawns of the Olsztyn Science and Technology Park are a shiny emblem of Poland's transition from communist state to European Union member, at least on appearance.
Paid for with EU aid, the $23 million development 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Warsaw opened in November to attract startup companies. Yet with two smaller science parks already close to the northeastern Polish town, half of the space remains empty in a region with among the highest poverty rates in Europe and where more people are leaving than arriving.
''The EU certainly helps fulfill Polish dreams, even the completely unrealistic and costly ones,'' said Sylwia Tymicka, 40, who set up her accounting and business advice company in Olsztyn just as Poland joined the EU on May 1, 2004. ''That often leads to spending for spending's sake. It doesn't correspond to basic needs.''
As Poles mark 10 years of absorption into the world's biggest single market, the fault lines remain.
Halfway through a 229 billion-euro ($317 billion) EU aid package, more than the entire Marshall Plan for postwar Europe in today's dollars, the money kept the Polish economy growing when the rest of the continent went into recession. The new business parks, highways, soccer stadiums and airport terminals also mask how for many Poles the passage to prosperity is still to come, with 17 percent of families of four living on less than $400 a month.
Poorest RegionsAfter two decades of uninterrupted growth, International Monetary Fund figures show gross domestic product per capita adjusted for the cost of living caught up more quickly with the EU average than in Hungary or the Czech Republic, also among the 10 nations absorbed by the eastward expansion.
Yet, in Poland it remains at about 62 percent of the average, surpassing Hungary, though still below the Czechs. Five of the EU's 20 poorest regions are in Poland.
Unemployment is 13.5 percent. While that's half the rate of crisis-hit Greece, it's higher than Ireland, whose economy shrank for four of the last six years and remains a destination for many young Poles. Among those working, more than 1 million earn less than 5 zloty ($1.66) an hour.
''The only way to alleviate the misery is by drafting projects that directly concern this social group,'' said Marcin Krol, who was a member of the Solidarity movement committee that negotiated the end of communist rule 25 years ago and is now a sociology professor as Warsaw University. ''Many governments have come and gone without affecting their situation whatsoever. Then came the EU programs, which failed to improve it either.''
Red TapeTymicka blames the red tape involved with accessing the money for smaller businesses, even in a country used to four decades of communist-era bureaucracy.
Poland ranks 45th in the World Bank's latest Doing Business report covering 189 countries, placing it in the top 25 percent. When it comes to starting a business, it slips down to 116th, beneath Ivory Coast and Yemen.
Zortrax, a startup that makes three-dimensional printers based four blocks down the road from the Olsztyn science park, is exactly the kind of company it was meant to attract. Karolina Boladz, one of Zortrax's three founders, raised $200,000 for the business through a crowd-funding program. She said it was quicker than embarking on an application for EU money.
Too Slow''We couldn't risk wasting time and energy,'' Boladz, who at age 25 is as old as Polish capitalism, said in her office holding a toy tiger printed in blue plastic on the company's flagship product. ''We don't need to wait for the EU to tell us what's good for us. Our plan is simple and efficient. It seemed beyond the EU's funds framework.''
The Olsztyn site attracted the attention of Poland's Supreme Audit Office, which challenged eight out of 60 science and technology parks over the past two years, saying they didn't do enough to warrant the investment. The warning fell on deaf ears and construction in Olsztyn began in 2012 to create 11,000 square meters of lab space, the equivalent of 1 1/2 soccer fields.
There's little doubt most big-ticket items the EU money has bankrolled helped successfully transform the country.
A Polish government report this week showed domestic companies have completed 62,600 projects to the tune of 85.5 billion zloty in EU financing. There are 683 new sewage plants, 700 investments in renewable energy, 13 brand new or modernized airports, as well as scores of schools and kindergartens. Then there are the 1,481 kilometers of new roads, with expressways linking Warsaw with the rest of Europe. You can now drive to Barcelona without leaving the network.
Learning Lessons''The EU is vigilantly monitoring spending and evaluating its purpose and use,'' Janusz Lewandowski, a Pole who is responsible for the EU's budget at the European Commission, said in February. Municipalities in Poland ''should learn from the example of other countries'' that wasted EU aid, he said during a trip to Warsaw.
The EU funds from the bloc's seven-year budget cycles are giving Poland a chance to catch up with the west of the continent after a beleaguered 20th century.
The Solidarity movement against the communists in the early 1980s led to martial law being imposed by the regime. Earlier, the country's population was decimated and its cities destroyed during World War II. Warsaw had 80 percent of its buildings leveled, as the Soviet army entered and the Germans departed.
The Marshall Plan for European recovery was $150 billion in current money, though Poland didn't get a cent because it was part of the Russian-dominated eastern bloc as the military conflict gave way to the Cold War. It was the revolutions of 1989 that put it on the road to EU accession.
Unbroken RecordA survey last week found 89 percent of Poles in favor of that integration, the highest since 2007, with 62 percent of respondents of an opinion that it provided more benefits than disadvantages, especially when it comes to roads and other basic infrastructure. Warsaw-based researcher CBOS questioned 1,098 adults in February and March.
The aid contributed as much as one percentage point of growth each year, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. That kept the economy expanding when the rest of Europe went into sharp reverse in 2009.
''Even with the turmoil in the world economy, the last decade was fruitful for Poland,'' said Marek Buczak, a money manager at fund company Quercus TFI SA in Warsaw. ''The majority of the EU funds were invested in infrastructure, which increased competitiveness.''
Low DebtPoland's national debt is capped at 55 percent of its economic output by law, a level most of western Europe can only dream of. The debt-to-GDP ratio in Spain, a country with a similar population that emerged from a dictatorship 15 years earlier, is about twice that, as is unemployment.
Poles, though, are still heading for the exit in droves, taking advantage of another opportunity opened by EU membership: freedom of movement.
At least 2.5 million Poles departed the country over the past decade, with 300,000 later returning, according to the Central Statistics Office in Warsaw. About half a million Poles left last year, the largest emigration wave after the exodus immediately after Poles became EU citizens, based on a study by Krystyna Iglicka, a professor of demography in Warsaw who looked at labor markets in western Europe. The average age of those who quit the country in search of jobs and prosperity is 32, the statistics office said.
'No-Brainer'Only 17 percent of Poles wouldn't consider emigrating for work, according to a survey by the Milford Brown Institute. Among Poles younger than 34, the group shrank to 8 percent. ''This is no surprise,'' said Tymicka, whose son, Zorian, 19, plans to leave as soon as he finishes high school. ''Emigration has become sort of no-brainer for young Poles.''
More than 600,000 went to Britain, where the latest census data gathered from Warsaw showed Polish women are now twice more likely to have children than in their native country.
In Skajboty, a village 15 kilometers from Olsztyn in the heart of Poland's Land of Thousand Lakes where storks and eagles swoop around the forests and waterways, Ewa Legierzynska is resigned to losing another child to the migration wave.
Of her five daughters, four quit the village, with two leaving the country, and the fifth girl will most likely follow her sisters. ''Regardless of how beautiful the area is, life here has no prospects,'' said Legierzynska, 66.
Giving ChildrenOne of her daughters is now based in Brussels and another in Berlin, while two live in Gdansk, in northern Poland.
''We are located at the end of the world, but we give our children to the world, so the world will eventually find out about us,'' she said. In the neighboring house, 11 children left Skajboty for Ireland and Scotland.
Rafal Mikulowski, 53, returned to Poland two decades after leaving for France as a child in 1969. He settled near Olsztyn, where he runs a foundation that uses art to educate children. He said the exodus resembles the aftermath of a catastrophe.
''The usual reasons for large waves of emigration are war, famine and natural disasters,'' said Mikulowski. ''We freed the country, we strengthened democracy and we even evaded recession, yet all the young people from around here have either left or talk about nothing else but leaving. I doubt anyone will be left to use those parks built with the EU money.''
Making MoneyWhile critics like Mikulowski talk of the kind of white elephants built by indebted euro-region nations Spain, Portugal and Greece, plenty of people have made money on the back of Poland's graduation to an EU state.
The economy has more than doubled since the collapse of communism. Poland's accumulated GDP gained 46 percent in years eight years after EU membership, when the euro region increased by 9 percent, according to Eurostat data.
Polish 10-year government bonds returned 124 percent since May 1, 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies. Polish euro-denominated debt of the same maturity currently yields 2.38 percent, less than EU founder member Italy.
The benchmarkstock index, the WIG20, has risen 40 percent since EU accession, led by companies such as Europe's largest copper producer, KGHM SA, and PKO Bank Polski. While the gain is less than that of Germany's DAX Index, which has soared 148 percent, it's more than benchmarks in France and Spain.
In Warsaw, where per-capita incomes are three times the national average, glass skyscrapers are still sprouting up, reflecting the city's status as a modern financial center and the biggest market in the region.
EU Convergence''The convergence of the Polish economy supplied with EU subsidies made it possible for the capital market to gain importance,'' said Buczak, the fund manager at Quercus, which set up in 2007, the year before the global financial crisis started sinking businesses elsewhere. ''Nevertheless the coming years are going to be a challenge to the Polish economy.''
Few people in the country understand that more than those the region of Olsztyn, where GDP per capita is 46 percent of the EU average. The unemployment (POUER) rate is as high as 34 percent in some parts. The region received 1.5 billion euros of EU funds since 2004, excluding subsidies for farmers.
''If you tell me that some foreign investors view Poland as a success story, then I'm just stunned,'' said Tymicka.
More help is on the way. In January, the EU concluded its 2014-2020 budget, pledging a total of 115 billion euros in aid for Poland, including 32 billion euros for agriculture.
More CashThe country will remain the largest beneficiary of EU funds until the end of this decade, which should help it join the top 20 global economies by 2022, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at the time. The country's GDP by then probably will reach 80 percent of the EU average and at least 1.5 million Poles will exit poverty, said Tusk, in power since 2007.
Polish local governments ''will now have more funds at their disposal so that ordinary people get better access to the money,'' said Marceli Niezgoda, deputy minister for infrastructure and development in Warsaw. He helps oversee how the EU money is spent. ''They know their regions and their needs so they can react more quickly.''
In Olsztyn, once famous across the eastern bloc for its Stomil tire plant and whose lakes were a recreational area of choice for communist leaders, entrepreneur Szymon Piekarz is counting on it. The 30-year-old returned five years ago from a stint in Britain where he started Limtel, a software company. He just moved into the new science park.
''Almost everybody is asking me why I came back,'' Piekarz, who employs 15 people and plans to double that team by the end of the year. ''I see the manifold changes that have occurred. This makes me believe the EU money has had an effect.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Dorota Bartyzel in Warsaw at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at Rodney Jefferson
Pointing to rise of neo-fascists, banks demand austerity in France
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:04
By Kumaran Ira30 April 2014Financial markets are demanding sweeping, Greek-style attacks on workers in France, criticising the French political establishment for being far behind in imposing austerity measures.
In an April 23 op-ed column titled ''The most overvalued market in the world? France,'' the online financial journal Market Watch wrote: ''The economy is flat-lining. Unemployment remains chronic. Competitiveness is declining. And the political system is heading for a meltdown. There is no country in the developed world right now facing more serious challenges than France, nor any in greater need of reform and re-invigoration.''
''The stock market is buoyant, washed higher by a tide of enthusiasm for European equities. Bond yields remain low. Confidence has not yet cracked,'' it acknowledged. However, it wrote, ''that can't last'... France is in far worse shape than Germany or even Spain'--and almost as bad as Italy.''
Through this article, the banks sought to give their marching orders to the incoming Socialist Party (PS) government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Public anger is mounting over the record 5 million jobseekers in France, and markets want deep cuts in French public spending, which currently stands at 57 percent of GDP. Valls has made law-and-order appeals to far-right sentiment, while pledging '‚¬50 billion in spending cuts and '‚¬30 billion in corporate tax breaks as part of PS President Fran§ois Hollande's so-called Responsibility Pact.
There is deep opposition in the working class, however, to Valls' initiatives. They will primarily strengthen the neo-fascist National Front (FN), which made significant gains in the March municipal elections due to popular disillusionment with the PS and its pseudo-left satellites, such as the Left Front and the New Anti-capitalist Party.
Significantly, moreover, Market Watch worried that the PS will not be able to push through Valls' program, dismissing it as a failure. It wrote, ''Ominously, there is no prospect of political reform on the horizon'--the only alternatives are even worse than the current failing establishment.'' It pointed to the rise of the FN, which recent polls still show receiving the largest vote in elections for the European parliament next month.
''Sooner or later investors are going to wake up to that, and start getting their money out,'' it wrote, ''and the trigger could easily be the European elections in late May.''
Such a crisis, were it to occur, would have broader ramifications than even the Greek debt crisis. France's sovereign debt, which is to hit '‚¬2 trillion later this year, is roughly 10 times larger than that of Greece. Like Spanish and Italian sovereign debt, it is too big to be covered by the bailout funds assembled by the euro zone countries in 2010 to cover the major banks' loans to Greece.
The banks and bourgeois politicians of all stripes would exploit such a crisis to press for deep attacks on the working class, along the lines of the devastation of Greece. It could also spell the end of the euro and of the European Union. If Paris decided to debase its currency and print money to cover capital outflows from France and repay its debts, this would face opposition in many European capitals'--notably Berlin, who currently shares the euro currency with France.
Such considerations underlay the threat by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy to threaten to pull France out of the euro in 2010, as tensions erupted between Berlin and Paris over the formation of the first Greek bailout package.
There is no question that the FN will emerge as a ruthless defender of capitalism against the working class. In this, it will have the support of the banks. It descends politically from the most ferocious forces of counterrevolution, the French collaborationists of the Nazi Occupation period and the anti-Algerian independence fighters for ''French Algeria'' during the war for Algerian independence.
The FN stresses its allegiance to capitalism, in terms largely indistinguishable from those adopted by the PS and many of its political allies. Last year, FN's leader Marine Le Pen said, ''We still believe in free markets. The danger is ultra-liberalism, where financial markets impose all the rules.''
What underlies the objections of Market Watch is, however, is its concern over the international implications of the adoption of a more nationalistic policy in France, in line with the rising influence of the FN.
It warns that the FN's ''economic program remains insane. Pulling out of the euro, imposing trade barriers, forcing the Bank of France to print money to fund the budget deficit and reducing the retirement age to 60, it is a weird mix of the left and the right reminiscent of 1930s-style economic nationalism.''
In fact, the character of the FN's program arises directly out of the criminal policies of the banks and, in particular, of Europe's bankrupt bourgeois ''left'' parties. Five years after the financial markets, the EU, and the social-democratic PASOK government began dismantling the Greek welfare state, social-democratic parties are seen throughout Europe as instruments of a bankers' dictatorship. Broad layers of workers hate the euro and the EU.
The PS and its pseudo-left satellites such as the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) have proven to be deeply reactionary organizations. Their free-market policies and close alignment on US foreign policy, viewed historically, are unusual even in the context of French imperialist politics. They have not only adopted free-market policies and promoted the EU, which the PS helped create. They also aligned themselves on US-led interventions in Syria and Ukraine, working closely with Washington in French imperialism's wars in sub-Saharan Africa.
The political vacuum created on the left by the reactionary evolution of the bourgeois ''left'' parties has allowed the FN to posture as France's only opposition party and demagogically advance policies associated with French bourgeois ''left'' politics of an earlier era.
The FN has not only stated its opposition to the euro and to the EU on the basis of a weak-money policy. It has also criticized the unpopular international policies of the PS and the NPA, like their alignment on Washington and Berlin in the Ukraine crisis'--even though the fascist forces supported by imperialism in the Ukraine, such as the Svoboda party, are affiliated to the FN.
On a visit to Russia this month, FN leader Marine Le Pen said that Russia is being unfairly ''demonized'', and that a campaign against Russia has been cooked up at the highest levels of the EU leadership, with the implicit support of the United States. ''I am surprised a Cold War on Russia has been declared in the European Union,'' she said.
It is a highly significant fact that the only tendency in France expressing any opposition to the provocative Western intervention in Ukraine is the neo-fascists. Nonetheless, the fact that the far right is emerging as the bourgeois alternative to the discredited policies of the bourgeois ''left'' groups underscores the violent trajectory upon which French imperialism is moving, amid the deepening crisis of European capitalism.
This demonstrates the urgent necessity of creating a new political leadership in the working class, fighting on a socialist, internationalist platform against capitalism and all of its representatives, from the pseudo-left and the bourgeois ''left'' parties to the neo-fascists.
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Jeremy Paxman to quit BBC Newsnight after 25 years.
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:33
Jeremy Paxman will host his final edition of Newsnight in June. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA
Jeremy Paxman has announced he is to quit his job as rottweiler-in-chief at Newsnight after 25 years.
The broadcaster '' famous for asking Michael Howard the same question 12 times '' joined BBC2's flagship late-night news show as a presenter in 1989.
The BBC said Paxman had informed them of his decision to step down last summer, but had agreed to stay on for another year under the new editor, Ian Katz, who was brought in to stabilise the programme after the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine crises.
The presenter, who is about to turn 64, will continue in his role as presenter of University Challenge. He will host his final Newsnight show in June.
Long thought to be the best-paid presenter in BBC News, Paxman earned about £800,000 a year for his work on Newsnight and at University Challenge.
The announcement that he is stepping down comes after reports that Newsnight ratings have slumped to 600,000 viewers a night. Paxman, though, has been the programme's most popular presenter.
He did not spare his employer, despite a career spanning over four decades in the organisation. In October 2013, the pugilistic presenter said he had "seriously considered" quitting Newsnight after the Savile and McAlpine scandals dealt a hammer blow to the reputation of the BBC2 show.
Then a fortnight ago he complained in an interview with the Guardian: "There's a pile of stuff on the BBC I can't stand. My idea of hell is going down in one of the lifts in that ghastly new building [New Broadcasting House] in a lift which has Radio 1Xtra plumbed into it. I don't quite understand why the BBC does Radio 1Xtra."
That prompted the Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper to ask him to "consider" the impact his opinions had.
Some of Paxman's more memorable moments as the presenter of Newsnight include his 1998 interview with Denis Halliday, a United Nations humanitarian coordinator who had resigned his post in Iraq. Questioning his motives, Paxman asked him: "Aren't you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?"
It was a performance that he repeated in 2003 when interviewing Tony Blair about his decision to invade Iraq. Chairing a debate in front of a live audience, Paxman asked Blair if he and the US president, George Bush, prayed together. Blair answered: "No Jeremy. We do not pray together."
In a statement, Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC, said: "This is a particularly poignant moment for me, because I have known Jeremy and relished working with him since the day I joined the BBC in 1973. And I am therefore better placed than most to know what a remarkable job he has done at Newsnight.
"His is a rare and dazzling talent. He has a unique ability to create moments of real discomfort for politicians and memorable delight for audiences. For that cussed brilliance and much more besides, the BBC and our audiences will always be in his debt."
James Harding, the BBC's director of news, said Paxman had become the "great lion of BBC journalism" and would be sorely missed.
"Jeremy has led from the front: fearless, aggressive and persistent. He never failed to ask the difficult questions and always refused to accept glib or deceptive answers. Of course we will miss him but he has set standards for our journalism that the rest of us must follow.
"We accept his decision to move on but I think it is fair to say that the only people really celebrating his decision will be the politicians and public figures he has so often and so brilliantly held to account."
It is thought that Paxman may present some programmes for rival broadcasters, although his agent declined to comment. Despite the forthcoming general election, there are no plans for him to do any other programmes at the BBC at the moment other than University Challenge '' although the corporation said it would be open to working with him on more shows.
Australia and the United States sign an intergovernmental agreement to implement FATCA | The Treasury
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 07:12
The governments of Australia and the United States of America have signed an agreement: the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America to Improve International Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA.
The agreement was signed in Canberra on 28 April 2014.
The agreement, together with relevant enabling legislation, will establish a framework to assist Australian financial institutions in reporting certain financial account information required by the United States' Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
The signature of the agreement was announced by the Treasurer on 28 April 2014 on his website.
Greg WoodManagerTax Treaties UnitTax System DivisionThe Treasury, Langton Crescent, Parkes ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6263 3329
Readout of National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice's Meeting with Malaysian Opposition Leaders | The White House
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:05
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2014
Today, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice met with three top leaders of the Malaysian political opposition to hear their views on the situation in Malaysia and their efforts to press for greater democracy, transparency, and reform. Ambassador Rice underscored that the President's historic visit to Malaysia has been an important opportunity to continue the transformation of the relationship between our two countries--but that even as we deepen our cooperation with the Malaysian government, we are looking to expand our engagement with all of Malaysia, including civil society, industry, students, and participants from across the political spectrum.
Ambassador Rice reiterated the President's message that countries that welcome the contributions, and uphold the human rights of all their citizens, regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, race or religion are ultimately more prosperous and more successful. She also shared the United States' view that it is critical for Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently, and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia's democracy and judiciary.
Ambassador Rice emphasized to Mr. Anwar that the United States has followed his case closely, and that the decision to prosecute him and the trial have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the courts.
Ambassador Rice told the opposition leaders that the United States will continue to raise our concerns about issues of political freedom, the basic universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and religious liberty--as well as the need to respect and protect the rights of all people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
Finally, Ambassador Rice conveyed deep condolences on the passing of democracy and civil rights activist Mr. Karpal Singh.
Anwar Ibrahim (Mr. Anwar), Leader of the Opposition, chairman of the People's Justice PartyLim Guan Eng (Mr. Lim), Leader of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and opposition Member of ParliamentMustafa Ali (Mr. Mustafa), Secretary General of the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) and opposition Member of ParliamentPictures of the meeting can be found HERE and HERE
You Can't Handle The Truth! Boeing's Secret Patent | Veterans Today
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:37
You Can't Handle the Truth! Boeing's Secret Patent'... by Chip Tatum
Boeing Phantom Works Logo F4
According to Boeing's super secret development company Boeing Phantom Works and the Federal Government, you can not handle the truth! It refers to the Safety of Flight in ''Fly by Wire'' (FBW) Aircraft. What is a Fly by Wire Aircraft you ask? Well simply put it is an aircraft that is flown by electronic signals rather than by cables or hydraulic systems.
With the loss of Malaysian Air Flight 370, there has been a lot of speculation concerning the possibility of an electronic take over of the aircarft. Authorities have either evaded the questions or denied that there is the ability for the aircraft to be electronically hijacked.
Electronic flight controls systems have been used in commercial aviation for more than 40 years. With the introduction of the Concorde, the use of electronic systems (with mechanical backups) to manipulate the hydraulic controls used to fly by wire started the revolution on flight control.
Digital systems were first used in the Airbus 310 where digital computers controlled flight control surfaces. European experience in Fly-by-Wire (FBW) application is now some 30 years old. With the entry into service of the A320, a new standard of FBW was defined in the flight controls and system integration.
Boeing Phantom Works Patent designed to prohibit hacker access to the flight controls of Fly By Wire Aircraft.
The United States was lagging in these achievements. The Boeing Company embarked in an unprecedented journey to build a totally FBW controlled aircraft, completely designed and integrated by computer.
The Boeing 777 is the first commercial aircraft manufactured by Boeing which employees a FBW Primary Flight Control System. Here we will provide an overview of the flight control characteristics and constraints for the Boeing 777 FBW aircraft.
Conventional primary flight controls systems employ hydraulic actuators and control valves actuated by cables that are driven by the pilot controls. The cable-controlled system is heavy and requires periodic maintenance.
In a Flight by Wire (FBW) flight control system, the cable control of the primary flight control surfaces has been removed. Rather, the actuators are controlled electrically. At the heart of the FBW system are electronic computers sending signals to the control surfaces.
Fly-By-Wire (FBW) Primary Flight Controls have been used in military applications such as fighter jets for a number of years. It has been a rather recent development to employ them in a commercial transport application. The 777 is the first commercial transport manufactured by Boeing which employs a (FBW) Primary Flight Control System. The Airbus A320 and predecessors are examples of earlier systems developed in Europe. Many other aircraft were fully electronic with an electro-mechanical or electro-hydraulic backup.
Invention Secrecy Act Invoked
Someone discovered that there just may be a problem with this system of flight control. Boeing filed for a Patent to protect technology that they hope will keep any hijacking or jamming of the control systems in their 777 airliner protected. The Government immediately attached the Invention Secrecy Act to the Patent. It disappeared from the patent office online archives here.
The Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 (Pub.L. 82''256, 66 Stat. 3, enacted February 1, 1952, codified at 35 U.S.C. §§ 181''188) is a body of United States federal law designed to prevent disclosure of new inventions and technologies that, in the opinion of selected federal agencies, present a possible threat to the national security of the United States.
The U.S. government has long sought to control the release of new technologies that might threaten the national defense and economic stability of the country. During World War I, Congress authorized the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to classify certain defense-related patents.
This initial effort lasted only for the duration of that war but was reimposed in October 1941 in anticipation of the U.S. entry into World War II. Patent secrecy orders were initially intended to remain effective for two years, beginning on July 1, 1940, but were later extended for the duration of the war.
The Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 made such patent secrecy permanent, though the order to suppress any invention must be renewed each year (except during periods of declared war or national emergency). Under this Act, defense agencies provide the PTO with a classified list of sensitive technologies in the form of the ''Patent Security Category Review List'' (PSCRL).
The decision to classify new inventions under this act is made by ''defense agencies'' as defined by the President. Generally, these agencies include the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Energy, and NASA, but even the Justice Department has played this role.
A secrecy order bars the award of a patent, orders that the invention be kept secret, restricts the filing of foreign patents, and specifies procedures to prevent disclosure of ideas contained in the application. The only way an inventor can avoid the risk of such imposed secrecy is to forgo patent protection.
By the end of fiscal year 1991, the number of patent secrecy orders stood at 6,193. Many such orders were imposed on individuals and organizations working without government support. This number shrank for each fiscal year thereafter, until 2002. Since 2002, the number of secrecy orders has grown, with 5,002 secrecy orders in effect at the end of fiscal year 2007.
The types of inventions classified under this Act are themselves secret, but most of the inventions which are now no longer secret (but once were) have been in areas with high military significance, such as cryptography and weapons development.
Fortunately, I was able to retrieve the Patent for you to preview. Can you handle the truth? I believe so.
The full 16 pages may be downloaded here: Probabilistic mitigation of control channel jamming via random key distribution in wireless communications networks. The Boeing Company March 5, 2013
Text version is here: Click to read
Following the review of the both the patent and the timeline, we have come to the conclusion that the technology needed to protect the flight control systems from being taken over remotely or jammed remotely were not yet implemented, thus leaving any Boeing 777 or later aircraft utilizing Fly By Wire Technology vulnerable to a hacker.
Additional Patents of Interest
Of interest is the recurring name in many Boeing patents; Radha Poovendran. Additional information on who funds Dr. Radha Poovendran Click the Sponsers link.
See more from Chip Tatum. Click Here
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The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT or any other VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors or partners. Legal NoticePosted by Chip Tatum on Mar 30 2014, With 0 Reads, Filed under Editor, Of Interest, Politics, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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New Madrid Seismic Zone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:17
Coordinates: 36°34'²57'"N89°35'²17'"W>> / >>36.58245°N 89.58801°W>> / 36.58245; -89.58801
Reelfoot Rift and the New Madrid Seismic Zone in a 3D topographic image
Magnetic potential map of the Reelfoot Rift
The New Madrid Seismic Zone (pronounced //), sometimes called the New Madrid Fault Line, is a major seismic zone and a prolific source of intraplate earthquakes (earthquakes within a tectonic plate) in the southern and midwestern United States, stretching to the southwest from New Madrid, Missouri.
The New Madrid fault system was responsible for the 1811''12 New Madrid earthquakes and may have the potential to produce large earthquakes in the future. Since 1812, frequent smaller earthquakes have been recorded in the area.[1]
Earthquakes that occur in the New Madrid Seismic Zone potentially threaten parts of seven American states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.[2]
Geographic extent[edit]The 150-mile (240 km) long fault system, which extends into five states, stretches southward from Cairo, Illinois; through Hayti, Caruthersville and New Madrid in Missouri; through Blytheville into Marked Tree in Arkansas. It also covers a part of West Tennessee, near Reelfoot Lake, extending southeast into Dyersburg.
Most of the seismicity is located between 3 and 15 miles (4.8 and 24.1 km) beneath the Earth's surface.
Earthquake history[edit]The zone had four of the largest North American earthquakes in recorded history, with moment magnitudes estimated to be as large as 8.0, all occurring within a three-month period between December 1811 and February 1812. Many of the published accounts describe the cumulative effects of all the earthquakes (known as the New Madrid Sequence); thus finding the individual effects of each quake can be difficult. Magnitude estimates and epicenters are based on interpretations of historical accounts and may vary.
Prehistoric earthquakes[edit]Because uplift rates associated with large New Madrid earthquakes could not have occurred continuously over geological timescales without dramatically altering the local topography, studies have concluded that the seismic activity there cannot have gone on for longer than 64,000 years, making the NMSZ a young feature, or earthquakes and the associated uplift migrate around the area over time, or that the NMSZ has short periods of activity interspersed with long periods of quiet.[3] Archeological studies have found from studies of sand blows and soil horizons that previous series of very large earthquakes have occurred in the NMSZ in recent prehistory. Based on artifacts found buried by sand blow deposits and from carbon-14 studies, previous large earthquakes like those of 1811''1812 appear to have happened around AD 1450 and around AD 900,[4] as well as approximately AD 300. Evidence has been found for an apparent series of large earthquakes around 2350 BC.[5] About 80 km southwest of the presently-defined NMSZ but close enough to be associated with the Reelfoot Rift, near Marianna, Arkansas, two sets of liquefaction features indicative of large earthquakes have been tentatively identified and dated to 3500 B.C. and 4800 B.C. These features were interpreted to have been caused by groups of large earthquakes timed closely together.[6]
Dendrochronology (tree ring) studies conducted on the oldest bald cypress trees growing in Reelfoot Lake found evidence of the 1811''1812 series in the form of fractures followed by rapid growth after their inundation, whereas cores taken from old bald cypress trees in the St. Francis sunklands showed slowed growth in the half century that followed 1812. These were interpreted as clear signals of the 1811''1812 earthquake series in tree rings. Because the tree ring record in Reelfoot Lake and the St. Francis sunklands extend back to A.D. 1682 and A.D. 1321, respectively, Van Arsdale et al. interpreted the lack of similar signals elsewhere in the chronology as evidence against large New Madrid earthquakes between those years and 1811.[7]
December 25, 1699[edit]The first known written record of an earthquake felt in the NMSZ was from a French missionary traveling up the Mississippi with a party of explorers. At 1 PM, on Christmas Day 1699, at a site near the present-day location of Memphis, the party was startled by a short period of ground shaking.[8]
1811''12 earthquake series[edit]December 16, 1811, 0815 UTC (2:15 a.m.); (M ~7.2 '' 8.2[9]) epicenter in northeast Arkansas; it caused only slight damage to man-made structures, mainly because of the sparse population in the epicentral area. The future location of Memphis, Tennessee was shaken at Mercalli level nine intensity. A seismic seiche propagated upriver and Little Prairie was destroyed by liquefaction.[10] Local uplifts of the ground and water waves moving upstream gave the illusion that the river was flowing backwards.[9]At New Madrid, trees were knocked down and riverbanks collapsed. This event shook windows and furniture in Washington, D.C., rang bells in Richmond, Virginia, sloshed well water and shook houses in Charleston, South Carolina, and knocked plaster off of houses in Columbia, South Carolina. In Jefferson, Indiana, furniture moved and in Lebanon, Ohio, residents fled their homes. Observers in Herculaneum, Missouri, called it "severe" and claimed it had a duration of 10''12 minutes.[11]Aftershocks were felt every six to ten minutes, a total of 27, in New Madrid until what was called the Daylight Shock, which was of the same intensity as the first. Many of these were also felt throughout the eastern US, though with less intensity than the initial earthquake.[11]December 16, 1811, the Daylight Shock, 1415 UTC (8:15 a.m.); (M ~7.2 '' 8.2) epicenter in northeast Arkansas; this shock followed the first earthquake by six hours and was similar in intensity.[9]January 23, 1812, 1500 UTC (9 a.m.); (M ~7.0 '' 8.0[9]) epicenter in the Missouri Bootheel. The meizoseismal area was characterized by general ground warping, ejections, fissuring, severe landslides, and caving of stream banks. Johnston and Schweig attributed this earthquake to a rupture on the New Madrid North Fault. This may have placed strain on the Reelfoot Fault.[10]February 7, 1812, 0945 UTC (4:45 a.m.); (M ~7.4 '' 8.6[9]) epicenter near New Madrid, Missouri. New Madrid was destroyed. At St. Louis, Missouri, many houses were severely damaged, and their chimneys were toppled. This shock was definitively attributed to the Reelfoot Fault by Johnston and Schweig. It was uplift along this reverse fault segment, in this event, that created waterfalls on the Mississippi River, disrupted the Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend, created a wave that propagated upstream and caused the formation of Reelfoot Lake.[10]The earthquakes were felt as far away as New York City and Boston, where ground motion caused church bells to ring.[12]
Hundreds of aftershocks followed over a period of several years. Aftershocks strong enough to be felt occurred until the year 1817. The largest earthquakes to have occurred since then were on January 4, 1843, and October 31, 1895, with magnitude estimates of 6.0 and 6.6 respectively.
Modern activity[edit]The biggest quake since 1811''12 was a 6.6-magnitude quake on October 31, 1895, with an epicenter at Charleston, Missouri. The quake damaged virtually all buildings in Charleston, creating sand volcanoes by the city, cracked a pier on the Cairo Rail Bridge and toppled chimneys in St. Louis, Missouri, Memphis, Tennessee, Gadsden, Alabama and Evansville, Indiana.[13]
The next biggest quake was a 5.4-magnitude quake (although it was reported as a 5.5 at the time) on November 9, 1968, near Dale, Illinois. The quake damaged the civic building at Henderson, Kentucky and was felt in 23 states. People in Boston said their buildings swayed. It is the biggest recorded quake with an epicenter in Illinois in that state's recorded history.[14]
Instruments were installed in and around the area in 1974 to closely monitor seismic activity. Since then, more than 4,000 earthquakes have been recorded, most of which were too small to be felt. On average, one earthquake per year is large enough to be felt in the area.
Geology[edit]The New Madrid Seismic Zone is made up of reactivated faults that formed when what is now North America began to split or rift apart during the breakup of the supercontinentRodinia in the NeoproterozoicEra (about 750 million years ago). Faults were created along the rift and igneous rocks formed from magma that was being pushed towards the surface. The resulting rift system failed but has remained as an aulacogen (a scar or zone of weakness) deep underground. Another unsuccessful attempt at rifting 200 million years ago created additional faults, which made the area weaker. The resulting geological structures make up the Reelfoot Rift, and have since been deeply buried by younger sediments. But the ancient faults appear to have made the rocks deep in the Earth's crust in the New Madrid area mechanically weaker than much of the rest of North America.
This weakness, possibly combined with focusing effects from mechanically stronger igneous rocks nearby, allows the relatively small east-west compressive forces that exist in the North American plate to reactivate old faults, making the area prone to earthquakes.[15]
Since other rifts are known to occur in North America's stress environment but not all are associated with modern earthquakes, (for example the Midcontinent Rift System that stretches from Minnesota to Kansas), other processes could be at work to locally increase mechanical stress on the New Madrid faults. Stress changes associated with bending of the lithosphere caused by the melting of continental glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, has been considered to play a role,[16] as well as downward pull from sinking igneous rock bodies below the fault.[17] It has also been suggested that some form of heating in the lithosphere below the area may be making deep rocks more plastic, which concentrates compressive stress in the shallower subsurface area where the faulting occurs.[18] There may be local stress from a change in the flow of the mantle beneath the NMSZ, caused by the sinking Farallon Plate, according to one model.[19]
When epicenters of modern earthquakes are plotted on a map, three trends become apparent. First is the general northeast-southwest trend paralleling the trend of the Reelfoot Rift, in Arkansas, south of where the epicenters turn northwest. This is a right-lateral strike-slip fault system parallel to the Reelfoot Rift.
The second is the southeast to northwest trend that occurs just southwest of New Madrid. This trend is a stepover thrust fault known as the Reelfoot Fault, associated with the Tiptonville dome and the impoundment of Reelfoot Lake. Epicenter locations on this fault are more spread out because the fault surface is inclined and dips into the ground, towards the south, at around forty degrees. Slip is towards the northeast. Motion on this fault in the 1811''1812 series created waterfalls on the Mississippi.
The third trend, extending northeast from the northwestern end of the Reelfoot Fault is another right-lateral strike-slip fault known as New Madrid North.
Potential for future earthquakes[edit]In a report filed in November 2008, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that a serious earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone could result in "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States," further predicting "widespread and catastrophic" damage across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and particularly Tennessee, where a 7.7 magnitude quake or greater would cause damage to tens of thousands of structures affecting water distribution, transportation systems, and other vital infrastructure.[20] The earthquake is expected to also result in many thousands of fatalities, with more than 4,000 of the fatalities expected in Memphis alone.
The potential for the recurrence of large earthquakes and their impact today on densely populated cities in and around the seismic zone has generated much research devoted to understanding in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. By studying evidence of past quakes and closely monitoring ground motion and current earthquake activity, scientists attempt to understand their causes and recurrence intervals.
In October 2009, a team composed of University of Illinois and Virginia Tech researchers headed by Amr S. Elnashai, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), considered a scenario where all three segments of the New Madrid fault ruptured simultaneously with a total earthquake magnitude of 7.7. The report found that there would be significant damage in the eight states studied '' Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee '' with the probability of additional damage in states farther from the NMSZ. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri would be most severely impacted, and the cities of Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri would be severely damaged. The report estimated 86,000 casualties, including 3,500 fatalities; 715,000 damaged buildings; and 7.2 million people displaced, with 2 million of those seeking shelter, primarily due to the lack of utility services. Direct economic losses, according to the report, would be at least $300 billion.[21]
Iben Browning's 1990 prediction[edit]Beginning in February 1989, climatologist Iben Browning '' who claimed to have predicted the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake a week in advance predicted that there was a 50 percent probability of a magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 earthquake in the New Madrid area sometime between December 1 and December 5, 1990.[22][23] The United States Geological Survey requested an evaluation of the prediction by an advisory board of earth scientists, who concluded that "the prediction does not have scientific validity."[23] Despite the lack of scientific support, Browning's prediction was widely reported in international media, causing public alarm. The period passed with no major earthquake activity in New Madrid or along the 120-mile (190 km) fault line.[23]
Uncertainty over potential for recurrence[edit]The lack of apparent land movement along the New Madrid fault system has long puzzled scientists. In 2009 two studies based on eight years of GPS measurements indicated that the faults were moving at no more than 0.2 millimeters (0.0079 in) a year.[24] This contrasts to the rate of slip on the San Andreas Fault which averages up to 37 mm (1.5 in) a year across California.[25]
On March 13, 2009, a research group based out of Northwestern University and Purdue University, funded by the United States Geological Survey, reported in the journal Science and in other journals that the New Madrid system may be "shutting down" and that tectonic stress may now be accumulating elsewhere.[24] Seth Stein, the leader of the research group, published these views in a book, Disaster Deferred, in 2008. Although some of these ideas have gained some amount of acceptance among researchers, they have not been accepted by the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, which advises the USGS.[26]
In the November 5, 2009, issue of Nature, researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Missouri said that due to the lack of fault movement, the quakes along the faults may only be aftershocks of the 1811''1812 earthquakes.[27]
According to the USGS, there is a broad consensus that the possibility of major earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone remains a concern, and that the GPS data do not provide a compelling case for lessening perceived earthquake hazards in the region. One concern is that there is no evidence of reduced earthquake frequency over time, as would be expected if all present-day activity were caused by aftershocks of the 1811''1812 events, another is that the 4,500 year archeological record of large earthquakes in the region is more significant than ten years of direct strain measurement. The USGS recently issued a fact sheet reiterating the estimate of a 10% chance of a New Madrid earthquake of magnitude comparable to those of 1811''1812 within the next 50 years, and a greater chance of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in the same time frame.[12]
Other Midwestern earthquake zones[edit]On April 18, 2008, there was a 5.2 earthquake with an epicenter 7 km (4.3 mi) north northeast of Bellmont, Illinois. The earthquake was about 160 miles (260 km) northeast of New Madrid.[28][29] The earthquake highlighted activity on the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone fault system that extends from Gallatin County, Illinois, and White County, Illinois, and Posey County, Indiana, northeast 97 km (60 mi) and spans an area that is about 48 km (30 mi) in the Ozark dome region, which covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. Researchers say that at least eight earthquakes with estimated magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 have occurred in the last 20,000 years. The largest of the quakes was centered about 25 km (16 mi) west of Vincennes, Indiana, about 6,100 years ago. The fault zone is considered an aulacogen related to the New Madrid fault line.[citation needed] A major earthquake in this zone now could cause major damage and loss of life in Evansville and surrounding areas of southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Kentucky.
See also[edit]References[edit]Notes
^"Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis". ^Stelzer, C.D. "The earthquake hazard here may be greater than you think. And planning for it is less than you'd expect"Riverfront Times (December 15, 1999)^Pratt, Thomas L (April''June 1994). "How old is the New Madrid Seismic Zone?". Seismological Research Letters65 (2). ^Tuttle, Martitia P.; Schweig, Eugene S.; John D. Sims, Robert H. Lafferty, Lorraine W. Wolf, and Marion L. Haynes (August 2002). "The Earthquake Potential of the New Madrid Seismic Zone". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America92 (6): 2080''2089. Bibcode:2002BuSSA..92.2080T. doi:10.1785/0120010227. ^Tuttle, Martitia P.; Schweig, III, Eugene S.; Janice Campbell, Prentice M. Thomas, John D. Sims, and Robert H. Lafferty, III (July''August 2005). "Evidence for New Madrid Earthquakes in A.D. 300 and 2350 B.C". Seismological Research Letters76 (4): 489''501. doi:10.1785/gssrl.76.4.489. ^Tuttle, MP; Al-Shukri, H; Mahdi, H (2006). "Very Large Earthquakes Centered Southwest of the New Madrid Seismic Zone 5,000''7,000 Years Ago". Seismological Research Letters77 (6): 755. doi:10.1785/gssrl.77.6.755. ^Van Arsdale, RB; Stahle, DW; MK Cleaveland, and MJ Guccione (June 1998). "Earthquake signals in tree-ring data from the New Madrid seismic zone and implications for paleoseismicity". Geology26 (6): 515''518. Bibcode:1998Geo....26..515V. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1998)0262.3.CO;2. ^Feldman, Jay (2005). When the Mississippi Ran Backwards : Empire, Intrigue, Murder, and the New Madrid Earthquakes. Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-4278-5. ^ abcdeHistoric Earthquakes New Madrid Earthquakes 1811''1812USGS^ abcThe Enigma of the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811''1812. Johnston, A. C. & Schweig, E. S. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 24, pp. 339''384. Available on SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)^ abThe New Madrid Earthquake. USGS Professional Bulletin 494. Myron Fuller (1912) (requires LizardTech online document viewer). Retrieved 12/6/13^ abEarthquake Hazard in the New Madrid Seismic Zone Remains a Concern USGS (2009). Retrieved 12/6/13^"Historic Earthquakes: Near Charleston, Mississippi County, Missouri". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-09-23. ^"Historic Quakes: Southern Illinois 1968 11 09 17:01:40.5 UTC". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-09-23. ^"USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, Earthquake Report: Kentucky". ^Grollimund, Balz; Zoback, Mark D. (February 2001). "Did deglaciation trigger intraplate seismicity in the New Madrid seismic zone?". Geology29 (2): 175''178. Bibcode:2001Geo....29..175G. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2001)0292.0.CO;2. ^Pollitz, Fred F.; Kellogg, Louise; B¼rgmann, Roland (December 2001). "Sinking Mafic Body in a Reactivated Lower Crust: A Mechanism for Stress Concentration at the New Madrid Seismic Zone". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America91 (6): 1882''1897. Bibcode:2001BuSSA..91.1882P. doi:10.1785/0120000277. ^Liu, L.; Zoback, M. D. (1997). "Lithospheric strength and intraplate seismicity in the New Madrid seismic zone". Tectonics16 (4): 585''595. Bibcode:1997Tecto..16..585L. doi:10.1029/97TC01467. ^Forte, A. M.; Mitrovica, J. X.; R. Moucha, N. A. Simmons, and S. P. Grand (2007). "Descent of the ancient Farallon slab drives localized mantle flow below the New Madrid seismic zone". Geophys. Res. Lett.34 (4): L04308. Bibcode:2007GeoRL..3404308F. doi:10.1029/2006GL027895. ^"Government warns of 'catastrophic' U.S. quake" '' Reuters, (2008)^"Impact of New Madrid Seismic Zone Earthquakes on the Central USA" Mid-American Earthquake Center Report 09-03. Urbana, IL: Mid-America Earthquake Center. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.^Glenn Fowler (July 20, 1991). "Iben Browning, 73; Researcher Studied Climate and Quakes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2011. ^ abcSpence, William J.; Herrmann, R. B.; Johnston, A. C.; Reagor, B. G. (1993). Responses to Iben Browning's Prediction of a 1990 New Madrid, Missouri, Earthquake248 (1083). Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 22 July 2011. ^ abNew Madrid fault system may be shutting down '' '' March 13, 2009^Thatcher, Wayne "Present-Day Crustal Movements and the Mechanics of Cyclic Deformation" in "The San Andreas Fault System, California." USGS Professional Paper 1515. Robert E. Wallace, editor. 1990. Retrieved 2013-12-06.^Monastersky, Richard. "Nature News: Seth Stein: The Quake Killer"Nature (9 November 2011)^"Earthquakes Actually Aftershocks Of 19th Century Quakes; Repercussions Of 1811 And 1812 New Madrid Quakes Continue To Be Felt". Science Daily. Retrieved 2009-11-04. ^Magnitude 5.4 '' ILLINOIS '' '' Retrieved January 21, 2009^Earthquake hits Indiana, felt by thousands in Michiana '' '' April 18, 2008Sources
Further reading
Boyd, K.F. (1995). Geomorphic evidence of deformation in the northern part of the New Madrid seismic zone [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1538-R]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.Langenheim, V.E. (1995). Gravity of the New Madrid seismic zone : a preliminary study [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1538-L]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.Odum, J.K., et al. (1995). High-resolution, shallow, seismic reflection surveys of the northwest Reelfoot rift boundary near Marston, Missouri [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1538-P]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.Potter, C.J., et al. (1995). Structure of the Reelfoot-Rough Creek rift system, fluorspar area fault complex and Hicks dome, southern Illinois and western Kentucky : new constraints from regional seismic reflection data [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1538-Q]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.Rodriguez, B.D. (1995). Axial structures within the Reelfoot rift delineated with magnetotelluric surveys [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1538-K]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.Stein, Seth. Disaster Deferred: A New View of Earthquake Hazards in the New Madrid Seismic Zone Columbia University Press, 2012.Stephenson, W.J., K.M. Shedlock, and J.K. Odum. (1995). Characterization of the Cottonwood Grove and Ridgely faults near Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, from high-resolution seismic reflection data [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1538-I]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.Valencius, Conevery Bolton. The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.External links[edit]
BBC News - Turkey to seek cleric Fethullah Gulen's extradition
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:19
29 April 2014Last updated at 07:34 ET Turkey is to start extradition proceedings against US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
Mr Gulen, a former ally of the prime minister, has been accused by Mr Erdogan of using his supporters to try to topple him.
The cleric denies mounting a campaign against him.
Turkey's government has faced a string of corruption scandals and rights groups accuse it of authoritarianism.
Speaking at parliament after meeting with deputies from his Justice and Development Party (AKP) party on Tuesday, Mr Erdogan confirmed the extradition process "will begin", reports say.
'Model partner'The Turkish PM was speaking hours after an interview with US broadcaster PBS, in which he said he hoped the US would deport Mr Gulen and send him back to Turkey.
It was his first interview with foreign media since his party claimed victory in local elections last month.
Continue reading the main story Hizmet ("service") is the Turkish name of what is commonly known as the Gulen movement The movement is inspired by the teachings of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the US Gulen is a mainstream Sunni Hanafi Muslim scholar, influenced by Anatolian Sufism There is no formal structure but Hizmet followers are numbered in the millions, spread across more than 150 countries First expanded into Central Asia after the USSR's demise in 1991 In the interview, Mr Erdogan said he hoped Washington, as a "model partner", would deliver on the issue.
"At least they should deport him," he added.
Mr Gulen, 74, has lived in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1997.
He has many supporters in the police and judiciary, and has denounced moves to shut down an investigation into corruption allegations levelled against several of the prime minister's allies.
His teachings have inspired the Hizmet ("Service") movement, which is believed to have millions of followers spread across over 150 countries.
Hizmet promotes a tolerant form of Islam, emphasising education, altruism and hard work.
Mr Erdogan has accused the movement of being behind a series of wiretaps and social media leaks allegedly exposing major corruption of figures with ties to the government.
Thousands of alleged Hizmet sympathisers in the police and judiciary have since been demoted or reassigned to other jobs.
Over the past year, Turkey has been convulsed by mass protests against Mr Erdogan's ten-year rule and the corruption allegations.
VIDEO-Netanyahu rants against smartphones | The Times of Israel
Thu, 01 May 2014 09:33
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is having trouble adjusting to this generation's obsession with picture taking and photo sharing.
During a photo shoot prior to an interview session with the foreign press last week, the prime minister waxed nostalgic, lamenting in a Louis C.K.-esque manner over the failure to live in the moment among today's selfie-crazed society.
''What do you do get out of all these pictures?'' Netanyahu can be seen asking an unseen cameraman in a video uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday.
''I mean, what exactly do you do with it?''
Netanyahu is answered that the photographers seek the best picture, but apparently that reply does not satisfy him.
''OK, so what? What do you do with it?''
Netanyahu is then told that many of the photos are used for ''behind-the-scenes footage,'' to which the prime minister simply replies ''boring.''
The Israeli leader goes on to criticize society at large and reflects on the fact that excessive photography has come to replace actual living.
''I don't understand this new world,'' Netanyahu complains.
''When do they have time to live? They're taking pictures all the time.''
A student takes a 'selfie' with Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, March 30, 2014 (photo credit: Danny Meron/POOL/Flash90)
The prime minister then raises his hands, clicking on an imaginary camera.
''Only taking pictures, that's all they do. Pictures, pictures, pictures.''
Another unseen voice then tells Netanyahu that ''if you did not take a picture, it's as if you didn't live,'' or take part, in the occurrence.
''I've lived and did not take a picture,'' the prime minister responds. He then comes to the realization that he holds the minority opinion on the matter.
''I'm the only one here without all these electronic devices, I'm a free man, and you all are slaves,'' he concludes.
''You are slaves!''
VIDEO-'Dark Wallet' Is About to Make Bitcoin Money Laundering Easier Than Ever | Business | WIRED
Thu, 01 May 2014 05:44
From left, Cody Wilson and Amir Taaki. Photo: Andy Greenberg
Government regulators around the world have spent the last year scrambling to prevent bitcoin from becoming the currency of choice for money launderers and black marketeers. Now their worst fears may be about to materialize in a single piece of software.
On Thursday, a collective of politically radical coders that calls itself unSystem plans to release the first version of Dark Wallet: a bitcoin application designed to protect its users' identities far more strongly than the partial privacy protections bitcoin offers in its current form. If the program works as promised, it could neuter impending bitcoin regulations that seek to tie individuals' identities to bitcoin ownership. By encrypting and mixing together its users' payments, Dark Wallet seeks to enable practically untraceable flows of money online that add new fuel to the Web's burgeoning black markets.
''This is a way of using bitcoin that mocks every attempt to sprinkle it with regulation,'' says Cody Wilson, one of Dark Wallet's two 26-year-old organizers. ''It's a way to say to the government 'You've set yourself up to regulate bitcoin. Regulate this.'''
Here's a teaser video the group posted earlier last week ahead of the software's release:
VIDEO-BBC News Amal Alamuddin on Yulia Tymoshenko and Ukraine on Vimeo
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:41
Amal Alamuddin, the lawyer representing Yulia Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian Prime Minister, in human rights claim (European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg).
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Additional LinksVimeoHelpMoreUpgradeDid you know?Show another tipYou can win a free Vimeo Plus membership just by stretching your filmmaking muscles in one of our Weekend Projects.
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VIDEO-Kerry Warns Israel Could Become an 'Apartheid State;' Networks Silent | MRCTV
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:26
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Pentagon: Hagel has Directed Military Officials to Review Hairstyle Policies | MRCTV
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:11
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-On PBS, Esquire's Pierce Asks: Why Doesn't NBA Punish Owners Who Oppose Gay Marriage? | MRCTV
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:07
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-CBS Wakes Up to the Dangers of 'Edible' Pot | MRCTV
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:03
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Ed Schultz: GOP Not Raising the Minimum Wage Is 'Every Bit as Racist' as Donald Sterling | MRCTV
Thu, 01 May 2014 03:01
[For more, see video cross-posted to NewsBusters.] MSNBC's Ed Schultz on Wednesday found a way to connect conservatives to NBA owner Donald Sterling's racist rant. Talking about Republicans in Congress, he sneered, "Not raising...the minimum wage, is every bit as racist as comments made by Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling. It's just displayed in a different way." Ascribing bigotry to any political differences with liberals, Schultz foamed, "I think not raising the minimum wage is a racist policy. Standing up, making the case that people of color in this country do not deserve a living wage is a racist policy." Summarizing the whole concept, he lectured, "There's a lot of different ways to prove racism in America."
VIDEO Congressman Gohmert "Our Secretary Of State Has Effectively CURSED ISRAEL!" - YouTube
Thu, 01 May 2014 02:56
VIDEO- Senate "QUIETLY" Drops Demand For White House To Report On Drone Strike Kill Numbers! - YouTube
Thu, 01 May 2014 02:54
VIDEO- "BBC Is Reporting That The United States Has Officially Turned Into An Oligarchy! NOT A Democracy!" - YouTube
Thu, 01 May 2014 02:51
VIDEO- "As Long As There's Any Chance There Could Be Survivors We Owe It To Them To Look!" - YouTube
Thu, 01 May 2014 01:51
VIDEO- IMF Approves $17 BILLION Dollar Loan To Ukraine - YouTube
Thu, 01 May 2014 01:44
VIDEO-Dem Sen. Barbara Boxer: ''50 Cents Is A Singing Group, Am I Right About That?'''... | Weasel Zippers
Thu, 01 May 2014 01:21
Via CNS News:
Many Americans believe Washington politicians are out of touch. Sen. Barbara Boxer proved them correct yesterday, when she flubbed the name of one of the most famous pop culture icons of the last 15 years.
Rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) is an eight-time platinum recording artist, Grammy winner, actor, among many other roles in recent pop culture. But in the midst of a left-wing soliloquy on the minimum wage in the Senate, Boxer rhetorically asked the largely empty chamber if ''50 Cents is a singing group.'' Across America, Americans under age 35 shook their heads in comedic dismay while no doubt responding, ''Sure, Senator'... a singing group.''
VIDEO-Security Experts Warn Of Possible Russian Cyberattack Against The U.S., Ukraine
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 22:55
Former U.S. security officials warned on Tuesday that Russia may use cyber warfare against the U.S. and Ukraine if tensions between the two sides continue to escalate.
''If we move to the heavy sanctions, the sectoral sanctions ... the Russians are going to strike back in some way,'' said former U.S. counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who spoke on a panel about cybersecurity at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.
''[Russians] can't strike back '... [with] economic sanctions that would have the same kind of effect. What they can do '... is a cyberattack to get back at us '... attacking our financial institutions in ways that we'll never be able to prove it was them but we'll suffer the pain.''
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who also spoke on the panel, said the U.S. should work with Ukraine to prepare a defense against this potential cyberattack.
''We've seen [Russia] use [cyber warfare] in Georgia. We've seen some elements of that being used in Crimea,'' Panetta said. ''If [Russia] has an attack plan, a cyber element is very much a part of that attack plan. It takes down communications, takes down missile systems, takes down the counter attack'...''
Panetta went on to call cyberattacks the "battleground of the future," and said that Russia is second only to the U.S. in its cyber capability.
''The sophistication of what's being developed today has the ability to create a lot of hell,'' Panetta said. ''[Our] adversaries are looking at computer systems that run our electrical grid '... chemical systems '... water systems '... transportation systems '... financial systems.''
The three panelists noted that cyberattacks already frequently happen to U.S companies. Earlier this year, hackers stole the personal and financial data of 110 million Target shoppers, revealing the vulnerability of large companies' security systems. A study last year by the Ponemon Institute, a private security research group, looked at 60 companies across various sectors and found that they faced an average of two successful attacks each week, an 18 percent increase from the institute's study in 2012.
Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it will be investigating more than 50 Wall Street firms to determine if their cybersecurity strategies are secure. Clarke said he believes the government will continue to take similar measures to require that public and private companies share information about their cybersecurity strategies.
VIDEO- Extract on the current situation in Ukraine - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:25
VIDEO-Salem 10-year-old: "I thought I would be more comfortable as a b - WFSB 3 Connecticut
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:53
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -At 10-years-old Ben has it all figured out.
He knows he wants to play soccer. He knows he wants to grow up to be a veterinarian. And, he knows he's meant to be a boy.
"I didn't want to be a girl, because it wasn't who I think I was supposed to be when I was born," Ben Oelhafen said.
Ben was born as Angela. At 2, he was diagnosed with autism. At 6, he said he first knew he was in the wrong body.
"I thought I would be more comfortable as a boy than a girl," he said.
That's how he's been living the last few weeks, with the outside finally matching the inside.
"I will love my son for who he is. But this is a road I never wanted him to have to travel," Ben's mom Jenifer Sutton said.
She and his stepdad said they've known about his feelings for two years. But now, Ben's in a race against puberty.
"I'm going to take boy hormones and block those ladies," Ben Oelhafen said.
He wants to block the thing he's afraid of: Developing into a woman.
"Puberty suppression eliminates those negative changes and allows them to develop in a way that matches their gender identity," Transactive Gender Center Executive Director Jenn Burleton said.
She works with kids like Ben Oelhafen every day. She said a common option, one that he's considering, is what's known as hormone blocking. It would essentially put puberty on pause.
"Their physiology may not be holding off. Their physiology may be maturing them," she said. "So, the beauty of puberty blockers is if we feel they may not be cognitively able to make decisions that would involve irreversible actions, puberty blockers are completely reversible."
If Ben Oelhafen decides he doesn't want to reverse it, he could take cross sex hormones later to become physically male. That's a choice Jenifer Sutton said is entirely up to her son.
"I love and accept you through autism," she said. "I will love and accept you through transgender."
She and her husband hope, through all this, Ben can just be Ben.
"That would be awesome," Ben Oelhafen said.
Burleton said statistics show that more than 80 percent of transgender kids who don't have a support system think about suicide.
Ben Oelhafen's parents said that's their worst fear. They hope with enough love and support that will never be an option for their son.
For more information about transgender issues or the Transactive Gender Center visit
Copyright 2014 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
VIDEO- NCTA President & CEO Michael Powell's Keynote Address - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:33
VIDEO- New Standards - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:20
VIDEO- "F For Misleading" - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:18
VIDEO-SPONOR MENTIONS- U.S. Global Development Lab Launch - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:54
VIDEO-buzzword bonanza- U.S. Global Development Lab - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:49
VIDEO-ADVERTISE-WTF- Obama on NBA owner Donald Sterling's alleged racist comments - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:16
VIDEO-Terence Mckenna - The taxonomy of conspiracy theory illusions and reality - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:07
VIDEO->> Whistleblower explains 'massive blackmail' potential from NSA spying on politicians >> WTF RLY REPORT
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:53
Police State USA
''They basically have turned themselves in my opinion in to a rogue agency'...on a monstrous scale on steroids.''
NSA whistleblower Russ Tice (Source: C-SPAN)
With the astonishing number of ways the NSA can spy on Americans, one must consider the ways this trove of information could be used in the wrong hands (as if there are ''right'' hands). A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency has gone on record saying that the NSA spies on persons of interest specifically for political reasons '-- seemingly nothing to do with national security. These persons include congressmen, senators, important committeemen, judges, and even the man who was four years from becoming President of the United States.
''Its incredible what NSA has done,'' said Russell Tice, who spent 20 years as an analyst in U.S. government intelligence agencies. ''They basically have turned themselves in my opinion in to a rogue agency that has J. Edgar Hoover capabilities on a monstrous scale on steroids.''
Former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover was known for spying on politicians in order to obtain dirt on them that could be later used to leverage them politically. When Tice was asked about the potential for massive blackmail, he responded that it ''absolutely'' exists.
Tice once described his duties in the government as ''black world operations'' that included sophisticated dragnet spying on Americans in order to stop terrorism '-- or so he once believed. A few years after 9/11/2001 he became aware of the widespread abuses of the NSA and attempted to voice his concerns. In 2003, his clearance was quickly revoked and his career was ended.
The following dialogue was featured on the Boiling Frogs radio podcast with Sibel Edmonds and Peter Collins. Listen here.
RUSS TICE: Okay. They went after '-- and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things '-- they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the '-- and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of''heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House''their own people. They went after antiwar groups. They went after U.S. international''U.S. companies that that do international business, you know, business around the world. They went after U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business. They went after NGOs that''like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work. They went after a few antiwar civil rights groups. So, you know, don't tell me that there's no abuse, because I've had this stuff in my hand and looked at it. And in some cases, I literally was involved in the technology that was going after this stuff. And you know, when I said to [former MSNBC show host Keith] Olbermann, I said, my particular thing is high tech and you know, what's going on is the other thing, which is the dragnet. The dragnet is what Mark Klein is talking about, the terrestrial dragnet. Well my specialty is outer space. I deal with satellites, and everything that goes in and out of space. I did my spying via space. So that's how I found out about this.
PETER COLLINS: Now Russ, the targeting of the people that you just mentioned, top military leaders, members of Congress, intelligence community leaders and the''oh, I'm sorry, it was intelligence committees, let me correct that''not intelligence community, and then executive branch appointees. This creates the basis, and the potential for massive blackmail.
RUSS TICE: Absolutely! And remember we talked about that before, that I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on. Now here's the big one. I haven't given you any names. This was is summer of 2004. One of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with, with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator from Illinois. You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now, would you? It's a big white house in Washington, DC. That's who they went after. And that's the president of the United States now.
Police State USA
VIDEO-Statement on the U.S. Reaction to Russian Troops Entering Ukraine
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:46
Geoffrey R. PyattU.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Russian troops crossing Ukraine's borders would be a major escalation, and would draw an inevitable, sharp reaction from the United States, and I think that is understood by everybody. It would be a dramatically, unfortunate development, which I think would produce only the most tragic consequences.
Our advice would be to encourage the government to continue on the course that it has been pursuing -- of seeking a strategy to cordon these cities, to use their security forces, and the army if necessary, to ensure that weapons, money, instability are not trafficked in and out of these cities. But not to engage in the forceful clearing of these buildings.
VIDEO-Cohen: John F. Kerry's Israeli gaffe a diplomatic nightmare | Boston Herald
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:38
Secretary of State John F. Kerry has stepped in it again '-- with a gaffe that this time not only makes him look foolish but makes a mess of U.S. foreign policy and destroys any chance he had of realizing his legacy pipe dream of brokering Middle East peace.
In a private meeting with senior international officials Friday, Kerry said that if the Israelis and Palestinians can't achieve a two-state solution, Israel risks becoming ''an apartheid state with second-class citizens.''
Israelis are aghast '-- especially with Kerry's remarks being reported yesterday on Holocaust Remembrance Day '-- and have started issuing calls for his resignation. Foreign policy experts are stunned, saying Kerry's racially charged statements are major setbacks to peace negotiations in the Middle East.
''No wonder our diplomacy in the Middle East is so wretched,'' former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told the Herald, calling Kerry's remarks ''outrageous and defamatory.''
Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post said, ''Kerry's remark was openly anti-Semitic. Apartheid is a crime of intent. There is no Israeli politician that will ever be in a leadership position that harbors any such bigoted intention towards the Palestinians. On the other hand, there is no Palestinian leader or faction that does not demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from every inch of any territory that will come under Palestinian control.''
Republicans on Capitol Hill are howling for Kerry's resignation. Even ultra-liberal U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer tweeted, ''Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.''
In 2006, when Kerry insulted American soldiers, saying they were ''stuck in Iraq'' because they didn't study hard enough, he just made a buffoon of himself. In 2010, when he registered his $7 million yacht in Rhode Island to dodge taxes, he just revealed himself as clueless. But that was when he was just a failed presidential candidate in the Senate. As secretary of state, he's in a position to do more damage. Last year, when he accidentally gave Syria an out on its chemical weapons use, he handed off control of U.S. foreign policy to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who quickly brokered a deal that left dictator Bashar Assad in power. Kerry made Obama look weak, emboldened Putin and set the stage for the current Ukrainian crisis.
Now, by veering sharply from the diplomatic stance of the United States and President Obama on Israel, he has alienated our most important ally in the region '-- and sent the message to our allies everywhere that U.S. foreign policy is in a shambles and we cannot be relied on.
Adriana Cohen is co-host of Boston Herald Radio's ''Trending Now.'' Follow her on Twitter @adrianacohen16.
VIDEO-Michael Powell Opens The Cable Show 2014 [VIDEO] | platform
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 07:34
The Cable ShowJulianne TwiningApril 29, 2014In front of a crowd of thousands both here in Los Angeles, CA and around the world via online stream, Michael K. Powell, NCTA President and CEO, delivered the first keynote address to open The Cable Show 2014.
''Everyone sees the power, potential and importance of the Internet,'' Powell stated during his address. Powell highlighted the value of cable in strengthening the bonds of communities, in creating the platform for collaboration, in sparking the cylinders of innovation. Powell went so far as to say, ''we help light the lamp of hope that ''We the People'' can find solutions to the problems that plague our society.''
As the community of cable and the story of innovation unfolds over the next three days, Powell's inspirational address was a superb way to kick-off the event. He helps remind everyone of the promise of cable and the possibilities of broadband connectivity around the world. This year's Cable Show is going to be the spectacular combination of network and story and of technology and television.
If you're here, enjoy! Be sure to share your experience on Twitter and Instagram using #Cable2014. And if you're not, don't forget to take advantage of the live stream at
The Cable ShowJulianne TwiningApril 28, 2014With less than 24 hours before the launch, we wanted to publish one last post sharing the important Cable Show links and reminders that'll help you get the most out of The Cable Show 2014. See you tomorrow at the General Sessions! And, come early for Time Warner Cable's sponsored breakfast at 9:00 am. #CABLE2014'...
VIDEO- A Bipolar Doctor Probes the Brain in 'Black Box' - YouTube
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 03:01
VIDEO-TNW - Stefan Molyneux - Money, Power and Politics The Cryptocurrency Revolution - YouTube
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:54
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:49
VIDEO- Stackable Homes Tested in New York City - Agenda 21 - YouTube
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:27
VIDEO-Alleged gunman in FedEx shooting identified
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:22
Gunman kills self after FedEx shooting spree
11Alive Staff, WXIA5:54 p.m. EDT April 29, 2014
More than 50 emergency vehicles responded to the Kennesaw FedEx facility shooting.(Photo: Paul Crawley, 11Alive News)
Story HighlightsSuspect started shooting at 6 a.m.Incendiary devices found at the sceneSuspect 'had bullets strapped to his chest like Rambo'SHARE2168CONNECTEMAILMOREKENNESAW, Ga. -- Police say several explosive devices were found at the FedEx facility in Kennesaw where a gunman shot six people this morning.
Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said the man started shooting just before 6 a.m. and was found about three hours later, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Pierce says the man was a package handler and sorter. Officers found his body in a loading bay with a shotgun.
The alleged gunman was identified as Geddy Kramer by his father, according to 11Alive's Kevin Rowson. The father said he would release more information later.
Liza Aiken, who works at the facility, said she saw the suspect drop a knife shortly before he began shooting. She said he was dressed all in black with a camouflage vest, was carrying a weapon and "had bullets strapped to his chest like Rambo."
Aiken, who works at the Kennesaw FedEx facility, saw the shooting suspect drop a knife shortly before he opened fire. She recently reported the suspect for an incident in the warehouse.
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
Last SlideNext SlideAiken ran out of the door and was unharmed. She heard her co-worker start shooting. Six victims were taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
According to Officer David Baldwin of the Marietta Police Department, a 28-year-old male is in critical condition. A 52-year-old woman is in stable condition. A 19-year-old man and a 22-year-old man are both in stable condition. A 42-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man were treated and released.
A seventh victim was taken to the hospital for an injury suffered while trying to escape the gunman. Pierce said that person was not shot.
11Alive's Paul Crawley reported from the scene that FedEx employees were being turned away as they tried to arrive at work. Those who were already at work were held in a warehouse on the property. The facility was on lockdown and police closed several nearby roads, including Old Highway 41 between McCollum and Cobb parkways. All roads have since reopened.
Share your thoughts and payers for the FedEx family on social media.
Share photo from 11Alive's Facebook Page.(Photo: 11Alive Digital)
Cobb County Police Officer Mike Bowman said investigators searched the area for secondary devices as protocol. Police used search dogs to go through the entire warehouse.
The FBI was brought in to investigate incendiary devices found at the scene. The devices, which reportedly resembled Molotov cocktails, did not go off.
Authorities are planning to sweep the area again to make sure there are no other devices.
Sgt. Pierce says police are also searching the suspect's car in the parking lot and it will take hours to process the entire crime scene.
Pierce says there is a security checkpoint at the FedEx facility, which is a half-million square foot sorting and distribution warehouse. It's not clear if the suspect started shooting before the checkpoint, or somehow got the gun through it.
Pierce says more than 100 officers responded from the Georgia State Patrol, GBI, FBI, ATF, Homeland Security, Atlanta Police, Gwinnett Sheriff's Dept., Fayette County officers, Acworth Police, Marietta Police and Kennesaw Police.
A Cobb County police spokesperson said they have an idea as to the gunman's motive. They are interviewing other people who may have been involved and are checking surveillance video for clues.
FedEx spokesman Scott Fiedler released a statement at around 7:20 a.m., saying, "FedEx is aware of the situation. Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our team members, first responders and others affected. FedEx is cooperating with authorities."
Six people were hurt in a shooting at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw. The suspected shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Six people were hurt after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw. The shooter has not yet been caught.
At 9 :20 a.m. Fiedler issued a new statement saying: "We can confirm that an incident occurred early Tuesday morning at a FedEx Ground facility in Kennesaw, Georgia. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected, and with their families and friends. We are grateful for the assistance of law enforcement. The situation is now stabilized and we are focused on the needs of our team members and cooperating with the law enforcement investigation of this tragedy."
VIDEO-EPA chief to students: 'Pollution is holding back millions of African Americans' - powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc.
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:49
ATLANTA '' Administrator Gina McCarthy attended an event Thursday at Clark Atlanta University hosted by the Hip Hop Caucus, a non-profit 501 (c)(4) group that ''promotes political activism,'' as reported at the Huffington Post. Some of the issues on which they focus are gun control, voting rights and climate change.
As reported at the Brenner Brief, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, ''argues often that climate change is the 'lunch counter moment' for the younger generation.''
The EPA chief encouraged black students, who are ''most vulnerable to climate change,'' to become ''champion climate justice advocates'' by supporting some of the FDA rules currently being pushed by environmental activists. McCarthy mentioned ''greenhouse gas emission standards for new power plants that the agency released last fall, and the rules for existing plants'' that are set to be released on June 1.
It is a matter of ''equity,'' the EPA chief said, as minorities have been ''overburdened by pollution and environmental health hazards for far too long'...''
''You can't ensure environmental justice, and we can't deliver on this president's promise of opportunity for all,'' she continued, ''without giving people clean air and clean water and clean land to live on'...''
A recorded message from McCarthy is posted on the Hip Hop Caucus website, where she says,
''Pollution is holding back millions of African Americans fighting for middle class security.'' She continues, ''Environmental justice is social justice.'' McCarthy also says, ''We have a moral obligation to act now.''
VIDEO-Exploration company believes it may have found MH370 - Yahoo!7
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:47
Exploration company believes it may have found MH370FIRST ON 7: An Adelaide-based exploration company believes it may have located the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, 5000km away from where authorities have been looking.
The company, GeoResonance, says its research has identified elements on the ocean floor consistent with material from a plane.
Six weeks have now passed since the plane disappeared and extensive searches in the Indian Ocean have failed to locate any wreckage.
Today, Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted the chance of finding debris on the surface is slim to none.
He said efforts will not focus on the ocean floor, but GeoResonance believes authorities have been looking in the wrong place.It started its own search for the missing aircraft on March 10.
''The technology that we use was originally designed to find nuclear warheads, submarines'... our team in the Ukraine decided we should try and help,'' David Pope from GeoResonance said.
The company surveyed over 2,000,000 square kilometres of the possible crash zone, using images obtained from satellites and aircraft.
Scientists focused their efforts north of the flight's last known location, using over 20 technologies to analyse the data including a nuclear reactor.
They could not believe what they found in the Bay of Bengal.
''Our team was very excited when we found what we believe to be the wreckage of a commercial airliner,'' Mr Pope said.
Pavel Kursa from GeoResonance told 7News: ''We identified chemical elements and materials that make up a Boeing 777'... these are aluminium, titanium, copper, steel alloys and other materials.''
The images showing chemical elements detected in the area the company believes it has located MH370. Photo: FIRST ON 7.An initial report was sent to authorities while the black box still had two weeks of battery power.
The team then verified its findings by analysing images from the same area on March 5, three days before the plane disappeared.
''The wreckage wasn't there prior to the disappearance of MH370,'' Mr Pope said.
The full report was delivered on April 15.
''We're not trying to say that it definitely is MH370, however it is a lead we feel should be followed up,'' Mr Pope told 7News.
7News tried to contact the office of search co-coordinator Angus Houston today but there was no response.
VIDEO-UK party leader arrested for quoting Churchill on Islam '-- RT News
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:21
Published time: April 29, 2014 11:22Edited time: April 29, 2014 14:09Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo)
Quoting Winston Churchill can get you arrested, as one British candidate in the European elections found out after referring to the iconic wartime leader's thoughts on Islam from his book 'The River War', published in 1899.
The book chronicles young Churchill's service in Sudan at the time of the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest, and the passage deals with his observations on Islam. But that passage is now in danger of landing Liberty GB party Chairman Paul Weston in prison for two years.
Weston, a candidate in the May 22 European Elections in the South East, addressed the public in Hampshire on Saturday, speaking through a megaphone, letting loose on Muslims for their ''improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property,'' which ''exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.''
''Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it,'' he went on.
''No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith,'' he declared, sparking outrage in one spectator, who decided to bring in the police.
Authorities didn't wait for Weston to finish his speech, taking him away from the steps of the Winchester Guildhall '' first for refusing to comply with an order for public dispersal, then on the added charge of ''suspicion of religious or racial harassment,'' police told the newspaper.
''He has been bailed pending further inquiries to report back to police on May 24,'' they said.
The scene was handled by about ''six or seven officers'', who asked the spectators questions before stopping Weston, mid-speech. He did not possess a permit for public addresses.
They talked to him for about 40 minutes, and at around 3pm took him downtown in a van, where he spent several hours in a cell. Later the dispersal notice was dropped, but Weston was then re-arrested for a racially aggravated crime, which, under the public order act, could land him a two-year sentence.
Liberty GB, outlining its ideas on its website, has as its core mission the promotion of views against immigration '' something it calls ''the most important issues of our time,'' which the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservatives ''manifestly refuse to discuss'' '' and the spread of fundamentalist Islam through British culture, whose traditional values they believe have been contaminated. Liberty GB believes that ''Britain could be a wonderful country again, but it will take politics bordering on the revolutionary to achieve this vision.''
VIDEO-Secretary Kerry Transatlantic Relations | Video |
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:55
April 29, 2014Secretary of State John Kerry gave the keynote speech at an Atlantic Council event commemorating the historic milestones of the'... read more
Secretary of State John Kerry gave the keynote speech at an Atlantic Council event commemorating the historic milestones of the transatlantic community.'‚In his remarks he said Russia's actions in Ukraine were a ''wake up call'' to the NATO community. close
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*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
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April 24, 2014Secretary Kerry on UkraineSecretary of State John Kerry spoke to reporters about the situation in Ukraine.'‚He accused Russia of violating'...
April 23, 2014Russian Foreign Policy and UkraineMikhail Kasyanov talked about Russia's intervention in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin's'...
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VIDEO-HIT PIECE-Risky Ride: Who's Behind the Wheel of Uber Cars? | NBC Southern California
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:28
A sure sign of success is when a company's name becomes a verb. Office workers frequently Xerox documents while others rush off to FedEx a package.
And now, a lot of passengers say they will "Uber" their way to meet friends.
The explosive growth of Uber can't be denied. In the five years since its birth in San Francisco, the ride sharing company now operates in 49 U.S cities, and 35 counties around the globe, and it has rapidly become the hottest way to get around Southern California.
The company connects those in need of a ride with drivers happy to provide the car, all through a cell phone app. There are a variety of ways to get around -- from swanky "black car" limousine service to the more modest UberX, where anyone with a car and the inclination can apply to be a driver.
That's exactly what Beverly Locke did. Working with the NBC4 I-Team, Locke filled out all the necessary documentation needed to become an Uber driver. She proved she was a licensed driver with a safe car, and agreed to submit to a background check.
Four weeks later, she received an e-mail indicating her background check had cleared.
On her first day "on the job," she received a request from Paolo, a frequent UberX user, who was looking for a ride from his Hollywood apartment. He is an Uber fan.
"I use cabs a lot," said Paolo. "And, it's almost half the fare in Uber than for a taxi driver."
His phone lit up with a picture of Locke, and a message that said Beverly will pick him up in three minutes.
What he didn't know is that Beverly was an ex-con with a violent past. Her 20-year rap sheet includes burglary, cocaine possession, and making criminal threats with the intent to cause death or bodily injury.
"I pulled a girl out of a car and almost beat her to death," said Locke, who described herself as a reformed criminal with a good job and a desire to make up for her past. "I do not do criminal things anymore."
NBC4 asked Locke to cancel the ride, so the former convict never actually carried a passenger. But the NBC4 I-Team found several examples in which drivers with a criminal past have picked up Uber passengers.
Tadeusz Szczechowicz drove the streets of Chicago for a year, despite five prior arrests and two convictions for burglary and disorderly conduct.
Syed Muzzafar had a prior conviction for reckless driving, but he cleared the Uber background check and was behind the wheel New Year's Eve when he was arrested for hitting and killing a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco.
And, Jigneshkumar Patel was arrested for battery of an UberX passenger, a charge he said is "rubbish." Still, the UberX driver had a 2012 conviction for DUI.
Uber declined to talk to NBC4 directly, but did send emails describing corporate policy on background checks. A message said Uber "leads the industry" with its "best-in-class background checks for drivers."
Uber also said it has a "zero tolerance" policy for drug and alcohol offenses, and said it carefully screens applicants and immediately disqualifies anyone convicted of a crime in the past seven years.
Tanya and Daniel Sackler didn't know anything about the past of their UberX driver. He identified himself only by his first name.
The Sacklers said he stole $2,500 in cash and personal items from them after he picked them up from LAX and dropped them off at their West Hollywood condo. The Sacklers filed a police report, saying the driver arrived at their home and quickly began unloading their baggage.
"He took them all and he put them in a pile," Daniel said.
While the Sacklers were dealing with their luggage, Tanya Sackler said their driver jumped back behind the wheel and quickly drove off with her purse, her husband's briefcase, a wallet with hundreds of dollars in it, and an iPad.
They had the driver's cell number, so they texted him right away, only to be told he was too busy to talk to them at the moment. The Sacklers said when they finally spoke to him, the driver told them he was not responsible for items left in his car.
In an email to the Sacklers, Uber told them, "We do not control the drivers, as they are not our employees." On its website, Uber said drivers are considered independent contractors.
"If I knew that this company had treated people this way, I would have never used it," Tanya said.
Beverly Locke said passengers could lose a lot more if they take a ride from an ex-con. And, picking up a passenger bound for an out-of-town trip might make for an easy target.
"I would pick somebody up, take them to the airport, and my second thought would be, go back to that house and see what's in there," she said. "A criminal mind always thinks like a criminal mind. Someone could be victimized by a person like me."
Uber spokespeople never responded to requests to talk specifically about Locke, and how she was able to pass a background check. But the NBC4 I-Team received an email from Lane Kasselman, head of communications for Uber, that said, "We screen for convictions and violations going back seven years that are reasonably related to tasks the drivers perform (DUIs, violent/sexual offenses, major moving violations, etc. A former non-violent criminal ...may be permitted... We're confident that every ride on Uber is safer than a taxi."
AUDIO-Exclusive: The Extended Donald Sterling Tape
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 19:50
Deadspin has acquired an extended, 15-minute version of the conversation between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano. If the original nine-minute tape acquired by TMZ left any questions about Sterling's opinions regarding minorities, the audio here should remove all doubt that he's a doddering racist with views not too far removed from the plantation.
You can find the new audio in the above video, which contains the transcript. (This version is also a little crisper than the original and has some extra background activity around the edges, which indicates that this was recorded in a house.) As with the original, we don't know if this has been edited in some way. The NBA is investigating. Thus far, Sterling's team has offered only a tepid response, lightly suggesting the possibility that the original audio had been doctored and pointing out that V. Stiviano had recently been sued by the Sterlings.
In this audio, Sterling expresses ideas similar to the ones he did in the original: The world will think certain things if you're seen with black people, he tells his mistress, so you should not be seen with them in public, and under no circumstances should you bring them to Clippers games. How does he square his dim view of black people with the fact that he has an NBA team full of black players? Sterling responds with a breathtaking non-sequitur.
V: I don't understand, I don't see your views. I wasn't raised the way you were raised.
DS: Well then, if you don't feel'--don't come to my games. Don't bring black people, and don't come.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that's black, that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?Do I know that I have'--Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
Poor Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is also dragged into the conversation, having appeared in an Instagram photo with V. Stiviano. It was her photo with Magic Johnson that had apparently started the fight.
V: Honey, if it makes you happy, I will remove all of the black people from my Instagram.
DS: You said that before, you said, "I understand."
V: I DID remove the people that were independently on my Instagram that are black.
DS: Then why did you start saying that you didn't? You just said that you didn't remove them. You didn't remove every'--
V: I didn't remove Matt Kemp and Magic Johnson, but I thought'--
DS: Why?
V: I thought Matt Kemp is mixed, and he was OK, just like me.
V: He's lighter and whiter than me.
V: I met his mother.
DS: You think I'm a racist, and wouldn't'--
V: I don't think you're a racist.
DS: Yes you do. Yes you do.
V: I think you, you'--
DS: Evil heart.
And there is also this baffling exchange about black Jews in Israel:
DS: It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.
V: So do you have to treat them like that too?
DS: The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?
V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?
DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.
V: And is that right?
DS: It isn't a question'--we don't evaluate what's right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.
V: But shouldn't we take a stand for what's wrong? And be the change and the difference?
DS: I don't want to change the culture, because I can't. It's too big and too [unknown].
V: But you can change yourself.
DS: I don't want to change. If my girl can't do what I want, I don't want the girl. I'll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl'--because I tried to do what you want. But you're not that girl.
They close by essentially invoking Hitler and closing down the thread, comparing Sterling's viewpoints to the Holocaust:
V: It's like saying, "Let's just persecute and kill all of the Jews."
DS: Oh, it's the same thing, right?
V: Isn't it wrong? Wasn't it wrong then? With the Holocaust? And you're Jewish, you understand discrimination.
DS: You're a mental case, you're really a mental case. The Holocaust, we're comparing with'--
V: Racism! Discrimination.
DS: There's no racism here. If you don't want to be... walking... into a basketball game with a certain... person, is that racism?
Remember that these aren't the unfortunate offhand comments of an old man. These are expressions of a worldview that Sterling has acted upon time and time again, with real effects on real people, with little to no response from the NBA or its players. The difference in this case is the visceral effect of actually hearing him say these things out loud and oh so matter-of-factly. It's enough for even an actor as careful as LeBron James to feel empowered to take a flamethrower to Sterling, saying, "There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league."
The NBA has said it hopes to conclude its investigation within the next few days. If you have anything you think we should know about Donald Sterling, get in touch at or email me at
Update: Here is the portion of the tape you heard on TMZ, in the unedited and uncensored format we received it.
Update 2 4/29/14:Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA.
VIDEO-Boardman Schools to begin drug testing students
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:17
Girls softball players volunteered to be the first to try out the new drug testing process.
Monica Robins, WKYC7:37 p.m. EDT April 28, 2014
new drug testing process(Photo: Thinkstock)
SHARE163CONNECTEMAILMOREBOARDMAN -- Girls softball players in Boardman sacrificed something not many women are willing to part with -- a chunk of their hair.
They volunteered to be the first to try out a new drug testing process that is expected to begin in the 2014-2015 school year. Boardman High School will drug test student athletes and those who drive to school starting in the fall.
"These adolescent years are difficult for students. Their brains are being formed. It's a time when they make mistakes, and we want to help them to make better decisions and not a fatal mistake," says Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.
School administrators chose hair follicle testing because they say it's the most accurate.
Drug evidence can stay in hair for up to 100 days. Each test is $40, and the program is expected to cost taxpayers about $30,000.
VIDEO- BUSTED Pilot Forgets To Turn Off CHEMTRAILS while landing - YouTube
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:03
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton Tells Students, Be the 'Participation Generation' | UConn Today
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:56
As the crowd jammed into the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, eight lines of ticket holders moved through security checkpoints and into the lobby, where students, faculty, and staff were thronging.
Inside the main floor of the theater, television cameras lined the back of the venue amid the growing hum of the crowd awaiting the start of the keynote address for The Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum that would be delivered by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Hillary Clinton delivers the address during The Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum held at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on April 23. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
At the first mention of her name by UConn President Susan Herbst, the audience exploded with applause, surpassed moments later when the former First Lady and U.S. Senator from New York walked to the center of the stage.
Before she entered the Jorgensen Center, Kelsey Barringham '13 (CLAS) said she was hoping to hear Clinton talk about moving the nation in a new direction.
''As former Secretary of State and someone who may have an impact on policies in the future, I'd like to see what direction she thinks the country is going in and what changes she sees coming on the major issues,'' said Barringham, who is pursuing an MSW with a certificate in nonprofit management at the UConn School of Social Work in West Hartford.
Standing in the lobby with friends, Sarah Moessner '16 (CLAS), a second year political science student, said: ''I expect to hear a lot about her experiences as a senator and as Secretary of State. I don't expect to hear too much about her running for office in 2016 because it's not official.''
During an hour of lecture remarks followed by answering questions submitted by the University community, Clinton drew applause and laughter as she expressed her thoughts on national and global issues, reminisced about her 40 years of public life, and voiced her hopes for the future.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions submitted by members of the UConn community and read by President Susan Herbst. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Answering a question about what it's like in the White House when a decision needs to be made on intervening in a critical situation, Clinton described the events leading up to President Barack Obama's decision to order the attack on the suspected hiding place of Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Pakistan.
''It was an incredible experience,'' Clinton said to the rapt audience. ''The President took a day to decide. In the Situation Room a small group of us were watching a video feed. We couldn't see inside the compound. We're sitting there seeing one of the helicopters clip the wall and go down. It was a horrifying moment. But because of contingency planning, other helicopters could go in. Then we got the word Bin Laden had been killed. For me, it was justice being done. It was something I thought people in the country had the right to expect. '... I was very proud to be part of the team in the Situation Room.''
Hillary Clinton's appearance drew a full house, comprised of students, faculty, and staff. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
After noting the Huskies' dual NCAA Championships won by the men's and women's basketball teams earlier this month, Clinton said it is important for citizens to help address the nation's challenges by participating in the democratic process. ''Citizenship is a team sport. We can't afford to leave anyone sitting on the bench. Everyone has to participate.''
She drew loud applause later in answering a question about the harsh partisanship at play in the nation's capital that stalls legislative action and continues to divide voters.
''Don't support the non-compromising people,'' she said to applause. ''Look for candidates that support your beliefs but are mature enough to listen [to each other].''
As she was leaving Jorgensen, Barringham said Clinton's remarks met her expectations.
''I liked a lot of what she had to say, especially what she said about making sure there are opportunities open for us young people entering the job market,'' she said. ''I completely agree with what she said about not supporting people who don't support compromise. I think that is a missing part of the dialog. It's incredibly important while moving forward that we are able to sit down and have those conversations.
''It's about time we see some change.''
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton Hits Out at Putin, Snowden During UConn Talk | Watch the video - Yahoo Yahoo UK
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:53
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State and former US Senator from New York, spoke at the University of Connecticut's 2014 Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum on April 23. Clinton told the assembled crowd that she believed Russian president Vladimir Putin had to ''pay a price'' for Russia's actions in Ukraine, and hit out at whistleblower Edward Snowden.
''I have a hard time thinking that somebody who is a champ of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia, under Putin's authority,'' she said. ''And then he calls into a Putin talk show and says, 'President Putin, do you spy on people?' President Putin says, 'From one intelligence professional to another, of course not.' 'Oh thank you so much.' I have a hard time with that.'' Credit: YouTube/UConn
VIDEO-Remarks to the Freedom Online Coalition Conference
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:29
We're on. We're all set, guys. Our people were not sure whether you had me or not. But thank you. I heard everything, including all your very provocative questions. (Laughter.) And I appreciate the opportunity to talk to everybody.
I '' look, frankly, I wish I was able to be with all of you in Tallinn for the conference. And it's not lost on any of us that Estonia has set the gold standard, really, the global gold standard in cyber security, in e-governance, and in technological innovation. In many ways, Estonia is defining the future for advances in management of the internet. And excitingly, there were more start-ups in Estonia per capita than in any other country in Europe. So to all of you who've been part of that, who've established a pioneering role in the Community of Democracies' LEND Network, you've really shown how to use this online platform to support democratic transitions. And that's true from Moldova to Tunisia and beyond. So I'm very grateful to be able to speak to a group of such committed partners. And I thank particularly President Ilves and Foreign Minister Paet for their leadership.
Frankly, it's amazing how much progress Estonia's made since the end of the Cold War. And the unmistakable symbol, obviously, of the Cold War was a wall, a wall that was made of concrete. Today we've all learned that walls can be made of 1s and 0s, and the depravation of access even to those 1s and 0s. And that wall can be just as powerful in keeping us apart in a world that is so incredibly interconnected.
So it's very much our '' excuse me '' our common responsibility to try to tear down those walls, just as it was our responsibility to try to do that during the Cold War, and also, obviously, to answer the questions that Tim posed about people's fears of government intrusion or a violation of some ethical standard with respect to the use of the internet. And I certainly am not shy about responding to that at any given point in time or in any way, and I will a little bit here.
But let me just say that that's really what makes it important that we have a chance to talk this evening. It's important because the biggest concerns on your mind '' I think an open, interoperable, secure, and inclusive internet '' are obviously concerns that weigh on our minds too.
When I was in the United States Senate, I was the chairman of the Communications Subcommittee. So I helped write the law about our Telecommunications Act of 1996. I actually remember distinctly '' when we wrote that law governing our use of telephony, that's exactly what we were looking at in 1996, was telephony. And within six months, the act that we passed was completely antiquated; it was completely out of date. And that's because we never really dealt with the issue of the management of data. It just, frankly, hadn't penetrated the consciousness sufficiently that that's where our focus was placed '' obviously, inappropriately so.
The fact is that now we face a choice about how we organize ourselves as societies and how we manage this movement of information and control over it and search engines and access. All of these things are critical. And the choice is really a choice between those who demand dignity and respect for rights versus those who are prepared to deny it. The stand that we are now taking for Ukraine, for instance, for Estonia, and for our allies in Central and Eastern Europe, I hope signals which side the United States is on, despite the fact that people have had questions about the policies with respect to access and information on the internet.
But I want to remind you: The stakes in this very different world are as real today in the virtual world as in the visible world, the tangible world. And we need to continue to stand as we have for open markets, for open societies, and for an open internet. And I want to underscore the word ''open'' because open and inclusive, with respect to the internet, really matters. It matters that you can interact and debate with people who live in different countries. It matters that you can spread ideas and connect with people, whoever they may be, who want to share those ideas. And it matters that you can blog about an election campaign, organize on Facebook, use Twitter to hold your government accountable. I mean, all of these things make all the difference in today's world. And imagine if I couldn't talk to you today simply because my government had shut down or censored the internet, or your government, or anybody in between was able to get between us in this transmission.
Now, I know it's almost impossible to fathom for those people who live in a free world that that would actually happen. We can sit around with our friends, we debate an issue, and even Google an answer in the course of a dinner conversation to bolster our argument. But here's something important for everybody to think about: All the facts in the world available in real time won't make a whit of difference if people don't have access, if there isn't a guarantee that everybody is able to access that information. And for millions of people today, that is the reality of the challenge that they face.
All you have to do is read the headlines and you can discern an absolutely unmistakable pattern.
The places where we face some of the greatest security challenges today are also the places where governments set up firewalls against basic freedoms online.
As the Ukrainian people are marching toward a democratic future, Russia's military is massing on the borders. And it's no coincidence that Russia just forced the founder of its largest social network, Pavel Durov, to flee after he had refused to disclose personal information about the protesters in Ukraine's Euromaidan.
In Venezuela, the government has used security forces to disrupt peaceful protests and limit freedoms of expression and assembly. And this has included blocking access to selected websites and limiting access to internet service in certain parts of the country.
Now, look, I am convinced '' and I hope you are '' that these tactics will fail the test of history. And when we stand up for freedom of expression anywhere and everywhere that it's threatened, including with our friends and our allies, that makes all the difference in the world. That's why we called on Turkey to unblock its citizens' access to Twitter and remove other barriers to free expression on the internet. There is no question in anybody's mind that this freedom of access is a fundamental kind of right and it is going to be fundamental to people everywhere who are going to demand that because they recognize that through it comes a kind of accountability that you can't have necessarily otherwise.
What happened in Tahrir Square, in Egypt, was not the result of religious explosion. It wasn't the Muslim Brotherhood. It was young people with their smartphones communicating to each other and calling on each other through the access of free communication to be able to express their hopes for the future. The same thing began to happen in Syria. And Syria, people forget, began with young people who wanted jobs and education and a future.
So ultimately, what we're really talking about here tonight are two opposing visions. We believe in an open and inclusive internet with input from all and equal access to all. And we believe in giving people a voice from the bottom up. The authoritarian vision sees a free, open, inclusive internet as a threat to state power. So what do these states do? They use their power to threaten the internet, and it's about controlling information and access to it from the top down. For them, it's about creating a fragmented internet that divides us rather than unites us, that minimizes the voice of people and maximizes their ability to cloud the truth.
So my friends, that is absolutely what is at stake here '' two different visions, two different futures. And that's why the work of the Freedom Online Coalition is so critical. It's so important. And the question now is: Where do we go from here?
Well, first, we need to affirm the simple truth that we all have a stake in how the internet is governed. Governments do have an important role. We acknowledge that. So do businesses, students, teachers, scientists, civil society leaders. Our principle is clear: If you have an interest in how the internet works, you get to play a role in how it's governed. That's what global, multi-stakeholder internet governance is all about.
As the Net Mundial conference in Brazil reaffirmed just last week, which you referred to, governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector have to work together to manage the global digital environment. States must also work hand in hand with the private sector to protect and advance international cyber security. We all need to work together on efforts to reduce conflict and defend against cyber attacks on our digital infrastructure or intrusion into our businesses, into our lives.
But let me be clear '' as in the physical space, cyber security cannot come at the expense of cyber privacy. And we all know this is a difficult challenge. But I am serious when I tell you that we are committed to discussing it in an absolutely inclusive and transparent manner, both at home and abroad. As President Obama has made clear, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do it. And that's why he ordered a thorough review of all our signals intelligence practices. And that's why he then, after examining it and debating it and openly engaging in a conversation about it, which is unlike most countries on the planet, he announced a set of concrete and meaningful reforms, including on electronic surveillance, in a world where we know there are terrorists and others who are seeking to do injury to all of us.
So our reforms are based on principles that we believe are universally applicable. First, rule of law '' democracies must act according to clear, legal authorities, and their intelligence agencies must not exceed those authorities. Second, legitimate purpose '' democracies should collect and share intelligence only for legitimate national security reasons and never to suppress or burden criticism or dissent. Third, oversight '' judicial, legislative or other bodies such as independent inspectors general play a key role in ensuring that these activities fall within legal bounds. And finally, transparency '' the principles governing such activities need to be understood so that free people can debate them and play their part in shaping these choices. And we believe these principles can positively help us to distinguish the legitimate practices of states governed by the rule of law from the legitimate practices of states that actually use surveillance to repress their people. And while I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I've outlined, I also hope that you won't let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes.
So we've had a healthy and a very vigorous debate in our country, and we've engaged in direct conversations with our friends in Brazil and Germany, in other parts of the world, where people have felt somehow aggrieved by a decision made, or even in some cases a decision not made. We are not finished in our work. But we're also not taking our eye off the ball. Ultimately, as I said a moment ago, this debate is about two very different visions: one vision that respects freedom and another that denies it. All of you at the Freedom Online Coalition are on the right side of this debate, and now we need to make sure that all of us together wind up on the right side of history.
I have absolute faith that we can get this right. I know we can balance these interests. But we need to be thoughtful and reasonable in how the internet actually works and can work for the best, even as we protect privacy. John McCain and I were the authors of the original privacy legislation for the internet in the United States Senate. I have a long history of working on this issue, and I can guarantee that we are determined to try to get this right.
Our history has proven time and time again that you need to. Just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, hundreds of thousands of people from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, all joined hands to form a human chain more than 400 miles long. And one Estonian lawmaker captured the spirit of that moment. She said: ''All of us would like to have freedom, and freedom without independence is impossible.'' Those words ring just as true now as they did then, only today I would say this: I would say that freedom without interdependence is impossible. The internet has linked us all in a human chain that spans the globe, and the freedoms that we seek in the virtual square and public square are absolutely one and the same.
So we need to each stand for an open, secure, and inclusive internet, and we each must work for the day when we are bound together not only by the humanity that ties us all together, but by the freedoms that for too long have been the province of too few. That's our mission. That's what we have to change. Thank you, all of you, for what you do, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference. (Applause.)
VIDEO- Game of Pawns - YouTube
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 18:21
VIDEO- 'Last thing US wants in the world is democracy. It wants control' - YouTube
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 16:22
VIDEO-NSA Surveillance Media Coverage | Video |
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 15:07
April 23, 2014Washington Post correspondents talked about their contributions to their newspaper's coverage of National Security Agency's'... read more
Washington Post correspondents talked about their contributions to their newspaper's coverage of National Security Agency's surveillance programs that collected metadata of Americans' phone records.'‚One of the panelists, Barton Gellman, a former Post staff member, won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting derived from classified documents leaked to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.'‚Discussion topics included the editorial decisions made by the Washington Post staff, consumer privacy issues, and legislation regarding data collection.'‚Mr.'‚Gellman said that Mr.'‚Snowden had no input into stories he writes or what should be published.'‚He also said that many attempts had been made by others to gain access to the documents given to him.
The title of this Washington Post-sponsored event was ''Behind the Headlines: NSA Surveillance and Ongoing Revelations.'' close
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*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
VIDEO-The "numbers station" of YouTube - Boing Boing
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 01:58
BB reader Enkidu describes what looks curiously like a modern counterpart to the mysterious "numbers stations" of the cold war, radio frequencies carrying baffling sequences--spy codes!--of numbers and words.
The YouTube channel for the user "Webdriver Torso" contains over 77,000 videos, each 11 seconds in length, with a series of one second pitches, each accompanied by a frame containing nothing but one blue and one red rectangle on a white background. No one seems to have any idea where this channel came from, who the user is, or what the purpose of the videos might be. "Webdriver" is the name of a product in the Selenium suite of browser automation tools (for instance, used to test performance and stability of a web application), and it's plausible that this is the very tool used to automate the uploading of the videos to YouTube.
This is begging for an analysis of the data represented in these videos. For anyone fascinated by numbers stations but frustrated that they missed the heyday of the Cold War, this might just be your chance! I'm a developer, but this falls well outside my areas of expertise...but I'd be happy to try to cooperate with anyone interested.
VIDEO-PressTV - Turkey premier after Gulen extradition from US
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:19
The Turkish prime minister says he will seek the extradition of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of scheming to topple his government with corruption accusations and damaging social media leaks.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Tuesday that a legal procedure would start for the extradition of Gulen.
On Monday, the Turkish premier said during an interview with US broadcaster PBS that he wants President Barack Obama to expel Gulen and send him back to Turkey.
Erdogan expressed hope that Washington would deliver on the issue as a ''model partner,'' adding, ''At least they should deport him.''
Gulen's Hizmet (Service) movement was an important supporter of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) when it came to power in 2002. The alliance, however, shattered after dozens of the prime minister's political and business allies were arrested in police raids in a graft probe last December.
The scandal, which turned into a very serious challenge to Erdogan's rule, brought down three ministers and led to a cabinet reshuffle.
Erdogan denounced the corruption scandal as well as a string of damaging leaks in the media, saying they were engineered by Gulen's supporters to undermine his government. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement.
The Turkish parliament, which is dominated by the AKP, has approved a law to close a network of private preparatory schools, many of which are run by Hizmet.
Erdogan told PBS that the police raids in December were ''almost a coup, a civilian coup'' by the Gulen movement.
''We were aware they were trying to infiltrate various organizations, but we were not aware of their ultimate bad intentions. We realized this after a while and started to take measures,'' he said.
Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999.
PRE-STREAM-Grapevine Riders |
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:39
Here is a mashup that includes two songs that are over 40 years old, one rock and one soul classic. Definately 2 tracks that easily qualify among the greatest songs ever written. It's Marvin Gaye vs. The Doors everybody. Download via my Facebook site or HERE (Zippy).
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Clips & Documents

Agenda 21
EPA Admin-CLimate Change kills blackpeople-HIP HOP CAUCUS.mp3
Clooneys girl-Amal Alamuddin on Yulia Tymoshenko and Ukraine.mp3
Common Core
common core jingle-ian johnston.wav
Common Core PSA -1 F for misleading.mp3
Common Core PSA -2 new standards.mp3
Proteus FUnd 990.pdf
Cultural Marxism
Gohmert slams Kerry on Israel comments.mp3
Kerry at Trilateral-recording huh-apartheid.mp3
Obama Sterling advertised-WTF.mp3
Sterling on Isaraeli bigotry.mp3
High Stakes in Cyber Security -1 Panetta Sandy=Cyber attack.mp3
High Stakes in Cyber Security -1 Panetta sophisticated virus.mp3
High Stakes in Cyber Security -2 dick clark hacked-pearl harbour.mp3
High Stakes in Cyber Security -3 panetta-clark ukraine.mp3
F-Russia / Ukraine
IMF approves Ukraine loan.mp3
Kerry Atlantic Council-1 douche nomination.mp3
Kerry Atlantic Council-2 Still propagates the photos.mp3
Kerry Atlantic Council-3 The pitch.mp3
JCD Clips
banning shows in china.mp3
bill oreilly slamming pot.mp3
club 33 semi final mix down prelim.mp3
county cops kills pedestrian.mp3
george cloony on Letterman.mp3
kerry on russian intentions.mp3
london strikes.mp3
police in eastern ukraine.mp3
risky toyota marketing.mp3
Sarah Bajac hints at fly by wire security.mp3
Sarah Bajac on assets looking in new spot.mp3
Boxer on 50 cent.mp3
Net Neutrality
Michael Powell NCTA Keynote-NO Commodity.mp3
Tim WU 2003 NetN Doc.pdf
Shut Up Slave!
Bibi on selfies.mp3
NYC Slave Containers.mp3
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