614: Fruity Drinks

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 53m
May 4th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Gene Naftulyev Baron de Marriott Sheriff of Texas

Associate Executive Producers: Arthur Gobets, Jon Lopez

Cover Artist: Melodious Owls

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UN: World Press Freedom Day
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:26
"Journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of development issues '' from environmental challenges and scientific progress to gender equality, youth engagement and peacebuilding. Only when journalists are at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and actions can good governance exist."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonand UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day. It is an opportunity to:
celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;defend the media from attacks on their independence;pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The focus this year is on three inter-related themes: the media's importance in development; the safety of journalists and the rule of law; and the sustainability and integrity of journalism. An international conference will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 5-6 May.
The annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize ceremony will take place on 2 May 2014 at UNESCO Headquarters.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Charter Schools Week, 2014
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:33
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 02, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
At the heart of who we are as Americans is the simple but profound idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from, if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can succeed. Our Nation can only realize this idea through the guarantee of a world-class education for every child. During National Charter Schools Week, we pay tribute to the role our Nation's public charter schools play in advancing opportunity, and we salute the parents, educators, community leaders, policymakers, and philanthropists who gave rise to the charter school sector.
As independent public schools, charter schools have the ability to try innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the classroom. This flexibility comes with high standards and accountability; charter schools must demonstrate that all their students are progressing toward academic excellence. Those that do not measure up can be shut down. And those that are successful can provide effective approaches for the broader public education system. They can show what is possible -- schools that give every student the chance to prepare for college and career and to develop a love of learning that lasts a lifetime.
Americans pursue individual success, but we also understand that we have a stake in each other. If we make an investment in every child, then all our children will enjoy a stronger Nation and a brighter world. This week, let us do our part to ensure our young people can go as far as their passions and hard work will take them, and recommit to restoring the American dream for generations 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 4 through May 10, 2014, as National Charter Schools Week. I commend our Nation's charter schools, teachers, and administrators, and I call on States and communities to support high quality public schools, including charter schools and the students they serve. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of May, 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.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Law Day, U.S.A., 2014
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 01, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
More than two centuries ago, patriots battled to release America from the grip of tyranny. As these brave citizens defended their right to shape their own destiny, our Founders created a government of, by, and for the people -- rooted in the belief that just power derives from the consent of the governed. It is a system that can only function through the rule of law.
This Law Day pays special tribute to the right to vote, the cornerstone of democracy. Many Americans won the franchise after generations of struggle, while others gave their lives so their children and grandchildren might one day enjoy what should have been their birthright. Thanks to women who picketed the White House and activists who marched on the National Mall,
our laws finally recognized a truth that had always been self-evident -- that every citizen should have a voice in our democracy. Over the centuries, we have made legal changes that eliminated formal voting restrictions based on wealth, race, and sex and that extended the right to vote to younger adults. Today, our laws continue to protect this fundamental right, laws like the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
Despite this hard-fought progress, barriers to voting still exist, and the right to vote faces a new wave of threats. In some States, women may be turned away from the polls because they are registered under their maiden name; in others, seniors who have been voting for decades may suddenly be told they cannot vote because they do not have a particular form of identification. As we reflect on the trials and triumphs of generations past, we must rededicate ourselves to preserving those victories in our time. Earlier this year, a bipartisan commission I appointed recommended a series of common-sense reforms to protect the right to vote, curb the potential for fraud, and ensure no one has to wait more than a half hour to cast a ballot. States and local election officials should implement these recommendations. In addition, the Congress should demonstrate its commitment to our fundamental right by updating the Voting Rights Act.
Let us mark Law Day by recognizing the institutions that uphold the rule of law in America. Let us vow to keep safe our founding creed. And let us remember that opportunity requires justice, and justice requires the right to vote.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with Public Law 87-20, as amended, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2014, as Law Day, U.S.A. I call upon all Americans to acknowledge the importance of our Nation's legal and judicial systems with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and to display the flag of the United States in support of this national observance.
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.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2014
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 01, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and we reflect on the many ways they have enriched our Nation. Like America itself, the AAPI community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures -- each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend, and strengthen our Nation -- as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists, and leaders of government. They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit.
This month marks 145 years since the final spike was hammered into the transcontinental railroad, an achievement made possible by Chinese laborers, who did the majority of this backbreaking and dangerous work. This May, they will receive long-overdue recognition as they are inducted into the Labor Hall of Honor. Generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped make this country what it is today. Yet they have also faced a long history of injustice -- from the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and its devastating impact on the history, language, and culture of Native Hawaiians; to opportunity-limiting laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924; to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Even today, South Asian Americans, especially those who are Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh, are targets of suspicion and violence.
With courage, grit, and an abiding belief in American ideals, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have challenged our Nation to be better, and my Administration remains committed to doing its part. Nearly 5 years ago, I re-established the White House Initiative on AAPIs. The Initiative addresses disparities in health care, education, and economic opportunity by ensuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive equal access to government programs and services.
We are also determined to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would modernize our legal immigration system, create a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, hold employers accountable, and strengthen our border security. These commonsense measures would bring relief to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have experienced this broken system firsthand, and they would allow our country to welcome more highly skilled workers eager to contribute to America's success.
This month, as we recall our hard-fought progress, let us resolve to continue moving forward. Together, let us ensure the laws respect everyone, civil rights apply to everyone, and everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a chance to get ahead.
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 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/AAPI to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
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.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2014
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 01, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Despite great strides in our understanding of mental illness and vast improvements in the dialogue surrounding it, too many still suffer in silence. Tens of millions of Americans face mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress disorder. During National Mental Health Awareness Month, we reaffirm our commitment to building our understanding of mental illness, increasing access to treatment, and ensuring those who are struggling to know they are not alone.
Over the course of a year, one in five adults will experience a mental illness, yet less than half will receive treatment. Because this is unacceptable, my Administration is fighting to make mental health care more accessible than ever. Through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we are extending mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections to over 60 million Americans. Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer deny coverage or charge patients more due to pre-existing health conditions, including mental illness. The ACA also requires health plans to cover recommended preventive services like depression screening and behavioral assessments at no out-of-pocket cost. And under this law, we are expanding services for mental health and substance use disorder at community health centers across the country.
My Administration is also investing in programs that promote mental health among young people. We secured new funding to train teachers to identify and respond to mental illness and to train thousands of additional mental health professionals to serve students. And because it is our sacred obligation to give our veterans the support they have earned, we have increased the number of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health providers, enhanced VA partnerships with community providers, and improved Government coordination on research efforts.
We too often think about mental health differently from other forms of health. Yet like any disease, mental illnesses can be treated -- and without help, they can grow worse. That is why we must build an open dialogue that encourages support and respect for those struggling with mental illness. To learn how you can get involved, visit www.MentalHealth.gov. Those seeking immediate help should call 1-800-662-HELP. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also offers immediate assistance for all Americans, including service members and veterans, at 1-800-273-TALK.
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 Mental Health Awareness Month. I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise mental health awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier 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.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Day of Prayer, 2014
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:50
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 01, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
One of our Nation's great strengths is the freedom we hold dear, including the freedom to exercise our faiths freely. For many Americans, prayer is an essential act of worship and a daily discipline.
Today and every day, prayers will be said for comfort for those who mourn, healing for those who are sick, protection for those who are in harm's way, and strength for those who lead. Today and every day, forgiveness and reconciliation will be sought through prayer. Across our country, Americans give thanks for our many blessings, including the freedom to pray as our consciences dictate.
As we give thanks for our liberties, we must never forget those around the world, including Americans, who are being held or persecuted because of their convictions. Let us remember all prisoners of conscience today, whatever their faiths or beliefs and wherever they are held. Let us continue to take every action within our power to secure their release. And let us carry forward our Nation's tradition of religious liberty, which protects Americans' rights to pray and to practice our faiths as we see fit.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a "National Day of Prayer."
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 1, 2014, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in asking for God's continued guidance, mercy, and protection as we seek a more just world.
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.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Loyalty Day, 2014
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:50
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 01, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Over 150 years ago, as a civil war threatened to dissolve our Union, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Defining the American experiment as "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that 'all men are created equal,'" he resolved that our Nation "shall not perish from the earth." He understood that what makes America most worth preserving are our founding ideals. These ideals compelled colonists to rise up against an empire, and they have sustained generations of service members through the darkest days of war.
In the United States of America, we do not define loyalty as adherence to any single leader, party, or political platform. When we make big decisions as a country, we necessarily stir up passions and controversy. These debates are a hallmark of democracy; they allow us to trade ideas, question antiquated notions, and ensure our Nation's course reflects the will of the American people. Yet even as we disagree, we remain true to our shared values and our common hopes for America's future.
On Loyalty Day, we renew our conviction to the principles of liberty, equality, and justice under the law. We accept our responsibilities to one another. And we remember that our differences pale in comparison to the strength of the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on earth.
In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day." On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2014, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
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.
BARACK OBAMA
The Dartmouth - A Phi, Phi Delt cancel 'Phiesta'
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:48
By ZAC HARDWICK, The Dartmouth StaffApril 25, 2014
The presidents of Alpha Phi sorority and Phi Delta Alpha fraternity canceled ''Phiesta,'' an annual philanthropic event planned for Saturday, after students raised concerns about the theme's possible cultural insensitivity, A Phi president Courtney Wong '15 said.
''We take these concerns very seriously,'' Wong said. ''And we want to make sure that we respect the diversity of the broader community.''
Phi Delt president Taylor Cathcart '15 reiterated Wong's comments, emphasizing that he supported canceling the event.
''We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser,'' Cathcart said.
All proceeds would have gone toward cardiac care, according to the Facebook invitation.
Dartmouth community members were invited to join Greek members on Phi Delt's lawn of for a performance by campus band ''Burn the Barn,'' free virgin pi±a coladas and strawberry daiquiris, chips and salsa, homemade guacamole and Boloco burritos.
Yesterday, upon hearing about the event, Daniela Hernandez '15 sent an email to Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, GLOS director Wes Schaub, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership and the Panhellenic Council.
In the email, Hernandez raised concerns, including those about racial insensitivity.
''There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities,'' Hernandez said in an email to The Dartmouth.
While offended, Hernandez said she was not taken aback when she heard about the event.
''As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth,'' she said. ''I believe that social consciousness and cultural awareness is something that we need to work on as a community.''
By press time, she had not received a response, she said. Hernandez's email was not sent directly to the presidents of A Phi or Phi Delt, but Schaub later alerted them to the email, Wong said.
OPAL director Alysson Satterlund said these kinds of events do not represent Dartmouth's values.
''Events that mock and marginalize others certainly do not reflect our Principle of Community and do not reflect values of inclusion, respect and a care for others,'' she said in an email to The Dartmouth.
Thursday night at the Tabard coed fraternity, 15 Phi Delt, A Phi and Tabard members gathered informally to discuss the event once concerns were raised that ''Phiesta'' was ''not necessarily the most politically correct event,'' Tabard president Connie Gong '15 said.
The meeting aimed to encourage inter-campus dialogue and talk to both Greek and non-Greek community leaders as equals, Gong said. The meeting, Gong said, was exclusively for members of A Phi, Phi Delt and Tabard.
''We essentially wanted to open channels of communication more to Greek leaders to make sure the concerns of members both inside and outside of the Greek community could be addressed and taken seriously by the relevant people in positions of authority,'' she said.
Moving forward, Wong said the houses hope to organize a philanthropic event that people feel they can participate in without being offended. The houses will take precautions when organizing future events, she said, including talking to different campus groups to ensure that these concerns are not raised again.
Satterlund suggested discussing ideas with administrators and faculty members before moving forward with an event.
Similar concerns were raised last summer after Alpha Delta fraternity and Delta Delta Delta sorority co-hosted a ''Bloods and Crips''-themed party, sparking national media attention. Tri Delt and AD presidents proposed a new Greek Leadership Council policy asking Greek organizations that receive complaints regarding community standards to adjudicate the accused individuals in-house or participate in mediation sessions with the complainants.
GLC members approved the policy unanimously in February, adopting it into the organization's bylaws.
AD, Gamma Delta Chi, Epsilon Kappa Theta, Kappa Delta, Chi Gamma Epsilon, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Alpha Xi Delta, the Tabard, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Chi Heorot and Bones Gate were co-sponsors of the event, according to the Facebook invitation.
The Facebook event was canceled at about 9:30 p.m. yesterday.
GLC, Panhell and the Inter-Fraternity Council did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Remarks by President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel in Joint Press Conference
Fri, 02 May 2014 22:30
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 02, 2014
Rose Garden
12:07 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, good morning, everybody. It is always a great pleasure to welcome my friend Chancellor Merkel to the White House. Germany is one of our strongest allies, and Angela is one of my closest partners. And with her indulgence, I want to start by making two brief comments.
First, as President, my top priority is doing everything that we can to create more jobs and opportunity for hardworking families -- for our economic strength is a source of strength in the world. And this morning, we learned that our businesses created 273,000 new jobs last month. All told, our businesses have now created 9.2 million new jobs over 50 consecutive months of job growth.
The grit and determination of the American people are moving us forward, but we have to keep a relentless focus on job creation and creating more opportunities for working families. There's plenty more that Congress should be doing, from raising the minimum wage to creating good construction jobs rebuilding America. And I want to work with them wherever I can, but I keep acting on my own whenever I must to make sure every American who works hard has the chance to get ahead.
Second point -- I also want to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan, who have experienced an awful tragedy. We are seeing reports of a devastating landslide, on top of recent floods. Many people are reported missing; rescue efforts are underway. Just as the United States has stood with the people of Afghanistan through a difficult decade, we stand ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster. For even as our war there comes to an end this year, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people will endure.
Now, Angela, I'm still grateful for the hospitality that you and the German people extended to me, Michelle and our daughters last year in Berlin. It was an honor to speak at the Brandenburg Gate. You promised me a warm welcome and delivered an unbelievable 90-degree day in Berlin.
This morning, our work touched on the range of issues where the United States and Germany are vital partners. We agreed to continue the close security cooperation -- including law enforcement, cyber, and intelligence -- that keeps our citizens safe. We reaffirmed our strong commitment to completing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership -- T-TIP -- which is critical to supporting jobs and boosting exports in both the United States and in Europe.
We discussed energy security, including the importance of Europe diversifying its energy sources. The United States has already approved licenses for natural gas exports, which will increase global supply and benefit partners like Europe. And T-TIP would make it even easier to get licenses to export gas to Europe.
At our working lunch, we'll review our negotiations with Iran and our shared determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We'll discuss Syria, where we continue to support the moderate opposition and provide humanitarian relief to the Syrian people. I look forward to briefing Angela on my trip to Asia, a region where both our nations can help ensure that all countries in the Asia Pacific adhere to international law and international norms.
Of course, most of our time was spent on the situation in Ukraine. Angela, I want to thank you for being such a strong partner on this issue. You've spoken out forcefully against Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine. And you've been a leader in the European Union, as well as an indispensable partner in the G7. And your presence here today is a reminder that our nations stand united.
We are united in our determination to impose costs on Russia for its actions, including through coordinated sanctions. We're united in our unwavering Article 5 commitment to the security of our NATO allies, including German aircraft joining NATO patrols over the Baltics. We're united in our support for Ukraine, including the very important IMF program approved this week to help Ukraine stabilize and reform its economy. And as Ukrainian forces move to restore order in eastern Ukraine, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protestors. They are heavily armed militants who are receiving significant support from Russia. The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory, and Russia needs to use its influence over these paramilitary groups so they disarm and stop provoking violence.
Let me say that we're also united in our outrage over the appalling treatment of the OSCE observers who have been detained in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian militants are still holding seven observers, including four Germans, as well as their Ukrainian escorts. They've been paraded in front of the media and forced to make statements at the barrel of a gun. It is disgraceful and it's inexcusable. Russia needs to work to secure their immediate release, and the international community is not going to be satisfied until Colonel Schneider and his fellow captives come home.
Finally, as both Angela and I have repeatedly said, we want to see a diplomatic resolution to the situation in Ukraine. But we've also been clear that if the Russian leadership does not change course, it will face increasing costs as well as growing isolation -- diplomatic and economic. Already, the ruble has fallen to near all-time lows, Russian stocks this year have dropped sharply, and Russia has slipped into recession. Investors are fleeing, and it's estimated that $100 billion in investment will exit Russia this year. Russian companies are finding it harder to access the capital they need, and Russia's credit rating has been downgraded to just above ''junk'' status. In short, Russia's actions in Ukraine are making an already weak Russian economy even weaker.
Moreover, if Russia continues on its current course, we have a range of tools at our disposal, including sanctions that would target certain sectors of the Russian economy. And we've been consulting closely with our European and G7 partners, and we're stepping up our planning. Angela and I continued these consultations today. The Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt this month's presidential election, we will move quickly on additional steps, including further sanctions that will impose greater costs. But that is a choice facing the Russian leadership.
Our preference is a diplomatic resolution to this issue. And the Ukrainian government has already shown itself more than willing to work through some of the issues that would ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are respected, that you have a representative government. They've shown themselves willing to discuss amendments to their constitution that devolve power to a local level. They have gone through with their commitment to potentially provide amnesty for those who lay down arms and who are willing to abandon the buildings that they've occupied. The Ukrainian government in Kyiv has followed through on the commitments that it made in Geneva. We need Russians to do the same.
So, Angela, I want to thank you again for being here and, as always, for your friendship and partnership. These are challenging times. Russia's actions in Ukraine pose a direct challenge to the goal that brought Europe and the United States together for decades -- and that is a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. Just as our predecessors stood united in pursuit of that vision, so will we.
Chancellor Merkel.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) Well, thank you very much, Barack, for this gracious hospitality and this very warm welcome that you accorded to me. And I'm very glad to be able to be back in Washington to have an opportunity to address all of these different issues with you.
I think priority really is on the current issue of Ukraine and that looms very large on our agenda. It showed how important the transatlantic partnership is also in today's times. And I think it's a very good thing that all of those steps that we've taken so far, we've taken together. And today, in our talk, we yet again underlined that we fully intend to go ahead as we did in the past. What happened on Ukraine, what happened on the Crimean Peninsula? Well, the post-war order has been put into question that rests on the acceptance of territorial integrity by all, and this is why it was so important for us to react in concord.
And what is at stake here is that people in Ukraine can act on the basis of self-determination and can determine themselves which road they wish to embark on into the future. The 25th of May is a very crucial date in order to ensure that, and we will see to it that elections can take place. The OSCE will play a central role in all of this. We talked about this. And together with the OSCE, we shall do everything we can in order to bring Russia -- that is, after all, a member of the OSCE -- to do the necessary steps so as the 25th of May bringing about some progress in stabilizing Ukraine. The 25th of May is not all that far away. Should that not be possible to stabilize the situation, further sanctions will be unavoidable. This is something that we don't want. We have made a diplomatic offer, an offer for a diplomatic solution. So it's very much up to the Russians which road we will embark on, but we are firmly resolved to continue to travel down that road.
Now, secondly, we addressed issues that have a bearing on the work of the intelligence services here. Let me underline yet again for the German side -- we have always enjoyed a very close cooperation with our American partner on this front. And anyone in political responsibility is more than aware, looking at the challenges of the modern world today, that obviously in fighting terrorism, the work of the intelligence services is not only important, it is indeed indispensable.
I am firmly convinced that our cooperation in this area is a very helpful one, yet there are differences of opinion on what sort of balance to strike between the intensity of surveillance, of trying to protect the citizens against threats, and on the other hand, protecting individual privacy and individual freedom, and rights of personality. And that will require further discussion between our two countries in order to overcome these differences of opinion.
We have these discussions incidentally also on the European front. We are talking about Safe Harbor agreement, for example, about a privacy protection agreement. And I take back the message home that the U.S. is ready to do that, is ready to discuss this, although we may have differences of opinion on certain issues.
Thirdly, T-TIP, I think particularly in the overall context of further intensifying our trade relations, of global growth, but also in the context of diversification of our energy supply -- this is a very important issue. It will be very important for us to bring the negotiations very quickly to a close on T-TIP. We are firmly convinced that for the European Union, for Germany and for the United States, this offers a lot of opportunities for the future. And it's so important for us to bring this agreement to a successful conclusion. There are a number of discussions, I know; a number of skeptical remarks. People have doubts. But these doubts, this skepticism can be overcome and it needs to be overcome. Just look at the many partners all over the world that have bilateral trade agreements. I mean, it's simply necessary. Looking at the intensity of a transatlantic partnership and the closeness of our partnership, for us to have this agreement, this transatlantic trade agreement, and we are fully at one on this one.
So we had very intensive talks and we are going to build on this over lunch. Thank you very much, Barack, for giving me this opportunity and also thank you for your gracious hospitality.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think we're going to take two questions from the U.S. press and two questions from the German press. We'll start with Lesley Clark.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. With violence today in Ukraine, you've said today that Germany and the United States are united in efforts to deescalate. But have you been able to reach any common ground with the Chancellor on sectoral sanctions, particularly the energy -- the Russian energy section -- sector? What's next if you're unable to?
And to Chancellor Merkel, reports in the U.S. press have suggested that you've said that you believed President Putin may not be in touch with reality. Is that what you've said, is that what you believe? And could you give us -- you talked to him earlier this week -- could you give us a little more insight into what he might be thinking? And do you believe that he is a threat to Europe? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously, every day we're watching the events in eastern Ukraine and southern Ukraine with deep concern. And I think that what you've seen over the course of the last several months in the midst of this crisis is remarkable unity between the United States and the European Union in the response.
We have at the same time offered a diplomatic approach that could resolve this issue. We have been unified in supporting the Ukrainian government in Kyiv -- both economically, diplomatically, and politically. And we have said that we would apply costs and consequences to the Russians if they continued with their actions. And that's exactly what we've done. And you saw just over the course of the last week additional sanctions applied both by the Europeans and the U.S.
The next step is going to be a broader-based sectoral sanctions regime. And what we have said is, is that we want to continue to keep open the possibility of resolving the issue diplomatically. But as Angela Merkel said, if, in fact, we see the disruptions and the destabilization continuing so severely that it impedes elections on May 25th, we will not have a choice but to move forward with additional, more severe sanctions. And the consultations have been taking place over the course of the last several weeks about what exactly those would look like, and would apply to a range of sectors. The goal is not to punish Russia; the goal is to give them an incentive to choose the better course, and that is to resolve these issues diplomatically. And I think we are united on that front.
Within Europe, within the EU, I'm sure there has to be extensive consultations. You've got 28 countries and some are more vulnerable than others to potential Russian retaliation, and we have to take those into account. Not every country is going to be in exactly the same place. But what has been remarkable is the degree to which all countries agree that Russia has violated international law, violated territorial integrity and sovereignty of a country in Europe. And I think there's unanimity that there has to be consequences for that.
How we structure these sectoral sanctions the experts have been working on, and we anticipate that if we have to use them, we can. Our preference would be not to have to use them. And I thank Chancellor Merkel's leadership on this front. She has been extraordinarily helpful not only in facilitating European unity, but she's also been very important in helping to shape a possible diplomatic resolution and reaching out to the Russians to encourage them to take that door while it's still open.
Q Do you feel confident you have German support on sectoral sanctions, particularly the energy sector?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You've got to keep in mind that when it comes to sectoral sanctions we're looking at a whole range of issues. Energy flows from Russia to Europe -- those continued even in the midst of the Cold War, at the height of the Cold War. So the idea that you're going to turn off the tap on all Russian oil or natural gas exports I think is unrealistic. But there are a range of approaches that can be taken not only in the energy sector, but in the arms sector, the finance sector, in terms of lines of credit for trade -- all that have a significant impact on Russia.
I don't think it's appropriate for us to delve into the details at this stage because our hope is that we don't have to deploy them. But what I can say is, is that our experts at the highest level, and not just bilaterally, but multilaterally through the European Commission and our diplomatic teams, have been working through all the possibilities, and we're confident that we will have a package that will further impact Russia's growth and economy. But again, our hope is that we shouldn't have to use them. We're not interested in punishing the Russian people. We do think that Mr. Putin and his leadership circle are taking bad decisions and unnecessary decisions and he needs to be dissuaded from his current course.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) It is, I think, obvious to all that there are very different assessments on what happens in Ukraine. On the one hand, you have the United States and Europe -- we've always taken our decisions together -- and on the other hand, the Russian appreciation and appraisal of the situation. I hope that Russia will live up better in the future to its responsibilities. But we need to see deeds matching up their words.
We don't have any release of the hostages of the OSCE, among them also four German hostages. This is a very crucial step that needs to happen first. We have not yet seen any implementation of the Geneva agreement by the Russian side. The Ukrainian side has taken some steps in the right direction. And the OSCE, too, is an organization to which we wish to accord a greater role so that they can prepare and pave the way for elections.
And one word on sanctions. I agree with the American President; they are not an end in itself, but combined with the offer that we want diplomatic solutions, it is a very necessary second component to show that we're serious -- we're serious about our principles. And there is a broad base, a broad range of possibilities that are being prepared for in the European Union. In Europe, we have taken a decision that should further destabilization happen, we will move to a third stage of sanctions.
I would like to underline this is not necessarily what we want, but we are ready and prepared to go to such a step. My main aim would be, first and foremost, to improve stabilization and to see to it that the elections can happen there. We will work on this in the next few days, but we are also prepared to take further steps.
What we are talking about here will be sectoral measures in the context of certain branches of industry. The American President and I can only agree to this and said what is necessary as regards the dependency on gas, which is very strong in Europe, but we can also look ahead in the medium term what we can do in order to promote an energy union in the European Union, which we're doing. Looking at our dependencies in the next 10 to 15 years on Russian gas supplies, there are six countries right now in the EU that depend 100 percent on gas supplies. We need to improve the reverse flow, as we call it. We need to improve our grade of pipelines. All of the countries need to share supplies. And those are measures that we're currently discussing in Europe.
We're talking about short-term but also medium-term and long-term measures. And then the free trade agreement, T-TIP, is also gaining more prominence in this respect.
Q (As interpreted.) Madam Chancellor, you said that time is of the essence and that it's getting shorter, leading up to the 25th. When would be the time when you would say a third phase -- moving to a third phase of sanctions is what you would promote? And is a more energy-intensive initiative by the EU necessary, for example, on heads of state and government level?
And, President, can you understand the fact that also Mr. Putin needs to play a role in the solution, which is the position of the European Union, that also his arguments have to be weighed? And after the Chancellor having made those several phone calls with Mr. Putin, do you think that the Chancellor also stands a chance to sort of work on this?
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: Well, to answer the question, what about the next few days to come -- I think the meeting of foreign ministers of the EU on the 12th of May is going to play a very important role. In this respect, one can sound out the possibilities there are in various directions. We, from the German side, as we have agreed with our American friends, will do everything we can in order bring the OSCE into a situation, supported politically that is, to do what is necessary in order to bring matters forward in Ukraine.
On the one hand, you have OSCE monitors for the elections, but also questions as regards a change of the constitution; reform towards further devolution or decentralization. All of the different parts of the country obviously have to be at the same level as regards information on this, and the OSCE wants to do that. We want to give them the necessary political backing.
When a certain point in time is there, it's very difficult to predict. I can only say that, for me, the elections on the 25th of May are crucial. And should there be further attempts at destabilization, this will be getting more and more difficult. But for now, I am working for elections to take place on that very date, and the heads of state and government are ready at any time should they be proved necessary to meet.
We've approved that over the past in other areas -- for example, the euro crisis. And we will demonstrate this resolve yet again. I am firmly convinced that the United States of America and the European Union need to act in concert here, and they have done so in the past and they are going to continue to do so.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I've said from the start that Russia has legitimate interests in terms of what happens next door in Ukraine. Obviously there is a deep and complicated history between Russia and Ukraine, and so, of course, Mr. Putin's views should be taken into account. What can't be taken into account is Mr. Putin's suggestion, both through words and actions, that he has the right to violate the sovereignty of another country, to violate its territorial integrity, to dictate the economic policies or foreign policy of a sovereign country. That's not acceptable.
Our view from the start has been that the Ukrainians should be able to make their own decisions. And I'm very confident that if the Ukrainians are allowed to make their own decisions, then they will choose to have a good relationship with Russia as well as a good relationship with Europe; that they'll want to trade with Russia and they'll want to trade with Europe. But what they cannot accept, understandably, is the notion that they are simply an appendage, an extension of Russia, and that the Kremlin has veto power over decisions made by a duly elected government in Kyiv.
So if, in fact, Mr. Putin's goal is to allow Ukrainians to make their own decisions, then he is free to offer up his opinions about what he would like the relationship to be between Ukraine and Russia. And I suspect that there will be a whole lot of Ukrainian leaders who will take those views into consideration. But it can't be done at the barrel of a gun. It can't be done by sending masked gunmen to occupy buildings or to intimidate journalists.
And one of the biggest concerns that we've seen is the Russian propaganda that has been blasted out nonstop suggesting somehow that the Ukrainian government is responsible for the problems in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has shown remarkable restraint throughout this process. The notion that this is some spontaneous uprising in eastern Ukraine is belied by all the evidence of well-organized, trained, armed militias with the capacity to shoot down helicopters. Generally, local protestors don't possess that capacity of surface-to-air missiles or whatever weapons were used to shoot down helicopters, tragically.
We've seen the attempts of OSCE monitors -- who were approved not just by Europe or the United States, but also by Russia -- being detained. And somehow Russia is suggesting that Kyiv is responsible for that? We've heard Mr. Putin say, well, Kyiv has to do a better job of reaching out to Eastern Europe -- or eastern Ukraine. You've seen attempts by Kyiv in a very serious way to propose decentralization of power and to provide for local elections, and for them to offer amnesty to those who have already taken over these buildings. None of that has been acknowledged by Mr. Putin or the various Russian mouthpieces that are out there.
You've also seen suggestions or implications that somehow Americans are responsible for meddling inside Ukraine. I have to say that our only interest is for Ukraine to be able to make its own decisions. And the last thing we want is disorder and chaos in the center of Europe.
So for the German audience who perhaps is tuning into Russian TV, I would just advise to stay focused on the facts and what's happened on the ground. A few weeks ago, Mr. Putin was still denying that the Russian military was even involved in Crimea. Then, a few weeks later, he acknowledged, yeah, I guess that was our guys. And so there just has not been the kind of honesty and credibility about the situation there, and a willingness to engage seriously in resolving these diplomatic issues.
And our hope is, is that, in fact, Mr. Putin recognizes there's a way for him to have good relations with Ukraine, good relations with Europe, good relations with the United States. But it cannot be done through the kinds of intimidation and coercion that we're seeing take place right now in eastern Europe [Ukraine].
Tangi.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Earlier this week, an inmate died in Oklahoma in what critics have called an inhumane manner because of a seemingly botched execution. Human rights groups put the United States in the devious company of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia when it comes to the prevalence of executions. Some European countries have expressed their concerns as well. What are your thoughts on this? And does this raise moral questions about U.S. justice and global reputation?
And to Chancellor Merkel, after Edward Snowden's revelations on U.S. surveillance of your own cell phone, you said that friends shouldn't spy on friends. Are you satisfied that the steps taken by the U.S. on NSA surveillance are now consistent with a healthy alliance? Has the personal trust been rebuilt? And I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on this no-spy agreement that apparently couldn't be reached. Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling. The individual who was subject to the death penalty had committed heinous crimes, terrible crimes. And I've said in the past that there are certain circumstances in which a crime is so terrible that the application of the death penalty may be appropriate -- mass killings, the killings of children. But I've also said that in the application of the death penalty in this country, we have seen significant problems -- racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence. And all these I think do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied. And this situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there.
So I'll be discussing with Eric Holder and others to get me an analysis of what steps have been taken not just in this particular instance but more broadly in this area. I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues.
If you don't mind, I'm going to also go ahead and maybe say something about NSA just because I know it's of great interest in the German press as well. Germany is one of our closest allies and our closest friends, and that's true across the spectrum of issues -- security, intelligence, economic, diplomatic. And Angela Merkel is one of my closest friends on the world stage, and somebody whose partnership I deeply value. And so it has pained me to see the degree to which the Snowden disclosures have created strains in the relationship.
But more broadly, I've also been convinced for a very long time that it is important for our legal structures and our policy structures to catch up with rapidly advancing technologies. And as a consequence, through a series of steps, what we've tried to do is reform what we do and have taken these issues very seriously. Domestically, we've tried to provide additional assurances to the American people that their privacy is protected. But what I've also done is taken the unprecedented step of ordering our intelligence communities to take the privacy interests of non-U.S. persons into account in everything that they do -- something that has not been done before and most other countries in the world do not do. What I've said is, is that the privacy interests of non-U.S. citizens are deeply relevant and have to be taken into account, and we have to have policies and procedures to protect them, not just U.S. persons. And we are in the process of implementing a whole series of those steps.
We have shared with the Germans the things that we are doing. I will repeat what I've said before -- that ordinary Germans are not subject to continual surveillance, are not subject to a whole range of bulk data gathering. I know that the perceptions I think among the public sometimes are that the United States has capacities similar to what you see on movies and in television. The truth of the matter is, is that our focus is principally and primarily on how do we make sure that terrorists, those who want to proliferate weapons, transnational criminals are not able to engage in the activities that they're engaging in. And in that, we can only be successful if we're partnering with friends like Germany. We won't succeed if we're doing that on our own.
So what I've pledged to Chancellor Merkel has been in addition to the reforms that we've already taken, in addition to saying that we are going to apply privacy standards to how we deal with non-U.S. persons as well as U.S. persons, in addition to the work that we're doing to constrain the potential use of bulk data, we are committed to a U.S.-German cyber dialogue to close further the gaps that may exist in terms of how we operate, how German intelligence operates, to make sure that there is transparency and clarity about what we're doing and what our goals and our intentions are.
These are complicated issues and we're not perfectly aligned yet, but we share the same values and we share the same concerns. And this is something that is deeply important to me and I'm absolutely committed that by the time I leave this office, we're going to have a stronger legal footing and international framework for how we are doing business in the intelligence sphere.
I will say, though, that I don't think that there is an inevitable contradiction between our security and safety and our privacy. And the one thing that I've tried to share with Chancellor Merkel is that the United States historically has been concerned about privacy. It's embedded in our Constitution, and as the world's oldest continuous constitutional democracy, I think we know a little bit about trying to protect people's privacy.
And we have a technology that is moving rapidly and we have a very challenging world that we have to deal with, and we've got to adjust our legal frameworks. But she should not doubt, and the German people should not doubt, how seriously we take these issues. And I believe that we're going to be able to get them resolved to the satisfaction not just of our two countries but of people around the world.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) Under the present conditions, we have, after all, possibilities as regards differences of opinion to overcome those differences in the medium term and in the long term. One possibility is to enter into such a cyber dialogue, which is very important because that gives us a forum to have somewhat longer discussions as to where we stand individually, what the technical possibilities but also ramifications of technological advances are.
Secondly, there are two strands of negotiations with the European Union -- on the one hand, the Safe Harbor agreement and then the data protection -- privacy protection accord. And in the course of the negotiations, it will come out very clearly what differences of opinion there are, what different perspectives there are. And I think it's of prime importance for us to bring these negotiations forward, the process, but also bring it to a successful conclusion.
And something else comes into play. I heard this, this morning when I had a breakfast meeting with people who are very closely in contact with the parliaments. They suggested to me that our parliaments, too, ought to have closer contacts on this. And that's very important not only for the governments to talk about these things, but also for the broader public. And these could be three possibilities as to how to address this further and also understand each other's motivations and arguments better. Q Mr. President, could you explain to us from your point of view why it's not possible to agree on a no-spy agreement, which was, as we understood, proposed by the U.S. government last summit? What kind of assurances could you give Chancellor Merkel with regard not only to ordinary German citizens, but to government members -- some of them sitting here -- that they are not under U.S. surveillance anymore?
(As interpreted.) And, Chancellor, the question addressed to you -- when the French President was here a couple of weeks ago, after his talk with President Obama, he said that trust as regards to the NSA discussion has been rebuilt. Can you say the same thing?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's not quite accurate to say that the U.S. government offered a no-spy agreement and then withdrew it. I think that what is accurate to say is, is that we do not have a blanket no-spy agreement with any country, with any of our closest partners. What we do have are a series of partnerships and procedures and processes that are built up between the various intelligence agencies.
And what we are doing with the Germans -- as we're doing with the French, as we do with the British, or the Canadians, or anybody -- is to work through what exactly the rules are governing the relationship between each country and make sure that there are no misunderstandings. And I think that we have gone a long way in closing some of the gaps, but as Chancellor Merkel said, there are still some gaps that need to be worked through.
But I think what we can be confident about is that the basic approach that we take with Germany is similar to the approach that we take with all our allies and all our friends, and that during the course of the last several years as technology advanced, I think there was a danger in which traditional expectations tipped over because of new technologies. And what we've tried to do is make sure that our policies now reflect increased capabilities and, as a consequence, increased dangers of intrusions in privacy.
But let me put it this way: Our interest in working effectively with the Germans and to making sure that German governments as well as the German people feel confident about what we do is as important to us as any other country. Germany is at the top of our list in terms of friends and allies and colleagues, and so we're not holding back from doing something with Germany that we somehow do with somebody else.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) I think the whole debate has shown that the situation is such that we have a few difficulties yet to overcome. So this is why there's going to be this cyber dialogue between our two countries, and this is also why there needs to be and will have to be more than just business as usual. I mean, looking at the discussion not only in the German parliament but also among members of the German government and also in the German public, we need to do that.
But it's very good that we have taken these first steps, and what's still dividing us -- issues, for example, of proportionality and the like -- will be addressed. We will work on this, and it's going to be on the agenda for the next few weeks to come.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody.
END 12:50 P.M. EDT
Eating pig or sheep
Vaccines$
If vaccinations work, why is sending your unvaccinnated kid to school a danger to kids who have been vaccinnated?
Kinderdagverblijven weigeren niet-ingeinte kinderen.
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:23
118 kinderdagverblijven willen niet-ingente kinderen kunnen weigeren. Ten minste vijf kinderdagverblijven doen dat al, of voeren een ontmoedigingsbeleid.
Dat blijkt uit een rondgang van RTL Nieuws onder 560 kinderdagverblijven. Deze weigercr¨ches vinden dat de gezondheid van de andere kinderen en medewerkers boven het recht gaat van ouders om hun kind niet in te enten. Zo zegt bijvoorbeeld Sylvia Langen van Kinderopvang JIJ uit Mariahout: "Als er kinderen komen die niet zijn ingent, dan weigeren we die."
Petra den Braber van Tijd voor Kinderen in Sint Willibrord denkt er ongeveer hetzelfde over: "Ik ben van mening dat als ouders de keuze maken om hun kinderen niet te laten inenten, wij de keuze mogen hebben om deze ouders te weigeren."
ZIE OOK: De antwoorden van 94 kinderdagverblijven op de vragen van RTL Nieuws
Een andere weigercr¨che heeft een inentingsplicht zelfs in de algemene voorwaarden staan. Deze en twee andere weigercr¨ches willen anoniem blijven, omdat het onderwerp 'te gevoelig' ligt.
Reacties minister en brancheverenigingDe branchevereniging vindt het niet aan kinderdagverblijven om kinderen te weigeren. Zij vinden dit aan de wetgever. Maar de verantwoordelijke ministers Schippers van Volksgezondheid en Asscher van Sociale Zaken stelden eerder dat dit juridisch niet mogelijk is, omdat het discriminatie op grond van geloofsovertuiging zou betekenen.
De ministers hebben nog niet gereageerd op het nieuws dat vijf kinderdagverblijven nu toch kinderen weigeren. In Den Haag is het nu reces.
Oppositiepartij GroenLinks neemt al wel stelling "Zolang niet-ingeente kinderen ook nog ergens anders terecht kunnen, moeten kinderdagverblijven niet-ingente kinderen kunnen weigeren", zegt GroenLinks-Kamerlid Linda Voortman. "Daarnaast vinden wij dat cr¨ches verplicht moeten informeren als er niet ingente kinderen aanwezig zijn. De GGD moet daar op toezien", aldus Voortman.
De PvdA vindt dat weigering van kinderen door de kinderopvang (tijdelijk) mogelijk moet zijn "als daar concrete gezondheidsrisico's mee voorkomen kunnen worden".
RTL Nieuws
Germans find stress is contagious
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:35
Photo: DPA
Published: 02 May 2014 11:47 GMT+02:00Updated: 02 May 2014 11:47 GMT+02:00
German scientists have found stress is contagious and can rub off on both strangers and your partner. It can even been transmitted through television shows.
Observing another person in a stressful situation can be enough to make our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol, the study from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and the Technical University in Dresden found.
The contagious affect is particularly bad among couples, but even seeing stressed-out strangers is enough to increase the observer's stress levels, the study found. "The fact that we could actually measure this empathic stress in the form of a significant hormone release was astonishing," said Veronika Engert, one of the study's authors.
During the stress test the subjects were given difficult mental arithmetic tasks and interviews, while being watched by another subject.
The impact of the stress was particularly high when the observer and stressed individual were in a relationship, with 40 percent of observers also getting stressed.
Even when watching a complete stranger, the stress was transmitted to ten percent of observers.
And another 24 percent of observers became stressed when watching the tests over video.
"This means that even television programmes depicting the suffering of other people can transmit that stress to viewers," Engert said. "Stress has enormous contagion potential."
SEE ALSO: German students too stressed out for love
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CDC announces first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infection (MERS) in the United States | Press Release | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC
Sat, 03 May 2014 22:27
MERS case in traveler from Saudi Arabia hospitalized in Indiana
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was confirmed today in a traveler to the United States. This virus is relatively new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
''We've anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we've prepared for and are taking swift action,'' said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. ''We're doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.''
On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient's symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon.
''It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,'' said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.
CDC and Indiana health officials are not yet sure how the patient became infected with the virus. Exposure may have occurred in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials also do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient.
So far, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died. Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.
''In this interconnected world we live in, we expected MERS-CoV to make its way to the United States,'' said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ''We have been preparing since 2012 for this possibility."
Federal, state, and local health officials are taking action to minimize the risk of spread of the virus. The Indiana hospital is using full precautions to avoid exposure within the hospital and among healthcare professionals and other people interacting with the patient, as recommended by CDC.
In July 2013, CDC posted checklists and resource lists for healthcare facilities and providers to assist with preparing to implement infection control precautions for MERS-CoV.As part of the prevention and control measures, officials are reaching out to close contacts to provide guidance about monitoring their health.
While experts do not yet know exactly how this virus is spread, CDC advises Americans to help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by washing hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching their eyes, nose and/or mouth with unwashed hands, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
The largest reported outbreak to date occurred April through May 2013 in eastern Saudi Arabia and involved 23 confirmed cases in four healthcare facilities. At this time, CDC does not recommend anyone change their travel plans. The World Health Organization also has not issued Travel Health Warnings for any country related to MERS-CoV. Anyone who develops fever and cough or shortness of breath within 14 day after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula should see their doctor and let them know where they travelled.
For more information about MERS Co-V, please visit:
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome:http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/index.html
About Coronavirus:http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/index.html
Frequently Asked MERS Questions and Answers:http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/faq.html
Indiana Department of Healthhttp://www.state.in.us/isdh/
###U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
First US MERS case adds to fears that deadly virus is spreading
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:08
A first case of the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) '' which has killed more than 100 people in Saudi Arabia '' has been detected in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed.
The male patient traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, where he changed flights at Heathrow airport to fly to the United States. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.
On April 27, he experienced respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man visited the emergency department at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28 and was admitted that same day.
Because of his travel history, Indiana health officials tested him for MERS, and sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the presence of the virus on Friday.
It has raised new concerns about the spread of the respiratory disease in the Middle East and beyond.
It is similar to the SARS virus that emerged in China over a decade ago and killed some 800 people.
''We have done (a) campaign for the nurses who are working in the school, because there is more crowd in the university and the school,'' said Dr Hussain Abdul Rhaman Al Rand, the Health Ministry's Assistant Undersecretary for Health Centres and Clinics in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). ''Until now, there is no any vaccine available to be given against this virus or any antibiotic or treatment.''
Little is known about the coronavirus, as it is known.
It has been found in bats and camels '' the animals most likely to have infected humans, according to experts.
Officials complain that a lack of cooperation between countries is hampering research.
Euronews correspondent in Dubai, Fran§ois Chignac, said: ''On the one hand, the Ministries of Health in the Gulf countries claim that the situation is under control, nevertheless we must not forget that some of these countries have a high potential for tourism. On the other hand, we have the World Health Organisation which is no longer hiding its concern.''
Washington Post: The enduring benefits of vaccination.
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:24
Recently I wrote about a type of scientific denialism '-- often practiced by religious people '-- that cheats children out of the wonders of modern cosmology and encourages unnecessary religious doubt. But there is another sort of scientific skepticism '-- often displayed by affluent and educated parents '-- that withholds routine childhood vaccinations and encourages unnecessary disease.
These should be kept in proportion. The belief that human beings walked with dinosaurs is wrong. The belief that vaccinations cause autism or brain damage is wrong and dangerous.
In the latter case (as in the former), the scientific argument is not merely lopsided but single-sided. Like any medicine, vaccines have a very small risk of serious side effects, which doctors are trained to identify. But the association of the measles vaccination with autism has been entirely discredited. Childhood vaccinations do not involve dangerous levels of toxins and do not compromise the immune system. And vaccinations prevent a range of diseases '-- chickenpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus '-- that used to routinely hospitalize, disable or kill children.
In most health matters, defying medical authority mainly has individual consequences. Those who believe that cancer can be treated with coffee enemas are only killing themselves. But communicable diseases are different. Some people can't be immunized for medical reasons, or their protective response to a vaccine is weak. They depend on the immunity of others to avoid infection. Immunization rates north of 90 percent are usually required to protect the whole herd.
This means that if even a small portion of the herd refuses vaccination, the risks rise for everyone. Epidemiology grants marginal groups the power to do great harm. The United States generally has rates of immunization in the high 80s or low 90s. In some places, however, the rate dips lower, making it easier for an infected traveler (for example) to cause an outbreak. Recent examples can be found in Orange County, Calif., and New York City. The problem is even worse in Britain (where the immunization rate for measles is only about 80'‰percent) and in other parts of Europe.
Those who resist vaccination are a varied group. The parents of autistic children seek and deserve an explanation. Unfortunately, vaccination is not the answer. Other ''non-conformists'' are a subset of home-schoolers, distrustful of government mandates and intent on the right to keep and bear viruses. A larger number of resisters are committed to an organic, chemical-free, natural lifestyle. This is attractive, except in the case of diseases in which the ''natural'' state '-- through most of history and still in much of the world '-- has been massive infant and child suffering and death. The achievements of science in this area are highly artificial '-- and thank goodness.
The ability to opt out of vaccinations (other than for diagnosed medical problems) is often miscast as a matter of parental choice, leading to a proliferation of state exemptions for vague religious and philosophic reasons. What could be wrong with choice? A lot, when you are choosing to endanger your neighbors. Vaccination '-- in a little-used but useful term '-- is a social responsibility. It is a duty we owe each other as members of a community. Opting out should be difficult and burdensome. And there is no parental right to send a purposely unvaccinated child to public school, exposing other children to unnecessary risk.
Resistance to immunization is not new. In the late 1700s, some believed that the smallpox vaccine could turn people into cows. Today, however, there would be 1,000 Web sites alleging a sinister connection between Big Pharma and Big Dairy. The problem of vaccine denialism is closely tied to the problem of information and authority in the digital age. People prone to skepticism can cover themselves with layers of pseudo-science and conspiracy theories that thicken and harden like papier mache.
On medical issues, the United States needs not more sources of questionable information but more trust in knowledgeable authority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and your local pediatrician are not lying about immunization. Many Web sites are.
The seriousness of this discussion must somehow reflect the seriousness of the stakes. Vaccine denialism is not the equivalent of advocating for diaper-free children or sleeping in the family bed. During the lifetimes of American children born from 1994 to 2013, according to the CDC, childhood vaccinations will prevent an estimated 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths. This is miraculous but not natural.
Read more from Michael Gerson's archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook .
A single algorithm is phasing out the Pap smear | The Verge
Fri, 02 May 2014 10:59
The FDA last week approved a DNA-based HPV test manufactured by Roche Molecular Systems as a primary screening option for cervical cancer. Called the "cobas HPV test," the method detects DNA from high-risk HPV subtypes, and is already recommended for use alongside the traditional Pap smear.
But the FDA's new approval changes two distinct features of how the test is used and promoted: it permits the use of an algorithm that enables the HPV test to be used on its own, and allows Roche to market its HPV test directly to consumers. Combined, those factors could spell the end of the Pap smear as we know it '-- a move that opponents say adds unnecessary confusion to an already complicated screening process, and jeopardizes women's health.
Some cervical cancer cases don't start out with HPV
The American Cancer Society and the US Preventative Task Force recommend that doctors screen women ages 21 to 65 every three years using a Pap smear '-- a test that scrapes cells from the cervix. Alternatively, the groups recommend a screening procedure called "co-testing," which combines the Pap smear and the HPV test to screen women ages 30 to 65 for cervical cancer every five years. This is supposed to be more comprehensive, because a small percentage of cancer cases don't start with an HPV infection (caused by the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus) and another small percentage of cases don't present abnormalities detected through Pap smears.
Yet the new Roche algorithm, developed from a study that followed over 40,000 women for three years, disrupts the co-testing procedure. Instead of taking the cervical swab and putting it under the microscope as well as through Roche's HPV test, the algorithm eliminates the Pap smear in a majority of cases. Moreover, it introduces HPV testing for women age 25 to 30, a group that doesn't need to get tested for HPV under current guidelines.
This new process is supposed to increase early detection and stop more HPV infections from progressing to pre-cancer. But for the many groups who oppose the FDA approval, the possibility that some doctors might give up co-testing in favor of Roche's algorithm is disastrous because, according to them, this new screening procedure will cause confusion, yield unnecessary medical procedures, and could miss non-HPV cases of cervical cancer.
Different rules, same recommendationsThe FDA approval is a big win for Roche, because the company can now advertise the cobas HPV test to women 25 and up, as well as to their doctors. "Now that it's been approved, we are allowed to start talking about it with laboratories and clinicians," says Paul Brown, head of Roche Molecular Systems (which is owned by Roche), "so we can start to inform them about the new use for the test."
Now Roche can advertise directly to patients
But last week's FDA approval does nothing to change current cervical cancer screening recommendations. Co-testing for women 30 and up is still the recommended procedure, and those recommendations won't change unless various medical societies decide to do so. So now that the HPV test has gained approval, doctors and patients who see Roche's new ads will be free to choose it over the Pap test alone or co-testing. "The practice of medicine is not regulated or controlled by the FDA," says Susan Wood, a former FDA official and current director of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, "what is controlled is the marketing of the product."
And it's the marketing of the product, combined with what many say is a lack of evidence regarding the test's effectiveness as a primary screening method, that's making so many experts and advocates uncomfortable. "We are not against the HPV test," says Diana Zuckerman, president of the Cancer and Prevention Treatment Fund. "We are just against it as a primary screen by itself, and as any kind of screening for women under 30."
The medical debateThe Pap smear and the HPV test seem exactly the same: both consist of a cervical swab. But unlike the Pap smear, which checks for abnormalities in cells taken from the cervix, the cobas HPV test pinpoints whether a patient is infected with one of 16 high-risk HPV subtypes '-- including two genotypes that are responsible for over 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Under the new algorithm, women who test negative for HPV can go home without a Pap smear. Women who test positive for those two genotypes, however, go straight to colposcopy '-- a procedure that uses a magnifying tool to check a patient's cervix and vagina for abnormalities.
A patient would only undergo a Pap smear if she had any of the 14 other high-risk genotypes. In that case, a normal Pap test means that she will need to be tested for HPV again the next year rather than waiting five years.
The cobas HPV test doesn't catch everything
But, according to a study published in 2004, about4 percent of cervical cancer cases aren't HPV related. "If a woman has cervical cancer," says Marshall Austin, a gynecological pathologist at the University of Pittsburgh, "her HPV test will be negative about 10 percent of the time." In other words, the cobas HPV test doesn't catch everything.
Age is also a major area of contention. Prior the FDA's approval, the HPV test wasn't used for women age 25 to 30. "There is no evidence to support using the HPV test in women under 30, and a lack of evidence to support changing the current guidelines," says Nida Degesys, national president of the American Medical Student Association. At that age, Wood and Degesys explain, women often clear HPV on their own, so testing them earlier means that women risk undergoing a number of unnecessary and invasive procedures. "The evidence shows that persistent HPV is what puts you at higher risk," Wood says. "So the HPV test is recommended after age 30 '-- not earlier than that '-- because that's when persistent virus occurs, and that's when women start to see cervical changes."
(Carter Dow Photography / Roche)
"an improvement in detection"
But a letter issued by the FDA on April 24th in response to the approval's opponents states that screening women age 25 to 30 for HPV leads to "an improvement in detection of 44 cases per 10,000 women," which the administration described as significant. "Up until now, the cutoff has been 30, and there was good reason for that because there wasn't much available scientific data regarding younger women," Brown, of Roche Molecular Systems, explains. The Roche study, he says, "showed that there was a surprising amount of women in that age group who had pre-cancer."
Opponents of the approval also argue that the new primary screening procedure will cause confusion among medical professionals. The screening guidelines are already "pretty complicated," Chelmow says, "and that's just with two choices: Pap testing by itself or co-testing." By introducing a third option, some patients may end up switching back and forth. "You will have the circumstance where a patient moves from being cared for elsewhere and can't get the records," he says, "and you can't really tell what tests they had, so you don't know exactly when to do the next one."
Of all the arguments against the HPV test, the most controversial is that the new procedure will cause more women to undergo cervical biopsies '-- a procedure that, in serious cases, can cause women to experience complications during future childbirths. The FDA refutes that argument, noting that under the current guidelines, 4.7 percent of women are referred to colposcopy '-- the procedure doctors use to decide if a biopsy is necessary. With Roche's algorithm, that number is 4.6 percent. "HPV primary screening is better than 'current practice,'" the FDA wrote, "because it has the same percent of women being referred to colposcopy, but has an improved positive predictive value and similar negative predictive value."
"There is a level of subjectivity in reading Pap test slides."
And according to Roche, their HPV test is more reliable than a Pap smear: it uses a computer to detect specific DNA markers of certain HPV genotypes, whereas Pap-test slides are read by a pathologist. "There is a level of subjectivity in reading Pap-test slides," Brown says. The DNA test, he says, lowers this risk of a misread result because "the test runs on a fully automated instrument."
The medical societies will decideLike the HPV test, studies have shown that the Pap test falls short in some cases. "We were able to show that 1 in 10 women who had a normal Pap had already gotten pre-cancer with HPV 16 and 18," Brown says. But given the current co-testing guidelines, some doctors argue that using both should identify risky and persistent HPV cases that come without cervical abnormalities, as well as any abnormalities that aren't accompanied by an HPV infection. "I tend to be a fan of co-testing," Austin says, "because you use HPV for its sensitivity and you use the Pap for its specificity."
"there is a lot we don't know."
Now that the approval has gone through, Austin thinks the medical community will simply have to wait and see how patients react. Unfortunately, he says, the approval will make it hard to decipher if the new procedure is really effective, because it's likely that most women will go through each screening procedure interchangeably. "I don't think the new test is a bad test," Austin says. "I just think that there is a lot we don't know." In the meantime, the Society for Gynecologic Oncology said it was developingan interim guidance documentthat will help doctors incorporate primary HPV testing into cervical cancer screening.
If medical societies do decide to change their guidelines, most women won't notice a difference; the cervical swab to which they're are accustomed will still take place. But under Roche's algorithm, the vast majority of swabs will be discarded after going through the company's machines. "Because the specimen was collected in a cytology vial, you still have the sample," that pathologists use to perform the Pap test, Austin says. The difference is that by using Roche's algorithm "you are just electing not to do a second FDA-approved test."
Obama Nation
President Obama at White House Correspondents' Dinner
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:15
May 03, 2014 | 19:29 | Public Domain
President Obama at the 2014 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Download mp4 (718MB) | mp3 (19MB)
Media fawn over Michelle Obama's luxe Marchesa gown at #WHCD
Sun, 04 May 2014 03:29
#FLOTUS#MichelleObama looking radiant in a @MarchesaFashion gown at the #WHCD. Love the hair! #nerdprom#WHCD2014http://t.co/MwXfrCfYzZ
'--Jim Shi (@jimshi809) May 04, 2014Honored. instagram.com/p/njqAdahSli/'--Marchesa (@MarchesaFashion) May 04, 2014
@MichelleObama steps out in @MarchesaFashion for the #WHCD2014'--Marchesa (@MarchesaFashion) May 04, 2014
Excited to share that @MichelleObama is wearing @MarchesaFashion to the #WHCD2014 tonight. Such an honor!'--Keren Craig (@kerenmarchesa) May 04, 2014
The fashion house Marchesa is over the moon over First Lady Michelle Obama's choice of gown at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
The lapdogs of the media are lapping it up, too.
Media gushes over Mrs. Obama's fancy dress, deeming it "perfection." huff.to/1ukOfmN'-- (@toddstarnes) May 04, 2014
She never disappoints! First Lady Michelle Obama looked ravishing in a shimmering white gown at the #WHCD: usm.ag/1oeCPNb'--Us Weekly (@usweekly) May 04, 2014
In Marchesa RT @HuffPostMedia: Michelle Obama looks stunning in a one-shouldered gown at #WHCDhuff.to/1jrq7tT'--John Koblin (@koblin) May 04, 2014
Gorgeous @MarchesaFashion dress @FLOTUS RT: HuffPostStyle: #WHCDhuff.to/1ho6S0mpic.twitter.com/gkjYRmjIZV'' #style#nerdprom'-- (@MischaB) May 04, 2014
Gorgeous @MarchesaFashion dress @FLOTUS RT: HuffPostStyle: #WHCDhuff.to/1ho6S0mpic.twitter.com/gkjYRmjIZV'' #style#nerdprom'-- (@MischaB) May 04, 2014
This may be Michelle Obama's best look ever #WHCDhuff.to/1ho8d7rhttp://t.co/WPQZwRuTPB'-- (@HuffPostStyle) May 04, 2014
A question the fawners aren't asking: How much?
Where's your breathless article on how much it cost? RT @HuffPostStyle: Michelle Obama looks stunning in one-shouldered gown #NerdProm#WHCD'--Erik Soderstrom (@soderstrom) May 04, 2014
Follow @twitchyteam
Who hit the White House Correspondents' Dinner Friday parties
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:56
On the eve of the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, celebrities, politicians and journalists rubbed elbows at a collection of pre-parties on Friday night. Here's a snapshot of who was out on the town:
At the Voto Latino event: The rooftop of the Hay-Adams Hotel buzzed with journalists and activists sipping fruity drinks and sampling sliders and crab cakes. The gathering celebrated diversity in the media and was co-sponsored by Maria Teresa Kumar, of Voto Latino, and the Brunswick Group's David Sutphen. Attendees included senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, MSNBC's Karen Finney, the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart and actor Wilder Valderrama.
Continue ReadingOn Media: Sit back and enjoy the partyThe secret to writing Obama's WHCD jokes
Also spotted in the crowd were saxophonist Ski Johnson, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Emily's List's Stephanie Schriock, and former Obama ''body man'' Reggie Love.
At the Time and People party at the St. Regis: Scott Foley (Jake Ballard from ''Scandal''), NBC's David Gregory, and members of the ''Veep'' cast, including Gary Cole (Kent), Anna Chlumsky (Amy), Matt Walsh (Mike), and Timothy Simons (Jonah) were on hand. Also making a night of it were MSNBC's Ronan Farrow, Jesse Tyler Ferguson from ''Modern Family'' and Patrick Duffy of ''Dallas'' and Savannah Guthrie.
But there's more: director Steve McQueen, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz, assistant press secretary Matt Lehrich, FLOTUS communications director Maria Cristina Gonzalez Noguera, and press secretary Joanna Rosholm. And Biden press secretary Kendra Barkoff, who the cast of ''Veep'' treated as a celebrity. As they should.
The white-carpeted room at the St. Regis was decorated with artificial topiaries and there was a ground-level terrace with two bars, including one with Bloody Mary mix-themed drinks.
The Google/Netflix bash at the Institute of Peace enjoyed a strong media turnout, including Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, NBC's Peter Alexander and Shane Smith of Vice Media.
Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, posed with Farrow, in the lofty atrium. Servers and bartenders sported red suspenders that stood out in the all-white decor. Three dangling white signs spelled out ''story'' ''to'' and ''screen'' in capital letters. An invisible hand sketched massive drawings across one wall that were wiped clean and replaced throughout the evening.
Nancy Pelosi took a picture with the cast from ''House of Cards,'' including Michael Kelley, Sebastian Arcelus, Sakina Jaffrey, and Michael Gill. Gill, who played the president on ''Cards,'' said that he takes inspiration from President Barack Obama. ''I've never seen a president work so hard,'' he told POLITICO.
And who else was there? How about cast members from ''Scandal,'' including Katie Lowes, Guillermo Diaz, Bellamy Young, Dan Bucatinsky. Don't forget Uzo Aduba of ''Orange is the New Black.'' And there's Robin Wright with Molly Parker from HOC. Sage Kotsenburg, Olympic gold medalist snowboarder at Sochi, was on hand, too.
Dom Perignon: In a closed-off dining room and deck at the Fiola Mare restaurant, guests at a party hosted by the bubbly brand and Hollywood entertainment manager Eric Podwall included ''X-Men'' actor Patrick Stewart, Glee's Matthew Morrison, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and the Qatari Ambassador to the U.S., Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari. (Yes, he's a bold-faced name, too.)
Two young British actors were also in attendance: Will Poulter, who starred as one of the kids in the Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis film ''We're The Millers'' and Jeremy Irvine, the lead in Steven Spielberg's 2011 film ''War Horse.''
DP Vintage 2004 freely flowed at the party overlooking the Georgetown waterfront, where guests noshed on Mirada oysters from Washington state, tuna tartar and Hamachi sashimi.
Fusion's White House Correspondents' Party at Look Restaurant & Lounge featured what was likely the only WHCD party where the dancing was center stage. Guests rocked out to a DJ spinning the likes of Michael Jackson before Fonesca came on and played a great set that included his hit song ''Eres Mi Sue±o.'' Guests were treated to sushi, sliders, sunglasses and a fun photobooth. Spotted there were: MSNBC's Toure and Karen Finney; former Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, ABC News' Jim Avila and Maureen Orth, special correspondent for Vanity Fair.
And at the New Yorker's gathering at the rooftop of the W Hotel, the publication's marquee dinner guest actress and author Mindy Kaling was spotted, as well as Ferguson, Duffy and various cast members of ''Veep,'' including Selena Meyer herself Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as was deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
Dylan Byers, Edward Isaac Dovere, Jennifer Epstein,Daniel Lippman,Katie Glueck, andNatalie Villacortacontributed to this report.
Silicon Valley Turned the White House Correspondents' Dinner Into SXSW
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:52
S
It's difficult to further debase an annual event commemorating the moral failings of the media industry. But Silicon Valley is nothing if not innovative. Re/code reports that tech companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft are hosting some of the largest parties during White House Correspondents' weekend.
Yep, the dinner has stretched into an entire weekend, so everyone can rest up between whatever ungodly acts they're performing on each other underneath the table. White House Correspondents' dinner is an embarrassment wrapped in a charade wrapped in personal brands. So of course corporations are going to try to get into it.
But it just so happens that these very same corporations are also trying to sell the line that they have become "increasingly defiant" against government authority, instead of "quietly complying" when the NSA used their services to secretly spy on customers.
Read about this six-hour "Bow Ties & Burgers" party that Facebook and Buzzfeed are throwing with Mark Zuckerberg's words about "the damage the government is creating" in mind:
"The whole weekend is about being VIP and hard-to-get-on lists and we wanted ours to be more open," said Ashley McCollum, vice president of development and communications at Buzzfeed. "The juxtaposition of celebrity and serious is very Buzzfeed-y in a way."
It's the first time Facebook has hosted an event during the party-heavy weekend in Washington. Neither Mark Zuckerberg nor Sheryl Sandberg is expected to attend, a company spokesman confirmed. Facebook's top lobbyist, Joel Kaplan, will help host the event, which is expected to draw upward of 700 people throughout the night.
"Co-hosting the party is just another way for Facebook to do what it does best: Connect people. And who wouldn't want to throw a party with BuzzFeed?" said a Facebook spokesman. Party planners are expecting several celebrities to show up, including actress and producer Mindy Kaling and thespian Patrick Stewart.
This doesn't have anything to do with journalism. This, my little marketers, is SXSW.
Twitter opted against a party this year, a spokesman said, although the company is installing a Twitter Mirror at the Washington Post's pre-dinner party Saturday night so guests can instantly tweet out their selfies via @PostPolitics.
Since we're already post-racism, might as well be post-politics.
To contact the author of this post, please email nitasha@gawker.com.
[Image via Getty]
North Korea releases list of U.S. 'human rights abuses': 'The U.S. is a living hell'
Fri, 02 May 2014 22:00
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 24, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) posing with female soldiers after he inspected the multiple-rocket launching drill of women's sub-units under Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 851 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP PHOTO/KCNA via KNS REPUBLIC OF KOREA
In February, the United Nations released a remarkably comprehensive report on North Korea's human rights abuses. The report interviewed 320 people, including a number of survivors from the notorious secret political system, and concluded that the country was committing human rights violations ''without any parallel in the contemporary world.''
So how did North Korea respond? With indignant anger. For weeks now, North Korean state media have been offering various retorts to the United Nations. In April, a North Korean spokesman argued that the United States and its allies were running a "human rights racket." Then, a few weeks later, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a commentary questioning how a gay man could lead an investigation into human rights.
This week, however, North Korea unveiled a new strategy: Releasing its own human rights reports on the West.
On Wednesday, KCNA released an article titled "News Analysis on Poor Human Rights Records in U.S." It brought up a number of points, including racial discrimination, unemployment, surveillance and poverty. "The U.S. is the world's worst human right abuser and tundra of a human being's rights to existence," the essay concludes.
So what is the U.S. actually doing wrong? Here are the key points from the criticism:
"Under the citizenship act, racialism is getting more severe in the U.S. The gaps between the minorities and the whites are very wide in the exercise of such rights to work and elect.""The U.S. true colors as a kingdom of racial discrimination was fully revealed by last year's case that the Florida Court gave a verdict of not guilty to a white policeman who shot to death an innocent black boy.""That's why 52 percent of the Americans have said that racism still exists in the country while 46 percent contended that all sorts of discrimination would be everlasting." "The U.S. is a living hell as elementary rights to existence are ruthlessly violated." "At present, an average of 300,000 people a week are registered as unemployed, but any proper measure has not been taken." "The housing price soared 11.5 percent last year than 2012 and 13.2 percent in January this year than 2013, leaving many people homeless." "The number of impoverished people increased to 46.5 millions last year, and one sixth of the citizens and 20-odd percent of the children are in the grip of famine in New York City." "All sorts of crimes rampant in the U.S. pose a serious threat to the people's rights to existence and their inviolable rights.""The U.S. government has monitored every movement of its citizens and foreigners, with many cameras and tapping devices and even drones involved, under the pretext of 'national security.'""Meanwhile, bills on easing arms control were adopted in various states of the country, boosting murderous crimes. As a result, the U.S. has witnessed an increasing number of gun-related crimes in all parts of the country and even its military bases this year. In this regard, the United Nations on April 10 put the U.S. on the top of the world list of homicide rates.""The U.S. also has 2.2 millions of prisoners at present, the highest number in the world. For lack of prisons on the part of the government, individuals are providing detention facilities to make money." "A Russian TV said that in the U.S. the wealthy classes are now keen on the investment in providing private prisons for their high profit and so more people will be imprisoned.""Its chief executive, Obama, indulges himself in luxury almost every day, squandering hundred millions of dollars on his foreign trip in disregard of his people's wretched life."The United States isn't the only nation on the receiving end of North Korea's criticism. According to Daily NK, state newspaper Rodong Sinmun announced on Wednesday that North Korea has released a white paper criticizing human rights in South Korea. The report argues that the South has the worst human rights situation in the world, and it's "deprived of everything thanks to America."
''Over 60% of university students cannot afford their school fees so must work [to make ends meet]," the newspaper said, according to a translation from Daily NK. "Some even have to subject their bodies to medical trials."
North Korea's criticism refers to many issues that Americans feel strongly about, such as the Trayvon Martin case, NSA surveillance and private prisons. And while it doesn't cite its data, some of the allegations can be fact-checked: According to Bloomberg, a four-week moving average for jobless claims was 316,750 in the period that ended April 19, while KCNA's house price data appears to come from the S&P/Case-Shiller price index, and its data from opinion polls on racism fits into a broad trend can be that found from other polls.
In fact, the only truly debatable part is on gun crime. While it's true that the number of mass shootings has risen in the United States, violent crime in general has dropped over the past few years, with homicide rates down in most major cities. And while the April 10 U.N. report did note that the United States has a high murder rate, the top spot went to Honduras. (KCNA appears to have misread the report, which said the Americas were the region with most gun crime.)
In South Korea, it's true that tuition is an issue: While college fees are relatively low compared to the United States, students have protested in recent years as tuition rates rose and job prospects dimmed.
Perhaps you can argue that the United States is a "living hell as elementary rights to existence are ruthlessly violated." But does the reality of the situation in the West really compare to stories from North Korea, where hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have died in gulags, where citizens are watched and discriminated against for their political views, and where escaping to another country is prohibited by the state? In the end, this all serves as a nice reminder: Whataboutism seems to be doing better than ever in the 21st century.
Obama Says Execution of Man Who Shot and Buried Teenage Girl Alive is Racist and ''Deeply Troubling'' | FrontPage Magazine
Sun, 04 May 2014 05:46
A foreign reporter asked Obama about the execution of Clayton Lockett who shot a teenage girl, laughed about it and buried her alive.
The reporter compared America to Iran, Saudi Arabia and China. Instead of disagreeing with him or at least taking issue with such a description, Obama agreed with him.
After conceding that the death penalty might be appropriate in a very ''terrible'' crime such as ''mass killing'' or ''the killings of children'', Obama went on a rant about the death penalty.
The application of the death penalty in this country, we have seen significant problems '-- racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty, you know, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence. And all these, I think, do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied. And this situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there.
Obama doesn't directly state that Oklahoma's execution of Clayton Lockett was racist, but he implies it by saying that it highlights these problems.
So I'll be discussing with Eric Holder and others, you know '-- you know, to get me an analysis of what steps have been taken, not just in this particular instance, but more broadly in this area. I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues.
That last part is ObamaSpeak for ''I'm going to unilaterally enforce my way of doing things without regard to the law and you should think deeply about why I'm right.''
Remember that is the monster that Barack Hussein Obama is empathizing with.
The men beat her and used duct tape to bind her hands and cover her mouth. The men had also beaten and kidnapped Neiman's friend along with Bobby Bornt, who lived in the residence, and Bornt's 9-month-old baby.
Lockett later told police ''he decided to kill Stephanie because she would not agree to keep quiet,'' court records state.
Neiman was forced to watch as Lockett's accomplice, Shawn Mathis, spent 20 minutes digging a shallow grave in a ditch beside the road. Her friends saw Neiman standing in the ditch and heard a single shot.
Lockett returned to the truck because the gun had jammed. He later said he could hear Neiman pleading, ''Oh God, please, please'' as he fixed the shotgun.
The men could be heard ''laughing about how tough Stephanie was'' before Lockett shot Neiman a second time.
''He ordered Mathis to bury her, despite the fact that Mathis informed him Stephanie was still alive.''
Stephanie was guilty of not only being murdered, but of being the wrong race to be worthy of Obama's empathy.
Unlike Clayton Lockett. Another one of Obama's many hypothetical sons.
Obama: Botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma 'deeply troubling' - CSMonitor.com
Sun, 04 May 2014 05:43
In his first public response to Oklahoma's botched execution by lethal injection this week, President Obama called for a review by the Justice Department of the use of capital punishment in the US and directed officials there to ask "hard questions" about its future.
''In the application of the death penalty, we have seen significant problems,'' such as racial bias and the execution of innocents, as well as the "deeply troubling" execution of Clayton Lockett, he said, responding to a question at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
''All these do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied," he added.
A new account of Mr. Lockett's death Tuesday tells a narrative of an execution more grim than previously realized.
The report, released Thursday, sketches in time-stamped detail the last 14 hours of Lockett's life, before he ultimately died of a heart attack brought on by a bungled lethal injection procedure. Its new revelation is that Lockett was Tasered several hours before his execution, and it confirms suspicions that a medical examiner botched the IV insertion process.
For days, the story of how Lockett died '' in apparent pain, though lethal injection is supposed to be painless '' has drawn worldwide criticism.
In response, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who allowed Lockett's execution to go forward even though the state Supreme Court had ruled in favor of a stay of execution, ordered a 14-day stay for another inmate who was scheduled to die just two hours after Lockett.
That man, Charles Warner, is currently slated to be put to death on May 13. But the latest account of Lockett's execution, sent by Robert Patton, Oklahoma's chief of corrections, to Governor Fallin in a letter, raises questions that could further delay the execution and stoke outrage from death penalty opponents. The governor has called for a "full review."
At 5 a.m. on April 29, about 13 hours before the execution, prison officials and medical personnel arrived at Lockett's cell to transport him to have X-rays done, reads the narrative. Lockett refused to wear the required shackles. So, at 5:50 a.m., prison staff shocked him with a Taser.
Then, at 6:35 a.m., Lockett arrived at the medical facilities, where personnel examined ''self-inflicted injuries'' that staffers had noticed earlier that morning in his cell. The New York Times describes the wounds as Lockett's having ''slashed his own arm.'' Officials decided that the wounds did not need stitches, according to the report.
At about 5:22 p.m., Lockett, who had no last words, was strapped to the gurney, but a medical technician struggled to find a suitable vein in which to insert the IV line. After spending 51 minutes searching for a ''viable point of entry'' in Lockett's arms, legs, or feet, someone inserted the IV line into Lockett's ''groin area,'' and the execution began at 6:23 that evening.
What happened next unfolded in a series of tweets by Associated Press reporter Bailey Elise McBride (all tweets were posted after the execution), as well as in the narratives of media witnesses from Tulsa World, KFOR-TV, and others.
At 6:33 p.m., the doctor told witnesses that Lockett was unconscious. But at 6:34, Lockett began to ''nod'' and ''mumble.'' He ''tried to sit up.'' Someone inside the execution room was heard saying, ''something's wrong.'' At 6:42, prison staff hastily drew the shades and escorted the witnesses from the viewing room. Outside, Ms. McBride wondered on Twitter if Lockett might be en route to the hospital.
The latest report includes no mention of Lockett's behavior from 6:33 p.m. to 6:42. It says that, at about 6:44 p.m., the doctor called Mr. Patton to tell him that something had gone wrong: The vein had collapsed.
When Patton asked the doctor if enough drugs had been administered to cause death, the doctor said no. When Patton asked if another vein could be used, or if there were enough drugs left to finish, the doctor also said no, according to the report.
At 6:56 p.m., Patton told the doctor to stop the execution. At 7:06 p.m., Lockett died of a heart attack.
Lockett had been sentenced to death for shooting a 19-year-old woman and allowing his accomplices to bury her alive. Warner, the inmate scheduled to die later this month, was convicted of raping and killing his roommate's baby.
Experts told The New York Times that the narrative described in Patton's letter is startling and that they had never before heard of corrections officers using a Taser on an inmate before an execution. They also said they found it baffling that medical personnel had not pre-identified a second vein, should the first one fail.
The White House has also called the execution ''inhumane,'' and several anti-death-penalty groups have issued statements that Oklahoma has proved itself unable to perform executions in accordance with constitutional standards.
At the end of his account, Patton asked the governor to indefinitely stay all executions in the state. Even after the investigation was complete, staff would still require ''extensive training'' in the new measures before executions could resume, he wrote.
At a press conference Thursday night, Fallin said she had the authority to extend the stay up to 60 days, but was awaiting further information on the status of the investigation before deciding whether to do so.
To put the execution on hold for more than 60 days, the attorney general would have to obtain approval from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, according to News OK. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt told News OK that he would seek one ''if necessary.''
''Positive'' US jobs report reflects economic stagnation
Sat, 03 May 2014 12:08
By Patrick Martin3 May 2014The April jobs report from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the US economy returning to the slow growth that has characterized the supposed recovery from the 2008 financial crash, after a winter of near complete standstill.
The BLS reported that 288,000 net new jobs were created in April, and the monthly figures for February and March were revised upward by an additional 32,000 jobs. The effect was to lift the average monthly figure for job-creation in 2014 to 197,000, nearly the same as the figure of 200,000 per month posted last year.
Monthly job-creation fell to a dismal 75,000 in December and 113,000 in January, as the combination of federal sequester cuts, the cutoff of extended unemployment benefits for two million long-term jobless, and the worst winter in a century slashed consumer spending and new hiring.
Given the size of the US population, it requires 160,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with new entrants into the labor force. The present rate of job-creation is barely sufficient to tread water, and does nothing to significantly reduce unemployment among the millions of long-term jobless.
The US news media celebrated the jobs figures, pointing to the drop in the official unemployment rate to 6.3 percent, the lowest level since 2008, and the gains in jobs in professional and business services (75,000) and construction (32,000). Manufacturing jobs rose by only 12,000. Low-paying sectors also showed increases, including retail (35,000) and temporary employment.
New York Times economics writer Neil Irwin observed in a blog posting, however: ''Rarely does a monthly report on the United States job market look so terrific on the surface while being so disappointing underneath. But where the last couple of months have had disappointing top-line numbers with some excellent trends bubbling beneath the surface, this one pairs the excellent surface news with a soft underbelly.''
The most important sign of fundamental weakness is the staggering drop of 800,000 in the labor force in a single month, an indication that the drop in the jobless rate is primarily the result of workers abandoning the search for nonexistent jobs and withdrawing from the job market entirely.
This figure is believed to be a combination of young people pursuing education or unpaid occupations, older workers retiring before they reach age 66 and become eligible for full Social Security benefits, and long-term unemployed people, particularly the millions who have been cut off jobless benefits, which required them to continue seeking work.
The official number for the long-term unemployed fell by 300,000 in April, not because the jobless workers found jobs, but because so many of them stopped looking for work entirely.
The labor force participation rate plunged in April, falling from 63.2 percent to 62.8 percent, the lowest figure since the late 1970s. For those aged 25-54, the labor force participation rate fell from 81.2 percent to 80.8 percent'--meaning one fifth of those in the prime working years have given up seeking employment.
Another sign of weakness is the stagnation in hours worked and hourly wages, both of which showed virtually no change in April.
The hosannas for a 6.3 percent jobless rate only demonstrate the corporate media's historical blindness. During the last recession before the current one, the downturn that followed the collapse of the dot.com bubble in 2000-2001, there was only a single month where the unemployment rate was as high as 6.3 percent. The current slump has seen unemployment above that level for more than six years.
Moreover, key sectors of the working class are suffering disproportionately from unemployment, including minority workers and young people. The jobless rate for workers under age 25 is more than double the overall rate, and one million young workers are neither employed, in school or actively seeking work, and are not counted in the official rate. If these workers were included, the jobless rate for those under 25 would be 18.1 percent.
According to a study published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute, the official unemployment rate today for both young high school graduates and young college graduates is 50 percent greater than before the financial crash: 22.9 percent for high school graduates, compared to 15.9 percent in 2007; 8.5 percent for college graduates, compared to 5.5 percent in 2007.
The ''underemployment rate'' (counting those working part-time who want full-time work) is nearly double that in 2007: 41.9 percent of high school graduates, up from 26.8 percent in 2007; and 16.8 percent for college graduates, compared to 9.6 percent in 2007.
The last set of figures means that nearly half of all young high school graduates either have no job at all, or want to work full-time but cannot get full-time hours. The capitalist profit system has simply abandoned a huge part of an entire generation of the working class.
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F-Russia / Ukraine
Washington Post map : How Ukraine and Russia are moving toward war.
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:22
With Ukrainian troops launching a major assault on a rebel stronghold Friday, just a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Kiev to withdraw its troops from the east and south of the country, it looks like the Ukraine crisis is entering a new stage.
As The Post's Michael Birnbaum reported from Moscow, "it seemed possible that even a small spark could ignite a tinderbox regional conflict."
Given this escalation, The Washington Post is publishing a new map that shows, using information from the Royal United Services Institute and our own analysis, recent troop movements in the region. The graphic illustrates how military exercises conducted by Russia have left a big build-up of troops on Ukraine's border. It also shows Ukraine's own military moves to its borders with Russia and Moldova's Russian-dominated enclave, Transnistria.
It'd be wrong to assume that military conflict between Russia and Ukraine is inevitable: There remains plenty of hope that a diplomatic solution can be found. That said, the graphic provides an important look at the military reality of the crisis.
Click the image to see the full graphic.
(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)
(If the link above doesn't work, you can also click here to see the map.)
War in Europe? Ukraine and the Threat of Wildfire
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:59
These days, Heinz Otto Fausten, a 94-year-old retired high school principal from Sinzig, Germany, can't bear to watch the news about Ukraine. Whenever he sees images of tanks on TV, he grabs the remote and switches channels. "I don't want to be subjected to these images," he says. "I can't bear it."
When he was deployed as a soldier in the Ukraine, in 1943, Fausten was struck by grenade shrapnel in the hollow of his knee, just outside Kiev, and lost his right leg. The German presence in Ukraine at the time was, of course, part of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. But, even so, Fausten didn't think he would ever again witness scenes from Ukraine hinting at the potential outbreak of war.
For anyone watching the news, these recent images, and the links between them, are hard to ignore. In eastern Ukraine, government troops could be seen battling separatists; burning barricades gave the impression of an impending civil war. On Wednesday, Russian long-range bombers entered into Dutch airspace -- it wasn't the first time something like that had happened, but now it felt like a warning to the West. Don't be so sure of yourselves, the message seemed to be, conjuring up the possibility of a larger war.
'A Phase of Escalation'
Many Europeans are currently rattled by that very possibility -- the frightening chance that a civil war in Ukraine could expand like brushfire into a war between Russia and NATO. Hopes that Russian President Vladimir Putin would limit his actions to the Crimean peninsula have proved to be illusory -- he is now grasping at eastern Ukraine and continues to make the West look foolish. Efforts at diplomacy have so far failed and Putin appears to have no fear of the economic losses that Western sanctions could bring. As of last week, the lunacy of a war is no longer inconceivable.
On Friday, leading Western politicians joined up in a rare configuration, the so-called Quint. The leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the United States linked up via conference call, an event that hasn't happened since the run-up to the air strikes in Libya in 2011 and the peak of the euro crisis in 2012 -- both serious crises.
Germany's assessment of the situation has changed dramatically over the course of just seven days. Only a week ago, the German government had been confident that the agreements reached in Geneva to defuse the crisis would bear fruit and that de-escalation had already begun. Now government sources in Berlin -- who make increasing use of alarming vocabulary -- warn that we have returned to a "phase of escalation."
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk spoke of a "worst-case scenario" that now appears possible, including civil war and waves of refugees. Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has even gone so far as to claim that "Russia wants to start a Third World War." (Though, of course, Yatsenyuk also wants to instill a sense of panic in the West so it will come to the aid of his country.)
There may not be reason to panic, but there are certainly reasons for alarm. After 20 years in which it was almost unimaginable, it seems like a major war in Europe, with shots potentially being fired between Russia and NATO, is once again a possibility.
"If the wrong decisions are made now, they could nullify decades of work furthering the freedom and security of Europe," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) told SPIEGEL in an interview. Norbert R¶ttgen, a member of Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German parliament, said, "The situation is getting increasingly threatening." His counterpart in the European Parliament, Elmar Brok of the CDU, also warned, "There is a danger of war, and that's why we now need to get very serious about working on a diplomatic solution."
'Against the Law and without Justification'
Friday's events demonstrated just how quickly a country can be pulled into this conflict. That's when pro-Russian separatists seized control of a bus carrying military observers with the Office of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and detained the officials. As of Tuesday, seven observers were still in detention, including four Germans -- three members of the Bundeswehr armed forces and one interpreter.
The same day, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the de facto mayor of Slavyansk, told the Interfax news agency that no talks would be held on the detained observers, whom he has referred to as "prisoners of war," if sanctions against rebel leaders remain in place. On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, condemned the detentions, describing them as "against the law and without justification." He called for the detainees to be released, "immediately, unconditionally and unharmed." German officials have also asked the Russian government "to act publicly and internally for their release."
The irony that these developments and this new threat of war comes in 2014 -- the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I and the 75th of the start of World War II -- has not been lost on anyone. For years, a thinking had prevailed on the Continent that Europe had liberated itself from the burdens of its history and that it had become a global role model with its politics of reconciliation. But the Ukraine crisis demonstrates that this is no longer the case.
'All Signs Point to an Armed Conflict'
The question now becomes: How far will events in Ukraine go? Fausten, the retired school principal, says he doesn't believe they will lead to war. "The Ukrainians and Russians are still grappling with the aftermath of the world wars," he says. "I can't imagine that the Russians will allow this to come to that."
Others in Germany are beginning to fear the worst. Pastor Heribert D¶lle, 57, of the Catholic Church parish in D¼sseldorf's Derendorf and Pempelfort districts, has been gathering other impressions. One of the churches in the parish is shared by D¼sseldorf's Catholics and Ukrainian Christians. "It feels almost as if we are experiencing the conflict right at our front doors," D¶lle says. "We know each other and fears about what is happening right now in Russia and Ukraine are rising."
In Berlin, Christian Mengel is just one of the droves of tourists who continued to make their way to the capital city's dramatic Soviet War Memorial. "All signs point to an armed conflict, but I do not believe that NATO will intervene and I certainly hope they do not," he says. Visitor Hans Pflanz echoes his sentiment. "I'm afraid that this conflict could expand into an international crisis," he says. "I think our politicians don't understand the Russians' intentions and motives." He says he would prefer the West to remain acquiescent to Russia-- an opinion shared by the majority of Germans, according to pollsters.
Germany Harbors Unique Fear of War
Since 1945, Germany has been been particularly afflicted by worries about wars. As in other countries, millions of Germans died on the fronts and in the cities during the two world wars, but here, an additional factor has weighed heavily: guilt. Even today, Germans remain uncertain whether the Prussian militarism and unconscionable obedience that influenced the country during those wars has been banished entirely or whether it might rear its ugly head again in a time of crisis. Postwar Germans have and continue to long for peace, partly to remain so with themselves.
Germany's fear of war has provided the country with a fertile soil for pacifism. Over the past decades, the German peace movement has fought against the arming of the German Air Force with nuclear weapons as well as plans for the stationing of middle-range missiles by NATO in the 1980s.
The protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s and again during the first Iraq War in 1991 were always infused with some anti-American sentiment. The peace movement's fear of war led it to consistently demand peace from NATO and the West, but when it came to the Soviet Union, its efforts tended to range from friendly to indifferent.
Since the 1970s, peace marches have taken place during the Easter Holiday in Germany and other parts of Europe. It's an important annual event for pacifists, but this year only a few thousand people turned out for them in Germany: Neither Putin's aggressions nor NATO's reactions to them seem to have done much to awaken the slumbering peace movement. Nevertheless, the pacifist mentality is still alive and well. "War is crap. I'd rather stuff flowers into rifle barrels," German film and theater director Leander Haussmann says of the current crisis.
Three-Quarters of Germans Oppose NATO Intervention
Three-quarters of all Germans oppose a military intervention by NATO in the Ukraine crisis and one-third say they can sympathize with Putin's decision to annex Crimea. These sentiments, it seems, stem at least in part from Germans' latent fear of war.
Prominent German political scientist Herfried M¼nkler uses his theories of "heroic" and "postheroic" societies to describe the phenomenon. At the recent Petersburg Dialogue in Leipzig -- an important forum between Germany and Russia that has brought together representatives of the worlds of politics, culture and business since 2001 -- M¼nkler said this "postheroism" is essentially an expression of prosperity, the German daily Die Tageszeitung reported. Those who have it good don't want to jeopardize their good fortune.
M¼nkler argues that, as a rule of thumb, there's an ideal of "heroism of masculinity" in poorer and less developed counties in which notions of war and defense of the homeland are idealized. In "postheroic" societies, however, which tend to be well-developed and prosperous, war is deemed to be aberrant. According to the newspaper, he argued that Eastern Europe isn't prosperous enough to discourage young men from this idea of heroism. Indeed, politicians can often profit if they are able to tap these emotions. When it comes to Putin's policies, he argues, this heroism aspect makes the situation unpredictable. "Dynamics are being toyed with that, at some point, will no longer be controllable," he said.
That sense of heroism was recently on display on Maidan Square in Kiev, where, five months ago. the current crisis began. There, three men stood in front of a barrel on a sunny spring day and used their powerful voices to sing an impassioned song about the "Cossacks' blood-bought glory" and the "Moskaly," a pejorative for Russians. "When the Moskaly cross the border, we'll finish them off," says Dmytro, a 30-year-old whose head has been shaved clean, save for a small tail. He says an invasion by the Russians is only a matter of time, but that his people will be undefeatable if it comes to war. "A Ukrainian with a tail on his head like mine and a weapon in his hand will sit behind every bush," he says.
Ukraine minister: Russia planning invasion
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:57
Ukraine's foreign minister has accused Russian troops of infiltrating and destabilising the east of the country, saying Moscow plans to invade and annex other regions.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Andrii Deshchytsia said that Russian "special troops" and intelligence officers were blackmailing and intimidating Ukrainian citizens to create a false impression of popular support for Moscow.
The comments came as his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, suggested both sides hold talks under the aegis of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"Russia believes that such a dialogue could be arranged between the authorities in Kiev and their opponents in other regions," Lavrov told Rossiya-24 TV.
OSCE military monitors are in eastern Ukraine following an agreement struck in Geneva between the US, the EU, Russia and Ukraine to ease tensions. However, staff have been blocked and harassed, with one group being arrested by pro-Russian separatists.
Deshchytsia said: "Special troops from the Russian army and intelligence have infiltrated eastern Ukraine. These well-equipped groups resort to guns, oppression and blackmail to intimidate people ... in an effort to channel them to their own purposes, and thus create the false impression that their demands are backed by broad public support."
He said that the Geneva agreement "remained on paper" as Russia had done nothing to implement its terms.
"Ukraine took certain steps in this regard such as gearing down anti-terrorism operations, drafting an amnesty law, ensuring evacuation of government buildings and streets seized by various groups, embarking on a constitutional reform for local administrative bodies, and making things easier for the OSCE mission."
"Russia's major goal is to destabilise and control the country. We will not let this happen. Russia wants to hamper the presidential elections in May and also to make the legitimacy of the new government disputable.
"They want to destabilise Ukraine. If they cannot achieve that, they will want to invade and annex certain parts of Ukraine through a direct military intervention."
He said he understood the West would not enter an armed conflict with Russia, but that it could do more to stop the Russian machine working.
"Western countries should implement tougher sanctions which should target certain Russian sectors. Oil and natural gas revenues allow Russia to arm its military forces and invade territory," he said, adding that sanctions should be brought against "decision-makers", including the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday announced a $17bn bailout for Ukraine, while also announcing that Russia was entering into a recession.
Deniz Berktay interviewed Andrii Deshchytsia for Al Jazeera Turk.
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CIA & FBI: Agenten beraten 'bergangsregierung in Kiew - Politik Ausland - Bild.de
Sun, 04 May 2014 12:30
Chef der OSZE-Mission: 'žDas Feuer kam immer n¤her. Jetzt geht es uns gut''. Druck Moskaus entscheidend. Kiew: Slawjansk fast eingenommen mehr...
Alleged OSCE Observers Held in Slavyansk by Pro-Russian Forces Are Active Duty NATO Military Officers Out of Uniform, Many from Geilenkirchen Intelligence Base Where Awacs Are Flown; Visit Was Sponsored by German Defen
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:19
Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.PressTVApril 27, 2014
[download video] [download audio]
Press TV: Now looking at the current events with OSCE observers, it goes to show the level of mistrust people in eastern and southern Ukraine have with regards to anything connected with Europe. How do you see the role they are playing?
Tarpley: I would have to say first of all, we should stop calling them OSCE observers because all indications are that they are not. That is what the OSCE has been saying continuously since this started and you can see it on their website. There are basically two versions. The Western media say OSCE observers, but the mayor Mr. [Vyacheslav] Ponomaryov, the pro-Russian mayor of Slavyansk, knows them as spies. I'm afraid reality seems to be going in the direction of Mr. Ponomareyov.
These are active-duty NATO military officers. They are four from Germany, one from Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. All NATO or European Union (EU).
The German officers come from a place called Geilenkirchen, which is a very important NATO base. This is where the AWACS planes are flown from. It's one of the big NATO reconnaissance centers and they particularly belong to a unit of the German army, the Bundeswehr, which is called the center for enforcement or verification tasks. In other words, it's military intelligence. What seems also to be the case, is that they were accompanied by five active-duty Ukrainian officers of the pro-Kiev forces, the ones that are controlled by the regime.
The complicating factor is they were riding around in OSCE vehicles. They were in a bus that seems to have been displaying OSCE markings. Now, when they were captured, there was obviously tremendous pressure exercised by the German Defense Ministry and the whole NATO apparatus on the OSCE to play along with this charade, pretending that they were sent by the OSCE, but it hasn't worked.
On Friday evening in Vienna, on the first program of the Austrian television, Claus Neukirch, a high-ranking official of the OSCE, said this was not our group, not our visit, we were not the ones who did it. This is also admitted on the Deutsche Welle. Deutsche Welle is the international TV and radio of the German Foreign Ministry.
All of this exists really only in German, so today, the Ukrainian foreign minister struggling to keep up this fakery to maintain the camouflage, the Ukrainian foreign minister said, ''oh, the Secretary General of the OSCE will be arriving here in order to begin negotiations or to take them over.'' Very wisely the secretary general of the OSCE, an Italian diplomat named Lamberto Zannier, said ''no, I'm not going.'' He was very well advised not to go. Who knows what would happen to him if he got there?
The fact is that for the first couple of days, negotiations were conducted exclusively by the German Defense Ministry, who were the people that made the deal with Kiev to send these people in. This was embarrassing that the German Defense Ministry leaned on the OSCE to say ''why don't you go in and negotiate,'' which the OSCE I think unwisely did.
I would say to Mr. Zannier, don't go to Ukraine, rather you should denounce the abuse and perversion of an OSCE vehicle in the name of the OSCE by what is in fact NATO military intelligence, and if you're caught behind military lines with no uniform, that's sometimes called espionage, whether that's the current situation or not, it's not clear, but I would urge everyone to stop referring to them as OSCE observers, they are NATO military officers.
Obama & Merkel: Spying differences still remain
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:10
Barack Obama and Angela Merkel (R) leave the podiums after a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 02 May 2014. Photo: DPA
Published: 03 May 2014 10:37 GMT+02:00Updated: 03 May 2014 10:37 GMT+02:00
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted on Friday that differences remained in a damaging row over US spying which has strained their personal and diplomatic relationship.
Merkel on Friday made her first visit to the White House since revelations broke last year about National Security Agency (NSA) spies eavesdropping on her mobile phone, as well as about wider US surveillance programs.
The claims embarrassed Obama, who sees Merkel as a key European ally, and led Merkel to say amid an uproar in Germany at the time that spying between friends is "just not done."
On Friday, in a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, Merkel and Obama were at pains to play down ill feeling over the NSA claims made by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden.
Obama even said the episode had "pained me." But the pair also made clear that they did not see eye to eye on the affair.
"These are complicated issues, and you know, we're not perfectly aligned yet, but we share the same values, and we share the same concerns," Obama said. Merkel agreed.
"I think the whole debate... has shown that the situation is such that we have a few difficulties yet to overcome," she said.
Obama, who has previously said Washington is no longer spying on Merkel's cellphone, said that his government had shared with Germany details of its bulk surveillance of telephone numbers and duration of calls, which the NSA uses to trace terrorism networks.
But he insisted that Americans were not listening in on the telephone calls of Germans.
"Angela Merkel is one of my closest friends on the world stage and somebody whose partnership I deeply value," Obama said.
"And so it has pained me to see the degree to which the Snowden disclosures have created strains in the relationship."
Obama said that the privacy interests of non US citizens must be taken into account in framing new rules for NSA activities.
But the president disputed reports that the US intelligence community had offered Germany a no-spy agreement that had then been rejected by the White House, which does not want to set a precedent for other allies.
He said that Washington did not have blanket no-spy agreements with any nation, though had some specific arrangements with foreign intelligence agencies which were under review.
"I think that we have gone a long way in closing some of the gaps, but as Chancellor Merkel said, there are still some gaps that need to be worked through," he said.
For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter
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Today's headlines
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Barack Obama and Angela Merkel (R) leave the podiums after a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 02 May 2014. Photo: DPA
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted on Friday that differences remained in a damaging row over US spying which has strained their personal and diplomatic relationship. READ () >>
Tributes to Diren in Hamburg. Photo: DPA
The father of German exchange student Diren Dede, who was shot on Sunday in a garage in Montana, has attacked America's gun culture and described what he believes happened on the night of his son's death. READ () >>
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Germany's week in pictures
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German lawmakers fumed on Friday over "vicious" criticism by senior US senators of Chancellor Angela Merkel's stance on Ukraine ahead of talks she will hold with US President Barack Obama. READ () >>
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German Businesses Urge Halt on Sanctions Against Russia
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:22
Updated May 1, 2014 10:11 p.m. ET
BERLIN'--Angela Merkel is carrying a clear message from Germany's business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions.
Several of the biggest names in German business'--including chemical giant BASF SE, engineering group Siemens AG, Volkswagen AG, Adidas AG and Deutsche Bank AG'--have made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private. (Read the latest updates on the...
Joint Geneva Statement on Ukraine from April 17: The full text - The Washington Post
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:08
Published: APRIL 17, 1:26 PM ET Aa Following is the text of the statement released by diplomats meeting in Geneva on the Ukraine crisis ; they agreed that parties would refrain from ''violence, intimidation, or provocative actions'' and that all ''illegal armed groups will be disarmed.''
The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.
All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.
All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.
GALLERY
Ukrainian forces, pro-Russian militants clash:'‰Ukraine is trying to restore order in its east.
Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.
It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.
The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine's regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.
The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.
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UPDATE 2-IMF says Ukraine would need modified bailout if eastern region lost
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:07
UPDATE 2-IMF says Ukraine would need modified bailout if eastern region lostTop News
UPDATE 2-IMF says Ukraine would need modified bailout if eastern region lost
Thu, May 01 13:43 PM EDT
(Adds further details on Ukraine's reforms)
By Anna Yukhananov
WASHINGTON, May 1 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday it would be forced to re-design its $17 billion bailout for Ukraine and require additional financing if the country lost territory in its restive eastern region.
The Fund also said a deterioration in relations between Ukraine and Russia, which buys about a quarter of Ukrainian exports, could further hurt Kiev's economy and force an adjustment to the bailout approved by the IMF board on Wednesday.
"A long-lasting disruption of relations with Russia that depresses exports, investment, and growth, or a loss of economic control over the East that reduces budget revenue would require a significant recalibration of the program and additional financing, including from Ukraine's bilateral partners," the IMF said in a staff report released on Thursday.
In outlining the risks to the program, the IMF also warned of uncertainty about the Ukraine government's commitment to an extensive program of reforms, many of them politically unpopular, especially after its May 25 presidential election.
Ukraine's prior two IMF aid packages were suspended after Kiev failed to comply with promised economic changes. This time, the IMF committed to reviewing Ukraine's progress with reforms every two months, with the next review set for the end of May.
The IMF bailout should unlock another $15 billion in additional aid from Ukraine from the World Bank, the European Union, Canada and other donors. The money is intended to help stabilize Ukraine's economy in the middle of its worst civil turmoil since independence in 1991.
Ukraine's pro-Western leaders conceded on Wednesday they were "helpless" to counter the takeover of government buildings and police stations to pro-Russia separatists in the Donbass coal and steel belt region, located in eastern Ukraine and accounting for up to a third of the country's industrial output.
Ukraine says Russia is behind the unrest, but Russia denies having any part in the rebellion.
The unrest follows months of anti-government protests and Russia's annexation of the Crimea region, which had already pushed Ukraine's economy to the brink of bankruptcy and into a likely 5 percent contraction this year, according to the IMF.
The IMF acknowledged Ukraine no longer has control over Crimea, but said the region accounts for only 3.7 percent of Ukraine's national output, and its annexation should not hurt the central government's ability to carry out reforms.
REFORMS ON DEADLINE
As part of the two-year IMF bailout, Ukraine has promised to keep a flexible exchange rate, move to inflation-targeting, stabilize its financial system, raise energy prices and deal with persistent deficits at Naftogaz, the state-owned oil and gas company. Naftogaz's financing needs could reach 4.1 percent of GDP this year, the IMF said.
Kiev must also implement structural reforms to improve the business climate and deal with corruption, a long-standing problem in Ukraine.
There are specific deadlines for each of these reforms.
For example, the government agreed to scrap wage increases for the public sector scheduled for July and October, and raise gas and heating prices by another 40 percent in 2015, and by 20 percent in each of the following two years.
The Ukrainian government already has said it would raise gas prices by more than 50 percent starting on Thursday.
However, the IMF said there should be some flexibility in the performance criteria given Ukraine's difficult environment.
The key will be for Ukraine's government to stick by its reform pledges even after its presidential election, the IMF said.
"(Authorities') staunch commitment to economic transformation despite resistance from entrenched vested interests will be key for the program's ultimate success," the IMF said.
The IMF's bailout, along with assistance from other donors, should help Ukraine make $9 billion in debt payments this year, along with another $3.5 billion that, according to Russia's Gazprom, Naftogaz owes to Moscow for gas imports.
Five billion dollars of the bailout money will go back to the IMF over the next two years to pay off Ukraine's debts from prior Fund programs.
The IMF said Ukraine's success with the program, along with support from other donors, could be a "watershed moment" for the country, transforming its economy after decades of economic mismanagement and corruption.
"However, if strong support is not delivered and reform momentum is lost, the full force of the current crisis would devastate Ukraine, perpetuating the vicious dynamic of bad policies followed by catastrophic crises," the IMF said. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Andrea Ricci, David Gregorio and Paul Simao)
UPDATE 2-IMF says Ukraine would need modified bailout if eastern region lostTop News
UPDATE 2-IMF says Ukraine would need modified bailout if eastern region lost
Thu, May 01 13:43 PM EDT
(Adds further details on Ukraine's reforms)
By Anna Yukhananov
WASHINGTON, May 1 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday it would be forced to re-design its $17 billion bailout for Ukraine and require additional financing if the country lost territory in its restive eastern region.
The Fund also said a deterioration in relations between Ukraine and Russia, which buys about a quarter of Ukrainian exports, could further hurt Kiev's economy and force an adjustment to the bailout approved by the IMF board on Wednesday.
"A long-lasting disruption of relations with Russia that depresses exports, investment, and growth, or a loss of economic control over the East that reduces budget revenue would require a significant recalibration of the program and additional financing, including from Ukraine's bilateral partners," the IMF said in a staff report released on Thursday.
In outlining the risks to the program, the IMF also warned of uncertainty about the Ukraine government's commitment to an extensive program of reforms, many of them politically unpopular, especially after its May 25 presidential election.
Ukraine's prior two IMF aid packages were suspended after Kiev failed to comply with promised economic changes. This time, the IMF committed to reviewing Ukraine's progress with reforms every two months, with the next review set for the end of May.
The IMF bailout should unlock another $15 billion in additional aid from Ukraine from the World Bank, the European Union, Canada and other donors. The money is intended to help stabilize Ukraine's economy in the middle of its worst civil turmoil since independence in 1991.
Ukraine's pro-Western leaders conceded on Wednesday they were "helpless" to counter the takeover of government buildings and police stations to pro-Russia separatists in the Donbass coal and steel belt region, located in eastern Ukraine and accounting for up to a third of the country's industrial output.
Ukraine says Russia is behind the unrest, but Russia denies having any part in the rebellion.
The unrest follows months of anti-government protests and Russia's annexation of the Crimea region, which had already pushed Ukraine's economy to the brink of bankruptcy and into a likely 5 percent contraction this year, according to the IMF.
The IMF acknowledged Ukraine no longer has control over Crimea, but said the region accounts for only 3.7 percent of Ukraine's national output, and its annexation should not hurt the central government's ability to carry out reforms.
REFORMS ON DEADLINE
As part of the two-year IMF bailout, Ukraine has promised to keep a flexible exchange rate, move to inflation-targeting, stabilize its financial system, raise energy prices and deal with persistent deficits at Naftogaz, the state-owned oil and gas company. Naftogaz's financing needs could reach 4.1 percent of GDP this year, the IMF said.
Kiev must also implement structural reforms to improve the business climate and deal with corruption, a long-standing problem in Ukraine.
There are specific deadlines for each of these reforms.
For example, the government agreed to scrap wage increases for the public sector scheduled for July and October, and raise gas and heating prices by another 40 percent in 2015, and by 20 percent in each of the following two years.
The Ukrainian government already has said it would raise gas prices by more than 50 percent starting on Thursday.
However, the IMF said there should be some flexibility in the performance criteria given Ukraine's difficult environment.
The key will be for Ukraine's government to stick by its reform pledges even after its presidential election, the IMF said.
"(Authorities') staunch commitment to economic transformation despite resistance from entrenched vested interests will be key for the program's ultimate success," the IMF said.
The IMF's bailout, along with assistance from other donors, should help Ukraine make $9 billion in debt payments this year, along with another $3.5 billion that, according to Russia's Gazprom, Naftogaz owes to Moscow for gas imports.
Five billion dollars of the bailout money will go back to the IMF over the next two years to pay off Ukraine's debts from prior Fund programs.
The IMF said Ukraine's success with the program, along with support from other donors, could be a "watershed moment" for the country, transforming its economy after decades of economic mismanagement and corruption.
"However, if strong support is not delivered and reform momentum is lost, the full force of the current crisis would devastate Ukraine, perpetuating the vicious dynamic of bad policies followed by catastrophic crises," the IMF said. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Andrea Ricci, David Gregorio and Paul Simao)
IMF warns Ukraine on bailout if it loses east - CNBC
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:05
In a staff report on the aid program, published Thursday, the IMF added that a change to eastern Ukraine's borders could force it to adjust its bailout.
"The unfolding developments in the east and tense relations with Russia could severely disrupt bilateral trade and depress investment confidence for a considerable period of time, thus worsening the economic outlook," it said.
"Should the central government lose effective control over the east, the program will need to be re-designed."
The detention of Russia's military attach(C) to Kiev by Ukrainian police on Thursday morning highlighted concerns that the tensions gripping the country are unlikely to go away.
The IMF predicts Ukraine's economy to shrink by 5 percent at least this year. The country has been hidebound by corruption in business and politics. New anti-corruption laws are expected, but their effectiveness remains to be seen.
Read MoreUkraine and IMF announce up to $18bn bailout
"This is something of a leap of faith for the IMF and is politically driven by key IMF shareholders to support the (interim prime minister Arseniy) Yatseniuk "kamikaze" administration in its reform efforts," according to Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank.
Ukraine will get $3.2 billion straight away to help stabilize its economy, which was already in trouble before recent unrest in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. The ratio of public sector debt to gross domestic product, a key measure of how heavily the government is indebted, will rise from 41 percent at the end of 2013 to 57percent at the end of 2014 following the deal. This may trigger a repayment of debt to Russia, which was incurred as part of an earlier planned bailout, interrupted by the ousting of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Ironically, Ukraine is still heavily dependent on trade with Russia, which is at risk both from the conflict and any sanctions imposed by the West against Moscow.
Ukraine reinstates military draft as NATO threatens Russia
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:20
By Alex Lantier2 May 2014NATO officials escalated their military build-up against Russia yesterday, as the pro-Western puppet regime in Kiev reinstated conscription in order to boost its crackdown on spreading pro-Russian protests in eastern Ukraine.
The news came as the position of the far-right regime in Kiev weakened, with more cities and government buildings in east Ukraine held by protesters and militias opposed to it. Protesters stormed the prosecutor's office, disarming police, in the city of Donetsk, one of many cities in the region, including Luhansk, Slavyansk, and Kramatorsk, now outside of Kiev's control.
A statement issued by the Kiev regime's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov confirmed that the aim of the conscription order, for all able-bodied males between 18 and 25, was to boost the crackdown in predominately Russian-speaking areas. The order was issued ''given the deteriorating situation in the east and the south [and] the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings,'' the statement declared. It added that the protests ''threaten the territorial integrity'' of Ukraine.
Turchynov's justification for the conscription order is a political fraud. His regime, the product of a Western-backed putsch, does not stand for Ukraine's independence or its territorial integrity. The regime has launched crackdowns planned in discussions with top US officials such as CIA Director John Brennan and Vice President Joe Biden, who visited Kiev as successive waves of repression began.
The contempt of the Kiev regime and its imperialist backers for the Ukrainian population was further underscored by their agreement to a $17 billion bailout package dictated by the International Monetary Fund. It is conditioned on unpopular fuel price increases and mass layoffs in the public sector that have already provoked protests in several cities.
Turchynov has admitted that his regime's security forces are ''helpless'' to stop the spread of pro-Russian seizures of cities and government buildings across east Ukraine. Some army and police units have refused orders to shoot protesters. The Kiev regime has turned to setting up private militias led by business oligarchs or fascist paramilitaries from the Right Sector to attack the protesters.
This crackdown has placed the world on the verge of war. Moscow has stated that it will use ''all means'' to protect ethnic Russians from Ukrainian forces, should the Kiev regime's crackdown escalate into a large-scale massacre of the population of east Ukraine. In a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that all Ukrainian troops be withdrawn from eastern Ukraine.
The conscription order is a desperate attempt to bolster the tottering Kiev regime amid deepening political crisis and rising popular opposition. If obeyed in parts of the country still under Kiev's control, it would provide back-up to the fascist forces spearheading the repression of the protests.
It would also place an army of over a million men, supported and equipped by NATO, directly on Russia's southwestern border. In this, the Kiev regime is doing the bidding of its Western imperialist masters, who are recklessly denouncing Russia and mounting a military build-up across Eastern Europe laying the basis for a major war with Russia.
Yesterday, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow branded Russia an enemy. ''Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner, but as more of an adversary than a partner,'' he said.
Vershbow said NATO could repudiate its 1997 pledge not to station nuclear weapons or large numbers of troops in Eastern Europe. Given Russia's annexation of the Crimea and the east Ukraine protests, he said, ''we would be within our rights'' to scrap the deal and permanently station ''significant'' numbers of troops in Eastern Europe.
The Western powers are seizing upon the Ukraine crisis to try to carry out a major restructuring of European and world politics. Like the September 11, 2001 attacks, which US imperialism exploited to launch a series of unpopular Middle East wars, the Ukraine crisis is to provide the Western imperialist powers with a justification for a massive military escalation and the preparation of large-scale wars.
Such topics will doubtless be at the heart of discussions today between US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting Washington, DC.
Claims that NATO's reckless escalation is simply a response to Russian military aggression are lies. Protests in eastern Ukraine'--previously the power base of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed by the February putsch'--are not the product of Russian aggression, but of broad opposition to the oligarchs and fascists who lead the Kiev regime. They are a consequence of the reckless decision of the NATO powers, led by Washington and Berlin, to back the putsch and then stoke tensions with Moscow.
Since the Kiev putsch, Washington and its NATO allies have stationed fighter jets and ground forces in Poland, the Baltic States, and Romania. They have also stepped up naval deployments to the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, while hypocritically denouncing Russia for stationing troops along its western border with Ukraine.
Vershbow said that NATO will deploy more forces, to be able to intervene rapidly in the Baltic states. ''We want to be sure that we can come to the aid of these countries if there were any, even indirect, threat very quickly before any facts on the ground can be established,'' he said.
Such a deployment would be wildly provocative. Were NATO forces to be stationed in the northernmost Baltic country, Estonia, they would be less than 100 miles from Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg.
NATO officials also announced yesterday that they were examining ways to grant NATO membership status to the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, in the southern Caucasus.
Such a move also directly raises the risk of war between Russia and NATO. Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, after Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers stationed in ethnic minority regions of Georgia along its border with Russia. Had Georgia been a NATO member state at the time, the other NATO powers could have invoked the Clause 5 mutual self-defense guarantee between NATO member states to justify intervening in the war on Georgia's side.
NATO Special Representative for the Caucasus James Appathurai pledged that the organization would ignore Russian objections to Georgian membership in NATO.
''What Russia says or does will not influence our decision,'' he said. ''We will judge Georgia on Georgia's merits and regardless of what's happening elsewhere and regardless of comments from the Kremlin or elsewhere '... We are now looking, of course, at next steps, at bringing Georgia even closer to NATO and to meeting its goals.''
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Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 04 May 2014 04:15
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
OSCE participating states
Partners for Co-operation
SecretariatVienna, AustriaOfficial languagesEnglish, French, German, Italian, Russian, SpanishMembership57 participating states, 11 Partners for Co-operationLeaders - Secretary GeneralLamberto Zannier - Chairman-in-OfficeDidier Burkhalter - Officer for DemocraticInstitutions and Human RightsJanez Lenarčič - Representative on Freedom of the MediaDunja Mijatović - High Commissioneron National MinoritiesAstrid ThorsEstablishment - As the CSCEaJuly 1973 - Helsinki Accords30 July '' 1 August 1975 - Paris Charter21 November 1990 - Renamed OSCE1 January 1995 Area - Total50,119,801 km219,351,363 sq miPopulation - 2010 estimate1,229,503,230 (2nd) - Density24.53/km263.5/sq miWebsitewww.osce.orga.Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control and the promotion of human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections. It has 550 staff at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, and 2,300 field staff. It has its origins in the 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland.[1]
The OSCE is concerned with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation. Its 57 participating states are located in Europe, Asia and North America and cover most of the land area of the Northern Hemisphere. It was created during the Cold War era as an East''West forum.[2]
History and legal status[edit]The Organization has its roots in the 1973 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). Talks had been mooted about a European security grouping since the 1950s but the Cold War prevented any substantial progress until the talks at Dipoli in Espoo began in November 1972. These talks were held at the suggestion of the Soviet Union which wished to use the talks to maintain its control over the communist countries in Eastern Europe, and President of FinlandUrho Kekkonen hosted them in order to bolster his policy of neutrality. Western Europe, however, saw these talks as a way to reduce the tension in the region, furthering economic cooperation and obtaining humanitarian improvements for the populations of the Communist bloc.
The recommendations of the talks, in the form of "The Blue Book", gave the practical foundations for a three-stage conference called the "Helsinki process".[citation needed] The CSCE opened in Helsinki on 3 July 1973 with 35 states sending representatives. Stage I only took five days to agree to follow the Blue Book. Stage II was the main working phase and was conducted in Geneva from 18 September 1973 until 21 July 1975. The result of Stage II was the Helsinki Final Act which was signed by the 35 participating states during Stage III, which took place in Finlandia Hall from 30 July '' 1 August 1975. It was opened by Holy See's diplomat Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, who was chairman of the conference.
The concepts of improving relations and implementing the act were developed over a series of follow-up meeting, with major gatherings in Belgrade (4 October 1977 '' 8 March 1978), Madrid (11 November 1980 '' 9 September 1983) and Vienna (4 November 1986 '' 19 January 1989).
A unique aspect of the OSCE is the non-binding status of its constitutive charter. Rather than being a formal treaty ratified by national legislatures, the OSCE Final Act represents a political commitment by the heads of government of all signatories to build security and cooperation in Europe on the basis of its provisions. This allows the OSCE to remain a flexible process for the evolution of improved cooperation which avoids disputes and/or sanctions over implementation. By agreeing these commitments, signatories for the first time accepted that treatment of citizens within their borders was also a matter of legitimate international concern. This open process of the OSCE is often given credit for helping build democracy in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, thus leading to the end of the Cold War. Unlike most international intergovernmental organizations, however, the OSCE is deprived of international legal personality on account of the lack of legal effect of its charter.[3] As a result, its headquarters host, Austria, had to confer legal personality on the organization in order to be able to sign a legal agreement regarding its presence in Vienna.
The collapse of the Soviet Union required a change of role for the CSCE. The Charter of Paris for a New Europe, signed on 21 November 1990, marked the beginning of this change. With the changes capped by the renaming of the CSCE to the OSCE on 1 January 1995, accordingly to the results of the conference held in Budapest, Hungary, in 1994. The OSCE now had a formal secretariat, Senior Council, Parliamentary Assembly, Conflict Prevention Centre, and Office for Free Elections (later becoming the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights).
In December 1996, the "Lisbon Declaration on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century" affirmed the universal and indivisible nature of security on the European continent.
In Istanbul on 19 November 1999, the OSCE ended a two-day summit by calling for a political settlement in Chechnya and adopting a Charter for European Security. According to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov, this summit marked a turning point in Russian perception of the OSCE, from an organization that expressed Europe's collective will, to an organization that serves as a Western tool for "forced democratization".[4]
After a group of thirteen DemocraticUnited Statessenators[who?] petitioned Secretary of StateColin Powell to have foreign election monitors oversee the 2004 presidential election, the State Department acquiesced, and PresidentGeorge W. Bush invited the OSCE to do so.[5][6]
Languages[edit]The six official languages of the OSCE are English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Participating States[edit]OSCE signatories as of 2006 signed Helsinki Final Act only
non-signatory
partner for cooperation
Partners for co-operation[edit]Structure and institutions[edit]Political direction to the organization is given by heads of state or government during summits. Summits are not regular or scheduled but held as needed. The last summit took place in Astana (Kazakhstan), on 1 and 2 December 2010. The high-level decision-making body of the organization is the Ministerial Council, which meets at the end of every year. At ambassadorial level the Permanent Council convenes weekly in Vienna and serves as the regular negotiating and decision-making body. The post of chairman-in-office is held by the minister for foreign affairs of the participating State which holds the chairmanship. The chairperson of the Permanent Council is the ambassador to Austria of the participating State which holds the chairmanship. From 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012 the Chairman-in-Office is Tnaiste (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore, who succeeded Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis.
In addition to the Ministerial Council and Permanent Council, the Forum for Security Co-operation is also an OSCE decision-making body. It deals predominantly with matters of military co-operation, such as modalities for inspections according to the Vienna Document of 1999.[10]
The OSCE's Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria. The current Secretary General is Lamberto Zannier of Italy, who took over from Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France.[11] The organization also has offices in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Prague and Warsaw.
The OSCE employs close to 440 persons in its various institutions. In the field, the organization has about 750 international and 2,370 national staff.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe passes resolutions on matters such as political and security affairs, economic and environmental issues, and democracy and human rights. Representing the collective voice of OSCE parliamentarians, these resolutions and recommendations are meant to ensure that all participating states live up to their OSCE commitments. The Parliamentary Assembly also engages in parliamentary diplomacy, and has an extensive election observation program.
The oldest OSCE institution is the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), established in 1991 following a decision made at the 1990 Summit of Paris. It is based in Warsaw, Poland, and is active throughout the OSCE area in the fields of election observation, democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, rule of law, and Roma and Sinti issues. The ODIHR has observed over 150 elections and referendums since 1995, sending some 35,000 observers. It has operated outside its own area twice, sending a team that offered technical support to the 9 October 2004 presidential elections in Afghanistan, an OSCE Partner for Co-operation, and an election support team to assist with parliamentary and provincial council elections on 18 September 2005. ODIHR is headed by Janez Lenarčič.
The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, established in December 1997, acts as a watchdog to provide early warning on violations of freedom of expression in OSCE participating States. The representative also assists participating States by advocating and promoting full compliance with OSCE norms, principles and commitments regarding freedom of expression and free media. As of 2011, the current representative is expert in media law from Bosnia and Herzegovina Dunja Mijatovic.[12]
Chairmanship[edit]The responsibilities of the Chairman-in-Office (CiO) include
co-ordination of the work of OSCE institutions;representing the Organization;supervising activities related to conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.The chairmanship rotates annually, and the post of the chairman-in-office is held by the foreign minister of the participating State which holds the chairmanship. The CiO is assisted by the previous and incoming chairman-in-office; the three of them together constitute the Troika. The origin of the institution lies with the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990), the Helsinki Document 1992 formally institutionalized this function.
The 2012 Troika consists of the current CiO, Tnaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore; the former CiO, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis; and the incoming CiO, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko.
Summits of heads of State and Government[edit]Ministerial Council Meetings (ordinary)[edit]CouncilDatePlaceCountryDecisions1st19''20 June 1991Berlin GermanyAdmission of Albania2nd30''31 January 1992Prague CzechoslovakiaAdmission of ten former Soviet republics.3rd14''15 December 1992Stockholm SwedenCreation of the post of Secretary General and appointment of Max van der Stoel as first High Commissioner on National Minorities.4th30 November '' 1 December 1993Rome ItalyEstablishment of the Mission to Tajikistan.5th7''8 December 1995Budapest HungaryEstablishment of the Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina to carry out the tasks assigned to the OSCE in the Dayton Peace Agreements.6th18''19 December 1997Copenhagen DenmarkCreation of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities and the Representative on Freedom of the Media.7th2''3 December 1998Oslo Norway8th27''28 November 2000Vienna AustriaVienna Declaration on the OSCE's activities in South-Eastern Europe. Re-admission of FR Yugoslavia.9th3''4 December 2001Bucharest RomaniaBucharest Declaration. Bucharest Plan of Action for Combating Terrorism. Creation of the Strategic Police Matters Unit and a Senior Police Adviser in the OSCE Secretariat.10th6''7 December 2002Porto PortugalPorto Declaration: Responding to Change. OSCE Charter on Preventing and Combating Terrorism.11th1''2 December 2003Maastricht NetherlandsStrategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty-First Century. Strategy Document for the Economic and Environmental Dimension.12th6''7 December 2004Sofia Bulgaria13th5''6 December 2005Ljubljana SloveniaStatement on the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Approval of the Border Security and Management Concept.14th4''5 December 2006Brussels BelgiumBrussels Declaration on Criminal Justice Systems. Ministerial Statement on Supporting and Promoting the International Legal Framework against Terrorism.15th29''30 November 2007Madrid SpainMadrid Declaration on Environment and Security. Ministerial Statement on Supporting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.16th4''5 December 2008Helsinki Finland17th1''2 December 2009Athens GreeceMinisterial Declarations on Non-Proliferation and on the OSCE Corfu Process.16''17 July 2010Almaty KazakhstanInformal discussions on Corfu Process progress, the situation in Kyrgyzstan and the [forthcoming? preceding?] OSCE summit.18th6''7 December 2011Vilnius LithuaniaDecisions on responses to conflicts and transnational threats; to enhance capabilities in early warning; early action; dialogue facilitation and mediation support; and post-conflict rehabilitation. Decisions to enhance engagement with OSCE Partners for Co-operation, Afghanistan in particular.19th6''7 December 2012Dublin IrelandHelsinki+40 Process: clear path to the 2015 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, intent to reinforce and revitalize the OSCE; unanimous support for Transdniestrian settlement process: negotiated, comprehensive, just and viable solution to the conflict; strengthening good governance: deepening engagement in preventing and countering corruption, addressing transnational threats, and adding an anti-terrorism framework to earlier decisions on threats from information and communication technologies, drugs and chemical precursors and strategic policing; despite Ireland's hopes, a decision on human rights was not reached: greater, still, was concern for the Council's trend of human rights decision-failures.[13]20th5''6 December 2013Kiev UkraineChairmanship history[edit]Chairmanship of the OSCE is held by a member state on a calendar-year basis, with the minister for foreign affairs of that state performing the function of Chairman-in-Office. The table below shows the holders since 1991.[14]
Fiscal history[edit]Since 1993, the OSCE's budget by year (in millions of euros, not adjusted for inflation) has been:
2014 ... '‚¬1??.? million2013 ... '‚¬144.8 million2012 ... '‚¬148.4 million2011 ... '‚¬150.0 million2010 ... '‚¬150.7 million2009 ... '‚¬158.6 million2008 ... '‚¬164.1 million2007 ... '‚¬186.2 million2006 ... '‚¬186.2 million2005 ... '‚¬186.6 million2004 ... '‚¬180.8 million2003 ... '‚¬165.5 million2002 ... '‚¬167.5 million2001 ... '‚¬194.5 million2000 ... '‚¬202.7 million1999 ... '‚¬146.1 million1998 ... '‚¬118.7 million1997 ... '‚¬43.3 million1996 ... '‚¬34.9 million1995 ... '‚¬18.9 million1994 ... '‚¬21 million1993 ... '‚¬12 millionRelations with the United Nations[edit]The OSCE considers itself a regional organization in the sense of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter[15] and is an observer in the United Nations General Assembly.[16] The Chairman-in-Office gives routine briefings to the United Nations Security Council.[17]
Politico-military dimension (first dimension)[edit]The OSCE takes a comprehensive approach to the politico-military dimension of security, which includes a number of commitments by participating States and mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution. The organization also seeks to enhance military security by promoting greater openness, transparency and co-operation.
Arms control[18]The end of the Cold War resulted in a huge amount of surplus weapons becoming available in what is known as the international grey market for weapons. The OSCE helps to stop the - often illegal - spread of such weapons and offers assistance with their destruction. The OSCE hosts the annual exchange of information under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. The OSCE has also implemented two additional exchanges of information, the Vienna Document and the Global Exchange of Military Information. The Open Skies Consultative Commission, the implementing body for the Treaty on Open Skies, meets monthly at its Vienna headquarters.[19]
Border management[20]The actions taken by the OSCE in border monitoring range from conflict prevention to post-conflict management, capacity building and institutional support.
Combating terrorism[21]With its expertise in conflict prevention, crisis management and early warning, the OSCE contributes to worldwide efforts in combating terrorism.
Conflict prevention[22][23]The OSCE works to prevent conflicts from arising and to facilitate lasting comprehensive political settlements for existing conflicts. It also helps with the process of rehabilitation in post-conflict areas.
Military reformThe OSCE's Forum for Security Co-operation provides a framework for political dialogue on military reform, while practical activities are conducted by field operations, as well as the Conflict Prevention Centre.
PolicingOSCE police operations are an integral part of the organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation.
ImplementationThe OSCE was a rather small organization until selection by the international community to provide electoral organization to post war Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 1996. Ambassador Frowick was the first OSCE representative to initiate national election in September 1996, human rights issues and rule of law specifically designed to provide a foundation for judicial organization within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The OSCE had regional offices and field offices, to include the office in Brcko in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina which remained in limbo until the Brcko Arbitration Agreement could be decided, finalized and implemented.
Brcko become a "special district" and remains so today.
The OSCE essentially took the place of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina in part because the Bosnian leadership felt deep contempt for the UN efforts to stop the war which began in 1991 and ended in 1995. During the time the United Nations were attempting a political solution, thousands of UN troops were posted in and around Bosnia and Herzegovina with special emphasis on Sarajevo. Between the inclusive dates of 1991 through 1995, over 200,000 Bosnians were killed and over one million displaced and another million as refugees.
The OSCE continues to have a presence and a number of initiatives to bring a sustained peace to the region.
Economic and environmental dimension (second dimension)[edit]Activities in the economic and environmental dimension include the monitoring of developments related to economic and environmental security in OSCE participating States, with the aim of alerting them to any threat of conflict; assisting States in the creation of economic and environmental policies, legislation and institutions to promote security in the OSCE region.
Economic activitiesAmong the economic activities of the OSCE feature activities related to migration management, transport and energy security. Most activities are implemented in co-operation with partner organizations.
Environmental activitiesThe OSCE has developed a range of activities in the environmental sphere aimed at addressing ecologic threats to security in its participating States. Among the activities feature projects in the area of hazardous waste, water management and access to information under the Aarhus Convention.
Human dimension (third dimension)[edit]The commitments made by OSCE participating States in the human dimension aim to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; to abide by the rule of law; to promote the principles of democracy by building, strengthening and protecting democratic institutions; and to promote tolerance throughout the OSCE region.
Combating trafficking in human beingsSince 2003 the OSCE[24] has had an established mechanism for combating trafficking in human beings, as defined by Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol,[25] which is aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating states to tackle it effectively.
The OSCE actions against trafficking in human beings are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.[26] Maria Grazia Giammarinaro,[27] a judge in the Criminal Court of Rome, took Office as the Special Representative in March 2010. From 2006 to 2009 this Office was held by Eva Biaudet, a former Finnish Minister of Health and Social Services. Biaudet currently serves as Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities. Her predecessor was former Austrian Minister Helga Conrad, who served as the first OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.
The activities around Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in the OSCE Region of the Office of the Special Representative include:[28]
Co-operation with governments, helping them to accept and act on their responsibilities for curbing trafficking in human beings;Providing governments with decision and policy-making aids and offering guidance on anti-trafficking management, with the aim of arriving at solutions tailored to the needs of the individual countries and in line with international standards;Assisting governments to develop the national anti-trafficking structures required for efficient internal and transnational co-operation;Raising awareness to draw attention to the complexity of the problem and to the need for comprehensive solutions;Considering all dimensions of human trafficking, namely trafficking for sexual exploitation, trafficking for forced and bonded labour, including domestic servitude, trafficking into forced marriages, trafficking in organs and trafficking in children;Ensuring the effective interaction of all agents and stake holders involved in the fight against human trafficking, ranging from governmental authorities, law enforcement officials to NGOs, and'--last but not least'--international organizations, as the agencies providing support thorough expertise and know-how;Guaranteeing the highest possible visibility of the OSCE's fight against human trafficking to focus attention on the issue.DemocratizationThe OSCE claims to promote democracy and assist the participating states in building democratic institutions. In practice, however, few states have more power in decision-making than others.[citation needed]
EducationEducation programmes are an integral part of the organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation.
ElectionsAs part of its democratization activities, the OSCE carries out election assistance projects in the run-up to, during, and following elections. However, the effectiveness of such assistance is arguable'--Kazakhstan, for example, despite being the current chair of the OSCE, is considered by many to be one of the least democratic countries in the world. Moreover, the recent democratic advances made in other Central Asian republics, notably Kyrgyzstan, have led to rumours of Soviet-style disruption of the Kyrgyz democratic process by, in particular, Kazakhstan and Russia. This may be in large part due to fears over the long-term stability of these countries' own quasi-dictatorships.
Gender equalityThe equality of men and women is an integral part of sustainable democracy. The OSCE aims to provide equal opportunities for men and women and to integrate gender equality in policies and practices.
Human rightsThe OSCE's human rights activities focus on such priorities as freedom of movement and religion, preventing torture and trafficking in persons.
National and international NGOsOSCE could grant consultive status to NGOs and INGOs in the form of "Researcher-in-residence programme" (run by the Prague Office of the OSCE Secretariat): accredited representatives of national and international NGOs are granted access to all records and to numerous topical compilations related to OSCE field activities.
Media freedomThe OSCE observes relevant media developments in its participating states with a view to addressing and providing early warning on violations of freedom of expression.
Minority rightsEthnic conflict is one of the main sources of large-scale violence in Europe today. The OSCE's approach is to identify and to seek early resolution of ethnic tensions, and to set standards for the rights of persons belonging to minority groups.
Criticism[edit]Following an unprecedented period of activity in the 1990s and early 2000s (decade), the OSCE has in the past few years faced accusations from the CIS states (primarily Russia) of being a tool for the Western states to advance their own interests. For instance, the events in Ukraine in 2004 (the "Orange Revolution") led to allegations by Russia of OSCE involvement on behalf of the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko. At the 2007 Munich Conference on Security Policy, Vladimir Putin made this position very clear:
"They [unnamed Western States] are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this task is also being accomplished by the OSCE's bureaucratic apparatus, which is absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way. Decision-making procedures and the involvement of so-called non-governmental organizations are tailored for this task. These organizations are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control".[29][30][31][32]Also, following the Belorussian Presidential election of 2001, the OSCE denounced the election, claiming it to be neither 'free nor fair'; however, the OSCE had actually refused to observe the vote, and still made the aforementioned claim, despite G(C)rard Stoudmann of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE acknowledging that there was "no evidence of manipulation or fraud of the results".
Russia and its allies are advancing the concept of a comprehensive OSCE reform, which would make the Secretariat, institutions and field presences more centralized and accountable to collective consensus-based bodies and focus the work of the Organization on topical security issues (human trafficking, terrorism, non-proliferation, arms control, etc.), at the expense of the "Human Dimension", or human rights issues. The move to reduce the autonomy of the theoretically independent OSCE institutions, such as ODIHR, would effectively grant a Russian veto over any OSCE activity. Western participating States are opposing this process, which they see as an attempt to prevent the OSCE from carrying out its democratization agenda in post-Soviet countries.
Following the 2008 U.S. presidential election, OSCE's ODIHR was accused of having double standards by Russia's lawmaker Slutsky. The point was made that while numerous violations of the voting process were registered, its criticism came only from within the United States (media, human rights organizations, McCain's election staff), while the OSCE known for its bashing criticism of elections on the post-Soviet space remained silent.[33][34]
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly[edit]In 2004 the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly sent election observers to the U.S. Presidential elections. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's president at the time was Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings. Hastings had previously been impeached for corruption by the U.S. Congress. The OSCE faced criticism of partisanship and double standards due to Hastings's past and the fact that the OSCE's mandate was to promote democracy and the values of civil society.[35]
In 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe was criticized from within by the Latvian delegation for lacking transparency and democracy. Spencer Oliver (b. 1938) secretary general of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, who has held the post since the organization's inception in 1992, faced a challenge from the Latvian Artis Pabriks. According to the rules of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly the incumbent general secretary can only be replaced with a full consensus minus one. Pabriks called the rules "quite shocking from the perspective of an organization that's monitoring elections".[36]
2012 Texas controversy[edit]Before the U.S. presidential elections of November 2012, the OSCE announced its intention to send electoral observers to Texas and to other U.S. states. In response, Greg Abbott, the Attorney General of Texas, sent letters to U.S. Secretary of StateHillary Clinton threatening to arrest OSCE officials if they should enter electoral premises in Texas and break Texas law,[37] and to the OSCE.[38] In response, the U.S. Department of State indicated that OSCE observers enjoyed immunities.[39] However no incidents between OSCE and Texas authorities were recorded during the elections.
See also[edit]References[edit]^OSCE Funding and Budget^Galbreath, David J. (2007). The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 9780203960943. ^"Making a credible case for a legal personality for the OSCE", OSCE Secretariat^Ivanov, Igor S., The New Russian Diplomacy, Nixon Center and Brookings Institution Press: Washington, D.C., 2002. pp. 97-98.^U.S. invites international observers to Nov election", USA Today, 10 August 2004^"International Monitoring of US Election Called 'Frightening'", Cybercast News Service^Referred to by the OSCE as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"^Asia partner for co-operation 2004-2012.^List of Partners for Co-Operation; Mediterranean and Asian States^Vienna Document^"Secretary General". 20 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-06. ^Representative on Freedom of the Media^http://www.osce.org/event/mc_2012^OSCE Magazine, issue number 4/2009, December 2009, pages 20''23.^"Secretariat - External Cooperation". OSCE. ^United Nations General AssemblyResolution 5 session 48 Observer status for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in the General Assembly on 22 October 1993^United Nations Security CouncilVerbatim Report meeting 5982 page 2, Mr. Stubb Finland on 26 September 2008 (retrieved 2008-10-01)^http://www.osce.org/what/arms-control^http://www.osce.org/oscc^http://www.osce.org/what/borders^http://www.osce.org/what/terrorism^http://www.osce.org/what/conflict-prevention^http://www.osce.org/cpc^OSCE^Palermo Protocol^Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings^Maria Grazia Giammarinaro^Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in the OSCE Region^The Munich Speech", Kommersant Moscow^[OSCE: Election Experts Debate Russian Criticism] - [Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (C) 2008]^Criticism of OSCE by Nine CIS Countries Draws the Response^ASPR.ac.at^"OSCE, ODIHR Showed Double Standard at U.S. Election, Russia's Lawmaker Said", Kommersant, 6 November 2008^"OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Final Report" of the U.S. 2008 presidential election^"US vote 'mostly free and fair'". BBC. 5 November 2004. Retrieved 23 December 2013. ^http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0710/An_election_in_Copenhagen.html^https://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?id=4199^https://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2012/102312abbot_letter.pdf^http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/10/199824.htm#DEPARTMENTExternal links[edit]
Participating States | OSCE
Sun, 04 May 2014 04:14
Flags of the OSCE participating States (OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev)
The Organization comprises 57 participating States that span the globe, encompassing three continents - North America, Europe and Asia - and more than a billion people.
The OSCE has 57 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America:
AlbaniaAustriaBelgiumCanadaCzech RepublicFinlandGermanyHungaryItalyLatviaLuxembourgMonacoNorwayRomaniaSerbiaSpainTajikistanTurkmenistanUnited StatesAndorraAzerbaijanBosnia and HerzegovinaCroatiaDenmarkFranceGreeceIcelandKazakhstanLiechtensteinMaltaMontenegroPolandRussian FederationSlovakiaSwedenthe former Yugoslav Republic of MacedoniaUkraineUzbekistanArmeniaBelarusBulgariaCyprusEstoniaGeorgiaHoly SeeIrelandKyrgyzstanLithuaniaMoldovaMongoliaNetherlandsPortugalSan MarinoSloveniaSwitzerlandTurkeyUnited Kingdom
History | OSCE
Sun, 04 May 2014 04:13
L-r: Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Erich Honecker, First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Gerald Ford President of the United States, Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria, Helsinki, 1 August 1975. (Bundesarchiv/Horst Sturm)
The OSCE traces its origins to the d(C)tente phase of the early 1970s, when the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was created to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West.
Meeting over two years in Helsinki and Geneva, the CSCE reached agreement on the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed on 1 August 1975. This document contained a number of key commitments on polito-military, economic and environmental and human rights issues that became central to the so-called 'Helsinki process'. It also established ten fundamental principles (the 'Decalogue') governing the behaviour of States towards their citizens, as well as towards each other.
Until 1990, the CSCE functioned mainly as a series of meetings and conferences that built on and extended the participating States' commitments, while periodically reviewing their implementation. However, with the end of the Cold War, the Paris Summit of November 1990 set the CSCE on a new course. In the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the CSCE was called upon to play its part in managing the historic change taking place in Europe and responding to the new challenges of the post-Cold War period, which led to its acquiring permanent institutions and operational capabilities.
As part of this institutionalization process, the name was changed from the CSCE to the OSCE by a decision of the Budapest Summit of Heads of State or Government in December 1994.
Greenland and the Arctic: The next Ukraine?
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:59
Even before the recent tensions in Ukraine began to heat up, Russia's Arctic neighbours '' including Greenland '' were wondering about its intentions in the north.
Last September, the Russian Navy engaged in an exercise involving a fleet of ten ships, led by a nuclear cruiser and several icebreakers, which sailed to the New Siberian Islands, an archipelago located in one of the most remote sections of the Arctic Ocean.
The ships left behind everything needed to reopen a military airport that had been shut down in the 1990s.
A long journey ahead''We have come, and we will stay there forever. This is the beginning of a long journey,'' Arkady Bakhin, Russia's deputy defence minister, told the Moscow Times.
Last December, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, told reporters that a military presence in the Arctic region is among the top priorities for his nation's armed forces.
Putin said that Russia will restore more Arctic military air bases that fell into neglect after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Climate change developmentAs the ice melts in the Arctic, the potential for conflict among the players increases.
One of the biggest issues facing countries with Arctic interests is control of the seaways opening up in the region, including the Northern Sea Route on the Russian side.
More important than SuezPutin has claimed that the Northern Sea Route had the potential to become more important than the Suez Canal for commercial freight transportation.
Shorter transit routes for commercial vessels are far from the only issue at play in the Arctic. The other, perhaps more important matter can be summed up with one word.
Oil. At the 2014 Arctic Oil and Gas Summit in Norway, organisers estimated that there could be an estimated 44 billion barrels of oil under the melting glaciers of the Arctic Ocean.
Thinly populated regions in places like Greenland offer far less risk than hotspots like the Middle East and the pressure for exploration is already building.
Following the first export of Russian Arctic oil earlier this month, Putin signed a law that allows oil and gas corporations to establish private armed security forces to defend their infrastructure.
''Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats,'' Putin told the Russian Security Council.
Denmark's establishment of a specialised military command to police the country's vast Arctic territories in 2012 underlined its intent to develop a heightened defence and security strategy in the increasingly significant region.
An icy chess matchHowever, according to Simeon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Centre, the military build-up in the region is so far just gamesmanship.
''Right now all of the claimants are interested in strengthening their military presence through mainly patrol ships and patrol forces,'' he told RT News. ''The Danes, because of Greenland, have always been rather strong in the area of patrolling.''
Threat is lowWezeman said that the threat of intentional conflict between the Arctic countries is relatively low.
''It's not a very strong threat," he said.
"But there is always the chance with more weapons around that things can go wrong, accidents happen, guns get pointed and people do things they shouldn't do."
Wezeman said any kind of confrontation would not result in a full-scale war, but had the potential to develop into ''a very nasty diplomatic incident.''
In pole positionNo-one, in fact, is suggesting that an Arctic arms race is underway, but bases are being upgraded, ice-breaking fleets expanded and Arctic battalions re-established.
Russia is doing the most: its North Sea fleet is due to receive a new Mistral-class amphibious assault ship and six new 170 metre icebreakers '' the world's largest. New aircraft carriers are also on the way.
Warmer waters and its improved Arctic naval advantage have already put Russia in the driver's seat in the Arctic, without the need to fire a single shot.
Yatsenyuk could be controlled by CIA through Scientology (audio)
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:51
In this program of Burning Point we're exploring a hidden religious agenda behind Maidan and Unkrainian crisis with Professor Alexander Dvorkin, a Russian-American anti-cult activist, Vice-President of the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Sectarianism, and Maurizio Torrealta, investigative journalist based in Italy.
Professor Alexander Dvorkin:
Actually, there is quite a serious and noticeable religious factor in the recent developments in Ukraine, as far as I can see. There are several religious groups and several religious cults which play quite a prominent role in those events.
What we know is that Yatsenyuk, before his political career he did take several scientology courses and paid for it. It is when he was in the banking career. What it means? The basic scientological procedure or act is the so-called auditing. Each scientologist has to go through auditing many-many times. It is of course quite expensive and each auditing session lasts for between 2 and 4 hours. And people go over and over, and over.
The session is conducted with the help of a device which scientologists call electro-psychometer, which is sort of a primitive form of a lie detector. And people have to tell everything that they've done during their lives, everything that they are ashamed of, all their sexual history, all their most hidden thoughts and desires, whatever violations of the law that they could have done and everything that happened also to their relatives, to their friends, to their acquaintances and everything.
And all this is being recorded in audio and video. Every person gets its own file in a scientology archive and it is kept, and the information is added to each person's file. So, if, and which is very likely, Yatsenyuk went through auditing, then definitely scientology has something to control him.
It is no secret that scientology as of 1994 has been cooperating very closely with the CIA of the United States of America. The State Department of the USA lobbies the interests of scientology in all the countries of the world. And scientology, apparently, shares some of the information it gathers with the central intelligence agency. So, it means that, at least in Yatsenyuk's case, he could be controlled by the CIA.
Alas, but cults became a very important factor in the international politics. And it is used by several governments, first of all, and mostly by the US as a factor of international pressure, as an attempt to apply pressure to those governments that they disagree with and as their agents of influence.
Washington responsible for fascist massacre in Odessa - World Socialist Web Site
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:36
By Mike Head3 May 2014In what can only be described as a massacre, 38 anti-government activists were killed Friday after fascist-led forces set fire to Odessa's Trade Unions House, which had been sheltering opponents of the US- and European-backed regime in Ukraine.
According to eye-witnesses, those who jumped from the burning building and survived were surrounded and beaten by thugs from the neo-Nazi Right Sector. Video footage shows bloodied and wounded survivors being attacked.
The atrocity underscores both the brutal character of the right-wing government installed in Kiev by the Western powers and the encouragement by the US and its allies of a bloody crackdown by the regime to suppress popular opposition, centered in the mainly Russian-speaking south and east of Ukraine.
As the Odessa outrage occurred, US President Barack Obama, at a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, explicitly endorsed the military offensive being carried out by the unelected Kiev government against protesters occupying official buildings in eastern Ukraine.
Despite Western media attempts to cover up what happened in Odessa'--with multiple reports stating that ''the exact sequence of events is still unclear'''--there is no doubt that the killings in the southern port city were instigated by thugs wearing the insignia of the Right Sector, which holds positions in the Kiev regime, along with the like-minded Svoboda party.
The Trade Unions House was set on fire by pro-Kiev elements after they surrounded and set fire to a tent camp of anti-government activists that had stood for several weeks in front of the building on Odessa's Kulikovo Field Square. The building itself was torched after some of the anti-government protesters barricaded themselves inside it.
As the building was engulfed in flames, photos posted on Twitter showed people hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills of several floors, possibly preparing to jump. Other images showed pro-regime elements celebrating the inferno. Some jeered on Twitter that ''Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,'' using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George's ribbons.
Thirty of the victims were found on the floors of the building, having apparently suffocated from smoke inhalation. Eight more died after jumping out of windows to escape the blaze, according to local police. Ukraine authorities said a total of 43 people died in Odessa Friday and 174 others sustained injuries, with 25 still in a critical condition.
The violence started as around 1,500 supporters of the Kiev authorities, who recently arrived in the city, gathered at Sobornaya Square in central Odessa. Armed with chains and bats and carrying shields, they marched through the city, chanting ''Glory to Ukraine,'' ''Death to enemies'' and ''Knife the Moskals [derogatory for Russians].''
Odessa has been among the southeast Ukrainian cities swept by protests since the February coup. At the end of March, thousands rallied in the city, challenging the legitimacy of the coup-imposed government and demanding an autonomy referendum.
The Odessa massacre is the largest death toll so far since the Ukrainian regime, at the urging of the Obama administration, renewed its full-scale military assault on anti-government protests and occupations.
Earlier Friday, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said many separatists had been killed in a government offensive in Slavyansk. Kiev officials said troops overran rebel checkpoints surrounding the city of 130,000 people in an operation launched before dawn, adding that the city was now ''tightly encircled.''
Despite the use of helicopter gunships, the assault stalled, however, because of local resistance. By early afternoon, the Ukrainian troops were halted in the villages of Bylbasovka and Andreyevka, where residents flocked to their lines to argue with them and urge them not to fight.
In Andreyevka, about 200 people formed a human chain to stop armoured personnel carriers and trucks. In Bylbasovka, residents chanted ''Shame! Shame! Shame!'' In the nearby town of Kramatorsk, people blocked roads with trolley cars and buses in an attempt to prevent the army from entering.
At his press conference with Merkel, Obama seized on reports that two Ukrainian helicopters had been struck by ground fire. He cited unconfirmed allegations by the Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU that one was hit by a heat-seeking missile as proof that Russian forces were involved. By the evening, however, even the New York Times admitted that no evidence had been produced of heat-seeking missiles.
Along with Obama's incendiary claim, his backing for Kiev's military onslaught points to a drive by the US and its European partners to create civil war conditions and goad Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration into intervening, in order to provide the pretext for crippling economic sanctions and a NATO confrontation with Russia.
Washington pushed for the renewed offensive just days after the Kiev regime appeared to back away from an all-out military assault, saying it was ''helpless'' to stop the occupations of buildings, which have spread to at least 17 cities and towns.
Putin sought to forestall the US-led push by signing a so-called peace agreement with the US, the European Union and Ukraine two weeks ago, which provided for ending the building occupations and halting plans for a military crackdown. This pact has been swept aside by Kiev and its backers. Putin's spokesman yesterday said the ''punitive operation'' mounted by Ukraine had destroyed the agreement.
Russia called another emergency UN Security Council meeting Friday to denounce Ukraine's actions. Moscow's ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, warned of ''catastrophic consequences'' if the military operation continued, only to be denounced by his US counterpart, Samantha Power, who called the attack ''proportionate and reasonable.''
Power, who made a name for herself by championing US military interventions in Libya and elsewhere in the name of ''human rights'' and the ''protection of civilians,'' declared that Russia's concern about escalating instability was ''cynical and disingenuous.'' In keeping with US government propaganda since the beginning of the crisis, she baldly asserted that Russia was the cause of the instability.
It was Washington and its allies, particularly the German government that orchestrated the ultra-nationalist February putsch in Kiev and then exploited the reaction of Moscow, and Ukraine's Russian-speaking population, to accuse Russia of threatening Ukraine.
Having poured some $5 billion into the country to install the Kiev regime via violent paramilitary operations, it is now accusing Russia, without producing any serious evidence, of doing the very same thing.
Ukraine's initial military assault last month began after CIA Director John Brennan surreptitiously visited Kiev. A second push followed a visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden.
There is evidence of ongoing US involvement. The Russian Foreign Ministry said English-speaking foreigners had been seen among the Ukrainian forces mounting the assault on Slavyansk on Friday, echoing its previous charges that Greystone, a US military contractor, is working alongside the Ukrainian military.
In part, the US operation seems directed at preventing an autonomy referendum planned by anti-Kiev opponents on May 11. In addition, a Ukrainian presidential election, scheduled for May 25, is seen by the Western powers as a means of lending legitimacy to the coup government in Kiev. The most widely-promoted presidential candidate, billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko, advocates NATO membership for Ukraine and the subordination of the country to the dictates of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
But with the Kiev regime failing to suppress the opposition, Washington appears intent on provoking a confrontation and then accusing Russia of preventing the presidential poll from proceeding. Meanwhile, on the pretext of training exercises, US troops are being deployed in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Poland, bringing NATO forces right up to Russia's borders.
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DIDNT WE PUT ODESSA IN THE RED BOOK?-4 dead in Ukraine's Odessa as pro- and anti-Maidan rallies clash '-- RT News
Sat, 03 May 2014 23:05
Published time: May 02, 2014 13:48Edited time: May 02, 2014 19:07Image from twitter.com @RT_com
Four people were killed and 37 wounded as rival rallies clashed in Ukraine's port-city of Odessa. A pro-unity demonstration, which included nationalists and football fans, ran into a rally preaching greater autonomy for the regions.
Gunfire was heard in Odessa's downtown on Friday as two rival rallies met, police having failed to draw them apart. Over 2,000 protesters pelted each other with Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades. Pavements were dismantled to get the stones for the fight, like it was done in Kiev during the Maidan protests.
Local police reported that four people were killed in the stand-off, and at least one of them died due to a gun-shot wound. At least 37 received injuries in clashes.
It all started as around 1,500 supporters of the Kiev authorities gathered at Sobornaya Square in central Odessa. They were accompanied by fans of the local football club, Chernomorets.
Some of the people in the group were wearing the ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement insignia. They were also armed with chains and bats and carried shields, as an Itar-Tass correspondent on the ground reported.
The group tried to march through the city, chanting ''Glory to Ukraine'', ''Death to enemies'', ''Knife the Moskals [derogatory for Russians]''.
The procession was then confronted by several hundred pro-federalization activists. Fighting erupted as a result, with members of the rival groups throwing stones at each other and at police, who tried to stop the violence. The pavements are spattered with blood.
Nationalists mingling with football fans hijacked a fire truck, which they used in an attempt to ram the defense of the rival rally, Itar-Tass reported. The driver was also forced out of the vehicle and had to run for his life, as a live stream showed.
The city's authorities have gathered at city council for an emergency meeting aimed at stopping the disorder in Odessa, Mayor Vladimir Nemirovsky said in a statement on his Facebook account.
''We are making all possible intensive measures to restore law and order,'' he said, adding that the perpetrators will be pursued and found.
Odessa, the Black Sea coastal city in Ukraine, has been among the southeast Ukrainian cities swept by massive protests, both pro- and anti-government, following the February coup in Kiev.
At the end of March thousands were rallying in Odessa, questioning the legitimacy of the coup-imposed government and demanding referendum on granting more freedoms to the regions.
Before the radical far-right group arrived in Odessa, rallies supporting the Kiev authorities numbered only several hundreds of people, while the pro-federalization rallies opposing Kiev gathered thousands.
Last week, local police chief, Petr Lutsuk, demanded the expulsion of recently-arrived radicals from the city.
"A large number of people had gathered in Kiev, and it was decided to send these groups to Odessa. We do not need them. They came and created a volatile situation," he said.
Russia and US clash over Ukraine at UN Security Council
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:19
At the UN Security Council, Russia has clashed with Western supporters of Ukraine's new administration in an emergency session, with strong words on both sides.
Moscow called the meeting to condemn what it described as Kyiv's ''punitive'' and ''criminal'' military operation in Slovyansk.
''We would urge Kyiv as well as its enablers and the signatories of the Geneva declaration, the US and the EU, not to commit criminal errors,'' Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, told the 15-nation council.
''It is time for Western colleagues to think twice, to reason with those they are mentoring in Ukraine and to stop toying with the destiny of the Ukrainian people to achieve their own geo-political goals.''
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, expressed Washington's views with equal vigour.
''The fact that Russia has chosen to call an emergency session in protest is yet another indication that the authorities in Moscow either underestimate the intelligence of the world community or that they are trying to replicate in eastern Ukraine the charade that they were responsible for in Crimea,'' she said.
''We are outraged by that prospect but we are not fooled.''
Friday's gathering was just the latest inconclusive session.
The UN Security Council has held numerous emergency meetings on Ukraine but has been incapable of taking concrete action because of Russia's sharp disagreements with the United States and Europe.
US and EU will impose further sanctions if Russia 'continues to destabilise Ukraine'
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:17
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama have said they will impose further sanctions on Russia if it ''continues to destabilise Ukraine''.
''The next step is going to be a broader-based sectoral sanctions regime,'' Obama said at a White House press conference.
Russia's energy and banking sectors are those likely to be hardest hit if sanctions are widened.
The two leaders declared their intention to resolve the situation in Ukraine through diplomatic means.
''The goal is not to punish Russia,'' said Obama. ''The goal is to give them an incentive to choose the better course and that is to resolve these issues diplomatically, and I think we are united on that front.''
Both spoke of what Obama called ''the appalling treatment'' of OSCE observers and their escorts in the east of Ukraine.
They called for Russia to organise the immediate release of those held, four of whom are German.
Merkel also expressed the two leaders' joint support for Ukraine, saying the scheduled election date of May 25 was critical and ''we will see to it that elections can take place''.
They showed a united front over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and both sides agreed to collaborate closely on a cyber intelligence operation.
Stefan Grobe, euronews' correspondent in Washington, said:''What came out of Angela Merkel's visit to Washington was the willingness of Germany and the United States to work even closer together on issues like Ukraine, TTIP and surveillance. A challenging agenda given the most recent problems''.
It was Merkel's first visit to the White House since it emerged that her mobile phone may have been monitored for years by the US.
The so-called ''spying scandal'' was also alluded to during the conference, with both sides agreeing to work closely together on a cyber-intelligence operation '' despite occasional disagreements.
Ukraine: dozens die in Odessa blaze amid violence
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:07
In Ukraine, dozens of people have died in a fire amid violence in Odessa.
The trade union building in the city centre was set ablaze, according to regional police. People became trapped inside and died from smoke inhalation.
Others were shot dead when fighting broke out between people backing Kyiv and pro-Russian activists.
It is some of the worst violence in the mainly Russian-speaking Black Sea port since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February.
Police said in a statement that activists threw petrol bombs, paving stones and ''explosive devices'' during the clashes.
Video aired on Ukrainian Espresso TV shows protesters breaking bricks and throwing them into a crowd. Others held up makeshift metal shields.
Odessa is close to Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in March.
Zbigniew Brzezinski - What Obama Should Tell Americans About Ukraine.
Sat, 03 May 2014 12:14
War Pimp AlertWhat Obama Should Tell Americans About UkraineThe crisis is getting worse. It's time for the president to rally the nation.
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
May 02, 2014 "ICH" - "Politico" - - President Obama needs to articulate clearly to the American people, and very soon, that the Ukraine crisis is the most important challenge to the international system since the end of the Cold War.
It is more than a month since the Russians annexed Crimea, and recent events have only exacerbated the crisis, with pro-Russian rebels reportedly shooting down two Ukrainian helicopters in separatist-held Slaviansk on Friday. Yet the president still hasn't laid out a comprehensive statement of what is really at stake: why we are facing this problem; why it is in our common interest to resolve it with the Russians if possible; and why, if negotiation does not work out, we have an obligation to help Ukraine. Above all the president must clarify why we cannot tolerate an international system in which countries are invaded by thugs and destabilized from abroad. And why this is a common responsibility not just for us but for our allies and other friends like the Chinese, whose stake in stability should be as great as ours.
On the whole I support the actions the president has taken so far. Considering the kind of democratic alliance we have, I think he generally did as well as is possible under present circumstances. He has had to tread carefully. What I do fault him for is not explicitly and calmly, but in a broad perspective, addressing the American people on this issue. He hasn't made a single major statement to them on what potentially could be a major international crisis. He needs the support of the American people. Thus he has to convince them that this is important and that his stand deserves both national understanding and support.
Obama also has to generate some degree of conviction in the West that this is a joint responsibility, and he has to convince Moscow that we are serious. If we are to deter the Russians from moving in, we have to convince them that their aggression will entail a prolonged and costly effort. But it will be such only if the Ukrainians resist. Thus, we should be making an effort to negotiate with Russia even as at the same time we should be more open to helping the Ukrainians defend themselves if they're attacked. The Ukrainians will fight only if they think they will eventually get some help from the West, particularly in supplies of the kind of weaponry that will be necessary to wage a successful urban defense. They're not going to beat the Russians out in the open field, where thousands of tanks move in. They can only beat them through prolonged urban resistance. Then the war's economic costs would escalate dramatically for the Russians, and it would become futile politically. But to be able to defend a city, you have to have handheld anti-tank weaponry, handheld rockets and some organization.
At the same time we need also to explore the possibility of a negotiated solution with Russia regarding Ukraine. It still might be possible to design it along the lines of the relationship that Russia has with Finland, which is not a member of NATO but enjoys full participation in Europe as best it can, even as it enjoys also a normal relationship with Russia. Obama should convey clearly to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States is prepared to use its influence to ensure that a truly independent and territorially undivided Ukraine pursues policies toward Russia similar to those so effectively practiced by Finland: mutually respectful neighbors, wide-ranging economic relations both with Russia and the European Union, but no participation in any military alliance viewed by Moscow as directed at itself '' while also expanding its European connectivity. The Finnish model may be the ideal example for Ukraine, the EU and Russia.
As far as Russian worries about Ukraine being absorbed into the EU, I would remind the Russians that to join it, a country has to pass 32 different examinations to get in. That takes time. The Turks were told they could join back in the 1960s, some 50 years ago. So the Russians need not fear a prompt integration of Ukraine into the EU.
A serious effort to explore such an outcome might be productive, although it may be difficult to bring the Ukrainians themselves on board. In any case, we are dealing with the very real threat that Russia is trying to alter the post-Cold War individual security arrangements by force. We are also facing the possibility that the net dynamic effect of such an accomplishment could be much-intensified pressure on some of the more vulnerable NATO countries. Hence I think we have to be very clear in indicating to the Russians what the stakes are, what the possible high costs for them are likely to entail and what the parameters of a constructive solution might be.
Zbigniew Brzezinski is a former U.S. national security adviser and the author, most recently, ofStrategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.
"God is on your side!"Zbigniew Brzezinski Motivating The Mujahedeen -1979
"We need to make the soviets bleed, for as much and as long as possible"
See also -
Grand Puppetmaster Brzezinski: Directing War Strategies from the Shadows: This isn't politics; it's hysterics. It's incendiary, jingoistic mumbo-jumbo intended to rouse the public and fan the flames of nationalism
Ukraine Separatist fighters claim presence of foreign private contractors
Sat, 03 May 2014 12:12
These were the latest and the most foreboding signs so far that the vicious confrontation in Ukraine is inexorably sliding into a conflict with grim consequences for the region and beyond.
The attack on Slovyansk does not appear to have been as successful as the Kiev administration had initially claimed. It was, however, a desperate attempt to prevent the east of the country from going the way of Crimea, swallowed by the Kremlin, after a dozen towns and cities have fallen into control of separatists, and with a referendum impending, designed to formalize the division of the country.
Unless there is a climbdown by Kiev, the situation can now only get increasingly bloody. Their forces began the assaults, starting just after dawn, on a series of checkpoints around the city which had become the centre of militant activity in the Donbass region, and the place where observers from the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe] are being held.
TheIndependent could ascertain that three checkpoints '' at Cherkeska, Kpmbikorn Plant and Andrievka '' were captured, although the Kiev administration had claimed 10 had been taken. However, unlike previous assaults, this time soldiers established their presence on all three and used them to carry out limited forward sorties with armoured personnel carriers (APCs).
Highly significant was the shooting down of the helicopters with the use of surface to air missiles, a sign that the militants' armoury was more extensive than hitherto thought, and a clear inference that weapons had been supplied from across the Russian border.
The Ukrainian defence ministry immediately declared that the use of the missiles was also ''proof'' that Spetznatz, Russian special forces, had been present on the ground. It said that two Mi-24 gunships were shot down while on a patrol killing two airmen, and that a third, a Mi-8 transporter, was also hit, injuring a serviceman.
Ukraine's Defence Ministry later said two servicemen were killed on the outskirts of Slovyansk after pro-Russian separatists attacked their position. ''Heavy fighting is continuing. The deaths of two Ukrainian soldiers have been confirmed at the current time,'' the ministry said in a statement, accusing the separatists of using civilians as human shields.
Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the recently appointed pro-Moscow mayor of the city, said that two aircraft had been brought down and the pilot of one had been captured. Separatist fighters insisted to TheIndependent that some of the troops in Ukrainian uniforms had been heard speaking in English and had carried out manoeuvres in a manner indicating that they were private security contractors. One commander, Leonid Andreiovich, maintained: ''They came in SUVs. They were, I think, scouting. They behaved in a different way, more professional. They did not fire back when we fired at them, they did not reveal their positions, then they just disappeared, but then we found their uniforms, they must have changed into civilian clothes.''
A group of fighters produced combat uniforms supposedly abandoned by these mercenaries. One had a UK flag patch on the arm of a camouflage jacket, along with unit marking of a panther's head. ''What is this, how do you explain this,'' asked one of the fighters. I pointed out one of his companions was wearing a Manchester United football shirt that and a mercenary was unlikely to wear his national colours. Images of the jacket were later put on YouTube.
Arsen Avakov, interior minister of the acting Ukrainian government, and a voracious chronicler of action in the east of the country on his Facebook page, claimed that half of Slovyansk was now under Kiev's control. That was not the case at the time '' the centre and most of the suburbs seemed calm until late in the afternoon. Fresh defences, however, had been established and fresh batches of armed men appeared from surrounding towns. New attacks, they said, could be expected during the night.
Mr Avakov also claimed that foreign fighters were involved. ''It's a real battle we are waging against professional mercenaries. We are ready to negotiate with protesters and their representatives, but for terrorists and armed separatists there is only punishment.''
Retaking Sloveynsk, with its narrow streets, sizeable arsenal and a hardcore of well trained fighters, would be a difficult business, involving casualties. An element of surprise is unlikely, as the timing of the current operation was leaked to the Russian media in advance.
Vladimir Putin had repeatedly warned that military action by the Ukrainian government which caused civilian casualties may lead to intervention. The Kremlin stated today that further operations would have ''catastrophic consequences''. The Russian president's spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Kiev of launching a ''reprisal raid''.
Around 150 people, many of them women, gathered at Slovyansk's central square to ask for Mr Putin's aid. ''He is the only hope we have now. The junta [Kiev administration] has now made it clear that they want to attack this city, our homes. How can we defend ourselves?'' asked Natalaya Lesintolava, a 48-year-old mother of three children. ''They are using helicopters, tanks, how can we fight them? Out self-defence force do not have big weapons. In the past we had asked Russia for weapons. It is too late for that now. Now we need soldiers to defend us, they will just shoot us down of we confront them.''
A confrontation did take place at Andrievka, when around 10 APCs approached the checkpoint from neighbouring Kramatorsk, while a contingent of National Guardsmen, recently raised by the Kiev administration, came from the opposite direction. The barricade was destroyed by the APCs, according to some accounts, or by the protesters themselves, to stop further movements of forces, according to others. Residents poured out of their homes to challenge the soldiers, flying the colours of the airborne forces on their armour, and on a bridge.
''We were caught by surprise, the National Guard came first. Some of us went to talk them, ask them what they were doing here. They promised they would not open fire on the people,'' said Vasily Filmerenko. ''Then suddenly these tanks [APCs] came from the back, along that track, firing. The National Guards said they were surprised as we were. They didn't want this to happen; I am not sure I believe them.''
For the next few hours, the crowd, steadily increasing in numbers, demanded to know from the soldiers why they had come. Some were threatening: ''You are Ukrainians; this is the Donbass, you are foreigners here. We will fight you and send you back to Ukraine in coffins,'' shouted Yuli Wesmorotov. An elderly woman, Martina Sochroinova, came with a Bible: '' I want to pray for you boys; I wish I could talk to your mothers, they must be so worried; why should they have this terrible worry?"
The troops were at first stoical, silent. Eventually there were discussions: ''We are here to protect you; we are only here to fight the terrorists, the separatists,'' a sergeant tried to explain.
''I am a separatist, do I look like terrorist to you?'' asked Mrs Sochroinova. A National Guardsman, Roman, 26, who was already under suspicion after saying he was from Lviv, from the nationalist west of the country, was asked: ''Did your father fight against the Nazis?'' He did, responded the guardsman: ''But I have read some books which show it was the Soviet Union which started the war; a lot of Ukrainians died for nothing.''
Viktor Barasiniov spat into the ground: ''This is the type of people they are sending here; how can there not be a fight?''
Chiner$
GOES Date sturcture email
Hi Adam,
You mentioned the strange date format on the Global Entry website. Year/Month/Day happens to be the standard format in China. I'm guessing that the Global Entry program is pushing this format as an international standard for future IDs, passports, documents, etc. It does seem like the most logical format if you consider how you write dates in computer file names so that they create an automatic hierarchy when sorted. Though, that sense of logic may not extend to the rest of the Global Entry program.
-Ben
China Expects to Win Control of Biggest Greek Port Dubbed 'Gateway to Europe'
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:34
A ferry-boat crew member locks the ship's entrance during a strike at Piraeus port near Athens.Yiorgos Karahalis / Reuters
Chinese government-owned shipping and logistics giant COSCO is expected to complete the purchase of a controlling stake in Piraeus Port as it continues to take advantage of Greece's privatisation programme.
Speaking at a conference in Athens, China's ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli urged Chinese companies to explore further opportunities to invest in the beleaguered Mediterranean nation, which, as a condition of its bailout programme, is auctioning any saleable assets that remain in public control.
China views Greece as being a potential logistical hub, as it seeks to boost trade into Europe. Piraeus, being one of Europe's largest passenger ports and the largest container port in the Eastern Mediterranean, is at the heart of its plans.
While COSCO is among six groups bidding for the 67% stake in Piraeus Port that is up for grabs, its previous investment in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has made it strong favourite to complete the deal, which just received tenders.
In 2009, the Chinese group signed a 35-year concession agreement with PPA which allowed it to run the two container terminals at Piraeus. In return, COSCO pledged to massively increase the port's capacity. Then last year, COSCO invested a further '‚¬230m into the port's development.
The improvements in the port's facilities, bankrolled by Beijing, have helped pave the way for privatisation, with the port's profits up 12% in 2013, and are indicative of the concerted effort China is making to increase its influence in Greece.
The deadline for bids on Greece's second-largest port at Thessaloniki comes in June, with COSCO expected to be among the bidders. In March, officials in Athens overseeing the privatisation process selected Lamda Development, backed by China's Fosun Group and Al Maabar of the UAE, to redevelop the abandoned former Hellonikon Airport site.
China's exports to Greece are growing by more than '‚¬2.2bn annually, with the number of Chinese visitors to Greece growing by 202% since 2008.
South Sudan conflict: Genocide warning as a million people face famine
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:10
Hours after President Salva Kiir tentatively agreed to enter peace talks with the opposition leader Riek Machar, the UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, issued a warning that up to a million people could face famine within months, unless hostilities were put on hold to plant crops. "Shockingly, their reaction indicated that this was not an overriding concern," said Ms Pillay.
The UN Security Council heard on Friday that action was needed "to bring the parties to their senses" after thousands were killed in months of fighting and more than a million people displaced. The council expressed its "horror" at recent mass attacks on civilians.
Your next iPhone might be delivered from China via a 2,000-year-old trade route '' Quartz
Sun, 04 May 2014 12:39
The electronic gizmos churned out by China's factories have long been delivered to western consumers by giant seagoing vessels filled with shipping containers or, in the case of particularly high-value products, by air.
But new rail networks that stretch across Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus'--in essence, the Silk Road trading route that dates back millennia'--let Foxconn ship products for its customers, which include Apple, Sony, and Nokia, along a 10,000 kilometer (6200 mile) land route to Europe. This journey takes about 15 days, roughly half the travel time by sea.
Freight trains from the Chinese city of Wuhan, home to a major Foxconn facility, started delivering shipping containers to the Polish city of Lodz this month. That's where the transport and logistics firm Hatrans'--part of the Chinese-Polish joint venture YHF Logistics'--has its hub, enabling onward travel to the rest of Europe. Related rail links also tie together the Chinese city of Zhengzhou to Hamburg in Germany, and the Chinese city of Chongqing to the German port of Duisberg:
Time is money for companies shipping high-value goods from China to the West, since products trapped in transit tie up inventory and increase the risk of currency fluctuations for the seller. Rail links are still about twice as expensive as sea routes, but as manufacturers move their Chinese factories further inland, the cost differential is shrinking. Meanwhile, air freight, which Apple uses for many of its highest-value product shipments, costs about seven times more than rail shipments, according to an in-depth report by the New York Times last year.
Aside from the appeal of getting electronic gadgets to market quickly and cheaply, reviving the Silk Road will also have major geopolitical implications. As Quartz contributor Parag Khanna has explained, the new version of the trade route is constructed with iron railroad tracks, as expanded networks tie together markets from Scotland to Singapore. China in particular is keen to work with its neighbors to build these westward-bound transport links, ensuring a steady flow of exports and natural resources that avoid the circuitous sea route through the pirate-infested and US Navy-dominated Straits of Malacca.
Norwegian Land Up For Sale Could Be What China Needs To Access The Arctic
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:52
After a decade of looking westward to Central Asia to secure access to energy supplies, China is shifting its gaze to the north, where it may buy a piece of land from Norway to gain access to the region's rich resources and convenient shipping lanes.
China may not be the only entity interested in purchasing the land, a fjord that's roughly three times the size of Hong Kong, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, which was recently put up for sale by the Norwegian government, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday. The privately owned fjord, still undeveloped, could potentially have 20 million tons of coal reserves.
''Arctic hydrocarbons constitute the final frontier of oil and gas development,'' Emily Stromquist, an energy expert with the Eurasia Group, a political and economic risk consultancy, told International Business Times. ''China's rapidly growing energy demand, coupled with interests in more efficient Arctic shipping routes, have driven Chinese companies to seek new Arctic energy projects.''
But more important than potential coal reserves, simply owning the Svalbard property could give China, or any non-Arctic state, a platform for launching long-term Arctic exploration operations, as well as a permanent foothold in the region, said Willy streng, vice-president of the Norwegian Academy of Polar Research and a former director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, according to the South China Morning Post.
China's bid, if it it occurs, would not be unprecedented. In 2011, A Chinese property tycoon, Huang Nubo, tried to buy an even larger plot of land in Iceland in 2011, but his $200 million bid was blocked over Iceland's concerns that too much of the island would be in foreign hands. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a major state-owned enterprise, has also partnered with Iceland's Eykon Energy firm to explore for energy resources off Iceland's southeast coast, according to the Diplomat.
China is not alone in its drive to enter the resource-rich region, which contains more than 20 percent of the undiscovered global hydrocarbon reserves. Among the eight member-states of the Arctic Council, Russia is a key stakeholder in the region, as the Russian Arctic has been responsible for about 10 to 15 percent of Russia's gross domestic product, or GDP, and 25 percent of its foreign exports. The European Union nations, where 25 percent of all Arctic oil and gas is destined, and the U.S., have also emerged as major players in the region, according to a paper from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
China has expanded its operations in all directions around the globe in recent years to secure the energy supplies needed to fuel its rapid industrialization and growth. Chinese companies have invested heavily in foreign energy projects, including Sinopec's investments in Canada and the North Sea, CNOOC's acquisition of Nexen, and a Chinese-backed pipeline from Myanmar.
''Chinese state-owned companies have loomed large in auction processes for a number of years, particularly in the energy sector, and their success has resulted in considerable international expansion,'' Darren Spalding, the energy partner at the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, told IBTimes.
In recent years, many of China's energy and resource investments were made in Central Asia. On a recent tour of the region, President Xi Jinping signed a number of significant energy deals, including one that will increase China's gas supply from Turkmenistan by 25 billion cubic meters annually. Another investment in the region gave China an 8.33 percent stake, which amounts to $30 billion, in an oil project in Kazakhstan, and another one secured nearly $15 billion worth of oil, gas and uranium projects from Uzbekistan, according to the Huffington Post.
South Sudan: What Happens When the Rains Come Down?
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:40
If you think South Sudan is in bad shape now, think again. It could get worse. A lot worse. In May, the rainy season begins, and the country is hopelessly unprepared for the deluge.
Whichever god you believe in, he was in a good mood the day he created South Sudan. Aside from the huge reservoirs of oil upon which the country sits, it boasts vast swathes of some of Africa's most fertile soil, a gentle, forgiving tropical climate and a rainy season which arrives like clockwork every May - not to mention year-round sunshine.
Unlike in the harsh desert scrublands further north in Sudan proper, food grows here, in abundance. No one should go hungry.
Humans, however, have a strange way of squandering their good fortune. South Sudan, for all its natural blessings, is on the brink of famine - and it only has itself to blame.
This May, when the rains come down, few farmers will have planted seeds in preparation. Still fewer will remain on their land to till and reap and profit from a plentiful harvest. And, in the unlikely scenario that the country does produce enough food to feed its population of ...
CCTV to broadcast "The Big Bang Theory" - People's Daily Online
Fri, 02 May 2014 10:44
Four high-profile American TV series have been removed from China's video streaming websites over the weekend, leaving many Chinese fans of American TV shows concerned, as no specific reasons were given.
The popular shows "The Big Bang Theory", "The Good Wife", "NCIS", and "The Practice" were no longer available ia the Internet in China, despite the series being legally broadcast in China. "The Big Bang Theory" was exclusive licensed by Sohu, one of largest China's Internet companies.
But in fact, these series will not be "banned" in China. According to the Beijing News, China's state broadcaster CCTV is now doing the translation work for the comedy ''The Big Bang Theory''. CCTV's drama channel (CCTV-8) plans to broadcast it in the near future once the translation and editing work is finished, to meet the growing demand within China for foreign-made entertainment.
CCTV-8 also broadcast ''Band of Brothers'' in 2003, ''Everybody Loves Raymond'' in 2005 and 2007, ''Desperate Housewives'' in 2005, ''Grey's Anatomy'' in 2010, and ''Downton Abbey'' in 2013.
Response from Sohu's CEO Charles Zhang
For the moment the four series cannot be accessed, and the message "Sorry, the episode is not available at the moment due to policy reasons" appears on the screen of the video website. In response, Sohu CEO Charles Zhang confirmed the removal of ''The Big Bang Theory'' was because of policy reasons, but he also explained that the closedown is a one-off, and said that China's top media authority was not changing its policies on imported entertainment.
He believes that American TV series have a good future in China. ''More and more people watch videos online," he explained. "And the government's management is also responding to need. Just as in the case of the decade of development of China's Internet, better management is required for more orderly development. The resulting supervision will not hinder China's video industry.''
The article is edited and translated from ãŠ''ç>>色原声ç‰''ãŠå¤§ç†ç‚¸ã‹äº®ç›¸å¤®è§†¼Ÿã‹, source: Beijing News
Shut Up Slave!
International Conflicts of Concern Act (H.R. 4223) - GovTrack.us
Fri, 02 May 2014 16:34
GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.
Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
3/12/2014--Introduced.
International Conflicts of Concern Act - Directs the President to identify to Congress each country whose government is, and each country in which anti-government forces are, allowing one or more foreign terrorist organizations to engage in armed conflict occurring in that country.
Directs the President to designate a country as a "country of conflict concern" if:
(1) its government or anti-government forces in the country are allowing one or more foreign terrorist organizations to engage in armed conflict in it, and
(2) it is in the U.S. national security to restrict travel by any U.S. national to the country and to restrict material support provided by U.S. nationals to entities engaged in armed conflict in it.
Terminates such a designation when the President certifies to Congress that either or both of these circumstances no longer apply.
Deems Syria to be a country of conflict concern.
Directs the President, with respect to a country of conflict concern, to require a U.S. national to obtain a license to: (1) travel to it, or (2) provide material support to entities that are engaged in armed conflict in it. Applies specified penalties to a person who violates such requirements.
House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.
No summary available.
House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.
So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.
We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.
Dutch politician's killer Volkert van der Graaf set for release
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:34
AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The animal rights activist who assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 is due to be released Friday, after serving 12 years of an 18-year sentence.Release after serving two-thirds of a sentence is the norm in the Netherlands.Volkert van der Graaf killed Fortuyn days before national elections in which Fortuyn was set to win big on an anti-immigration platform that reversed the then-progressive Dutch political landscape.Most of Fortuyn's ideas have since become reality.Van der Graaf's sentence has been widely criticized as too light. Judges had to choose between a maximum sentence of 20 years for a first-time offender motivated by misguided principles, or life in prison without parole.Justice Ministry spokesman Jochgem van Opstal said Van der Graaf's release has conditions attached.
Cops are About to Start Live-Tweeting Prostitution Stings
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:46
S
Caveat emptor, Maryland residents, life's about to get pretty shameful for a few unlucky fans of paying for sex.
Prince George's County police announced today that they plan to live-tweet a prostitution sting next week, mug shots and all, in an "unprecedented social media tactic."
Although the sting appears to be targeted solely at johns, the police department's announcement was originally posted with an image of a woman in handcuffs. The photo has since been removed, but apparently confused a few news outlets.
The department warns that suspects won't know when or where to expect the sting, but if officers actually live-tweet the event, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure it out.
[image viaShutterstock]
Biting versus Chewing: Eating Style and Social Aggression in Children
Sat, 03 May 2014 23:27
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Russian upper house passes new 'blogger bill' despite protests from industry, rights officials
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:56
Published time: April 29, 2014 11:11Federation Council meeting. (RIA Novosti / Alexey Filippov)
Russia's Federation Council has passed the bill introducing obligations for maintainers of popular blogs, roughly similar to the existing rules for mass media.
The new bill introduces a definition of 'blogger' to Russian legislation. Popular blogs, defined as those that have 3,000 or more visitors per day, will have to register on a special list maintained by the consumer rights agency Rospotrebnadzor, and follow certain rules.
The authors will have to sign the posts with their real name and verify the information they publish. They will also be banned from posting extremist and terrorist information, propagating pornography or violence, and disclosing state or commercial secrets and personal data of citizens. Popular bloggers will not be able to use obscene language and will face some other restrictions, such as a 'day of silence' ahead of elections.
At the same time bloggers receive the right to make official inquiries and for commercial activities '' they can have advertising in their posts and receive money for it.
The rules are enforced by the authorities through internet service providers who can be ordered to block certain bloggers for violations and provide information about the real people behind web aliases. Refusal to comply will be punished with fines of between 10,000 and 30,000 rubles ($270- $833) for individuals and between 50,000 and 300,000 rubles ($1400- $8300) for businesses.
The bill also introduces a special legal term for social networks, blog platforms and any sites with readers' comments. They are called ''distributors of information on the internet'' and also face obligations to register with Rospotrebnadzor, store the user-generated content and logs of user activity for six months, and present the data to the state watchdog upon request. Refusal to comply will be punished by fines '' from 3,000 to 5,000 rubles (US$83-$140) for private citizens, from 30,000 to 50,000 rubles ($833-$1,388) for officials, and from 300,000 to 500,000 rubles ($8,330-$13,888) for business entities.
The bill was dubbed by reporters as ''equating bloggers to mass media,'' but its authors and sponsors protested against such wording, saying that the bill only applied to popular blogs, while the websites already registered as mass media do not fall under its regulations.
The document has drawn a great deal of criticism from the internet industry, which was upset at being saddled with additional responsibilities without compensation. After it was passed by the lower house, Russian internet major Yandex closed the ratings of blogs in its search engine and also stopped indicating the number of readers for separate bloggers.
Popular blog platform Livejournal has also announced that it was hiding the statistics to help its users dodge the new regulations as they come into force.
However, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov, has called that move ''emotional'' and assured reporters that his agency would be able to obtain the data on popular bloggers without any help.
Shortly before the bill was forwarded to the upper house, the chair of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, addressed the Federation Council speaker with a request to reject it. Fedotov quoted procedure violations (the bill has not received the government approval which is necessary under constitution as it would require additional budgetary spending), but noted that the state regulation of blogs and social networks was a necessary thing.
To come into force the bill now has to be signed by the president and published.
CHULA VISTA, Calif.: As border security expands, complaints of abuse rise among Americans | National Security & Defense | McClatchy DC
Fri, 02 May 2014 00:59
CHULA VISTA, Calif. '-- A series of lawsuits filed in recent months in federal courts along the U.S. border with Mexico highlight what advocates say is a growing list of complaints against two U.S. agencies that have expanded rapidly amid the clamor to secure the nation's borders.
In one lawsuit, centered on events in Chula Vista, Calif., a Border Patrol agent is accused of leaping on the hood of a car driven by a mother of five and shooting her dead. She was unarmed. The agent had been fired from his previous job as a sheriff's deputy for a variety of misconduct.
In a second case, a Customs officer in Brownsville, Texas, violently pushed a disabled woman to the ground. She had a miscarriage the next day. Border officers also had to call firefighters to remove handcuffs that allegedly had bound her wrists too tightly.
For a third woman, her return to the United States was intrusive and painful. She was pulled from a line at an El Paso, Texas, border crossing, apparently on the suspicion that she was carrying drugs. She was handcuffed. Over the next six hours, agents escorted her to a hospital, where they oversaw the probing of her anus and vagina, forced her to take a laxative and then watched as she moved her bowels. When no drugs were found, they ordered her to submit to an X-ray and a CT scan.
When the ordeal was over, the officers asked her to sign a consent form before they allowed her to return to her home in New Mexico. When she refused, the hospital billed her thousands of dollars for the procedures.
Critics say the lawsuits, all three filed by U.S. citizens, are part of a pattern that's become endemic to the nation's efforts to secure its southern border. In addition to complaints that U.S. Border Patrol agents have used deadly force when their lives were not at risk _ agents have killed 21 people since the beginning of 2010, most of them unarmed migrants _ agents from the two federal agencies that monitor the borders stand accused of mistreating American citizens.
Violent confrontations are only part of the picture. U.S. citizens who live along the border complain that U.S. agents have become a virtual interior police force _ disrespectful of private property, looking for pretexts to search vehicles and detaining residents for hours at checkpoints.
''In the last three years, the Border Patrol has caused me more damage than the illegals,'' said John Ladd, whose family has operated a ranch in southeast Arizona for the past 118 years. ''They've abused private property rights immensely.''
Fueling the problems, critics say, has been the agencies' rapid expansion, which has led to poor hiring and training and an institutional unwillingness to acknowledge agents' mistakes that encourages the frequent use of physical violence. One lawyer who deals with the agencies accuses them of nurturing ''an overly aggressive, bullying culture.''
It's difficult to quantify the number of complaints of abuse that have been filed against the two agencies. The Department of Homeland Security releases no official statistics on complaints lodged against the agencies, both of which are part of the DHS: Customs and Border Protection, which staffs the nearly 50 official land points of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Border Patrol, whose agents monitor the border between points of entry.
One advocacy group, No More Deaths, which provides food, water and medical care to migrants, said it had lodged 90 complaints in recent years with the DHS's civil rights office, accusing agents of unlawful searches, excessive force and lengthy detentions at Border Patrol checkpoints and by roving Border Patrol units, which operate up to 100 miles from the border.
In nearly all cases, the DHS office hasn't responded for months, then has dismissed the complaint ''because there is no evidence in their records'' pertaining to it, said No More Deaths' spokesman, Geoffrey Boyce, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Arizona.
''It doesn't seem to be the case that they understand limits to their authority,'' Boyce said. ''There's a general feeling that this is an agency that's not only not interested in community concerns but often appears contemptuous of them.''
Others have filed complaints with the DHS over what they say is the routine violation of civil rights by Border Patrol agents. In January, James Lyall, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona, complained to the DHS's deputy inspector general that some Border Patrol agents falsely tell U.S. citizens they've detained that they can't make phone calls or take videos of searches of their vehicles.
''Multiple citizens have reported being told by agents, 'You have no rights here,' or that refusal to consent to a search gives agents probable cause for a search,'' Lyall said in his Jan. 15 letter, which detailed the case of a 61-year-old retiree who was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint one day last December. When an agent opened a car door and directed a drug-sniffing dog to enter, the retiree objected.
''Shut your f---ing mouth,'' the retiree was told, according to the letter.
In written comments to McClatchy, a spokesman for the two agencies, Douglas Mosier, rejected allegations that abuses have become systemic. He also rejected charges that the rapid growth of the agencies in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has led to an erosion of hiring standards and the use of excessive force. He, as well as other spokesmen for the Border Patrol and the DHS, declined to address the specifics of any abuse allegations.
''CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission and always regrets the loss of life. An overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their day-to-day duties with honor and distinction,'' he said. ''We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks.''
Even some defenders of the agencies raise questions about how they've handled Congress' demand for ever more agents as the need for more border security has become a largely unchallenged article of faith on Capitol Hill. The rapid expansion has made it impossible to vet new agents properly or train them thoroughly, they say. In the last seven years, the Border Patrol has doubled in size to 21,370 agents; Customs and Border Protection, already with 21,650 officers, is mandated to add 4,000 more over the next two years.
''They boosted the size of the Border Patrol immensely in a very short period of time,'' said Jim Dorcy, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers, a civic and social group. ''Some guys have been on the job two or three years and they have not had a background check. They've even hired illegal aliens.''
The growth should have occurred more slowly and it ''should've been an evolutionary process,'' Dorcy added. ''Congress I blame more than anyone. . . . No patience at all. They wanted it done overnight.''
Poor hiring may have been at the root of the lawsuit filed last Oct. 1 over the Sept. 22, 2012, death of Valeria Tachiquin, a 32-year-old mother of five, in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb that butts up against the border across from Tijuana, Mexico. Tachiquin grew up in San Diego County.
Plainclothes Border Patrol agents went to an apartment to pick up a male felon who'd been deported but had returned. When the agents arrived, Tachiquin walked out of the apartment and got into her blue Honda.
Agents tried to stop her from leaving, although her attorney, Eugene Iredale, says they had no legal basis to arrest her. Among the agents was Justin Tackett, a Border Patrol agent with a troubled work history.
Tachiquin was unarmed, although an autopsy later determined that she had methamphetamine in her system.
As Tachiquin tried to drive off, Tackett brandished his service firearm and jumped on the hood of her car, waving the gun and shouting. The lawsuit says Tachiquin stopped the car and Tackett got off the hood. She put her car in reverse.
''Even though not in danger of death or serious bodily injury, Tackett fired his government-issued semiautomatic firearm again and again, walking forward as he fired at the retreating Valeria,'' the complaint says. He shot her nine times.
The death drew attention to Tackett, who'd worked for nearly three years as a sheriff's deputy in Imperial County, east of San Diego, then resigned in 2003 before a notice of termination could take effect that declared him unfit for the job.
The notice cited ''unprofessional conduct, dishonesty, violation of or refusal to obey reasonable regulations, insubordination, violation of rules, incompetence and failure to follow proper procedures of arrest, search and seizure and treatment of persons in custody.''
In one incident, Tackett turned the heat on in his squad car and locked a suspect inside as the outside temperature climbed to 102 degrees, San Diego's ABC 10News reported. Tackett was also accused of defying orders not to conduct random probation checks and warrantless searches of people he stopped, as well as reckless driving that led to four accidents, including the rollover of a cruiser.
After leaving his Imperial County job, Tackett took a position as a community liaison for now-retired U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who during a 28-year career on Capitol Hill became the powerful chair of the House Armed Services Committee and a strong proponent of expanding the Border Patrol. Hunter recommended Tackett for his Border Patrol position.
Joe Kasper, a spokesman for the former legislator, said he recalled Tackett as ''energetic'' and that he ''did a good job.'' Kasper remains the spokesman for Hunter's successor, his son, Duncan Hunter Jr., who also is a strong proponent of expanding the Border Patrol.
The DHS declined to comment on Tackett's case. He remains on the job, said a spokesman, Tim Hamill, a fact that incenses Tachiquin's father, Valentin Tachiquin, a corrections officer for the California state prison system.
''He should never have been given a badge or a gun,'' Valentin Tachiquin said. Had he made a similar error, Tachiquin said, ''I'd be out of the job. Not only that, I'd be in prison.''
The second lawsuit centers on Laura Mireles, an employee at a duty-free store in Brownsville, Texas, who weighs 100 pounds and stands 5 feet 1. Her hands and legs suffer from congenital malformations. She's able to write and to walk, but the impediments are obvious to anyone who sees her. Her car carries a disabled placard from the state of Texas.
Like many U.S. citizens living near the border, Mireles, who's in her early 30s, crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico regularly as part of her job.
According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 21, Mireles was returning to the United States on the night of Nov. 5, 2012, after picking up store keys from a fellow employee across the bridge in Mexico. A Customs and Border Protection officer waved her through and signaled that she could use a special lane that bypasses vehicle X-ray machines.
Back on U.S. soil, Mireles locked up the duty-free store with a fellow employee, then saw flashing lights. A CBP officer said he needed to search her car. She consented. When she saw the officer open her purse, she stepped a bit closer. When another officer warned her to back up, ''she politely explained that she only wanted to watch,'' the lawsuit says.
One of the officers walked toward her. ''With no warning, he forcibly grabbed her with both hands, threw her onto the ground and placed her face down,'' the suit says, adding that he put his 200-pound weight on her.
''As a result of the agent's actions, our client's pants were ripped open and she had a wound to the knee,'' said Adriana Pinon, one of several attorneys for Mireles from the Texas branch of the ACLU. ''She wasn't posing any threat to the officers.''
Scared and crying, Mireles asked an officer why she was being mistreated.
''He responded by telling her to shut up or he would hit her with an object,'' presumably referring to his stun gun, the suit says.
Mireles spent two hours in custody. No contraband was found. When firefighters succeeded later in removing her handcuffs, her wrists had raw wounds, and she was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The next day she miscarried, and her gynecologist said it was a result of the previous day's incident, the suit says.
The DHS declined to comment on the case, but in a Jan. 27 filing the government asserted that the officer ''acted within the scope of his CBP employment at the time of the incident'' and denies allegations of abuse. It acknowledged that the handcuffs had to be cut from Mireles' wrists but said that was because the ''key stuck in the lock.'' The filing said ''defendants deny this occurred because plaintiff was handcuffed so tightly.''
The ACLU's Pinon is also an attorney in the third case, filed Dec. 18 in El Paso. Her client, a 54-year-old woman from Lovington, N.M., was returning one afternoon from a visit to a family friend in Mexico, crossing by foot on a bridge.
When she got to the port of entry, ''a drug-sniffing dog jumped on her,'' an action that officers saw as an alert of possible smuggling, the suit says, identifying the plaintiff only as Jane Doe because of the humiliation due to what unfolded.
Female Customs officers led her to a private room and conducted a visual and manual inspection of her genitals and anus, the suit says. When they found nothing, they took her in handcuffs to University Medical Center of El Paso, which is associated with Texas Tech University Medical School and claims to be the largest public hospital along the U.S.-Mexico border.
When she inquired, the officers said they didn't need a warrant, the suit says. At the hospital, the officers shackled her to an examining table and ordered her to take a laxative, then observed her forced bowel movement into a portable toilet. Finding nothing, they ordered an X-ray.
Still unsatisfied, the agents supervised as medical personnel ''inserted a speculum into her vagina, performed a rectal exam on her and conducted a bimanual cavity search of her vagina,'' the suit adds. All the while, the suit alleges, ''the defendants did not even have the decency to close the examining room so that Ms. Doe would not also be subjected to being observed by passers-by as she endured a forced gynecological exam.''
At the end of six hours of ''dehumanizing, invasive and degrading searches,'' the CBP officers told her to sign a consent form for the medical procedures, saying it was the only way she could avoid being billed. She refused.
The hospital later presented her with a bill for more than $5,000 for its services, the suit says.
The hospital said its medical staff had complied with applicable laws, and a lawyer for the medical center, Laura Cavaretta, told a news conference April 4 that policy required that law enforcement personnel who brought in detained people for body cavity searches must obtain warrants, a condition that was echoed by Dr. Jose Burgos, an internist at the medical center.
But they offered no explanation of why such an invasive search was conducted without a warrant, and the medical center's spokeswoman, Margaret Althoff-Olivas, declined to answer any other questions, including whether any hospital employees had been disciplined in the case.
She said sending Jane Doe a bill after her intrusive search was an error. It should have been sent to the CBP, she indicated.
''We forgave that bill,'' she said.
Email: tjohnson@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @timjohnson4
Supreme Court: Pennsylvania cops no longer need a warrant to search citizens' vehicles - Local News - lancasteronline.com
Fri, 02 May 2014 01:15
Pa. police powers increased
1 imageSupreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery
By BRETT HAMBRIGHT | Staff WriterBrett Hambright is a Lancaster Newspapers staff writer who covers crime and the Lancaster County court system. He can be reached at bhambright@lnpnews.com or (717) 481-6026. You can also follow @BrettHambright on Twitter.|Updated 12 hours ago
Pennsylvania police officers no longer need a warrant to search a citizen's vehicle, according to a recent state Supreme Court opinion.
The high court's opinion, released Tuesday, is being called a drastic change in citizens' rights and police powers.
RELATED: Local cops discuss warrantless searches, probable cause
Previously, citizens could refuse an officer's request to search a vehicle. In most cases, the officer would then need a warrant '-- signed by a judge '-- to conduct the search.
That's no longer the case, according to the opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery.
The ruling, passed on a 4-2 vote, was made in regard to an appeal from a 2010 vehicle stop in Philadelphia.
Local police and legal professionals are calling the opinion ''big news.''
''This is a significant change in long-standing Pennsylvania criminal law, and it is a good one,'' Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Wednesday afternoon.
Under prior law, an officer who smells marijuana inside a car, for example, could only search the car with the driver's consent '-- or if illegal substances were in plain view.
(Federal officers, like FBI or ATF agents, can search, regardless.)
RELATED: What exactly is probable cause? What qualifies as means for an officer to search a vehicle?
Now, based on the opinion, it only takes reasonable probable cause for an officer to go ahead with a search without a warrant.
''The prerequisite for a warrantless search of a motor vehicle is probable cause to search,'' McCaffery writes in the opinion. ''We adopt the federal automobile exception... which allows police officers to search a motor vehicle when there is probable cause to do so...''
Previously, a warrantless search was only allowed if ''exigent circumstances'' existed, the opinion states.
''This case gives the police simpler guidelines to follow and (it) finally and clearly renders our law consistent with established federal law,'' Stedman said.
''It is a ruling that helps law enforcement as they continue to find people in possession of illegal drugs,'' New Holland police Lt. Jonathan Heisse said Wednesday.
While police rejoice over what's been a lasting issue, citizens might not be as thrilled.
''It's an expanding encroachment of government power,'' defense attorney Jeffrey Conrad said Wednesday morning, while reviewing the 62-page opinion. ''It's a protection we had two days ago, that we don't have today. It's disappointing from a citizens' rights perspective.''
Christopher Patterson, another veteran defense lawyer, said: ''I am concerned that we are on a slippery slope that will eliminate personal privacy and freedom in the name of expediency for law enforcement.''
Shiem Gary filed the Philadelphia appeal, arguing that police didn't have probable cause to search his vehicle on Jan. 15, 2010. Officers found two pounds of marijuana stashed under the vehicle's hood.
Lancaster defense attorney Michael Winters noted that police still need good reasons to pull over a vehicle and conduct a search.
''This does not mean that they may search every vehicle they stop,'' Winters said. ''They must still develop probable cause before they are permitted to search your vehicle without a warrant.''
In the Gary case, probable cause for the vehicle stop was window tint the officers believed to be illegal. Officers smelled marijuana and asked about it; Shiem then told an officer there was ''weed'' in the vehicle. A search ensued.
''This case does not eliminate the need for the police to have probable cause to search,'' Stedman said.
The district attorney said the ruling puts Pennsylvania in line with federal law and many other states.
Locals stressed that probable cause to stop a vehicle does not equate with probable cause to search it.
A driver can still refuse if an officer asks for consent to search a car. The officer can then only search if he/she has probable cause to do so, or a warrant. A driver refusing consent, alone, does not give a police officer probable cause to search.
Christopher Lyden, another local defense lawyer, believes if an officer wants to search a vehicle without consent, they should have to get approval from a judge '-- as they do in searches of homes.
''Judicial oversight of vehicle searches, just like residential searches,'' he said, ''helps maintain a free society.''
Chief Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille and Justices J. Michael Eakin and Thomas G. Saylor joined McCaffery in the majority.
Justices Debra McCloskey Todd and Max Baer opposed it.
Agenda 21
Youth anxiety on the rise amid changing climate
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:16
This is part of a series examining the health repercussions for Canadians of a changing climate.
Sammy McLean, 14, felt overwhelming helplessness as she stood with her family and watched two angry rivers '' the Bow and the Elbow '' surge through their home, cutting a path of destruction across the downtown Calgary neighbourhood. Furniture flew through the front windows, and the basement and first floor were washed out and filled with mud. McLean remembers thinking that her once calm, picturesque street resembled a war zone.
CTVNews Video Apr. 09 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
More Related to this StoryA confident, athletic girl, McLean says the flood left her vulnerable, scared and hating the rivers that encircled her home. ''They wouldn't let us in for several days after we were evacuated,'' says McLean, who now lives in a downtown condo with her parents and three siblings while the house is being extensively renovated. ''I used to think the rivers were so pretty. It made me not like them any more. I thought the water was going to take away the whole house '' and my bedroom.''
While the Alberta floods haven't been directly linked to climate change, destructive weather events are expected to increase in Canada in the future. McLean, a normally upbeat youth, is painfully aware of the sheer power of Mother Nature and the carnage its fury can wreak. She's now anxious about what we're doing to our environment. ''I volunteered to take an active role in my school's Model United Nations, which is studying the impact climate change is having on our planet,'' she said.
On one hand it scared her, but it also made her want to know more so she could help activate positive change.
Child psychiatrists, psychologists and educators say they've seen an escalation in the anxiety levels of today's youth, who are constantly exposed to doomsday talk about the destruction of our planet. But despite the fact that we live in a world with more volatility and fear, experts say there is hope. And to stay mentally strong, they all advocate not just calling for change, but acting for it.
Dr. Anthony Levitt, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's director of research in the department of psychiatry, agrees climate-change anxiety increasingly enters into the discussions he has with many of the young people who come to see him. ''Younger people [teens to mid-20s] appear to be much more accepting of the science and facts than older people,'' Levitt observes. He's also seen an uptick in climate-change-related anxiety in parents with younger children.
''For most people who are anxious about climate change, the anxiety is escalated by the fact they do not see an answer or a way to make a change. Worry plus powerlessness leads to distress,'' says Levitt, who is also a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Toronto.
''The answer, on a personal basis, to this kind of helpless distress is 'mastery': that is, helping people to master small tasks that reduce their carbon footprint can lead to a greater sense of control and efficacy for that person '' and with that a reduction in anxiety. Can one person taking action to reduce their carbon footprint change global warming? Who knows. But it can relieve the distress that comes from anxiety mixed with impotence that affects a growing number of people in our society,'' he said.
North Carolina-based psychotherapist Chris Saade, co-director of the Olive Branch Center, a grief/wellness counselling firm, says he's seen a huge jump in the number of patients under 18 who come to him with concerns about the environmental crisis.
''Unlike adults who can put their heads in the sand about what we have been doing to our planet, these kids are very aware of what's going on,'' adds Saade, who has led more than 200 psychological retreats in the United States and has offered grief counselling through his private practice for more than 20 years. ''Because of the Web, it's not hidden any more. Children often ask me questions that we, as adults, try to evade: What is going to happen to the human race?''
Environmental activist and author Kenneth Worthy is quick to point out that kids aren't the only ones trying to cope with the anxiety and fear that goes hand-in-hand with climate change. ''Adults, too, are struggling to come to terms with the mental-health strains connected to the volatility, including economic loss from storms, floods and other natural disasters,'' says Worthy, who quit a lucrative job as a software developer in Silicon Valley more than a decade ago to do a graduate degree in environmental studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
To cope with volatility, Worthy, 52, advises that we realize every generation has had great challenges. ''Our forebears had the First World War and the Second World War. Another generation dealt with the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. Now the greatest threat to this generation '' young and old '' is the climate problem, which involves a lot of volatility, and a lot of change.''
He hopes we can face it as a generation, together. ''We have to find the flexibility, the courage and the determination to stand up to that crisis '' collectively, not just as individuals. Like our parents did before us.''
At the Olive Branch, Saade says counsellors acknowledge youths' grief about the changing planet, and try to show them how to translate that into hope and action. ''We tell them grief is a normal response of the human psyche when a loss is happening, whether it's personal or, in this case, a global loss in terms of the environment. If we don't feel grief, at the end of the day, we won't do anything.''
Saade then counsels patients to connect with others. ''As human beings we are made to deal with crises collectively, not individually. So we try to help them realize that, yes, we are looking at a global crisis, but you can also choose to be part of a global movement to address the crisis. This is a particularly important message to deliver to children, who are very sensitive to isolation. When a child goes into their imaginative being, they can really magnify their isolation, which can become overwhelming .'... We tell them to become agents of transformation and change.''
In Calgary, Sammy McLean and her family and friends are bracing for another spring thaw. McLean is worried and she shares those concerns with her parents '' who are also on edge, as are many of their neighbours.
''I'm scared of another flood. I'm scared it will be bigger than the last one,'' she said. ''But I'm also thankful. Our family has been able to afford to fix our house and get it back. I think of all those other poor people who lost everything and can't afford to rebuild. We are the lucky ones.''
Scientists race to develop farm animals to survive climate change
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:12
NEWARK, Del. '--
When a team of researchers from the University of Delaware traveled to Africa two years ago to search for exemplary chickens, they weren't looking for plump thighs or delicious eggs.
They were seeking out birds that could survive a hotter planet.
The researchers were in the vanguard of food scientists, backed by millions of dollars from the federal government, racing to develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming.
Some climate-change activists dismiss the work, which is just getting underway, as a distraction and a concession to industrial-style agriculture, which they blame for compounding the world's environmental problems. Those leading the experiments, however, say new, heat-resistant breeds of farm animals will be essential to feeding the world as climate change takes hold.
The experiments reflect a continued shift in the federal government's response to climate change. With efforts to reduce carbon emissions lagging behind what most scientists believe will be needed to forestall further warming, the government increasingly is looking for ways to protect key industries from the impact.
In agriculture, "we are dealing with the challenge of difficult weather conditions at the same time we have to massively increase food production" to accommodate larger populations and a growing demand for meat, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
That means efforts like the one here, in which Carl Schmidt and his colleagues are trying to map the genetic code of bizarre-looking African naked-neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of U.S. broilers.
"The game is changing since the climate is changing," Schmidt said. "We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people," citing global-population estimates for 2050.
Warmer temperatures can create huge problems for animals farmed for food. Turkeys are vulnerable to a condition that makes their breast meat mushy and unappetizing. Disease rips through chicken coops. Brutal weather can claim entire cattle herds.
"It's a big problem when it happens," said Gale Strasburg, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Michigan State University whose quest is to develop more robust turkeys. "Within a day or two after the heat wave hits, you will go from there being no problem at all on a farm to 40% of turkey breasts having a problem."
"If we start seeing a lot more shifts in summer temperature extremes, there is going to be more of this," he said.
Strasburg's research involves turning up the heat lamps several degrees on hundreds of turkey chicks, as well as on turkey eggs before they hatch. Researchers will then study the animals' muscles and attempt to parse out genes that could help the animals endure hotter environments. The hope is ultimately to enable the industry to breed turkeys resilient to heat waves.
"Even if you believe we should be conserving our resources and putting more emphasis on eating plants, the reality we deal with is that worldwide the demand is growing for meat," he said. "There will be more and more pressure to produce it more sustainably and of consistent quality."
Some climate experts, however, question the federal government's emphasis on keeping pace with a projected growing global appetite for meat. Because raising animals demands so many resources, the only viable way to hit global targets for greenhouse gas reduction may be to encourage people to eat less meat, they say.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approach to climate change "is like trying to promote driver safety while helping the car industry make faster cars," said Alan Miller, who recently retired as a principal climate-change specialist at the World Bank.
The meat industry should be more radical in confronting climate change, Miller said, pointing to an approach backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates that takes animals out the process altogether. The billionaire is bullish on technology that would use pea proteins to create replicas of beef and chicken that are indistinguishable from the real thing.
"There's no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people," Gates wrote recently on his blog. "Yet we can't ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources."
The scientists working to craft breeds of animals that can cope with a warmer climate argue that they, too, are focused on depleting fewer resources.
At Oklahoma State University, scientist Megan Rolf says her efforts could result in herds of cattle that consume less water and feed.
"The idea is to create animals that are more efficient," Rolf said.
Angela Merkel's Vice Chancellor Stuns, Declares Germany's 'Energiewende' To Be On 'The Verge Of Failure'
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:54
The green energy orgy in Germany is over. The music has stopped and the wine that once flowed freely has long run out. The green energy whores and pimps can go home.
In a stunning admission by Germany's Economics Minister and Vice Chancellor to Angela Merkel, Sigmar Gabriel announced in a recent speech that the country's once highly ballyhooed transformation to renewable energy, the so called Energiewende, a model that has been adopted by a number of countries worldwide, is ''on the verge of failure''.
Speaking at an event at SMA Solar, Germany's leading manufacturer of solar technology, Gabriel even dropped yet another admission bomb:
The truth is that in all fields we under-estimated the complexity of the Energiewende.''
Gabriel is not only the national economics minister and vice chancellor to Angela Merkel, he is also head of Germany's socialist SPD party, which is now the coalition partner in Angela Merkel's CDU/SPD grand coalition government. Moreover Gabriel was once the country's environment minister and a devout believer in global warming and in Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.
In the speech Gabriel tells the audience how the energy transformation is on the verge of failure:
Those who are the engines of the transformation to renewable energies, that's you, you don't see how close we are to the failure of the energy transformation.''
Gabriel says that major reforms are thus unavoidable, and he calls efforts for energy consumers to get off the grid ''pure madness''. That's not what they want after all. Gabriel is now calling on companies who produce green energy for their own use to ante up as well:
The complete exemption from paying feed-in tariffs is a model that is wonderful for you as a business model, but is one that is a problem for everyone else.''
The solar energy audience reacts with dead, stunned silence (3:03). That can't believe what they just heard.
The mood at SMA Solar, which has been a huge benefactor of the renewable energy subsidies brought on by Germany's EEG feed-in act, was somber and shock and Gabriel delivered the reality. Many in attendance seemed unable to fathom what Gabriel was unloading: the heady days at the green energy feeding trough are over '' live with it.
The European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) here writes:
The responsible persons in attendance at the Hessen-based photovoltaic SMA Solar and all the other profiteers of the EEG feed-in act saw their jaws drop when this late and blunt admission was made.''
That Gabriel would make such comments can only tell us that the situation and the costs surrounding the Energiewende must be far more dire than most of us realize.
Germany's renewable energy gravy train has derailed for good. Other countries take note!
Finally, give credit to Gabriel for not shying away from what needs to be done and for taking the responsibilities as economics minister very seriously. Finally a person in power who gets it!
Other reading: Even media now mocking failed Energiewende.
Harvard Professor on IPCC & Scientific Integrity
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:24
Dutch arrest 44 Greenpeace activists blocking Russian Arctic oil tanker.
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:31
The very different reactions of European countries to Greenpeace protests was seen on Thursday when 10 Dutch armed anti-terror police boarded the environment group's flagship outside Rotterdam port and arrested 44 activists trying to stop a Russian tanker from unloading its shipment of Arctic oil.
Although the activists were taken to several Rotterdam police stations and the Rainbow Warrior towed ashore, the ship and most of the protesters were released without charge within a few hours.
Greenpeace intercepts the world's first shipment of Arctic oil in RotterdamThis represented a stark contrast to September 2013, when 20 armed Russian navy commandos boarded the group's Arctic Sunrise icebreaker, towed it 200 miles to Murmansk and jailed the crew of 28 environmental activists and two freelance journalists for more than two months on charges of piracy and then hooliganism.
Greenpeace activists, who used paragliders, climbers, a fleet of boats and inflatables in Rotterdam, said the action was a serious attempt to prevent the Gazprom tanker Mikhail Ulyanov from entering the port and was not stage-managed, despite a boatload of journalists being present and the port given advance warning of a protest.
''It tells us more about how the authorities deal with dissent in Holland compared to Russia. We had every intention of stopping the oil being offloaded. The intention was just as serious as it was in Russia last September,'' said Ben Ayliffe, Greenpeace International Arctic campaigner.
Seven of the ''Arctic 30'' were part of the Rotterdam protest, including the captain Peter Willcox.
''Thirty of us went to prison for shining a light on this dangerous Arctic oil, and we refuse to be intimidated. This tanker is the first sign of a reckless new push to exploit the Arctic, a place of incredible beauty which is melting before our eyes. I stand with 5 million others against those who put short-term profit above the common interests of humanity,'' said Faiza Oulahsen from the Netherlands, who took part in both protests.
Police on board Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior ship. Photograph: Chris Grodotzki/GreenpeaceThe group is calling for an end to offshore Arctic oil drilling both in Russia and elsewhere in the world. The environmental group has heavily criticised international companies like Shell, BP and Statoil for their global Arctic ambitions as well as their joint ventures with Russian energy firms.
Greenpeace International executive director, Kumi Naidoo, said: ''It's increasingly clear that our reliance on oil and gas is a major threat not just to the environment, but to global security. Arctic oil represents a dangerous new form of dependence on Russia's state-owned energy giants at the very moment when we should be breaking free of their influence. We cannot hope for any kind of ethical foreign policy while our governments remain hopelessly dependent on companies like BP, Shell and Gazprom.''
Last night the Mikhail Ulyanov was docked and preparing to offload its oil.
Russia is still holding the Arctic Sunrise in Murmansk.
Benghazi
Was Obama Hiring of Criminal Lawyer Due to Benghazi E-mails?
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:49
M. Catharine Evans
Politico reported on the switch and made mention of Eggleston's role in the Whitewater investigation during Clinton's first term, as well as his ties to Obama's former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The high-powered lawyer helped Emanuel avoid jail time in the pay-to-play schemes involving former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.Politico then suggested that Obama needed Eggleston in case of a GOP sweep in November.
Eggleston is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and has extensive experience in the kinds of oversight cases that the Obama White House is likely to face more of if Republicans take control of the Senate in November and retain control of the House.
Is the Obama administration simply gearing up for battle due to myriad unconstitutional and possibly illegal activities? Eggleston will certainly have his hands full after the last six years. Or is the announcement of Eggleston's new position directly related to the Benghazi e-mails and the murder of four Americans?
The timeline is interesting on this one. Judicial Watch has fought for two years to get documents from the State Departments specifically pertaining to the talking points used by former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on talk shows. A federal judge finally ordered their release two weeks ago. Three days later, Obama hired Eggleston. Eight days later, JW went public with the e-mails.
Did President Obama lawyer up in anticipation of Judicial Watch's release of the Benghazi e-mails?
On April 29, Judicial Watch announced that it had obtained the ''smoking gun'' e-mail on April 18, 2014 '' days before Obama announced that Neil Eggleston would replace Kathryn Ruemmler as White House counsel to the president.
Politico reported on the switch and made mention of Eggleston's role in the Whitewater investigation during Clinton's first term, as well as his ties to Obama's former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The high-powered lawyer helped Emanuel avoid jail time in the pay-to-play schemes involving former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.
Politico then suggested that Obama needed Eggleston in case of a GOP sweep in November.
Eggleston is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and has extensive experience in the kinds of oversight cases that the Obama White House is likely to face more of if Republicans take control of the Senate in November and retain control of the House.
Is the Obama administration simply gearing up for battle due to myriad unconstitutional and possibly illegal activities? Eggleston will certainly have his hands full after the last six years. Or is the announcement of Eggleston's new position directly related to the Benghazi e-mails and the murder of four Americans?
The timeline is interesting on this one. Judicial Watch has fought for two years to get documents from the State Departments specifically pertaining to the talking points used by former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on talk shows. A federal judge finally ordered their release two weeks ago. Three days later, Obama hired Eggleston. Eight days later, JW went public with the e-mails.
General: We Didn't Even Try To Save American Lives In Benghazi
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:19
Washington Bureau05.01.14
A former general is accusing the U.S. military of not even trying to save the Americans under attack at Benghazi in 2012.
A high-ranking officer in the U.S. Africa Command on the night of the Benghazi attacks is now saying that the U.S. military did not try and was never even ordered to save the Americans under attack at the U.S. diplomatic outpost on the September 11, 2012 attack.
In explosive testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell said bluntly about the military's response on the night of the Benghazi attack: ''The discussion is not in the 'could or could not' in relation to time, space and capability, the point is we should have tried.''
In many ways, this contradicts the testimony of more senior military officers, such as a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who have said the assets were not in place on the night of the attack to get to the Benghazi diplomatic post and nearby CIA annex in time to make a difference.
On the evening of the attack a CIA team did get to the U.S. diplomatic compound in time to save all but two U.S. officials: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and a State Department officer, Sean Smith. That team fought their way back to the CIA annex with other Americans and sustained a low-level firefight throughout the evening. A second team from Tripoli arrived in Benghazi after commandeering an airplane and being delayed at the airport. Then, at around dawn, two well-aimed mortar shots killed two more former Navy SEALS, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
A report from the House Armed Services Committee as well as the State Department's own Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi incident concluded that no military assets were in place to get U.S. personnel to Benghazi in time. On Thursday, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Lovell was not in a position to comment on military options for the night of the attacks. "BG Lovell did not serve in a capacity that gave him reliable insight into operational options available to commanders during the attack, nor did he offer specific courses of action not taken," he said.
Lovell, who served as the deputy director for intelligence for Africa Command on the night of attacks and was in a secure facility monitoring the situation, agreed that military assets were not in place to get to Benghazi for the initial attack in his testimony
But he also said, ''We didn't know how long this would last when we became aware of the distress nor did we completely understand what we had in front of us, be it a kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above.''
He added, ''But what we did know quite early on was that this was a hostile action. This was no demonstration gone terrible awry.''
Lovell also said the State Department never asked the military for backup that evening. ''Basically, there was a lot of looking to the State Department for what they wanted and the deference to the Libyan people and the sense of deference to the desires of the State Department in terms of what they would like to have,'' he said when asked why no request was made. McKeon, however, disputed this. ''The Armed Services Committee has interviewed more than a dozen witnesses in the operational chain of command that night, yielding thousands of pages of transcripts, e-mails, and other documents,'' he said. ''We have no evidence that Department of State officials delayed the decision to deploy what few resources DoD had available to respond.''
On the Sunday following the attack, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice described the attacks as a protest against an Internet video depicting the life of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Throughout the Muslim world, demonstrations sprung up outside U.S. embassies on September 11, 2012.
Lovell said the military lacked any direction from Washington that evening. ''My observation was they were still looking for more decisions,'' he said when asked about whether U.S. military officers at Africa Command had been given the proper orders to respond to the attack.
BREAKING: John Kerry Subpoenaed Over Benghazi Stonewalling - Katie Pavlich
Fri, 02 May 2014 20:02
Secretary of State John Kerry has been subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee after new revelations this week about the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi. The State Department has been accused of "illegally withholding subpoenaed material" from Congress, action that could "constitute a criminal offense." Kerry is expected under the subpoena to testify at a May 21 hearing on Capitol Hill and the
''The State Department's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department's legal obligations to Congress,'' Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa wrotes in a letter to Secretary Kerry. ''Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your Department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the Committee to answer questions about your agency's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack.''
The subpoena comes on the heels of new emails obtained and released by Judicial Watch showing Senior White House National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes altered Benghazi talking points. The emails were obtained through a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit and have been withheld from Congress despite multiple document requests, a potentially criminal offense.
''The fact that these documents were withheld from Congress for more than 19 months is alarming,'' Issa wrote. ''The Department is not entitled to delay responsive materials because it is embarrassing or implicates the roles and actions of senior officials.''
In the letter Issa reminded Kerry of his commitment to getting the truth about the Benghazi when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left office.
"Just weeks before taking over for outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while serving as Chairman of the Senate Foreign relations Committee, you expressed a commitment to obtaining the full record of facts related to the deadly September 11-12, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. You said, "From the very beginning of the Benghazi events, every member of this Committee has shared with the President and Secretary Clinton our determination to get all of the facts about what happened and why in Benghazi." You aligned yourself with a similar, previous commitment from the President," Issa wrote.
This post has been updated.
"Dude, this was like two years ago"
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:29
posted at 9:51 pm on May 1, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Apparently, investigations into White House officials deliberately lying to the American people about the nature of a terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of four Americans do have a shelf life '-- and Democrats, their strategists, and their spokesmen would like you to know that that time has long since passed. Via the WFB:
Former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor addressed Fox News host Bret Baier as ''dude'' and said he could hardly remember how he helped change the Benghazi talking points because it was ''two years ago.'' '...
Baier pressed Vietor on his role in changing the talking points by adding a line about the administration warning the day before the attacks of ''social media reports calling for demonstrations,'' in order to bolster the false idea that the attack was the spontaneous result of a riot against the video. Vietor affirmed this, but when Baier asked him if he'd changed ''attacks'' to ''demonstrations,'' he got amnesia.
''Dude, this was like two years ago,'' Vietor said. ''We're still talking about the most mundane process.''
Judging by the gentleman's Tweet prior to the show, this wasn't exactly a spontaneous outburst. #ThrowbackThursday, ya'll!
I might also point out that the attack was actually only 20 months ago, but hey, maybe that's just me nitpicking '-- and of course, for Hillary ''What Difference, At This Point, Does It Make?'' Clinton, that shelf life was a mere four months after the attack, so whatever, right?
Related Posts:
The Missing Benghazi Email
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:26
April 30, 2014 7:05 p.m. ET
Most of the media refuses to cover what happened in Benghazi in 2012, and Congressional Republicans have been less than skillful in their probes. But the story isn't going away despite the best efforts of the Obama Administration and the Hillary for President campaign.
The latest revelation comes from White House emails in the days after the September 11, 2012 terrorist strike on the U.S. mission in Libya's second largest city. These emails weren't included last year in what the Administration claimed was a complete set of documents about its handling of the attack and its aftermath. They were released Tuesday after the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request. We can see why the Administration tried to keep them under wraps.
Opinion VideoEditorial Board Member Matt Kaminski on newly uncovered emails which show that the White House prioritized political spin over truth-telling after four Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya. Photo credit: Getty Images.
A September 14, 2012 email from Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, sets out the Administration's view of the cause of the Benghazi attacks. He wrote it to prepare U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and current national security adviser Susan Rice for her appearances on the Sunday news shows two days later. As Mr. Rhodes wrote, the Administration wanted her "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."
In fact the attack on the diplomatic compound and CIA annex was a planned and well-coordinated assault by Islamist groups with ties to al Qaeda that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Within hours, State and CIA officials at the Embassy in Tripoli, Libya's president and video footage made that clear. Yet the Administration settled on deceptive spin and stuck to it for over a week.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, on Sept. 14 blamed the attack on a spontaneous protest against an obscure anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube. Two days later, Ms. Rice returned repeatedly to the video in her appearances on the Sunday shows, saying on Fox News that "what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world."
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also pushed the video fiction, telling the public on Sept. 14 at Andrews Air Force base as the remains of the four dead were returned that, "We have seen rage and violence directed at American Embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."
The White House also found a scapegoat in the intelligence community, blaming the CIA for drawing up the faulty "talking points" used by Administration officials. Last May it released drafts of emails from the CIA, with input from State and the White House, that spontaneous protests had "evolved into a direct assault." Yet those talking points never mentioned a video, and earlier this month former acting CIA Director Mike Morell said he didn't understand why Ms. Rice had mentioned it.
Mr. Rhodes's email provides the answer. The message directive came directly from the White House and was followed to the word. Mr. Rhodes alluded to the video in five spots in his email. On Wednesday, Mr. Carney still insisted Ms. Rice had "relied on points about the Benghazi attack that were produced by the CIA." He must think the press corps is stupid.
The Rhodes email shows a White House political operative trying to protect his boss two months before Election Day. Mr. Obama's campaign said al Qaeda was on the run and it was time for "nation-building at home." The terror attack on Americans in Benghazi didn't fit this story. It did, however, expose the "broader failure of policy" (to use Mr. Rhodes's phrase) in North Africa in the wake of the Arab political upheavals in 2011.
After the election, the Administration was slow to cooperate with congressional investigations. The "talking points" emails were released last May only after parts were leaked to the press. The Rhodes email was subpoenaed last August, but the White House blocked release until it seemed obvious it would lose its attempts to keep them secret.
All of this bears directly on Mrs. Clinton's qualifications to be President. Her State Department overlooked repeated warnings about a growing militant threat in Benghazi, denying requests for improved security. And the father of a CIA contractor told media outlets that Mrs. Clinton tried to comfort him by promising that the maker of the YouTube video would be "prosecuted and arrested," though the video had nothing to do with his son's death.
The several congressional investigations into Benghazi have been undermined by turf battles and shoddy work. We long ago advised that a select committee could focus the effort and bring overdue clarity to a shameful episode in American history. It still could.
The Benghazi Emails
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:13
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6 Week Cycle
Man Arrested In FBI Sting Found Dead In Federal Custody
Fri, 02 May 2014 22:37
FBI supplied fake explosives for alleged Space Needle, Walmart, gas station bombings
(MikaelThalen) - A Washington state man charged with plotting to blow up several buildings was found dead in federal custody Thursday, only days after being arrested during an elaborate FBI sting.
Image: Larry Gillette (Department of Corrections).
According to federal agents, 53-year-old Larry Gillette, who was serving a sentence for identity theft, told several inmates that he planned to blow up a Walmart and two gas stations as a diversion for three bank robberies once he left prison. An anonymous federal law enforcement source speaking to reporters from Kiro Radio also stated that Gillette had plans to blow up Seattle's iconic Space Needle, although the FBI has yet to comment on the claims.
Upon his release, Gillette unknowingly met with an undercover officer and received four inoperable pistols as well as a defective car bomb. Reports state that Gillette met with the officer a second time on April 28 and attempted to detonate the bomb before being arrested by the FBI.
''This certainly had the potential to be very devastating and dangerous and he was certainly the driving force,'' Asst. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Backhus told Komo 4 News last Thursday. ''The FBI was in charge of the situation the entire time. There was no threat to the public that we believe of because they were in charge of the situation but certainly, potentially, there was a great chance for loss of life.''
Less than a week later, Gillette would be found dead in his cell at the Seatac Federal Detention Center. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons announced the death the following day, saying hospital workers were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive Gillette from a suspected suicide.
While no evidence currently points to foul play, the FBI's history of executing people in their custody, most recently seen with Ibragim Todashev, who was shot 7 times execution style in his home, begs the question. Aside from Gillette's death, the circumstances surrounding his initial arrest are nearly identical to every other FBI terror sting in one specific way.
In almost every plot foiled by the FBI, the agency itself was found to have supplied all the firearms and explosives after secretly coercing subjects into carrying out attacks. While those who attempt to engage in violent activities should be held accountable, the federal government has continually used their own plots to push civil-liberty eroding policies in the name of protection.
A 2012 report from the New York Times detailed some of the agency's more well-know plots since 9/11, noting that such events were unlikely to occur without the FBI's involvement.
''The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years '-- or so it has seemed,'' the article states. '''...all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training.''
That same year, the FBI successfully recruited five ''anarchists,'' three of whom were suffering from mental illness, to plant explosives on a bridge in Ohio. According to reports, one of the men had been talked out of committing suicide only one week before being contacted by an undercover agent.
''The FBI and the federal government seek out the mentally ill and other deluded souls who are easily tricked into engaging in illegal behavior,'' noted Infowars' Kurt Nimmo. ''This is done because the domestic terrorist threat is virtually nonexistent in America. It is a transparent chimera engineered by the government to provide a pretext to attack legitimate and constitutionally protected activity and characterize it with the help of the establishment media as terrorism.''
Unknown to many, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which took the lives of six people, is considered to be one of the agency's most reprehensible sting operations. Reported by CBS Newsat the time, FBI agents secretly supplied informant Emad Salem with bomb making materials tocook an explosive for several Muslim extremists. Despite being assured by the FBI that the real bomb was replaced with a fake, the attack was successfully carried out. Salem, who recorded phone conversations with his federal handler, brought the tapes to the media following the explosion.
Although such operations are only carried out by small and corrupt units, a January FOIA request revealed that the entire agency has switched its primary mission from law enforcement to ''national security.'' Even with bee stings killing more Americans than terrorism each year, the change will undoubtedly allow the agency to put more resources behind the deceptive practice.
Regardless of the facts, the agency will undoubtedly rule the situation legitimate. Unfortunately, the agency's statistics continue to point the other way.
Judge Andrew Napolitano breaks down 17 terror schemes hatched by the FBI.
This post originally appeared at Story Leak
Watch: Many domestic terror suspects had ties with federal authorities before their alleged attacks took place. Here we highlight a few examples from the 1993 World Trade Center bomber to the recent targeting of Jewish citizens in Kansas.
Source: Infowars
Massacre prevented? Minnesota teen arrested with detailed plan to kill 'as many students as he could' '-- RT USA
Fri, 02 May 2014 16:57
Published time: May 02, 2014 15:41Reuters / Mariana Bazo
Police in Waseca, Minnesota, announced on Thursday that they had foiled a detailed and potentially devastating plot by a teenage boy to kill his family and numerous students at a local high school.
According to the Mankato Free Press, law enforcement officials said they arrested 17-year-old John David LaDue on Tuesday in connection to the deadly scheme. The teenager reportedly confessed to police after they correctly guessed that he was building explosive devices, and he is believed to have been acting on his own.
Appearing in juvenile court on Thursday, LaDue was charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of possessing explosive or incendiary devices, and two counts of criminal damage to property.
As noted by the Free Press, LaDue reportedly laid out his entire plan in a 180-page notebook, in which he also made reference to the school shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. the teenager allegedly told police of his plan to shoot his father, mother, and sister with a rifle, ignite a fire in a field to distract first responders, and then proceed to the local high school to continue his assault.
At the high school, LaDue reportedly said he would set off multiple bombs that he'd made, throw Molotov cocktails, and shoot ''as many students as he could.'' Three complete explosive devices were found in his room, and the teenager apparently confessed to setting off practice bombs that were found at an elementary school playground in March.
On Thursday, police stated LaDue could have succeeded in his plan if they weren't tipped off by a local resident who saw the teenager acting suspiciously at a storage facility.
''He shut the door, and I thought it looked funny,'' Chelsea Shellhas, who phoned police, said to local news outlet WCCO. ''Because, normally, we see people come here, and it doesn't take them 10 minutes to open a storage shed, so that's why I called it in.''
When police arrived at the scene, they found LaDue inside with plenty of dangerous material '' gunpowder, a pressure cooker, pyrotechnic chemicals, and more, according to CNN.
"This case is a classic example of citizens doing the right thing in calling the police when things seem out of place. By doing the right thing, (an) unimaginable tragedy has been prevented," Waseca Police Captain Kris Markeson said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
LaDue also allegedly told police he was in possession of numerous firearms, including an assault rifle with 400 rounds of ammunition and a Barretta 9 mm handgun. These were later found in his room alongside three bombs.
''My personal feeling is that I'm very disturbed by the amount of items that he had of that nature,'' Markeson told WCCO.
In addition to studying previous school shootings, the teenager reportedly idolized those behind the Columbine shooting, and hoped to carry out his own plan on its anniversary. April 20, however, fell on Easter Sunday this year, and school was out.
Speaking with CNN, LaDue's mother said the family would prefer not to make a statement at this time.
''Our family is dealing with a lot of grief,'' she said. ''I appreciate your concern.''
War on Crazy
Nearly Every Mass Shooting In The Last 20 Years Shares One Thing In Common, And It Isn't Weapons - Liberty Crier
Sat, 03 May 2014 21:24
By Dan Roberts
Manasquan, NJ --(Ammoland.com)- Nearly every mass shooting incident in the last twenty years, and multiple other instances of suicide and isolated shootings all share one thing in common, and its not the weapons used.
The overwhelming evidence points to the signal largest common factor in all of these incidents is the fact that all of the perpetrators were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes.
Multiple credible scientific studies going back more then a decade, as well as internal documents from certain pharmaceutical companies that suppressed the information show that SSRI drugs ( Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors ) have well known, but unreported side effects, including but not limited to suicide and other violent behavior. One need only Google relevant key words or phrases to see for themselves. www.ssristories.com is one popular site that has documented over 4500 '' Mainstream Media '' reported cases from around the World of aberrant or violent behavior by those taking these powerful drugs'...
'...On to the list of mass shooters and the stark link to psychotropic drugs.
Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold's medical records have never been made available to the public.Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in PennsylvaniaJason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) '' school shooting in El Cajon, CaliforniaJarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide '' hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara's parents said '''.... the damn doctor wouldn't take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil'...'')Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,(Gareth's father could not accept his son's death and killed himself.)Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family's detached garage.Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and ''other drugs for the conditions.''Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School '' then he committed suicide.Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school'...Nearly Every Mass Shooting In The Last 20 Years Shares One Thing In Common, & It's NOT Weapons [continued]
'Overlast door verwarde mensen neemt toe' - nrc.nl
Sat, 03 May 2014 17:55
Een arrestatieteam kwam afgelopen week in actie in Herten, Limburg, waar een man een kind gijzelde. Foto ANP / Marcel van Hoorn
BinnenlandDe politie moet steeds meer uitrukken vanwege overlast door verwarde mensen. In twee jaar tijd is het aantal meldingen gegroeid van veertigduizend naar 52 duizend vorig jaar, schrijft het AD. Het gaat vaak om kleine opstootjes maar soms ook om grotere incidenten zoals maandag toen een man zijn zoontje gijzelde in het Limburgse Herten.
De politie denkt dat de bezuinigingen in de geestelijke gezondheidszorg grotendeels de oorzaak zijn van de stijging. Zo worden mensen met psychische klachten vaker thuis behandeld. Agenten zijn soms wel uren bezig met verwarde personen en dat is volgens de Amsterdamse hoofdcommissaris Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg geen oplossing.
''Iemand met psychische klachten is geen crimineel, maar een patint. Die moet worden opgevangen door hulpverleners.''
Brancheorganisatie GGZ Nederland noemt de cijfers in de krant 'verontrustend'. ''Dit is absoluut reden tot zorg'', zegt voorzitter Jacobine Geel.
''Het opbouwen van de zorg in de wijken kost tijd, maar we moeten goed in de gaten houden of dat leidt tot mogelijke ongelukken. Deze cijfers zijn absoluut reden te kijken of we niet te snel gaan.''
(Novum)
Lees meer over:ggzPieter-Jaap Aalbersbergpsychische klachten
Net Neutrality
= Deep Packet Inspection!
War on Men
Husband mouth hit email
From: Jennifer
Subject: Are women convincing the men or visa versa
Message Body:
I am the wife you were referring to in Show 612 trying to convince my husband of 19 yrs to be a No Agenda listener.
It was my wise"male privileged", now 17 year old son who discovered you through John via TWIT.
Therefore,my opinion is that there is a small fraction of humans of both genders who enjoy your No Agenda.
Walking upright does not guarantee
intelligence.
Thank you both SO much for THE BEST PODCAST IN THE UNIVERSE!!! I am sickened to know what is really going on, but glad nonetheless.
My previous reference to "male privilege" is the feminazi speak of my son's teacher. Apparently,
it is a crime to be a male these days, especially White. White women are so put upon!!
Please, I will stop now.
Sorry for the long commentary, but you did ask a question.
Thanks again.
PS I donated last week for my bday.
Sincerely,
Jennifer (Northern mexico) aka Escondido Ca
SnowJob
White House seeks legal immunity for firms that hand over customer data
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:22
The White House has asked legislators crafting competing reforms of the National Security Agency to provide legal immunity for telecommunications firms that provide the government with customer data, the Guardian has learned.
In a statement of principles privately delivered to lawmakers some weeks ago to guide surveillance reforms, the White House said it wanted legislation protecting ''any person who complies in good faith with an order to produce records'' from legal liability for complying with court orders for phone records to the government once the NSA no longer collects the data in bulk.
The brief request, contained in a four-page document, echoes a highly controversial provision of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that allowed the NSA to access calls and call data between Americans and foreigners, voiding lawsuits against them. Barack Obama's vote for that bill as a senator and presidential candidate disappointed many supporters.
A congressional aide said the telecommunications companies were expected to ''fight hard'' for the provision to survive in any surveillance bill. Those firms, including Verizon and AT&T, have typically kept far more silent in public about NSA surveillance and their role in it than internet giants, like Yahoo and Google, which have pushed for reforms.
Unlike in 2008, the firms are not facing a spate of lawsuits, although Verizon was named as a defendant in Larry Klayman's suit against the Obama administration challenging the constitutionality of bulk phone metadata collection.
A senior administration official noted that the provision is typical for surveillance law, to protect companies who comply with Fisa court orders for customer data.
''This would refer to any new orders issued by the court under the new regime we are proposing. This is similar to the way the rest of Fisa already operates, and Fisa already contains virtually identical language for its other provisions, including Section 215,'' the official said, referring to the portion of the Patriot Act cited as justification for bulk phone data collection.
The telecommunications immunity is already contained within a bill authored by the House intelligence committee leadership, key legislative allies of the NSA.
But another aspect of the White House document points to an obstacle that congressional sources said is holding up the House intelligence bill '' something its opponents consider an opportunity.
That bill, sponsored by Republican chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan and ranking Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, would permit the government to access phone records without specific prior approval by a judge. Ruppersberger said while unveiling the bill in late March that they were ''very, very close'' to a deal with the White House, though the principles document favors prior court orders.
''Absent an emergency situation, the government would obtain the records only pursuant to individual orders from the Foreign intelligence surveillance court approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns,'' it reads.
Several congressional aides said that the discrepancy between the White House and the intelligence committee on the issue had stalled the momentum of a bill backed by the House leadership over a rival effort in the judiciary committee '' also stalled '' that would go far further in reining in bulk data collection.
Ruppersberger said he was in a ''constructive dialogue'' with stakeholders on his surveillance bill, and expressed confidence in its prospects.
''The chairman and I continue to engage in a constructive dialogue with the administration, members of our respective caucuses in the House and Senate, privacy groups, and technology and telecommunication companies. The issue of increasing transparency while maintaining an important capability to protect our country is extremely important and we will continue to work together in the best way forward,'' Ruppersberger said in a statement to the Guardian.
Rogers and Ruppersberger's legislative rival is a bill sponsored in the House by Republican Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a member of the judiciary committee. Known as the USA Freedom Act, it has been bottled up in the committee since its introduction six months ago, owing to the uncertain support of chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.
The White House surveillance principles document poses its own complications for Ruppersberger's bill. While that bill requires prior judicial approval for government acquisition of phone records, the White House principles are agnostic about the bulk collection of any other data, which the USA Freedom Act would prevent for Americans.
Jockeying is said to have intensified recently within the judiciary committee to reach a breakthrough on the USA Freedom Act, fueled in part by institutional incentives created by the introduction of Rogers and Ruppersberger's bill.
The House intelligence committee leaders attempted unsuccessfully to circumvent the judiciary committee through a parliamentary procedure. But since the bill would amend a major surveillance law, it received a secondary referral to the judiciary committee, a hotbed of hostility to it. Opponents are using the circumvention attempt to galvanize Goodlatte into finalizing a modified version of the USA Freedom Act, possibly under a new name. Privacy activists have been pressuring Goodlatte in Virginia to pass the bill.
Goodlatte ''doesn't love everything in USA Freedom, but he's not the type to get rolled on his jurisdiction,'' a congressional staffer explained.
The upcoming legislative calendar also adds a potential element of uncertainty to congressional surveillance maneuvers.
Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican and USA Freedom Act supporter, is warning that he may attach an amendment to defund domestic bulk collection to critical legislation, to include the annual defense authorization bill, known as the NDAA. An earlier version of that amendment, last summer, came surprisingly close to passing, giving the Obama administration a near-death experience on surveillance.
NSA supporters are also rumored to be considering adding their own amendments to the NDAA in order to check privacy advocates. The House leadership wants the NDAA to go for a floor vote the week of May 19. But both civil libertarians and NSA defenders are concerned that amending unrelated bills could introduce rancor and volatility to an already arduous process of surveillance reform.
''If leadership on both sides decide that they want to push through pseudo-reforms through the NDAA or through another piece of legislation, than we're certainly prepared to offer an amendment like we offered before to any piece of legislation that requires it,'' Amash told the Guardian.
''We have to keep all options on the table, and my goal is to protect the American people and do it as soon as possible. We can't keep waiting. At the same time, I'm willing to sit down and talk with leadership and others, and if I feel that they are moving in the right direction, then certainly, we're happy to work with them on more comprehensive legislation, like the USA Freedom Act.''
Apple iOS 7 Updates Silently Remove Encryption for Email Attachments
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:30
There is no question that Mobile devices have become a staple in everyday living around the world. But have you ever asked yourself, How Secure are the Android, iPhone or any other Smart devices? It is really important for us to think about the Security and Privacy of our Data stored in Smartphones.In June 2010, Apple introduced 'Data protection' feature in iOS 4.0 devices that offer hardware encryption for all the data stored on the devices. "Data protection enhances the built-in hardware encryption by protecting the hardware encryption keys with your passcode. This provides an additional layer of protection for your email messages attachments, and third-party applications." Apple claimed in an old announcement.But unexpectedly, In last few updates Apple has silently removed the email attachment encryption from data protection mechanisms. Noticed by Security Researcher - Andreas Kurtz, claims that since at least version 7.0.4 and including the current version 7.1.1, does not encrypt email attachments anymore."I verified this issue by restoring an iPhone 4 (GSM) device to the most recent iOS versions (7.1 and 7.1.1) and setting up an IMAP email account1, which provided me with some test emails and attachments. Afterwards, I shut down the device and accessed the file system using well-known techniques (DFU mode, custom ramdisk, SSH over usbmux). Finally, I mounted the iOS data partition and navigated to the actual email folder. Within this folder, I found all attachments accessible without any encryption/restriction" he explained in a blog post.That means, email attachments are not encrypted on the iOS devices by a unique 256-bit crypto engine, and if someone else gets access to your device, he will be able to get access to your private content.He also tested the encryption mechanism with iOS forensics tool called 'iPhone Data Protection' for POP or ActiveSync email accounts, and verified that iOS latest versions are not able to encrypt email attachments.At this point, even we can't answer that why Apple removed the encryption for Email attachments, but this disclosure is definitely right now hitting my mind with more controversial questions about relationship with Apple and NSA.
Andreas Kurtz has already reported the issue to Apple Security team and they replied that Apple were aware of it. But I guess Apple has no plan to patch the issue in upcoming iOS updates, as they have not indicated anything related in email conversion with Kurtz.
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MH370
Eleven terrorists with links to Al Qaeda have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance of MH370
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:24
Suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the state of KedahSaid to members of violent new terror group said to be planning attacksInterrogations came after demands from agencies including FBI and MI6Manifest revealed presence of consignment but did not reveal its contentsAirline has admitted 200kg of lithium batteries was among the itemsIt refused to say what else, citing 'legal reason' related to 'ongoing' probeBy Richard Shears and Mail On Sunday Reporter and Wills Robinson
Published: 05:20 EST, 3 May 2014 | Updated: 17:50 EST, 3 May 2014
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A group of 11 terrorists with links to Al Qaeda were yesterday being interrogated on whether they are behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah last week and are members of a violent new terror group said to be planning bomb attacks in Muslim countries.
The interrogations come after international investigators, including the FBI and MI6, asked for the militants, whose ages range from 22 to 55 and include students, odd-job workers, a young widow and business professionals, to be questioned intensively about Flight MH370.
Scroll down for video
A Malaysian Airlines aircraft takes off from Kuala Lumpur Airport: Questions have been raised after the airline refused to reveal details of 2.3 tonnes of cargo aboard missing jet MH370 that was not listed on its manifest
Nearly two months after the Beijing-bound plane vanished soon after take-off from Kuala Lumpur, no trace has been found despite a huge sea search costing hundreds of millions of pounds. It is thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board.
An officer with the Counter Terrorism Division of Malaysian Special Branch said yesterday the arrests had heightened suspicion that the flight's disappearance may have been an act of terrorism.
'The possibility that the plane was diverted by militants is still high on the list and international investigators have asked for a comprehensive report on this new terror group,' the officer said.
In interviews conducted so far, some suspects have admitted planning 'sustained terror campaigns' in Malaysia but denied being involved in the disappearance of the airliner, he added.
During the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law, Saajid Badat (left) said he had been instructed to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians. He claimed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed masterminded the plot
During the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law, Saajid Badat, a British-born Muslim from Gloucester, said he had been instructed at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians.
He said: 'I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit.'
Badat, who spoke via video link and is in hiding in the UK, told the New York court the Malaysian plot was being masterminded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.
A mystery surrounding the cargo being carried by the missing Malaysian Airlines plane emerged on Friday when it was discovered that it had been loaded with items not specified on the manifest.
The aircraft was carrying 4.566 tonnes of mangosteens - an exotic fruit - and a shipment of lithium batteries, which were part of a separate consignment.
The batteries weighed 200kg, but that separate consignment totalled 2.453 tonnes. So what was being carried to make up the 2.253 tonnes in that separate shipment?
Questions have been raised as Malaysia Airlines said it will close assistance centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER jet.
New technology to be used in the hunt for MH370
Relatives of passengers aboard flight MH370 prepare to leave a hotel where they have been staying in Beijing after Malaysia Airlines said it would close all its assistance centres for relatives the missing
The closures come after rescuers abandoned their fruitless air search for the missing jet, which had focused on a remote area of the Indian Ocean off Australia's west coast.
The mystery was sparked by a spokesman for the company that shipped the batteries telling a Malaysian newspaper that he would not reveal what the remaining 2.253 tonnes of cargo were.
'I cannot reveal more because of the ongoing investigations,' the spokesman told The Star newspaper. 'We have been told by our legal advisers not to talk about it.'
The spokesman said he could not even name the company which manufactured the batteries, insisting that the matter was confidential.
Questioned about the fact that a mystery cargo was not stated in the manifest, Malaysian Airlines told the paper that the rest of the consignment was 'radio accessories and chargers.'
A statement from the airline said that the freight not specified had been 'declared as radio accessories', despite there being no reference to this in the manifest released publicly last Thursday.
What the manifest does say is that NNR Global shipped 133 pieces of one item weighing 1.99 tonnes and 67 pieces of another item weighing 463kg for a total 'consolidated weight' of 2.453 tonnes.
Just how many lithium batteries had been loaded, or their weight, are not specified in the manifest, although Malaysian Airlines boss Ahmad Yahya told a media conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 24 that the batteries weighed a total of 200kg.
What the manifest does say, in respect of the lithium batteries, is that 'the package must be handled with care and that a flammability hazard exists if the package is damaged.
'Special procedures must be followed in the event the package is damaged, to include inspection and repacking if necessary.'
Tony Abbott discusses the scaling back of the MH370 search
Still praying for answers: A relative of a missing passenger inside a prayer room at Lido Hotel in Beijing
There has been earlier speculation that a fire involving the batteries might have been the cause of the aircraft's fate.
According to The Star, shippers NNR Global are located at an air freight forwarding warehouse located less than 100 yards from the Penang International Airport.
'The complex is guarded by the police and only those with passes are allowed entry,' the newspaper said, following its investigation into the unspecified cargo.
A consolidated shipment combines several individual consignments to make up a full container load.
At the port of destination, the consolidated shipment is separated back into individual consignments for delivery to their respective consignees.
The lithium batteries and the other mystery items that are said to be radio parts were addressed to NNR Global Logistics in Beijing, but a company named JHJ International Transportation Co.Ltd of Beijing was to collect the cargo on its behalf.
Friend of MH370 captain discusses his potential last words
A policeman naps beside a board written with messages for passengers aboard the missing fight at the hotel
Among the conspiracy theories that have already emerged following the Boeing 777's disappearance on March 8, is that its fate was linked to 20 of the 239 people on board - they were employees of a semi-conductor manufacturing firm which develops components for hi-tech weapons systems and aircraft navigation.
They were employees of Freescale Semiconductor, a Texas technology firm, working in several manufacturing sites in Kuala Lumpur and Tianjin, China, a fact confirmed by a spokeswoman for the company.
The citizens news site Beforeitsnews, said earlier that it was conceivable that MH370 was 'hiding' with its high-tech electronic warfare weaponry.
'In fact, this type of technology is precisely the expertise of Freescale, that has 20 employees on board the missing flight,' said the website.
However, until a detailed description of the 'radio parts' that have not been itemised in the MH370 manifest has been made available, the conspiracy theories are likely to be given an added thrust.
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BREAKING: 11 Terrorists With Links to Al-Qaeda Arrested for Disappearance of Flight #MH370 | The Gateway Pundit
Sun, 04 May 2014 05:09
BREAKING: 11 Terrorists With Links to Al-Qaeda Arrested for Disappearance of Flight #MH370
The Daily Mail reported:
Suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the state of KedahSaid to members of violent new terror group said to be planning attacksInterrogations came after demands from agencies including FBI and MI6Manifest revealed presence of consignment but did not reveal its contentsAirline has admitted 200kg of lithium batteries was among the itemsIt refused to say what else, citing 'legal reason' related to 'ongoing' probeRelated'--Al-Qaeda Informer Warned Authorities of Malaysian Islamists' Plan to Hijack PlaneSaajid Badat is a British Islamist who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for plotting to blow up an aircraft with a shoe bomb.
**Saajid Badat said that he had been instructed at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians.
The meeting between Badat and the Malaysian Islamists is believed to be before Saajid's arrest in 2003.
Security experts say the information was ''credible''.
The terrorists were arrested this week in the capital of Kuala Lumpur were being interrogated by officials over the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.The Daily Mail reported:
A group of 11 terrorists with links to Al Qaeda were yesterday being interrogated on whether they are behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah last week and are members of a violent new terror group said to be planning bomb attacks in Muslim countries.
The interrogations come after international investigators, including the FBI and MI6, asked for the militants, whose ages range from 22 to 55 and include students, odd-job workers, a young widow and business professionals, to be questioned intensively about Flight MH370.
Nearly two months after the Beijing-bound plane vanished soon after take-off from Kuala Lumpur, no trace has been found despite a huge sea search costing hundreds of millions of pounds. It is thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board.
An officer with the Counter Terrorism Division of Malaysian Special Branch said yesterday the arrests had heightened suspicion that the flight's disappearance may have been an act of terrorism.
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Images and Video from East Ukraine that the Corporate Media Will Never Show You | SCG News
Sat, 03 May 2014 04:37
Today the provisional government in Kiev launched a military offensive against the eastern city of Slavyansk using tanks and helicopters, but the mainstream media will never show you what actually happened.
After having made statements this past week indicating that they were abandoning their attempts to crush the rebels in the east, today Kiev has made a surprise about face, launching a third military offensive against the separatist uprising in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk. So far it hasn't been going very well. All reports coming out of the city show that the rebels are still in control. Between 2 and 3 helicopters were shot down (reports vary), and the armored vehicles have been obstructed by crowds of unarmed civilians who met the soldiers outside the town. The photographs and video of the situation on the ground right now are quite striking, but you can rest assured that the corporate media in the West won't show you these.
Unarmed civilians put themselves in the path of armored vehicles in their attempt to stop the Ukrainian military from entering Slavyansk. Below is the view from the side.
A view from another angle:
And up close (the woman's sign reads "We are peaceful people"):
So why is Kiev making this hail Mary now? Because the IMF warned them that they will lose the $17 billion dollar bailout if Kiev loses control of the east.
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Flight 370 Was Carrying 440 Pounds of Dangerous Batteries
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:20
World News05.01.14
Malaysian authorities released their first report on the missing plane, confirming that a huge potential danger was in the cargo hold.
One of the few new details revealed in the preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight MH370 released Thursday by the Malaysians is the cargo manifest.
It confirms that a large consignment of lithium-ion batteries was aboard the Boeing 777 and outlined in a red box was the warning: ''The package must be handled with care and that a flammability hazard exists if the package is damaged. Special procedures must be followed in the event the package is damaged, to include inspection and repacking if necessary.''
The presence of the batteries was admitted by the Malaysians only two weeks after the flight vanished.
The consignment weighed 440 pounds. Even if half of that weight represented the packaging material, it was still a significant number of batteries. The lithium-ion batteries that caused the grounding last year of the entire Boeing 787 fleet weigh 60 pounds on each plane. As Dr. Victor Ettel, a leading authority on the risks of lithium-ion technology, pointed out to me, the batteries in the cargo of Flight 370 had ''several times more Li-battery firepower'' than those on the 787.
Given that Flight 730 was able to fly for six or more hours without any communication from the crew, investigators have to consider what event could have incapacitated the pilots and passengers and yet left the 777's essential systems working perfectly. The batteries in the cargo hold could be the cause if they overheated.
There is a debate among experts about how to classify and define the effects of a lithium-ion battery meltdown. In the case of the 787, Boeing argued that there was neither fire nor smoke. Ettel explains that in what is called a ''thermal runaway'' the batteries give off toxic fumes including arsenic, which are not necessarily detected by normal smoke alarms and can be lethal if not vented.
The Malaysian report gives no indication of any problem in loading the consignment'--or, if there was, what action was taken.
Ettel explains that in what is called a ''thermal runaway'' the batteries give off toxic fumes including arsenic, which are not necessarily detected by normal smoke alarms and can be lethal if not vented.
This is typical of the superficiality of the report. There is nothing in it about the state of security on the tarmac as the airplane was being prepared for its flight, no information about the oversight of baggage handling or of the personnel servicing the airplane.
This illustrates a crucial problem in assessing the quality of the Malaysian investigation. On the one hand we might expect too much'--the kind of vivid and detailed record of the last minutes in the life of a flight that is available when a wreck is found. In the absence of any scrap of physical evidence that is not going to happen in the case of Flight 370.
But on the other hand there should be a large body of verifiable information from the history of the flight'--the maintenance records, including any recent parts replacements, the fueling of 777, the crew's preparations before the flight left the gate, any problems during the boarding of passengers'--that must be given detailed scrutiny by investigators.
There are also some worrying questions about security in the boarding area of the Kuala Lumpur terminal. Paul Miller, a resident of Singapore, wrote to the Financial Times last week describing his experience boarding Flight MH360 recently. Miller has a large metal ball in his left hip ''that lights up airport metal detectors the world over'...''
The security scanning at Kuala Lumpur failed to register anything. Miller, alarmed, pointed this out. The security officer was amused until he realized Miller was serious, and promised to find the head of security. Twenty minutes later, with the airline pressing him to board, Miller had still seen no response.
The Boeing 777 vanished in the early hours of March 8, and this report is dated April 9. If it does truly represent the sum total of an active investigation, then one thing this does demonstrate is the paucity of information gathered in one month of work. To be sure, the report does urge the adoption of live data streaming to avoid dependency on black boxes, but there's an almost indecent and sudden conversion by many others to this obvious need.
The most useful graphic is the projection of the 777's flight path, once it made its sharp left turn, an early zigzag course over the Straits of Malacca and then its sudden turn to the south, just clipping the western tip of Indonesia at Banda Aceh.
The Malaysian military picked up the flight on radar as it headed back toward Malaysia but took nearly eight hours to report this to the civilian authorities. Air traffic controllers in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia were confused as they attempted to locate the 777 at the request of Malaysian Airlines'--and the airline itself took four hours to alert authorities that the flight had gone rogue.
In the main, the report reads like a perfunctory piece of bureaucratic record-keeping, uninformed by any of the expertise normally evident in crash investigations.
As though anticipating this weakness, acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced this week that a new leader had been appointed to the investigation (without saying who had previously been in charge). The new investigator-in-charge is Kok Soo Chon, a former director general of Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation, with a background in electrical engineering.
''We will have a panel of experts that is transparent, that's credible and it involves practically the whole world,'' said Hussein. That didn't seem to be reflected in the way that today's report was released'--by email, without a press conference to answer questions.
Ottomania
Erdogan escalates elimination of suspected Gulenists from state apparatus
Sat, 03 May 2014 12:03
The Turkish government announced mass shifts and removals from office in 11 ministries, including the Treasury, on May 2. The changes involve at least 50 high rank public servants and a much greater number from the lower ranks.It is not clear whether all those removed from their posts are sympathizers of Fethullah G¼len, the moderate Islamist cleric living in the U.S., who used to be a close ally of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan but who is now an arch enemy. But that is both the perception in society and the perception given by the government. When asked on Friday, Erdoğan reiterated that the government was determined to eradicate the ''parallel structure'' within the state (an expression Erdoğan uses for G¼lenists). He said security teams had identified the names of those members employed in the Prime Ministry headquarters one by one, and added that the work was about to be completed in the Foreign Ministry.
In 2012, it was announced that two bugs had been found in Erdoğan's home office, while in March 2014 recordings were leaked from the tapping of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's office during a secret security meeting on Syria with ranking military and intelligence officers. This is considered an act of espionage by the government.
On April 30, an Ankara prosecutor started a probe against G¼len over the establishment of a network to undermine the government. On the same day, another prosecutor started a probe against an undisclosed number of people over the secret transferring of data from the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TÄ°B) to an undisclosed address (or addresses) in the U.S. That is also regarded as espionage, as the TÄ°B is in charge of all legal telephone wiretaps. The TÄ°B is now considered by the government to be a government agency infiltrated by G¼lenists.
On May 1, the National Security Board (MGK) had its second meeting in two months, during which the methods of eliminating G¼lenists from the state apparatus, especially from the judiciary, were discussed, along with other topics.
Then, on the afternoon of May 2, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) decided to open probes against three prosecutors and a judge from Istanbul. One of the prosecutors is Zekeriya –z, who was the specially authorized prosecutor of anti-military cases such as Ergenekon and Balyoz. The other, Celal Kara, is the prosecutor of the Dec. 17, 2013 graft probe, the largest ever such probe in Turkey, which prompted Erdoğan to remove four ministers from the Cabinet. The third is Muammer Akkaş, who had started the Dec. 25 corruption operation. The judge S¼leyman Kara§¶l had frozen the assets of those who were arrested in relation to those corruption allegations.
Following the Erdoğan government's changing of the HSYK law that allowed more political control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors, almost all have been removed from their posts, the freeze on assets has been lifted, and all those arrested have been released. In addition, on May 2 an Istanbul court dropped all charges against a group of suspects in the graft probe, including the son of the former urbanization minister.
Since the Dec. 17 graft probe, hundreds of prosecutors and judges and around 2,500 police officers who the government believes to be close to G¼len have been removed from their posts, and it seems that it is not going to stop there.
May/03/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
US says Erdoğan's remarks on Turkey, Egypt and Ukraine protests are ‘ridiculous'
Fri, 02 May 2014 04:46
Erdoğan is having an interview with Charlie Rose. (Photo: Cihan)
The United States has delivered one of its harshest statements in response to remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who claimed that some groups in the US and the West are behind protests in Egypt, Ukraine and Turkey, calling them ''ridiculous.'' ''Let's be clear. This is not about the US. We are not behind any legitimate, democratic protests we have seen in any of these countries. So let's be very clear: This is not about the US. We're not doing anything. This is internal Turkish matter,'' US State Department acting spokesperson Marie Harf told a daily press briefing.
Erdoğan said on Monday that the Turkish government has not accused the US government of being the instigator of last year's Gezi protests but that some groups based in the US may have been involved.
''We have never claimed that the US government is behind the [Gezi] protests. However, there are some groups that may have provoked the unrest,'' he said.
In remarks on a talk show hosted by Charlie Rose on the PBS television station, Erdoğan accused foreign powers of being involved in the Gezi Park protests in Turkey, as well as in Egypt and Ukraine. He said that the Turkish government has documents that prove that these protests are managed from a specific foreign location.
Erdoğan blames a so-called interest rate lobby for the Gezi Park protests, implying that foreign countries and powerful financial institutions have -- along with local collaborators -- been plotting against the government.
When pressed about the remarks, Harfie said the US certainly believes that people all over the world should be able to legitimately express their points of view and that US has nothing to do with that. ''This is not about us. This is about each of these countries,'' she said.
When reminded again about Erdoğan's remarks he made on Monday, Harf said she thinks ''it is ridiculous'' and that she would point to the facts on the ground.
Follow the Pipes
Gazprom ends plan to build South Stream pipeline to Italy
Fri, 02 May 2014 22:07
Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:19pm EDT
* Italian spur ditched, while Austrian deal signed -sources
* Italy still supports the project
* Consumption has fallen in Italy since plan conceived
* Austrian hub seen as efficient (Adds Italy government source saying still supports project)
By Dmitry Zhdannikov
LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - Gazprom has abandoned plans to build a section of its disputed South Stream gas pipeline to Italy, two sources close to the company said on Wednesday, a day after Gazprom announced a deal with OMV to build a branch to Austria.
The memorandum of understanding with the Austrian oil and gas company foresees building a section of the giant pipeline from Hungary to OMV's Central European Gas Hub near Vienna.
"The additional Italian spur option was effectively ditched. Gas will now be delivered to the Austrian hub, from where it could go to many destinations in Europe along the existing pipelines," one of the sources said.
"Without the Italian spur, the project's costs will drop by as much as $1 billion."
Gazprom is pushing ahead with South Stream, whose total construction costs are estimated at around $40 billion, despite Western sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
Neither Gazprom nor its chief executive, Alexei Miller, a long-standing ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been targeted by the sanctions.
Italy signalled on Wednesday it still supported the South Stream project. "The project is not frozen," a government spokesman told Reuters, denying an earlier report.
Earlier on Wednesday, a government source said the project had effectively been put on ice, adding that Rome would focus on the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will transport Azeri gas, and the ITGI Interconnector pipeline through Turkey and Greece into Italy.
The South Stream's proposed 2,500 km (1,500) route stretches from Russia under the Black Sea through Bulgaria and Serbia to Hungary and now Austria. It bypasses Ukraine, through which almost half the gas Europe buys from Russia currently passes.
Europe is worried about its dependence on Russian gas, which accounts for around a third of EU imports, particularly after Russian-Ukrainian gas disputes in 2005 and 2009 led to supply disruptions. But the bloc has yet to come up with a realistic alternative.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, says South Stream does not comply with its regulations on ownership and pipeline access and put the approval process on hold following Russia's annexation of Crimea in March.
A commission spokeswoman on Wednesday said she could not comment on the proposed route of South Stream.
Some European leaders see South Stream as a solution to avoid future potential supply disruptions.
Italy's Eni is one of Gazprom's partners for the offshore part of South Stream, along with Germany's Wintershall and France's EDF.
Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said last month the project's future had been called into question by the escalating dispute over Ukraine, which could complicate an already complex permitting process in the different transit countries.
EFFICIENT OPTION
Gazprom and OMV said on Tuesday they would rely on a 2010 intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Austria as the legal basis for their deal.
South Stream is designed to have a total capacity of 63 billion cubic metres per year, enough to meet about 13 percent of EU gas consumption, and the Austrian section would have half that capacity, OMV and Gazprom said.
Some of the gas from Russia could flow to markets such as Turkey, Bulgaria or Hungary before reaching the Austrian border.
Bringing South Stream to Austria would be a bittersweet victory for OMV. In a contest to bring Azeri gas to Europe, OMV's Nabucco consortium lost out to the rival TAP, which ends in southern Italy.
EU support for Nabucco West faded as South Stream, with its similar route through central Europe, moved closer to reality.
South Stream is also a potential way for OMV to import gas from any future Black Sea discoveries of its own, which it says may prove to be its biggest ever.
Following the selection of TAP as the pipeline for Azeri gas, the need for a second major pipeline such as South Stream to deliver gas to Italy, an already oversupplied and depressed market, has decreased.
"One of the main reasons (for switching the end point to Austria) was the fact that consumption in Italy has fallen significantly compared to the years when the project was first designed," the Gazprom source said. "Delivering gas to the Austrian hub is a very efficient option." (Additional reporting by Alberto Sisto in Rome and Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Jane Baird and Leslie Adler)
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EUROLand
Angela Merkel's Vice Chancellor Stuns, Declares Germany's 'Energiewende' To Be On 'The Verge Of Failure'
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:54
The green energy orgy in Germany is over. The music has stopped and the wine that once flowed freely has long run out. The green energy whores and pimps can go home.
In a stunning admission by Germany's Economics Minister and Vice Chancellor to Angela Merkel, Sigmar Gabriel announced in a recent speech that the country's once highly ballyhooed transformation to renewable energy, the so called Energiewende, a model that has been adopted by a number of countries worldwide, is ''on the verge of failure''.
Speaking at an event at SMA Solar, Germany's leading manufacturer of solar technology, Gabriel even dropped yet another admission bomb:
The truth is that in all fields we under-estimated the complexity of the Energiewende.''
Gabriel is not only the national economics minister and vice chancellor to Angela Merkel, he is also head of Germany's socialist SPD party, which is now the coalition partner in Angela Merkel's CDU/SPD grand coalition government. Moreover Gabriel was once the country's environment minister and a devout believer in global warming and in Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.
In the speech Gabriel tells the audience how the energy transformation is on the verge of failure:
Those who are the engines of the transformation to renewable energies, that's you, you don't see how close we are to the failure of the energy transformation.''
Gabriel says that major reforms are thus unavoidable, and he calls efforts for energy consumers to get off the grid ''pure madness''. That's not what they want after all. Gabriel is now calling on companies who produce green energy for their own use to ante up as well:
The complete exemption from paying feed-in tariffs is a model that is wonderful for you as a business model, but is one that is a problem for everyone else.''
The solar energy audience reacts with dead, stunned silence (3:03). That can't believe what they just heard.
The mood at SMA Solar, which has been a huge benefactor of the renewable energy subsidies brought on by Germany's EEG feed-in act, was somber and shock and Gabriel delivered the reality. Many in attendance seemed unable to fathom what Gabriel was unloading: the heady days at the green energy feeding trough are over '' live with it.
The European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) here writes:
The responsible persons in attendance at the Hessen-based photovoltaic SMA Solar and all the other profiteers of the EEG feed-in act saw their jaws drop when this late and blunt admission was made.''
That Gabriel would make such comments can only tell us that the situation and the costs surrounding the Energiewende must be far more dire than most of us realize.
Germany's renewable energy gravy train has derailed for good. Other countries take note!
Finally, give credit to Gabriel for not shying away from what needs to be done and for taking the responsibilities as economics minister very seriously. Finally a person in power who gets it!
Other reading: Even media now mocking failed Energiewende.
Madrid's smart parking meters to charge more for most polluting cars | World news | The Guardian
Sat, 03 May 2014 23:29
Madrid continually exceeds the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide. Photograph: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images
The city of Madrid is introducing smart parking meters that will slap a surcharge on cars that pollute more and reduce parking charges for efficient vehicles, a system that city officials are touting as the first of its kind in the world.
Starting on 1 July, the price a motorist pays to park in the city streets will be based on a complex table governed by the engine and the year of the car. Hybrids will pay 20% less to park, while a diesel car made in 2001 will see a 20% mark-up. Electronic cars will park for free.
The city is hoping that the new system will help ease pollution levels, which consistently rank above the EU average. The Spanish capital continually exceeds the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide in the air '' mainly released through car exhaust systems '' with rates that have at times spiked five times above the limit deemed safe by the EU.
Parking fees are one of the best ways to discourage motorists from driving into the packed city centre, said Elisa Barahona, who heads Madrid's sustainability division. "We thought it would be fair if the cars that pollute more pay more, and compensate those who use more efficient vehicles."
The price of parking will also vary depending on how busy the street is: empty streets will cost less to park along, while a street with few remaining parking spots left will charge up to 20% more.
The majority of drivers, said the city, will see little difference in the price of parking, which will range between '‚¬0.66 and '‚¬3.29 an hour. But an estimated one in four drivers, theoretically those behind the wheels of the most polluting cars in the city, will see the cost of parking rise. "Particularly for those who have cars that pollute, we hope that having to pay more will make people think twice before using them," said Barahona.
The parking meters are part of a wider set of measures designed to improve the city's air quality, she said, including energy efficient buses in the city centre and a bike-sharing programme slated to begin in June. "Now with the economic situation improving a little, we have more opportunities to put all of our ideas in motion."
One million cars enter the city each day, said Mariano Gonzlez of Ecologists in Action, noting that the new parking meters would help lessen this number. But he highlighted the emphasis the system will place on the age of the car, which plays down the role of other variables. "Maybe you bought a large vehicle this year, say a sports utility vehicle. It could actually have higher emissions than an older, smaller car."
The parking meters, said Gonzlez, are probably an attempt to appease the European Union, which has threatened the city with hefty fines if it fails to improve its air quality.
He pointed to the London mayor, Boris Johnson, often pictured on his bicycle. In contrast, he said, Esperanza Aguirre, former head of the regional government in Madrid and current president of the Madrid People's party, was recently caught illegally parking her car in a bus lane on one of Madrid's busiest streets as she withdrew money from a cash machine. "It's an image that's quite revealing of the attitude of our politicians towards environmental issues."
China Expects to Win Control of Biggest Greek Port Dubbed 'Gateway to Europe'
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:34
A ferry-boat crew member locks the ship's entrance during a strike at Piraeus port near Athens.Yiorgos Karahalis / Reuters
Chinese government-owned shipping and logistics giant COSCO is expected to complete the purchase of a controlling stake in Piraeus Port as it continues to take advantage of Greece's privatisation programme.
Speaking at a conference in Athens, China's ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli urged Chinese companies to explore further opportunities to invest in the beleaguered Mediterranean nation, which, as a condition of its bailout programme, is auctioning any saleable assets that remain in public control.
China views Greece as being a potential logistical hub, as it seeks to boost trade into Europe. Piraeus, being one of Europe's largest passenger ports and the largest container port in the Eastern Mediterranean, is at the heart of its plans.
While COSCO is among six groups bidding for the 67% stake in Piraeus Port that is up for grabs, its previous investment in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has made it strong favourite to complete the deal, which just received tenders.
In 2009, the Chinese group signed a 35-year concession agreement with PPA which allowed it to run the two container terminals at Piraeus. In return, COSCO pledged to massively increase the port's capacity. Then last year, COSCO invested a further '‚¬230m into the port's development.
The improvements in the port's facilities, bankrolled by Beijing, have helped pave the way for privatisation, with the port's profits up 12% in 2013, and are indicative of the concerted effort China is making to increase its influence in Greece.
The deadline for bids on Greece's second-largest port at Thessaloniki comes in June, with COSCO expected to be among the bidders. In March, officials in Athens overseeing the privatisation process selected Lamda Development, backed by China's Fosun Group and Al Maabar of the UAE, to redevelop the abandoned former Hellonikon Airport site.
China's exports to Greece are growing by more than '‚¬2.2bn annually, with the number of Chinese visitors to Greece growing by 202% since 2008.
Dutch politician's killer Volkert van der Graaf set for release
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:34
AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The animal rights activist who assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 is due to be released Friday, after serving 12 years of an 18-year sentence.Release after serving two-thirds of a sentence is the norm in the Netherlands.Volkert van der Graaf killed Fortuyn days before national elections in which Fortuyn was set to win big on an anti-immigration platform that reversed the then-progressive Dutch political landscape.Most of Fortuyn's ideas have since become reality.Van der Graaf's sentence has been widely criticized as too light. Judges had to choose between a maximum sentence of 20 years for a first-time offender motivated by misguided principles, or life in prison without parole.Justice Ministry spokesman Jochgem van Opstal said Van der Graaf's release has conditions attached.
SDR
Frankfurt issues first bond backed by Chinese currency
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:49
China's currency was once so immovable nobody saw much sense in owning it. But the more Beijing loosens its grip, the more investors want to get their hands on it. The rags-to riches currency now comes to Frankfurt.
Frankfurt is joining London, Singapore and Hong Kong in the fast-moving market for bonds denominated in the Chinese currency, the renminbi. Germany's KfW development bank announced it was issuing a two-year bond with the volume of 1 billion renminbi at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
The development underpins Frankfurt's bid to become a key offshore center for facilitating trade transactions and investments in renminbi. It is also the latest success in Beijing's drive to internationalize its once tightly-controlled currency, which is also called yuan.
Top ten currencies
China first authorized the sale of bonds denominated in yuan in 2007. They are called ''Dim Sum'' bonds after the bite-sized delicacies in Chinese cuisine. But they have become a huge boost to the popularity of the currency. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication says the renminbi is now among the top ten most-used currencies for global trade payments, overtaking the Swiss Franc to occupy position seven in February.
The fate of the Goethe Bond will be closely watched in Frankfurt
Germany signed agreements with Chinese financial authorities in March that permit the sale of Dim Sum bonds at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The deal also means Frankfurt will become the first offshore ''clearing center'' for exchanging euros for renminbi, which are needed for buying Dim Sum bonds.
Investment information company Dealogic reports a sharp increase in the number of Dim Sum bond issuers around the world in the first quarter of this year. There was a record 35 offerings by companies including Caterpillar, BP, and Volkswagen.
No place to go
Bond issuers are increasingly denominating their debt in renminbi for a variety of reasons. First, there is a large pool of the currency lying around in banks that is all dressed up, but has no place to go. Restrictions remaining on the renminbi still make it difficult to move it around.
Also, companies with large businesses in China can use the currency to help fund expansion. Take automakers selling cars in China; Volkswagen, BMW and Ford all have financing operations lending renminbi to hungry Chinese consumers.
KfW is targeting institutional investors. The bank says it is issuing its Dim Sum bond because of growing demand for the currency as a global asset, but also to support Frankfurt's drive to become continental Europe's hub for renminbi transactions.The Frankfurt-based bank is calling its renminbi-backed bond the "Goethe Bond" in a nod to the city's famous poet.
Russia pushes BRICS nations to establish their own rating agency
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:32
The development of alternative appraisers will be a long-term benefit not only for Russia but also for the world as a whole. Source: Reuters
Assistance from China
Russia is to propose to its BRICS partners the establishment of a single common credit rating agency that will compete with the Big Three '' Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch.
That was the conclusion reached by participants of a meeting chaired by Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, after Standard & Poor's downgraded Russia's long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating from BBB to BBB-.
"First of all, the case in question is the involvement of our traditional partners, such as the BRICS nations and the Eurasian Economic Union,'' Konstantin Korishchenko, Head of the Department of Stock Markets and Financial Engineering at the Russian Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration, who attended the meeting, told RBTH.
''All the BRICS nations already have national rating structures, so it is primarily a matter of mutual recognition. Our foreign partners can help each other in terms of setting standards and oversight mechanisms, but most importantly in the mutual recognition of their ratings," said Korishchenko.
In particular, according to sources from the RBC-Daily newspaper, a new agency could be established based on a partnership between the Russian rating agency RusRating and the Chinese agency Dagong Global.
The U.S. agency Egan-Jones Ratings, which has long dreamed of pushing back the Big Three, could help facilitate the process. Furthermore, Dagong Global has already held talks with RusRating in Beijing at a BRICS meeting: The company has proposed to start negotiations to establish a new international credit rating agency to be based in the BRICS nations.
According to Mikhail Kuzmin, an analyst at Investcaf(C), Dagong Global is represented today mainly domestically, although the agency does assign sovereign ratings to various countries. In turn, the U.S.'s Egan-Jones Ratings mainly assigns ratings to debt instruments including bond issues, bank loans, etc.
As noted by Vadim Vedernikov, Deputy Director of the Research and Risk Management Department at UFS IC, both agencies are known for their long-term activities on assigning ratings to corporate and sovereign issuers, as they operate in "hot" credit markets such as China and the United States.
The project to set up a single common agency has already been called the Universal Credit Rating Group.
"The ratings which the Universal Credit Rating Group could start assigning to Russian companies could gain a degree of recognition in foreign investment circles approaching that of the ratings which have been assigned by the American Three,'' says Vedernikov.
Alternative solutions
The other solution is to cooperate with ARC Ratings, the international consortium of agencies from Portugal, India, South Africa, Malaysia and Brazil.
"The cooperation of any other Russian agency with this agency could be a positive factor, as it would provide an alternative objective and an independent assessment of the ratings of Russian companies in addition to the ratings that would be assigned by the Universal Credit Rating Group,'' says Vadim Vedernikov.
Experts also mention Japan Credit Rating Agency (Japan) and Dominion Bond Rating Service (Canada) as possible partners. According to Vedernikov, if such rating organizations were established in partnership with Russian agencies, they would be able to assign ratings to Russian companies.
In this way, these ratings could be seen as more objective and, accordingly, could improve the perception of Russian issuers in the eyes of foreign investors.
The downgrade in Russia's rating by S&P could seriously hit the Russian economy. According to Mikhail Kuzmin, "a downgrade in ratings is an indicator for investors from different countries of worsening economic conditions and increasing risks of investing in companies from the country in question."
Accordingly, the outflow of capital, whichtotaled$50.6 billion in the first quarter, may not decrease in the second quarter of 2014. Moreover, the cost of borrowing is likely to increase for Russia and any Russian company in foreign markets.
"In today's conditions, the question of whether the Russian financial infrastructure has its own national rating agencies is becoming increasingly timely. The rating agencies industry exists in Russia but needs to be developed," explains Konstantin Korishchenko.
According to Anton Soroko, an analyst at the FINAM investment holding, foreign rating agencies are legitimately drawing international attention to the growing risks of investing in the Russian economy, but they can also exaggerate a little.
"Practically a monopoly has formed on the global stage in this segment. In this situation, the development of alternative appraisers will be a long-term benefit not only for Russia but also for the world as a whole," said the expert.
Fitch Says U.S. Limiting Putin Sanctions to Help Bondholders
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:31
The U.S. is holding off on sanctions against some Russian companies because it doesn't want to hurt American holders of their debt, according to Fitch Ratings.
''We've heard quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that there's actually a lot of consultation with big investors and bondholders in terms of what sanctions might be imposed by the U.S.,'' James Watson, a managing director at Fitch, told reporters today in London. ''It seems there has been a significant push back on potentially sanctioning companies that have significant foreign debt.''
Fitch has spoken with investors over the past month, he said.
The Obama administration on April 28 named seven individuals, including Igor Sechin, chief executive officer of oil giant OAO Rosneft, and 17 companies linked to Putin's inner circle, such as InvestCapitalBank and Volga Group. Other companies include OOO Stroygazmontazh, a gas-pipeline builder, OAO Sobinbank and ZAO Zest, a leasing company.
Russia's Micex Index (INDEXCF) of shares climbed for a third day after the latest round of sanctions failed to penalize the country's major companies or banks.
The average yield on Russian corporate bonds fell 11 basis points to 7.10 percent yesterday after reaching a 2 1/2-year high of 7.21 percent on April 28, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes. An equivalent gauge of the nation's government debt fell 20 basis points this week from 5.85 percent, the highest since October 2011.
Foreign Debt''It's significant that in the list we've seen so far, we haven't seen any companies that have significant amounts of foreign debt,'' Watson said.
Treasury spokeswoman Hagar Chemali declined to comment beyond remarks that Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew made on April 28.
''Obviously, there's two sides to every transaction. The goal is to have the maximum impact in Russia and to have as little damage done to the global economy,'' Lew told NBC News/MSNBC in an interview. ''I've talked to quite a few American CEOs in the last couple of weeks. And while they do express concerns -- on some occasions -- in terms of what it means for their business, they also express a deep understanding of the geopolitical importance of what we're doing.''
U.S. Commerce Department officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rosneft's SechinAmerican companies and individuals aren't banned from doing business with Rosneft as the sanctions against Sechin don't apply to the oil producer, a U.S. Treasury official said April 28, requesting anonymity to provide additional details on the sanctions announcement.
The yield on Rosneft's $2 billion 2022 Eurobond fell 14 basis points this week after reaching a record 7.02 percent on April 25, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company sold $6 billion of dollar-denominated securities in 2012, the only year that it tapped international bond markets.
U.S. companies are prohibited from doing business with individuals and entities on the sanctions list, and all assets of those designated that are within the U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen, according to the U.S. Treasury.
''The U.S. government's very, very eager that companies with traded assets are excluded'' from sanctions, to limit the impact on institutional investors and U.S. and European interests, Tim Ash, the London-based head of emerging markets research for Standard Bank Group Ltd., said April 28.
'Strengthen Ukraine'Officials from the Treasury Department and the National Security Council met in Washington earlier this month with mutual-fund and hedge-fund managers to warn them of sanctions, according to a person who attended.
''We don't like the idea to have sanctions,'' Emma Marcegaglia, president of BusinessEurope, which advocates on behalf of companies in EU nations, told reporters today in Washington. She said the Brussels-based organization will defer to the European Commission's actions on economic sanctions. ''The idea here is not to destroy the Russian economy,'' she said. The goal is to strengthen Ukraine, she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Natasha Doff in London at ndoff@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daliah Merzaban at dmerzaban@bloomberg.netMatthew Brown, Nikolaj Gammeltoft
Syria
Israeli officials confirm Syria strike
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:55
May 4, 2013
Israeli officials have confirmed that the Tel Aviv regime has conducted an airstrike on Syria, following speculations by US officials that the Israeli regime had carried out the aerial assault.
The officials speaking on condition of anonymity said on Saturday that the Israeli fighter jets targeted a shipment of "game-changing" weapons in Syria on Friday. They said that the attack was approved during a secret meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet on Thursday night. There have been no immediate confirming comments from Syrian officials. Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari said that he is "not aware of any attack right now." Earlier Saturday, two US officials said that the Israel "most likely" conducted an airstrike on Syria "in the Thursday-Friday time frame," claiming, however, that the regime's fighter jets "did not enter Syrian airspace." CBS News cited US sources as saying the Israeli warplanes targeted "a warehouse." The CNN news channel also reported that the Pentagon had collected information showing Israeli warplanes overflying Lebanon during the time frame of the strike. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also has confirmed that Israeli warplanes bombed Syria. In January this year, Israeli warplanes also targeted a research facility on Syrian soil.
The Rising Costs of Turkey's Syrian Quagmire
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:13
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k½3½'½½00Õ£½½][$RvK½o½,½½,½b 1"+B½½½½+½½0½ ½`½+"7½QI½[½½½Ç'½½½½½DkS(C½½½½0½e$cu,½½v6½D½R"½;l½½v_½½J½½Ò•½t&\4;n½½ 5K½YZJ½"r½½ ̓֊½½½v!`fp½½t~^@E½[½½ve!½j½½½hj½+½½)&½½_½Òž½Ö²½½½Ä--]JJ½½½½½exY½H½½j½;½w/½½L½½½p}½½½½½½½j½^%]3P½6q½l&½m½Ûªl½m½~½ä>>...S|.½½Dh½FÅ ZÜ®L&½½lbK½`,j\½½C½½x½½-½Ui½G½½Ì›½"½_$½½S½½½½ ;X½½WΟ½%½$½½v½L7½Ø>>½O½½V½*½2e½½ ½½½2½½]uZ½½t½½½l½½½+*[½&½Plt½Kǽ%Ç·r½J½½}½=U½½½q½2½Ë>>½`v+½½F½½-½Ê‰½½7$½|(½P:-½e½½½_½|½¤xYV½\½½zUo½×¨_½*½'½½:z½½)dn½tj½½6i/j/½u½½½g½½7½M½½o½ß•Kß--o½7½SD]½½½@PL`V½/½½½J
Thousands flee rebel clashes in Syria's east
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:10
At least 60,000 people have fled towns in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria which has been the scene of fierce clashes between rival rebel groups.
Fighting between al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and the breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has raged for four days despite an order from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri to stop fighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
"Residents of the towns of Busayra, home to 35,000 people, Abriha, home to 12,000 people, and al-Zir, home to 15,000 people, have nearly all been displaced by the fighting in the area,"
said the Britain-based monitoring group.
The group, which relies on a vast network of contacts on the ground for its data, said al-Nusra Front's fighters burnt down several houses in Busayra, as did ISIL in Abriha.
At least 62 fighters have been killed in this week's clashes, said the Observatory. "There are battles now in an area around 10 kilometres from Busayra that has an oil rig and a gas plant," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
The latest showdown between al-Nusra and ISIL erupted on Wednesday in energy-rich Deir Ezzor, bordering Iraq.
Homs evacuation delayed
Meanwhile, the planned evacuation of fighters from rebel-held parts of the Syrian city of Homs has been delayed by a day, activists say, though a ceasefire is still holding in the country's third-largest city.
A rebel pullout from Homs, which is known as the 'capital of the revolution', would hand President Bashar al-Assad complete control of the city and deal a major symbolic blow to the uprising-turned civil war.
But local activists said it wasn't clear why Syrian forces weren't allowing the first phase of several hundred rebel fighters to leave the Old City area on Saturday.
Rebels in the city agreed on Friday to surrender territory in exchange for safe passage to other opposition-held areas. Homs is strategically important as it connects government strongholds along the western coast with the capital, Damascus.
The conflict in Syria since March 2011 has killed more than 150,000 people and forced nearly half the country's population to flee their homes.
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FBI: Flow of foreign fighters into Syria growing
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:55
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The flow of foreign fighters into Syria has grown in just the last few months, with dozens of Americans joining the county's conflict along with thousands of Europeans, FBI Director James Comey said Friday.U.S. law enforcement officials have expressed concern about the influence of hard-line jihadists in Syria, many of them linked to al-Qaida, as they seek to overthrow President Bashar Assad. They say fighters from the U.S. or Europe looking to join the cause could easily become radicalized and import those influences when they return home.Speaking to reporters, Comey said the number of Americans who have either traveled to Syria or sought to do so had grown by a few dozen since the start of the year, and that there are Americans in Syria who are trying to bring others over.Comey compared the situation to that of Afghanistan when thousands of Muslims worldwide who traveled to the country during the 10-year Soviet occupation returned home with the fervor of jihad and sometimes sought to overthrow their own governments."All of us with a memory of the `80s and `90s saw the line drawn from Afghanistan in the `80s and `90s to Sept. 11," he said. "We see Syria as that, but an order of magnitude worse," because more foreign fighters are going there and the country is easier to get to.He added: "We are determined not to let lines be drawn from Syria today to a future 9/11."
BTC
FBI-Group of Investors Sweeps in to Save Beleaguered Mt. Gox Depositors
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:36
S
In the latest development in the crypto-soap-opera that is the Mt. Gox bankruptcy, plaintiffs in an Illinois class action brought by angry depositors have agreed to settle its claims against the beleaguered Bitcoin exchange. The settlement agreement, filed with an Illinois court yesterday, sets up the story as a heartwarming "We Are the World"-type reconciliation:
... in what can only be described as an extraordinary turn of events, plaintiffs Gregory Green and Joseph Lack, defendants Jed McCaleb and Gonzague Gay-Bouchery, various international creditors, and a group of outside investors came together during a weeklong (at times, day-and-night) mediation presided over by the Honorable Wayne R. Andersen (ret.) to reach multiple class-wide settlements (one here and one in Canada) and a plan to reorganize the Mt. Gox exchange as a going concern. All told, the settlements and reorganization plan, if first approved by this Court and then the Japanese bankruptcy court, have the potential of more than fully compensating the class, as well as the other exchange members who don't fall within the class, for their losses that resulted from the fall of Mt. Gox.
The outside investors referred to here are an entity called Sunlot Holdings. Sunlot, a new venture run by a number of "bitcoin entrepreneurs" and venture capitalists, has been seeking for some time to take over Mt. Gox. And it promises, in its own press release announcing the settlement, to be more aggressive in trying to figure out what the hell happened to all those bitcoins that Mt. Gox lost (and then found, and who knows, there's still time to lose it again before any reorganization):
Under the agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Sunlot would immediately distribute Mt. Gox assets on a proportional basis determined by an independent audit to the 127,000 affected customers. Customers also would receive a 16.5% interest in Sunlot, allowing them to share in company dividends, as well as benefit from any future buyout or IPO.
An Administration and Prosecution Fund would manage customer interests and the recovery of the approximately $275 million of stolen customer assets. Capitalized by $10 million (3.6% of stolen assets) in MtGox cash held in trust by Nobuaki Kobayashi, the administrator appointed by the Tokyo District Court, the fund would conduct forensic investigations and pursue prosecution of perpetrators. An incentive bounty of 10% of recovered assets would reward those participating in the recovery.
Sunlot is led by William Quigley, a partner at Clearstone, and Brock Pierce, a former child actor who's been around virtual currencies for years. We'll have more on this story soon.
[Image via AP.]
fbi bitcoin investors - Google Search
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:37
About 637,000 results
This Guy Wants To Buy All The Silk Road Bitcoins Seized By The FBIwww.businessinsider.com/falcon-global-capital-offers-to-buy-the-fbis- bitcoins-2014-2- Cached - SimilarFeb 24, 2014 ... It's for his Bitcoin investment fund, Falcon Global Capital.Bitcoin Investment Fund Seeks to Buy 27K Seized Silk Road ...newsbtc.com/.../bitcoin-investment-fund-seeks-buy-27k-seized-silk-road- bitcoins-fbi/- CachedFeb 24, 2014 ... A bitcoin investment fund by the name of Falcon Global Capital is looking to buybitcoin from the FBI '-- 27,000 BTC, in fact. The bitcoins are ...VC Firm Makes Bid for FBI's Seized Silk Road Bitcoins - CoinDeskwww.coindesk.com/vc-firm-bid-fbi-silk-road-bitcoins/- Cached - SimilarFeb 25, 2014 ...Investment firm Falcon Global Capital has contacted the US governmentexpressing an interest in buying all of the bitcoins it seized from Silk ...CoinReport Falcon Global Capitol's Brett Stapper Wants FBI's Bitcoinshttps://coinreport.net/brett-stapper-wants-fbi-bitcoins/- CachedFeb 25, 2014 ... The FBI seized an estimated 27,000 bitcoins from the site back in ... Theinvestment institution works solely with bitcoin investor markets.FBI Finds Transaction That Shows Bitcoin Founder May Have ...elitedaily.com/news/.../man-behind-bitcoin-financial-backer-silk-road/- Cached - SimilarNov 25, 2013 ...FBI Finds Transaction That Shows Bitcoin Founder May Have Invested In TheSilk Road. FBI Finds Transaction That Shows Bitcoin Founder ...Who Owns the World's Biggest Bitcoin Wallet? The FBI | Enterprise ...Dec 18, 2013 ... In September, the FBI shut down the Silk Road online drug marketplace, and itstarted seizing bitcoins belonging to the Dread Pirate Roberts ...BBC News - Bitcoin value drops after FBI shuts Silk Road drugs siteOct 3, 2013 ... The FBI seized bitcoins worth approximately $3.6m (£2.2m) on Tuesday. ...Investor confidence may have been shaken by the association of ...Winklevoss-Backed Bitcoin Startup CEO Busted by Feds - Valleywagvalleywag.gawker.com/winklevoss-backed-bitcoin-startup-busted-by-fbi- 1509849706- Cached - SimilarJan 27, 2014 ... They've been investing in Bitcoin-related startups, and it's already going south:one ... The FBI says it's unmasked the man behind the notorious ...FBI struggles to seize 600,000 Bitcoins from alleged Silk Road ...www.theguardian.com/.../2013/.../fbi-bitcoin-silk-road-ross-ulbricht- Cached - SimilarOct 7, 2013 ... ''The FBI has not been able to get to Ulbricht's personal Bitcoin yet,'' wrote ...Norwegian man discovers $27 bitcoin investment now worth more ...The Feds Are Ready To Sell $25 Million of Bitcoin Seized From The ...www.forbes.com/.../the-feds-are-ready-to-sell-the-silk-road-bitcoin-kind-of/- Cached - SimilarJan 16, 2014 ... One of the bigger wallets on the Bitcoin blockchain is going to be emptied in ...When the FBI first seized the coins in October, they were worth about ... investorsto get their hands on Bitcoin through Wall Street channels rather ...
Mt. Gox Magically Finds 200,000 Bitcoins in a Discarded Wallet
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:36
S
Remember that time you left $20 in an old winter jacket and then spring happened and you put the jacket away and then when you took it back out the next winter and slipped your hand into your pocket you realized you were $20 richer than you thought? Funny story: that just happened to Mt. Gox, the troubled bitcoin exchange now mired in Japanese bankruptcy proceedings.
In a document released yesterday, Mark Karpel¨s, Mt Gox's 28-year-old CEO, announced that:
Following the application for commencement of a civil rehabilitation proceeding, these wallets were rescanned and their balance researched. On March 7, 2014, MtGox Co., Ltd. confirmed that an old ­format wallet which was used prior to June 2011 held a balance of approximately 200,000 BTC (199,999.99 BTC).
Of course, Karpel¨s writes, as soon as Mt. Gox discovered the missing bitcoins it brought the discovery to the attention of the Japanese judge in charge of the bankruptcy. Everything on the up-and-up.
Karpel¨s goes on to explain that this means that actually, Mt. Gox is missing fewer bitcoins due to the alleged hack that led it into bankruptcy:
MtGox Co., Ltd. had previously reported... that MtGox Co., Ltd. had lost almost all of the approximately 850,000 bitcoins it held... Taking into account the existence of the 200,000 BTC, the total number of bitcoins which have disappeared is therefore estimated to be approximately 650,000 BTC.
So, doing the math, there's been an overnight 23.5% reduction in the losses Mt. Gox suffered as a result of its alleged hack. This is nothing short of a Vernal Equinox Miracle. Four or five more little discoveries like this and the whole thing will be in the clear.
And don't worry, continues Karpel¨s:
(Please note that the reasons for their disappearance and the exact number of bitcoins which disappeared is still under investigation and that the above figures may still change depending on the results of the investigation.)
In other words, sit tight, every bitcoin person who may have lost large sums here! Do not pay attention to the men behind the curtain at Reddit, or the lawyers in that class action suit filed in a Chicago federal court, who believe that something fishy went on here.
Definitely don't read this Wired article about Karpel¨s' management practices inside Mt. Gox itself.
No, just sit tight. An investigation is ongoing. Karpel¨s has it covered.
[Photo Credit: AP.]
To contact the author of this post, please email michelle.dean@gawker.com.
Gox-Creditor-settlement-press-release FINAL - Gox_Creditor_Settlement_Press_Release.pdf
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:39
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Randi to Pearson: Remove the Gag Order and Test Secrecy | Diane Ravitch's blog
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:27
Randi Weingarten, on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers, sent representatives to the Pearson shareholders' meeting in London and wrote the following letter to the leaders of the world's biggest testing corporation. By shrouding the tests in secrecy, Pearson denies information to teachers to help diagnose student needs. The tests become useless by having no diagnostic value. Speculation abounds about hidden ''Pineapple'' questions and other test errors. If the lives of students and teachers and principals hinge on the tests, the tests must be made public after they are administered. Otherwise, teachers will be fired and students will be failed and schools will be closed without seeing the validity of the instruments of punishment. This is wrong.
For Immediate ReleaseApril 25, 2014
Contact:
Marcus Mrowka202/531-0689mmrowka@aft.org
Kate Childs Graham202/615-2424kchilds@aft.org
AFT's Weingarten to Pearson: Lift Gag Order on Testing, Meet with Stakeholders
WASHINGTON'-- In conjunction with the annual Pearson shareholder meeting in London, AFT President Randi Weingarten today released a letter sent to Pearson executives, board members and shareholders calling on the corporation to remove ''gag orders'' preventing educators from expressing concerns about Pearson-developed tests and to meet with educators, parents and other stakeholders to address their concerns regarding these tests. Pearson is the largest testing company in the world and derives 57 percent of its profits from the U.S.
Representatives from the AFT are at the shareholder meeting this morning to deliver the letter and discuss the concerns of educators, parents, students and shareholders. The AFT also launched an online action allowing educators, parents and others across the world to make the same demands of Pearson executives and board members.
''Principals and teachers in New York who recently administered the Pearson-developed Common Core tests have said they are barred from speaking about the test content and its effects on students,'' wrote Weingarten. ''This appears to be a result of a Pearson contract term that has been construed as disallowing them from expressing their concerns and views. '...On behalf of teachers, parents, students and your shareholders, including our pension plans, I ask you to immediately remove these prohibitions (referred to as ''gag orders'' in the press) from existing and future contracts.''
Weingarten continued, ''These gag orders and the lack of transparency are fueling the growing distrust and backlash among parents, students and educators in the United States about whether the current testing protocols and testing fixation is in the best interests of children. When parents aren't allowed to know what is on their children's tests, and when educators have no voice in how assessments are created and are forbidden from raising legitimate concerns about the quality of these assessments or from talking to parents about these concerns, you not only increase distrust of testing but also deny children the rich learning experience they deserve.''
Weingarten's full letter to Pearson can be found below.
April 24, 2014
John FallonChief ExecutivePearson PLC80 StrandLondon WC2R ORLUKjohn.fallon@pearson.com
Glen MorenoChairmanPearson PLC80 StrandLondon WC2R ORLUKGlen.moreno@pearson.com
Dear Mr. Fallon and Mr. Moreno:
I was deeply disturbed to read recently in the New York Times and other newspapers of the issues teachers, principals, parents and students raised about Pearson tests. Principals and teachers in New York who recently administered the Pearson-developed Common Core tests have said they are barred from speaking about the test content and its effects on students. This appears to be a result of a Pearson contract term that has been construed as disallowing them from expressing their concerns and views. Elizabeth Phillips, the principal at Public School 321 in Brooklyn, N.Y., summarized these concerns in a recent New York Times opinion piece. On behalf of teachers, parents, students and your shareholders, including our pension plans, I ask you to immediately remove these prohibitions (referred to as ''gag orders'' in the press) from existing and future contracts.
These gag orders and the lack of transparency are fueling the growing distrust and backlash among parents, students and educators in the United States about whether the current testing protocols and testing fixation is in the best interests of children. When parents aren't allowed to know what is on their children's tests, and when educators have no voice in how assessments are created and are forbidden from raising legitimate concerns about these assessments' quality or talking to parents about these concerns, you not only increase distrust of testing but also deny children the rich learning experience they deserve.
Continuing these practices may also have severe financial consequences for your corporation. Growing mistrust and concerns by parents, teachers and others over the asserted lack of transparency at InBloom appears to have been a driving factor in the company's recent decision to end operations.
This is the third consecutive year that Pearson's standardized tests have led to headline risk and reputational damage to the company. We're concerned that Pearson is using gag orders to cover up-rather than address-problems with its standardized tests. If Pearson is going to remain competitive in the educational support and testing business, the company must listen to and respond to the concerns of educators like Elizabeth Phillips who report that the company has ignored extensive feedback.
Parents, students and teachers need assessments that accurately measure student performance through questions that are grade-appropriate and aligned with state standards-especially since standardized tests have increasingly life-altering consequences for students and teachers. By including gag orders in contracts, Pearson is silencing the very stakeholders the company needs to engage with. Poll after poll makes clear that parents overwhelmingly trust educators over all others to do what is best for their children; educators' voices, concerns and input should be included in the creation and application of these assessments.
We intend to bring these concerns to the attention of senior management, the board and other shareholders during your annual meeting on Friday, April 25. We also are asking that you meet as soon as practical with stakeholders to discuss a comprehensive response to their concerns and to this serious threat to the company's reputation, brand and share price. If you have representatives in the United States who meet with potential customers routinely to sell Pearson products, we believe you also can meet with stakeholders.
We look forward to your reply. Pearson must move quickly to address a serious and emerging threat to its brand, business model and ability to generate long-term value for shareholders.
Sincerelv.
Randi WeingartenPresident
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MtGox-BROCK PIERCE-Marc Collins Rector and the Bryan Singer Lawsuit - Business Insider
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:53
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Bryan Singer
For people who lived the through the dot-com collapse of the late 1990s, the name Marc Collins-Rector carries a special horror. Not only was he the architect of one of the most famous implosions of the time '-- the bankruptcy of Digital Entertainment Networks, an early provider of online video '-- but he is also a convicted child molester, according to federal records.In fact, after DEN went belly-up (with the loss of 300 jobs following a botched $75 million IPO), Collins-Rector fled the U.S. and briefly spent time in a Spanish prison before being convicted in federal court of sex crimes. He pleaded guilty and paid a fine.
His name has resurfaced in the lawsuit filed against X-Men director Bryan Singer. The plaintiff, Michael Egan, claims he was 17 years old back in 1998 when he was introduced to Singer at Collins-Rector's mansion in California, according to The Wrap, where you can download a copy of the lawsuit.
On the grounds of the mansion, Egan was raped and sexually harassed and threatened with a gun by Collins-Rector, the founder of DEN, if he didn't comply, the lawsuit alleges. An attorney for Singer told The Wrap that the lawsuit was ''completely without merit'':
''We are very confident that Bryan will be vindicated in this absurd and defamatory lawsuit ... It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan's new movie is about to open in a few weeks."
Collins-Rector is not named as a defendant in the suit, but his alleged actions are described within it '-- suggesting that the plaintiff is in part hoping to lean on Collins-Rector's notoriety to leverage the claim against Singer.
A call to Collins-Rector's former attorney requesting comment revealed that the phone had been disconnected. Collins-Rector's last-known country of residence was the Dominican Republic, address unknown. The allegations in the suit refer to events that happened years ago, and Collins-Rector has long-since served the requirements of his conviction.
But it is the lawsuit's description of the interior of Collins-Rector's mansion that will fascinate people who heard the rumors about DEN back in the day. It was a poorly kept secret at the time that Collins-Rector and his friends held parties at their "M&C Estate" that would make Hugh Hefner blush.This old story from the L.A. Times contains much of the backdrop to the Singer lawsuit and Rector-Collins' alleged role within it:
His two DEN co-founders were Chad Shackley, then 24, who had lived with Collins-Rector since dropping out of a Michigan high school, and Brock Pierce, then a 17-year-old actor best known for his leading roles in such Disney films as "The Mighty Ducks" and "First Kid."
All three lived in a 12,616-square-foot mansion in Encino, drove a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, wore Armani suits, took spur-of-the-moment vacations to the tropics and threw parties that attracted a young, hip crowd that also defined DEN's target audience.
... Work began in 1998 on its first show, "Chad's World." Produced by the teenage Pierce, the show centered on a 15-year-old from Michigan who questions his sexual orientation and ultimately flees his town's intolerance to move in with a gay couple in a California mansion.
For early financing, majority owner and chairman Collins-Rector turned to high-profile individuals he had come to know in Hollywood, including television actor Fred Savage. Former U.S. Rep. Michael Huffington said he invested $5 million.
Huffington later complained that he was led to believe major companies were investing at the same time he was, and on the same terms--which wasn't true. He also said Collins-Rector traded on his name, describing Huffington as vice chairman although he held no such position.
Collins-Rector initially made his fortune in the tech business as the founder of an early ISP, Concentric Networks. It was acquired by Nextlink Communications for $2.9 billion. Again, the Times picks up the story:
The windfall enabled Collins-Rector and Shackley to pursue a lavish new lifestyle. They bought an enormous RV and traveled the country scouting living locations, settling briefly in Beverly Hills before paying $2.47 million in 1997 for a mansion in Encino.
At one point, Collins-Rector was accused of meeting a 13-year-old boy online. He was sued in a lawsuit in New Jersey federal court, and the case was settled, the LA Times says. Later, federal prosecutors began looking into allegations that Collins-Rector had abused children. VNUNet reported at the time that Collins-Rector was found in Spain:
[He was] arrested in June on an international warrant after being indicted in New Jersey on five counts of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts.
Brock Pierce has never been charged for a crime nor has a warrant ever been issued for him, his representative told Business Insider.*
Today, Collins-Rector remains a registered sex offender but he is not in prison, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records. Fast Company did a nice, long story on Collins-Rector several years ago that is well worth a read.
*Correction: Business Insider would like to make it clear that Pierce was not accused of the crimes charged against Collins-Rector.
Read the lawsuit here:
Bryan Singer Accused of Sexually Abusing Underage Boy Pt. 1 (TheWrap)
About Matthew Roszak Venture Capitalist - Matthew Roszak
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:49
Entrepreneur and Private Equity Investor
Mr. Roszak is co-founder and managing partner of SilkRoad Equity, a global private investment firm.
Matthew Roszak has spent over 17 years in private equity and venture capital and invested in excess of $1 billion of capital in a broad range of industries, with experience in executing a broad scope of transactions including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; corporate and transactional financing, including private equity, venture capital, mezzanine and conventional financings; public offerings, private placements and financial restructurings.
Previously, Mr Roszak was a principal with Advent International. Advent is one of the world's largest and most successful international private equity investment firms, managing in excess of $15 billion, with offices in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Before joining Advent, Mr. Roszak spent five years with Keystone Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. Prior to its sale to DirectTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Mr. Roszak served as a director of 180 Connect (TSX: CNCT) for five years, and was chairman of the audit and compensation committees.
Mr. Roszak is a director and beneficial owner of various companies, including Barefoot Landing, Coastal Resort Holdings, HardMetrics, InterAct911, MissionMode, Onramp Branding, Pendulab, SilkRoad Realty, SilkRoad technology, SolidSpace, TrueLook, Vitalize Labs and Viwawa. Mr. Roszak earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Lake Forest College.
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IGE - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:46
IGE (Internet Gaming Entertainment) is a company which trades in virtual currency and accounts for MMORPGs. One of the main dealers in virtual economy services, members of the gaming community were often critical of IGE, as its services may allow players to break rules in online games.[1]
During its peak time, it had offices in Los Angeles, China (Shanghai), and headquarters & customer service centre in Hong Kong[2][3] It was reformed in 2007 by Jonathan Yantis.
History[edit]IGE was founded in 2001 by Brock Pierce, a former child movie star,[4] and Alan Debonneville. They met each other while playing Everquest and decided to form IGE. Pierce was the main investor in the company while Debonneville was managing the operations. Brock Pierce was also the co-founder of the controversial failed dot-comDigital Entertainment Network (DEN).[5] Media reports claim that Marc Collins-Rector is a silent partner in IGE.[6] IGE initially used an address in the city of Marbella, Spain, where Collins-Rector and Pierce shared a villa until it was raided by Interpol in 2002.[7][8]
In January 2004, IGE acquired its major competitor, Yantis Enterprises, then run by another secondary market figure, Jonathan Yantis,[9] for $2.4 million and 37% share of the company. Yantis later sold his shares back to IGE in exchange for 22 monthly payments of $1 million due to conflicts and disagreement.
IGE's parent company, RPG Holdings, purchased Allakhazam.com in November 2005,[10] as announced in May 2006.[11] This purchase followed that of ThottBot.com.
During late 2006 and 2007, Debonneville was forced out of the company. Later Debonneville sued Pierce for various reasons related to an investment made by Goldman Sachs a year earlier, which Debonneville ended winning in a settlement.
IGE tried to restructure its upper management team by recruiting new executives. IGE began to lose revenue due to the frequent deletion of accounts involved in trading. In 2007, a lawsuit was filed against IGE by Antonio Hernandez for "substantially impairing and diminishing [player's] collective enjoyment of the game." [12]
During the final months of IGE leading to its reformation, the board of directors decided to sell the company to their former partner Jonathan Yantis.[12] IGE's parent company was then renamed Atlas Technology Group Inc,[13] which is owned by Yantis, while Brock went with Affinity Media.
Affinity Media was said to be one of the parent companies of IGE, though the company no longer has any ownership stake. Affinity Media's senior vice president of business development John Maffei, noted that "we're no longer in that business." [14] Affinity retains control of Allakhazam.com, Thottbot.com, and has since purchased Wowhead.com.[15]
Revenue[edit]Like all the other in-game currency traders, the vast majority of IGE's revenue comes from buying/selling World of Warcraft gold. Its website traffic, and allegedly its revenues, have been declining since 2006 due to the increased competition from the in-game currency traders based in China and the constant bombardment of anti-real-money trading measures by Blizzard Entertainment, the publisher of World of Warcraft.[16]
current[edit]former[edit]See also[edit]References[edit]External links[edit]
Drone Nation
Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX - NBC News.com
Sat, 03 May 2014 21:22
A relic from the Cold War appears to have triggered a software glitch at a major air traffic control center in California Wednesday that led to delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights across the country, sources familiar with the incident told NBC News.
On Wednesday at about 2 p.m., according to sources, a U-2 spy plane, the same type of aircraft that flew high-altitude spy missions over Russia 50 years ago, passed through the airspace monitored by the L.A. Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, Calif. The L.A. Center handles landings and departures at the region's major airports, including Los Angeles International (LAX), San Diego and Las Vegas.
The computers at the L.A. Center are programmed to keep commercial airliners and other aircraft from colliding with each other. The U-2 was flying at 60,000 feet, but the computers were attempting to keep it from colliding with planes that were actually miles beneath it.
Though the exact technical causes are not known, the spy plane's altitude and route apparently overloaded a computer system called ERAM, which generates display data for air-traffic controllers. Back-up computer systems also failed.
APA NASA ER-2 high altitude research aircraft is shown in flight on Nov. 4, 1997.
As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had to stop accepting flights into airspace managed by the L.A. Center, issuing a nationwide ground stop that lasted for about an hour and affected thousands of passengers.
At LAX, one of the nation's busiest airports, there were 27 cancellations of arriving flights, as well as 212 delays and 27 diversions to other airports. Twenty-three departing flights were cancelled, while 216 were delayed. There were also delays at the airports in Burbank, Long Beach, Ontario and Orange County and at other airports across the Southwestern U.S.
In a statement to NBC News, the FAA said that it was ''investigating a flight-plan processing issue'' at the L.A. Air Route Traffic Control Center, but did not elaborate on the reasons for the glitch and did not confirm that it was related to the U-2's flight.
''FAA technical specialists resolved the specific issue that triggered the problem on Wednesday, and the FAA has put in place mitigation measures as engineers complete development of software changes,'' said the agency in a statement. ''The FAA will fully analyze the event to resolve any underlying issues that contributed to the incident and prevent a reoccurrence.''
Sources told NBC News that the plane was a U-2 with a Defense Department flight plan. ''It was a 'Dragon Lady,''' said one source, using the nickname for the plane. Edwards Air Force Base is 30 miles north of the L.A. Center. Both Edwards and NASA's Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, which is located at Edwards, have been known to host U-2s and similar, successor aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force is still flying U-2s, but plans to retire them within the next few years.
Gary Hatch, spokesman for Edwards Air Force Base, would not comment on the Wednesday incident, but said, ''There are no U-2 planes assigned to Edwards.''
A spokesperson for the Armstrong Flight Research Center did not immediately return a call for comment.
Developed more than a half-century ago, the U-2 was once a workhorse of U.S. airborne surveillance. The plane's ''operational ceiling'' is 70,000 feet. In 1960, Francis Gary Powers was flying a U-2 for the CIA over the Soviet Union when he was shot down. He was held captive by the Russians for two years before being exchanged for a KGB colonel in U.S. custody. A second U.S. U-2 was shot down over Cuba in 1962, killing the pilot.
First published May 2 2014, 11:43 AM
Hillary 2016
NYTimes: 42 and 45 Overpower 44
Israel / BDS
Pink Floyd Members Urge the Rolling Stones Not To Perform in Israel | Mother Jones
Sat, 03 May 2014 14:42
'--Asawin Suebsaeng on Thu. May 1, 2014 1:43 PM PDT
On Thursday, Pink Floyd founding members Roger Waters and Nick Mason issued a statement criticizing The Rolling Stones' decision to play a concert in Israel. The Rolling Stones are set to perform at Ramat Gan Stadium on June 10. The founders of prog-rock band Pink Floyd are supporters of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a global, pro-Palestinian campaign that aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel.
Here's an excerpt from the statement, published at Salon:
With the recent news that The Rolling Stones will be playing their first-ever concert in Israel, and at what is a critical time in the global struggle for Palestinian freedom and equal rights, we, the two surviving founders of Pink Floyd, have united in support of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a growing, nonviolent global human rights movement initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to end Israel's occupation, racial discrimination and denial of basic Palestinian rights.
[...]
So, to the bands that intend to play Israel in 2014, we urge you to reconsider. Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid; regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime...If you wouldn't play Sun City, back in the day, as you, the Rolling Stones did not, then don't play Tel Aviv until such time as freedom reigns for all and equal rights is the law of the land.
Waters calling for artists to boycott Israel is nothing new. Last December, he compared Israel's policy towards Palestinians to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
A spokeswoman for the Rolling Stones did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ISRAEL: Elvis Costello cancels Tel Aviv concerts as 'matter of conscience' - latimes.com
Sat, 03 May 2014 14:33
What's so funny about peace, love and understanding? Nothing for Israeli fans of Elvis Costello who will not see the legend perform in Tel Aviv this summer after he canceled all scheduled shows there, citing concerns over the treatment of Palestinians.
"There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act ... and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent," Costello wrote on his website.
"I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security," the statement continued. "I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly. ... It is a matter of instinct and conscience."
Reactions in Israel have ranged from disappointment to outrage.
Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat lashed out at Costello, saying: "An artist boycotting his fans in Israel is unworthy of performing here," according to Ynetnews, the website of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
Ariana Melamed, also writing for Ynet, said that although she understood and even respected artists who chose to boycott Israel over the occupation, to pull out after the contracts had been signed and tickets had gone on sale was hypocritical.
"After all, the occupation and oppression did not start all of a sudden, exactly in the period between the start of ticket sales and the show, right?" she wrote.
"The belated discovery of the local reality shows that the boycotters-cancellers actually have no ongoing interest in the state of human rights around here, but rather, a momentary interest in a politically correct label," she continued, adding that Costello did not call off shows in the United States and England after the start of the Iraq war.
Costello is one of several high-profile artists to cancel appearances in Israel this summer, including Gil Scott-Heron and Santana.
Scott-Heron and Costello, in particular, are known for their socially conscious lyrics and activism, making them vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy for playing in Tel Aviv while Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands.
Scott-Heron, who wrote the well-known "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," was one of the leading proponents of the boycott against apartheid-era South Africa, which many pro-Palestinian activists had likened to Israel.
The artists may have been influenced by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, a broad movement calling for a boycott of Israel that has gained momentum since 2005 and persuaded a number of artists, universities and institutions to sever ties with Israel.
Sarah Colborne of the U.K.-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told the Guardian that Costello's decision was a sign the movement was working.
"We are increasingly seeing artists taking a stand against allowing themselves to be used by the Israeli state to normalize their occupation and apartheid policies against Palestinians," she said, according to the Guardian. "Principled artists understood it was unacceptable to play under the apartheid South African regime in Sun City."
'' Meris Lutz in Beirut
Photo: Elvis Costello performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 29, 2010. Credit: Rick Diamond / Getty Images
Iran
Rouhani bans WhatsApp: owned by 'American Zionist'
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:13
Iranian regime cites Zuckerberg's 'Zionism' as reason for ban; citizens fear that Facebook, Viber could be next.Ynet
The Iranian government announced a ban on the messaging application WhatsApp, popular worldwide and recently purchased by Facebook for 19$ billion, saying that the decision was reached because of WhatsApp's aquisition, "by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist," Fox News reported Friday.
The announcement came from the head of Iran's Committee on Internet Crimes, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi and raised concerns that additional social media projects could be shut down in the near future.
"The Revolutionary Guard sees these social sites as a major threat because there's an appeal for young people and the government worries about the exchange of information," an Iranian blogger told Fox News under the condition of anonymity.
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"(Supreme Leader) Khamenei and his cronies, caught on to the power and potential of these sites after the (Green Revolution) uprisings," said the blogger.
Use of Iranian social media sky-rocketed in the wake of post-election uprisings in 2009 when protesters faced violent government suppression and turned to the internet where they felt that they could speak more freely.
According to Fox News, Khoramabadi said that there were no current plans to block any sites besides WhatsApp, but also that possible bans could be discussed in the future.
Thirteen government officials sit on the committee that polices internet users, six of whom are also members of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's cabinet with Khoramabadi at their head.
The move comes as a surprise for some since Rouhani and other government officials have been well-known for their utilization of Twitter and Facebook for world-wide communication.
NA Tech
US jury orders Samsung to pay $119.6 million to Apple for infringing patents
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:08
It had sought more than two billion dollars in damages.
In the end, Apple had to settle for $119.6 million after a jury in California found that the firm's smartphone rival Samsung had violated two of its patents.
The ruling marked the latest chapter in the two tech giants seemingly endless legal battles around the world.
Samsung denied any wrongdoing, arguing that Apple had vastly exaggerated the importance of its patented iPhone features.
Apple however argued that Samsung could not have competed in the smartphone market without unfairly copying its flagship product.
The jury was listening to both sides. It also found that Apple had infringed one of Samsung's patents and the South Korean company was awarded $158,000 in damages.
Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) Devices in the 5 GHz Band
Fri, 02 May 2014 02:14
Effective June 2, 2014 except for § 15.407(j), which contains information collection requirements that have not been approved by OMB. The Commission will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date.
Aole Wilkins, Office of Engineering and Technology, 202-418-2406, Aole.Wilkins@fcc.gov.
This is a summary of the Commission's First Report and Order, ET Docket No. 13-49, FCC 14-30 adopted March 31, 2014, and released April 1, 2014. The full text of this document is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Center (Room CY-A257), 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. The complete text of this document also may be purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. The full text may also be downloaded at: www.fcc.gov. People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).
1. In 2013, the Commission issued the Notice of Proposed Rule Making,78 FR 21320, April 10, 2013, that initiated this proceeding, with the goal of supporting the growing needs of businesses and consumers for fixed and mobile broadband communications using Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices in the 5.15-5.35 GHz and 5.47-5.85 GHz bands. At the same time, it recognized the need to modify its rules to better ensure that these devices do not cause harmful interference to authorized Federal and non-Federal users in these bands. U-NII devices are unlicensed intentional radiators, which use wideband digital modulation techniques to provide a wide array of high-data-rate mobile and fixed communications used by individuals, businesses, and institutions, particularly for wireless local area networking'--including Wi-Fi'--and broadband access.
2. U-NII devices already play an important role in meeting public demand for wireless broadband service, particularly wireless local area networking and broadband access. This foundation, coupled with increasing demand for wireless broadband applications and new Wi-Fi technology, signals a bright future for unlicensed operations in the 5 GHz band. To meet continuing demand, in this First R&O the Commission takes a number of actions to increase the utility of the 550 megahertz of the 5 GHz band already available for U-NII operations, while protecting incumbent users from harmful interference.
3. In this First R&O, the Commission modified the Part 15 rules for the U-NII-1 band by removing the indoor-only restriction and increasing the permitted power level. These changes provide more flexibility for providing broadband service, whether indoors or outdoors, and take advantage of the new 802.11ac standard to achieve higher data rate transmissions across multiple U-NII segments of the 5 GHz band. To protect Mobile Satellite Service in the U-NII-1 band from harmful interference, the Commission also created certain technical rules for U-NII-1 devices, principally requiring directionality in the antennas to limit emissions in the upward direction and requiring operators with more than 1000 outdoor access points to register information regarding their systems with the Commission.
4. The Commission described circumstances which would facilitate waivers under its rules for converting existing U-NII-3 devices to incorporate the U-NII-1 band without having to comply with the new antenna rules.
5. The Commission also modified its rules to require manufacturers to secure the software in all U-NII devices to prevent modifications that would allow the device to operate in a manner inconsistent with the equipment certification. This change will reduce the likelihood of harmful interference not only to Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems, but to all authorized services in the 5 GHz bands.
6. The Commission consolidated the provisions in § 15.247 of the rules (applicable to digitally modulated devices for this band) with the rules in § 15.407 (applicable to U-NII devices) so that all the digitally modulated devices operating in the 5 GHz band will operate under the combined rules and be subject to the new device security requirement. This change addresses a major cause of harmful interference to the TDWR: in which users have illegally modified devices certified to operate under § 15.247 to operate in the 5.47-5.725 GHz band without implementing Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS). This rule consolidation also will reduce complexity and costs in authorizing technically similar devices under different rules.
7. The majority of commenters support allowing outdoor operations in the U-NII-1 band, and some level of harmonization across the U-NII bands. The Commission concluded that it is in the public interest to permit outdoor operation of U-NII devices in the U-NII-1 band, and that it can do so while appropriately protecting MSS services from harmful interference. Specifically, the Commission revised its rules to permit transmitter power levels up to 1 W, as permitted in the U-NII-3 band, with safeguards to minimize the likelihood of harmful interference to Globalstar's MSS system.
8. The Commission observed that NCTA's and Globalstar's initial analyses of the likelihood of harmful interference to Globalstar's system were based on fundamentally different assumptions about future factors such as the extent of deployments, the technical characteristics of the equipment, and the extent of the communications traffic, and that these assumptions are inherently uncertain. The Commission determined that it can minimize the significance of these assumptions with a technical resolution which restricts a device's emissions when operating above a certain elevation angle, coupled with a reporting requirement directed at large scale deployments, which will facilitate corrective measures should they become necessary.
9. Since the noise floor increase seen by the satellite will be a function of the aggregated energy from U-NII-1 emissions at elevation angles above 30 degrees, the Commission addressed the likelihood of interference to the satellite by restricting upward emissions to sharply reduce the energy that will be received by the satellite from each individual access point. As a result, it is far less likely that harmful interference will occur, even for proliferation of access points greater than that presumed in either party's earlier analysis, making moot to a large degree the disagreements as to the number of access points that might be deployed.
10. The Commission has concluded that generally allowing fixed access point outdoor operations at a conducted power level of up to 1 W (30 dBm), and a PSD of 17 dBm/MHz with an allowance for a 6 dBi antenna gain (i.e., a total 36 dBm EIRP), and limiting the maximum EIRP above 30 degrees elevation to 125 mW (21 dBm) EIRP, provides reasonable protection from harmful interference to Globalstar's system. Both NCTA and Globalstar agree that this protocol would provide interference protection to Globalstar, while permitting access to the spectrum for U-NII users. The Commission believes that expressing a limit in terms of EIRP will provide U-NII manufacturers and operators with flexibility regarding how to design their equipment, while still achieving the required levels of protection. Manufacturers will be able to demonstrate compliance with the EIRP limit by reducing antenna gain in the upward direction, or by limiting the transmitter power, or a combination of the two, as best suits their particular purpose.
11. In conjunction with this requirement, the Commission will continue to monitor developments in this band. Globalstar has expressed strong concerns in this proceeding that proposed unchecked, widespread deployments of outdoor access points may disrupt licensed services in the band. To provide a safeguard and require accountability for such large deployments, the Commission adopted the following filing requirement. Before deploying an aggregate total of more than one thousand outdoor access points within the U-NII-1 band, companies must submit a letter to the Commission acknowledging that, should harmful interference to licensed services in this band occur, they will be required to take corrective action.
12. The Commission will permit current UN-II-3 devices to operate under the new U-NII-1 rules under two potential scenarios, but in both cases, the equipment must comply with the software security requirements that it adopted to prevent unauthorized device modifications. First, at any time manufacturers or equipment operators may file a request for a permissive change to their current equipment authorizations demonstrating compliance with the rules adopted. If manufacturers of the previously deployed equipment are able to demonstrate compliance with the EIRP requirement described, the Commission will allow a permissive change with up to 1 W of conducted power.
13. Second, for outdoor U-NII-3 band systems installed prior to the effective date of the rules adopted are not able to comply with the new EIRP requirement,, the Commission suggested the kind of information that could be submitted to expedite consideration and grant of a waiver of the new antenna rules for existing devices. The Commission determined that providing the following about the waiver petitioner's existing deployments will be important to its ability to assess waiver requests: the number of devices installed, general location of each deployment, ability to reprogram the devices, and ability to adjust operating power from a central network management system. The Commission concluded that waiver requests meeting these parameters and made within 30 days of the effective date of its rules are likely to serve the public interest because granting them is highly unlikely to create any risk of harmful interference, given the small numbers involved and the limited departure from the new technical requirements for the U-NII-1 band. Moreover, having such waiver petitioners provide information about the numbers of installed devices that would be covered by the grant, as well as their general location, will help the Commission monitor the accuracy of its predictions in these regards and allow the Commission to alter course or take effective corrective action if necessary. The Commission has specifically delegated to the Office of Engineering and Technology the authority to grant waivers under these favorable conditions. Following the 30-day window, operators and manufacturers may continue to file petitions for waiver, but the Commission will decide such petitions without the assurances of good cause provided by the described approach.
14. All parties receiving a waiver must then demonstrate compliance with the technical requirements through the equipment certification process by filing a permissive change request including the approved waiver. There is no deadline for filing for such a permissive change.
15. The Commission will permit fixed point-to-point devices operating in the U-NII-1 band to employ transmitting antennas with directional gain up to 23 dBi without any corresponding reduction in the transmitter maximum output power or maximum power spectral density, and with no reduction of power in the vertical direction. It will not require these devices to reduce the antenna gain in the vertical direction. Such point-to-point operations are typically highly directional and aim their signals along the earth, and therefore are less likely to contribute significant energy to that received by the satellite. They are also relatively few in numbers as compared to the widespread distribution of access points examined by Globalstar and NCTA.
16. The Commission will permit indoor access points operating in the U-NII-1 band at 1 W of conducted power with a 6 dBi antenna gain and no reduction in vertical antenna gain coupled with a requirement for a 1 dB reduction in conducted power for every 1 dB that the antenna gain exceeds 6 dBi. These types of consumer-oriented devices should not contribute to interference concerns, as the building materials used in indoor environments should sufficiently attenuate energy transmitted from indoor devices to prevent any significant contribution to any noise rise seen by Globalstar's satellite.
17. The Commission will permit any client device which operates under control of an access point in the U-NII-1 band to operate at conducted power levels up to 250 mW and a PSD of 11 dBm/MHz with a 6 dBi gain antenna without distinction to whether devices are located indoor or outdoor; power must be reduced by 1 dB for every dB that the antenna gain exceeds 6 dBi. These devices will not cause interference to Globalstar's MSS because of their nature of operation. A client device operates with an access point in a very asymmetric nature, in that very little data is transmitted in the uplink direction (i.e. transmitted from the client device) as compared to data transmitted in the downlink direction (i.e. transmitted from the access point). Client devices are typically mobile or portable, such as handsets or laptops and tablets. These devices are not typically installed in permanent outdoor locations, and due to their mobile nature the antenna gain in any particular direction cannot be guaranteed. Because client devices will most often be used in indoor locations with very low antenna heights any emissions will be shielded to some extent by buildings, foliage or other obstructions. While many such devices are able to operate in either a client mode, hotspot mode or a peer-peer mode, the Commission does not believe that such peer-to-peer modes will be used frequently or deployed as part of an outdoor network; and thus, it will permit mobile or portable client devices to operate in either mode without changing maximum power levels. Finally, many client devices incorporate power control features that cause the device to use as little power necessary to provide necessary communications. These factors compound each other and point to a very low impact from client devices and the Commission does not find a need to impose the antenna requirements described for access points.
18. The Commission notes that Globalstar has the capability to monitor increases in noise levels at its satellites, and anticipates that Globalstar will report any significant changes in the noise levels and provide specific details as to how it is affecting its operations. The Commission also encourages all interested parties to continue to communicate regularly among each other and with Commission staff regarding developments in this band.
19. Because the current and future use of the 5 GHz U-NII bands is heavily reliant on the successful implementation of the Commission's technical rules, the Commission proposed to require that manufacturers implement security features in any digitally modulated device capable of operating in any of the U-NII bands, so that third parties are not able to reprogram the device to operate outside the parameters for which the device was certified.
20. Because 5 GHz U-NII devices are able to operate across such a wide swath of spectrum, any device could potentially be reprogrammed to operate outside of its certified frequency range. Accordingly, the Commission adopted its proposal in the NPRM that manufacturers must take steps to prevent unauthorized software changes to their equipment in all of the U-NII bands. It leaves the precise methods of ensuring the integrity of the software in a radio to the manufacturer, but requires the manufacturer to document those methods in its application for equipment authorization and declines to set specific security protocol or authentication requirements at this time, so as not to hinder the development of the technology used to provide such security, or to be unduly burdensome on manufacturers.
21. The Commission acknowledges that it may have to specify more detailed security requirements at a later date as software driven radio technology develops. The Commission directed OET to provide guidance, through the Knowledge Data Base (KDB) on what types of security measures work effectively, and what types do not, as well as on the level of detail the FCC will typically need to evaluate the authorization request.
22. The Commission reiterated its observation in the NPRM that some radios are designed so that they can communicate directly with each other, rather than through a control point, and thus they could function as either a ''master'' that initiates a network or as a ''client'' device within the network. The Commission also believes that it is important to ensure that client devices cannot be unlawfully reprogrammed to perform the functions of an access point. Thus, the Commission concludes that all devices that operate under the U-NII rules must be subject to the device security requirements.
23. The Commission believes the enhanced security measures will be effective, and conclude that there is no need for a reactive scheme such as disabling devices that are modified or tampered with, as urged by some commenters. The Commission intends to enforce its security protocol requirement carefully and vigorously.
24. Transmitter ID. The Commission declines to require U-NII devices to transmit identifying information. While the Commission's experience in the field has indicated that a transmitter ID requirement would help to more quickly identify and locate devices that cause harmful interference, the Commission is not persuaded that the benefits accrued from such a requirement would outweigh the costs to implement it at this time. One of its primary goals throughout this proceeding is to prioritize eliminating the occurrence of harmful interference in the first instance. The Commission's adoption of enhanced security requirements, directly addresses this priority, whereas a transmitter identification requirement does not. However, if harmful interference continues to be a problem the Commission will reevaluate the costs and benefits associated with a transmitter ID requirement, recognizing that it may be necessary to implement more costly solutions to eliminate the harmful interference if devices operating in the band continue to cause harmful interference.
25. In addition to the security requirements applicable to all U-NII devices operating in the 5 GHz band described, the Commission revised the technical rules for operation in the U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands to further mitigate potential harmful interference to TDWR and other radar systems that operate in those bands. It also modified the rules and updated its U-NII compliance measurement procedures to improve testing for radar detection and eliminate certain outdated performance tests.
26. To be certified for operation in the U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands, devices must include a DFS radar detection function. In its field investigations, the Commission's Enforcement Bureau found that certain models of devices certified for use in these bands were designed in a way that users were able to disable the DFS mechanism. With the DFS mechanism inactive, the device could transmit on an active radar channel and cause harmful interference. In the NPRM the Commission therefore proposed that manufacturers prevent the DFS mechanism from being disabled in devices certified to operate in the U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands. It also proposed that U-NII devices certified to operate in these bands must be operated with the DFS function on. The Commission also noted in the NPRM that the NTIA Third Technical Report and its own discussions with NTIA, FAA and industry representatives have identified additional techniques that could mitigate in-band and adjacent band interference to incumbents. These include increasing the sensing frequency range (e.g., detection bandwidth) of U-NII devices operating in the U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands; using a database registration process combined with geo-location technology to determine whether there is any potential harmful interference to radar systems such as the TDWR; and limiting the unwanted emission levels of the U-NII devices.
27. DFS Functionality. No commenters opposed the Commission's proposal that DFS must be active for any devices operating in the U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands. The technical rules for equipment authorized to operate in the U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands already require the implementation of DFS. The requirement to preclude software changes that would allow devices to operate outside of their authorized parameters includes the DFS functionality. That is, the devices must be designed to prohibit software changes that would disable the DFS functionality. The Commission also modified its rules to explicitly prohibit operators from using equipment without operational DFS in the U-NII-2 bands, and to require the DFS function to be turned on when operating in these bands. This explicit requirement will help the Commission's Enforcement Bureau eliminate harmful interference should they encounter modified equipment in the field.
28. DFS Sensing Bandwidth. The Commission modified its rules to require U-NII devices to sense for radar signals at 100 percent of their emissions bandwidth in U-NII-2A and U-NII-2C bands, as proposed in the NPRM. The current rule for sensing bandwidth ensures co-channel interference protection only when the radar signal falls within 80 percent of the U-NII device's occupied bandwidth, and it is thus possible for the U-NII device to transmit on the same frequency as the radar when the radar signal falls within the 20 percent of occupied bandwidth that does not require sensing. This could result in transmissions from the U-NII devices that fall within the TDWR receiver bandwidth, which would increase the potential for harmful interference. Expanding the sensing requirement to the entire occupied bandwidth will prevent any and all co-channel operations between U-NII-2A, U-NII-2C band devices and radars.
29. Geolocation/Database. The Commission declines to adopt a geo-location database requirement that I proposed in the NPRM for several reasons. First, it is taking several actions in this First R&O that would have prevented most of the harmful interference cases that it has observed to date, and which will prevent future interference cases. Second, the Commission is making several changes to its part 15 rules and compliance measurement procedures to improve the DFS functionality, thus further reducing the harmful interference risk to TDWR and other radar systems, e.g. increasing the sensing bandwidth, modifying the sensing threshold, and testing DFS functions against a new radar waveform. These changes will be sufficient for U-NII devices to avoid radar systems operating in these bands. Given these considerations, the Commission agrees with commenters that the incremental benefit provided by implementing a geo-location/database approach as a supplement to DFS is not sufficient to justify the expense of doing so. Additionally, permitting a geo-location/database approach as an alternative to requiring DFS functionality would also present some practical concerns in overall management of the interference environment, since two different types of devices would be operating under different authorization procedures and operating rules.
30. The Commission notes that although it is not adopting a database requirement, WISPA maintains a database accessible to the public which contains TDWR system locations and the Commission actions in this First R&O will not prevent the use of any voluntary databases such as the one implemented by WISPA.
31. Out-of-Band Emissions in the U-NII-2 Bands. In the NPRM, the Commission noted that emissions outside of the U-NII device's occupied bandwidth may have the potential to cause harmful interference to TDWRs. Aside from increasing frequency separation or distance separation, U-NII devices may avoid causing harmful interference by lowering the emissions on the radar's fundamental frequency. This equates to lowering all emissions from U-NII devices at the frequencies outside of the device's operating bandwidth. The Commission sought comment on whether requiring lower unwanted emission limits for U-NII devices operating in the U-NII-2A and UNII-2C bands was appropriate, and whether it should modify the emission limits based on findings in NTIA Third Technical Report.
32. The Commission also sought comment on modifying its rules to adopt out-of-channel limits for indoor versus outdoor U-NII devices, including how it should define the terms ''indoor'' and ''outdoor,'' and how different operating requirements for indoor versus outdoor operations can be accommodated through its equipment authorization and enforcement procedures.
33. The Commission declined to adopt the proposals in the NPRM that would have required reductions in out-of-band emissions below the levels currently allowed under § 15.407. In the harmful interference cases that it has investigated, it has not seen evidence that problems are being caused by unwanted emissions from properly certified and properly functioning equipment. Instead, the majority of cases have been caused by devices that have been modified to operate in frequency bands in which they are not certified to operate, or by devices in which DFS had been disabled. Consolidating the technical rules in the U-NII-3 band, along with enhancing the software security requirements of all U-NII devices, would have prevented most of the harmful interference cases that has been observed to date. Accordingly, the Commission agrees with commenters that a reduction in unwanted emissions from properly certified and properly functioning equipment would be overly restrictive and would not provide any long-term interference mitigation and that the benefits of applying reduced emission limits would be speculative, while the costs imposed on manufacturers and users are real and would result in decreased equipment capabilities.
Other U-NII-2 Rules and Measurement Procedures Back to Top34. Sensing Threshold. The current rules require that the DFS mechanism continuously monitor the device's environment for the presence of radar, both prior to and during operation, using two detection thresholds to ascertain whether radar signals were present. The required threshold levels are: (a) ''62 dBm for lower power devices with a maximum EIRP less than 200 mW (23 dBm), and (b) ''64 dBm for higher power devices with a maximum EIRP between 200 mW (23 dBm) and 1 W (30 dBm), averaged over 1 μs. The difference is due to the lesser range at which the lower power devices can potentially cause harmful interference. In order to ensure that the potential for harmful interference does not increase with the use of the relaxed sensing threshold, the Commission proposed in the NPRM to apply a reduction in EIRP spectral density for devices that use the ''62 dBm sensing threshold.
35. The Commission adopted the proposal it advanced in the NPRM to revise the DFS sensing rules by introducing a Power Spectral Density (PSD) limit for devices that meet the requirements for this relaxed sensing threshold. It modified the rules to require that devices operate with both an EIRP of less than 200 mW (23 dBm), and an EIRP spectral density of less than 10 dBm/MHz (10 mW/MHz), in order to use the relaxed sensing detection threshold of ''62 dBm. Devices that do not meet the proposed EIRP and EIRP spectral density requirements must use the ''64 dBm sensing threshold. The Commission also noted that a reduction in the EIRP spectral density limit would be consistent with recent actions taken by European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Specifically, ETSI chose to restrict a device's use of the relaxed sensing threshold by reducing both the EIRP and the EIRP spectral density to 23 dBm (200 mW) and 10 dBm/MHz (10 mW/MHz), respectively. This change will further enhance protection for radars from co-channel interference by reducing both the range and the in-band spectral density of the U-NII devices that use the relaxed sensing threshold.
36. Bin 1 Waveforms. U-NII devices that operate in the U-NII-2A and the U-NII-2C bands are certified using a testing regime that considers how the U-NII equipment responds to sample waveforms that simulate typical parameters that are used by radars that operate in these bands. The radar parameters are divided up into several ''bins,'' each representing a different category of radar system. The Commission is adopting its proposals from the NPRM, to use an updated set of ''Bin-1'' radar waveforms to be used in certifying U-NII equipment. The new waveforms are expected to account for current and, to the extent possible, future TDWR characteristics, and the modifications in the Bin-1 radar simulating waveform used in its measurement procedures will reduce the potential for co-channel interference to the TDWR and other radar systems. The Commission believes that these changes will reduce the potential for co-channel interference to the TDWR and other radar systems, and directed OET to modify the Bin-1 radar simulating waveform used in the 2006 DFS Compliance Measurement Procedures. Based on the reported co-channel interference to TDWR, and its investigations into complaints, the Commission believes the modifications to the test waveforms in the measurement procedures are required. The test waveforms proposed in the NPRM were created by NTIA with input from a number of agencies and with the industry stakeholders after a long evaluation period. The tests are a generalized procedure and are not intended to cover every radar device exactly. In fact, all the test waveforms were created by ''mixing'' a number of radar types. Thus, they are not exact representations, but a generalized view of pulse types to be detected. In practice, a U-NII device is expected to detect any radar types and not just the parameters used for test purposes and thus, the Commission does not need to include the specific parameters requested by Baron Services.
37. Channel Spreading. With the support of all commenters addressing the issue, the Commission modified its rules, as proposed in the NPRM, to eliminate the last portion of § 15.407(h)(2) that requires that the DFS process provide a uniform spreading of the loading over all of the available channels, and directed OET to update the 2006 DFS Compliance Measurement Procedures to remove the channel spreading requirement. The Uniform Channel Spreading requirement on DFS is outdated and does not reflect the current state and trajectory of wireless technology, which is turning toward U-NII devices which operate with ever wider bandwidths such as contained in the new 802.11ac standard. Operation over wider bandwidths causes U-NII energy to be spread throughout the frequency band in which the device is operating, rather than concentrated in a narrow bandwidth, reducing the utility of uniform channel-spreading requirement. This rule modification will give U-NII equipment manufacturers significant flexibility to design and develop radar avoidance methods, while increasing effective use of the spectrum.
38. Channel Loading. With the support of all parties that commented on channel loading, the Commission determined to remove the requirement for using the MPEG test file (streaming full motion video at 30 frames per second) for testing of channel loading. Given that there are a number of affected devices that are not designed for video use and therefore cannot be effectively tested with a video-based process, the Commission concluded that a more flexible approach is warranted, which permits channel-loading testing to be performed using means appropriate to the data types that are used by the unlicensed device at issue.
39. The Commission's rules permit the certification of devices that operate in 5.725-5.85 GHz band under two different rule sections. Section 15.247 was originally adopted in 1985 to govern spread spectrum operations. The U-NII rules were adopted in 1997 and were designed to accommodate new digital modulation technologies. In 2002, the Commission modified the original spread spectrum rules to allow digitally-modulated devices under § 15.247, but were not fully aligned with the U-NII rules. The differences in these rules has persisted and led to the situation where devices were authorized under the frequencies permitted under § 15.247 and then illegally modified to operate on frequencies permitted only for U-NII devices without complying with the rules designed to prevent interference to other radio services, resulting in harmful interference to TDWRs.
40. To provide for simplicity and clarity in the rules and to eliminate the scheme whereby unlicensed devices authorized under the unlicensed rules rather than the U-NII rules could then be (illegally) modified to operate on U-NII bands without U-NII compliance and protection protocols, the Commission adopted the NRPM proposals for the U-NII-3 band with one exception, it did not adopt an antenna gain limit for point-to-point devices. It adopted a single set of rules for all devices in the U-NII-3 band, it adopted the provisions from each respective rule regimen which provides for the most effective and efficient use of spectrum while protecting incumbents.
41. First, the Commission extended the upper edge of the U-NII-3 band from 5.825 GHz to 5.85 GHz to match the amount of spectrum available for digitally-modulated devices under § 15.247. Second, it consolidated § 15.247 technical rules for digitally-modulated devices in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band with § 15.407 U-NII rules, while maintaining many of the technical rules that currently make equipment authorization under § 15.247 more attractive for equipment manufacturers. It removed the 5.725-5.85 GHz band for digital modulation devices from § 15.247 to ensure that all digitally modulated equipment that are technically similar operate under a single set of technical rules in this band.
42. The Commission also adjusted the rules for technical parameters such as the frequency band of operation, the power and power spectral density limits, emission bandwidth, antenna gain, unwanted emission limits, and the peak to average ratio permitted in its rules. It adopted a modified version of its proposed rule for antenna gain to retain the provisions for high-gain point-to-point operations.
43. The Commission adopted its proposal to consolidate the provisions for operation in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band into the U-NII rules under § 15.407. It expects this rule change to decrease unnecessary complexity in the equipment authorization process and eliminate the incentives for gaming the rules. More importantly, this change, combined with the software security changes the Commission adopted, should help eliminate potential harmful interference from unlicensed devices to other spectrum users.
44. Section 15.247 allows 1 Watt of total peak conducted power whereas § 15.407 limits maximum conducted output power to the lesser of 1 Watt or 17 dBm + 10 log B (where B is bandwidth in MHz). In addition to the 1 Watt power limit, there are different PSD limits in §§ 15.247 and 15.407 such that 1 Watt of total power is available only when the 6-dB bandwidth is 500 kilohertz or more under § 15.247 and when the 26-dB bandwidth is 20 megahertz or more under § 15.407. Because the Commission is trying to accommodate digitally modulated devices that are currently permitted under both rules, it proposed in the NPRM to remove the bandwidth dependent term (i.e., remove 17 + 10 log B) from § 15.407, so that the power limit would be 1 Watt.
45. The Commission modified its rules to remove the bandwidth-dependent term from § 15.407(a)(3) of its rules, as proposed. As the Commission initially suggested and the majority of commenters agreed, utilizing the 1 Watt power limit will not increase the potential for harmful interference because unlicensed devices are already allowed to operate without the bandwidth-dependent term under § 15.247.
46. Section 15.247(e) permits a maximum PSD of 8 dBm/3 kHz (33 dBm/MHz), whereas § 15.407(a)(3) permits a maximum PSD of 17 dBm/MHz. The difference between these two PSD limits is the bandwidth at which the device reaches the 1-Watt total power limit. Specifically, § 15.247(e) allows a higher PSD when the device emission bandwidth is between 0.5 and 20 megahertz. Whenever devices use an emission bandwidth above 20 megahertz, the 1 Watt power limit becomes the limiting parameter, and the effective PSD at which the device operates is the same under both § 15.247 and 15.407. A PSD of 8dBm/3kHz (33dBm/MHz) is equivalent to a PSD that is higher than a total power limit of 1 Watt (30dBm).
47. The Commission did not adopt the proposed PSD limit of 33dBm/MHz because it would exceed the conducted power limit of 1 Watt specified in § 15.247(b)(3), which it is incorporating into the consolidated rule; the Commission instead calculates a PSD limit that can be practically measured and would not be higher than the conducted power limit of 30 dBm. The Commission adjusts the 33 dBm/MHz proposed in the NPRM by simply converting the PSD into a smaller bandwidth such that the power allowed in that bandwidth does not exceed 30 dBm. The Commission modifies the PSD limit by decreasing the power by 3 dB, and at the same time reduces the bandwidth by half, making the PSD that it adopted 30 dBm/500 kHz. Assuming that emission levels are evenly distributed throughout the bandwidth, this is equivalent to the 8 dBm/3 kHz (33 dBm/MHz) that was proposed in the NPRM.
48. The Commission continues to believe that the 3 kilohertz measurement bandwidth is unnecessary, as it creates an exceedingly long time for labs to complete the measurements for devices that use 20 megahertz or even wider channels. With the introduction of 80 and 160 megahertz channels with the IEEE 802.11 ac standard, the time to complete a single measure would increase significantly. Because the Commission adopted a PSD limit in a 500 kHz bandwidth, it modified the measurement procedures to correspondingly be performed using a 500 kHz reference bandwidth. Likewise, the Commission modified § 15.407(a)(5) to specify a 500 kHz reference bandwidth for the U-NII-3 band. This will allow measurements of unlicensed devices being certified for operation in the U-NII-3 band to be performed in a timely manner, resulting in efficiencies and cost savings for manufacturers, test facilities, and ultimately to consumers.
49. Section 15.247(a)(2) requires a minimum 6 dB bandwidth of 500 kilohertz. Section 15.407 has no minimum or maximum bandwidth, but the emission bandwidth is defined and measured at the 26 dB down points of the U-NII signal and is used to determine the total power allowed under that rule.
50. The Commission concludes that using a minimum 6 dB bandwidth of 500 kilohertz will continue to provide sufficient flexibility to foster development, frequency sharing and frequency reuse in the band, and it modified § 15.407 to include that minimum-bandwidth requirement, in order to help ensure that the band does not become congested with narrow-bandwidth applications for which other spectrum could be available.
51. Under the antenna gain requirements in § 15.247, a 1 dB reduction in power is required for every 1 dB that the antenna gain exceeds 6 dBi, except for fixed point-to-point systems, for which no power reduction is required. Under § 15.407, a 1 dB reduction in power is similarly required for every 1 dB that the antenna gain exceeds 6 dBi, but for fixed point-to-point systems, a 1 dB reduction in power is required for every 1 dB that the antenna gain exceeds 23 dBi.
52. The Commission declined to adopt its initial proposal to conform to the provisions of § 15.407 which restrict require reduced power for high-gain antennas, and instead will conform the rules for U-NII-3 devices to those presently in § 15.247 to continue to permit the use of unlicensed high-gain point-to-point antennas. This will allow service providers to deploy cost-effective wireless links in what would otherwise be considered high cost areas, and allow for the quick setup and transitioning of unlicensed and licensed microwave links.
53. The Commission finds that Fastback's proposal to permit higher antenna gain for point-to-multipoint systems would be an expansion of usage in the U-NII-3 band, and is beyond the scope of the rulemaking.
54. Section 15.247(d) requires 20 dB of attenuation (30 dB if the alternate measurement procedure detailed in § 15.247(b)(3) is used) for unwanted emissions. In restricted bands, emissions must meet the § 15.209 general emission limits. Section 15.407 requires unwanted emissions to be below ''17 dBm/MHz within 10 megahertz of the band edge, and below ''27 dBm/MHz beyond 10 megahertz of the band edge. Also, all emissions below 1 GHz must comply with the § 15.209 general emission limits. These unwanted emission limits are somewhat more restrictive than those in § 15.247.
55. The Commission adopted the more restrictive unwanted emissions limits in § 15.407 for the combined new rule, rather than the more lenient unwanted emissions limit currently in § 15.247 for several reasons. The more stringent unwanted emissions requirement will ensure that there is no increase in the potential for harmful interference from unlicensed devices operating under the new combined rule parts. Additionally, this decision is consistent with the determination to apply the § 15.407 out-of-band emission levels in the U-NII-2 bands, and having a single limit for devices that operate in any U-NII band will provide clarity and simplicity. The record shows broad support for adopting the tighter unwanted-emissions limits of § 15.407 limits. The Commission recognizes that high gain point-to-point system certified under § 15.247 may have to be modified to comply with the lower out-of-band emissions limit from § 15.407. Manufacturers have the flexibility to determine how they should meet the lower out-of-band emissions limit.
56. Section 15.407 contains a requirement to maintain a peak-to-average power ratio of no more than 13 dB across any 1 megahertz band, whereas § 15.247 contain no peak-to-average ratio requirement. The Commission did not adopt the proposal in the NPRM to keep the peak-to-average ratio requirement, agreeing with commenters that this measurement is no longer necessary.
57. The Commission will continue to authorize under § 15.247 frequency hopping spread spectrum devices and the frequency hopping spread spectrum portion of hybrid devices in the 5725-5850 MHz band. The digitally modulated portion of hybrid devices will have to meet the modified U-NII rules for this band.
Adoption of Miscellaneous Rule Modifications Back to Top58. The NPRM proposed several rule modifications to simplify and clarify various Part 15 rules. The Commission determines that several sections of the rules referenced procedures or provisions that are no longer in use and therefore, are no longer necessary and others with inconsistent terminology. In § 15.403(m) the Commission replaced ''Peak Power Spectral Density'' with ''Maximum Power Spectral Density.'' In addition, the Commission deleted ''peak or'' from § 15.403(o) for clarity. It also deleted ''peak or'' from § 15.403(o) for clarity. The Commission also deleted § 15.247(b)(4)(i) through (b)(4)(ii) to eliminate repetitive language that was found in § 15.247(c)(1)(i) through (c)(1)(iii).
59. In § 15.407 the Commission deleted the second sentence in paragraph (a)(4) because it contains language that is no longer relevant. It also corrected the wording in paragraphs (a)(2) and (a)(5) by replacing ''peak'' with ''maximum.'' The Commission also corrected the wording in paragraph (b)(8) by replacing ''block edges'' with ''band edges.'' The Commission also clarified rule § 15.215(c) to allow the operation of a U-NII device over multiple channels/bands. U-NII Band straddling in the 5 GHz region of U-NII spectrum is allowed and applies to 802.11ac bonded 80 megahertz and 160 megahertz channels. It also modified § 15.407(h)(2) to clarify the language for DFS requirements once the emission bandwidth of a U-NII device is straddled across multiple U-NII bands.
60. The Commission adopted its proposal to require that 12 months after the effective date of this First R&O, applications for certification of devices must meet the new and modified rules adopted. The manufacture, marketing, sale and importation into the United States of devices that do not meet the new or modified rules adopted must cease two years after the effective date of this First R&O. While the Commission is sympathetic to the arguments that the more restrictive unwanted emission limits for digital modulation devices may present design challenges for some manufacturers, the Commission finds that it is in the public interest to implement the changes as soon as possible to eliminate the potential of harmful interference to incumbents.
61. Grandfathered devices must continue to employ DFS as required in § 15.407(h)(2). Devices operating in the U-NII-2A or U-NII-2C bands that do not have DFS or that have DFS turned off are not compliant with the part 15 rules, and any operators who use such devices may be subject to a f forfeiture. Large numbers of 5 GHz U-NII devices are already in the marketplace and pose no threat of harmful interference unless they are modified in violation of the Commission's rules. However, should these devices be modified and cause harmful interference to TDWR or any other incumbent systems, the FCC Enforcement Bureau will continue its aggressive approach to ensuring compliance with the Commission's rules.
62. Since 2010, the Commission has been certifying U-NII-2C devices under interim procedures which require that the 5.6-5.65 GHz band be notched out, and that certain devices within 35 km of a TDWR location be separated by at least 30 MHz (center-to-center) from the TDWR operating frequency. The Commission will permit U-NII-2C, i.e., devices operating in the 5470-5725 MHz band, to be certified either under these interim procedures or the new rules adopted herein for 12 months after the effective date of this First R&O. After 12 months, all U-NII-2C devices must meet the new rules in order to be certified.
63. The Commission adopted its proposal to no longer allow Class II permissive changes for devices certified under either the old rules, or the U-NII-2C interim procedures, after two years unless they meet the new rules adopted here. Devices may continue to apply for Class II permissive changes that demonstrate compliance with the old rules for only up to two years after the effective date of the new rules. However, the Commission feels that it is in the public interest to continue to allow indefinitely Class II permissive changes to devices certified under the old rules in some instances. The Commission will therefore allow devices certified under the old rules, or U-NII-2C interim procedures, prior to the 12-month effective date of the new rules, to demonstrate compliance with the new or modified rules through Class II permissive changes.
64. The Commission will continue to allow digital modulation equipment and the digital modulation portion of hybrid devices, i.e., those that can function as either spread spectrum or digitally modulated systems, operating in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band to be certified to meet the § 15.247 requirements for 12 months after the effective date of the new rules. After 12 months, digital modulation devices and the digital modulation portion of hybrid devices must meet the new § 15.407 U-NII-3 rules in order to be FCC certified. The frequency hopping spread spectrum portion of hybrid devices will continue to be certified under the § 15.247 spread spectrum rules. The manufacture, marketing, sale and importation into the United States of digitally modulated and hybrid devices certified under § 15.247 operating in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band must cease two years after the effective date of this 1st R&O. Additionally, for up to two years after the effective date of these new rules they may apply for Class II permissive changes to demonstrate compliance with the old rules. After two years, these devices must be certified to meet the new rules and Class II permissive changes may only be made if these devices meet the new rules as well.
65. Paperwork Reduction Analysis. This document contains modified information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. It will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under section 3507(d) of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies are invited to comment on the new or modified information collection requirements contained in this proceeding. This collection of information will be covered under (OMB 3060-0057 Equipment Authorization).
66. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), [1] an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was incorporated in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in ET Docket No. 13-49. [2] The Commission sought written public comment on the proposals in the NPRM, including comment on the IRFA. This present Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA.
A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Report and Order67. The First Report and Order amends the regulations for Information Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices which operate in the 5 GHz band. [3] U-NII devices are unlicensed intentional radiators which use wideband digital modulation techniques to provide a wide array of high data rate mobile and fixed communications used by individuals, businesses, and institutions. [4] As discussed, the Commission modified certain technical requirements in its rules for all U-NII devices to ensure that these devices do not cause harmful interference to Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems and other radar systems that operate in the 5 GHz band. It is also extending the upper edge of the 5.725-5.825 GHz U-NII band from 5.825 GHz to 5.85 GHz and consolidating the provisions formerly applicable to digitally modulated devices under § 15.247 of the rules for this band with the U-NII rules in § 15.407. This change will eliminate a loophole in the former rules that allowed devices to be certified under the § 15.247 rules and then modified to operate as U-NII devices without complying with all of the technical requirements of the U-NII rules'--a practice that was shown to be a major source of harmful interference to TDWRs. Finally, the Commission is removing the indoor only restriction and increasing the permitted power for U-NII devices in the 5.15-5.25 GHz band thus increasing the amount of spectrum available for next generation Wi-Fi services by 100 megahertz.
B. Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response to the IRFA68. There were no public comments filed that specifically addressed the rules and policies proposed in the IRFA.
C. Response to Comments by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration69. Pursuant to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the Commission is required to respond to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, and to provide a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rules as a result of those comments. The Chief Counsel did not file any comments in response to the proposed rules in this proceeding.
D. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Rules Will Apply70. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. [5] The RFA defines the term ''small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ''small business,'' ''small organization,'' and ''small business concern'' under section 3 of the Small Business Act. [6] Under the Small Business Act, a ''small business concern'' is one that: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operations; and (3) meets may additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). [7]
E. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, and Small Governmental Jurisdictions71. The Commission's action may, over time, affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. It therefore describes here, at the outset, three comprehensive, statutory small entity size standards that encompass entities that could be directly affected by the proposals under consideration. [8] As of 2009, small businesses represented 99.9% of the 27.5 million businesses in the United States, according to the SBA. [9] Additionally, a ''small organization'' is generally ''any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.'' [10] Nationwide, as of 2007, there were approximately 1,621,315 small organizations. [11] Finally, the term ''small governmental jurisdiction'' is defined generally as ''governments of cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' [12] Census Bureau data for 2007 indicate that there were 89,527 governmental jurisdictions in the United States. [13] The Commission estimates that, of this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as ''small governmental jurisdictions.'' [14] Thus, the Commission estimates that most governmental jurisdictions are small.
72. The adopted rules pertain to manufacturers of unlicensed communications devices. The appropriate small business size standard is that which the SBA has established for radio and television broadcasting and wireless communications equipment manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this category as follows: ''This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment. Examples of products made by these establishments are: transmitting and receiving antennas, cable television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.'' [15] The SBA has developed a small business size standard for firms in this category, which is: all such firms having 750 or fewer employees. [16] According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were a total of 939 establishments in this category that operated for part or all of the entire year. Of this total, 784 had less than 500 employees and 155 had more than 100 employees. [17] Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
F. Description of Projected Reporting, Record keeping and Other Compliance Requirements73. The Report and Order contains a non-substantial modification to the information collection requirements. The rules adopted in this First Report and Order will apply to small businesses that choose to use, manufacture, design, import, or sell part 15 U-NII devices. There is no requirement, however, for any entity to use, market, or produce these types of products. Small businesses are already subject to the existing rules with regard to reporting, record keeping and other compliance requirements related to U-NII devices. The rules adopted in this First Report and Order do not add substantial additional compliance burden on small businesses.
G. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered74. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities. [18]
75. In this First Report and Order, the Commission modified its rules for Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices which operate in the 5 GHz band. [19] U-NII devices are unlicensed intentional radiators which use wideband digital modulation techniques to provide a wide array of high data rate mobile and fixed communications used by individuals, businesses, and institutions. [20] As discussed, the Commission is modifying certain technical requirements in its rules for all U-NII devices to ensure that these devices do not cause harmful interference to Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems and other radar systems that operate in the 5 GHz band. The Commission also extends the upper edge of the 5.725-5.825 GHz U-NII band from 5.825 GHz to 5.85 GHz and consolidates the provisions formerly applicable to digitally modulated devices under § 15.247 of the rules for this band with the U-NII rules in § 15.407. This change will eliminate a loophole in the former rules that allowed devices to be certified under the § 15.247 rules and then modified to operate as U-NII devices without complying with all of the technical requirements of the U-NII rules'--a practice that was shown to be a major source of harmful interference to TDWRs. Finally, the Commission is removing the indoor only restriction and increasing the permitted power for U-NII devices in the 5.15-5.25 GHz band thus increasing the amount of spectrum available for next generation Wi-Fi services by 100 megahertz.
76. The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, including this FRFA, in a report to be sent to Congress pursuant to the Congressional Review Act. [21] In addition, the Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, including this FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA. A copy of the Report and Order and FRFA (or summaries thereof) will also be published in the Federal Register. [22]
77. The Commission will send a copy of this Report and Order to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
78. Pursuant to sections 4(i), 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f), 303(g), and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 301, 302a, 303(e), 303(f), 303(g), and 303(r), this First Report and Order is hereby adopted and parts 2 and 15 of the Commission's rules are amended as set forth in Final rules, effective June 2, 2014, except for § 15.407(j), which contains information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, that are not effective until approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The Federal Communications Commission will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval and the effective date of this rule.
79. The Office of Engineering and Technology is delegated authority to grant waivers of the antenna requirements adopted herein consistent with the terms of this Order.
80. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this First Report and Order, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.
81. The Office of Engineering and Technology shall publish, consistent with the terms of this Report and Order, measurement procedures that will be used for certifying equipment that will operate in the 5.15-5.35 GHz and 5.47-5.85 GHz bands.
Federal Communications Commission.
Sheryl D. Todd,
Deputy Secretary.
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR parts 2 and 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations to read as follows:
begin regulatory text
1.The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows:
Authority:47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, and 336, unless otherwise noted.
2.Section 2.1033 is amended by adding paragraph (b)(13) to read as follows:
§ 2.1033 Application for certification.* * * * *
(b) * * * * *
(13) Applications for certification of U-NII devices in the 5.15-5.35 GHz and the 5.47-5.85 GHz bands must include a high level operational description of the security procedures that control the radio frequency operating parameters and ensure that unauthorized modifications cannot be made.
* * * * *
3.The authority citation for part 15 continues to read as follows:
Authority:47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 304, 307, 336, 544a, and 549.
4.Section 15.37 is amended by adding new paragraph (h) to read as follows:
§ 15.37 Transition provisions for compliance with the rules.* * * * *
(h) Effective June 2, 2015 devices using digital modulation techniques in the 5725-5850 MHz bands will no longer be certified under the provisions of § 15.247. The technical requirements for obtaining certification after this date for digitally modulated devices and the digitally modulated portion of hybrid devices are found in subpart E of this part. The provisions for the frequency hopping spread spectrum portion of hybrid devices will remain in § 15.247. Effective June 2, 2016 systems using digital modulation techniques in the 5725-5850 MHz band certified under the provisions of § 15.247 may no longer be imported or marketed within the United States.
5.Section 15.215 is amended by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:
§ 15.215 Additional provisions to the general radiated emission limitations.* * * * *
(c) Intentional radiators operating under the alternative provisions to the general emission limits, as contained in §§ 15.217 through 15.257 and in subpart E of this part, must be designed to ensure that the 20 dB bandwidth of the emission, or whatever bandwidth may otherwise be specified in the specific rule section under which the equipment operates, is contained within the frequency band designated in the rule section under which the equipment is operated. In the case of intentional radiators operating under the provisions of subpart E, the emission bandwidth may span across multiple contiguous frequency bands identified in that subpart. The requirement to contain the designated bandwidth of the emission within the specified frequency band includes the effects from frequency sweeping, frequency hopping and other modulation techniques that may be employed as well as the frequency stability of the transmitter over expected variations in temperature and supply voltage. If a frequency stability is not specified in the regulations, it is recommended that the fundamental emission be kept within at least the central 80% of the permitted band in order to minimize the possibility of out-of-band operation.
6.Section 15.247 is amended by removing paragraphs (b)(4)(i), (ii) and (iii), and by revising paragraph (f) to read as follows:
§ 15.247 Operation within the bands 902-928 MHz, 2400-2483.5 MHz, and 5725-5850 MHz.* * * * *
(f) For the purposes of this section, hybrid systems are those that employ a combination of both frequency hopping and digital modulation techniques. The frequency hopping operation of the hybrid system, with the direct sequence or digital modulation operation turned-off, shall have an average time of occupancy on any frequency not to exceed 0.4 seconds within a time period in seconds equal to the number of hopping frequencies employed multiplied by 0.4. The power spectral density conducted from the intentional radiator to the antenna due to the digital modulation operation of the hybrid system, with the frequency hopping operation turned off, shall not be greater than 8 dBm in any 3 kHz band during any time interval of continuous transmission.
Note to paragraph (f):The transition provisions found in § 15.37(h) will apply to hybrid devices beginning June 2, 2015.
* * * * *
7.Section 15.401 is revised to read as follows:
§ 15.401 Scope.This subpart sets out the regulations for unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices operating in the 5.15-5.35 GHz, 5.47-5.725 GHz and 5.725-5.85 GHz bands.
8.Section 15.403 is amended by revising paragraphs (m), (o) and (s) to read as follows:
§ 15.403 Definitions.* * * * *
(m) Maximum Power Spectral Density. The maximum power spectral density is the maximum power spectral density, within the specified measurement bandwidth, within the U-NII device operating band.
* * * * *
(o) Power Spectral Density. The power spectral density is the total energy output per unit bandwidth from a pulse or sequence of pulses for which the transmit power is at its maximum level, divided by the total duration of the pulses. This total time does not include the time between pulses during which the transmit power is off or below its maximum level.
* * * * *
(s) U-NII devices. Intentional radiators operating in the frequency bands 5.15-5.35 GHz and 5.470-5.85 GHz that use wideband digital modulation techniques and provide a wide array of high data rate mobile and fixed communications for individuals, businesses, and institutions.
9.Section 15.407 is amended by revising paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(5), (b) introductory text, (b)(1) through (b)(4), (b)(8), (e), and (h)(2), and removing paragraph (a)(6) and by adding new paragraph (i) and (j) to read as follows:
§ 15.407 General technical requirements.(a) * * *
(1) For the band 5.15-5.25 GHz.
(i) For an outdoor access point operating in the band 5.15-5.25 GHz, the maximum conducted output power over the frequency band of operation shall not exceed 1 W provided the maximum antenna gain does not exceed 6 dBi. In addition, the maximum power spectral density shall not exceed 17 dBm in any 1 megahertz band. If transmitting antennas of directional gain greater than 6 dBi are used, both the maximum conducted output power and the maximum power spectral density shall be reduced by the amount in dB that the directional gain of the antenna exceeds 6 dBi. The maximum e.i.r.p. at any elevation angle above 30 degrees as measured from the horizon must not exceed 125 mW (21 dBm).
(ii) For an indoor access point operating in the band 5.15-5.25 GHz, the maximum conducted output power over the frequency band of operation shall not exceed 1 W provided the maximum antenna gain does not exceed 6 dBi. In addition, the maximum power spectral density shall not exceed 17 dBm in any 1 megahertz band. If transmitting antennas of directional gain greater than 6 dBi are used, both the maximum conducted output power and the maximum power spectral density shall be reduced by the amount in dB that the directional gain of the antenna exceeds 6 dBi.
(iii) For fixed point-to-point access points operating in the band 5.15-5.25 GHz, the maximum conducted output power over the frequency band of operation shall not exceed 1 W. Fixed point-to-point U-NII devices may employ antennas with directional gain up to 23 dBi without any corresponding reduction in the maximum conducted output power or maximum power spectral density. For fixed point-to-point transmitters that employ a directional antenna gain greater than 23 dBi, a 1 dB reduction in maximum conducted output power and maximum power spectral density is required for each 1 dB of antenna gain in excess of 23 dBi. Fixed, point-to-point operations exclude the use of point-to-multipoint systems, omnidirectional applications, and multiple collocated transmitters transmitting the same information. The operator of the U-NII device, or if the equipment is professionally installed, the installer, is responsible for ensuring that systems employing high gain directional antennas are used exclusively for fixed, point-to-point operations.
(iv) For mobile and portable client devices in the 5.15-5.25 GHz band, the maximum conducted output power over the frequency band of operation shall not exceed 250 mW provided the maximum antenna gain does not exceed 6 dBi. In addition, the maximum power spectral density shall not exceed 11 dBm in any 1 megahertz band. If transmitting antennas of directional gain greater than 6 dBi are used, both the maximum conducted output power and the maximum power spectral density shall be reduced by the amount in dB that the directional gain of the antenna exceeds 6 dBi.
(2) For the 5.25-5.35 GHz and 5.47-5.725 GHz bands, the maximum conducted output power over the frequency bands of operation shall not exceed the lesser of 250 mW or 11 dBm 10 log B, where B is the 26 dB emission bandwidth in megahertz. In addition, the maximum power spectral density shall not exceed 11 dBm in any 1 megahertz band. If transmitting antennas of directional gain greater than 6 dBi are used, both the maximum conducted output power and the maximum power spectral density shall be reduced by the amount in dB that the directional gain of the antenna exceeds 6 dBi.
(3) For the band 5.725-5.85 GHz, the maximum conducted output power over the frequency band of operation shall not exceed 1 W. In addition, the maximum power spectral density shall not exceed 30 dBm in any 500-kHz band. If transmitting antennas of directional gain greater than 6 dBi are used, both the maximum conducted output power and the maximum power spectral density shall be reduced by the amount in dB that the directional gain of the antenna exceeds 6 dBi. However, fixed point-to-point U-NII devices operating in this band may employ transmitting antennas with directional gain greater than 6 dBi without any corresponding reduction in transmitter conducted power. Fixed, point-to-point operations exclude the use of point-to-multipoint systems, omnidirectional applications, and multiple collocated transmitters transmitting the same information. The operator of the U-NII device, or if the equipment is professionally installed, the installer, is responsible for ensuring that systems employing high gain directional antennas are used exclusively for fixed, point-to-point operations.
Note to paragraph (a)(3):The Commission strongly recommends that parties employing U-NII devices to provide critical communications services should determine if there are any nearby Government radar systems that could affect their operation.
(4) The maximum conducted output power must be measured over any interval of continuous transmission using instrumentation calibrated in terms of an rms-equivalent voltage.
(5) The maximum power spectral density is measured as a conducted emission by direct connection of a calibrated test instrument to the equipment under test. If the device cannot be connected directly, alternative techniques acceptable to the Commission may be used. Measurements in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band are made over a reference bandwidth of 500 kHz or the 26 dB emission bandwidth of the device, whichever is less. Measurements in the 5.15-5.25 GHz, 5.25-5.35 GHz, and the 5.47-5.725 GHz bands are made over a bandwidth of 1 MHz or the 26 dB emission bandwidth of the device, whichever is less. A narrower resolution bandwidth can be used, provided that the measured power is integrated over the full reference bandwidth.
(b) Undesirable emission limits. Except as shown in paragraph (b)(7) of this section, the maximum emissions outside of the frequency bands of operation shall be attenuated in accordance with the following limits:
(1) For transmitters operating in the 5.15-5.25 GHz band: All emissions outside of the 5.15-5.35 GHz band shall not exceed an e.i.r.p. of ''27 dBm/MHz.
(2) For transmitters operating in the 5.25-5.35 GHz band: All emissions outside of the 5.15-5.35 GHz band shall not exceed an e.i.r.p. of ''27 dBm/MHz.
(3) For transmitters operating in the 5.47-5.725 GHz band: All emissions outside of the 5.47-5.725 GHz band shall not exceed an e.i.r.p. of ''27 dBm/MHz.
(4) For transmitters operating in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band: All emissions within the frequency range from the band edge to 10 MHz above or below the band edge shall not exceed an e.i.r.p. of ''17 dBm/MHz; for frequencies 10 MHz or greater above or below the band edge, emissions shall not exceed an e.i.r.p. of ''27 dBm/MHz.
* * * * *
(8) When measuring the emission limits, the nominal carrier frequency shall be adjusted as close to the upper and lower frequency band edges as the design of the equipment permits.
* * * * *
(e) Within the 5.725-5.85 GHz band, the minimum 6 dB bandwidth of U-NII devices shall be at least 500 kHz.
* * * * *
(h) * * *
(2) Radar Detection Function of Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS). U-NII devices operating with any part of its 26 dB emission bandwidth in the 5.25-5.35 GHz and 5.47-5.725 GHz bands shall employ a DFS radar detection mechanism to detect the presence of radar systems and to avoid co-channel operation with radar systems. Operators shall only use equipment with a DFS mechanism that is turned on when operating in these bands. The device must sense for radar signals at 100 percent of its emission bandwidth. The minimum DFS detection threshold for devices with a maximum e.i.r.p. of 200 mW to 1 W is ''64 dBm. For devices that operate with less than 200 mW e.i.r.p. and a Power Spectral Density of less than 10 dBm in a 1 MHz band, the minimum detection threshold is ''62 dBm. The detection threshold is the received power averaged over 1 microsecond referenced to a 0 dBi antenna. For the initial channel setting, the manufacturers shall be permitted to provide for either random channel selection or manual channel selection.
* * * * *
(i) Device Security. All U-NII devices must contain security features to protect against modification of software by unauthorized parties.
(1) Manufacturers must implement security features in any digitally modulated devices capable of operating in any of the U-NII bands, so that third parties are not able to reprogram the device to operate outside the parameters for which the device was certified. The software must prevent the user from operating the transmitter with operating frequencies, output power, modulation types or other radio frequency parameters outside those that were approved for the device. Manufacturers may use means including, but not limited to the use of a private network that allows only authenticated users to download software, electronic signatures in software or coding in hardware that is decoded by software to verify that new software can be legally loaded into a device to meet these requirements and must describe the methods in their application for equipment authorization.
(2) Manufacturers must take steps to ensure that DFS functionality cannot be disabled by the operator of the U-NII device.
(j) Operator Filing Requirement: Before deploying an aggregate total of more than one thousand outdoor access points within the 5.15-5.25 GHz band, parties must submit a letter to the Commission acknowledging that, should harmful interference to licensed services in this band occur, they will be required to take corrective action. Corrective actions may include reducing power, turning off devices, changing frequency bands, and/or further reducing power radiated in the vertical direction. This material shall be submitted to Laboratory Division, Office of Engineering and Technology, Federal Communications Commission, 7435 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia, MD 21046. Attn: U-NII Coordination, or via Web site at https://www.fcc.gov/labhelp with the SUBJECT LINE: ''U-NII-1 Filing''.
end regulatory text
[FR Doc. 2014-09279 Filed 4-30-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-'This is first time we have had a president who's an outright coward,' says Lt. Col. Ralph Peters - BizPac Review
Sun, 04 May 2014 13:50
In a blistering interview Friday on Fox's ''America's Newsroom,'' national security analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters castigated President Obama for not being interested in saving American lives during the Benghazi attack.
The former military intelligence officer and Soviet Union specialist suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus should be subpoenaed again ''to pry this Stalinist administration open.''
''I mean it's Orwellian, how this administration lies and sticks to the lies and stonewalls,'' Peters said, according to the clip, ''and the media is often complicit with it.''
''Obama'', he added, ''wasn't interested in saving American lives'' during the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
''He didn't want to militarize the situation because that would call more attention to it,'' he said. ''I mean, the White House made political calls, strategic calls, but not patriotic calls.''
The president and his administration failed the American public, Peters said.
''First of all, this is a pattern for President Obama,'' he said. ''He can't make timely decisions. He has no courage. Whether it is Benghazi or Syria, or now Vladimir Putin, for the first time in our history '-- we've had great presidents, terrible presidents, most somewhere in between '-- this is the first time we have had a president who's an outright coward.''
Adding fuel to the fire, three Republican senators '-- John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of Maine '-- sent a letter to the president, asking him to describe his whereabouts on Sept. 11 and 12 while the U.S. Consulate in Libya was under attack, Fox News reported.
The letter came after a former White House spokesman sparked a new round of controversy when he told Fox News that Obama was not in the White House Situation Room, where presidents typically monitor crises.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, meanwhile, subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday to provide the Benghazi-related information he promised a year ago, according to Fox News.
Video from Breitbart.com
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VIDEO-Greenwald vs NSA's Hayden: Glenn Wins in a Slam Dunk | Common Dreams
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:52
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who brought the Edward Snowden documents to the world, debated former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden last night in Toronto. The debate was hosted by Munk Debates and also featured Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and rightwing lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
Before the debate, the audience voted 33% in favor of the statement, "Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms," while 46% voted against. After the debate, 59 percent of the audience agreed with Greenwald and Ohanian.
Edward Snowden also made an appearance via video link at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall during the semi-annual Munk debate.
"It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing. It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love."
Here is the Snowden video:
The Associated Pressreports:
Greenwald opened the debate by condemning the NSA's own slogan, which he said appears repeatedly throughout its own documents: Collect it all.
"What is state surveillance? If it were about targeting in a discriminate way against those causing harm, there would be no debate," said Greenwald. "The actual system of state surveillance has almost nothing to do with that. What state surveillance actually is, is defended by the NSA's actual words, that phrase they use over and over again, 'collect it all.'"
Hayden and Dershowitz spent the rest of the hour and a half or so denying that the pervasive surveillance described by Snowden and Greenwald even exists and that the ongoing surveillance programs are necessary to prevent terrorism.
"Collect it all doesn't mean collect it all!" said Hayden, drawing laughs from the audience.
Greenwald is now a columnist for First Look Media.
The video of the debate is embedded below, but you have to skip ahead to 29 minutes.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
VIDEO-Youth anxiety on the rise amid changing climate - The Globe and Mail
Sun, 04 May 2014 00:38
This is part of a series examining the health repercussions for Canadians of a changing climate.
Sammy McLean, 14, felt overwhelming helplessness as she stood with her family and watched two angry rivers '' the Bow and the Elbow '' surge through their home, cutting a path of destruction across the downtown Calgary neighbourhood. Furniture flew through the front windows, and the basement and first floor were washed out and filled with mud. McLean remembers thinking that her once calm, picturesque street resembled a war zone.
A confident, athletic girl, McLean says the flood left her vulnerable, scared and hating the rivers that encircled her home. ''They wouldn't let us in for several days after we were evacuated,'' says McLean, who now lives in a downtown condo with her parents and three siblings while the house is being extensively renovated. ''I used to think the rivers were so pretty. It made me not like them any more. I thought the water was going to take away the whole house '' and my bedroom.''
While the Alberta floods haven't been directly linked to climate change, destructive weather events are expected to increase in Canada in the future. McLean, a normally upbeat youth, is painfully aware of the sheer power of Mother Nature and the carnage its fury can wreak. She's now anxious about what we're doing to our environment. ''I volunteered to take an active role in my school's Model United Nations, which is studying the impact climate change is having on our planet,'' she said.
On one hand it scared her, but it also made her want to know more so she could help activate positive change.
Child psychiatrists, psychologists and educators say they've seen an escalation in the anxiety levels of today's youth, who are constantly exposed to doomsday talk about the destruction of our planet. But despite the fact that we live in a world with more volatility and fear, experts say there is hope. And to stay mentally strong, they all advocate not just calling for change, but acting for it.
Dr. Anthony Levitt, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's director of research in the department of psychiatry, agrees climate-change anxiety increasingly enters into the discussions he has with many of the young people who come to see him. ''Younger people [teens to mid-20s] appear to be much more accepting of the science and facts than older people,'' Levitt observes. He's also seen an uptick in climate-change-related anxiety in parents with younger children.
''For most people who are anxious about climate change, the anxiety is escalated by the fact they do not see an answer or a way to make a change. Worry plus powerlessness leads to distress,'' says Levitt, who is also a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Toronto.
''The answer, on a personal basis, to this kind of helpless distress is 'mastery': that is, helping people to master small tasks that reduce their carbon footprint can lead to a greater sense of control and efficacy for that person '' and with that a reduction in anxiety. Can one person taking action to reduce their carbon footprint change global warming? Who knows. But it can relieve the distress that comes from anxiety mixed with impotence that affects a growing number of people in our society,'' he said.
North Carolina-based psychotherapist Chris Saade, co-director of the Olive Branch Center, a grief/wellness counselling firm, says he's seen a huge jump in the number of patients under 18 who come to him with concerns about the environmental crisis.
''Unlike adults who can put their heads in the sand about what we have been doing to our planet, these kids are very aware of what's going on,'' adds Saade, who has led more than 200 psychological retreats in the United States and has offered grief counselling through his private practice for more than 20 years. ''Because of the Web, it's not hidden any more. Children often ask me questions that we, as adults, try to evade: What is going to happen to the human race?''
Environmental activist and author Kenneth Worthy is quick to point out that kids aren't the only ones trying to cope with the anxiety and fear that goes hand-in-hand with climate change. ''Adults, too, are struggling to come to terms with the mental-health strains connected to the volatility, including economic loss from storms, floods and other natural disasters,'' says Worthy, who quit a lucrative job as a software developer in Silicon Valley more than a decade ago to do a graduate degree in environmental studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
To cope with volatility, Worthy, 52, advises that we realize every generation has had great challenges. ''Our forebears had the First World War and the Second World War. Another generation dealt with the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. Now the greatest threat to this generation '' young and old '' is the climate problem, which involves a lot of volatility, and a lot of change.''
He hopes we can face it as a generation, together. ''We have to find the flexibility, the courage and the determination to stand up to that crisis '' collectively, not just as individuals. Like our parents did before us.''
At the Olive Branch, Saade says counsellors acknowledge youths' grief about the changing planet, and try to show them how to translate that into hope and action. ''We tell them grief is a normal response of the human psyche when a loss is happening, whether it's personal or, in this case, a global loss in terms of the environment. If we don't feel grief, at the end of the day, we won't do anything.''
Saade then counsels patients to connect with others. ''As human beings we are made to deal with crises collectively, not individually. So we try to help them realize that, yes, we are looking at a global crisis, but you can also choose to be part of a global movement to address the crisis. This is a particularly important message to deliver to children, who are very sensitive to isolation. When a child goes into their imaginative being, they can really magnify their isolation, which can become overwhelming .'... We tell them to become agents of transformation and change.''
In Calgary, Sammy McLean and her family and friends are bracing for another spring thaw. McLean is worried and she shares those concerns with her parents '' who are also on edge, as are many of their neighbours.
''I'm scared of another flood. I'm scared it will be bigger than the last one,'' she said. ''But I'm also thankful. Our family has been able to afford to fix our house and get it back. I think of all those other poor people who lost everything and can't afford to rebuild. We are the lucky ones.''
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VIDEO-Sean Penn: Jobs Are Next Phase of Haiti's Recovery: Video - Bloomberg
Sat, 03 May 2014 23:31
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Click to email this video:April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Actor Sean Penn and Dennis O'Brien, chairman and CEO at Digicel Group, discuss how technology is being adopted to help Haiti as it continues to recover from devastating earthquakes and how job creation plays into the recovery and development of the nation's economy from the 2014 Milken Global Conference on Bloomberg Television's ''Market Makers.''
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VIDEO- Biting into Whole Foods can Make Children Rowdy - YouTube
Sat, 03 May 2014 23:26
VIDEO-First case of MERS virus confirmed in U.S. - CBS News
Sat, 03 May 2014 22:26
Last Updated May 2, 2014 7:04 PM EDT
A deadly virus from the Middle East has turned up for the first time in the United States, health officials say.
An American who works as health care worker in Saudi Arabia is hospitalized in Indiana with the MERS virus. Officials said Friday the patient was diagnosed with Middle East respiratory syndrome after returning to the U.S. about a week ago. On Friday afternoon, the patient was reported to be in good condition at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana.
Saudi Arabia was been the center of an outbreak of MERS, which first surfaced two years ago. At least 400 cases have been reported, and more than 100 people have died. The virus has been found in camels, but officials don't know how it is spreading to humans.
This electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.
AP Photo/NIAID - RML
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the U.S. case to track down anyone he had close contact with recently. Officials say the man flew from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England and then to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana."We are working with partners to make sure that the person they traveled with are contacted and notified and be on the look out for symptoms," said Dr. Anne Schuchat with the CDC.
"In this interconnected world we have expected MERS-CoV to make its way to us," said Dr. Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, in a press conference held by the agency.
The director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, said health officials have been preparing for the possibility of the virus making its way to this country. "We've anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we've prepared for and are taking swift action," he said. "We're doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate."
CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports the Indiana patient is in isolation, in stable condition. There's no specific treatment or vaccine for MERS, LaPook said. When it spreads from person to person, it appears to be through close contact.
VIDEO-Charlie Rose | charlierose.com
Sat, 03 May 2014 22:24
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VIDEO- Official Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Reveal Trailer - YouTube
Sat, 03 May 2014 22:19
VIDEO- Russia Calls United Nations Security Council Meeting To Demand The U.S. Stop Meddling In Ukraine - YouTube
Sat, 03 May 2014 22:18
VIDEO-Issa: 'Disturbing and Perhaps Criminal' Benghazi Dicuments 'were Hidden by the Obama Administration' | MRCTV
Sat, 03 May 2014 20:23
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 www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Pelosi on Benghazi: 'Why Aren't We Talking About Something Else?' | MRCTV
Sat, 03 May 2014 20:14
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 www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Biden on Free Press: 'Journalists Can Tell People the Truth' or 'Tell People What is Not the Truth' | MRCTV
Sat, 03 May 2014 20:09
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 www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Former CIA Head Hayden: Obama's Syria 'Red Line' Episode 'Cost in So Many Ways' | MRCTV
Sat, 03 May 2014 20:04
patrick.goodenoughPatrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.
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VIDEO-Dozens dead as Ukraine conflict spreads south to Odessa | euronews, world news
Sat, 03 May 2014 13:20
Dozens of people have been killed in a fire and clashes in the port city of Odessa, as Ukraine's bloody conflict spread from the east to the south.
A trade union building was set on fire, reportedly after pro-Russian activists took refuge inside, having been chased by pro-Kyiv demonstrators.
At least 31 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning or after jumping from windows, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
Clashes have occurred in largely Russian-speaking Odessa before, but this deadly violence was something new.
At least four people were killed and dozens wounded amid running battles between pro-Kyiv and pro-Russian supporters.Some reports put the overall death toll at 43.
Odessa is not far from Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March.
Pro-Russian gunmen have overrun eastern Ukraine but early on Friday, Kyiv sent in forces to dislodge the militants from their stronghold in the town of Slovyansk.
The separatists though fought back, downing two Ukrainian military helicopters at the start of the operation.
Deaths were reported on both sides and there was still said to be intense gunfire well into the night.
VIDEO-Watch Live: Glenn Greenwald Debates Former NSA Director Michael Hayden - The Intercept
Sat, 03 May 2014 11:36
Live from Toronto, Canada, watch The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald team up with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to debate state surveillance with former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Greenwald and Ohanian will argue against the motion ''be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms.'' The event was organized by the Munk Debates and starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
VIDEO-EU will burst at seams after European Parliament elections '' Dutch MP Geert Wilders '-- RT SophieCo
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:54
The Ukrainian crisis comes as nations within the European Union prepare to cast their votes in the May European Parliament elections. Eurosceptic parties are raising their voices, and their popularity is rapidly growing, as citizens continue to grow tired of austerity and bureaucracy ruling Europe. Will the May elections change the stakes? To find this out, Sophie talks to Dutch politician and leader of the Eurosceptic Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders.
Sophie Shevardnadze:Geert Wilders, Dutch politician, leader of the Party for Freedom, it's great to have you here on our show. So, we're just going to get started and go ahead with Ukraine. Now, there is a blame game going on over Ukraine; the US and Europe are pointing fingers at Russia, while Moscow says it is the West that is to blame. Who do you think is responsible?
Geert Wilders: I think what the EU did was very irresponsible, because last year they promised Ukraine that they would have some kind of pre-accession treaty and maybe in the future become a member of the European Union, and we all know that it was a very delicate balance in Ukraine, with 50 percent looking eastwards, towards Russia, and 50 percent of the population looking westwards, towards the European Union. So I think it was very irresponsible what the EU did; they should have kept out of it. On the other hand, I must also say that Ukraine still is, even though Europe made a big mistake there, it is an autonomous sovereign country, and I also believe that not only the EU should have stayed out of it, but also Russia should really not interfere. The best thing to do is to de-escalate by taking the Russian minority in eastern Ukraine seriously; give them rights and make them really feel as important as the other half of Ukraine, and then, I also hope Russia will be able to retract and not interfere as well.
SS:But before you talk about de-escalation, you've mentioned that the EU is responsible, partially, for what's going on right now, for the result that we have, which is a country on the brink of a civil war. But why do you think it was so supportive in the beginning? Do you think it lacked the understanding of the complexity of the situation on the ground?
GW: Unfortunately, the EU '' and that's very unwise '' wants to expand; it wants to have all the Europhiles, and Brussels wants to have more and more members, and they forget that it's not only about themselves. Everybody, even a child, could see that Ukraine was not a country where 99 percent of the people supported the idea of joining the EU. Half of the country is against it, was more and is more pro-Russian. So I believe that the EU indeed played a very irresponsible role, should have kept out of it. I saw even European politicians, members of parliament, even Dutch members of parliament, were standing on the square in Kiev and saying the wrong things, making the people believe that they would have all the support of the West, ignoring the fact that it was not to ease the situation within Ukraine itself. Europe was very irresponsible, but I also have to be honest, it still is a sovereign country, so I also believe that Russia should have respected the sovereignty of Ukraine and should have stayed out of the country, and I hope that without Europe interfering and without Russia interfering things can still de-escalate now, without sanctions, but with common sense, and I think one of the keys to the solution is to take the Russian minority in the east of the Ukraine, take them seriously. The EU should take two steps back and also Russia should do the same, and I hope that will be a peaceful outcome that way.
SS:So you're talking about de-escalation and staying out of Ukraine's affairs - so you do think the EU shouldn't help Ukraine right now, in its current mess?
GW: The EU is responsible for the mess. Like I said, last November they promised Ukraine some kind of pre-accession treaty, some kind of membership. This was very irresponsible, and I believe Europe was more thinking about itself and expanding it and its territory than really thinking about the whole of Ukraine, let alone the stability in that region, and the stability in that region is not served by Russia on the one hand and the EU or NATO on the other hand; it's only getting more tense. So it was very irresponsible what Europe did and I hope, once again, that it would de-escalate if Russia would take two steps back, the European Union would take a few steps back, and if we take'...If the Ukrainian federal government takes the rights of the Russian minority seriously, then I hope that all parts will be able to de-escalate in a peaceful way, that is, I think, where we all will benefit the most.
SS:Are there are a lot of politicians in Europe that share your point of view? I mean, taking the blame, partially, for what is going on in Ukraine and also trying to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine?
GW: Yes, I think there are more. There is a gap, really, between the vox populi - the popular voice - and what the governments say. I mean, once again, I'm not only blaming the EU, I'm blaming both Russia and the EU. But I have to be honest, the European Union made a terrible move in the begging of November last year, and they at least partially started a lot of the troubles, and that analysis is shared by more parties in the EU for sure.
SS:But now the EU is introducing more sanctions against Russia '' are they achieving anything at all, in your opinion?
GW: You know, I'm not the biggest believer in sanctions. It's not good for anybody '' it's not good for Europe, it's not good for Russia, it's not good for Ukraine. So I think we should to try to, once again, de-escalate. I mean, if the Russian army would invade Ukraine, which I believe would be a terrible mistake, then, of course, you could talk about sanctions. But now, sanctions could be even counter-productive, at least if you make forward more economical sanctions. I think that Europe should also take part of the blame, because they made big mistakes, but also Russia should take part of the blame, they also made mistakes, and if the two parts agree on that, and focus on Ukraine, and also, once again, take the Russian minority - which is an enormous minority in eastern Ukraine - take them seriously, give them serious rights, then I hope that more sanctions will be not only counter-productive, but will also be unnecessary. I hope it's not too late, but we should try at least.
SS:Alright, but like you've said, Russia hasn't invaded Ukraine yet '' so as of right now, what kind of effect are European politicians hoping for with the sanctions?
GW: Well, in the Netherlands, there is a majority, I have to say, of the parties that support the Dutch government and support the point of view of the EU. My party might be different; once again, we are not only blaming Russia, but we are also looking at the EU, and we believe that only to have more sanctions is counter-productive. And you are right, even though what happened in the Crimea region was not what we supported '' what Russia did there, but Russia has not invaded eastern Ukraine yet and I hope they won't, and in order to do that sanctions are, I believe today, counter-productive, at least what the Americans and what others want to do '' just to step up the sanctions, to have more sanctions today. I don't really think that will help. I think to ''de-escalate'' is the word that will help and threatening with sanctions and other things, in either way, most of the time really has no positive effect.
SS:Now, the Netherlands is the EU's largest gas producer. Can it cover for any loss of Russian gas imports to Europe?
GW: Well, we have, certainly, gas in the Netherlands, which I believe should be first used for the Netherlands itself, which is very logic[al], of course. It's our gas and I believe we should use it, but also, of course, export it and sell it, and that is also a good thing for our economy. I don't know if we could step up to the level that Russia is providing now to parts of Central and Eastern Europe, but once again, I hope it will not come that far, that the situation will escalate. I hope it will de-escalate, and more sanctions today, certainly more economic sanctions today, would not only be bad for Russia, it would also be bad for the EU, for our part of Europe, and I think this is something that we should not want today.
SS:We see the resurgence of Cold War-style relations between the US and Russia '' is the EU ready to follow suit?
GW: Well, I hope that's not the case. I hope that we will still have good relations with Russia, as we do with the US. I, myself, am very much in favor; I'm transatlanticist more than a fan of the EU, so I cherish the role that even the Dutch have within NATO. I subscribe to very good relations with the US, but I also believe we should have good relations with Russia. Russia is a very important part of the world, a very large and strong country. Of course, we can disagree on things, we can disagree on many things with Russia, with the US, with many other parts of the world, but another Cold War is something that I believe would be a very bad thing that nobody is waiting for; that will have bad results not only politically but also economically, which will have more tensions all over the border between NATO in Eastern Europe and Russia. I hope, really, and I'm not na¯ve, but I hope that we can prevent another Cold War in Europe.
SS:I want to talk about the rising Euroscepticism. Prominent US politician and author Pat Buchanan, I'm sure you know who he is, he recently said that nationalism is on the rise, while globalization is a the thing of the past. Do you share his point of view?
GW: Yes, I think it [is]. But I call it myself ''patriotism'' '' I'm a patriot, I believe there should be a lot of patriots. I believe a lot of Russians are patriots as well and we should be proud of our own country. You know what happened in the last decades, its that our national sovereignty in the EU collapsed, there came a European superstate, of all European elections that nobody in Holland or in Belgium or in the UK, nobody not only knows them, but nobody voted for them, and they are in charge now of almost all the law-making process in our own country. We lost our identity; we lost our national sovereignty to the EU, an institution that really a lot of people in the West don't like so much anymore. I have nothing against Europe, but I have a lot against the EU as an organization. We want to regain control over our own borders, over our own money, over our own budget '' all rights that we have given to the bureaucrats in Brussels, and we want them back. Everybody knows that Spanish people are different from Swedish people, my own Dutch people are not the same as Portuguese '' and it's a good thing, there is not a ''European'' people, that doesn't exist '' I mean, several countries exist. I believe we should cooperate in an economical way, with an internal market and trade between one another, even can benefit from that, but we should stop with the political project called the ''European Union,'' because that's a big failure, to be honest.
SS:But you're not the only one actually voicing this concern - there is France that is being actually very worried about the immigration problems. Switzerland is tightening its borders, also Britain is sounding alarm. Do you think it's something that's going to pass, or is it something that is going to escalate into something bigger?
GW: Well, it's not going to pass '' I mean, let's be honest, all the Europhiles, all these pro-European parties, they ignore the problem, they say that it's ridiculous and they ignore it, and they will not act on it. And you see the parties like mine, but also in the UK and France '' we will probably if not win the elections in the end of May for the EU Parliament, we will be number one or number two on the national elections. Millions of people in Europe, and that's why the elections in May are so historical for Europe '' because for the first time, millions of people are going to cast their vote against the EU. People who want less EU will be in control of their own money, of their own budget, of their own borders, of their own lawmaking, and those parties - and that's another reason why the elections will be crucial and historical '' will also hopefully be able to work together in the EU Parliament to sound a different voice, to cast a different vote in the EU Parliament, and that will not only have an enormous effect on the European politics, but also on the national politics. A lot of things will really change; people are fed up with big fat bureaucrats in Brussels, whom nobody elected, doing the most crazy things that are not good for our country. Let me give you one example. We have, in my country, the Netherlands, but in many other western European countries, we have had raising of taxes, we have had austerity programs of billions of Euros, and we send that money to Greece, to Cyprus, to Portugal, to weaker European countries, and at the same time, people in Holland, they had less money in the pockets and we send that money abroad. People are fed up with that. With 700,000 unemployed people in the Netherlands, we don't want more immigrants from other countries to come here. We want jobs to be there for our own people, I think it's very logic[al] as well.
SS:Also, once the economic growth picks up, won't the Euroscepticism weaken?
GW: Listen, I believe'....for instance, I want my country to leave the European Union. I would like us to be a second Switzerland. You know the country of Switzerland '' it's in the heart of Europe, but is not a member of the EU. And, if we could still have access to the internal market, without being a member of the EU, I think we commissioned a report by an independent bureau, and it showed that only the Netherlands would have 10 percent more economical growth; people would have more money in their pockets, there would be more jobs in the Netherlands if Holland would leave the EU. Still, we could trade with the other countries of the EU, but we could also have more free trade agreements with other parts of Europe, where there is more economical growth than Europe today. Look at Asia, look at Latin America, look at Africa '' there is more economical growth in those regions than in Europe itself. For instance, Switzerland '' it already has for a few years a free trade agreement with Japan, it signed a free trade agreement with China last year. Europe has neither one of them; Europe is still fighting between one another on whether should we have a trade agreement with Japan and China, and on which conditions. So, you are far more flexible outside of the EU and like Switzerland, a very strong economical country, we can deal better economically when we are in charge of our country, again, when it comes to national sovereignty '' so, yes, we would like to leave the EU and be stronger as a national country.
SS:So are you saying that the EU has exhausted itself in its current form? Because what I remember, the Netherlands was actually a pretty poor country 20-30 years ago, and the European community has helped it become very stable and very rich'...
GW: Listen, when Europe started, the EU started in the 50s, you know, 1957, it started in a good way, and I wish it should have stayed like that, because it started with economical cooperation and I believe in economical cooperation. I believe in free trade '' everybody, every country can benefit from trading with one another. But then, after the 50s, in the 60s and 70s and 80s and later, it became a political project. Instead of economical cooperation and free trade it changed into a kind of European superstate, where politicians try to make foreign policy; you see what happened in Ukraine, what a mess they made about it. They try with one currency, with the Eurozone, they try to be stronger economically, and it was a disaster. The Western countries, the northern part of Europe, paid for the southern part of Europe, and our economy did not grow in the last year. The Netherlands had more economical growth before we entered the Eurozone than after we were part of the Eurozone. And the EU didn't bring peace either; once again, the example of Ukraine, where they made a big mess of it, but also in the former wars of Yugoslavia '' look at Bosnia, Europe did nothing, it was the others, like America, that came to help. So the EU was not good for our sovereignty, was not good for our economy, is bad for foreign policy. I believe we can be far better off outside the Eurozone and outside the European Union. More and more, not a majority today, but more and more people in any European country share this view. So I really believe that the elections later, in a month's time, will be historic in our continent Europe.
SS:The Eurosceptic movement is fragmented, and every Eurosceptic party has different goals. Can you form a single block in the EU Parliament?
GW: I really hope so. I'm a positive guy, so I really hope that we'll be able to do so. Look at the groups in the EU Parliament '' there are parties working together that have more differences than we have. Look, for instance, at the Christian Democrats in Holland, or the Christian democrats from Angela Merkel '' the Bundeskanzler for Germany. They work together with the party of Mr. Berlusconi, and I have nothing against that, but they have far more differences than we have with so many other parties. So, I believe that its our responsibility to try to work together. I'm confident that we can work together; we should overstep our differences, and, hey, I'm not looking for merging of the parties. I don't want us to get together in one party, I just want to cooperate in political fraction, in the political group in the EU Parliament. I believe that in any institution, certainly, when it claims to be democratic, you need a balance of power, you need counter-falling powers, you need not Europhiles, but you also need Eurosceptic parties. The party of Mrs. Le Pen, the party of Mr. Farage, UKIP, the party in Austria, the FP–, Sweden '' we all have one thing in common. We want to have more powers to our national capitals instead of Brussels, we want more sovereignty and we want to be stronger economically, and we want to have our own foreign policy, not the foreign policy dictated by commissions, whether its in Ukraine or anything else, that we have not elected. It's crazy that we have commissioners in charge that nobody elected in the Netherlands '' it's like a coup d'(C)tat, almost. We should get our powers back, and I believe that we will be able to work together, but I can only prove it, of course, after the elections. Not today.
SS:But here's another thing '' a moderate pro-EU stance will most probably still dominate the polls, so won't the anti-EU threat encourage them to work closer to resist your influence?
GW: The pro-Europeans are already afraid. They are getting nervous; they see that we are getting popular day by day, that millions of Europeans will vote against the Europhiles. Perhaps you remember ten years ago, we had referendum in France and in the Netherlands and in Ireland about the European constitution that then came into effect and the Europhiles tried to scare people, to make them afraid; they said ''Well, without the EU you will lose your job, we will get war, the lights will go out, we'll have big problems,'' and nothing of that happened in reality, and people are not fooled by their threats anymore. So I think we should work together, I think we will not bring them any closer than they are today. It's one bunch '' whether you are in EU Parliament today a liberal or a Christian Democrat, or a Social Democrat '' it's all the same. They all want more money, more Brussels, more foreign policy, more problems, and more transfer of rights from the national states to Brussels. And there is now a group of politicians and a group of parties, and millions of European citizens who want something else, and whatever they do, they will not be able to change it. It's like a room being closed for decades and now somebody opens the window and a fresh wind is entering the window, which is very good for the atmosphere in that room, and they will not be able to change the course of history, I promise you that.
SS:Mr. Wilders, it was great talking to you. We were talking to Geert Wilders, Dutch politician, leader of the Party for Freedom. We were talking about whether the EU should help Ukrainians' current mess and also what's in store for the EU after this May's elections in the EU Parliament. That's it for this edition of SophieCo, I'll see you next time.
VIDEO-'Dude, This Was Two Years Ago!': Fmr WH Security Spox Blusters Over '#TBT' Benghazi, Said Obama Not in Situation Room - Fox Nation
Fri, 02 May 2014 17:03
In a must-watch exchange, former NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor discussed the Benghazi terror attack of 2012 with FOX News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier.
Baier asked about President Barack Obama's whereabouts the night of the attack, as well as whether Vietor had a hand in allegedly changing the White House's messaging directives following the tragedy.
"Did you change 'attacks' to 'demonstrations' in the talking points?" Baier pressed.
"Maybe, I don't remember," Vietor responded, "Dude, this was two years ago!" he said incredulously.
"Dude, it's the thing everyone's talking about," Baier said.
Vietor insisted that the email sparking recent news, sent by Obama adviser Ben Rhodes, spelled out "nothing new".
He also admitted that the president was not in the situation room on the night of the attack, saying only that the president was "in the White House"
The former spokesman also sent this 'Throwback Thursday' tweet prior to his interview:
Highlights courtesy Special Report:
Regrets the email didn't come out earlier
BB: Why did it take a FOIA and a judge to get this Ben Rhodes email? 18:10:48
TV: I don't know, I bet you every single person in that White House wished that email has been released earlier. 18:10:54 I wish it too because it tells us nothing new, 18:10:56 It tells us what we said privately was what we said publically, because that is what we though occured. 18:11:02 Ben's email clearly references protests plural because there were countless across the world. 18:11:08
Vietor prepped Susan Rice, worried over violence
TV: 18:11:22 I was among the people who prepped Susan Rice. 18:11:25 and we talked about the protests were front and center in Ben's email because there was still concern about additional violence in the region. 18:11:35
BB: Let's go to the talking points.
18:11:35 The day of Ben's email, just I want to flag, which is Friday prayers in a number of countries like Pakistan and we were extremely worried 18:11:42
Vietor on changing talking points
Q- 18:11:42 the 14th is the day that you are talking about 18:11:44 According to the emails and the timeline the CIA circulates new talking points after they have removed a mention of Al Qaida
TV: Yeah
BB and then at 6:21, the White House, you
TV: Me.
BB: add a line about the administration warning of Sept 10th of social media reports calling for demonstrations. True?
TV: I believe so.
BB: Did you also change attacks to demonstrations in the talking points? 18:12:08
TV: Maybe, I don't really remember.
BB: you dont remember?
TV:dude, this was like 2 years ago we're still talking about the most mundane
BB:Dude it is the thing that everyone is talking about
TV: We're talking about the process of editing talking points that's what bureaucrats do all day long, your producers edit scripts multiple times. 18:12:24
President was in the White House but not the situation room.
BB 18:16:26 Where was the president?
TV: In the white House
BB: He wasn't in the situation room?
TV: At what point in the evening? He was constantly
BB: any point in the evening
TV: It is well known that when the attack was first briefed to him it was in the oval office and he was updated constantly. 18:16:40 During that briefing he told Tom Donilon and his Sec Def to start moving all military assets into the region. 18:16:49
BB: So when Hillary Clinton talks to him by phone at 10 pm, he is where?
TV: I don't know, I don't have a tracking device on him in the residence. 18:16:55
BB: But you were in the situation room and he wasn't there?
TV: Yes, he was in the White House.
BB: and the President was not in the situation room?
TV: Not in the room I was in.
VIDEO-BBC News - The rise of click and collect for online shoppers
Fri, 02 May 2014 11:45
If the last few years have been all about the rise of shopping online and then having the goods delivered, the big growth at the moment is in ordering online, and then collecting.
John Lewis says it will open a store at St Pancras station in London where the only thing you can do is collect items you have ordered online.
Supermarkets like Asda and Tesco already offer services where you can pick up groceries at Tube stations.
Both also offer a service where you can collect from the store's car park - and in some cases you do not even have to get out of your car.
Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis said it had been "an absolute phenomenon".
VIDEO-Turkish Digest: Turkish Leader Erdogan on Twitter Ban, Hizmet's Fethullah Gulen - Businessweek
Fri, 02 May 2014 05:11
Charlie Rose Talks to Recep Tayyip ErdoğanBy Charlie Rose May 01, 2014''We never said no to protests. What we do is we provide places for demonstrations''Photograph by Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images
''We never said no to protests. What we do is we provide places for demonstrations''
You just received strong support in local elections, but many say they fear a descent into authoritarianism. You shut down Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube (GOOG) earlier this year, for instance.
More:Turkish Leader Erdogan on Twitter Ban, Hizmet's Fethullah Gulen - Businessweek
Dutch MP Geert Wilders: EU cares about expansion, not Ukraine
Fri, 02 May 2014 21:53
The EU is responsible for ''the mess'' in Ukraine, Geert Wilders, Holland's Party for Freedom leader, told RT. Wilders wonders why the bloc has got involved in a country where half the population is against joining Europe.
Watch the full interview here
Wilders, who was speaking exclusively on RT's SophieCo, believes the EU should have kept out of the conflict and only made things worse by giving the country hopes of a pre-accession treaty to the union, when the people of Ukraine were not in unison about joining the organization.
''It was a very delicate balance in Ukraine with 50 percent looking eastwards, towards Russia, and 50 percent of the population looking westwards, towards the European Union. So I think it was very irresponsible what the EU did; they should have kept out of it,'' Wilders said.
The leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom criticized politicians from Europe, the US and from his home country for appearing in Kiev and giving the impression that Ukraine had the complete support of the West while completely ignoring the fact that Ukraine remains a very complex situation.
''I believe Europe was more thinking about itself and expanding it and its territory than really thinking about the whole of Ukraine, let alone the stability in that region.''
Wilders admits he understands the gripes of those living in the east of the country, who were unhappy when the coup-appointed government took power in Kiev. ''The best thing to do is to de-escalate by taking the Russian minority in eastern Ukraine seriously; give them rights and make them really feel as important as the other half of Ukraine,'' the 50 year-old Eurosceptic continued.
The Dutch politician says Russia is also partly to blame and that retaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine is of the utmost importance.
''I'm not only blaming the EU, I'm blaming both Russia and the EU. But I have to be honest, the European Union made a terrible move in the beginning of November last year, and they at least partially started a lot of the troubles, and that analysis is shared by more parties in the EU for sure,'' said the leader of the Party for Freedom.
The US and the EU recently introduced more economic sanctions against Russia as they believe the country is having a destabilizing effect on Ukraine. However, Wilders says this will help neither the Russians nor the EU and cannot have a ''positive effect.''
Wilders has achieved success in his native Netherlands on a ticket of euro skepticism and is adamant that his country should leave the EU. ''We can deal better economically when we are in charge of our country, again, when it comes to national sovereignty '' so, yes, we would like to leave the EU and be stronger as a national country,'' the Dutchman said.
Wilders cites the example of Switzerland, as a model that his country could follow, with the Alpine nation being one of the richest on the continent, despite never having joined the EU.
''We lost our identity; we lost our national sovereignty to the EU, an institution that really a lot of people in the West don't like so much anymore. I have nothing against Europe, but I have a lot against the EU as an organization,'' Wilders concluded.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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