Cover for No Agenda Show 617: Climate Chaos
May 15th, 2014 • 3h 14m

617: Climate Chaos


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

forget to mention, you guys now have a bbm channel
TSA Pre-Check was slower than regular
Micky stil got to Pre-Check
Tokyo Observations
Green! So nice and lush, this could just have easily been New Jersey. The climate feels similar
Roads! Nice and tidy. Clean blacktops, well maintained
Polite! Everyone is courteous, at least they are to us
Cab doors open
Schoolgirl voice on all automated systems and GVS
Schoolgirls! Wow.
Crowds! Haven't seen them, even on the main drags. No serious congestion that is any worse than Austin or Dallas.
Resources! So much more use is made of what is available, space, water, parking, food. You name it
Tipping! Not needed, is even considered an insult
Safety Helmets! Everyone seems to have one for almost every job. They have a very distinctive look
Japanese Women Tell Their Men They Have to Choose Between Love and War - The Daily Beast
Thu, 15 May 2014 12:52
World News05.14.14
A sex strike is among the protests launched by Japanese opposing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans to change the constitution and build up his country's military.
TOKYO, Japan '-- The Abe administration's attempts to turn Japan from a pacifist nation into one that can wage war and export arms more freely is meeting with some undercover resistance. Or, to put it more accurately, under-the-covers resistance. A Tokyo based group known as Women Who Won't Have Sex With War-mongering Men has launched a full-scale sex strike just in time to block Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party as they make a push for militarization. Or so the women hope.
On Thursday Abe's hand-picked panel of right-leaning experts is expected to announce its findings on Japan's constitutional reform. Large-scale overt protests and demonstrations already are under way. On May 13 outside the Diet building, 2,500 people formed a human chain around the facilities to protest Abe's plan to reinterpret the post-World War II constitution so as to allow Japan to use its armed forces overseas.
For Japan's hawks, the increasingly tense stand-off with China and the erratic menace of North Korea give ample reason for building a stronger defense posture. But Article 9 of the constitution renounces war as a sovereign right of the Japanese nation, and forbids the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. Japan has maintained a ''defense-only '' policy that is based on the principle that if Japan is invaded, it will repel the invasion with the minimum necessary use force--and only when there are no other means to repel the attack. The "peace-loving" Japan image has certainly helped reform world opinion of the nation in the post-war years, especially among Asian nations that were subject to Japan's brutal colonial rule.
In 1972 and 1981, the Japanese government adopted the constitutional interpretation for a ban on the use of collective self-defense. This severely limits Japan's ability to use force overseas and participate in some peacekeeping missions.
The conclusions of the advisory report were spoon-fed to a friendly group of Japanese political reporters two days ago. It is expected to include a recommendation for Japan to lift its ban on using collective self-defense and also urge that Article 9 be revised or interpreted very broadly. According to a Diet member close to the prime minister, if Abe had his wish, Article 9 would be obliterated along with the ''Nanjing Massacre'' or ''Comfort Women.''
Without the support in the Upper House of New Komeito, a traditionally pacifist political party, Abe does not have the numbers to push forward constitutional reform, which requires two-thirds support of both houses of the Diet, and the approval of more than 50 percent of the voters in a nationwide referendum. Temple University Professor Jeff Kingston, author of Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s says, ''Prime Minister Abe's approval ratings slipped after he pushed through the odious Special Secrets Act despite massive public protest. By going through the motions of having his hand picked panel debate Japan's interpretation of the constitution'--he lays the grounds for widening the interpretation to a more aggressive stance.''
On April 1, the Abe Administration revised Japan's arms embargo policies to make it easier for Japan to sell and export weapons. Many considered the timing of the decision and the decision itself to be rather foolish, in terms of international diplomacy. The report to be submitted today also is expected to propose conditions under which Japan would be able to engage in combat together with the United States or other forces in the event the constitutional ban on warfare is deleted.
However, a group of women are taking a stand against the overwhelmingly male-dominated government, in a country that also ranks 105 out of 136 countries in gender equality. They're striking men where they're most vulnerable: below the belt.
The group, which was officially started on May 3, 2014, proclaims on its website in large letters: "We will not have sex with war-loving men. We will thoroughly protest to politicians, entrepreneurs, and businessmen who support the road to war and promote arms exports, in addition to men who support these politicians.''
The move echoes Lysistrata, a bawdy Greek comedy by Aristophanes, in which the women of Greece hold a large-scale sex strike to put an end to the Peloponnesian War. As a result, men from both sides, who were all sporting painful erections, gathered together to negotiate a peace treaty.
The play may be vulgar, but there have been cases in which sex strikes have had a real impact.
In 2011, for example, a group of women in Barbacoas, Columbia managed to have a road built connecting their small, remote town to the rest of the province after a highly publicized sex strike. On the other hand, the announced intention of some Ukrainian women to shut out Russian men has had little discernible impact reducing tensions in that part of the world.
"Among the women around me, there is not a single one who supports a nation that can go to war,'' says Akari Morino, a member of the Japanese group. ''Women should speak out more and their voice should be reflected in politics."
According to Morino, women who wish to sign up for the sex strike have to do one simple thing: "First you need to ask and discuss with your partner his thoughts on war. This alone helps to raise awareness of people and public opinion sufficiently," she said. "I cannot say that many Japanese are aware that the Abe Administration is promoting the creation of a country that can go to war."
''This particular protest has caught the eyes of some by its playful humor, but also drawn some criticisms from both feminists and offended men,'' says Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University. ''I do not endorse this group personally, although I think it should be permissible for people to explore novel ways to raise awareness by diverse means of protest.''
These particular protesters (Twitter handle @sexstrikejapan) are just a small fraction of the many people who oppose Abe's plans to change or reinterpret Article 9. In fact, a grassroots campaign started by a housewife has led to the nomination of Article 9 for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Abe may be making a smart move in pushing for a wider constitutional interpretation rather than engaging in a losing battle to scrap Article 9 altogether. Grant Newsham, a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, and a former US Marine Corps liaison with the GSDF, says, ''Japan's pacifism is faux pacifism. Article 9 has long since been re-interpreted out of any possible connection to its original meaning. Read it and think about what the text means. Either disband the Japan Self Defense Forces entirely and scrap all hardware, or be quiet. Anyone who complains about Abe re-interpreting Article 9 has their head wedged up their rear end. The bottom line: Abe's critics should either grow up or start studying Mandarin so they can speak with their new masters.''
That's certainly one way of looking at it.
In anticipation of the foregone conclusions that will be officially announced Thursday, even as large street protests build momentum, the most powerful demonstrations may be taking place behind closed doors. And the ones protesting the loudest may be the war-mongering men forced into pacifist celibacy.
Tokyo Studio Setup
Thu, 15 May 2014 04:14
Tokyo Studio SetupTokyo Studio Setup
I'm using the new mobile setup for the first time on the road. It should, in theory, work exactly like it does back at the home studio since I have been using it for the past few weeks in the same configuration.The only main differences are the lack of large studio monitors and instead of the Behringer Fader controller with motorized faders, I have the Korg mini controller with me. Much easier to transport, but no nice fader 'snap' when I drag a clip into the panel for playback.In this picture you see the UAudio device in the middle, that is the heart of the system. On the right screen is the UAudio controls as wellas the ARS clip playback system. The iPad is running iSoundByte, which fires sound clips/jingles through its network connection to the soundbyte application running on the MBAThe Mic is a R¸de Procaster. There's a Behringer DAC that is routing the Skype signal from a mix bus back into the UAudio device through an optical connection.The MacBook on the left is only used for surfing, shownotes prep and irc sessionsSo far everything sounds good. If this works for the upcoming show as I expect it to, then I can produce at the level I want to from anywhere in the world. Network connection willing of course :-)
Wed, 14 May 2014 14:47
In the BeginningIn Hirakata, Osaka, we opened for business 28 years ago. The year was 1983. The space presented "lifestyle navigation" to young adults through music, movies, and books. Not a bookstore, video store, or music store, "TSUTAYA" embodied a new concept. The space with the new concept caught on, and TSUTAYA locations sprouted nationwide. Today, there are 1,400 locations, patronized by over half of the nation's "20 something" adults.
The young adults who came to us for lifestyle navigation 28 years ago are now 50-something and 60-something years old. So we decided to re-invent lifestyle navigation for these adults--this time in Daikanyama of Tokyo, instead of Osaka. After three years of planning and building, DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS and adjoining DAIKANYAMA T-SITE GARDEN opened on December 5, 2011.
'– DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS ConceptDAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS, the TSUTAYA for grownups, is tied to the theme of "A Library in the Woods."Three building wings connect together along Magazine Street, a 55-meter long aisle that cuts through the middle at ground level. From this tree-trunk like artery, six book departments branch out by category. Caf(C) space is housed within the complex to allow for leisurely in-store browsing. Starbucks Coffee is served on the ground floor, and all reading materials can be enjoyed comfortably, even before purchasing.'– DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS Design The motif depicted like a laced fa§ade on the white exteriors is the letter 'T.' This design by Klein Dytham Architecture was the winning submission from among 80 firms to the competitive architectural RFP. Kenya Hara supplied the communication design, and Tomoko Ikegai orchestrated the overall creative direction. DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS (T-SITE) received the only mention from Japan in Flavorpill's "The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World."
'– DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS -- But More than BooksBooks: A conglomerate of specialized categories, where Japanese, Western, and old titles are shelved together. Magazine Street is brimming with current issues of periodicals from around the world. From here, six specialty categories branch out: Cuisine, Travel, Cars and Motorcycles, Architecture and Design, Art, and Humanities and Literature. The range and depth for these categories are unmatched. A strong selection of Western books and vintage titles will not disappoint, either.
Movies: Japan's unrivaled video department leaves no title out. Every last title, right here--the video department is intent on offering a complete selection. With the introduction of a break-through service, classic titles previously unavailable as DVDs are burned right at the store as disks to take home. Other titles unavailable elsewhere are stocked for immediate purchase, too.The cinema concierge is ready to recommend titles of interest from the broad in-store selection.
Music: Replete with jazz, classical, 60s to 80s rock, pop music. Plenty of choice is assured for jazz, classical, 60s to 80s rock, and pop music. All of the tracks from CD archives totaling 120thousand albums can be freely sampled at 40 seated stations, where a cup of coffee can be brought over as well.The jazz concierge, classical concierge, rock concierge, etc., with in-depth knowledge are here to assist with genre-specific selections.
Anjin Library & Lounge: Salon accented by rare collections of books and magazine from around the world. Vintage magazines number 30,000 issues in aggregate with a focus on the 1960s and 70s. Nostalgia surrounds the visitor with back issues of famous Japanese magazines Heibon Punch and Taiyo, as well as invaluable international titles, such as domus and Vogue. At Anjin, selected reading material and art supply the ambience.Coffee, alcoholic drinks, and a dining menu are also offered. The library content can be browsed at the tables, and books from downstairs can be brought up here for leisurely inspection. Seating: 120.
Travel Desk Listening to customer requests, our travel concierges develop personalized travel plans. With ample travel experience to destinations themselves, they are ready to make travel requests into a real itinerary. (Hours: 11:00-21:00)
Stationery The stationery store offers a generous selection of writing implements, from functional pens to glass pens and feather pens. Our concierge is ready to recommend the pen that provides the joy of writing. Monogramming is available as a same-day service, another aid to preparing the perfect gift.
Concierge Expert concierges are ready to assist with purchases of books, movies, and music.
Hours of Operation The parking lot accommodates 120 vehicles on the single, ground level with roomy spaces. With lots of green landscaping, some call it "Tokyo's most refreshing parking lot."
'– Adjoining DAIKAYNAMA T-SITE GARDENGREEN DOG Daikanyama (Pet Services) Staffed with pet care counselors to assist with daily pet needs, the store provides a selection of premium dogãfood, and houses a veterinary clinic (cats & dogs), grooming salon, dog garden for day care, and pet hotel for overnight stays.
B¸rnelund Daikanyama (Imported Toys, Kids Service) An outstanding selection of playthings from over 20 countries around the world is offered in a personalized style that matches your child's development. Delightful services are here so parent and child can play, with lots to enjoy by family across three generations.
Daikanyama motovelo (Battery-Power Assisted Bicycles) A specialty store exclusively for battery-power assisted bicycles. With the rapid rise in popularity of these bikes, the shop provides customization to meet customer lifestyles, such as child seat installation, Swarovski trim, etc.
Daikanyama Kitamura Photo Equipment (Camera Specialty Store) Interior designer Kanji Ueki envisioned the handsomely appointed space, stocked with rows of digital cameras--more makes and models than any other store. Services available: ordering prints, creating albums, and studio photography.
Ivy Place (Restaurant) A sister location to T.Y. Harbor Brewery in Tennoz Isle and Cicada in Hiroo, Ivy Place has three distinct settings. The terrace caf(C) permits seating with your pet dog. An eclectic dining menu offers cuisine of various countries. The bar is decidedly serene.
DAIKANYAMA T-SITEDAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS150-003317-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo >>View Map
Store Hours 1F 7:00AM-2:00AM 7 days a weekStore Hours 2F 9:00AM-2:00AM 7 days a week
F-Russia / Ukraine
Lets round up all the Russians in USA and put them in camps - They could be spies!!!
Christopher Heinz-Why shouldn't Hunter Biden join the board of a gas company in Ukraine? | Business | The Guardian
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:01
Hunter Biden, with his father, US vice-president Joe Biden. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
Name: Hunter Biden.
Age: 44.
Appearance: Chip off the old block.
His names rings a bell. Is he related to someone famous? He's the son of Joe Biden, the US vice president.
What is he, sort of a wayward, ne'er-do-well playboy type? Not really. He's a graduate of Yale Law School and a former senior vice-president at MBNA America Bank.
Good for him. During the Clinton administration he worked in the US Department of Commerce. He's presently a partner in an investment firm. And counsel for a national law firm. And an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
I get it: he likes to keep busy. He has even found the time to join the board of a gas company called Burisma Holdings Ltd.
Never heard of it. Perhaps that's because it's a Ukrainian gas company; Ukraine's largest private gas producer, in fact. He's taking charge of the company's legal unit.
Isn't that a bit fishy? Why do you say that?
Because he's the vice-president's son! That's a coincidence. "This is totally based on merit," said Burisma's chairman, Alan Apter.
He doesn't sound very Ukrainian. He's American, as is the other new board member, Devon Archer.
Who? Devon Archer, who works with Hunter Biden at Rosemont Seneca partners, which is half owned by Rosemont Capital, a private equity firm founded by Archer and Christopher Heinz.
Who? Christopher Heinz '... John Kerry's stepson.
I think Putin's propaganda people can take a long weekend; their work is being done for them. What do you mean?
Hasn't Joe Biden pledged to help Ukraine become more energy independent in the wake of its troubles with Russia? Well, yes.
And isn't Burisma, as a domestic producer, well positioned to profit from rising gas prices caused by the conflict? Possibly, but Hunter Biden is a salaried board member, not an investor. According to anonymous sources in the Wall Street Journal, neither Rosemont Seneca nor Rosemont Capital has made any financial investment in Burisma.
So it's not fishy at all? No one's saying that.
Do say: "Somebody needs to get involved in Ukraine's corporate governance, and it might as well be a clutch of rich, well-connected American dudes with weird first names."
Don't say: "Thanks, Dad."
Hunter Biden joins the team of Burisma Holdings | Burisma
Tue, 13 May 2014 21:35
Hunter Biden joins the team of Burisma Holdings | Burisma
Burisma Holdings, Ukraine's largest private gas producer, has expanded its Board of Directors by bringing on Mr. R Hunter Biden as a new director.
R. Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Holdings' legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations. On his new appointment, he commented: ''Burisma's track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine. As a new member of the Board, I believe that my assistance in consulting the Company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.''
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings, Mr. Alan Apter, noted: ''The company's strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we're delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals.''
R. Hunter Biden is a counsel to Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, a national law firm based in New York, USA, which served in cases including ''Bush vs. Gore'', and ''U.S. vs. Microsoft''. He is one of the co-founders and a managing partner of the investment advisory company Rosemont Seneca Partners, as well as chairman of the board of Rosemont Seneca Advisors. He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University's Masters Program in the School of Foreign Service.
Mr. Biden has experience in public service and foreign policy. He is a director for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, The Center for National Policy, and the Chairman's Advisory Board for the National Democratic Institute. Having served as a Senior Vice President at MBNA bank, former U.S. President Bill Clinton appointed him an Executive Director of E-Commerce Policy Coordination under Secretary of Commerce William Daley. Mr. Biden served as Honorary Co-Chair of the 2008 Obama-Biden Inaugural Committee.
Mr. Biden is a member of the bar in the State of Connecticut, and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Court of Federal Claims. He received a Bachelor's degree from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
R. Hunter Biden is also a well-known public figure. He is chairman of the Board of the World Food Programme U.S.A., together with the world's largest humanitarian organization, the United Nations World Food Programme. In this capacity he offers assistance to the poor in developing countries, fighting hunger and poverty, and helping to provide food and education to 300 million malnourished children around the world.
Company Background:Burisma Holdings is a privately owned oil and gas company with assets in Ukraine and operating in the energy market since 2002. To date, the company holds a portfolio with permits to develop fields in the Dnieper-Donets, the Carpathian and the Azov-Kuban basins. In 2013, the daily gas production grew steadily and at year-end amounted to 11.6 thousand BOE (barrels of oil equivalent '' incl. gas, condensate and crude oil), or 1.8 million m3 of natural gas. The company sells these volumes in the domestic market through traders, as well as directly to final consumers.
For more information contact the press office at
How Russia Defeated the United States
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:14
Controversial for many, I am sure, but truth be told, whether anyone likes it or not, Russia has all the trump cards stacked against the United States right now. This means, in reality, they defeated us'--well, at least during this iteration of the ongoing Cold War. But how? How did Russia accomplish this task is a question that must be asked.
Unlike the United States, Russia, like the majority of countries, doesn't play any game based on time. Time is on their side. And when it comes to Russian operations against the United States, they stayed on track keeping their eyes and ears close to the monitor tracking our every move. Unfortunately, during the late 80's, when President Reagan confronted the old Soviet Union, most Westerns believed the game was over and we won. Unfortunately, we didn't really win anything. But worse, we took our eyes off the ball.
Russia played a very methodical infiltration game that took a prolonged amount of time to actually play. It was a game of old school influence operations. They groomed their own citizens at birth to learn how to become masters at infiltration into western societies. Today, oligarchs run rampant behind the scenes in Hollywood and American media influencing a magnitude of information that socially conditions us. Just ask yourself why the 2012 remake of the 1980's Patrick Swayze hit Red Dawn had nothing to do about Russia but instead everything to do with North Korea.
Russian Spy Anna Chapman and her crew were not necessarily conducting the traditional spy-game of espionage. They were infiltrators. And once they infiltrated the system or network of their choosing, they would begin a unique influence campaign. Maybe we should keep a closer eye on Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, and begin asking the critical question as to why he really wishes to relocate his team to Russia.
We have been influenced by Russian operatives and many believe this is all some black helicopter conspiracy but ask any US intelligence officer who works Russian operations and they will confirm everything here. But how good has Russia been with their influence operations?
Look at today's Department of Education, Common Core, nationally mandated testing of public school children. Look at our Department of Environmental Protection and the ridiculous rules and regulation for what land owners and companies can and cannot do. Federal entities are full of agents of influence.
Look at US natural gas production. Understand that we are the world's number one producer of natural gas but ask, why we are not the world's number one exporter of such a commodity. The answer is simple. We placed too much red tape on our refinement that fails to allow exportation into Europe. Think someone or several people here in the United States with some Russian influence had anything to do with making those strict rules and regulations? Count on it.
Who cares about natural gas, right?
It just so happens to be that Russia is the world's number one exporter of natural gas. For them, that is their first trump card. Now begin to look at their physical actions throughout Eastern Europe. What would sanctions do to stop Russia's expansion in the Ukraine? Where will they go next'--Georgia, Albania, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland? You tell me. Scary question here though, but what would stop them? I assure you it won't be sanctions.
Sanctions cannot stop Russia. They can easily play against sanctions and merely stop all exportation of their natural gas into Western Europe. That would be a vital blow to Europe not only crippling their energy infrastructure but also economically. The cost to import the limited amounts of US natural gas we actually could export today would be overwhelming (unless of course, refining red-tape is lifted and we begin the processing immediately).
Economically, Russia has a trump card. But they have even a bigger trump card few ever thought about'--Space. As The Telegraph reported earlier today, Russia has decided to ban the United States from using the International Space Station. The biggest mistake in modern US history was ridding our space program. Think about it. How much of our own military might is dependent upon our space systems? Shut our space assets down, and our military might is crippled. To me, that is the biggest trump card Russia has today.
Let me be blunt. We are screwed. Sure, we are screwed but this doesn't mean anyone needs to enter a state of paranoia. We just need to realize through some gap analysis our own shortfalls and be willing to rectify them'--and fast. Russia took off the gloves and we continue to sit in the corner listening to our cut man when in reality we should have realized we are not in a boxing match. We are in a street fight without any rules. We can still win the ongoing war against Russia but right now, we are getting our asses kicked in this current battle.
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'‹UN-marked strike helicopter 'used by Kiev against militia' sparks scandal '-- RT News
Wed, 14 May 2014 09:10
Published time: May 14, 2014 07:33Edited time: May 14, 2014 09:04Screenshot from a video showing a white-painted Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter allegedly used by Kiev troops in their military operation against Donetsk regional militia.
The UN has voiced concerns over the apparent use of UN-marked helicopters by Kiev troops in their military operation against Donetsk regional militia. A video of a white-painted Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter with UN logo has emerged.
When inquired about the United Nations' stance on the use of peacekeeper-marked military hardware in non-peacekeeper operations, the office for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said such use would violate UN rules.
''It is the responsibility of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) that provide Contingent Owned Equipment to peacekeeping missions to remove all logos and signage bearing the UN's name once such equipment has been repatriated to the home country or is no longer being used for official UN purposes,'' the office told RT.
It added that UN-marked aircraft can be used for missions tasked by the UN and that UN's Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support is in contact with the Ukrainian authorities to clarify the issue.
A video of a UN-marked Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter was published on Tuesday by LifeNews television. It said its correspondents covering Kiev's military operation in the Donetsk Region took the video near Kramatorsk. LifeNews said at least three combat Mi-24 and one transport Mi-8 helicopters carrying UN colors were spotted in the area.
The Ukrainian military has provided equipment for several UN peacekeeping missions, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Serbia pleads with Europe to respect its ties to Russia
Wed, 14 May 2014 15:29
By Ognjen Markovic and Paul Mitchell14 May 2014Following the parliamentary elections held on March 16, a new grand coalition government was eventually agreed in Serbia on April 27. It was immediately confronted by the fallout from the crisis in Ukraine.
Serbia, like Ukraine, is being forced to choose between a European Union (EU) partnership agreement and a deal with Russia. When the Ukrainian government decided to go with Russia, it was toppled by a US-EU backed coup d'(C)tat using fascist provocateurs.
Faced with this crisis, top Serbian government officials pleaded last week with the EU to allow the country to continue on its path to EU integration while maintaining its historical and economic links to Russia.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic declared, ''Serbia has its own path'... [which] means Serbia does not wish to pick one side and thereby endanger its relations with the other. Serbia does not divide the world into just two powers or just two blocs. The world is big and diverse and Serbia has friends everywhere. Let the big ones argue, we have to develop.''
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told a Council of Europe ministerial meeting in Vienna on Tuesday last week that his government could not join the US-EU-imposed sanctions on Russia, explaining, ''We are trying to have a balanced position. The prime minister [Aleksandar Vucic] and I explained that to [the EU's foreign policy chief] Catherine Ashton'...Such balance is in our national interest.''
Vucic said that he had asked EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan F¼le, who had flown into Belgrade to deliberate on Serbia's decision, declaring, ''We support the territorial integrity of every member state of the United Nations, and of Ukraine of course, but for many reasons'--historical, traditional and others'--I beg that Serbia maintains its different stance compared to other countries and not impose sanctions on Russia''.
F¼le refused to comment on reports that the EU was putting pressure on Serbia behind the scenes, saying, ''We were discussing this issue like many others. Serbia is a sovereign country and we respect her decision.''
He insisted Serbia's path to EU integration depended on three main priorities'--economic reform, the fight against corruption and normalisation of relations with Kosovo, which Belgrade refuses to recognise and still regards as one of its provinces.
Ashton's spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, was more forthright, telling reporters that, ''as a rule, the EU always invites third countries to align themselves with our positions, in particular regarding sanctions.
''This is very valid for candidate countries and potential candidates who have committed themselves through their association agreements to increasing convergence with the EU on foreign policy issues. Their progress toward the EU is assessed also in that context.''
Russia responded to the West's increased pressure on Serbia by sending Russian Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin, who is also on the list of people sanctioned by the EU, to Belgrade. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also expected to visit the country soon.
During his visit, Naryshkin expressed President Putin's gratitude to Serbia for refusing to back anti-Russian sanctions and agreeing to elevate the relationship between the two countries to a ''strategic level''. He presented President Nikolic with copies of letters written by Russian Tsar Nicholas II and King Aleksandar of Yugoslavia, which show the two countries and their armies promising mutual support in the event of war. In return, Nikolic presented Naryshkin with World War I and II documentary films.
During his visit, Naryshkin opened a conference at Belgrade University on the ''lessons of world wars'', celebrated the May 9 joint holiday of ''victory over fascism'' and placed a wreath at a memorial dedicated to the victims of NATO's 1999 bombardment of Serbia.
Nikolic thanked Naryshkin, saying Russia ''understands correctly Serbia's position on the crisis in Ukraine'' and had supported it over the issue of the independence of Kosovo. He said that Serbia wanted to step up construction work on the South Stream gas pipeline from Russia in order to ensure its energy security and develop the Serbian economy.
Naryshkin replied, ''South Stream will be built, I have no doubt about it. The laying of pipes in Serbia will start this year and everything is ready for it. As early as 2016, Serbia will begin to receive significant revenues to its budget.'' He added that the countries participating in the project were coming under pressure ''from our American partners [who] care about their own geopolitical and economic interests.''
Last week, National Bank of Serbia governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic revealed that the country was suffering economically from the Ukraine crisis and having problems with making payments in US dollars. ''We are taking a risk if the destination [of payments] is Russia with which we have well-developed relations and is one of our most important foreign trade partners, alongside Germany and Italy,'' he said.
Finance Minister Lazar Krstic stated that the country was in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a three-year precautionary loan deal that was up to twice its IMF quota'--around $1.5 billion. The country has a fiscal deficit of over 7 percent of GDP, public debt standing at '‚¬20 billion, which is 62.3 percent of GDP, and experienced a slump in foreign direct investment'--just '‚¬606 million in the first nine months of 2013, way below the '‚¬2 billion expected by the government for the whole year.
Vucic outlined the general course his administration will take in a recent column in the Financial Times, ''Serbia is poised for a new future.'' Acknowledging that, ''There will be tough decisions along the way,'' he promised to financial circles, ''This Government is under no illusions about the scale of the task facing us, but we will not lose sight of our goals.''
These included ''balancing the state budget and putting Serbia's irresponsible fiscal legacy behind it. The proposals have already won the support of the IMF and the global financial community and we will ensure they are realised... No fewer than 21 changes to the law are already underway to improve the conditions for economic investment. Our reforms will include a new, more flexible labour law... We will have to curb our more generous public-sector salaries... [and] are also in the middle of a significant national privatisation process...''
''Serbia will be well and truly 'open for business' over the next four years,'' Vucic wrote.
Some of the measures announced so far are a 10 percent cut in public-sector wages and termination of subsidies for 153 state-run firms, which collectively employ some 60,000 workers. Over the next two years the government will ''most likely'' sell its stake in companies such as Telekom Srbija and the power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije.
The political elite is aware this agenda is deeply unpopular and will provoke mass opposition. That is why all political parties have entered a conspiracy against the population. Even though Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS)-led alliance won 158 of the 250 seats in the National Assembly and were perfectly capable of forming a government on its own, it chose instead to form another coalition with Dacic's second-placed Socialist Party-led alliance, which has 44 seats, and a minority party representing Hungarians in Vojvodina (six seats).
Vucic can also count on the unions to disarm the working class and help impose austerity measures. President of the United Branch Unions ''Independence'' (UGS Nezavisnost) Branislav Canak said that the unions will be ''partners'' with the new government, agreeing that ''public-sector layoffs have to be made,'' calling only for them to be ''gradual'' and that a ''minimum wage must be provided [to the dismissed workers] so they can survive.''
Speaking about the 153 state-run subsidised firms soon to be ''restructured,'' Canak said, ''Unfortunately, we cannot save a single one of them.''
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Kiev's troops to wear German uniforms, sleep in American tents
Wed, 14 May 2014 15:27
Published time: May 13, 2014 21:55Ukrainian soldiers stand in front of pro-Russian civilians (not in picture) at a checkpoint near the town of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014 (Reuters / Baz Ratner)
Tents from the USA, ballistic vests from France, and linen donated by locals '' the cash-strapped Ukrainian government is using all available resources to make its forces battleworthy. But supplies won't help the troops' low morale or lack of experience.
Special operations units, Omega and Vega, have received new German-made uniforms, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.
''The troops noted that the uniforms are a well-timed and an important gift, since they are though-out in all respects,'' the ministry said in a statement.
The uniforms were provided by Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenuk, judging from a thank-you note posted by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov on his Facebook page. It was not immediately clear whether Yatsenuk bought the uniforms with his personal money, allocated budget funds or received them from Germany as aid. Avakov said the uniforms were transported to Kiev's loyalist troops deployed near Slavyansk.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry said it will buy 24,000 bullet-proof vests for their troops with money collected through private donations. The vests are expected to arrive by the end of July. The ministry added that in addition to $10.4 million, it had also received donations of sleeping bags, linen and mattresses from the people.
Ukrainian troops, both in the army and in the interior forces, have been receiving plenty of gear lately, paid for by the government, private donations, or foreign sponsors of the Kiev regime. The US is expected to send $7 million worth of non-lethal aid to Ukraine to bolster its border guards, the Ukrainian military reported on Monday.
Some $3 million will be used to buy ''tents, service modules, electricity generators, heaters, water and fuel tanks,'' the border guard service said. The remainder will buy communication and surveillance equipment.
Earlier Washington sent barbed wire, fuel pumps, binoculars and 300,000 MRE field rations for the Ukrainian troops.
London may soon go hand in hand with its trans-Atlantic ally. The UK is currently considering a Ukrainian request for bullet-proof vests, walkie-talkies and sleeping bags, Secretary of Defense Philip Hammond said this week.
Last month Kiev said France had pledged to deliver ballistic vests as part of its humanitarian aid package for Ukraine.
Kiev is continuing its assault on Slavyansk in what it calls an anti-terrorist operation. The city is held by armed militias rejecting the capital's rule because the current Ukrainian government came to power through an armed coup in February.
Last Sunday the confrontation between Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the East and the central authorities rose to a new level as the defiant Ukrainian provinces held referenda and voted for self-rule. Kiev and Western countries condemned the ballots, calling them illegal.
Kiev's ability to clampdown on the dissent in the East remains questionable so far, despite use of heavy weapons and aviation in the confrontation. On Monday, the Zhitomir city administration published a list of more than 100 soldiers and NCOs, who were drafted into the Ukrainian army and defected from local military units. The lists were made public to shame the deserters.
The Ukrainian government has problems with loyalty and troop morale, which it is trying to compensate for by recruiting and training pro-Maidan fighters (who were essential in the coup's success), into a newly-formed National Guard.
The guards don't appear to be having much success in the confrontation with armed militia in Slavyansk, partially due to lack of experience of fighting as a military unit.
But they played their part in the bloody confrontation in Mariupol last Friday, when they attacked the city's police HQ held by protesting officers. The siege and sporadic clashes in the city streets involved armored vehicles. The day of violence left at least 20 people dead.
South Stream: Maps
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:16
Project WebsitesOfficial WebsiteSouth Stream Offshore SectionOnshore Pipeline Bulgarian SectionGas pipelineMapsPartnersMediaTendersVacanciesruenOffshore sectionOfficial Website MapsProject joint venturesOnshore sectionBulgaria
(C) 2014 The South Stream project official website
Gazprom says first pipes for South Stream set for summer delivery -
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:14
MOSCOW, April 16 (UPI) -- The first section of pipeline for the planned South Stream natural gas network for Europe has been manufactured, Russian energy company Gazprom said.Gazprom said pipe No. 1 -- a 39-foot long, 32-inch diameter section -- was produced from the Vyksa Steel Works plant in eastern Russia.
South Stream is a gas transit network Gazprom plans as a way to avoid geopolitically-sensitive territory in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said European energy security is at risk because Kiev is struggling to pay its gas bills.
Ukraine hosts the bulk of the Russian natural gas bound for European consumers.
Gazprom said Tuesday the first sections of pipe are scheduled for summer delivery in Bulgaria. Construction of the first leg of the pipeline is scheduled for late 2014.
Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller met in Strasbourg, France, with European Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger to discuss energy issues in the European Union.
"It was pointed out that Gazprom was a reliable supplier of natural gas to the European market and would retain this position in the future," the Russian company said in a statement.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Russia-Ukraine spat is about gas pipeline ambitions, former Czech leader says -
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:14
PRAGUE, Czech Republic, May 14 (UPI) --Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the row over Ukraine is part of an overall effort to get Gazprom's gas pipeline, South Stream, built.A pivot toward the European Union by former Soviet republic Ukraine in November sparked a crisis that's escalated into a turf war reminiscent of the Cold War.
About 80 percent of the Russian natural gas sent to European consumers runs through the Soviet-era transit network and Gazprom has said cash-strapped Ukraine is putting those supplies at risk because of mounting debt.
Topolanek said that, when a similar row over Ukrainian gas erupted in 2009, Russia made similar claims about energy sector to advance its Nord Stream gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea.
"The main aim of this Russia-Ukraine crisis can be expected to be the enforcement of the South Stream construction," he said Tuesday.
Topolanek was prime minister during the 2009 gas crisis. Nord Stream was inaugurated in 2011.
Gazprom says South Stream would add a layer of diversity to a European energy sector at risk because of geopolitical tensions over Ukraine. European leaders say it would only strengthen Russia's grip on the region.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Moscow to suspend American GPS sites on Russian territory from June
Wed, 14 May 2014 14:45
Published time: May 13, 2014 13:33Edited time: May 13, 2014 19:00Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (RIA Novosti)
Russia is going to suspend the operation of all American GPS sites on its territory, starting from June 1, said Russia's deputy PM, Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and defense industries.
"Starting June 1, we will halt the work of those stations on Russian territory,'' Rogozin said.
Rogozin pointed out that American GPS ground stations are located in Russia under an agreement that dates back to 1993 and 2001.
''Under this agreement there are 11 GPS stations on the territories of 10 [Russian federal] subjects,'' he said.
He stressed that Moscow and Washington have until May 31 to agree on the issue of setting Russian GLONASS stations on US territory.
''We're starting negotiations which will last for three months. We hope that by the end of summer, these talks will bring a solution that will allow our cooperation to be restored on the basis of parity and proportionality,'' Rogozin said.
But if the negotiations turn out to be fruitless, operation of the 11 American GPS stations in Russia will ''be permanently terminated'' from September 1, he warned.
Dmitry Rogozin also said that Moscow is banning Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines, which the US has used to deliver its military satellites into orbit.
''We proceed from the fact that without guarantees that our engines are used for non-military spacecraft launches only, we won't be able to supply them to the US,''Rogozin is cited as saying by Interfax news agency.
If such guarantees aren't provided the Russian side will also be unable to perform routine maintenance for the engines, which have been previously delivered to the US, he added.
The US relies on Russian-made RD-180 and NK-33 engines to launch military and civilian satellites into space, with NASA saying it's unlikely to produce a fully operational rocket engine of its own before 2020.
According to Rogozin, Moscow also isn't planning to agree to the US offer of prolonging operation of the International Space Station (ISS).
''We currently project that we'll require the ISS until 2020,'' he said. ''We need to understand how much profit we're making by using the station, calculate all the expenses and depending on the results decide what to do next.''
''A completely new concept for further space exploration'' is currently being developed by the relevant Russian agencies, the official explained.
Previously, the US space agency, NASA, had asked Russia's Roscosmos to keep the ISS in orbit till 2024.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have seriously deteriorated after the accession into Russia of the Ukrainian Republic of Crimea, which refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authority in Kiev.
The US and its EU partners have introduced several waves of sanctions against Russia, which have seen assets frozen and travel bans imposed on dozens of the country's politicians and businessman, as well as the cessation of joint projects in different areas, including space.
However, Rogozin stressed that Russia will apply restrictive measures of its own only as a response to sanctions imposed by the West.
''We won't be first to adopt sanctions, especially in the high-tech area. For us it is a matter of employment of our specialists,'' he said.
The Odessa Massacre - What REALLY Happened
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:12
On May 2nd 2014 over 40 people were murdered in Odessa Ukraine. Some eyewitnesses claim the real number is over a hundred.
Some of them were burned alive. Others were strangled or beaten to death. A pregnant woman was among those killed.
I'm not going to show the images of the dead bodies directly in this video because doing so would either get the video blocked or age-restricted. In the description you will find a link to a page where you can view those images if you are so inclined. I warn you though that they are truly horrific, and should not be viewed in front of children.
Now the mainstream media and western politicians have glossed over what happened that day. They've attempted to blur the chain of events and have completely avoided condemning those responsible. Instead they've blamed the anti-Kiev protesters and Russia for the violence.
Ah but what about the video that showed the anti-Kiev protesters firing automatic weapons during the clash?
You're probably thinking about this video.
This is the video that corporate media outlets broadcasted to the public which shows what appears to be anti-Kiev protesters firing on Maidan protesters on May 2nd.
Open and shut case right? These guys brought this on themselves.
If you just saw this clip that would be the obvious conclusion, however this isn't the only clip that we have. We have quite a bit of footage that the mainstream media isn't showing you, and that footage tells a very, very different story.
Here's that same scene with the shooter video taped from another angle.
Now pay close attention to the people he's with. The red arm bands these guys are wearing are supposed to symbolize the anti-Kiev contingent. In particular pay attention to this man in the brown jacket. Also take note of the padding that the man in the brown jacket is holding in his right hand. This guy with the brown jacket is important, and you'll see why when we show you the next clip.
This next clip I'm going to show you first once at normal speed, then we're going to slow it down and freeze frames to point out important details.
Now if we freeze this frame, the man in the back of the ambulance that invites the police officer to get in looks a lot like the shooter, but this is a very brief scene and the image isn't clear enough to hang a case on it. However what we see next is very clear.
Remember the man with the brown suit and the odd padding that was with the contingent that was firing on the other protesters? Here he is again, helping a police officer get into that ambulance carrying that masked man. Notice the men with red arm bands with him.
It turns out that we have lots of images and footage tying the police to this provocation. The officer being escorted into the ambulance was photographed and video taped from multiple angles. Witnesses have identified him as Colonel Fucheji.
Here we see him and other police consulting with masked men who are presenting themselves as anti-Kiev protesters.
Here we see an unidentified officer giving instructions to a group of these masked men.
Why would the Ukrainian provisional government work with thugs presenting themselves as the opposition. Why would they stand by and allow those thugs to escalate the situation by firing into the crowd, then flee the scene with them? Doesn't that strike you as a little bit odd?
This is a very old tactic. The technical term, which has been in use since the 1870d, is agent provocateur. That's French for provoking agent. Authorities use agent provocateurs when they want to manufacture a justification for a crackdown against their opponents.
And boy did they capitalize on that justification in Odessa.
The Maidan protesters, which eyewitnesses say outnumbered the anti-Kiev protesters 10 to 1, headed straight for the opposition's camp ground. First they burned down their tents. The anti-Kiev protesters tried to put up a defense at the door, but the Maidan crowd began throwing Molotov cocktails. Soon the building was engulfed in flames.
Here's what the scene looked like on the ground.
You can hear the crowd cheering as they set the building ablaze. The Maidan can be seen beating those who try to escape.
Here you can see a Maidan activist shooting at those trying to escape from the windows.
There was a fire station less than a kilometer away, but they didn't intervene for hours. Why? Here's why:
The Maidan crowd blockaded the fire truck and wouldn't let the firefighters operate.
It's not unclear how the fire started as the mainstream media has been trying to convince you. Nor is it unclear who started the fire. Here we see a group of Maidan girls doing their part by filling up Molotov cocktails behind the scenes while the boys are busy using them to burn people alive.
This wasn't a tragic accident, this was murder. One of the official Youtube channels for the Maidan (EuromaidanPR,) uploaded this video right after the blaze where they do a walk through of the building examining the corpses. They entitled it "Russian Terrorists Burnt Alive In Trade Union Building Fire In Odessa Ukraine, May 2 2014". They were proud of what they did, and they weren't the only ones. WARNING: The video below is extremely disturbing. Do not click if you are not emotionally prepared to see it.
The following is a screenshot I took from a public post on Facebook made by the Ukrainian Nationalist Iryna Farion who openly commended the murderers.
Translation: Bravo, Odessa. Pearl of the Ukrainian spirit. Birthplace of the great nationalists Ivan and Yuri Jul. Let the Devils burn in hell. The best of the rebels is the football fans. Bravo.
All over the internet self proclaimed fascists were hailing this as victory.
A victory over who? There were no Russian citizens among the dead. They were all Ukrainians.
As horrific as the video is, it's a bit deceptive, because it doesn't show the pregnant woman who was killed upstairs. Her body wasn't burned at all. She appeared to have been strangled to death.
Click here if you want to see the picture I'm referring to here. You can also click here to view other images taken from the scene. These are extremely graphic and I do not even want to host them on my server.
What's even more disturbing is that there was video taken from the ground which captured the audio of her screaming in her final moments.
Here the screams can be heard clearly:
After the screaming stopped Maidan activists presented themselves at the window gleefully waving a Ukrainian flag.
During all of this the police did nothing. There was no investigation. In fact the provisional government in Kiev has blamed the anti-Kiev protesters for the fire and arrested the survivors. Apparently these people burned themselves to death and strangled their own people. Right.
Does this all seem out of place with the narrative you've been handed for months by the media and the politicians?
You believed them when they told you that the accusations that the Maidan was run by Neo-Nazis were just baseless conspiracy theories. Even though the BBC was reporting on their rise back in 2012. In that first report they specifically placed attention on a group called Svoboda led by a man named Oleh Tyahnybok. In that article they referred to Svoboda as a proto fascist organization and they covered Tyahnybok's long history of targeting Jews and Ethnic Russians. They pointed out that in 2004 he was kicked out of Viktor Yushenko's government for making a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia", and in 2005 he signed his name to an open letter to the leadership of Ukraine entitled "Stop the Criminal Activities of Organised Jewry".
Here's that same Oleh Tyahnybok rubbing shoulders with John McCain:
And here with U.S. State Department Diplomat Victoria Nuland:
(That's the same Victoria Nuland that was caught in the leaked phone call talking about installing Arseniy Yatsenuk to run the provisional government):
And Tyahnybok is just one of several known Neo-Nazis currently holding high office in Kiev. For example Dmitry Yarosh, a prominent Right Sektor leader who was installed as Ukraine's deputy Secretary of National Security.
Don't take my word for it. Go read what the BBC said about these people back in 2012. Go look at this article from Reuters which acknowledges that these guys are well positioned in the current government. Then go look at the photos from the crime scene in Odessa. If you do, you'll understand that what we're dealing with here isn't just a few politicians with offensive opinions. These guys are the real deal. These are Neo Nazi fascists, who are willing to murder anyone who gets in their way. The U.S. and the E.U. are backing them, and the corporate media is covering up their crimes.
But why would these guys resort to the kind of brutality we saw in Odessa? It wasn't very smart. The images and the video of the crime scene have gone viral. That's a public relations disaster that will have lasting consequences.
Why would they do something like this, because they're running out of options. There's a rebellion spreading all across Ukraine and in spite of what the corporate media has been trying to sell you these aren't pro-Russian protesters. The people don't trust the coup appointed government and they don't want to live under its rule. What they're asking for is a federal system comprised of states with a certain degree of autonomy, kind of like what the United States used to be.
Kiev has ordered the military to put down the rebellion 3 times already, but only a fraction of the Ukrainian military has been willing to fire on their own people. Not only have the troops refused to fight, but many have switched sides and are now fighting for the resistance. Others are on the fence contemplating turning their guns on Kiev, and are saying so publicly.
Translation: "Minister yatsenyuk and company a big thank you for my payment of 1300 hryvnia for two months. Believe me i'm ashamed do you hear me? Think about it because we can turn our tank column on you!"
That's a serious problem for the provisional government, especially since the IMF made it very clear that the 17 billion dollar loan package they are offering will be cancelled if Kiev fails to regain control of the east.It's worth noting that Kiev began the third military offensive right after the IMF made that threat, and right after the massacre in Odessa, the IMF made the first 3.2 billion dollar payment towards that 17 billion. I guess they earned it.
The grand irony here, is that these so called nationalists are apparently too stupid to realize that their leadership just sold them out. You say you want a Ukraine for Ukrainians, but Kiev just brought in the IMF vultures. The IMF! This is the worlds most notorious predatory lender. The western globalists own you guys now.
Debt is a far more insidious method of subjugation than military occupation. At least with an army you can recognize the enemy, and you can fight them, but when that enemy hides behind banks, they destroy a nation from the inside out. They use your own strength against you. Rather than fighting back, you'll end up groveling at their feet for table scraps.
The West doesn't care about Ukraine. They're certainly not concerned for the welfare of their people. Ukraine is just a pawn. It's just a pivot point on the board. The real target is Russia. At this point they aren't even hiding it.
If you pay attention you'll notice that the politicians and the media are doing everything in their power to turn the public against Russia. They are working hard to make you hate them and fear them. They are trying to create a boogie man in your mind. Kind of like how they did in the cold war.
Little details like the facts aren't an obstacle. They're just making stuff up at this point. Claiming to have evidence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, but never correcting themselves after the evidence was debunked. Claiming that the rebels in the East were ordering Jews to register and pay a special tax, never correcting themselves after a Jewish organization with connections in the region came forward to debunk the claim. And of course they blamed the violence in Odessa on the Russians too. They're not going to correct themselves.
You've heard the saying "History is written by the winners". That's not poetic, that's a literal truth. Don't let these people win.
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Donetsk Region Rejects Ukraine's Upcoming Presidential Vote
Mon, 12 May 2014 16:54
MOSCOW, May 12 (RIA Novosti) '' The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic will not participate in Ukraine's upcoming presidential election on May 25, DPR Co-Chairman Denis Pushilin said Monday.
''The election will not take place here,'' Pushilin said.
The announcement followed a statement by Southeastern Army Press Secretary Vasiliy Nikitin that the neighboring Luhansk People's Republic was also not planning to participate in the vote.
On Sunday, residents in Ukraine's southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions went to the polls in a self-rule referendum, with ballots in Ukrainian and Russian asking whether voters supported the acts of state self-determination of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
According to the final official tally, more than 70 percent of registered voters came to cast their ballots despite an intensified military operation by the Kiev government. Some 89.7 percent of the voters backed independence for Donetsk, while 10.19 percent voted against the measure.
Pushilin said the DPR could decide on Monday whether to remain part of Ukraine or secede from the country.
At least 50 people have died and 245 have been injured in Ukraine's southeastern Donetsk region since the beginning of a violent standoff between federalists and pro-regime forces on March 13, officials said Monday.
In the Luhansk region's referendum, voter turnout was over 79 percent, with the turnout in the regional capital exceeding 76 percent. Nikitin said earlier that more than 96 percent of voters backed the region's independence from Ukraine and did not rule out the possibility of a referendum on joining Russia.
The Luhansk People's Republic may campaign for international recognition at the United Nations, he added.
The Kremlin said in a statement Monday it respected the will of the people in Ukraine's southeast and urged the regime in Kiev to do the same. The Kremlin said it condemned ''the use of force including military hardware against peaceful citizens which led to deaths'' during the referendums.
Inside Putin's Campaign Of Social Media Trolling And Faked Ukrainian Crimes - Forbes.
Mon, 12 May 2014 16:51
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Ukraine's Luhansk may hold referendum on joining Russia: RIA
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:28
MOSCOW: Ukraine's eastern region of Luhansk may hold a referendum on joining Russia, state news agency RIA reported on Monday, citing a spokesman for the region's pro-Russian separatists.
"If this decision (to hold a referendum on joining Russia) is taken, then, respectively, the will of the people will be taken into account," RIA cited a spokesman for the pro-Russian separatists.
The region was one of two Ukrainian provinces that held a referendum on self-rule on Sunday. A referendum organiser was reported as saying that 96.2 percent of voters supported autonomy for Luhansk.
France won't cancel warship deal with Russia: sources
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:28
PARIS/BAKU: France will press ahead with a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.66 billion) contract to sell Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia because cancelling the deal would do more damage to Paris than to Moscow, French diplomatic sources said on Monday.
France's move illustrates the limitations of European Union sanctions meant to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea and dissuade Moscow from intervening in east Ukraine.
The United States has been pressing France, Germany and Britain to take a tougher line against Russia. For France, this would mean at least delaying the Mistral contract. For Britain, closing its mansions and bank vaults to magnates close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. For Germany, initiating gradual steps to reduce dependency on Russian gas.
France had said it would review the deal in October - but not before. However, French diplomatic sources said on Monday the 2011 contract with Russia for two Mistral helicopter carriers, with an option for two more, would not be part of a third round of sanctions against Moscow.
"The Mistrals are not part of the third level of sanctions. They will be delivered. The contract has been paid and there would be financial penalties for not delivering it.
"It would be France that is penalised. It's too easy to say France has to give up on the sale of the ships. We have done our part."
The Russian defence ministry warned Paris in March it would have to repay the cost of the contract and additional penalties if it cancelled the deal.
European ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday discussed what would trigger more hard-hitting economic sanctions on the Russian economy with big EU powers Germany, France and Britain all threatening tougher action against Moscow if it undermined the May 25 Ukrainian presidential election.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said on May 8 that she had qualms about the French deal after several U.S. lawmakers demanded Washington put pressure on France to send a strong message to Russia.
Russia agreed to buy the Mistrals, giving it access to advanced technology. This alarmed some of France's NATO allies at the time, especially in the aftermath of Russia's 2008 war with Georgia.
"We have regularly and consistently expressed our concerns about this sale, even before we had the latest Russian actions, and we will continue to do so," Nuland told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, setting up a potentially uncomfortable meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Washington on Tuesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to raise the issue with President Francois Hollande when he attends the D-Day commemorations in Normandy next month.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said last week he believed the European Union should include an arms embargo in any new round of sanctions on Russia.
Officials have suggested Paris could look to sell the ships to a different buyer or without the technology. One official also said there were provisions under World Trade Organisation rules that enable countries to break contracts under such circumstances.
The long-discussed French sale was Moscow's first major foreign arms purchase in the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy had hailed the signing of the Mistral contract as evidence the Cold War was over. It has created about 1,000 jobs in France.
A French government source said at no point had the U.S. officially expressed any concern over the sale, adding that the carriers would not be delivered with any weaponry.
"We are not delivering armed warships, but only the frame of the ship," the source said.
The first carrier, the Vladivostok, is due to be delivered by the last quarter of 2014. The second, named Sebastopol after the Crimean seaport, is supposed to be delivered by 2016.
About 400 Russian sailors are due to come to France in June to receive training for the Mistral. The carriers can hold up to 16 helicopters, such as Russia's Ka-50/52s.
African names email
Hi Adam,
I'm South African (so it may not apply to Central/Northern Africa) but where I'm from among the tribal (black) culture names like "Beauty", "Goodluck", even "Cellphone" etc. are all quite common and no I'm not joking. Normal African names like "Tsepho", "Lindiwe" and "Tumi" for instance are still more common though.
Again, from my limited experience.
US sends its giant spy drone to look for kidnapped Nigerian girls | Ars Technica
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:00
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is now stalking Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.
The drone that the United States Air Force sees as the replacement for the venerable U-2 spy plane is now flying surveillance missions over Nigeria as part of the search for 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group. A Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk flew a mission over Nigeria on Tuesday, according to an NBC News report.
The Global Hawk, which first flew in 1998, can stay airborne for up to 28 hours and has a range of 8,700 miles. It has a wingspan close to that of a Boeing 747, weighs more than 32,000 pounds, and carries the Hughes Integrated Surveillance and Reconnaissance (HISAR) sensor system, a down-market version of the infrared, optical, and synthetic aperture radar gear Hughes developed for the U-2.
At least some of the current RQ-4 aircraft carry a signals intelligence sensor as well, which can be used to intercept radio transmissions from the ground. The latest generation of RQ-4s (Block 40) will carry an improved radar system called the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP), which can both provide synthetic aperture radar imaging of the ground below and track multiple moving targets.
An RQ-4 Global Hawk takes off from its base in California.
It's not known where the Global Hawk aircraft patrolling over Nigeria is operating from; the Air Force typically flies the Global Hawk remotely from bases in California and North Dakota'--meaning that it probably has to fly at least 6,500 miles just to get on station in Nigeria. To provide a bit more local capability, the Air Force has also deployed an MC-12W Liberty manned reconnaissance aircraft, a variant of the Beechcraft King Air 350 rushed out in 2009 to provide more persistent intelligence and surveillance capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The MC-12W's sensor suite is intended for much more up-close reconnaissance. Manned by two pilots and two sensor operators, it is equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors, as well as signals collection gear, and can take on additional sensors depending on the mission. The airplane can also carry a laser designator, in the event that it finds something that needs to be hit with smart bombs.
Just how effective either of these aircraft will be in helping in the search is uncertain. Given the heavily forested terrain of the country, getting a visual lock on the girls and their captors will be difficult. Synthetic aperture radar could be used to find vehicles and buildings hidden by vegetation or even find structures buried underground, and infrared systems could locate individuals under tree cover. But it will take other intelligence information to confirm that the aircraft are even looking in the right place.
Nigeria girls' abduction: US deploys manned planes.
Wed, 14 May 2014 03:21
13 May 2014Last updated at 11:48 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
The BBC's John Simpson: "This whole part of Nigeria is Boko Haram territory"
The US has revealed it is flying manned surveillance missions over Nigeria to try to find more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
The US is also sharing commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerian government, officials said.
It comes after militants released a video of about 130 girls, saying they could be swapped for jailed fighters.
Boko Haram seized them from a school in the northern Borno state on 14 April.
Continue reading the main story- Several commanders
- Thousands of alleged fighters - not all those jailed are always militants
- Wives and children of fighters
Prisoner swaps have been organised before: - One of the wives of Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau was released in July 2013 along with the wives of other top commanders
"We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government's permission," said a senior administration official, who declined to be named.
A team of about 30 US experts - members of the FBI and defence and state departments - is in Nigeria to help with the search.
The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington says the types of aircraft deployed have not been revealed, but the US has sophisticated planes that can listen into a wide range of mobile phone and telecommunications traffic.
Looking for cluesOther officials, quoted by Reuters, said the US was also considering deploying unmanned "drone" aircraft to aid the search.
US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier on Monday that intelligence experts were closely examining the Boko Haram video for clues that might help locate the girls.
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
In the video, released by Boko Haram, its leader says the girls will be freed only if imprisoned militants are released
Pogu Bitrus, a leader in the town of Chibok, from where the girls were seized, said vegetation in the video resembled that in the nearby Sambisa forest reserve.
The video showed some 136 girls wearing bulky hijabs. Militants said they had "converted" to Islam.
The girls' families have said that most of those seized are Christians.
Two girls on the video singled out for questioning said they were Christians but had converted to Islam.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the girls could be exchanged for "our brethren in your prison".
"I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured," he said.
In a video last week, Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
OutcryA Nigerian government statement said "all options" for the girls' release were on the table.
However, Interior Minister Abba Moro appeared to dismiss the offer, saying no exchange would take place. The reason for the discrepancy was unclear.
The BBC's Mark Doyle, in the capital Abuja, says it appears some sort of negotiations will take place because of the large presence of international advisers in the country, including hostage negotiators.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", had previously said the girls should not have been at school and should get married instead.
The militants have been engaged in a violent campaign against the Nigerian government since 2009.
President Goodluck Jonathan - whose government has been heavily criticised for its response to the abduction - said on Sunday that help from abroad had made him optimistic of finding the girls.
He says he believes the girls are still in Nigeria.
The kidnapping has triggered a huge international campaign with world leaders and celebrities calling for the children to be released.
The UK, the US, France and China already have teams helping on the ground in Nigeria. An Israeli counter-terrorism team is also on its way.
Are you in the Nigerian state of Borno or do you have any relatives there? Do you travel to the area regularly or know anyone that does? Do you have any further information on Boko Haram or on the latest developments? You can send an email to adding 'Nigeria abductions' in the subject line.
Nigeria agrees to security summit on Boko Haram
Wed, 14 May 2014 03:19
PARIS (AP) -- A French official says Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has agreed to attend a security summit on Saturday in Paris to focus on the Boko Haram terrorist network, which abducted more than 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria last month.France is still awaiting confirmation from leaders of the four countries bordering Nigeria: Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Representatives of Britain, the EU and the United States will also be invited.The official spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because details on the summit have not been finalized. French President Francois Hollande proposed the meeting.The failure to rescue more than 200 girls who remain captive has attracted international outrage. Experts from the United States, France, Britain, China, Israel and Spain are expected in Nigeria to help the authorities.
Nigeria kidnapped girls 'shown in Boko Haram video'.
Mon, 12 May 2014 16:49
12 May 2014Last updated at 16:39 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
In the video, released by Boko Haram, its leader says the girls will freed only if imprisoned militants are released
Islamist militants Boko Haram have released a video apparently showing about 130 girls kidnapped from a school in northern Nigeria on 14 April.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the children would be held until all imprisoned militants had been freed.
Interior Minister Abba Moro rejected the deal, telling the BBC that it was "absurd" for a "terrorist group" to try to set conditions.
Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls and threatened to sell them.
Continue reading the main storyAnalysisIt will come as a relief for the parents to see at least some of the kidnapped girls alive. The video shows 136 girls sitting on the floor, wearing hijabs and repeatedly citing the first verse of Koran, followed by the words: "Allah is the only God who should be worshipped and the Prophet Muhammad is the only messenger." This is a pronouncement of their conversion to Islam.
The Boko Haram leader later says they have become "sisters of the militants" following their conversion. Next he goes on to say he may consider swapping the girls for imprisoned militants - but only those who have not converted.
The interior minister has said "terrorists" cannot set conditions, but the government is likely to come under pressure to bow to the militants' demands to see at least some girls released.
The BBC's John Simpson in the northern city of Maiduguri says Boko Haram's comments show signs that the group is willing to negotiate.
Three of the girls - wearing full-length cloaks - are shown speaking in the 27-minute video, obtained by French news agency AFP.
Two girls say they were Christian and have converted to Islam, while the other says she is Muslim.
"These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with... we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims," Abubakar Shekau says in the video.
He said his offer to swap the girls for imprisoned militants only referred to the children who had not converted to Islam.
It is thought the majority of the abducted girls are Christians, although there are a number of Muslims among them.
A man who is related to three of the abducted girls said the video at first gave him hope, but then made him anxious and tearful.
"Maybe they are converted into another religion by force, so it truly is a kind of terrifying situation," said the man, who did not want to be named.
Some 136 girls are shown in the video, just under half of the 276 pupils abducted from their school in the northern state of Borno.
Continue reading the main storyBoko Haram Founded in 2002, name means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language Launched violent struggle in 2009, ostensibly to create Islamic state Thousands killed, three million affected, mostly in north-east Declared terrorist group by US in 2013 Our correspondent says this could mean those abducted had been split into smaller groups to help avoid detection.
Local officials said they had started making copies of the video to show relatives and friends of the abducted girls in an attempt to identify them.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden", had previously said the girls should not have been at school and should get married instead.
The militants have been engaged in a violent campaign against the Nigerian government since 2009.
The government has faced heavy criticism of its response to the mass abduction.
President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday that assistance from abroad had made him optimistic of finding the girls.
The UK and US already have teams helping on the ground in Nigeria and an Israeli counter-terrorism team is also on its way to the country.
Nigeria - How Not to "Bring Back our Girls".
Mon, 12 May 2014 16:47
How Not to ''Bring Back our Girls''''The last thing Nigeria needs is a foreign military presence to prop up its corrupt government.''By Margaret Kimberley
May 11 2014 "ICH" - "BAR" - Bring back our girls. The message is a simple one that resonates with millions of people around the world. Those four words were first seen in a now famous twitter hashtag in the aftermath of the kidnapping of 280 teenagers from a school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 14, 2014. The Boko Haram group which is fighting that country's government admits to holding the girls captive.
Only people who closely follow international news were aware of this situation until last week. It is right that so many people are concerned for the girls' safety. Unfortunately, the effort to draw attention to this horror is of little use without a deeper understanding of Africa's political situation.
Because western nations continue to interfere in Africa's affairs and place compliant ''strong men'' in power, nearly every government on that continent is weak. Presidents and prime ministers exist only to enrich elites and ensure that valuable resources reach the western capitalist nations. It seems ludicrous that Nigerian president Goodluck Johnathan at first denied that the kidnap had taken place, and then vacillated between claiming that the girls had been recovered or that the number captured was smaller than reported. Hashtags and petitions are a poor substitute for a government whose infrastructure is dedicated to producing and delivering oil to the West but not doing very much for its own citizens.
''Relatives of suspected Boko Haram members were detained by the police in 2011 and 2012 and that the group swore revenge.''
It is little wonder that this story is so new to American ears. According to the Tyndall Report, which monitors daily broadcasts of the three major U.S. networks, there was not a single television news story about Boko Haram in 2013. This absence of information comes despite the fact that the group claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 1,500 people in the past year. Not only is the Chibok case not the first kidnapping of girls, but boys fare even worse in these attacks. Boko Haram killed 29 male students at a boarding school in February 2014. Americans ask why these girls were taken and why they can't be found without having any of the information which would answer those questions. The anger and sadness exist in a vacuum and are therefore useless in bringing about a resolution.
Because Americans are so poorly informed about the rest of the world, and so strangely enamored of their own government and its intentions, they automatically fall back to the worst solution of all, foreign military intervention. President Obama has said that he will assist the Nigerian military. That solution may please people who are understandably concerned about the fate of these young women, but that doesn't make it very helpful.
The last thing Nigeria needs is a foreign military presence to prop up its corrupt government. Nigeria is a linchpin of AFRICOM, which puts African militaries under the direct command of the United States. AFRICOM is in place to protect the resource pipeline and to restrict efforts to keep any other nations from bringing resources that Africans actually need. AFRICOM's presence certainly hasn't helped the victims of Boko Haram thus far.
The late to the party news stories never mention that relatives of suspected Boko Haram members were detained by the police in 2011 and 2012 and that the group swore revenge. Boko Haram leader Abubakr Shekau said in one his many videos, "Since you are now holding our women, just wait and see what will happen to your own women... to your own wives according to sharia law." The kidnappings of the past two years are a direct result of the government's mistreatment of its people and its failed efforts to fight Boko Haram.
''American allies like Yoweri Museveni in Uganda and Paul Kagame in Rwanda have kidnapped children and forced them to become soldiers.''
This simple tale is not so simple after all. The media constantly repeat that Boko Haram means ''western education is forbidden.'' Except that it more likely means that deception, such as that which came with western colonization and its education system, is forbidden. If this very basic fact about Boko Haram can't be reported properly, then the media are of little help to the missing girls or to the people all over the world who care so much about them.
While Americans wring their hands over the abducted teens, they know nothing about the African strong men supported by their government who do the very same thing. American allies like Yoweri Museveni in Uganda and Paul Kagame in Rwanda have kidnapped children and forced them to become soldiers. Both are also responsible for the deaths of six million Congolese. Americans not only have to be better informed, but they must stop thinking that their government and its allies are good and beneficent when they are anything but.
Sometimes the answer to the question, ''What can we do?'' is ''Nothing.'' There is nothing that the average American citizen can do to get these girls released and those with the power to do something aren't very interested in internecine warfare in Nigeria. Their machinations created this and so many other tragedies around the world.
It is difficult not to have a strong emotional reaction to such a terrible story but that is the precise moment to dig deeper and search for complexities. That is the least that can be done to help bring back our girls.
Nigeria's Boko Haram offers to swap kidnapped girls for prisoners
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:29
Video seen by AFP reportedly shows around 100 girls wearing full veils and praying in an undisclosed location.Reuters
span {display: block;}]]>ABUJA - The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has said he will release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for prisoners, according to a video seen by Agence France-Presse on Monday.
Around 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks, according to the French news agency.
Militants fighting for an Islamist state stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some managed to escape but around 200 remain missing.
Related stories:
The group has killed thousands since 2009 and destabilized parts of northeast Nigeria, the country with Africa's largest population and biggest economy.
The attack has provoked global expressions of outrage, and concern about the fate of the girls deepened when Shekau threatened in a video released earlier this month to sell the girls "in the market".
Nigeria said Saturday it had deployed two army divisions to the hunt for the girls, while Israel along with the United States, Britain, and France, have offered assistance or sent experts.
The Nigerian government has been sharply criticized for its response to the abductions, but President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday that international military and intelligence assistance made him optimistic about finding the girls.
French President Francois Hollande on Sunday offered to host a summit in Paris next Saturday with Nigeria and its neighbors that would focus on the militant group.
The leaders of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger might also attend and Britain, the European Union and the United States would probably be represented as well, Hollande's aides said.
Nigeria: France Offers to Host Boko Haram Summit
Mon, 12 May 2014 04:57
France has offered to host a summit involving Nigeria, to discuss ways of thwarting the Islamist group Boko Haram. Meanwhile, Israel joined a group of nations offering help to track down girls abducted by the militants.
French President Francois Hollande on Sunday called for leaders to hold a summit in Paris to discuss security in West Africa, with a particular focus on Boko Haram.
"I suggested, with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a meeting of Nigeria's neighboring countries," said Hollande, on a visit to the Azeri capital, Baku.
"If countries agree, it should take place next Saturday," he added, saying that Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria could be involved. It is expected that the proposed summit could involve other countries that have offered their help in locating more than 200 schoolgirls who remain missing after they were abducted by the group last month.
Britain, France and the United States have all sent specialist teams to help Nigeria's military to track down the missing girls, amid international outrage at the act. Israel on Sunday joined the list of nations that have offered help, which also includes China and Spain.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave no details of its proposed help. However, a spokesman for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he had told Netanyahu Nigeria would be "pleased to have Israel's globally acknowledged anti-terrorism expertise deployed to support its ongoing operations."
Optimism in Abuja
Nigeria has deployed two army units to the border region near to where the girls are believed to be held captive, close to Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to sell the girls "in the market."
The president's office said on Sunday he was "very optimistic that, with the entire international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria's efforts ... success will soon be achieved."
Jonathan has been strongly criticized over the government's handling of the kidnapping, with protests over the abductions taking place in the capital, Abuja, on Sunday.
Boko Haram, whose struggle to impose Islamic law on half-Christian, half-Muslim Nigeria has killed more than 1,500 people this year alone.
rc/crh (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Africa - Hollande offers to host security summit on Boko Haram
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:21
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Africa's Richest Man To Invest $2.3 Billion In Plan To Fight Boko Haram
Mon, 12 May 2014 16:48
Log in with your social account:Or, you can log in or sign up using Forbes.New Posts+22 posts this hourMost PopularAmazon's Wholesale SlaughterListsGlobal 2000VideoWu-Tang's Secret Album2 FREE issues of ForbesHelp|Connect
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Packet Inequality
"Paid Prioritization"
No one knows what it is or means
Has been legal for 15 years
Offering to coply with 2010 Open Internet 'rules'
Transport cost charges
Open Internet vs First Mile
Interconnection market is intensely competitive
Reed used to pay $700 million to USPS and now he wants free transit
Why should 2/3ds of the people pay for Netflix pipe usage?
Virgin Mobile 95/5
Dear Virgin Mobile Customer,
Beginning 6/1/14, to provide more customers with a high quality data experience during heavy usage times, Virgin Mobile may manage prioritization of access to network resources in congested areas for customers within the top 5% of data users. For more info visit the network management page.
NYTimes: Defending the Open Internet
Stop The Slow is tracking you
Tell the FCC: Restore Net Neutrality
Tue, 13 May 2014 21:24
On the morning of January 30th, Fight for the Future joined 85 other organizations who delivered over 1 MILLION signatures demanding immediate action to restore net neutrality to the FCC offices in Washington, D.C.
Chairman Tom Wheeler, the head of the FCC, was amazed at the numbers of people who spoke out within the short two-week period. "A million people? That's boffo," he said to the press.
Check out the video to the left (thanks Free Press!), and this article in Mashable. Scroll down for photos.
To stay updated as we continue to campaign for net neutrality:
Follow us on Twitter @fightfortheftrAnd like us on Facebook:Donate to the fight!
Tue, 13 May 2014 21:23
The FCC could soon let Internet providers charge websites to access a bogus "fast lane" and slow down every site that doesn't pay. Do you want a slower Internet? Neither do we. Show the world what the FCC's "slow lane" looks like, as part of an online wave of action that doesn't stop until net neutrality wins.
If you're here, you probably know that the Federal Communications Comission is proposing new rules to allow Internet providers to discriminate based on content to provide separate and unequal connection speeds, effectively creating "fast" and "slow" lanes for the Internet. This means that website owners and entrepreneurs like you may be forced to pay an arbitrary fee to ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner if you want your visitors to be able to access your website at regular speeds '' or at all.
This is a big issue. ISPs want to extort money from websites they deem profitable enough to pay them extra. We must convince the FCC that this is a terrible idea.
#StopTheSlowLane is an initiative to raise awareness about this issue. At its core is a simple JavaScript widget and Wordpress Plugin for your website or blog that will inform your visitors about what's going on and empower them to easily contact Congress and the FCC voicing their opposition to this proposal. Our goal is to get as many people as possible to do this, and we need your help.
Right now, protesters are camped out at the FCC, demanding rules prohibiting ''slow lanes'' and a restoration of net neutrality. And protests are planned outside FCC offices around the country as well. Live in the DC area, or in NYC? Come down and say hi. Too far away? Run the code on your website to protest online!
Add this line of HTML inside your website's tag, after any javascript or stylesheet tags. See it in action.
body { display: none; }Two things to note:
The widget will show up once per user, per site (using cookies). To always show it for testing, (re)load your page with #ALWAYS_SHOW_SL_WIDGET at the end of the address.In practice, the Contact Congress form will show after the animation plays once. The previews below loop indefinitely just for demo purposes.Here's a preview of what the loading process will look like.
Alternate version: here's what browsing the web will be like once Comcast/Time Warner succeed in slowing it down. See it in action.
body { display: none; }var _sl_options = { animation: 'blur' }; // Alternate Comcast animationAnimated GIF: If you don't want to actually slow down your page loads, embed our animated GIF!
The more people are onboard with #StopTheSlowLane, the better. Spread the word to your friends and followers via Email, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network of your preference.
Comcast plans data caps for all customers in 5 years, could be 500GB | Ars Technica
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:39
A Comcast executive said he expects the company will roll out "usage-based billing"'--what most people call "data caps"'--to all of its customers within five years.
Speaking with investors today (transcript), Comcast Executive VP David Cohen said, "I would predict that in five years Comcast at least would have a usage-based billing model rolled out across its footprint."
Further ReadingNetflix's share of Internet traffic rises again, to 34 percent.
Comcast, which has about 20 million broadband customers, has rolled out caps to some of the areas that it serves, including Huntsville and Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah, Georgia; Central Kentucky; Maine; Jackson, Mississippi; Knoxville and Memphis, Tenessee; and Charleston, South Carolina. Customers generally get 300GB of data per month, with $10 charges for each extra 50GB. (During the trial period, customers can exceed the cap for three months out of any 12-month period without incurring extra fees.)
Comcast told Ars last November that "98 percent of our customers nationally don't use 300GB/month." Cohen today said that Comcast will raise the limit over time so that the large majority of users won't go over it, suggesting that 500GB is a possible monthly limit five years from now.
"I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to say the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan," Cohen said. "And that number may be 350'--that may be 350 gig a month today, it might be 500 gig a month in five years."
When asked if customers will get a "reasonably large number of usage plans" to choose from, Cohen said he doesn't want a situation where "80 percent of our customers are implicated by usage-based billing and are all buying different packets of usage. I don't think that's the model that we are heading toward, but five years ago I don't know that I would have heard of something called an iPad. So very difficult to make predictions."
Comcast has offered a few different data package options during its trial period. Some trials varied the caps from 300GB to 600GB depending on which speed tier customers paid for. "We don't want to chase our customers away, so we are rolling out different models, different approaches," Cohen said. "We are surveying our customers.
Comcast is attempting to purchase Time Warner Cable, which has rolled out 30GB plans in exchange for $5 off the monthly bill. Those plans are optional, though, and most TWC customers have stuck with their unlimited data packages.
The government could conceivably require Comcast to maintain unlimited plans in Time Warner Cable territory, but Cohen doesn't think it will. "I doubt it [will be a factor] in the merger review because it really has nothing to do with our transaction. It's a generic industry-related issue," he said.
However, Cohen said he "wouldn't be stunned" if the FCC considers data caps in its deliberations on net neutrality rules "because people have tried to make this an open Internet issue."
Virgin Mobile USA-throttling
Wed, 14 May 2014 20:57
Virgin Mobile provides wireless broadband Internet to its customers using the Sprint Wireless Data Network.
Virgin Mobile and Sprint are committed to providing the best wireless broadband Internet access service experience possible for all of its customers. To ensure that all users enjoy the best possible network experience, Sprint uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Sprint also prohibits certain wireless data customers from engaging in certain data uses. Information concerning these prohibited uses can be found in Virgin Mobile point-of-sale materials and online in our Important Terms of Service found at
The following Frequently Asked Questions are intended to help clarify for Virgin Mobile customers what we mean by network management and explain Sprint's network management techniques and approaches.
Why does Sprint manage its network?
Sprint manages its network with the goal of delivering the best possible wireless broadband Internet access experience to all of its retail customers. Wireless network resources are not infinite. Managing the network is essential to promote the use and enjoyment of wireless data by all network users. Sprint uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Sprint also strives to use tools and technologies that are intended to be minimally intrusive. Just as the Internet continues to change and evolve, so too, will Sprint's network management practices to address the challenges and threats on the Internet.
If Sprint didn't manage its network, network users would be subject to the negative effects of spam, viruses, security attacks, network congestion, and other risks and degradations of the service. By engaging in reasonable and responsible network management, Sprint can deliver the best possible broadband Internet access experience to all users of the network.
How does Sprint manage its network?
Sprint uses various tools and techniques to manage its network, allow Virgin Mobile to deliver our service and ensure compliance with our prohibited network use and related requirements, which are available in Virgin Mobile point-of-sale materials and online at These tools and techniques are dynamic, like the Sprint network and its usage, and Sprint may update the tools and techniques it uses. Sprint's network management activities may include identifying spam and preventing its delivery to customers, detecting malicious Internet traffic and preventing the distribution of viruses or other harmful code or content, allocating spectrum and network resources amongst customers, devices, and price plans and using other tools and techniques that Sprint may be required to implement in order to meet its goal of allowing Virgin Mobile to deliver the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers.
Does network management change over time?
Yes. The wireless industry is highly dynamic. As the Internet and related technologies continue to evolve and advance, Sprint's network management tools will evolve and keep pace so that we can deliver an excellent, reliable and safer online experience to all of our customers. We will provide updates here and in other appropriate locations if we make important or significant changes to our network management techniques.
Does Sprint employ any type of data compression or optimization on the Sprint network today?
Yes, Sprint deploys Network Optimization capabilities for video and web traffic on the Sprint Wireless Network. Intent is to improve overall user experience and increase network efficiency. Optimization helps improve page load times and reduces video stalling. The optimization technology provides for the elimination of wasted data transmission that results from lack of coordination between applications, network, and device, for example stopping transmission of video after a customer has stopped viewing it. It also matches media transmission quality to the capability of the device viewing the media. In addition, for customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management, Sprint may limit streaming video throughput or put in place other prioritization policies as needed to ensure efficient use of network resources. These network management practices reduce network data tonnage, freeing up capacity with the goal of providing an overall better network experience for all Sprint customers.
What specific types of optimization does Sprint employ?
Optimization is deployed for RTSP and HTTP video traffic and all HTTP web traffic. Video optimization uses four basic technologies:
Video Delivery Synchronization: Delivers video "just in time" to the mobile device. Intent is to eliminate network waste associated with transmitting video that isn't watched.Quality Aware Transcoding. Matches video quality with network conditions in real time. Optimizes video for the bandwidth available to the user. Intent is to minimize or eliminate annoying video stalling. Similar in concept to the optimization techniques already employed by sites using adaptive streaming.Video Transcoding: Transcodes video with intent to optimize the video experience for the user while efficiently using network bandwidth. Provides for the elimination of video waste using techniques like replacing less efficient video codecs with more efficient ones. Optimizes video for the mobile device the customer is using.Intelligent Caching: Caches optimized video in the network with the intent of eliminating delay associated with internet video sites.Web optimization uses three basic technologies:Caching: Caches web pages to help avoid delays associated with retrieval of the same internet content multiple timesText/Binary compression: Lossless compression of data and binary files using standard compression techniques supported by HTTP-compliant browsers.Image Compression: JPEG and GIF compression designed to reduce the size of images while maintaining no user perceptible loss of quality.Do device software upgrades affect the performance of my device on Sprint's network?
From time to time, Sprint may push software updates to your device to improve device features, security, and performance. These updates may include components that optimize the way your device and application on the device use network resources by, for example, managing connections between a user's wifi networks and the Sprint network or by managing the intervals at which certain background application connect to the network. Updates that manage radio resources are intended to improve performance and device battery life while also maintaining a high quality user experience.
How does congestion management work?
Network bandwidth isn't infinite. In times of network congestion, the network segment or sector impacted doesn't have enough bandwidth to fully serve all customers requesting it. The network is designed to dynamically allocate available bandwidth in a way that is fair to all users. The fairness algorithms below describe the approach. The resulting impact to end user experience is that the user may temporarily experience slower-than-normal data speeds until the congestion has passed.
On the Sprint 3G (CDMA) and 4G LTE networks, Sprint uses a proportional fairness scheduler algorithm that allocates network resources based on radio frequency signal quality and other metrics. During times of congestion, the proportional fairness scheduler algorithm ensures no one user is deprived of network resources.On the Sprint 4G WIMAX network, Sprint may periodically measure a user's bandwidth usage on a specific network segment or sector, as well as measure the overall bandwidth usage for all users on that segment or sector. At times when an individual user is consuming high amounts of bandwidth and at the same time the overall bandwidth is being used by all users on that network segment or sector at high levels, Sprint 4G customers may experience a temporary adjustment in available network resources until the conditions for network congestion have passed.In addition to employing fairness algorithms, Sprint may also use prioritization to prevent network congestion. Customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management may experience a reduction of throughput or speed or other prioritization policies as needed to make additional network resources available to users on higher priority devices or plans.What type of prioritization occurs on the Sprint network today?
Sprint currently employs prioritization to improve data experience for the vast majority of users on Sprint's CDMA and LTE networks. The heaviest data users consume a disproportionate share of network resources and cause a negative user experience for the rest. To more fairly allocate network resources in times of congestion, customers falling within the top 5% of data users may be prioritized below other customers attempting to access network resources, resulting in a reduction of throughput or speed as compared to performance on non-congested sites.
How much bandwidth would I have to consume to fall within the top 5% of data users ? For example, how many movies would I have to download to be affected by network prioritization?
Though the exact amount of data used before a customer falls within the top 5% of data users will vary from month to month, currently customers who typically use 5 GB or more in a given month are likely to fall within the top 5% of data users. To get an estimate of approximately how much data certain activities use in a month, visit
If I fall within the top 5% of data users, how long will I be subject to network prioritization?
The top 5% of data users will be determined on a monthly basis. If a customer is identified as falling within the top 5% of data users, the customer will be subject to network prioritization for the following month. However, customers that continue to fall within the top 5% of data users will continue to be subject to prioritization.
How does congestion management impact me and my use of data services?
The goal of congestion management is to enable the majority of users to have access to a fair share of the network at peak times, when congestion occasionally occurs. Most customers will notice an improved wireless data experience due to Sprint's congestion management. Customers subject to prioritization may experience reduced throughput or speed compared to their normal experience on non-congested sites.
How often does Sprint expect to use congestion management?
Because of the peaked nature of wireless data traffic, congestion management software is actively looking for network congestion at all times. When it detects congestion, both the fairness algorithms described above and network prioritization are triggered to ensure that more Sprint customers enjoy the best possible network experience.
Sprint monitors how user traffic is affected by congestion management and makes adjustments as reasonably necessary to ensure that our wireless data users have a high-quality wireless broadband Internet access experience. Sprint also evaluates its overall network performance and enhances its network by adding capacity or making other network adjustments to address congestion and performance issues.
How does congestion management relate to the various monthly data usage thresholds?
They are two separate issues. Congestion management works to optimize the experience of all users in the congested area. It works independent of any caps or overage charges that may apply based on the user's price plan and monthly usage.
Does Sprint give priority to any devices or plans?
Yes. In addition to the heavy user treatment outlined above, Sprint also reserves the right to alter the priority of other customers on specific devices or plans on the Sprint network. Customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management may experience a reduction in throughput or speed. This ensures additional network resources are available to users on higher priority devices or plans. Sprint reserves the right to initiate additional prioritization management policies on plans and devices subject to prioritization at its sole discretion as needed to allocate network resources to higher priority devices or plans.
Does congestion management target peer-to-peer ("P2P") or other applications or make decisions about the content of my traffic?
Virgin Mobile's service plan terms prohibit some types of data usage and Virgin Mobile reserves the right to take action when customers violate these service terms, including but not limited to limiting data throughput speeds or quantities, or denying, terminating, ending, modifying, disconnecting or suspending your service, or declining to renew your service blocking the traffic, slowing the customer's effective data speeds, or discontinuing a customer's service. Details about these and other prohibited usage policies can be found in its service plan terms at
Do Virgin Mobile labeled products such as Virgin Mobile Live have precedent over other applications?
No. They are treated just like any other data application on the network and traffic from these applications is subject to the same congestion management controls as any other Internet traffic.
Does Sprint discriminate against particular types of online content?
Sprint and Virgin Mobile strive to deliver to our retail customers access to all the lawful content that the Internet has to offer. However, we are committed to protecting customers from spam, phishing, and other unwanted or harmful online content and activities. Sprint uses industry standard tools and generally accepted best practices and policies to help it meet this customer commitment. In cases where these tools and policies identify certain online content as harmful and unwanted, such as spam or phishing Web sites, this content is usually prevented from reaching customers. In other cases, these tools and policies may permit customers to identify certain content that is not clearly harmful or unwanted, such as bulk email or Web sites with questionable security ratings, and enable those customers to inspect the content further if they want to do so.
Does Sprint employ network security practices in addition to the congestion management technique?
Yes. Sprint uses normal industry security practices to protect the Sprint network elements from unauthorized access and attack.
Does Sprint have rules regarding the attachment of devices to its network by customers?
Yes. Only Sprint-approved devices may be used on the Sprint network.
Where can I find additional information regarding the performance of Virgin Mobile on the Sprint network?
Information concerning Sprint's coverage and network performance can be found using our coverage tool which can be found at: Information on the speed of Sprint's network can be found at:
Where can I find additional pricing and other terms and conditions for Virgin Mobile broadband internet access?
Virgin Mobile Terms of Service and Important Service/Product Specific Terms, including guidelines on such topics as service plans, activation procedures, data usage and dispute resolution, can be viewed at:
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What is the Virgin Mobile policy for online privacy?
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For questions that are not answered in this page, Virgin Mobile customers may contact customer care at 1-888-322-1122, by dialing 611, for Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go, by contacting customer care at 1-877-877-8443 or by any of the methods listed on our customer service contact page located at: For information on resolving disputes with Virgin Mobile, Please review our terms and conditions under the heading "Dispute Resolution" located here:
FCC's Wheeler tries new sales pitch for Net neutrality proposal - Los Angeles Times
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:16
Even before he released the first summary, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has been trying to set the record straight about his Net neutrality proposal. But when the actual language is released this week, critics may still reject Wheeler's interpretation of what the proposed rules would and would not allow.
At issue is what sort of deals the rules would permit Internet service providers to strike with content providers (such as Netflix) and online services (such as Skype). Many of Wheeler's critics believe that his approach would let ISPs prioritize data or speed up some sites' traffic at the expense of others. They base this belief not on the text of Wheeler's proposal, because it hasn't been released yet and seems to still be in flux, but on news reports that have been published since a description of the plan leaked in April.
Wheeler has repeatedly asserted that he isn't backing away from the goals the commission set in 2010 when it adopted its first formal open-Internet rules, most of which were rejected by a federal appeals court this year. Those rules hadn't banned prioritization outright; instead, they'd barred ISPs from discriminating "unreasonably" among content providers, while saying the commission would take a dim view of any attempt to prioritize. Now, Wheeler says, he's simply trying to come up with a way to achieve the 2010 goals that will survive court scrutiny.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wheeler would revise his proposal to clarify that "the FCC will scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers don't unfairly put nonpaying companies' content at a disadvantage." But then, FCC officials have been saying that all along. They'd also been saying since Day One that the commission would explore whether paid prioritization should be considered unreasonable on its face.
Yet the previous assurances hadn't been enough to satisfy Wheeler's two Democratic colleagues on the commission, raising the possibility that he wouldn't get the three votes needed to start the formal rulemaking process on Thursday (the two Republicans on the panel have voiced doubts about the need for any neutrality rules). So Wheeler had to provide more, and he seems to have done so largely by proposing to pay more attention to a different, more forceful approach to stopping ISPs from improperly playing favorites with data in the last mile.
Wheeler still wants the FCC to use the broad but vague power it has under Section 706 of the Communications Act to set its open Internet rules, which would bar ISPs from blocking or entering "commercially unreasonable" deals with sites and services. In the notice of proposed rulemaking to be issued later this week, however, the FCC will give more prominence to an alternative favored by many Net neutrality advocates: applying Title II of the Communications Act, which has more regulatory power, to broadband providers.
Doing so might require the commission to reclassify broadband as a communications service, reversing a decade-old decision to treat broadband as an information service exempt from Title II's rules. And such a move would trigger a knock-down drag-out fight with Republicans and telco-friendly Democrats in Congress that could endanger the agency's funding, among other possible consequences. Some advocates contend there may be ways to use Title II without reclassifying broadband, but that may not shield the FCC from Capitol Hill's wrath.
To Wheeler's sharpest critics, it's a fight worth having because Section 706 leaves too much room for deals that would harm the Net. In their view, any technique ISPs might use to play favorites would inevitably harm the Internet ecosystem. That's because there's not enough competition in the last mile to keep ISPs from tilting the playing field in ways that reduce the incentives for investment, innovation and disruption.
Those incentives are vital, and a good argument can be made that any form of data prioritization necessarily reduces them, unless the prioritization is provided to entire categories of service (i.e., remote medical diagnostics). A company that buys its way to the front of the queue automatically pushes its competitors further to the rear. Data prioritization isn't the only possible outcome of a Section 706-based approach, however; the FCC could conceivably stop prioritization deals while allowing other approaches that allow sites to pay to make themselves more appealing to consumers -- for example, a deal that would exempt a high-definition video site from an ISP's data caps -- without degrading access to competing offerings.
Nevertheless, using Section 706 necessarily means taking a largely case-by-case approach to protecting the open Internet. And as we've seen over the last decade, different FCC commissioners have different views about what's harmful. A case-by-case approach also offers little defense against ISPs gradually shifting their investment away from conventional broadband services to the new services provided for partners. To advocates of a Title II approach, those risks are just too great to take.
Copyright (C) 2014, Los Angeles Times
The best way to protest net neutrality's end is with an Internet-wide slowdown | Dan Gillmor | Comment is free |
Sun, 11 May 2014 21:27
The head of the Federal Communications Commission, former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler, may have a battle on his hands over his proposal to create two standards of Internet service and end net neutrality. This is welcome news for anyone who believes in an open Internet.
Now is the time to ratchet up the pressure.
So what's happened since Wheeler first floated his plan to move toward a two-tiered Internet '' where companies would pay Internet service providers for special "fast lanes" to get to you and me? Quite a bit.
Open-Internet activists have gone universally berserk '' in the best possible way '' and are planning a series of protests leading up to a scheduled FCC vote on May 15 about whether to push Wheeler's proposal toward official rule-making.Several influential members of Congress are raising an alarm, too, including Democrats Sen. Al Franken (Minnesota) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (California), who represents part of Silicon Valley. Eshoo pointedly noted that the moves by the Obama-appointed FCC chairman are a flat betrayal of President Obama's 2008 campaign promises.Two Democratic FCC commissioners have expressed misgivings about the proposal. One of them, Jessica Rosenworcel, has urged a one-month delay in the vote. (Wheeler has said he'll proceed with the vote as scheduled.)And, somewhat belatedly, a large group of technology companies '' along with several major business organizations '' have written an open letter to the FCC, saying the two-tier proposals are dangerous to the future of the Internet. Among the signatories were Google, Facebook and Amazon (though one of the letter's organizers, Marvin Ammori, told me that the small and medium-sized companies were the principal drivers in this effort).The smaller Internet companies asked their users and customers to protest to Congress '' but that's not enough. The large companies need to do what they did when they helped kill the odious Stop Online Piracy Act (which would have eliminated so-called "safe harbor" provisions and made every company legally responsible for any user's post). Back then, companies large and small demonstrated what might happen were the law to pass by going dark for a day.
Tech investor (and my friend) Brad Feld suggested on Wednesday that they do it again. In a blog post entitled "Dear Internet: Let's Demo the Slow Lane" he called on Internet companies to let the world see what Wheeler's proposal would actually mean:
Let the world see "Waiting for", "Connecting", and "Buffering" show up in their browser continuously throughout the day. Explain what is going on. Then click a button to bypass the Slow Lane and get normal connectivity.
Instead of everyone getting tangled up in the legal question of what "net neutrality" means, consumers can see what could happen if / when ISPs can decide which companies get to use their fast lanes by paying extra and who is relegated to the slow lane.
The big companies need to launch their lobbyists and political action committees into the fray as well. They need to push hard for measures from Congress that would create genuine competition again among Internet service providers.
If they don't, we'll know where the Googles, Facebooks, Amazons and such actually stand '' waiting to see if they can profit more by collaborating with the telecom companies' ongoing shakedown of middlemen and content providers (above and beyond their already overpriced "consumer" service).
Meanwhile, it's up to the rest of us to tell Washington '' starting with our own letters to the FCC and your representatives '' that we need an open Internet, not the cable-TV-on-steroids system that the Comcasts, Verizons, AT&Ts and other oligopoly carriers have planned for us.
AQ Inc
Al Qaeda to launch English-language Web magazine 'Resurgence' - Washington Times
Thu, 15 May 2014 06:37
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In this undated photo provided by the United States Attorney's Office for ... more >A media-oriented group tied to what's left of Al Qaeda's original core leaders says it will soon launch the terrorist network's first-ever English-language Internet magazine called ''Resurgence.''
A promotional video for the new magazine was posted online over the weekend by as-Sahab, a group that has for years released messages from Ayman al-Zawahiri '-- the terrorist believed believed to have taken control of Al Qaeda original core following the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden.
According to a report Sunday by NBC News, the slickly produced video uses audio from Malcom X, the late African American Muslim and human rights activist, who was assassinated in 1965 while promoting the U.S.-based Nation of Islam.
The video appears to combine audio from a 1965 Malcolm X speech justifying violence '-- including the quote ''talk the language that they understand'' '-- with images of U.S. soldiers, Islamic militants, a purported attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan and the Boston Marathon bombings, NBC reported.
It remains to be seen whether the new magazine will come to fruition on the Internet. If it does, it will likely be aligned with ''Inspire,'' an Arabic-language online magazine that analysts say is produced by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula '-- a group that intelligence official described as an ''affiliate'' of al Qaeda's original core.
The announcement of ''Resurgence'' arrives at a time when the Obama administration says al Qaeda's original core '-- also known as ''al Qaeda central'' '-- has been devastated by drone strikes in the Afghanistan-Pakistan boarder region.
The NBC report said the promotional video for ''Resurgence'' suggests al Qaeda central is trying to reestablish its waning influence over Islamic militants around the world.
(C) Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Movie PR
Robots will never have feelings, experts claim.
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:28
Computers can't handle any process that completely integrates information, so they can't be conscious feel emotion, one expert claimsThe ability to integrate information is a main feature of consciousness, according to one mathematical frameworkProfessor from the National University of Ireland, says consciousness can't be created in a robots in finite time using limited memoryProcess is so complex that it's beyond our abilities to reverse it and put it to use in machinesBy Sarah Griffiths
Published: 10:29 EST, 14 May 2014 | Updated: 11:13 EST, 14 May 2014
A mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness, says emotional machines such as Marvin the Paranoid Androidfrom Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (pictured) will never exist
The prospect of robot overlords, friends and lovers has been the topic of science fiction novels for years.
But according to one mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness, emotional machines will never exist.
This is because computers can't handle any process that completely integrates information, so they cannot be conscious and capable of feeling, one expert claims.
A mathematical framework for consciousness, developed over the last decade by Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that the ability to integrate information is a key feature of consciousness.
He believes that integrated information can't be broken down into smaller components in conscious minds, because the brain contextualises information.
For example, when we see a red triangle our brains don't register the shape as a colourless triangle plus a shapeless coloured area, New Scientist reported. Instead we see it as a whole - a red triangle, we understand the 'wider picture'.
Phil Maguire of the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, said that a computational device called the XOR logic gate relies on predicting outcomes using a combination of two inputs, which require a loss of information.
'You have to put in two bits and you get one out. If the brain integrated information in this fashion, it would have to be continuously haemorrhaging information.'
His team has defined integration In terms of how tricky it is to modify information.
It is easy enough for machines to edit a collection of individual images, but memories are composed of a bank of intertwined images and experiences and cannot be altered in the same way.
Unrequited love: Consciousness cannot be created in physical machines in finite time using limited memory as this is beyond scientists' abilities. The study suggests that humans will not find friendship with a robot (pictured left and right) but are unlikely to be made their slaves either
WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS?A mathematical framework for consciousness developed over the last decade by Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says that the ability to integrate information is a main feature of consciousness.
He believes that integrated information cannot be broken down into smaller components in conscious minds, because the brain contextualises information.
For example, when we see a red triangle our brains so not register the shape as a colourless triangle plus a shapeless coloured area.
Consciousness cannot be created in a physical machines in finite time using limited memory, according to another expert who thinks robots will never be able to feel emotions like humans.
The researchers have used mathematics to show that computers cannot handle the complex processes needed to mesh pieces of information together seamlessly.
Therefore, if consciousness is based on the integration of lots of pieces of information, computers can't be conscious and capable of experiencing emotions like humans.
Professor Maguire says that consciousness cannot be created in a physical machine in finite time using limited memory.
'It doesn't necessarily mean that there is some magic going on in the brain that involves some forces that can't be explained physically. It is just so complex that it's beyond our abilities to reverse it and decompose it,' he said.
His research may mean that lonely humans will not find love with a robot, they are unlikely to be made their slaves either.
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Now The Military Is Going To Build Robots That Have Morals - Defense One
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:02
Are robots capable of moral or ethical reasoning? It's no longer just a question for tenured philosophy professors or Hollywood directors. This week, it's a question being put to the United Nations.
AuthorPatrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He's also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist, where he served for nine years. Tucker's writing on emerging technology ... Full Bio
The Office of Naval Research will award $7.5 million in grant money over five years to university researchers from Tufts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Brown, Yale and Georgetown to explore how to build a sense of right and wrong and moral consequence into autonomous robotic systems.
''Even though today's unmanned systems are 'dumb' in comparison to a human counterpart, strides are being made quickly to incorporate more automation at a faster pace than we've seen before,'' Paul Bello, director of the cognitive science program at the Office of Naval Research told Defense One. ''For example, Google's self-driving cars are legal and in-use in several states at this point. As researchers, we are playing catch-up trying to figure out the ethical and legal implications. We do not want to be caught similarly flat-footed in any kind of military domain where lives are at stake.''
The United States military prohibits lethal fully autonomous robots. And semi-autonomous robots can't ''select and engage individual targets or specific target groups that have not been previously selected by an authorized human operator,'' even in the event that contact with the operator is cut off, according to a 2012 Department of Defense policy directive.
''Even if such systems aren't armed, they may still be forced to make moral decisions,'' Bello said. For instance, in a disaster scenario, a robot may be forced to make a choice about whom to evacuate or treat first, a situation where a bot might use some sense of ethical or moral reasoning. ''While the kinds of systems we envision have much broader use in first-response, search-and-rescue and in the medical domain, we can't take the idea of in-theater robots completely off the table,'' Bello said.
Some members of the artificial intelligence, or AI, research and machine ethics communities were quick to applaud the grant. ''With drones, missile defines, autonomous vehicles, etc., the military is rapidly creating systems that will need to make moral decisions,'' AI researcher Steven Omohundro told Defense One. ''Human lives and property rest on the outcomes of these decisions and so it is critical that they be made carefully and with full knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the systems involved. The military has always had to define 'the rules of war' and this technology is likely to increase the stakes for that.''
''We're talking about putting robots in more and more contexts in which we can't predict what they're going to do, what kind of situations they'll encounter. So they need to do some kind of ethical reasoning in order to sort through various options,'' said Wendell Wallach, the chair of the Yale Technology and Ethics Study Group and author of the book Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong.
The sophistication of cutting-edge drones like British BAE Systems's batwing-shaped Taranis and Northrop Grumman's X-47B reveal more self-direction creeping into ever more heavily armed systems. The X-47B, Wallach said, is ''enormous and it does an awful lot of things autonomously.''
But how do you code something as abstract as moral logic into a bunch of transistors? The vast openness of the problem is why the framework approach is important, says Wallach. Some types of morality are more basic, thus more code-able, than others.
''There's operational morality, functional morality, and full moral agency,'' Wallach said. ''Operational morality is what you already get when the operator can discern all the situations that the robot may come under and program in appropriate responses'... Functional morality is where the robot starts to move into situations where the operator can't always predict what [the robot] will encounter and [the robot] will need to bring some form of ethical reasoning to bear.''
It's a thick knot of questions to work through. But, Wallach says, with a high potential to transform the battlefield.
''One of the arguments for [moral] robots is that they may be even better than humans in picking a moral course of action because they may consider more courses of action,'' he said.
Ronald Arkin, an AI expert from Georgia Tech and author of the book Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots, is a proponent of giving machines a moral compass. ''It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield, but I am convinced that they can perform more ethically than human soldiers are capable of,'' Arkin wrote in a 2007 research paper (PDF). Part of the reason for that, he said, is that robots are capable of following rules of engagement to the letter, whereas humans are more inconsistent.
AI robotics expert Noel Sharkey is a detractor. He's been highly critical of armed drones in general. and has argued that autonomous weapons systems cannot be trusted to conform to international law.
''I do not think that they will end up with a moral or ethical robot,'' Sharkey told Defense One. ''For that we need to have moral agency. For that we need to understand others and know what it means to suffer. The robot may be installed with some rules of ethics but it won't really care. It will follow a human designer's idea of ethics.''
''The simple example that has been given to the press about scheduling help for wounded soldiers is a good one. My concern would be if [the military] were to extend a system like this for lethal autonomous weapons - weapons where the decision to kill is delegated to a machine; that would be deeply troubling,'' he said.
This week, Sharkey and Arkin are debating the issue of whether or not morality can be built into AI systems before the U.N. where they may find an audience very sympathetic to the idea that a moratorium should be placed on the further development of autonomous armed robots.
Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, is calling for a moratorium. ''There is reason to believe that states will, inter alia, seek to use lethal autonomous robotics for targeted killing,'' Heyns said in an April 2013 report to the U.N.
The Defense Department's policy directive on lethal autonomy offers little reassurance here since the department can change it without congressional approval, at the discretion of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and two undersecretaries of Defense. University of Denver scholar Heather Roff, in an op-ed for the Huffington Post, calls that a ''disconcerting'' lack of oversight and notes that ''fielding of autonomous weapons then does not even raise to the level of the Secretary of Defense, let alone the president.''
If researchers can prove that robots can do moral math, even if in some limited form, they may be able to diffuse rising public anger and mistrust over armed unmanned vehicles. But it's no small task.
''This is a significantly difficult problem and it's not clear we have an answer to it,'' said Wallach. ''Robots both domestic and militarily are going to find themselves in situations where there are a number of courses of actions and they are going to need to bring some kinds of ethical routines to bear on determining the most ethical course of action. If we're moving down this road of increasing autonomy in robotics, and that's the same as Google cars as it is for military robots, we should begin now to do the research to how far can we get in ensuring the robot systems are safe and can make appropriate decisions in the context they operate.''
(Image by Sarah Holmlund via Shutterstock)
Should the world kill killer robots before it's too late?
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:57
A robot distributes promotional literature calling for a ban on fully autonomous weapons in Parliament Square on April 23, 2013, in London. The 'Campaign to Stop Killer Robots' is calling for a pre-emptive ban on lethal robot weapons that could attack targets without human intervention
On Tuesday in Geneva, the United Nations will convene a meeting on the use of "killer robots" -- lethal autonomous weapons that in theory could select targets and attack them without direct human mediation. To be clear, killer robots don't yet exist, but a host of countries are developing technology that could make them a reality in the not so distant future. Quite a few organizations and activists want to prevent that from ever happening.
What are these machines? An article in Foreign Affairs outlines the sort of technology that is moving us toward a future populated by killer robots:
The Samsung Techwin security surveillance guard robots, which South Korea uses in the demilitarized zone it shares with North Korea, can detect targets through infrared sensors. Although they are currently operated by humans, the robots have an automatic feature that can detect body heat in the demilitarized zone and fire with an onboard machine gun without the need for human operators. The U.S. firm Northrop Grumman has developed an autonomous drone, the X-47B, which can travel on a preprogrammed flight path while being monitored by a pilot on a ship. It is expected to enter active naval service by 2019. Israel, meanwhile, is developing an armed drone known as the Harop that could select targets on its own with a special sensor, after loitering in the skies for hours.
On Monday, a number of prominent Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former Polish president Lech Walesa, jointly issued a letter calling for a ban on these sorts of weapons: "It is unconscionable that human beings are expanding research and development of lethal machines that would be able to kill people without human intervention," the statement read.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), meanwhile, published a report, titled "Shaking the Foundation: The Human Implications of Killer Robots," also advocating a ban through an international treaty. ''In policing, as well as war, human judgment is critically important to any decision to use a lethal weapon,'' Steve Goose, HRW's arms division director, said in a press release. ''Governments need to say no to fully autonomous weapons for any purpose and to preemptively ban them now, before it is too late.''
Killer robots are, in a sense, the next iteration of drones -- and the debate that surrounds their potential use will likely be as contentious. The idea of such technology evokes now-cliched images of a dystopian future, where Terminator-type shooting machines run amok among cowering humans.
For advocates of a ban, the issue hinges on a philosophical and moral conundrum: Who is responsible when a fully autonomous robot kills an innocent? How can we allow a world where decisions over life and death are entirely mechanized? "Autonomous weapons systems cannot be guaranteed to predictably comply with international law," said Noel Sharkey, a roboticist who plays a key role in the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, speaking to the BBC.
But Ronald Arkin, a roboticist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, sees it differently. Arkin will debate Sharkey in Geneva and is among a contingent of experts who believe that, far from what their nickname suggests, killer robots may help reduce collateral damage and loss of life in conflict situations. In the heat of battle, human action can lead to hideous atrocities. "It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield," Arkin said in 2007. "But I am convinced that they can perform more ethically than human soldiers."
Arkin suggests it will be possible to develop ethical software to ensure killer robots use lethal force within a narrow, carefully calibrated set of circumstances. Researchers from a number of American universities are already collaborating with the U.S. Navy to develop technology that could teach a robot right from wrong.
Joshua Foust, a Washington-based defense analyst who resists blanket bans on drones and other such forms of unmanned weaponry, argues that, like drones, killer robots are just one more platform or tool for war:
The real debate should surround the philosophy behind utilizing these systems: what are they designed to do, and can they be made to do it more effectively? Humans are imperfect '' targets may be misidentified, vital intelligence can be discounted because of cognitive biases, and outside information just might not be available to make a decision. Autonomous systems can dramatically improve that process so that civilians are actually much better protected than by human inputs alone
Critics would contest that the present controversies generated by drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan are bad enough, with angry civilians caught between complicit local governments, militant groups and the long arm of American foreign policy whirring overhead. Deployed in such a setting, killer robots would only darken the picture, making it even more difficult to hold militaries accountable, argues Bonnie Docherty, the author of the new HRW report. ''It would be very difficult for families to obtain retribution or remedy for the unlawful killing of a relative by such a machine,'' she says in the press release issued Monday.
That may or may not be true, but many hope we'll never have to know for sure.
Review: The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan | twbr
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:55
The Transhumanist Wager is about an entity of Galtian admeasurement called Jethro Knights, who goes about the world exploring the philosophy of being greater than human. The sojourn that the reader embarks upon with Jethro takes us through devastating war, eugenics, and ultimately into the sublimity of a post human earth.
Wager opens with Jethro as an autodidactic singularity seeker without a philosophical framework to allow him to explain and eventually to extend his existence. Within the first few pages nature threatens his life, and we learn that Jethro is absolutely not one to die. In the wending chapters that proceed from the opening, Knights slowly develops a world view and a philosophy that embraces a carefully contrived and emended humanity.
Reading this novel is challenging at times, as the story is unevenly paced. It meanders from didactic lecture to energetic engagements with Jethro's enemies, and back, returning us to our junior level philosophy class at university. Some of the ideas presented by Jethro and his transhuman affiliates are disturbing and harsh. Exemplar of this harshness; the venom that Jethro indiscriminately levies against religion is enough, at times to make the most dedicated atheist blush.
There are a number of logical issues, which we can cover in the critique, where the author's zeal compromises Jethro's individualist logic.
Jethro occasionally reveals himself as the author's vehicle for philosophical delivery, making himself, as well as his prop like opponents, quite two-dimensional. When learning what is happening in Jethro's mind the reader is left with the impression that he is without substance. While being extraordinarily talented, resourceful, and consistent, he never conveys a sense of being complete. There is no human quality to the character, which is likely the point, and it would be granted if his reptilian nemesis Reverend Belinas read as more human than prop to facilitate the glory of Jethro's reason.
Perhaps the single exception to the textureless characters is that of Zoe Bach. She was a textured and complex character whose motivations and desires were always pleasant surprises to the reader. The author's descriptions of her emotions and her viewpoints were delicately subtle, and carried far more strength than the overhanded brutish clobbering that was the transhumanist onslaught brought about through the interactions and happenstance in the remainder of the novel. Additionally, his depictions of the frangible crystal of love hung precariously between Zoe's rock and Jethro's metal were masterful, and displayed a true command of literary imagery.
Broad swaths of Libertarian philosophy comprise the majority of the book. Clearly Mr. Istvan desires for the reader to consider his / Jethro's trans-human philosophy throughout the story, and to that end he is triumphant. There are a number of logical issues, which we can cover in the critique, where the author's zeal compromises Jethro's individualist logic. These can mostly be overlooked as Mr. Istvan has executed the majority of the story well.
you will constantly cheer for the triumphs of Jethro Knights, and jeer at the lunacy of the establishment and it's backward attempts to deal with him
In several points, one in the beginning and another in the long speech delivered by Jethro to the world toward the end, additional editing could have really helped, as the arguments Jethro made were being constantly undermined by Jethro's personal irrational fears or frustrations. In the speech, Jethro went vastly beyond all reasonable individualist boundaries in his explanation of his dedication to transhumanism.
All of that being said, this book carries the western review's recommendation if you, as a reader, fall into one of two categories. The first is one who, being interested in all viewpoints, is willing to entertain ideas of any sort, even if they aggressively challenge the concept of religion to the point of what some would consider blasphemous. The second is if you are techno-libertarian over all other concerns. As the latter, you will constantly cheer for the triumphs of Jethro Knights, and jeer at the lunacy of the establishment and it's backward attempts to deal with him.
On the other hand if you are someone who doesn't like being challenged by your literature, you might want to skip this book. At times you will feel like shouting at your eReader, tablet, or computer, and by extension Mr. Istvan. To this reader, the novel was enjoyable overall even while tiding through the less tidy parts.
You can come back and read the critique after you have read the novel. The critique may have what some consider spoilers in it
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Life's Not Fair
New federal rules will force scientists to use more female lab animals | The Verge
Thu, 15 May 2014 01:09
Starting in October, biomedical researchers will have to counterbalance their use of male animals and cells with the equivalent in female biological tissues and test subjects. At least that's what they'll have to do if they want to get funding from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest source of medical-research funding in the world. This change, NIH researchers announced in Nature today, will help close the sex gap that continues to exist in preclinical research '-- the research stage in which drugs and medical interventions are tested on animals and biological tissues '-- and will "ensure that the health of the United States is being served by supporting science that meets the highest standards of rigor."
Using male animals is the norm
Over the last two decades, researchers have identified a plethora of differences in the way women and men react to various drugs and develop diseases. Women, for instance, are more susceptible to multiple sclerosis than men, even though their symptoms are less serious. And some drugs, such as the sleeping aid Ambien, need to be prescribed in different doses depending on a patient's sex. But preclinical research continues to include a majority of male animals and tissues. In fact, many trials don't include female animals at all. This, some researchers say, might explain the higher rate of adverse drug reactions seen in women today.
Janine Clayton, co-author of the Nature article and associate director for NIH research on women's health, said in an email to The Verge that "using male animals and cells is by and large the status quo right now," even though a number of studies have shown that "sex is a fundamental variable that should be considered from the very start."
Clayton points to studies showing that women and men respond differently to techniques for smoking cessation, such as nicotine patches. Clayton also points to the fact that men and women show different blood vessel patterns, which explains why women can exhibit very different symptoms than men during a heart attack. "Learning this, and understanding what this means, has allowed us to act fast for women, saving lives," she said. This statement comes off as encouraging, but it also hints to a much starker flip-side, one where scientists might have discovered these differences earlier had they included more female tissues at the preclinical stage.
Blame it on their hormones
Jeffrey Mogil, a pain researcher at McGill University in Montreal who regularly works with animal subjects, says that researchers avoid using female animals because many believe that female test subjects introduce more variability in their data. Clayton echoed Mogil, stating that some scientists "assume that using female animals is problematic due to the fact that female animals cycle hormonally." Numerous studies have disproved these beliefs '-- including a study published by Mogil's team in 2005 '-- but the male-centered practice persists.
"I guess if you go back far enough it was sexism," Mogil says, but scientists today mostly just "do experiments the way they were taught to do experiments." This, the researcher explains, includes using mostly male animals '-- even though the convention is "probably unethical, when you come right down to it."
It's "probably unethical."
The changes mandated by the NIH will be rolled out progressively, because the agency wants to ensure that scientists can properly adjust their experimental designs. "To help scientists understand and adapt to the changing policies, we will create training modules on experimental design," Clayton said. "Of course, we will also monitor compliance with new policies and perform data analysis to track our progress." Researchers will be compliant with the NIH's new policies if they report how they intend to balance the use of male and female cells and animals in their proposals. They may also be compliant if they can demonstrate that "sex-specific inclusion is unwarranted," the NIH researchers wrote, "based on rigorously defined exceptions."
Yet NIH-funded research isn't the only scientific sphere where changes need to occur. "We don't operate in a vacuum," Clayton said. "The entire scientific community has a stake in this game." Scientific publishing should also be reformed, she said, because many journals don't require researchers to consider the effect that an animal's sex might have had on their analyses.
This won't address all sex differences
Furthermore, the NIH changes might not be enough to account for all the sex differences that can influence preclinical research. A study recently published by Mogil's team, for example, demonstrated that male experimenters provoke a fear response in rodents that female scientists do not '-- meaning an animal killed by a male researcher might present stress-related chemicals in its cells that an animal killed by a female researcher would not. One might therefore argue that the sex of the human who killed the lab mice should also be included in a research proposal, along with the sex of the animals themselves.
"As our biomedical knowledge base grows and technology advances," Clayton said, "smart science reveals gaps." Because sex and gender differences continue to represent a blind spot for many scientists, more research should look into these differences at the preclinical stage, she said. "That's why we are calling on scientists to turn their head, and check that blind spot."
Defense Secretary Hagel: Time to reevaluate military ban on transexuals
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:28
WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) --Although the Pentagon explicitly bans transgendered Americans from fighting for their country, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ready to consider changing the rules."I go back to the bottom line: Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity, if they fit the qualifications and can do it," Hagel told ABC News.
If reviewed and negated, Hagel acknowledged that more nuanced policies would have to be incorporated into combat procedures.
"The issue of transgender is bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it," he continued. "These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don't always provide that kind of opportunity."
Earlier this year Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders said there is "no compelling medical rationale" to ban transgendered soldiers from serving in the military.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Shut Up Slave!
REPORT: Internet hate speech can lead to acts of violence - The Washington Post
Mon, 12 May 2014 02:32
Anti-Muslim hate speech on the Internet is commonplace and can motivate some people to commit acts of violence against Muslims, according to a report released Tuesday (May 6) by Muslim Advocates, a legal and advocacy group in San Francisco.
''When you have threatening comments online and they go unchecked, people start thinking it's acceptable,'' said Madihha Ahussain, an attorney and the report's lead author. ''And it doesn't take long to figure out that what becomes acceptable online becomes acceptable in the real world.''
The report contains examples of hate speech and how it can lead to violence, as well as how victims of online hate speech can report it and counter it. The report aims to help educate parents, students, youth, community leaders, Internet companies and policymakers on how to counter online hate speech.
Ahussain said that anti-Muslim websites give like-minded people a place to gather and at the same time win new supporters through their posts. As an example, Ahussain cited the Facebook page of anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, which she said grew from roughly 19,000 followers in July 2013 to some 78,000 people as of late April.
The report also cites the example of Robert James Talbot Jr., a Texas man who created a Facebook page for the American Insurgent Movement, whose stated aim was to start a revolution and overthrow the U.S. government. Talbot was a regular reader of Geller's Atlas Shrugs blog.
FBI agents arrested Talbot on March 27 on allegations that he plotted to blow up mosques and other buildings.
The report said most social media platforms include features where people can report what they perceive to be violations of speech guidelines.
''I believe they take this very seriously because they want to have a place where people don't feel threatened by others,'' Ahussain said.
Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.
Plan to let HMRC take tax debt straight from bank accounts under fire - Home News - UK - The Independent
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:43
The cross-party Treasury Committee expressed ''considerable concern'' over Chancellor George Osborne's new proposals for tax collection, calling for far greater scrutiny over the plans.
In their evaluation of this year's Budget, the MPs suggest the new powers could mean a back-door reintroduction of the discredited Crown Preference rule, which gave HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) priority access to assets when firms went bust.
''The proposal to grant HMRC the power to recover money directly from taxpayers' bank accounts is of considerable concern to the committee,'' the report said. ''The committee considers a lengthy and full consultation to be essential.
''Giving HMRC this power without some form of prior independent oversight -for example by a new ombudsman or tribunal, or through the courts - would be wholly unacceptable.''
The committee was dismissive of the Chancellor's argument in support of the scheme that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) currently has similar powers to collect child maintenance, concluding that the ''parallel is not exact''.
''In those cases, DWP is acting as an intermediary between two individuals,'' the MPs said. ''HMRC would be acting not as an intermediary between two individuals but rather in pursuit of its own objective of bringing in revenue for the Exchequer.''
They also highlighted the potential for fraud and error if the taxman was given direct access to millions of accounts.
''This policy is highly dependent on HMRC's ability accurately to determine which taxpayers owe money and what amounts they owe, an ability not always demonstrated in the past,'' the report said.
''Incorrectly collecting money will result in serious detriment to taxpayers.
''The Government must consider safeguards, in addition to those set out in the consultation document, to ensure that HMRC cannot act erroneously with impunity.
''These might include the award of damages in addition to compensation, and disciplinary action in cases of abuse of the power.''
A spokesman for the Treasury said: ''The Government's long-term economic plan is to reduce the deficit so that we deal with our debts.
''It is therefore important that people pay the tax they owe on time. Although the vast majority do this, there is still a minority that chooses not to pay, despite being able.
''The proposed powers will give HMRC another tool to collect tax debt owed. The current consultation includes a range of safeguards to ensure the power is tightly targeted.''
David Cameron: Taxes will rise unless we can raid bank accounts
Mon, 12 May 2014 04:58
David Cameron: Taxes will rise unless we can raid bank accountsTaxes will have to rise unless officials are given new powers to raid people's bank accounts, David Cameron has said.
The Treasury select committee warned that allowing HM Revenue and Customs to remove cash from bank accounts without court orders is "very concerning" because of its history of mistakes.
The committee said that taxpayers could suffer ''serious detriment'' if officials are able, either by mistake or through an ''abuse'' of power, to take money from people who have done no wrong.
Mr Cameron yesterday claimed that the alternative was to "put up taxes". He told Sky News: "We have a choice here. If we don't collect taxes properly and make sure people pay their taxes properly we look at the problems of having to raise tax rates. I don't want to do that, so I support the changes the Chancellor set out in the Budget which is to really say that not paying your taxes is not acceptable.
"It is very clear that they can only do this if there is a debt of over £1,000, they can only do it if there's £5,000 or more in the account after this has been completed. The general principle '' do we want to pursue every avenue of making people pay their taxes they are meant to pay before we put up taxes, because that's the alternative '' absolutely, yes we do."
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BlackListed News CC 2006-2014
BBC News - Thousands face tax raid on accounts, says HMRC
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:42
7 May 2014Last updated at 06:31 ET An estimated 17,000 people a year will have their accounts raided for unpaid tax under new rules, according to the UK tax authority.
In the Budget, Chancellor George Osborne outlined plans for new powers to recover tax debts from anyone who owes more than £1,000.
Now HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has explained how the system will work.
An accountancy body which previously described the powers as "draconian" said limits to the rules were "robust".
The rules include:
HMRC only targeting those who have long-term debts and have received at least four demands for payment Ensuring that at least £5,000 is left in total across all debtor's accounts, including savings accounts, after the unpaid tax is seized Freezing the amount owed in accounts for 14 days to allow time for a debtor to pay before the money is seized The tax authority said that the average debt of those likely to be targeted was £5,800. It added that in a half of cases, debtors had more than £20,000 in their accounts.
The new powers would allow HMRC to seize money owed in tax, or owed as a result of tax credit overpayments. HMRC would be able to take the money from bank accounts, building society accounts, and Individual Savings Accounts (Isas).
'Less fearsome'After the Budget, ACCA accountancy body described the plans as "seriously draconian" but now call them as "less fearsome than first thought".
"On paper, the safeguards look relatively robust, and the reality is it is unlikely that anyone will be left penniless. The fact that there will be plenty of opportunity for those owing taxes to respond to HMRC and appeal before any funds are taken," said Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the ACCA.
"There remain some concerns over how efficient HMRC can be in maintaining those safeguards, as well as whether this initiative is in fact a toothless one that will make no difference at all to collecting taxes owed. However, it is important now to have constructive engagement with HMRC to ensure the proposals are reasonable and proportionate."
David Gauke, a Treasury minister, said that people should pay the tax they owe, on time.
"Providing HMRC with the powers to directly recover tax debts will reduce the debt owed to HMRC in the most effective way so that the government can continue to fund vital public services," he said.
But the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has called on HMRC to give more concrete assurances about the right to appeal against any seizure.
The plans are now going through the consultation process. If approved by Parliament, they will take effect in 2015-16.
Whistle Activity Monitor - Stay connected to your dog
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:07
When we first read about Whistle, we immediately got on board.Whistle allows us to monitor Rory's activity, whether playing, swimming, running or chasing the ball, and assures us he's getting the exercise he craves. We also like that we can add other Whistle dogs and share in their adventures through comments, pictures, and encouragement to stay active.
Community Member: Dave & Jen
Dog: Rory
Agenda 21
NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It's Not Looking Good for Us - PolicyMic
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:58
NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It's Not Looking Good for Us Image Credit: APUpdate: NASA is now clarifying its role in this study. NASA officials released this statement on the study on March 20, which seeks to distance the agency from the paper: "A soon-to-be published research paper, 'Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies' by University of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota's Jorge Rivas, was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions." Read the original story below.
Civilization was pretty great while it lasted, wasn't it? Too bad it's not going to for much longer. According to a new study sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, we only have a few decades left before everything we know and hold dear collapses.
The report, written by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center along with a team of natural and social scientists, explains that modern civilization is doomed. And there's not just one particular group to blame, but the entire fundamental structure and nature of our society.
Analyzing five risk factors for societal collapse (population, climate, water, agriculture and energy), the report says that the sudden downfall of complicated societal structures can follow when these factors converge to form two important criteria. Motesharrei's report says that all societal collapses over the past 5,000 years have involved both "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity" and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]." This "Elite" population restricts the flow of resources accessible to the "Masses", accumulating a surplus for themselves that is high enough to strain natural resources. Eventually this situation will inevitably result in the destruction of society.
Elite power, the report suggests, will buffer "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners," allowing the privileged to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe."
Science will surely save us, the nay-sayers may yell. But technology, argues Motesharrei, has only damned us further:
Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.
In other words, the benefits of technology are outweighed by how much the gains reinforce the existing, over-burdened system '-- making collapse even more likely.
The worst-case scenarios predicted by Motesharrei are pretty dire, involving sudden collapse due to famine or a drawn-out breakdown of society due to the over-consumption of natural resources. The best-case scenario involves recognition of the looming catastrophe by Elites and a more equitable restructuring of society, but who really believes that is going to happen? Here's what the study recommends in a nutshell:
The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth.
These are great suggestions that will, unfortunately, almost certainly never be put into action, considering just how far down the wrong path our civilization has gone. As of last year, humans are using more resources than the Earth can replenish and the planet's distribution of resources among its terrestrial inhabitants is massively unequal. This is what happened to Rome and the Mayans, according to the report.
... historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).
And that's not even counting the spectre of global climate change, which could be a looming "instant planetary emergency." According to Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Neil Dawe:
Economic growth is the biggest destroyer of the ecology. Those people who think you can have a growing economy and a healthy environment are wrong. If we don't reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us ... Everything is worse and we're still doing the same things. Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don't exact immediate punishment on the stupid.
In maybe the nicest way to say the end is nigh possible, Motesharrei's report concludes that "closely reflecting the reality of the world today ... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid."
Writes Nafeez Ahmed at The Guardian:
"Although the study is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused studies '-- by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance '-- have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a 'perfect storm' within about fifteen years. But these 'business as usual' forecasts could be very conservative."
Well, at least zombies aren't real.
Update: NASA has issued a clarification about its role in the study, saying that while the study relies on NASA research tools developed for another project, it did not directly solicit, direct, or review Motesharrei's paper. "As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions."
Tom McKayTom is a Live News Writer for PolicyMic, where he produces killer trending content on politics, media, and technology.
10 Feet of Global Sea Level Rise Is Now Guaranteed | Motherboard
Wed, 14 May 2014 15:31
Flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Image: WikimediaAt least 10 feet of sea level rise is now guaranteed worldwide; it's all but inevitable, a done deal. An ice sheet two miles thick has collapsed in West Antarctica'--glaciologists have been dreading this moment for decades, though in recent years, it was more of a question of when than if'--and there is nothing that can stop it from melting now.
NASA scientists say so, glaciologists say so, researchers who've spent their entire careers studying the slow and increasingly inevitable melt of our planet's permanent ice stores say so. They say so in two new studies debuting this week; one in Science and one in Geophysical Research Letters. They are all saying we should begin getting comfortable with sea levels that lap up 10 feet higher on our shores.
Long before the collapse of West Antarctica's Thwaites ice sheet, an organization called Climate Central created this interactive map, which shows how various levels of sea level rise will impact the United States. Grimly and fortuitously, it goes up to 10 feet'--the amount that is now locked-in, but by no means the minimum of sea level rise we can expect to experience thanks to climate change. Go ahead, plug your city in, and see what percent chance you have of being driven away by high waters.
For instance, 99.5 percent of the population of Louisiana, as if they haven't suffered enough, will again find themselves underwater when the seas rise 10 feet. Thirty percent of all of the homes in Florida will be submerged; that's 5.6 million people. For Lauderdale, for one, will be nearly below the waves. Only 9 percent of New York City will have to relocate in the face of rising tides, but then, that means 700,000 people will have to find new homes'--twice as many as New Orleans.
Even if you don't live at or near sea level in one of those vulnerable areas, the crisis the rise will bring will impact you too; it will either cost heady sums to shore up the flood-walls and prepare the dikes, or chaos and misfortune will reign when a disaster'--a hurricane, for instance'--hits. Either way, rising seas are a hugely destabilizing force.
That degree of sea level rise may take decades yet'--the Science study says it will take 200 years to melt the entire sheet, but other studies say the melt could be more rapid. It is driven by warmer waters, not warmer air; in West Antarctica, these great ice sheets are slowly warmed from below, then beaten apart by more ferocious winds'--another feature of a climate-changed world, scientists surmise. And the risk is so much greater than 10 feet; the Greenland ice sheet and the other Antarctic stores hold 200 feet of sea level rise in their softening doomsday banks.
Whether we melt all or much of that remaining permanent ice depends on whether we decide to slow our rate of carbon emissions, civilization-wide. If we do not, it will be far more than coastal cities in Florida that we need worry about. If we are smart, we will act swiftly to mitigate our industrial pollution, and begin planning for higher tides. So far, we have not been smart.
"This is really happening,'' said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice, told the New York Times. ''There's nothing to stop it now."
[Update; I have deleted a clause that stated with undue certainty that the melt could unfold in decades'--while technically accurate, it does not reflect the finding of the studies discussed here]
Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse has already begun, scientists warn.
Wed, 14 May 2014 07:39
The collapse of the Western Antarctica ice sheet is already under way and is unstoppable, two separate teams of scientists said on Monday.
The glaciers' retreat is being driven by climate change and is already causing sea-level rise at a much faster rate than scientists had anticipated.
The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet could eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world. But the researchers said that even though such a rise could not be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away.
The two studies, by Nasa and the University of Washington, looked at the ice sheets of western Antarctica over different periods of time.
The Nasa researchers focused on melting over the last 20 years, while the scientists at the University of Washington used computer modelling to look into the future of the western Antarctic ice sheet.
But both studies came to broadly similar conclusions '' that the thinning and melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has begun and cannot be halted, even with drastic action to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
They also suggest that recent accumulation of ice in Antarctica was temporary.
''A large sector of the western Antarctic ice sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat. It has passed the point of no return,'' Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at Nasa and the University of California, Irvine, told a conference call. ''This retreat will have major consequences for sea level rise worldwide.''
The two studies between them suggest sea-level rise will be far greater than envisaged by the United Nations' IPCC report earlier this year. The IPCC forecast on sea-level rise did not factor in the melting of the western Antarctica ice sheet.
The Nasa study, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, studied the retreat of six glaciers in western Antarctica that are already the major drivers of global sea-level rise.
One of those glaciers, Pine Island, retreated 31km at its centre from 1992-2011. Rignot said all six glaciers together contained enough ice to add an additional 1.2m (4ft) to sea levels around the world.
In the University of Washington study, which will be published in the journal Science, researchers used detailed topography maps, airborne radar and computer modelling to reach greater certainty about the projected timeline of the ice sheet collapse.
The study honed in on the Thwaites glacier '' a broad glacier that is part of the Amundsen Sea. Scientists have known for years that the Thwaites glacier is the soft underbelly of the Antarctic ice sheet, and first found that it was unstable decades ago.
The University of Washington researchers said that the fast-moving Thwaites glacier could be lost in a matter of centuries. The loss of that glacier alone would raise global sea level by nearly 2ft.
Thwaites also acts as a dam that holds back the rest of the ice sheet. Once Thwaites goes, researchers said, the remaining ice in the sheet could cause another 10 to 13ft (3-4m) of global sea-level rise.
Satellite view of Antarctica with the Thwaites glacier marked in red. Photograph: UIG/Getty Images''The thinning we are seeing is not just some temporary trend. It is really the beginning of a larger scale collapse that is likely to play out over a two to 10-century range,'' Ian Joughin, a University of Washington glaciologist, told The Guardian.
He said the retreat would begin slowly, resulting in sea-level rise of less than 1mm a year for a couple of hundred years. But ''then boom, it just starts to really go,'' Joughin said.
Even under the worst-case scenario currently envisaged, the collapse of the entire ice sheet is about 200 years off '' and the collapse could be as far away as 1,000 years, depending on future warming.
But collapse is inevitable, the scientists said. Joughin put the most likely timeframe at between 200 and 500 years.
The two teams of scientists used airborne radar and satellites to map the layers of ice down to the sea bed, and to study the rate of glacier movement. The Nasa team also drew on observations stretching back 40 years.
This film charts the rescue of passengers stranded on the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which became trapped in heavy ice off the coast of East Antarctica in December 2013Even so, Rignot said he was taken aback at how fast change was occurring.
''This system, whether Greenland or Antarctica, is changing on a faster time scale than we anticipated. We are discovering that every day,'' Rignot said.
Scientists are also finding that the causes of the ice loss are highly complex '' and that it is not just due to warmer temperatures causing surface melting of the ice.
Both papers said the contact between the glaciers and the relatively warmer water at the ocean depths was the main driver of the slow-motion collapse.
Rignot said that even drastic action to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change could not prevent the collapse.
''We feel this is at the point where even if the ocean is not warming up, is not providing additional ocean heat, the system is in a sort of chain reaction that is unstoppable,'' he told reporters on a conference call.
The only thing that could hold the glaciers back would be a large hill or big mountain that could block the retreat, Rignot said. But there is none, he said, ''So we think it is not going to be stoppable.''
Meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson Joins Climate Skeptic Think Tank
Tue, 13 May 2014 21:56
The debate over climate change is often a contentious one, and key players in the discussion only rarely switch sides. But late last month, Lennart Bengtsson, the former director of the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, one of the world's leading climate research centers, announced he would join the academic advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
GWPF, based in Britain, is a non-profit organization and self-described think tank. Conservative politician Nigel Lawson founded the organization in 2009 in order to counteract what he considered to be an exaggerated concern about global warming. The organization uses aggressive information campaigns to pursue its goals.
The lobby group's views markedly differ from those of the UN climate panel, the IPCC, whose reports are the products of the work of hundreds of scientists who classify and analyze vast amounts of climate knowledge accumulated through years of research. The most recent IPCC report states that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are leading to significant global warming, with serious environmental consequences.
Bengtsson was known for maintaining moderate positions even during the most vitriolic debates over global warming during the 1990s. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he discusses why he made the shift to the skeptics' camp.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Bengtsson, why did you decide to join the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organization known for its skepticism about climate change?Bengtsson: It is important to allow a broad debate on energy and climate. We must urgently explore realistic ways to address the different scientific, technical and economic challenges in solving the world's energy problems and the associated environmental issues.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why do you think the GWPF is particularly suitable for that goal?
Bengtsson: Most of the members of GWPF are economists and this is an opportunity for me to learn from some of these highly qualified members who are active in areas outside my own expertise. At the same time, it will allow me to contribute by my own meteorological knowledge, to broaden the debate.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The people at GWPF don't exactly have a reputation for reconsidering their opinions. Have you become a so-called climate skeptic?
Bengtsson: I have always been a skeptic and I believe this is what most scientists really are.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But weren't you one of the alarmists 20 years ago? Do you think your position at that time was wrong?
Bengtsson: I have not changed my view on a fundamental level. I have never seen myself as an alarmist but rather as a scientist with a critical viewpoint, and in that sense I have always been a skeptic. I have devoted most of my career to developing models for predicting the weather, and in doing so I have learned the importance of validating forecasts against observed weather. As a result, that's an approach I strongly favor for "climate predictions." It's essential to validate model results, especially when dealing with complex systems such as the climate. It's essential do so properly if such predictions are to be considered credible.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You think there's a need for climate research to do some catching up in this regard?
Bengtsson: It is frustrating that climate science is not able to validate their simulations correctly. Since the end of the 20th century, the warming of the Earth has been much weaker than what climate models show.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But the IPCC report discusses these problems in detail.
Bengtsson: Yes, the scientific report does this but, at least in my view, not critically enough. It does not bring up the large difference between observational results and model simulations. I have full respect for the scientific work behind the IPCC reports but I do not appreciate the need for consensus. It is important, and I will say essential, that society and the political community is also made aware of areas where consensus does not exist. To aim for a simplistic course of action in an area that is as complex and as incompletely understood as the climate system does not make sense at all in my opinion.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the past, you have complained about what you described as a strong tendency towards politicization in climate research. Why have you now joined an organization that is inherently political in nature?
Bengtsson: Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by predictability and frustrated by our inability to predict. I don't believe it makes sense for our generation to believe or pretend that we can solve the problems of the future because do not understand what these problems will be. Just do this thought experiment: Imagine you're in month of May 1914, and try to work out a plan of action for the next 100 years! Hardly anything will make sense.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So do you suggest we should carry on with business as usual just because forecasts are complicated?
Bengtsson: No. I think the best and perhaps only sensible policy for the future is to prepare society for change and be prepared to adjust. In 25 years, we'll have a world with some 9 to 10 billion people that will require twice as much primary energy as today. We must embrace new science and technology in a more positive way than we presently do in Europe. This includes, for example, nuclear energy and genetic food production to provide the world what it urgently needs.
(C) SPIEGEL ONLINE 2014All Rights ReservedReproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
Climate scientist Dr. Lennart Bengtsson resigns from skeptical group after 'enormous group pre
Thu, 15 May 2014 07:51
Dr Bengtsson converted from warmist to skeptic: 'Reminds me about the time of McCarthy'; Now 'worried about my health and safety' '' 'Colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship'Lennart Bengtsson:'I have been put under such an enormous group pressure'...Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship.' - 'I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.' - 'Reminds me about the time of McCarthy.'
In an e-mail to GWPF, Lennart Bengtsson gas declared his resignation of the advisory hoard of GWPF. His letter reads :
''I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.
Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.''
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Atlantic Current Strength Declines - Scientific American
Thu, 15 May 2014 07:21
More data are needed to determine whether the slowing is a result of human-induced climate change
To find out whether the observed long-term decline lies within the range of natural yearly fluctuations, scientists compared the observed trend with estimates of circulation strength derived from 14 state-of-the-art climate''ocean models. If the variability in modelled circulation strength were to differ substantially from observed trends, it could suggest that the decline is down to an external forcing factor such as climate change.Credit: NOPP
The marked slowdown in the past decade of the warm Atlantic Ocean currents that bring mild weather to northwestern Europe may be caused by natural variation and not anthropogenic climate change, as has been previously suggested.
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is part of the great ocean 'conveyor belt' that ceaselessly circulates sea water, heat and nutrients around the globe. In particular, it transports large amounts of warm water from the tropics to the poles, warming the British Isles and maritime northern Europe along the way (see 'Current affair'). But since 2004, ocean sensors have detected a significant decline in the strength of the currents and a cooling of the subtropical Atlantic as a result. From mid-2009 to mid-2010, for example, the circulation slowed to two-thirds of its usual strength '-- and some oceanographers suggested that the drop caused the harsh weather in the United Kingdom and western Europe that winter (see Nature 497, 167''168; 2013).
Courtesy of Nature magazine
Climate scientists had speculated that the slowdown is linked to man-made climate change. But an analysis presented last month by a team of British scientists at the annual assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna suggests that the AMOC's slowing could just be part of natural oceanic fluctuations. The researchers added, however, that it will take more long-term monitoring to definitively rule out climate change as a factor.
Scientists think that the AMOC might be subject to abrupt changes that have probably played a part in ancient climate events, such as the sudden temperature swings 18,000 to 80,000 years ago during the last glacial period. The AMOC's main engine '-- the sinking of cold, dense water to the bottom of the North Atlantic '-- has been identified as a potential 'tipping element' in Earth's climate system, in which small climate perturbations could push the system past a critical threshold, with potentially large consequences for humans and ecosystems.
Since 2004, 22 moored sensors have been deployed between the Canary Islands and Florida along the latitude line at 26.5° north '-- where the AMOC emits its maximum heat. The sensor array, known as the RAPID Climate Change monitoring array, has continuously monitored the strength and temperature of the current at different depths.
RAPID measurements previously revealed that the circulation weakened by 3% per year on average between 2004 and 2008, with a mean strength of 17.5 million cubic metres per second. Most of the past decade's observed decline occurred between April 2008 and March 2012, when the AMOC was around 15% weaker on average than in the previous four years. The measurements also showed that the strength of the currents varied by up to 70% from year to year, depending on wind and seawater temperature.
To find out whether the observed long-term decline lies within the range of natural yearly fluctuations, Chris Roberts, a climate scientist at the UK Met Office's Hadley Center in Exeter who led the latest analysis, compared the observed trend with estimates of circulation strength derived from 14 state-of-the-art climate''ocean models. If the variability in modelled circulation strength were to differ substantially from observed trends, it could suggest that the decline is down to an external forcing factor such as climate change.
Although the results suggested that the downward trend is extremely unusual, Roberts knew that models can substantially under­estimate the actual year-to-year variability in the strength of the AMOC. When he and his team adjusted the models to incorporate more-realistic natural fluctuations, the downward trend was statistically in line with the expected variations. Even if the slowing continues at the current rate, the trend will not differ significantly from plausible estimates of natural variability for 18 more years, the team concluded. But it will take at least 10 more years of continuous observation to detect any influence of man-made climate-change effects, says Roberts.
''There's nothing at the moment that would suggest that something dramatically worrying is going on,'' says David Smeed, an oceanographer at the UK National Oceanography Center in Southampton and a lead researcher in the RAPID programme. He suggests that the weakening of the AMOC could be because of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation '-- a natural cycle of ocean variability in which Atlantic temperatures dip every 60 to 70 years.
RAPID, which was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council in Swindon, UK, was last year extended to run until 2020. Another array, funded mainly by UK and US science agencies, will be deployed this summer in the North Atlantic between Labrador, Greenland and Scotland to monitor the AMOC in subpolar regions. Together, data from the two arrays should help to explain the mechanisms behind the changes in circulation, says Susan Lozier, an oceanographer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, especially because the subpolar array is along a similar latitude to the main driver for the Atlantic Ocean circulation system.
Regardless of the cause of the AMOC's decline, if the trend persists ''it could have significant consequences for society'' in terms of the climate in northwestern Europe, says Roberts. Nevertheless, being able to predict the strength of the current could help to improve short-term regional climate forecasts, he says.
This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article was first published on May 13, 2014.
French Foreign Minister: '500 Days to Avoid Climate Chaos'
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:46
French Foreign Minister: '500 Days to Avoid Climate Chaos'
French Foreign Minister: '500 Days to Avoid Climate Chaos'
Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed French foreign minister Laurent Fabius to the State Department in Washington on Tuesday to discuss a range of issues, from Iran to Syria to climate change. Or, in the words of the foreign minister, "climate chaos." Kerry and Fabius made a joint appearance before their meeting, and the foreign minister warned that only 500 days remained to avoid "climate chaos"[emphasis added]:
Well, I'm very happy to be with John. There is no week without a phone call or a visit between John and myself, and we have on the agenda many items, many issues '' Iran, because negotiations are resuming today; the question of Syria, and we shall meet next Thursday in London together; Ukraine as well; and very important issues, issue of climate change, climate chaos. And we have '' as I said, we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos. And I know that President Obama and John Kerry himself are committed on this subject and I'm sure that with them, with a lot of other friends, we shall be able to reach success on this very important matter.
It is unclear what the foreign minister had in mind with the 500 days. However, France is scheduled to host the "21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change" in December 2015, about 565 days from now.
White House's Newly Installed Solar Panels Will Generate Power For A Total of Six Lightbulbs'...
Sun, 11 May 2014 22:26
Update to this story.
Via Climate Change Dispatch:
A solar panel array now adorns the roof of the White House and will produce an elephantine amount of solar power when the sun is actually shining: 6.3 kilowatts.
If 6.3 kilowatts sounds like a lot of energy, it isn't. The average home consumes 27 kilowatts of power each day. Far more than the 6.3 kilowatts that will be produced by the new solar panels adorning the White House. According to TradeWind Energy, ''one 50-watt light bulb running for 20 hours will use one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kWh).''
In other words, the White House installed enough solar panels to power six 50-watt bulbs for 20 hours each day.
Keep reading'...
HT: Huck Funn
Newly-discovered volcano in Antarctica could erupt and add to global warming.
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:27
Researchers discover volcano underneath surface of the iceVolcanic activity recorded around 30 miles from existing volcanoBurst of seismic activity found in January 2010 and March 2011Sub-glacial eruption could melt ice and speed up rate of ice sheet lossBy Lucy Crossley
Published: 10:45 EST, 11 May 2014 | Updated: 11:42 EST, 11 May 2014
A newly-discovered active volcano could erupt underneath Antarctica, melting the ice from below and compounding the effects of global warming, according to scientists.
Researchers discovered the volcano underneath the ice after setting up devices to measure tectonic activity across Marie Byrd Land in the west of the continent.
Scientists had intended to use the seismograph machines to help in their efforts to weight the ice sheet - only to find that a volcano was in fact forming underneath the ice.
Discovery: A newly-discovered active volcano could erupt underneath Antarctica, melting the ice from below
Effect: Although an eruption would be unlikely to breach the ice - the accompanying heat could have an effect on the landscape
Volcanic activity was discovered around 30 miles from Antarctica's highest volcano, Mount Sidley, and although an eruption would be unlikely to breach the ice - the accompanying heat could have an effect on the landscape.
Even a sub-glacial eruption would still be able to melt ice, creating huge amounts of water which could flow beneath the ice and towards the sea - hastening the flow of the overlying ice and potentially speed up the rate of ice sheet loss.
'Numerous volcanoes exist in Marie Byrd Land, a highland region of West Antarctica,' said Amanda Lough, of Washington University in St Louis in the team's paper on the subject, published in the Nature Geoscience journal.
Findings: Volcanic activity was discovered around 30 miles from Antarctica's highest volcano, Mount Sidley
'High heat flow through the crust in this region may influence the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.'
The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the Earth's two polar ice caps and covers an area of 5.4 million square miles - around 98 percent of the continent, making it the largest single mass of ice on earth.
Although scientists have suggested that sea ice around the continent is increasing, land ice appears to be decreasing and the area is very sensitive to global warming.
Seismologists had set up two crossing lines of seismographs across Marie Byrd Land in 2010 - the first time such instruments able to withstand the cold temperatures year-round had been used.
Frozen: The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the Earth's two polar ice caps and covers an area of 5.4 million square miles - around 98 percent of the continent, making it the largest single mass of ice on earth
They had hoped that discovering the weight of the ice would help them to work out the history of Antarctica's climate, but to do this needed to know how the Earth's mantle might respond to such a large mass of ice.
Software that might detect anything unusual beneath the ice surface was deployed, and in January 2010 and March 2011 this recorded two bursts of seismic activity.
When the scientists looked into what might have caused this activity they discovered what they believe to be a new volcano, forming around half a mile below the ice.
Ms Lough added: 'Eruptions at this site are unlikely to penetrate the 1.2 to 2-km-thick overlying ice, but would generate large volumes of melt water that could significantly affect ice stream flow.'
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Ministry of Truth
Jill Abramson's Firing And The New York Times' Chaotic Future
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:30
When the news broke that Jill Abramson was out as executive editor of the New York Times, where I worked full time from 1998 to 2004, I emailed friends there to get their reactions. It seemed like everyone was shocked, and wrote back things like, ''Trying to find out!'' or ''!!!!!!!!'' One friend and former colleague wrote, ''The 2 seniorest women in NYT history: both vanished with no warning or explanation to anybody,'' in reference to Janet Robinson, the former New York Times CEO who was also axed by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. in recent years.
While it wasn't a surprise that things weren't going well for Abramson, it is always shocking when a big newspaper does something quickly. If The New York Times is still the standard bearer of journalism, it seems also to be a thought leader in organizational chaos; after all, this is the second time in 11 years that Sulzberger has had to fire an editor for morale reasons (the first was Howell Raines, 2003). By firing Abramson, and promoting managing editor Dean Baquet, Sulzberger is retrenching, and perhaps buying some time. What people will be interested to see isn't necessarily what the Baquet era means, but who his managing editor will be: That, it is thought, will indicate the real direction of the New York Times' future.
But first, the past. As Bill Keller's tenure as editor was coming to a close in 2011, Abramson was appointed editor after emerging victorious in a bakeoff between her and Baquet, who had returned to the paper in 2007 after committing Seppuku as the editor of the Los Angeles Times by standing up to Tribune Co. overlords who were making him cut his staff to the bone. The Abramson vs. Baquet showdown was a reversal of the Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama fight that they reflected, and not only because of race and sex: Baquet projects an air of calm and cool, and Abramson pushes people. As with Obama and Clinton, the second-place finisher worked for the victor: Baquet became Abramson's managing editor.
It wasn't long into Abramson's editorship before horror stories began to leak out. From the inside, some friends told me things felt bad; from the outside, they looked pretty crazy. In a power grab over the website (and Jim Roberts, who oversaw it and is now Mashable's editor-in-chief), Abramson ended's independence as its own operation, and the desks began reporting up through print, which digital people will tell you is never welcome. (And is always a bad idea.) Abramson had her allies and fans, of course, but it seemed like a smaller circle than editors usually (and should) have surrounding them '-- and telling them no. And people like assistant managing editor Rick Berke, who had once been a close confidante, somehow ended up leaving anyway. During buyouts, she shoved out popular editors such as Roberts and Jonathan Landman. Last year, she fired Hugo Lindgren as the editor of the magazine. She also clashed with Mark Thompson, the CEO whom Sulzberger hired from the BBC in 2012 '-- a natural occurrence for the business side versus edit, but now one of them is gone.
With Abramson out, Thompson is further empowered. And Baquet will be the new editor, the first African-American in the job in the company's history. (Abramson, of course, was the first woman in the job.)
I worked for both Baquet and Abramson, though never at the same time: Baquet hired me away from the New York Times in the summer of 2006 to be the TV editor at the Los Angeles Times. It turned out to be only months before he was fired, and things began to fall apart there. (Things are always falling apart there '-- it's status quo, and they're also always pretty much fine in the end). Before I took the job, the New York Times '-- where I had worked on the website since 1998 and then permalanced as a TV reporter from 2004 to 2006 '-- wanted to counteroffer me a full-time job as a TV reporter in the New York (where I lived) office. Abramson liked my writing, I was told, and wanted to make the offer herself over lunch.
I showed up at my appointed time, and her assistant didn't have me on the schedule. Luckily, Abramson remembered we were seeing each other. She hadn't made a reservation and it was a Wednesday matinee day in Times Square, so we wandered around, being turned away pretty much everywhere. We finally found a place on 9th Ave., and sat down and talked. I loved it. I was a huge admirer of hers since I'd read Strange Justice, her book about the Clarence Thomas hearings, and I had always thought she seemed funny and honest from my time as a plebe observer from But I also wanted her to offer me the job '-- with salary and details '-- so I could figure out what I was doing with my life: Was I moving to Los Angeles?
We talked about Grey's Anatomy, we talked about Entourage. She was a big TV watcher, it turned out. It was fun talking. But lunch ended, and there was no mention of a job. When I did get the offer later that day, I had already made up my mind that I was going to the L.A. Times.
It seemed better managed, ha!
These newspapers. They're such disasters these days, as is every place trying to fight the seismic change in how people consume news and whether there's a profitable market for that. From my brief intersection with him at the LAT, where he treated the website with benign neglect, I hope Baquet really has changed his stance toward the internet. There is a reason the LAT is still digging itself out online after years of being run by lauded print editors who didn't understand the digital future. The recent internal New York Timesreport called for more newsroom innovation, especially digitally. Whatever Abramson's management issues were, her has been great. Can Baquet lead that parade? I hope so, for the sake of my NYT friends, and for all of us who still love what is produced there, daily, hourly, minutely. We all need the New York Times.
And for Jill Abramson '-- sigh. She got fired with less dignity than Judith Miller, who practically started the Iraq war. I hope tattoo removal has advanced significantly.
Why Jill Abramson Was Fired : The New Yorker
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:06
At the annual City University Journalism School dinner, on Monday, Dean Baquet, the managing editor of the New York Times, was seated at the table of Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the paper's publisher. At the time, I did not give a moment's thought to why Jill Abramson, the paper's executive editor, was not at their table. Then, at 2:36 P.M. on Wednesday, an announcement from the Times hit my e-mail, saying that Baquet would replace Abramson, less than three years after she was appointed the first woman in the top job. Baquet will be the first African-American to lead the Times.
Fellow-journalists and others scrambled to find out what had happened. Sulzberger had fired Abramson, and he did not try to hide that. In a speech to the newsroom on Wednesday afternoon, he said, ''I chose to appoint a new leader of our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects '...'' Abramson chose not to attend the announcement, and not to pretend that she had volunteered to step down.
As with any such upheaval, there's a history behind it. Several weeks ago, I'm told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. ''She confronted the top brass,'' one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management's narrative that she was ''pushy,'' a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect. Sulzberger is known to believe that the Times, as a financially beleaguered newspaper, has had to retreat on some of its generous pay and pension benefits; Abramson had also been at the Times for many fewer years than Keller, having spent much of her career at the Wall Street Journal, accounting for some of the pension disparity. (I was also told by another friend of hers that the pay gap with Keller has since been closed.) But, to women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy.
Sulzberger's frustration with Abramson was growing. She had already clashed with the company's C.E.O., Mark Thompson, over native advertising and the perceived intrusion of the business side into the newsroom. Publicly, Thompson and Abramson denied that there was any tension between them, as Sulzberger today declared that there was no church-state'--that is, business-editorial'--conflict at the Times. A politician who made such implausible claims might merit a front-page story in the Times.
A third issue surfaced, too: Abramson was pushing to hire a deputy managing editor to oversee the digital side of the Times. She believed that she had the support of Sulzberger and Thompson to recruit this deputy, and her supporters say that the plan was for the person in this position to report to Baquet. Baquet is a popular and respected figure in the newsroom, and he had appeared to get along with Abramson. He is also someone whom Sulzberger passed over when he chose Abramson. But Baquet apparently felt that he hadn't been consulted, and, according to two sources, expressed his concerns to Sulzberger. (Baquet has not yet responded to a request for comment; neither has Abramson.)
These issues seemed to congeal for Sulzberger and Thompson. The reason Sulzberger originally hesitated to appoint Abramson as executive editor was a worry about her sometimes brusque manner. As I wrote in my Profile of Abramson, others in the newsroom, including some women, had the same concern. But, although there are always complaints about the Times' supposed ''liberal'' bias, or its preoccupation with certain stories, Abramson got high marks for the investigative stories that she championed. At a time when Bloomberg News pulled the plug on an investigation of corruption and the princelings in China, Abramson pushed the Times to do more, even after her reporters came under pressure in China. Even though she thought she was politely asking about the pay discrepancy and about the role of the business side, and that she had a green light from management to hire a deputy to Baquet, the decision to terminate her was made. Sulzberger met with her last Friday, and reportedly told her that it was time to make ''a change.''
Photograph by Tim Knox/Eyevine/Redux.
Abramson replaced as NYT executive editor |
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:01
The New York Times on Wednesday announced that executive editor Jill Abramson is being replaced by managing editor Dean Baquet after two and a half years on the job.
The company didn't give a reason for the change. Abramson and Baquet had both been in their current positions since September 2011.
Baquet, 57, who would be the first African-American to hold the newspaper's highest editorial position, received a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1988.
"It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago, one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day," Baquet said in a statement released by the newspaper.
The move comes amid a continued shift in the Times' focus, and that of the newspaper industry overall, toward digital products and away from traditional print papers as print circulation and advertising revenue declines.
In its most recent quarter, the Times Co. saw overall advertising revenue rise for the first time in three years, jumping 3 percent to $158.7 million. The company's print and digital advertising rose compared with the same period a year ago.
The company also added digital subscribers and increased home-delivery prices. At the same time, the company posted a small profit that fell slightly short of Wall Street analysts' expectations.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the newspaper's publisher and chairman of its parent company, called Baquet the best qualified journalist to take on the job in the Times' newsroom.
"He is an exceptional reporter and editor with impeccable news judgment who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues around the world and across the organization," Sulzberger said in a statement.
Sulzberger added that Baquet was closely involved with Abramson in the Times' digital transformation over the past six months.
Baquet originally joined the Times in 1990 as a reporter and held positions including deputy metropolitan editor and national editor. He left the paper for the Los Angeles Times in 2000, where he served as managing editor and then editor. Baquet rejoined the Times in 2007 and was Washington bureau chief before becoming the managing editor for news in September 2011.
Prior to his first stint at the Times, Baquet worked at The Chicago Tribune and The Times Picayune in New Orleans. While at the Tribune in 1988, he and two other journalists won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, for looking into corruption in the Chicago City Council. He was a finalist in the same category in 1994.
Abramson, 60, was the paper's first female executive editor. She joined the newspaper in 1997 after working for nearly a decade at The Wall Street Journal. She was the Times' Washington editor and bureau chief before being named managing editor in 2003.
Baquet succeeded her as managing editor after she was named to the top editing spot.
New York Times Co. shares fell 71 cents, or 4.5 percent, to end the afternoon at $15.06.
NatGeo 'reconstruction' footage email
Hi Adam -Your bit about the regional jet and drone animation on the last show reminded me of this - thought you may find it interesting. (apologies if you've already heard about it)
A friend of mine recently told me they'd seen the infamous footage of the Boston Bomber placing the rucksack down and walking away on TV. It was shown on a documentary shown on Channel 4 called "the Hunt for the Boston Bombers" (made by National Geographic). I follow the MSM daily so I was pretty surprised I hadn't heard the footage had finally been released.
I found the program on youtube and sure enough, there it is!
At about 12:35 in you can see grainy CCTV footage being viewed by 'agents' - the footage clearly shows the 'bomb' being planted. Of course, its all bullshit - the clue is the small 'reconstruction' caption appearing bottom left when the first bit is shown, but it doesn't appear in the final full footage shown next - and its a pretty good piece of work ; fooled me the first time I saw it.
Like you said on the last show.... "if you've watched this, you have now seen this happen"
matt. Brighton (GNE)
Confessions of Tsarnaev's pals at issue in hearing
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:52
BOSTON (AP) -- Federal investigators and a defense lawyer gave contrasting accounts Wednesday of the circumstances surrounding the confessions by two friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, who are accused of tampering with evidence in the days after the bombing as authorities conducted a massive manhunt for their friend.During a federal hearing, FBI agents painted a picture of a pair of college friends of the bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as willing participants in the investigation who agreed to talk and allowed authorities to search their apartment days after the April 15, 2013, attack. They were read their rights and told that they were not under arrest, Special Agent Farbod Azad testified. Documents showing that one of the friends, Dias Kadyrbayev, signed a consent form to have his apartment, car and laptop searched were shown in court, as well as a form listing his rights that he signed as well.The defendants did not seem tense during the April 19 interviews and even cracked jokes, Azad said. When he asked if he could speak with the two the next day, they replied that they had "plans on 4/20," a reference to smoking marijuana, Azad added.But Kadyrbayev's lawyer, Robert Stahl, said that investigators obtained confessions from them without a lawyer present, under strenuous and lengthy circumstances and without a search or arrest warrant. They were also held shirtless for several hours, despite asking repeatedly for a shirt, Stahl said. He added that several armed officers swarmed the apartment before the two men were brought to the station, where they admitted to taking Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, about 60 miles from Boston.After speaking with investigators, Kadyrbayev and the other friend, Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan nationals, were allowed to leave but were arrested the next day on immigration charges.Kadyrbayev is charged with tampering with evidence. His lawyer was in court in an effort to have his client's confession kept out of his trial.Kadyrbayev will likely take the stand Thursday or Friday, depending on the length of testimony by other prosecution witnesses. A judge ruled this week that the motion to suppress his confession will not be considered without him being questioned. Tazhayakov and a third friend of Tsarnaev's who was charged, Robel Phillipos, declined to testify. Their attorneys said they will likely revisit their own attempts to have their clients' confessions suppressed during their trials.The three men will be tried separately in Massachusetts this year. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev have been held without bail for more than a year. Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to investigators. He has been held under house arrest.All have pleaded not guilty.Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to last year's deadly bombing. His trial is set to begin in November.
Ibragim Todashev shooter had stormy record as officer - Metro - The Boston Globe
Wed, 14 May 2014 14:22
The Boston FBI agent who fatally shot a Chechen friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Florida last year had a brief and troubled past at the Oakland Police Department in California. In four years, Officer #8313 took the Fifth at a police corruption trial and was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations. He retired from the department in 2004 at age 31.
Over the past year, FBI and Massachusetts officials have refused to identify the two state troopers and the agent involved in the May 22, 2013, shooting of Ibragim Todashev, 27, in his Orlando apartment, where he agreed to be interviewed. During the session, Todashev, a mixed martial arts fighter with a criminal record, turned violent, flinging a tabletop at the FBI agent and brandishing a metal pole at the trooper, they said. He was stopped by seven bullets from the FBI agent's gun.
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Even Florida, which often identifies such officers, declined to do so in this case, citing concerns for the investigators' safety.
The Globe obtained their names by removing improperly created redactions from an electronic copy of Florida prosecutor Jeffrey L. Ashton's report '-- which in March found the shooting of Todashev justified '-- and then verifying their identities through interviews and multiple government records. Those records include voting, birth, and pension documents.
That research identifies the FBI agent as Aaron McFarlane, 41.
McFarlane's full name and birth date on records in Massachusetts and New Hampshire match that of the Oakland police officer who was involved in several controversies during his four years with that police force. He retired with a pension of more than $52,000 annually for the rest of his life.
In California, lawyers who had sued McFarlane in Oakland were stunned that the FBI later hired him.
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''I would be shocked to learn that the Aaron McFarlane we sued a decade ago could have gone on to have a career with the FBI,'' said Ian Kelley, a San Francisco lawyer who sued McFarlane on behalf of a man, Michael Cole, who accused McFarlane and another officer of beating him.
The events described in that lawsuit, he said, ''should have thrown up a red flag.''
Ben Rosenfeld, a civil rights lawyer in San Francisco who represented a plaintiff in a similar case against McFarlane, said the FBI should have been concerned about the allegations against McFarlane.
''There are enough qualified applicants out there and the FBI's supposed to be the cream of the crop,'' he said. ''I don't think they need to reach that low into the barrel.''
But others said McFarlane was a fine officer in a struggling police department in one of the nation's most dangerous cities. Oakland has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, with more than double the homicides and robberies as Boston, but with fewer than half the police officers, just 650 for the city of 400,000.
''He's a very good police officer. People understand the environment in Oakland is particularly toxic and very tough,'' said Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers' Association. ''A lot of the officers are going elsewhere because the experience they gain here is unmatched.''
Howard Jordan, a former Oakland police chief who said he helped train the young McFarlane, said it was well known in Oakland that McFarlane had gone to the FBI. He described McFarlane as a ''solid officer,'' smart, quiet, and confident, with many friends in the department.
Todashev's family and civil liberties groups say the official investigations into the shooting failed to examine the troopers and FBI agent, and their decisions leading up to the shooting. Even if Todashev had attacked, they said, the authorities on the scene could have prevented the death of Todashev, a key figure in the bombings investigation, a witness considered so crucial that the FBI had him under surveillance by land and air.
Ashton, the prosecutor who investigated the shooting, said through a spokesman in March that he declined to interview McFarlane directly because the FBI would not let him record the interview. Instead, the FBI provided Ashton with the agent's statements.
That, in turn, has fueled critics' view that the prosecutor's report is flawed. ''A report that doesn't include that kind of history is not a complete report,'' said Hassan Shibly, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, which is conducting its own investigation of the shooting.
Ashton's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The Department of Justice also cleared McFarlane in the shooting in a separate report.
Until now, little has been known about the investigators in the room with Todashev.
The FBI has refused to say whether McFarlane was involved in any past shootings, though the Oakland police said he had not been involved in any shootings there. The Massachusetts State Police said neither trooper had ever been involved in a shooting.
The FBI had found Todashev quickly after the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombings and initially he cooperated, answering questions about accused bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom he knew during their days together in the Boston area.
Todashev provided fingerprints and a DNA sample, according to FBI records in the Florida prosecutor's report released in March, and met with investigators three times at law enforcement offices.
Then the FBI heard Todashev had booked a flight to his native Russia. On the night of May 21, 2013, McFarlane and the two state troopers, all law enforcement officials now in their 40s, were rushing to Todashev's apartment in Orlando, working one of the biggest cases of their lives.
A year later, it is unclear why the FBI sent McFarlane, an agent with about five years on the job. He was with the two state troopers assigned to the case, Curtis Cinelli and Joel Gagne, and a Florida task force officer, who remained outside. Their names were also confirmed by the Globe by unredacting the prosecutor's report '-- a process made relatively simple because the blackout technique used to cover the names was faulty and could easily be removed by using common software.
Cinelli is a veteran trooper with several commendations who specializes in hunting fugitives. Gagne is the lead investigator in the 2011 killing of three young men in Waltham, a crime in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a suspect.
The troopers declined to comment through the State Police union's lawyer, Richard J. Rafferty Jr. McFarlane, the son of a former police officer, became an FBI special agent in Boston in November 2008, according to a federal court affidavit.
McFarlane had worked at the troubled Oakland department from 2000 to 2004, during the biggest police corruption scandal in the city's history. Oakland fired four police officers who called themselves the ''Riders'' after prosecutors filed criminal charges against them in 2000 on accusations of beating and kidnapping people, making false arrests, planting evidence, and falsifying police reports. No one was ever convicted, but the city settled a federal lawsuit for $10.9 million and the department remains under court oversight today.
McFarlane testified for the defense in the first Riders criminal trial. In his cross-examination, prosecutor David Hollister suggested that McFarlane had falsified a police report to drum up a reason to arrest a man. According to a court transcript requested by the Globe, Hollister said the report, which was investigated by Oakland's internal affairs unit, ''at first flush certainly appears to be criminal.''
''I think on its face, Officer McFarlane should probably have some concerns about whether or not he violated Section 118.1 of the Penal Code in filing a false police report,'' Hollister said.
McFarlane reluctantly pleaded the Fifth to avoid incriminating himself and later testified under immunity, but he told Hollister that he did nothing wrong.
''I write the truth in my reports,'' McFarlane said, according to the transcript.
Hollister also questioned McFarlane about another arrest that night: a man who suffered a head injury. A police report said McFarlane had transported him to jail, according to the transcript. McFarlane said he did not know how the man was injured.
Shortly after McFarlane's testimony, two men filed lawsuits against McFarlane and another officer accusing them of beating them the year before. Michael Cole, a convicted drug dealer, said McFarlane held him down as another officer, Steven Nowak, allegedly stomped on his head, injuring his eye and breaking his nose, allegedly because Cole's uncle had filed a complaint against Nowak.
McFarlane and Nowak denied the assertions in court records. McFarlane said Cole kicked and hit him during a search of a notorious drug corner and injured himself when he fled in handcuffs and fell. The city settled the suit for $22,500. The city also settled a related lawsuit for $10,000 filed by Cole's friend Robert Girard, who said McFarlane and Nowak beat him after he photographed Cole's injuries at the hospital. McFarlane said Girard had barged into an off-limits area and hit McFarlane in the chest.
In the settlements, McFarlane and Nowak did not acknowledge any wrongdoing and Nowak remains in the department. Oakland police would not divulge the outcome of the internal affairs investigations, saying it was confidential. Donelan, the union president, said Oakland police are often targeted by frivolous lawsuits that are settled to avoid the expense of a full-blown trial. ''This is litigation central,'' he said. ''It's not about the officers. It's about the environment they're operating in.''
According to court records, McFarlane had repeatedly injured his leg and broken an ankle while on the force, and retired on medical disability. Amy Morgan, spokeswoman for the state-run retirement system in Sacramento, said only that he is collecting a pension of more than $52,000 a year for life.
It is unclear what McFarlane did next, but federal records show he joined the Boston FBI in 2008 after passing a rigorous background check and graduating from the bureau's academy at Quantico, Va. At the time of the Marathon bombings, he was investigating bank robberies, working with Boston and other police agencies, and sometimes appearing as a guest speaker at industry conferences.
In Boston, the FBI refused to discuss McFarlane's work history, saying it could threaten his safety. ''Publishing the alleged name of the Agent involved in this shooting incident serves no public interest or service, except to foster continued media scrutiny,'' the Boston FBI said in a statement. ''The personal safety of the Agent continues to be of concern to the Boston Division, and publishing the Agent's name potentially places the Agent and his family at risk for reprisal.''
McFarlane has previously been publicly identified in a blog about the Boston Marathon case.
Although the State Police declined to comment on the troopers' identities, and expressed concern about naming them, Geoffrey P. Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said that some states and police departments routinely publish the names of officers involved in shootings so that the public is aware of the facts.
''The public has the right to know if an officer shoots his weapon. They work for us,'' said Alpert, who has testified in police-involved shootings in Texas and other states. ''Usually when an officer fires his weapon, that's a pretty serious event and it should be public. . . . The more they try to hide it, the more you wonder why.''
It remains unclear why the agent and troopers did not wait to persuade Todashev to come to a secure office or find a way to detain him the night he was shot.
Upset that the FBI had reported his girlfriend to immigration, Todashev refused to meet the investigators at a secure government office, where he had gone for past interviews. With 30 minutes' notice, the investigators rushed to Todashev's dimly lighted apartment, with an AK-47 sticker on the door and a samurai sword on the wall.
Authorities also have not said why the investigators, after more than four hours of questioning, thought it was safe to break their own rules by leaving only two men alone in the room with Todashev.
Just two weeks earlier, Todashev had singlehandedly fought two men in a parking lot as the FBI watched.
In his statement, McFarlane said he felt Todashev was an 8 on scale of 1 to 10 for his propensity for violence.
As the clock neared midnight, it appeared the investigators' work had paid off.
Todashev had confessed to helping Tsarnaev kill the three men in Waltham. The bodies of Brendan Mess, who was Tamerlan Tsarnaev's friend, Raphael Teken, and Erik Weissman were found in Waltham in September 2011, their throats slit and their bodies sprinkled with marijuana. Todashev, according to the Florida report, had told investigators that he believed that he and Tsarnaev were going to the Waltham house to steal $40,000, not to kill the men.
The troopers had captured the confession on video and audio, according to the report, and Todashev then sat down to put it in writing. The troopers sent the news to officials in Massachusetts.
''Who's your daddy?'' Cinelli said in one text, according to Ashton's report.
Though the troopers felt they had probable cause to arrest Todashev, the district attorney's office told them to wait for a warrant. Around midnight, Gagne stepped outside to call the Middlesex district attorney's office.
An instant later, the room filled with a loud roar. According to the only witnesses, McFarlane and Cinelli, Todashev flung a table at McFarlane's head, opening a gash that required nine staples to close. Then, instead of fleeing out the door, Todashev allegedly grabbed a metal broomstick and aimed it at Cinelli.
McFarlane said he staggered to his feet, bleeding, and shouted at Todashev to stop. When Todashev lunged at Cinelli, McFarlane said, he shot him several times. McFarlane said Todashev fell and then got up, prompting McFarlane to shoot him again. Cinelli told officials that he ''absolutely'' would have done the same thing.
After the shooting, McFarlane told the FBI he did not know that the State Police troopers had been taping Todashev's confession. He said he often had his back to the troopers as they questioned Todashev.
But once he learned about the recordings, McFarlane suggested to a supervisor that they release the confession to the media. In a statement supplied to the Florida prosecutor, McFarlane said he told a supervisor ''it would be nice if we released the video because it would refute many of the press' allegations.''
The FBI and the State Police did not release the videos.
In March, 10 months after the shooting, the Florida prosecutor and the Department of Justice released hundreds of pages of documents on the shooting at once '-- and then largely declined to comment.
Andrew Ba Tran of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Maria Sacchetti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti.
War on Men
NYTimes: Vacancies Pose Threat to the Fed
Geithner must give S&P documents in U.S. fraud lawsuit: filing.
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:24
Wed May 14, 2014 5:51am EDT
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks at the Institute of International Finance (IIF)'s annual meeting in Tokyo October 11, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao
(Reuters) - A federal judge ruled that former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner must hand over documents to Standard and Poor's relating to the ratings agency's claim that the United States sued it in retaliation for downgrading government debt.
The U.S. Department of Justice brought a civil fraud lawsuit against S&P in 2013, accusing it of inflating ratings to win more fees from issuers, and then failing to downgrade debt backed by deteriorating mortgage-backed securities fast enough.
S&P, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc (MHFI.N), has claimed the lawsuit was filed in retaliation for the downgrade, and should be dismissed. Its main rating agency rivals, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, were not sued.
U.S. District Judge David Carter denied both Geithner's request to set aside S&P's subpoena and a similar request made by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Terrence Checki, the bank's executive vice president.
"This incremental approach has the virtues of affording S&P an opportunity to gather the information that it needs to defend itself, while according due respect to the time and autonomy of high-ranking executive officials," Judge Carter wrote in an order on Tuesday.
Geithner is the highest former government official S&P has pursued for information to support its allegations.
"As for any future depositions of Secretary Geithner or Mr Checki, the court will cross that bridge when it comes to it," the court filing stated.
Jenni LeCompte, a spokeswoman for Geithner, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York were not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.
Last month, Carter gave S&P access to Department of Justice documents it had sought for its claim that the lawsuit may have been in retaliation for its August 2011 decision to remove the United States' "triple-A" credit rating.
He stopped short of giving S&P access to White House records from that time, but said he would consider such a request later.
S&P has said Geithner angrily told McGraw Hill Chairman Harold "Terry" McGraw in an August 8, 2011 phone call that he was "accountable" for an alleged $2 trillion math error, and that S&P's conduct would be "looked at very carefully.
The case is U.S. v. McGraw-Hill Cos et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 13-00779.
(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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Air Force prepares to dismantle HAARP ahead of summer shutdown | State News |
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:50
FAIRBANKS -- The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer.
The shutdown of HAARP, a project created by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great control over the U.S. defense budget, will start after a final research experiment takes place in mid-June, the Air Force said in a letter to Congress Tuesday.
While the University of Alaska has expressed interest in taking over the research site, which is off the Tok Cutoff, in an area where black spruce was cleared a quarter-century ago for the Air Force Backscatter radar project that was never completed. But the school has not volunteered to pay $5 million a year to run HAARP.
Responding to questions from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski during a Senate hearing Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, said this is "not an area that we have any need for in the future" and it would not be a good use of Air Force research funds to keep HAARP going. "We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do," he said. "To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed."
Comments of that sort have given rise to endless conspiracy theories, portraying HAARP as a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
Scientists say all of that is nonsense, and that the degree of ionosphere control possible through HAARP is akin to controlling the Pacific Ocean by tossing a rock into it.
Built at a cost of more than $290 million, the site has 180 antennas on 30 acres that are used to direct energy into the ionosphere, which is 55 miles to 370 miles above the Earth, and monitor changes in the flow of charged particles. Stevens was the godfather of HAARP, which he helped start two decades ago with annual earmarks slipped into the defense budget.
At the hearing on defense research and innovation, featuring six representatives of the Pentagon, no one said HAARP has a future in the defense budget.
Walker said the Air Force has maintained the site for several years and the last project is one by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Once completed, the site will close.
DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar said, "The 'P' in DARPA is projects. We're not in the business of doing the same thing forever, so very naturally as we conclude that work, we're going to move on. It's not an ongoing need for DARPA despite the fact that we had actually gotten some good value out of that infrastructure in the past."
Walker said the Air Force would like to remove critical equipment this summer to avoid the expense of winterization.
Alan Shaffer, assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, said HAARP is a "world-class facility," but the department does not need it anymore.
"With all the other issues and problems and challenges facing the department at this time, we just don't see that that investment, over a long-term period, is where we would prioritize our investment," said Shaffer.
"No one else wants to step up to the bill, ma'am," Shaffer said to Murkowski.
On another topic, she asked Shaffer about small modular nuclear reactors for remote areas. She said, for example, Eielson Air Force Base could benefit from "reliable energy security that nuclear power can provide."
Shaffer said the "sticker shock" of an initial $1 billion investment for a small nuclear reactor is a huge obstacle.
Reach Dermot Cole at
NEO '' Washington's Shale Boom Going Bust | Veterans Today
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:24
'... by F. William Engdahl, '...with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow- First publishedMay 12, 2014 -
Shale gas
To read the headlines, it seems that the USA has emerged out of the blue to the point of becoming the world's oil and gas production giant. All thanks to the Shale Revolution.
Recently President Obama made various noises that the US could solve the Ukraine gas dependency on Russian gas because of the spectacular growth of extracting natural gas, and more recently, oil, from shale rock formations across the US. There's only one thing wrong with this picture'--''It ain't gonna happen'...''
The surface numbers are indeed impressive to a layman or politician. According to US Government Energy Information Administration data, between 2005 and 2010 the contribution from shale gas to total US marketed gas production rose from less than 2% to more than 20%. And 2011 set an all-time record for US production as the result of shale gas growth.
However the shale gas comes from a small number of areas with significant and viable shale rock formations that have trapped gas and oil in the interstices of the sedimentary shale rocks. The main shale gas areas are the Barnett shale in Texas'
Fort Worth basin; the Fayetteville and Woodford shales of the Arkoma basin in Arkansas and Oklahoma; the Haynesville shale on the Texas Louisiana boarder; the Marcellus shale in the Appalachian basin, and the most recently exploited, the Eagle Ford shale in southwest Texas.
Two metrics widely used in describing shale well performance are the initial production (IP) rate and the production decline rate which together determine the ultimate recovery (UR) from a well, an essential number in determining economic viability. A group at MIT university in Massachusetts carried out an analysis of production data from the major US shale regions. What they found is sobering.
While initial production from most shale gas plays was unusually high, an essential component of the Wall Street shale gas bubble hype, the same gas regions declined dramatically within a year. They found ''in general, shale well output tends to drop by 60% or more from the Initial Production rate level over the first 12 months.
The second metric is that the available longer-term production data suggests that levels of production decline in later years are moderate, often less than 20% per year.''
Shale gas hype is the perfect ''pump and dump'' scam
Translated, that means on average after only four years, you have only 20% of your initial gas volume available from a given horizontal drilling investment with fracking. After seven years, only 10%. The real volume shale gas boom appeared in 2009. That means in the fields where significant drilling was present by 2009 are already dramatically depleted by 80% and soon by 90%.
The only way oil or gas drillers have managed to maintain production volume has been to drill ever more wells, spending ever more money, taking on ever more debt in hopes of a sharp rise in the depressed US domestic gas price. As a whole shale energy companies spend more than they are making in net profit, creating a bubble of ''junk'' bond debt to keep the Ponzi game going. That bubble will pop the second the Fed hints interest rates will rise, or even sooner.
The industry tries hard to pump the prospects of the shale revolution. One of the most outspoken recently was the CEO of Conoco/Philips, Ryan Lance.
Taking a baseball analogy, he recently told an energy conference in Houston that the shale gas ''revolution'' in the country is only just beginning and there should be several decades left of successful energy production: ''We're in the first inning of a nine-inning game on the shale revolution in the United States.'' He did not make clear what the scientific connection between baseball and shale gas was.
The reality of the shale gas boom is increasingly being shown to be quite different. According to Arthur Berman, a petroleum geologist of 34 years' experience who has studied production and other aspects of the shale gas and oil boom, ''forecasts show production in shale plays from North Dakota's Bakken to Texas's Eagle Ford will peak around 2020. Those investing with the expectation that the boom will last for decades are ''way out of line.''
To be concrete, the major shale formations in the US, and there are not that many geologically-speaking, will begin an absolute production decline in less than six or seven years. Unlike conventional gas or oil fields, shale is an unconventional and difficult way to extract energy by the highly controversial and toxic practice of ''fracking'' or hydraulic fracturing of the shale formations. As the shale runs horizontally, perfection of new horizontal drilling techniques in the 1990's opened commercial prospects for shale gas for the first time.
Fracking the Bakken Formation in North Dakota
The ethanol scam pushed corn prices way up around the world.
The hydraulic fracture is formed by pumping a fracturing fluid'--typically highly toxic and exempt, thanks to then-Vice President Cheney's Congressional influence, from EPA Clean Water Act regulations'--into to the wellbore at a rate sufficient to increase pressure down-hole at the target zone.
The rock cracks and the fracture fluid continues further into the rock, extending the crack still further, and so on. Often up to 70% of the toxic fracking fluids leak and in many cases in Pennsylvania and elsewhere seep into the ground water.
Even the US Government's EIA projects that US oil output will peak at 9.61 million barrels a day in 2019. They see tight-oil or shale oil topping at 4.8 million barrels in 2021.
That's only seven years out. And if the US Government is trying to fast-track approval of LNG gas export terminals on coastal ports to allow US gas companies to export their gas, completion of such complex terminals including environmental impact approvals typically takes seven years. Hmmmm.
Wall Street easy money
No one expects the President of the US to have the time or the scientific background to delve into the geophysical complexities of shale energy. He naturally relies on competent advisers. What if the advisers, instead of being competent, like in so many government agencies today, are in the sway (and sometimes perhaps pay) of the shale energy companies and their Wall Street investment bankers who have hundreds of billions of dollars riding on promoting the shale hype?
The current US Shale boom is being sustained on steroids, otherwise known as the Fed's never-ending Quantitative Easing zero-interest-rate policy, a stance that shows no sign of reverting to normal interest rate levels as the economy continues to be depressed since the collapse of the 2007 real estate mortgage securitization bubble.
In effect, shale drillers are able to keep in business only because Wall Street and other investors continue to throw money at them like it was falling from trees. Tim Gramatovich, chief investment manager for Peritus Asset Management LLC, an $800 million fund, notes, ''There's a lot of Kool-Aid that's being drunk now by investors. People lose their discipline. They stop doing the math. They stop doing the accounting. They're just dreaming the dream, and that's what's happening with the shale boom.''
Given the endless zero interest rate regime of the Fed, investment funds are desperate to find investments that yield higher interest. They are so desperate they are pouring money into shale gas and shale or tight oil companies like never before. The companies are operating at losses, loaded with debt and the credit rating agencies rate their debt as ''junk'', i.e. in a market downturn, likely to default.
One such company, Rice Energy, sold its bonds in April with a rating of CCC+ by Standard & Poor's, seven steps below investment grade. That is below the minimum risk/quality level that major investors, such as pension funds and insurance companies, are allowed to buy. S&P says debt rated in the CCC range is ''currently vulnerable to nonpayment.'' Despite that, Rice Energy was able to borrow at an astonishingly low 6.25 percent.
''This is a melting ice cube business,'' said Mike Kelly, at Global Hunter Securities in Houston. ''If you're not growing production, you're dying.'' Of the 97 energy exploration and production companies rated by S&P, 75 are ''junk'' or below investment grade. The shale ''revolution'' is but a Ponzi Scheme disguised as an energy revolution.
F. William Engdahl is a strategic risk consultant and lecturer, holding a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook.''
Editing: Jim W. Dean and Erica P. Wissinger
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The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT or any other VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors or partners. Legal NoticePosted by F. William Engdahl on May 14 2014, With 0 Reads, Filed under Business, Economy, Editor. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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Israeli partners raise $2 billion to develop one of largest gas fields in the world -
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:16
TEL AVIV, Israel, May 12 (UPI) --The $2 billion raised to develop the Leviathan natural gas field offshore Israel will help support the country's energy revolution, a corporate director said.Delek Drilling and Avner Oil, two companies working at the giant offshore gas field, said they raised $2 billion in an international bond offering.
"The development of the Leviathan reserve will allow the continuation of the Israeli natural gas revolution and regional and international export that will significantly strengthen Israel's geopolitical standing," Gideon Tadmor, Avner Oil's chairman, said Sunday.
Leviathan, with an estimated 18 trillion cubic feet of gas, should go onstream in 2016. Much of the reserves from the offshore field are already designated for exports to regional customers.
Noble Energy, another drilling partner, this year signed export contracts for gas from the Leviathan and nearby Tamar natural gas fields with Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.
Tamar, with an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, entered into production in March 2013.
Why is the US still hunting for Joseph Kony?
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:22
In February US President Barack Obama publicly condemned a bill criminalising homosexuality in Uganda, cautioning Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni that "enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship". Yet five weeks later Obama notified Congress that the US was sending 150 Air Force Special Operations forces and other personnel, plus several CV-22 Ospreys and refuelling aircraft, to aid Uganda's 25-year pursuit of Joseph Kony, leader of the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Shortly after, the US militaryabruptly announcedthat it was pulling the aircraft out of the mission.
What is going on? These twists and turns are puzzling - and troubling - and not just because they undercut well-deserved US denunciation of Uganda's new anti-homosexuality law.
Moreover, the recent dispatch of US military support to Uganda to hunt Kony comes at a time when the threat posed by the LRA is vastly overshadowed by far more troubling armed violence in the three Central African countries where LRA fighters are located.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), opposing armed groups have for months committed massive atrocities and pushed an already weak and troubled state to the brink of collapse.Immediately east of CAR, the world's newest nation - South Sudan - is embroiled in an armed conflict that began in December as a power struggle within the country's ruling political party, but has escalated into widespread fighting that threatens an extended civil war, with dangerous ethnic overtones. And just to CAR's south, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the long-suffering population continues to be preyed upon by many armed groups besides the LRA, not least the country's army.
While the US has voiced alarm about these emergencies, until recently it has provided limited practical assistance. US Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visits to South Sudan and DRC could change this, although it is as yet unclear what the effect of these visits will be. In this context, the high priority of the LRA in US policy is surprising.
The dissolution of the LRA
Originally an insurgency based in northern Uganda, the LRA became notorious between 1988-2006 for atrocities against civilians (including killings, mutilations and abductions), although Ugandan government army abuses and structural violence was even more deadly, especially the government policy of forced internal displacement of 1.2 million people at the epicentre of the war.
Listening Post - Feature: Kony 2012: The new kids on the media blockFollowing failed peace talks in late 2008, the LRA scattered across wide swaths of heavily forested and lightly administered territory in adjacent parts of the DRC, South Sudan and CAR. There, an initial phase of large-scale LRA killings, abductions and civilian displacements in the region has been succeeded by dwindling rebel strength. Operating far from their original northern Uganda base - and hunted, if sporadically, by Ugandan and other national armies since (recently operating under an African Union mandate) - the LRA managed their last large-scale attacks in the totalling in early 2010.
Since then they have splintered into ever smaller, increasingly uncoordinated bands totaling probably less than 200 fighters. When the last sizable group of 19 LRA fighters abandoned the movement and came out of the bush in December 2013, for example, our interviews with this group showed how they had no contact with the rebel high command for for up to two-and-a-half years.
While some LRA attacks and (mostly short-term) abductions continue, the frequency and severity of such incidents has fallen to a level where the rebel group has become a relatively minor threat.
Indeed, violent killings attributed to the LRA in rebel-affected areas of northeastern DRC last year occurred at a rate far less than in the US: 2.9 per 100,000 population (our estimate) vs 4.8 per 100,000 in the US. And although no similar statistics are available for the CAR or South Sudan, the armed conflicts currently under way in both these countries have undoubtedly resulted in casualties and displacements far surpassing - and unrelated to - those caused by the LRA .
Why is Kony still important?
Yet the US has just committed more military personnel and equipment to hunt Kony. In October 2011 when the first 100 US troops were deployed, the LRA was already much weakened. This was even more the case by early 2014 when the latest US military commitment was announced.
So, again, what is going on? The only reasonable explanation is that the LRA has become an almost exclusively internal US issue, driven by domestic US politics rather than realities on the ground in Central Africa.
Inside Story - 'Kony 2012': The future of activismFirst, there is the influence of the advocacy groups. The most visible of these is Invisible Children (IC). Launched by a short film of the same name in 2004, IC became a US popular culture phenomenon, lucrative fund raiser, and powerful voice focusing on the LRA. Indeed, IC - along with the Enough Project and Resolve - was crucial in convincing the Obama administration to send the first advisers and supporting equipment to help Uganda "capture or kill" Kony.
Second, for the administration (with rare bipartisan support in Congress), the LRA issue seemed an easy political win: With relatively little effort - a handful of troops - the US could help catch one of the world's most wanted men while satisfying an important domestic political constituency. One former US government source told us that Obama never directly informed Museveni about this initial dispatch of US troops, announcing it instead in a Washington press conference - an unmistakable signal of the policy's centre of gravity, and to which audience the policy needed most to be communicated.
Third, shifting US power relations with respect to the LRA policy proved highly influential. The centre of gravity over the last year has swung towards the Department of Defense, with a more pro-active AFRICOM command promoting greater engagement in the hunt for Kony. This could explain the delivery of the Osprey aircraft. The fact that they were abruptly recalled only a month later reinforces our argument that US decisions, even by the US military, are being taken independently of the situation on the ground.
By framing the LRA issue as a personal and technical military problem, rather than a political one, a single goal - with a short timeline - has been set: to catch Kony. In this scenario, both Invisible Children and the Obama administration are caught in a trap of their own making (even if the trap was bated by the Ugandan government, which has long promoted the same view of the LRA "problem").
In this situation, US withdrawal from the hunt would be perceived as a failure, both for the government and advocacy groups such as Invisible Children. Pressure to succeed is heightened by the fact that momentum surrounding the LRA issue is diminishing, or has already passed. Support for IC hasrecently plummeted: donations are sharply down resulting in a one-third reduction in staff and many programmes cut or eliminated. In recent interviews, remaining IC staffers indicate they would not mind moving on, but feel stuck in trying to raise attention for a dying cause. A similar logic holds for the Obama administration: If it is to gain further political capital out of the LRA issue it needs to act - and succeed - fast.
In sum, the projection of US internal politics and the influence of US advocacy groups into the violent Central African region has led to an extremely cynical situation: An important US intervention in what constitutes a minor problem is occurring in the midst of truly large-scale violence and instability which has failed to prompt commensurate US political or material support.
This myopic and distorted vision has exaggerated the significance of the LRA and obscured the major drivers of insecurity and armed violence in Central Africa, to the detriment not only of those caught up in that violence but genuine strategic and humanitarian interests.
Kristof Titeca is based at the Institute of Development Policy and Management (University of Antwerp) and the Conflict Research Group (Ghent University). He is currently a visiting fellow in the Department of International Development, London School of Economics.
Ronald R Atkinson is a Senior Research Associate at Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, University of South Carolina.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Central African Republic
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:10
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 13, 2014
In late 2012, armed groups began a rebellion that sparked a period of devastating instability, lawlessness, and anarchy in the Central African Republic (CAR) that led to the overthrow of its government in early 2013. Escalating violence and human rights abuses set the stage for the eruption of sectarian conflict by December 2013. Communities that have lived together peacefully for generations are being torn apart along sectarian lines. More than 2.5 million of the country's 4.6 million people need humanitarian assistance. Approximately one million people have been displaced. Growing attacks perpetrated by both Muslim and Christian militias have brought CAR to a crisis of disastrous proportions.
That is why today President Obama issued a new Executive Order declaring a national emergency and authorizing the imposition of sanctions to deal with the threat posed by the situation in the CAR. The Executive Order also imposes sanctions on five individuals '' sending a powerful message that impunity will not be tolerated and that those who threaten the stability of the CAR will face consequences. Today's actions follows the UN Security Council's unanimous vote in January to establish a sanctions regime against those responsible for instability and atrocities in the CAR, and the listing of three individuals by the UN Security Council CAR Sanctions Committee on May 9.
The United States continues to work with the international community, regional partners, and CAR's transitional authorities to help set the country on a path toward recovery. We strongly support the African Union, French, and European Union forces who have been working to reestablish security for the people of the CAR, and the UN peacekeepers who will continue their heroic work. We stand with the courageous individuals who continue to call for peace and reconciliation. We will continue to provide support to the Transitional Government as it works to restore governance and pave the way for a return to an elected government, and to deliver humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict. We urge all parties to end the violence, to ensure justice and accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses, and to work together to forge a brighter and more prosperous future for all Central Africans.
Executive Order -- Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in the Central African Republic
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:10
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 13, 2014
- - - - - - -
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), section 5 of the United Nations Participation Act (22 U.S.C. 287c) (UNPA), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in and in relation to the Central African Republic, which has been marked by a breakdown of law and order, intersectarian tension, widespread violence and atrocities, and the pervasive, often forced recruitment and use of child soldiers, which threatens the peace, security, or stability of the Central African Republic and neighboring states, and which was addressed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 2121 of October 10, 2013, Resolution 2127 of December 5, 2013, and Resolution 2134 of January 28, 2014, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch), of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to the Central African Republic:
(1) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the Central African Republic;2
(2) actions or policies that threaten transitional agreements or the political transition process in the Central African Republic;
(3) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the Central African Republic;
(4) the targeting of women, children, or any civilians through the commission of acts of violence (including killing, maiming, torture, or rape or other sexual violence), abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or through conduct that would constitute a serious abuse or violation of human rights or a violation of international humanitarian law;
(5) the use or recruitment of children by armed groups or armed forces in the context of the conflict in the Central African Republic;
(6) the obstruction of the delivery or distribution of, or access to, humanitarian assistance;
(7) attacks against United Nations missions, international security presences, or other peacekeeping operations; or
(8) support to persons, including armed groups, involved in activities that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the Central African Republic or that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the Central African Republic through the illicit trade in natural resources of the Central African Republic;
(B) except where intended for the authorized support of humanitarian activities or the authorized use by or support of peacekeeping, international, or government forces, to have directly or indirectly supplied, sold, or transferred to the Central African Republic, or been the recipient in the territory of the Central African Republic of, arms and related materiel, including military aircraft, and equipment, or advice, training, or assistance, including financing and financial assistance, related to military activities;
(C) to be a leader of (i) an entity, including any armed group, that has, or whose members have, engaged in any of the activities described in subsections (a)(ii)(A) or (a)(ii)(B) of this section or (ii) an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;3
(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of (i) any of the activities described in subsections (a)(ii)(A) or (a)(ii)(B) of this section or (ii) any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(E) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with this national emergency, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 4. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in section 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).
Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;4
(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and
(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.
Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and the UNPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).
Sec. 11. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 12. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on May 13, 2014.
The UN Security Council says Joseph Kony's whereabouts known
Tue, 13 May 2014 21:55
The UN Security Council has released a new report, saying fugitive rebel leader Joseph Kony is hiding in Sudanese-controlled areas of a disputed enclave in South Sudan bordering both Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has been the subject of a massive manhunt and is wanted by the International Criminal Court along with several of his commanders for war crimes, including rape and using child soldiers.
"Credible sources suggest LRA leader Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders have recently returned to seek safe haven in Sudanese-controlled areas of the enclave," the report said.
The UN also suggested senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commanders were hiding in northeastern Central African Republic, exploiting the instability in the country to regroup.
Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the United Nations, said the report showed that despite being reduced in strength, the LRA remained a potent threat and a powerful force.
Hunt for Kony
Kony waged a brutal campaign against the Ugandan government for nearly two decades.
The LRA's rebellion sought to remove the government of President Yoweri Museveni and rule the country according to the Biblical ten commandments.
Al Jazeera profiles Joseph Kony and the LRAMost of the group's fighters were forcibly recruited into its ranks, and others who refused had their ears, lips and limbs hacked off.
Despite sustained government offensives, it took Ugandan forces nearly two decades to rein them in.
After a series of defeats, the LRA fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Since 2008, the LRA has killed more than 2,600 civilians and abducted more than 4,000 people, according to Human Rights Watch. The US State Department has placed a $5m reward for information leading to his arrest, transfer, or conviction.
A 5,000-strong African Union Regional Task Force, supported by 100 US Special Forces, has been hunting Kony and LRA commanders.
War on Vaping
E-cigarettes and mental health.
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:20
E-cigarettes and mental health
| E-mail ]
Contact: Scott LaFeeslafee@ucsd.edu619-543-6163University of California - San Diego
Persons with mental health conditions found more likely to use nicotine-delivery devicesResearchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that people living with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions are twice as likely to have tried e-cigarettes and three times as likely to be current users of the controversial battery-powered nicotine-delivery devices, as people without mental health disorders.
They are also more susceptible to trying e-cigarettes in the future in the belief that doing so will help them quit, the scientists said. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
The study will be published in the May 13 online issue of Tobacco Control.
"The faces of smokers in America in the 1960s were the 'Mad Men' in business suits," said lead author Sharon Cummins, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. "They were fashionable and had disposable income. Those with a smoking habit today are poorer, have less education, and, as this study shows, have higher rates of mental health conditions."
By some estimates, people with psychiatric disorders consume approximately 30 to 50 percent of all cigarettes sold annually in the U.S.
"Since the safety of e-cigarettes is still unknown, their use by nonsmokers could put them at risk," Cummins said. Another concern is that the widespread use of e-cigarettes could reverse the social norms that have made smoking largely socially unacceptable.
The study shows that smokers, regardless of their mental health condition, are the primary consumers of the nicotine delivery technology. People with mental health disorders also appear to be using e-cigarettes for the same reasons as other smokers ½ to reduce potential harm to their health and to help them break the habit.
"So far, nonsmokers with mental health disorders are not picking up e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking," Cummins said.
The study is based on a survey of Americans' smoking history, efforts to quit and their use and perceptions about e-cigarettes. People were also asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression or other mental health condition.
Among the 10,041 people who responded to the survey, 27.8 percent of current smokers had self-reported mental health conditions, compared with 13.4 percent of non-smokers; 14.8 percent of individuals with mental health conditions had tried e-cigarettes, and 3.1 percent were currently using them, compared with 6.6 percent and 1.1 percent without mental health conditions, respectively.
In addition, 60.5 percent of smokers with mental health conditions indicated that they were somewhat likely or very likely to try e-cigarettes in the future, compared with 45.3 percent of smokers without mental health conditions.
"People with mental health conditions have largely been forgotten in the war on smoking," Cummins said. "But because they are high consumers of cigarettes, they have the most to gain or lose from the e-cigarette phenomenon. Which way it goes will depend on what product regulations are put into effect and whether e-cigarettes ultimately prove to be useful in helping smokers quit."
Co-authors of this study include Shu-Hong Zhu and Anthony C. Gamst, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD; Gary J. Tedeschi, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center; and Mark G. Myers, Department of Psychiatry, UCSD.
Funding for this research came from the National Cancer Institute (grant U01 CA154280).
| E-mail
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.
E-cigarettes and mental health
| E-mail ]
Contact: Scott LaFeeslafee@ucsd.edu619-543-6163University of California - San Diego
Persons with mental health conditions found more likely to use nicotine-delivery devicesResearchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that people living with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions are twice as likely to have tried e-cigarettes and three times as likely to be current users of the controversial battery-powered nicotine-delivery devices, as people without mental health disorders.
They are also more susceptible to trying e-cigarettes in the future in the belief that doing so will help them quit, the scientists said. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
The study will be published in the May 13 online issue of Tobacco Control.
"The faces of smokers in America in the 1960s were the 'Mad Men' in business suits," said lead author Sharon Cummins, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. "They were fashionable and had disposable income. Those with a smoking habit today are poorer, have less education, and, as this study shows, have higher rates of mental health conditions."
By some estimates, people with psychiatric disorders consume approximately 30 to 50 percent of all cigarettes sold annually in the U.S.
"Since the safety of e-cigarettes is still unknown, their use by nonsmokers could put them at risk," Cummins said. Another concern is that the widespread use of e-cigarettes could reverse the social norms that have made smoking largely socially unacceptable.
The study shows that smokers, regardless of their mental health condition, are the primary consumers of the nicotine delivery technology. People with mental health disorders also appear to be using e-cigarettes for the same reasons as other smokers ½ to reduce potential harm to their health and to help them break the habit.
"So far, nonsmokers with mental health disorders are not picking up e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking," Cummins said.
The study is based on a survey of Americans' smoking history, efforts to quit and their use and perceptions about e-cigarettes. People were also asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression or other mental health condition.
Among the 10,041 people who responded to the survey, 27.8 percent of current smokers had self-reported mental health conditions, compared with 13.4 percent of non-smokers; 14.8 percent of individuals with mental health conditions had tried e-cigarettes, and 3.1 percent were currently using them, compared with 6.6 percent and 1.1 percent without mental health conditions, respectively.
In addition, 60.5 percent of smokers with mental health conditions indicated that they were somewhat likely or very likely to try e-cigarettes in the future, compared with 45.3 percent of smokers without mental health conditions.
"People with mental health conditions have largely been forgotten in the war on smoking," Cummins said. "But because they are high consumers of cigarettes, they have the most to gain or lose from the e-cigarette phenomenon. Which way it goes will depend on what product regulations are put into effect and whether e-cigarettes ultimately prove to be useful in helping smokers quit."
Co-authors of this study include Shu-Hong Zhu and Anthony C. Gamst, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD; Gary J. Tedeschi, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center; and Mark G. Myers, Department of Psychiatry, UCSD.
Funding for this research came from the National Cancer Institute (grant U01 CA154280).
| E-mail
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.
Determination Under the Foreign Missions Act
Wed, 14 May 2014 13:22
Pursuant to the authority vested in the Secretary of State by the laws of the United States, including the Foreign Missions Act (codified at 22 U.S.C. 4301et seq.) and delegated by the Secretary to me in accordance with the Department of State's Delegation of Authority No. 198, dated September 16, 1992, I hereby determine that the representative offices in the United States of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (commonly known as the Syrian Opposition Coalition or ''SOC''), including their real property and personnel, are a ''foreign mission'' within the meaning of 22 U.S.C. 4302(a)(3).
Furthermore, I hereby determine it to be reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the United States to require the SOC's representative offices in the United States, and their agents or employees acting on their behalf, to comply with the terms and conditions specified by the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions relating to the entities' operations in the United States.
Dated: May 5, 2014.
Patrick F. Kennedy,
Under Secretary for Management.
[FR Doc. 2014-11124 Filed 5-13-14; 8:45 am]
$hadow Puppet Theatre
Pilot Program for the Temporary Exchange of Information Technology Personnel
Wed, 14 May 2014 13:27
This part assigns responsibilities and provides procedures for implementing a Pilot Program for the Temporary Exchange of Information Technology Personnel, known as the Information Technology Exchange Program pilot. This Pilot is envisioned to promote the interchange of DoD and private sector IT professionals to enhance skills and competencies. Given the changing workforce dynamics in the IT field, DoD needs to take advantage of these types of professional development programs to proactively position itself to keep pace with the changes in technology. The ITEP pilot will serve the public good by enhancing the DoD IT workforce skills to protect and defend our nation. The ITEP Pilot expired September 31, 2013. Congress has extended the expiration date to September 30, 2018, and the reporting requirements through 2018. This final rule makes amendments to the current DoD ITEP regulation to update these dates.
This rule is effective May 14, 2014.
Gary Evans, 571-372-4493.
a. The ITEP Pilot is envisioned to promote the interchange of DoD and private sector IT professionals to enhance skills and competencies. Given the changing workforce dynamics in the IT field, DoD needs to take advantage of these types of professional development programs to proactively position itself to keep pace with the changes in technology.
b. This regulation implements section 1110 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Pub. L. 111-84), which authorizes DoD to implement a Pilot Program for the Temporary Exchange of Information Technology (IT) Personnel. This statute authorizes the temporary assignment of DoD IT employees to private sector organizations. This statute also gives DoD the authority to accept private sector IT employees assigned under the Pilot.
II. Summary of the Major Provisions of This Regulatory Action Back to TopThis Pilot Program (''Pilot'') is authorized by section 1110 of the NDAA for FY2010 (Pub. L. 111-84). Section 1110 authorizes DoD Components to assign exceptional IT employees to a private sector organization for purposes of training, development and sharing of best practices. It also gives DoD Components the authority to accept comparable IT employees on an assignment from the private sector for the training and development purposes and sharing of best practices and insight of government practices.
III. Costs and Benefits of This Regulatory Action Back to TopThe cost of employee's salary and benefits will be paid by the originating employer. It is anticipated that the benefit will outweigh the cost to manage this program and any additional cost would be related to travel or cost to attend training or conferences.
Regulatory ProceduresExecutive Order 12866, ''Regulatory Planning and Review'' and Executive Order 13563, ''Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review''It has been certified that 32 CFR part 241 does not:
(1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or may adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, environment, public health or safety, or State, local or tribal governments or communities;
(2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another Agency;
(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or
(4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in these Executive Orders.
Section 202, Public Law 104-4, ''Unfunded Mandates Reform Act''It has been certified that 32 CFR part 241 does not contain a Federal mandate that may result in expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year.
96, ''Regulatory Flexibility Act'' (5 U.S.C. 601)It has been certified that 32 CFR part 241 is not subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601) because it would not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
96, ''Paperwork Reduction Act'' (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35)It has been certified that 32 CFR part 241 does not impose reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
Executive Order 13132, ''Federalism''It has been certified that 32 CFR part 241 does not have federalism implications, as set forth in Executive Order 13132. This rule does not have substantial direct effects on:
(1) The States;
(2) The relationship between the National Government and the States; or
(3) The distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of Government.
Accordingly, 32 CFR part 241 is amended as follows:
begin regulatory text
1.The authority citation for 32 CFR part 241 is amended to read:
Authority:Pub. L. 111-84, sec. 1110, as amended.
2.In § 241.6, revise paragraph (b) to read:
§ 241.6 Length of details.(a) * * *
(b) This extension may be granted in 3-month increments not to exceed 1 year. No assignment may commence after September 30, 2018.
3.In § 241.12, revise paragraph (a) to read:
§ 241.12 Reporting requirements.(a) For each of fiscal years 2010 through 2018, the Secretary of Defense shall submit annual reports to the congressional defense committees, not later than 1 month after the end of the fiscal year involved, a report on any activities carried out during such fiscal year, including the following information:
(1) Respective organizations to and from which an employee is assigned;
(2) Positions those employees held while they were so assigned;
(3) Description of the tasks they performed while they were so assigned; and
(4) Discussion of any actions that might be taken to improve the effectiveness of the Pilot program, including any proposed changes in the law.
* * * * *
end regulatory text
Dated: May 9, 2014.
Aaron Siegel,
Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
[FR Doc. 2014-11069 Filed 5-13-14; 8:45 am]
Breaking bad in Tehran: how Iran got a taste for crystal meth | World news | The Guardian
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:56
"What economic crisis? Business is good," Bijan winks as he flashes his big, gap-toothed smile.
Bijan is a cook and dealer of sheesheh '' crystal meth '' which has exploded on the Iranian drug market and, for the first time, overtaken heroin to become the country's second most popular drug (opium still tops the list). Meth production in the country has been expanding at an astonishing rate. According to a 2013 study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Iranian government first reported manufacture of the drug just six years ago, when four production facilities were seized. By 2012, though, Iran was the world's fourth highest importer of pseudoephedrine, the main precursor chemical used in the production of crystal meth. Research carried out by the State Welfare Organisation shows that over half a million Tehranis between the ages of 15 and 45 have used it at least once.
The country's drug problem is not new; Iran has one of the highest rates of addiction in the world and the interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, announced recently that some six million Iranians are affected by problems related to drug addiction.
In Tehran, drugs are everywhere. At one popular spot north of the city, queues of cars pull up to be served under a motorway flyover. Dealers trade on a layby with lookouts and security dotted around them. The peak time is 2am and all are catered for. Cocaine has become a regular feature at parties among Tehran's richer residents; young people throughout the city smoke marijuana and pop ecstasy pills; opium '' viewed as an older person's drug '' is still widely considered to be culturally acceptable. In seedy corners of south Tehran, addicts gather to inject heroin, as they always have done. But when crystal meth hit the streets it managed to transcend social divides, and could be found everywhere in the city.
In a graffiti-daubed side street in the centre of Tehran, a teenager with an emo haircut and a leather jacket pulled over a grey hoodie stands in a doorway, his pockets stuffed with small plastic bags of crystal meth. Peyvand sells a gram for the equivalent of about $5. He has been caught countless times by the police but has always paid his way out of prison.
"Everyone buys it. Most of my customers are regular kids like me, students, or they've got office jobs. But rich kids use it too '' I either deliver it to their houses, or they turn up in their flash cars," he says. "It's more expensive than heroin, and young people see it almost as a luxury drug; it's become a chic thing to do."
One of Peyvand's friends, who is also a regular customer, smokes sheesheh once every couple of days. "I love it. It's much stronger than heroin, much more intense. And it's safer; there's no risk of overdosing. Sheesheh is just a great high."
Peyvand says he sells crystal meth at his local gym to bodybuilders and athletes who use it to give them energy while they train, and to a growing number of young women who buy it to lose weight.
A few miles north of where Peyvand deals, a queue of women sit on white plastic chairs in a beauty salon set up in a marble-clad apartment block. Drawn by the salon's reputation as a purveyor of the finest Hollywood bikini waxes, they flick through hairstyle magazines and a few outdated copies of Hello! There are housewives, students, a women with her black chador hanging open around her shoulders and a group in their mid-20s with Botox-smooth foreheads clutching Louis Vuitton handbags. The place fizzes with gossip. A fortune-teller works her way up the line, dispensing advice with the flick of a card and extracting generous tips. Also a hit with some of these women are the under-the-counter methamphetamine pills. A couple of years ago, meth was widely available at beauty salons, until a member of parliament called for a clampdown. Even though many places stopped stocking it, demand is still high.
"The pills are cheaper than liposuction, and I think it's a lot safer," says Roya, a 26-year-old secretary. "When it's in pill form, it's a slimming aid. It's not like smoking bags of it, which is bad for you. For me, it's like medicine, it's not for enjoyment."
Bijan, who is from a family of gangsters, ditched selling more conventional drugs like heroin and opium in favour of crystal meth three years ago. "It's a cheap and easy drug to make. And unlike heroin, you don't have to deal with Afghanistan and all the middle-men along the way, so there's less chance of being caught and fewer people to deal with," he says.
Crystal meth '... slowly becoming taboo. Photograph: AlamyHe runs his operation out of a ragged, industrial town just outside the capital. It is a poor, forgotten place surrounded by factories. Here grocery stores still sell blocks of pungent black opium alongside staples such as milk and slabs of white ewe's cheese. Most of the residents are either unemployed or work as day labourers and in recent years it has become home to many paperless Afghan migrants. Even though this is not Bijan's patch '' he only sells to dealers in Tehran '' the changing face of drug use in the town is emblematic of what is happening in the rest of the country. Ironically, the rapid growth in sheesheh is partly due to the falsely held belief that it is less addictive than heroin.
While the country's economy is flailing in the wake of stricter sanctions and the damage wreaked by the populist policies of the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that sent the Rial tumbling and the inflation rate soaring, the illegal drugs trade is booming. Iran has long been one of the busiest transit countries for drugs traffickers moving heroin from Afghanistan to the West and it has the highest rate of opium and heroin seizures in the world. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers and soldiers have been killed in a neverending and costly war; Iran spends around $1bn a year on anti-drug operations and on securing its 900km border with Afghanistan. Punishments for people caught are severe. Fazli, the interior minister, has said that 80% of all those who are killed by the state are executed on charges relating to drugs trafficking.
There have been extensive public awareness campaigns, with adverts on the television and radio warning of the dangers of crystal meth. These appear to have had some impact, as unlike opium, sheesheh use is becoming increasingly taboo, especially in the more affluent parts of the city.
The government, predictably, says it is stemming the surge in crystal meth production, with Fazli announcing the seizure of 3,500kg of crystal meth last year and that 375 meth labs had been discovered '' more than double the number in 2012.
"It's not like the early days when they didn't have a clue what sheesheh was. They are definitely putting more resources into fighting it. But for every meth lab they destroy, another lot spring up," says Bjijan.
To keep one step ahead of the authorities, Bijan says he bribes police officers. In return for a small cut of his profits and "hush" money, the policemen tip him off about raids and investigations that may involve him, and they promise to destroy any files on him, should they materialise.
"This country's all about connections. As long as you know a few powerful heavyweights, you'll be fine. It's one rule for the rich and one rule for everyone else. I'm lucky in that I've got money and I know people. That way, you stay out of the noose," he says, dragging on a cigarette as he makes a hanging gesture with his free hand.
In south Tehran there seems to be little indication that the crystal meth craze is abating. Outside a charity for sex workers, two women are slumped on the pavement, their faces scratched and covered in sores and their eyes sunken; the tell-tale signs of crystal meth addiction. One of the women cries as she explains that she is now hooked on sheesheh as well as heroin. Outreach workers here say that the area's most vulnerable and severe addicts have little access to services and are unaware of public campaigns; they complain bitterly that sanctions have halted funding for their rehabilitation programmes.
Bijan does not live far from the community of sex workers who are struggling to feed their habits. He has no moral conscience about what he does and blames the selling and buying of drugs on being forced to live in a repressive country. But he prides himself on making pure, safe crystal meth and he is now considering expanding his operation to Malaysia and Thailand, where he says associates are making even more money '' the average price of meth pills in Malaysia is at least five times that in Iran.
"People need an outlet. And for those of us who sell it, well, there are no jobs, and if you're not from a rich family, you will never have opportunities in this country. At least making crystal meth has given me the chance to look after my family."
Some names have been changed.
' This article was amended on 14 May 2014. The original version incorrectly referred to the Centre for Preventative Welfare. This has now been corrected to the State Welfare Organisation.
Shelter in Place
Throw the Soup Can-Do ALICE training tactics put students, teachers at risk? | School SecuritySchool Security
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:35
Do ALICE training tactics put students, teachers at risk?Posted by Ken Trump on June 14, 2013
Questions about student and teacher safety continue to mount as some schools deploy questionable drill tactics in which children and teachers are instructed to throw things at, and to attack, armed gunmen.
The tactics stem from the controversial ''Counter'' component of the A.L.I.C.E. Training program, which stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate.
Questionable tactics stemming from A.L.I.C.E. trainingIn recent months, school and police officials have reported some highly questionable tactics that a number of veteran school security professionals believe put students and teachers at a greater safety risk:
A Wisconsin police officer told me earlier this week that at one school in his jurisdiction, where a number of school staff were sent to A.L.I.C.E. training separate from his department, elementary students were told to keep a can of soup in their desks to throw at an intruder if a gunman entered their classroom;An Ohio news story reported that A.L.I.C.E. training in one school district would be ''age appropriate'': They were telling kindergarten through sixth graders not to attack the gunman, but only to throw things at gunmen to distract them.A police officer told me that at one school in a district which had sent staff to A.L.I.C.E. training, a teacher came out of a classroom and tried to attack at a SWAT team member with a hammer during a tactical exercise. The teacher was ''gently put to the ground'' according to the officer, unlike a real gunman who would have simply killed her, the officer said.A high school principal asked our team, ''Do you mean I shouldn't play loud, weird music over the PA system to distract the active shooter when he comes down the hall?,'' a new step he was planning after A.L.I.C.E. training is his school-community.In one video on YouTube demonstrating A.L.I.C.E. training, a voice comes across the school's P.A. system asking the active shooter, ''Hey jerk, why are you in our school?,'' as the active shooter goes shooting down the hallway.One superintendent told us that her teachers did not want to do lockdowns any longer. Instead, they wanted to ''just run'' if a serious incident occurred. It was unclear who would be supervising students left behind when the teachers (and presumably at least some other students) ran.These and other examples have left a number of veteran school security, psychologists and law enforcement professionals with serious implementation concerns, doubts and objections to A.L.I.C.E.
Police officers cannot answer age, developmental, special needs, or policy questionsIn two spirited workshops at a state conference in Wisconsin earlier this week, police officers advocating for A.L.I.C.E. or similar models remained unable to answer questions about how, if at all, these training programs account for age and developmental factors, special needs children (autistic, mobility impaired, behavioral and emotional disorders, etc.), and other child-centered and preK-12 school-specific concerns.
No one could point to written school board policies, regulations and procedures governing A.L.I.C .E. type programs even though some of their districts were implementing the concept. They were also unable to confirm that written opinions supporting these programs had been received from school attorneys and insurance carriers.
A couple of officers suggested that policies, regulations, procedures, and reviews by attorneys were not even necessary even though school employees and students were being instructed to attack gunmen. I asked them if their police departments sent them out with Tasers, guns and self-defense tactics without policies, legal review, etc., and why they should have these management protocols yet schools with people instructed to attack gunmen should not have them.
Good options are one thing; Bad options are anotherIt is unclear in some of these examples as to whether they were directly taught by A.L.I.C.E. instructors or if they are the result of what was interpreted from the instruction by those who attended A.L.I.C.E. training. Either way '-- direct instruction or interpretation '-- these tactics leave many experienced preK-12 school safety believing that such practices increase, not decrease, the risks of students and teachers being hurt or killed.
A.L.I.C.E. advocates often suggest that schools do not have options. Educators already have options, and they need to recognize that there is a difference between good options and bad options. Bad options such as the above practices done under the umbrella of A.L.I.C.E. training are options that those selling A.L.I.C.E. training can keep out of our schools, in my opinion.
Ken Trump
Categories: Crisis - Emergency Planning for SchoolsSchool Resource Officers (SROs)School Safety and Crisis TrainingShootings - School Deaths | 5 Comments >>
Tags: ALICE training, attacking armed intruders, run-hide-fight, school crisis planning, school crisis training, school resource officers, school shootings
The Story Behind ALICE Training - ALICE Training Institute
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:33
The Story BehindThe ALICE program was created out of a husband's desire for his wife to have a better plan in case of an active shooter event. After the Columbine High School shooting, Greg Crane was a law enforcement officer in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and his wife, Lisa, was an elementary principal. While both prepared in their professional lives for this type of tragic event, it was not until a fateful conversation around the dinner table that brought the two worlds together and created the ALICE program. Around a Christmas Eve dinner in 2001, when an announcement came across the local news of an officer being killed in the line of duty the conversation turned toward the dangers of law enforcement. Although he had trained for many years to have officers ready for an active shooter call, Greg asked Lisa a question he had never asked a school administrator, ''What are y'all doing while the police are making their way to the school?'' Lisa explained the school's protocol, which was the standard at the time, ''When I find out we have an intruder, I put out a ''Code Red'' over the PA, the teachers get everyone in a classroom, lock the door, turn off the lights, sit in the corner and wait for the police to arrive.'' Greg said for the first time the abnormally high numbers of killed and wounded in the recent school shootings of the 90s made perfect sense'...the targets were too damn easy. He did not like that plan for Lisa and the people at her school so he set out to find a better plan. However, after reading the work of the so called ''Experts'' in school shootings he found that in the end, when the bullets started flying, the staff and students were on their own to ''figure it out''.
Greg and a fellow officer, set out to create a plan based on the strategies that brought them through some violent shooting situations. As they developed the strategies and ran the concepts by Lisa, she would tell them how they would work in the school setting. Through years of development, modifications, additions, deletions and a lot of input from other ALICE Instructors across the country, ALICE Training has evolved into the first program of its kind that uses options-based, proactive, survival strategies in our country. Now, many governmental agencies, law enforcement organizations and associations have made recommendation which mirror the ALICE concepts. We continue to lead the way with cutting-edge research, updated materials and an ever increasing body of knowledge and experience to help civilians of all demographics learn strategies which can help them survive an active shooter situation at school, work, hospitals, church or anywhere they may find themselves under attack.
Our vision is to have all citizens to have the skills and knowledge of their options to respond when shots are fired because they have learned in the K-12 setting, just like they do now when they hear a fire alarm.
If the police can't be there in time to help, the next best thing is to prepare our civilian population to help themselves until public safety arrives.
Current ALICE offeringsToday, the ALICE Training Institute is headquartered in Medina, Ohio, and provides proactive risk management to schools, universities, businesses, hospitals and places of worship. Since its inception, ALICE has been adopted by more than 900 organizations, representing more than one million people across the U.S.
To learn more about current ALICE training programs, contact us now.
Hillary 2016
Tea Leoni to play secretary of state in new CBS series on fall schedule; 8 series ordered | 680News
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:29
FILE - This Oct. 24, 2011 file photo shows actress Tea Leoni attends the premiere of "Tower Heist" in New York. Leoni will portray the U.S. secretary of state in a new CBS drama this fall, the long-running comedy ''Two and Half Men'' will enter its final season and television's top-rated network will introduce a new generation of crime procedurals. CBS said Wednesday, May 14, 2014, it has ordered eight new series for next season, five of them premiering in the fall, with a New Orleans-based spinoff of TV's most popular series, ''NCIS,'' among them. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)
AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File
NEW YORK, N.Y. '' Tea Leoni will portray the U.S. secretary of state in a new CBS drama this fall, the long-running comedy ''Two and Half Men'' will enter its final season and television's top-rated network will introduce a new generation of crime procedurals.
CBS said Wednesday it has ordered eight new series for next season, five of them premiering in the fall, with a New Orleans-based spinoff of TV's most popular series, ''NCIS,'' among them.
As it has been for 11 of the past 12 years, CBS will end the season as television's top network. Viewership was down this season, however, and CBS is doubling down on what its viewers find familiar: five of the six new dramas will be about fighting crime.
The exception is ''Madam Secretary,'' on which Leoni will star as a former college professor turned secretary of state. It will be paired on CBS' Sunday night schedule with the network's most critically acclaimed drama, ''The Good Wife.''
''Two and a Half Men,'' which began airing in 2003, will have its farewell season. The series has survived despite losing one and a half of the men, Charlie Sheen and youthful actor Angus T. Jones, in noisy fashion. Creator Chuck Lorre promises plenty of surprises for the final season, but top CBS entertainment executive Nina Tassler said she doesn't know whether bringing Sheen's character back from the dead will be one of them.
''NCIS: New Orleans,'' which will star Scott Bakula, gets the prized time slot of Tuesday following ''NCIS.'' The already established spinoff, ''NCIS: Los Angeles,'' will move to Monday nights.
''Late Show'' host David Letterman, who plans to retire next year, appeared to a standing ovation Wednesday afternoon at CBS' annual schedule presentation to advertisers. Standing next to CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves, he recalled a two-day, phone-slamming battle they had years ago.
''We've since made up,'' said Letterman, who saluted Moonves as ''nothing but supportive.''
For the first time in more than 25 years, CBS' Monday schedule will not include four comedies. The 9 p.m. Monday time slot, long the home to CBS' most high-profile comedies, will instead be filled by ''Scorpion,'' about eccentric geniuses fighting crime. While a drama, ''Scorpion'' has its funny moments, Tassler said.
CBS will air NFL football games on Thursday nights through late October, meaning its regular Thursday evening of entertainment shows won't premiere until Oct. 30. The network will temporarily move ''The Big Bang Theory'' to Mondays until the Thursday football games stop.
CBS is cancelling ''The Crazy Ones,'' starring Robin Williams, after one season. The two highest-profile new comedies of last season, starring Williams and Michael J. Fox on NBC, proved to be failures. CBS also ended ''Bad Teacher,'' ''Intelligence,'' ''Hostages'' and ''Friends With Better Lives.''
Somewhat surprisingly, CBS rejected ''How I Met Your Dad,'' the planned spinoff to ''How I Met Your Mother'' featuring Meg Ryan as a narrator. Tassler said CBS had creative problems with the pilot and wanted producers to redo it but they would not.
The network stressed its plans to stay open for business all year, bringing fresh programming on the air constantly. To that end, ''The Mentalist,'' ''Mike & Molly'' and ''Undercover Boss'' will return next season; it's just not certain when. New series starring Matthew Perry, Josh Duhamel and Patricia Arquette were ordered but won't appear in the fall.
Other new series planned by CBS:
'-- ''Stalker,'' starring Dylan McDermott as a detective investigating stalking incidents.
'-- ''The McCarthys,'' a comedy about a sports-crazed Boston family.
'-- ''Battle Creek,'' with Duhamel and Dean Winters as a mismatched law enforcement team in Michigan.
'-- ''CSI: Cyber,'' a high-tech spinoff of ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'' starring Arquette.
'-- ''The Odd Couple,'' a comedy remake with Perry as the slob and Thomas Lennon as his neat-freak friend.
Karl Rove Suggests Hillary Clinton May Have Brain Damage (UPDATE)
Tue, 13 May 2014 23:02
This piece has been updated with reactions from Karl Rove and former White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace.
It's only 2014, but the 2016 presidential race has already taken an ugly turn.
According to the New York Post's Page Six, Republican strategist Karl Rove suggested last week that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have sustained brain damage after suffering a blood clot in her skull.
Clinton was admitted to the hospital in late December 2012, where doctors discovered a blood clot related to a concussion she had suffered earlier in the month. She was released from the hospital several days later.
Rove, however, apparently thinks her stint in the hospital left some questions unanswered.
"Thirty days in the hospital?" Rove said, according to Page Six. "And when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what's up with that.''
Clinton's doctors, however, debunked Rove's theory long ago. Prior to her release from the hospital in January 2013, Clinton's physicians at a New York hospital said the clot did not cause Clinton to suffer a stroke, and did not result in any neurological damage.
''Please assure Dr. Rove she's 100 percent," a Clinton representative told the Post's Emily Smith.
The remark reportedly came during an appearance at a Los Angeles conference with former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The Harry Walker Agency, which represents a long list of political heavyweights now on the paid speaking circuit, advertises Gibbs and Rove as a duo that provides "intimate and insightful commentary as they both speak with great authority and accuracy from a White House insider's perspective."
Former White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace, who worked with Rove in the George W. Bush administration, called Rove's comments "off the wall."
''I worked with Karl for a long time. This was a deliberate strategy on his part to raise her health as an issue and, I think in his view, a legitimate line of questioning ahead of the next campaign," Wallace said on MSNBC Tuesday.
She added that Rove's ''attack seemed out of place, out of time and some of the basic facts seemed to be wrong.''
Rove appeared on Fox News Tuesday to defend himself against the alleged comments, saying, ''I never used that phrase." But he doubled down on his questions about Clinton's health, saying her spokespeople have not been "particularly forthcoming."
Rove said that the status of Clinton's health is also a personal issue that should be addressed by the presumptive presidential candidate.
"When you go through a health incident like this," he said, "any presidential candidate has to ask themselves, 'Am I willing to do this for eight years of my life, to serve, to run for two years and then serve for eight?'"
Rove has been accused of using smear tactics in past campaigns. A 1994 Alabama judicial campaign under Rove's stewardship was reportedly behind a whisper campaign claiming that the rival candidate was a pedophile. And ahead of the 2000 South Carolina presidential primary, Rove used a push poll to suggest Bush rival John McCain had fathered "an illegitimate black child."
While Clinton insists she hasn't made a decision on whether to run for president in 2016, Republicans like Rove began campaigning against her as early as last year. In May 2013, the Rove-led American Crossroads super PAC released an ad questioning Clinton's handling of the 2012 attack in Benghazi.
Google must delete 'irrelevant' links at the request of ordinary individuals, rules top EU court
Wed, 14 May 2014 14:45
The court's decision will allow individuals the right to ask internet search engines to remove links to information about them that they do not want known '' which could be seen either as an assertion of the right to privacy or an attack on free speech. Google and free speech activists reacted angrily to the court's verdict which could guarantee individuals a ''right to be forgotten'' on the internet which is not currently available.
It is unclear exactly how the ruling will be implemented considering the sheer volume of online data and internet users. For individuals keen to erase embarrassing incidents from their past, it could prove a handy tool for re-shaping their digital footprint, while data protection advocates are calling it a victory against the all-powerful internet giants.
But for champions of free speech, the potential for misuse is deeply worrying.
''This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to pulp books,'' said Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship. ''Although the ruling is intended for private individuals, it opens the door to anyone who wants to whitewash their personal history.''
It was a repossessed home in Catalonia which sparked the battle between privacy campaigners, search engines such as Google and free speech advocates. Mario Costeja Gonzalez was dismayed to find searches on his name still threw up a 1998 newspaper article on past financial problems, even though many years had passed and his debts were paid off.
Read more: Q&A: The ECJ ruling on GoogleComment: how easy is it to clean up after yourself?Editorial: A fine principle, but fiendish to implementA Spanish court referred his request for the link to be removed to the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, which ruled in favour of Mr Costeja. The judges decided that search engines did have a duty to make sure that data deemed ''inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant'' did not appear. Ordinary citizens could also request that search engines remove links to sites which contained excessive personal data on them.
Google had argued that it was not in control of the content '' it was merely linking to it '' and therefore the onus for removing any out-of-date information was on the websites themselves.
''We are very surprised that [this decision] differs so dramatically from the Advocate General's opinion and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out. We now need to take time to analyse the implications,'' said a Google spokesman, Al Verney. He was referring to an opinion issued an adviser to the European Court of Justice last year expressing concern that freedom of speech could be threatened.
Google headquarters in California (Getty)This clash between the right to privacy and the right to information is an ongoing one in Europe. In 2012, the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, proposed a law granting people the right to be forgotten on the internet. The European Parliament however watered it down, and internet companies have been lobbying member states not to approve the legislation.
They have an ally in the free speech groups, which argue that giving an individual the right to decide what can be removed from search engines with no legal oversight has worrying implications.
''The court's decision is a retrograde move that misunderstands the role and responsibility of search engines and the wider internet,'' said Ms Ginsberg. ''It should send chills down the spine of everyone in the European Union who believes in the crucial importance of free expression and freedom of information.''
Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group, agreed. ''We need to take into account individuals' right to privacy, but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain... it could lead to online censorship,'' he said.
A Google data center in Hamina, Finland (AP)But the battle lines are not entirely clear. People are increasingly concerned about the safety of their personal data since allegations emerged last year of mass government surveillance. The EU's Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, called the ruling a ''strong tailwind'' in the commission's efforts to tighten data protection in the bloc. ''Companies can no longer hide behind their servers being based in California or anywhere else in the world,'' she wrote on Facebook.
It is now up to legal experts with search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to work out how they can possibly implement the law, and what processes will be put in place to allow people to appeal against the links,. For the man who started it all, he is pleased that his case has created an opening for ordinary people to stand up to the often faceless Internet giants. ''It's a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas, it's a joy,'' Mr Costeja told the Associated Press.
YouTube shuts down public RSS feeds of user subscriptions | Ars Technica
Tue, 13 May 2014 08:46
If you're a news junky, you probably use an RSS reader like to keep up with stuff on the Web. One of the nicest ways to consume YouTube subscriptions was to use an RSS feed of new videos, allowing them to show up just like news articles do. You might not have noticed yet, but Google quietly shut down this feature a few days ago.
The RSS feed, which used to be[username]/newsubscriptionvideos, now throws out a "403 Forbidden" error. Previously, the URL would provide a publicly accessible feed of new subscriptions from any YouTube account, provided users didn't choose to turn off public subscription retrieval.
The feed was part of the YouTube Data API v2, which was deprecated in March of this year. The replacement'--predictably named YouTube Data API v3'--doesn't offer a comparable data stream. Bug reports filed for this regression as early as January 2013 have gone unanswered, save for a single response in January 2014 (yes, a year later) saying, "Patch is in the works, however we can't comment on the expected date." Now it's five months later, the feature is gone, and there's no solution in sight.
With a combined 210 stars and 96 comments across two bug reports (one, two), this is already of the most popular bugs on the gdata-issues bug tracker.
As far as workarounds go, it looks like YouTube Data API v3 will offer an authenticated subscription feed, meaning you can dodge the 403 forbidden error via an OAuth token that expires every hour. Apps that refresh this once an hour for you have already been written, but that involves turning certain YouTube data over to a third party and dealing with a potentially unstable service.
If you're using like we suspect many people are, you won't get an error message. YouTube wasn't quiet over the weekend'--your new videos just silently stopped showing up.
Mozilla to test sponsored tabs
Mon, 12 May 2014 05:07
12 May 2014Last updated at 02:22 Mozilla has said it will test a plan that puts ads and sponsored content on the boxes that appear when Firefox users launch a new tab on the browser.
Firefox displays nine boxes or "tiles" showing screenshots of the websites visited most often by the user.
Many users were concerned about Mozilla's plan announced earlier this year to add advertising to the boxes.
But the firm has assured users it is not going to turn Firefox "into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder".
Johnathan Nightingale, vice president of Firefox, said in a blog post that many users had found the language of the initial announcement "hard to decipher" and were worried they would have no control over their browser.
"That's not going to happen. That's not who we are at Mozilla,"
He said the tests were designed to understand what the users find helpful and what parts they ignore or disable on the browser.
"These tests are not about revenue and none will be collected. Sponsorship would be the next stage once we are confident that we can deliver user value."
The company had previously assured users that while it will use information about their location to provide content relevant to them, no other user information would be "collected or considered".
New Tab Experiments | Future Releases
Mon, 12 May 2014 05:18
Johnathan Nightingale May92014
A few months ago Darren posted about some experiments we wanted to do with the new tab page. It didn't go over well. A lot of our community found the language hard to decipher, and worried that we were going to turn Firefox into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder; without user control, without user benefit.
That's not going to happen. That's not who we are at Mozilla.
But we will experiment. In the coming weeks, we'll be landing tests on our pre-release channels to see whether we can make things like the new tab page more useful, particularly for fresh installs of Firefox, where we don't yet have any recommendations to make from your history. We'll test a mix of our own sites and other useful sites on the Web. We'll mess with the layout. These tests are purely to understand what our users find helpful and what our users ignore or disable '' these tests are not about revenue and none will be collected. Sponsorship would be the next stage once we are confident that we can deliver user value.
We'll experiment on Firefox across platforms, and we'll talk about what we learn before anything ships to our release users. And we'll keep listening for feedback and suggestions to make this work better for you. Because that's who we are at Mozilla.
Johnathan NightingaleVP Firefox
IBM facing 'rocky time', but poised for change, CEO says: NYT
Mon, 12 May 2014 05:02
Sun May 11, 2014 11:28pm EDT
TweetShare thisEmailPrintIBM Chairwoman and CEO Virginia ''Ginni'' Rometty delivers a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 26, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Albert Gea
(Reuters) - IBM Corp is facing a "rocky time," Chief Executive Virginia Rometty told the New York Times, but said she and the company now have a clear vision on how to pursue another generation of growth.
"We are transforming this company for the next decade," she said, sounding a theme she plans to use on Wednesday at the company's yearly meeting with investment analysts, the New York Times reported. (
IBM, the world's biggest technology services company, last month reported its lowest quarterly revenue in five years, as Big Blue struggles with falling demand for its hardware and faces challenges in growth markets like China.
The company has jettisoned less profitable business and made major commitments in new fields '-- like technology to help customers find insights in today's flood of digital data, and cloud-style computing in which processing and software is delivered remotely over the Internet, the NYT reported Rometty as saying.
(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Sunil Nair)
Tweet thisLink thisShare thisDigg thisEmailPrintReprintsComments (3)
I met Louis Gerstner at a wedding in July of 1987'--''his niece's. We went to college together. I was invited. He built a pretty solid consulting business at IBM and, was ahead of the curve in a lot of IT Work. He led people with a vision. If a CEO has no vision, and, can not lead, this is what happens. This woman has done nothing, and, is collecting a salary. I can do better.
I met Louis Gerstner at a wedding in July of 1987'--''his niece's. We went to college together. I was invited. He built a pretty solid consulting business at IBM and, was ahead of the curve in a lot of IT Work. He led people with a vision. If a CEO has no vision, and, can not lead, this is what happens. This woman has done nothing, and, is collecting a salary. I can do better.
I have also recruited IT people, and, have placed people at IBM. So I know what goes on there. IBM needs a change.
The future of monetising television | Media Network | The Guardian
Mon, 12 May 2014 04:39
Channel 4's viewer database had topped 10 million unique registered users and allows for valuable targeted advertising. Photograph: David J Green/lifestyle 2/Alamy
While the changes brought about by technology are threatening to dismantle the television industry as we know it, a saviour may arise from a most unlikely place: Video On Demand, or VOD. Because in a world where all programming is available on demand, all the time, there may be hope for the existing models yet.
While the UK has had BBC's iPlayer for several years now, there is no equivalent in the US. VOD is still the red-headed stepchild, something that's reflected in the deals the networks have with the MVPDs (multichannel video programme distributors), most of which limit the current season VOD offering to the last five or six episodes, to the disappointment of latecomers and binge viewers alike. The rationale behind this odd arrangement is that when these deals were struck, binge viewing was just a gleam in Reed Hasting's eyes and the on-demand episodes were viewed as more of a marketing tool than a proper means of viewing: viewers watching VOD were viewers who weren't watching commercials, which meant the networks were losing ad revenue.
But all this is changing now that the networks and MVPDs have discovered the joys of non-skippable VOD. This isn't a new or revolutionary technology '' Hulu's essentially been doing it for years '' but the sudden popularity of the disabling of the fast-forward button during commercials is all about the ability to maintain ad revenue while adjusting for new viewership habits.
Dynamic ad insertion '' the ability to use "big data" to insert an ad into a slot based on when and where the viewer is watching '' and increasingly, who the viewer is '' should allow networks to reap the same, if not greater, profits from advertising by providing more targeted audiences. At the same time, it will (hopefully) save the viewer from irrelevant ads while cutting down on their frequency.
The idea is that with all this VOD available, viewers will no longer want or need a PVR: everything they'd want to record is already available on demand. It's a decent gamble, since TiVO aside, there aren't many independent PVR manufacturers and the MVPDs can easily switch out set-top boxes with built-in PVRs for ones without them, leaving viewers with no option other than VOD.
The success of this endeavour depends on one key question: will the networks be able to control their desire for ad revenue enough to make non-skippable VOD palatable to the masses or will they continue to insist on lengthy commercial breaks? Should they choose the latter, TiVO will certainly see an uptick in popularity, along with new cloud-based DVR services. But should they choose a more Hulu-like formula, with shorter, 60- or 90-second ad breaks, "Is this ad relevant to you?"-type feedback, and countdown timers, then viewers may well accept the commercial breaks in non-skippable VOD as a necessary evil, one that's well worth it for the convenience of watching whatever they want, whenever they want.
A move to a VOD-intensive ecosystem also opens up opportunities for non-traditional broadcasters, performers with large followings (singers, comedians, YouTube stars) who'll be able to light up their own VOD channels and bring in viewers via their social media channels. With those viewers comes ad revenue they don't have to share with a middleman. Falling production costs make this scenario even more feasible as does the limited risk for the MVPDs who host them: storage costs are low and it will be up to the VOD channel owner to promote their own programming and create their own ad revenue.
The final piece of this VOD utopia will be the ability to create linear channels from a range of VOD offerings, a sort of Pandora for TV, where users can create playlists around a genre (crime shows) or a mix of their favourite shows or have the ability to access playlists created by someone else '' a professional critic, an existing TV network or even a celebrity. These personal channels will supplement rather than supplant traditional TV networks and will provide viewers with yet one more personalisation option.
Switching to an all-VOD world will have many effects on the current ecosystem, particularly around the ways shows are produced and marketed. It will be both harder and easier for new voices to be heard: harder because there are so many competing voices, but easier because there will be more ways than ever to find and attract an audience.
Advertising will still be the primary monetisation model, but a system with fewer and better targeted ads is a small price to pay for the ability to watch a greater range of programming, however and whenever we want.
Alan Wolk is global lead analyst at Piksel.
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BBC News - Eurovision voting figures show juries and public clash
Wed, 14 May 2014 13:58
12 May 2014Last updated at 05:30 ET The latest Eurovision figures have revealed the differences between the public phone vote and the jury vote at Saturday night's competition.
The UK phone vote gave Poland's Donatan and Cleo top marks but the jury thought they were the worst act of the night.
Their combined score meant Poland ended up with nil points from the British.
Most of the countries' voting power is split 50/50 between a jury and the public. Austria's Conchita Wurst won the contest in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Other discrepancies included Germany, whose public vote put Greece in fourth place but whose jury ranked it fourth from bottom at 22nd. Again, this resulted in nil points overall.
Ireland also gave Poland top marks in the telephone vote but the song We are Slavs was given bottom marks by the jury panel.
Poland's act was accompanied by a number of attractive female performers who suggestively churned butter and washed laundry on stage.
Malta was voted as the sixth favourite by France although the public vote only ranked it 20th, so it received no votes.
There was more consensus in some countries however, including Belarus, which gave Russia top marks - 12 points - after it was ranked first by both the public telephone vote and the jury.
The five-person juries from each country are made up of music professionals.
In two of the 37 countries eligible to vote - Albania and San Marino - the vote was based just on the jury decision as there was either insufficient votes or a breach of the rules regarding the televote.
In Georgia, the vote was based purely on the public vote, due to technical issues or a breach of the rules surrounding the jury vote.
Russia, which is facing opposition to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, received nil points from more than half the countries at Eurovision.
They included Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK.
The Netherlands were the runners-up behind Austria's drag act, Wurst.
Wurst, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, won with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, collecting 290 points.
The UK's Molly Smitten-Downes came 17th, with 40 points for her song Children of the Universe.
BBC News - Eurovision's 'bearded lady' winner divides Russia
Wed, 14 May 2014 13:57
14 May 2014Last updated at 02:19 ET By Steve RosenbergBBC News, MoscowIn his spare time, Communist MP Valery Rashkin likes climbing mountains. Back in the USSR he was a champion alpinist.
Today, though, Mr Rashkin faces an uphill battle of a different kind: to liberate Russia from the Eurovision Song Contest.
"I watched the results of last Saturday's Eurovision with deep pain," Valery tells me. "Giving first place to a bearded lady is a slight on humanity and suicide!"
The bearded lady in question is Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst. At the Eurovision final in Copenhagen, Conchita triumphed with 'Rise Like a Phoenix'.
In the corridors of Russian power, though, she sank like a lead balloon. Russian officials have cited her as an example of Europe's moral decay.
Continue reading the main story''Start QuoteThey didn't like our girls because they had braids, not beards''
End QuoteOleg Nilov, MP, referring to Russia's Eurovision entryMinutes after the result was announced, nationalist MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky ranted to Russian TV viewers: "This is the end of Europe. It's rotted away. There are no more men and women. There is just 'It'!"
If Valery Rashkin has his way, this will be the end of Russia's participation in Eurovision.
He has submitted an official request with the government to pull his country out of the contest and create an alternative competition called 'The Voice of Eurasia'. Mr Rashkin claims that "dozens" of Russian MPs back his initiative.
"I'm convinced that all sensible people, who love children and their motherland, will support this idea," he assures me. "The new contest will promote completely different values. Certainly not the values of transsexuals, lesbians and homosexuals."
One of the Duma's most devout anti-Eurovision deputies is Oleg Nilov.
In parliament this week, Mr Nilov claimed that "dark forces" had prevented Russia's entry, the 17-year-old Tolmachevy twins, from winning.
"They didn't like our girls because they had braids, not beards," he alleged, then promptly burst into song, with an impromptu performance of the Russian folk tune "Black Crow".
'Russian Openvision'But why is there such disharmony in the Duma over a song contest?
Last year President Putin signed a law that restricts the spread of information about "non-traditional sexual relations".
Moscow argues the legislation is necessary to protect under-18s and to promote traditional family values in Russian society.
One of the architects of the law was Vitaly Milonov, a member of the St Petersburg city council. He has vowed to prevent Conchita Wurst coming to Russia to give concerts.
"We should not allow this sick man to have concerts here," Mr Milonov tells me. "All this gay propaganda is disgusting. You buried Eurovision. Where the Eurovison song contest was there is now a big grave with the name of Conchita Wurst on it.
"Perhaps next time we should enter a singing bear, or perhaps a dancing troupe from the Russian intelligence service. In fact it's useless for us to send singers to your contests. We cannot expect fair play."
In place of Eurovision, Vitaly Milonov proposes a programme of "traditional songs and poetry about true love." He suggests a title for it: "Russian Openvision".
It is not only politicians who have been protesting.
There has been a campaign against Conchita in the Russian blogosphere, too, with Russian TV and pop stars posting images of themselves shaving off their beards in protest at Austria's victory.
Continue reading the main story''Start QuotePerhaps the result is a protest against our views in Russia''
End QuoteFilip KirkorovWriter of Russia's Eurovision entry'Respect the winner'And yet, if you look at how the Russian public voted in the Eurovision final, a very different picture emerges.
Russian televoters loved Conchita Wurst and ranked her third. It seems the public is less outraged by a bearded lady than parliament thinks it ought to be.
Vitaly Milonov dismisses the results of the voting as "fake".
But even on Russian state TV's live post-Eurovision chat show, there were studio guests voicing support for the Austrian singer, expressing views not normally heard on state television.
"Why do we always have to look for someone to hate?" asked one member of the audience.
In a live link-up from Copenhagen, even the writer of this year's Russian entry, Filip Kirkorov, declared: "Let's respect the winner. It doesn't matter if they have a beard or not. If they're a man or a woman.
"Perhaps the result is a protest against our views in Russia. Perhaps it should make us consider whether we should be so extreme in our attitudes towards sexual minorities and to people of different nationalities."
Italy threatens EU to unleash wave of asylum seekers across Europe.
Wed, 14 May 2014 06:42
Catania (Italy) (AFP) - An Italian warship unloaded the 17 victims and 206 survivors of a migrant boat shipwreck, as Italy threatened to send asylum-seekers across Europe without more help to stem a wave of arrivals from North Africa.
Hearses carrying the 17 coffins could be seen lined up in the port of Catania in Sicily as the Grecale frigate docked and dozens of medical personnel stood by to assist the survivors in four tents set up especially.
"Our society is getting used to this tragic normality. Something needs to change," said Father Piero Galvano, the local director for the Catholic charity Caritas.
Many of the survivors from Monday's accident in international waters between Libya and Italy were from Eritrea, Nigeria and Syria and the victims included 12 women and three children, with more still missing.
Catania's Deputy Mayor Marco Consoli, who was also at the port, said: "We have taken in thousands of people from all around the world, victims of hunger and war."
"Sadly today we are also taking in 17 bodies. If we are usually at 100 percent, today we are at 200," he said.
View gallery
Map locating the area in which a boat carrying migrants sank (AFP Photo/P.Pizarro/A.Bommenel, abm/dm '...
Survivors will initially be housed in a local sports facility but longer-term shelter will be harder as all the asylum centres in Sicily are badly overcrowded.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano urged more assistance from Europe for border patrols, threatening that otherwise Italy would defy EU asylum rules and allow migrants to travel on to other countries in Europe.
"We'll just let them go," he said, although the Dublin Convention states that migrants must remain in the country in which they arrive and make their asylum application until their status as refugees is approved.
Alfano also said the EU should intervene in Libya to stop the migrants from leaving in the first place and called for the EU's Frontex border agency to be moved from Poland to Italy to improve coordination.
The ministry reported 36,000 migrants landing so far in 2014 -- many from Eritrea, Somalia and Syria -- compared to 42,925 for all of 2013, 13,267 in 2012 and 63,000 in 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring revolts.
View gallery
Survivors of a migrant boat shipwreck board a bus after getting off an Italian warship that rescued '...
Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, drown every year.
Countries in southern Europe complain they are shouldering the burden of migrant arrivals but northern European states take in more confirmed refugees, while the EU's border agency Frontex is stretched thin.
"Europe is leaving us on our own," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has promised to make immigration a top priority during Italy's EU presidency this year, said on ReteQuattro television after Monday's disaster.
"It can't save governments and banks and then let mothers and children die," the prime minister said.
- 'Strengthened' search and rescue -
View gallery
A picture released by the Italian navy shows migrants boarding the "Sirio" during a rescue '...
The Italian navy said the rescue operation after Monday's incident had involved warships, coast guard and border patrol vessels as well as merchant ships.
The UN's refugee agency estimated 170 people have died at sea trying to reach Europe this year off Greece, Italy and Libya as well as in international waters.
UNHCR said search and rescue operations should be "further strengthened" and asked for the international community to find legal alternatives like resettlement to stop refugees from making dangerous journeys.
Italian media cited coast guards as saying that around 400 asylum-seekers may have been on board the boat, which would leave dozens still unaccounted for.
But Mauro Casinghini, the director of rescue services in Italy for the Order of Malta, which had a doctor and two nurses assisting survivors with the coast guard at the scene, said there were some 250 people on the boat.
Casinghini described to AFP scenes from the shipwreck as recounted to him by the doctor, Antonella Godino.
A Somali woman, Amina, was found gripping a piece of wood floating in the water and holding on to her four-month old baby after the boat capsized and sank in international waters between Libya and Italy.
"She nearly didn't make it. The waves were lapping at her chin and she was barely holding her baby above the water," he cited Godino as saying.
"When we held the little baby, we were afraid his heartbeat would not come back. We dried him, wrapped him up in a thermal blanket and put him in the warmest place we could find -- next to the engine room."
The Italian navy launched a large-scale operation to rescue migrants and deter traffickers following two separate shipwreck tragedies in October 2013 in which more than 400 people drowned off Italy's shores.
Politics & GovernmentImmigration IssuesItalyLibya
We have fluoride, they get cocaine? WTF? Cocaine 'traces' found in UK tap water, spark alarm of addiction scope
Sun, 11 May 2014 22:23
Published time: May 11, 2014 13:17Edited time: May 11, 2014 18:32AFP Photo / Anne-Christine Poujoulat
Experts from the drinking water inspectorate found that cocaine use in Britain is now so high it has contaminated the drinking water supply, even after it has gone through intensive purification treatments, UK media reports.
Scientists found supplies of drinking water contained traces of benzoylecgonine, the metabolized form of the drug after it has been processed by the human body. Benzoylecgonine is the same compound used for urine-based tests for cocaine, the Sunday Times reports.
The findings are an eye-opening indication of how widely the drug is used in Britain.
''We have near the highest level of cocaine use in western Europe. It has also been getting cheaper and cheaper at the same time as its use has been going up,'' Steve Rolles, from the drug policy think-tank Transform, told the Sunday Times.
Nearly 700,000 people aged 16-59 are estimated to take cocaine every year in Britain, and there are around 180,000 addicted users of crack cocaine, according to the charity DrugScope.
Health officials stressed that the amounts found in drinking water were very low and unlikely to represent a danger to the public, however.
A recent report from Public Health England found that quantitiess of cocaine at 4 nanograms per liter, around one-quarter of what was found before the water was treated.
''Estimated exposures for most of the detected compounds are at least thousands of times below doses seen to produce adverse effects in animals and hundreds of thousands below human therapeutic doses,'' the report states.
Although cocaine use in Britain is among the highest in Europe, its use has actually decreased since the 2008 financial crisis and has been steadily falling among 16-24 year olds, who no longer see it as glamorous '' largely because its widespread availability has reduced its subversive appeal.
But among older generations, it still retains its whiff of subversive decadence and glamour.
"It's ridiculous, I've been at parties when there have been more people in the bathroom than outside it, yet this strange etiquette is still upheld. I think it's partly about exclusion and inclusion '' who's in, who's out, who's cool and who's not. It's remarkably childish, but if you're a middle-aged professional who doesn't get out much, then that bathroom can seem like the hottest ticket in town," Matthew, a 49-year-old corporate lawyer, told The Guardian.
The Intercept is Hiring - The Intercept
Wed, 14 May 2014 08:50
As I've mentioned before, if it seems as though things are a little slow around here, it's only because we've been busy planning for the long-term future of the site while continuing to work through the Snowden materials. We've completed some of that planning and are ready to start staffing up The Intercept with editors and additional writers.
The positions we are hiring for are spelled out below. If you enjoy saying true things that make a lot of people angry, then you might want to consider applying. Send clips and r(C)sum(C)s to
Deputy Editor: The Intercept's deputy editor will bear primary responsibility for the day-to-day operations of a fast-paced news site publishing a wide variety of stories daily, from breaking news to long-form investigative and narrative reporting. He or she will play an integral role in managing a staff of roughly 20 reporters and editors, working in partnership with the editor-in-chief to steer coverage and develop the site's identity as an aggressive, transgressive news outlet covering national security, intelligence, criminal justice, and all manner of other subjects. The deputy editor's focus will be on keeping the site live, operating, reactive, and enterprising, assigning fast-turnaround stories to daily reporters and overseeing publication and rollout of longer projects.
Features/Story Editor: An experienced editor who can crack open and doctor lengthy, heavily reported stories under deadline. This role will require juggling multiple stories per week, working with staff and freelance writers to assign, edit, and package a steady stream of powerful features. This editor will take primary responsibility for The Intercept's longform journalism, which will be a high priority for the site. It is a senior position.
National Security Editor: A well-sourced, veteran editor who will operate as a player-coach running our reporting''long and short, slow and fast, NSA-based and otherwise''on national security. Must bring a wealth of experience in navigating stories about the intelligence and defense communities. This editor will take primary responsibility for all of our reporting on the NSA, surveillance, the intelligence community more broadly, and U.S. military and defense policy.
National Security Reporter: An aggressive, enterprising reporter with sources in the intelligence community to tackle national security stories emanating from leaked documents, as well as from his or her own network of contacts. This job will require an ability to juggle fast, hourly deadline reporting on urgent stories with long-term projects.
Reporter/Bloggers: Fast, clean writers capable of jumping on breaking stories and finding ways to advance and own them. Must live on the internet; should be conversant/passionate about politics, technology, and national security. Experience variable, but these are junior positions. We're hiring several.
What a Fucking Asshole @ggreenwald
Wed, 14 May 2014 07:51
Ever the huckster, Glenn Greenwald in GQ
I like to think of it as a fireworks show: You want to save your best for last. There's a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I'm saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale, a big missing piece. Snowden knows about it and is excited about it.
Take your time, fellas. The show's the important thing. In fact, it's the only thing.
Still shame on me for nine months ago suggesting that Glenn's drip-drip-drippery had a market-driven showbiz quality. Glenn was right to puke all over me about that, however dishonest, crazy and infantile it made him look at the time. After all, I was talking over the show. That's rude.
In other news, some anons have called for a protest of Greenwald's book tour. The tour commences today in New York at Cooper Union, where Greenwald's First Look co-worker Matt Taibbi will administer an extended blowjob moderate a no-holds-barred discussion.
the sky all covered in spectacular multicolored hues '' we hold each other tight, eyes filled with tears, overcome with joy, hope and gratitu'--Walter Glass (@walterglass) May 13, 2014
we had misunderstood, and only then did we fully comprehend the depth of our error '' this was not mere journalism, but something much grande'--Walter Glass (@walterglass) May 13, 2014
we feel our chains slowly slacken as golden sunshine blankets the meadow '' "what right have we to behold such beauty" we beseech our liberat'--Walter Glass (@walterglass) May 13, 2014
Take Your Drip and Stick It
A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal
Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal
In Conclusion
Mark Ames vs. Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman on USAID
Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower
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Legal Process Guidelines for U.S. Law Enforcement
Wed, 14 May 2014 00:28
These Guidelines are provided for use by law enforcement or other government entities in the U.S. when seeking information from Apple Inc. (''Apple'') about users of Apple's products and services, or from Apple devices. Apple will update these Guidelines as necessary. This version was released on May 7th, 2014.
All other requests for information regarding Apple users, including user questions about disclosure of information, should be directed to These Guidelines do not apply to requests that law enforcement agencies make outside the U.S. to Apple's relevant local subsidiaries.
I. General InformationApple designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players, and sells a variety of related software, services, peripherals, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications. Apple's products and services include Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, a portfolio of consumer and professional software applications, the iOS and Mac OS X operating systems, iCloud, and a variety of accessory, service and support offerings. Apple also sells and delivers digital content and applications through the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store. User information is held by Apple in accordance with Apple's privacy policy and the applicable terms of service/terms and conditions for the particular service offering. Apple is committed to maintaining the privacy of the users of Apple products and services. Accordingly, information about users of Apple products and services (''Apple users'') will not be released without proper legal process.
The information contained within these Guidelines is devised to provide information to law enforcement agencies regarding the legal process that Apple requires in order to disclose electronic information to law enforcement and government agencies. These Guidelines are not intended to provide legal advice. The frequently asked questions (''FAQ'') section of these Guidelines is intended to provide answers to some of the more common questions that Apple receives. Neither these Guidelines nor the FAQ will cover every conceivable circumstance that may arise. Accordingly, please contact with any further questions. This email address is intended strictly for use by law enforcement and government agents. If you choose to send an email to this address, it must be from a valid government email address. Nothing within these Guidelines is meant to create any enforceable rights against Apple and Apple's policies may be updated or changed in the future without further notice to law enforcement.
The majority of subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders that Apple receives seek information regarding a particular Apple device or customer and the specific service(s) that Apple may provide to that customer. Law enforcement should be as narrow and specific as possible when fashioning their legal process to avoid misinterpretation and/or objections in response to an overly broad request.
II. Service of Process Guidelines A. Service of Law Enforcement Subpoenas, Search Warrants, and Court OrdersApple will accept service of subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders for documents by fax or mail from law enforcement agencies.
Please direct service via fax to:
Fax Number: (408) 974-9316
Apple Inc.Attention: Privacy and Law Enforcement Compliance1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014
Note: Please be sure to include a verifiable physical return address, fax number, email address, and phone number to ensure receipt of all documentation. All matters that are not law enforcement related must be either personally served at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA or served through CT Corporation (Apple's registered agent for service of process). For any inquiries related to law enforcement legal process, please contact: or Apple's Subpoena Hotline at (408) 974-8100. If you are inquiring regarding the status of a specific subpoena, search warrant, or court order, please do not contact Apple until at least 10 business days after service of your request unless the matter involves imminent harm or threat to life.
B. Witness Testimony SubpoenasApple will not waive service requirements for subpoenas seeking witness testimony nor accept service via fax. All subpoenas seeking witness testimony must either be personally served on Apple or served through Apple's registered agent for service of process. Apple will also resist subpoenas for witness testimony that are served with fewer than 14 days advance notice.
C. Preservation RequestsRequests to preserve information pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2703(f) should be directed to Apple's Privacy and Law Enforcement Compliance Group by fax to (408) 974-9316. Please submit preservation requests on law enforcement letterhead with the agent and agency identified within the letter so the request can be verified. Please include an email address and phone number in the letter.
When a preservation request has been received, Apple will preserve the requested information for 90 days. After this 90 day period, the preservation will be automatically removed from the storage server. However, this period can be extended by 90 days upon a renewed preservation request. More than two preservations for the same account will be treated as requests for an extension of the originally preserved materials, but Apple will not preserve new material in response to such requests.
D. Emergency DisclosureUnder 18 U.S.C. §§ 2702(b)(7) and 2702(c)(4) Apple is permitted, but not required, to voluntarily disclose information, including contents of communications and customer records, to a federal, state, or local governmental entity if Apple believes in good faith that an emergency involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires such disclosure without delay. In order to request that Apple voluntarily disclose information on an emergency basis, please fill out the Emergency Disclosure Form attached as Appendix A and submit it via fax to Apple's Privacy and Law Enforcement Compliance Group at (408) 974-9316. Alternately, please send a PDF copy of the completed form by email to and include ''Emergency Disclosure Request'' in the subject line.
If you need to contact Apple after hours (before 8:00 am or after 5:00 pm Pacific time) for an emergency inquiry, please contact Apple's Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) at (408) 974-2095.
E. User NoticeApple will notify its customers when their personal information is being sought in response to legal process except where providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself, by a court order Apple receives (e.g., an order under 18 U.S.C. §2705(b)), or by applicable law or where Apple, in its sole discretion, believes that providing notice could create a risk of injury or death to an identifiable individual or group of individuals or in situations where the case relates to child endangerment.
III. Information Available From AppleA. Device Registration InformationBasic registration or customer information, including, name, address, email address, and telephone number is provided to Apple by customers when registering an Apple device. Apple does not verify this information, and it may not be accurate or reflect the device's owner. Additionally, the date of registration, purchase date and device type may also be included. This information can be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process.
B. Customer Service RecordsContacts that customers have had with Apple customer service regarding a device or service may be obtained from Apple. This information may include records of support interactions with customers regarding a particular Apple device or service. Additionally, information regarding the device, warranty, and repair may also be available. This information can be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process.
C. iTunes InformationiTunes is a free software application which customers use to organize and play digital music and video on their computers. It's also a store that provides content for customers to download for their computers and iOS devices. When a customer opens an iTunes account, basic subscriber information such as name, physical address, email address, and telephone number can be provided. Additionally, information regarding iTunes purchase/download transactions and connections, update/re-download connections, and iTunes Match connections may also be available. iTunes subscriber information and connection logs with IP addresses can be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process. iTunes purchase/download transactional records can be obtained with an order under 18 U.S.C. §2703(d) or court order meeting the equivalent legal standard. A search warrant is required for Apple to provide the specific content purchased or downloaded.
D. Retail Store TransactionsPoint of Sale transactions are cash, credit/debit card, or gift card transactions that occur at an Apple Retail Store. A subpoena or greater legal process is required to obtain information regarding the type of card associated with a particular purchase, name of the purchaser, email address, date/time of the transaction, amount of the transaction, and store location. When providing legal process requesting Point of Sale records, include the complete credit/debit card number used and any additional information such as date and time of transaction, amount, and items purchased. Additionally, law enforcement may provide Apple with the receipt number associated with the purchase(s) in order to obtain duplicate copies of receipts, in response to valid legal process.
E. Apple Online Store PurchasesApple maintains information regarding online purchases including name, shipping address, telephone number, email address, product purchased, purchase amount, and IP address of where a purchase was made. A subpoena or greater legal process is required in order to obtain this information. When requesting information pertaining to online orders (excluding iTunes purchases), a complete credit/debit card number, an order number, reference number, serial number of the item purchased, or customer number is required.1
F. iTunes Gift CardsiTunes gift cards have a sixteen-digit alphanumeric redemption code which is located under the ''scratch-off'' gray area on the back of the card, and a nineteen-digit code at the bottom of the card. Based on these codes, Apple can determine whether the card has been activated2 or redeemed as well as whether any purchases have been made with the card. When iTunes gift cards are activated, Apple records the name of the store, location, date, and time. When iTunes gift cards are redeemed through purchases made on the iTunes store, the gift card will be linked to a user account. iTunes Gift Cards purchased through the Apple Online Store can be located in Apple systems by their Apple Online Store order numbers (note: this only applies to iTunes Gift Cards purchased through Apple as opposed to third-party retailers). Information regarding the customer who redeemed the cards will require a subpoena, and information about online iTunes store purchases made with the card will require a court order or greater legal process.
G. iCloudiCloud is Apple's cloud service that allows customers to access music, photos, applications, contacts, calendars, and documents from their iOS devices and Mac or Windows personal computers. It also enables customers to back up their iOS devices to iCloud. With the iCloud service, customers can get an email account. iCloud email domains can be, @me.com3 and The following information is available from iCloud.
i. Subscriber Information When a customer sets up an iCloud account, basic subscriber information such as name, physical address, email address, and telephone number may be provided to Apple. Additionally, information regarding iCloud feature connections may also be available. iCloud subscriber information and connection logs with IP addresses can be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process.
ii. Mail LogsiCloud mail logs are retained for approximately a period of 60 days. Mail logs include records of incoming and outgoing communications such as time, date, sender email addresses, and recipient email addresses. This information is available only through a court order under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) (or a court order with an equivalent legal standard) or a search warrant.
iii. Email ContentiCloud only stores the email a user has elected to maintain in the account while the customer's account remains active. Apple is unable to produce deleted content. Apple will produce customer content, as it exists in the customer's mailbox in response to a search warrant.
iv. Other iCloud Content. PhotoStream, Docs, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, iOS Device BackupsiCloud only stores the content for these services that the customer has elected to maintain in the account while the customer's account remains active. Apple does not retain deleted content once it is cleared from Apple's servers. Apple will produce customer content in these categories only in response to a valid search warrant.
H. Find My iPhoneFind My iPhone is a customer-enabled feature by which a customer is able to locate his/her lost or misplaced iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac and/or take certain actions, including locking or wiping the device. More information about this service can be found at Location information for a device located through the Find My iPhone feature is customer facing and Apple does not have records of maps or email alerts provided through the service. Find My iPhone connection logs may be available and can be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process. Find My iPhone transactional activity for requests to remotely lock or erase a device may be available if utilized by the customer. Information about remote erase/wipe is available only through a court order under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) or a court order with equivalent legal standard, or a search warrant.
Apple cannot activate this feature on customers' devices upon a request from law enforcement. The Find My iPhone feature has to have been previously enabled by the customer for that specific device. Apple does not have GPS information for a specific device.
I. Extracting Data from Passcode Locked iOS DevicesUpon receipt of a valid search warrant, Apple can extract certain categories of active data from passcode locked iOS devices. Specifically, the user generated active files on an iOS device that are contained in Apple's native apps and for which the data is not encrypted using the passcode (''user generated active files''), can be extracted and provided to law enforcement on external media. Apple can perform this data extraction process on iOS devices running iOS 4 or more recent versions of iOS. Please note the only categories of user generated active files that can be provided to law enforcement, pursuant to a valid search warrant, are: SMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. Apple cannot provide: email, calendar entries, or any third-party App data.
The data extraction process can only be performed at Apple's Cupertino, CA headquarters for devices that are in good working order. For Apple to assist in this process, the language outlined below must be included in a search warrant, and the search warrant must include the serial or IMEI number of the device. For more information on locating the IMEI and serial number of an iOS device, refer to
Please make sure that the name of the judge on the search warrant is printed clearly and legibly in order for the paperwork to be completed.
Once law enforcement has obtained a search warrant containing this language, it may be served on Apple via facsimile / "fax" to (408) 974-9316. The iOS device can be provided to Apple for data extraction either through an in person appointment or through shipment. However, Apple recommends that law enforcement attend the data extraction.
For an in-person data extraction process, Apple requires that the law enforcement agent bring a FireWire hard drive with a storage capacity of at least two times the memory capacity for the iOS device. Alternatively, if law enforcement chooses to ship the device, law enforcement should provide Apple with an external hard drive or USB "thumb" drive that is capable of storing the equivalent of two times the memory size of the iOS device.
After the data extraction process has been completed, a copy of the user generated content on the device will be provided. Apple does not maintain copies of any user data extracted during the process; accordingly all evidence preservation remains the responsibility of the law enforcement agency.
Required Search Warrant Language:
''It is hereby ordered that Apple Inc. assist [LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY] in its search of one Apple iOS device, Model #____________, on the _______ network with access number (phone number) _________, serial or IMEI4 number __________, and FCC ID#_____________ (the ''Device''), by providing reasonable technical assistance in the instance where the Device is in reasonable working order and has been locked via passcode protection. Such reasonable technical assistance consists of, to the extent possible, extracting data from the Device, copying the data from the Device onto an external hard drive or other storage medium, and returning the aforementioned storage medium to law enforcement. Law Enforcement may then perform a search of the device data on the supplied storage medium.
It is further ordered that, to the extent that data on the Device is encrypted, Apple may provide a copy of the encrypted data to law enforcement but Apple is not required to attempt to decrypt, or otherwise enable law enforcement's attempts to access any encrypted data.
Although Apple shall make reasonable efforts to maintain the integrity of data on the Device, Apple shall not be required to maintain copies of any user data as a result of the assistance ordered herein; all evidence preservation shall remain the responsibility of law enforcement agents.''
J. Other Available Device InformationMAC Address: A Media Access Control address (MAC address), is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment. Any Apple product with network interfaces will have one or more MAC addresses, such as Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or FireWire. By providing Apple with a serial number (or in the case of an iOS device, IMEI, MEID, or UDID), this information may be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process.
UDID: The unique device identifier (UDID) is a sequence of 40 letters and numbers that is specific to a particular iOS device. It will look like similar to following: 2j6f0ec908d137be2e1730235f5664094b831186.
If law enforcement is in possession of the device, the device may be connected to iTunes in order to obtain the UDID. Under the iTunes summary tab, the UDID can be revealed by clicking on the serial number.
K. Requests for Store Surveillance VideosVideo surveillance records are maintained at an Apple store for approximately thirty days. After this time frame has passed, video surveillance may not be available. A request for video surveillance can be made at any local Apple retail store. Law enforcement should provide specific date, time, and related transaction information regarding the video requested.
If law enforcement provides only a name and not the information described above, responsive information cannot be obtained.Activated means that the card was purchased at a retail point-of-sale but not that it was used or redeemed (i.e., used to increase the store credit balance on an iTunes account or used to purchase content in the iTunes store).iCloud has replaced the MobileMe service. Accordingly, Apple does not have any separate content associated with former MobileMe accounts. If the content is not in iCloud, it is no longer being stored.The IMEI number is engraved on the back of cellular iPads, the original iPhone, iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s. For more information, see Note that for models with IMEI numbers engraved on the SIM tray, the SIM tray in the device may not be the matching original that came with the device.Frequently Asked QuestionsCan I email or call Apple with questions regarding my legal process?
Yes, all questions or inquiries regarding government legal process should be emailed to or please call (408) 974-8100.
I need to personally serve Apple, where should I go?
All personal service can be made at Apple's Cupertino, CA headquarters located at the following address:
Apple Inc.1 Infinite LoopCupertino, CA 95014-2084
Can I serve a deposition subpoena directly to an Apple retail store?
No, all subpoenas for testimony, including subpoenas for deposition or trial testimony, need to be personally served on Apple.
I requested information on my fax cover sheet, why was it not provided?
Requests for information not included within the body of the signed subpoena, search warrant, or court order will be disregarded; all information requested must be in the actual legal process document.
Can Apple provide me with the passcode of an iOS device that is currently locked?
No, Apple does not have access to a user's passcode but may be able to extract some data from a locked device with a valid search warrant as described in the Guidelines.
Does a device have to be registered with Apple in order to function?
No, a device does not have to be registered with Apple to function or be used.
Can you help me return a stolen or lost device to the rightful owner?
In cases where law enforcement has recovered a lost or stolen device and wants to return it to the ''original owner,'' contact Apple Customer Care (ACC) via email at Please include the device's serial number in your email and any additional pertinent information. If registration information is available, ACC will contact the owner and instruct him or her to contact law enforcement to recover the device. A subpoena is not required in most cases. However, if there is conflicting information located within our databases you may be instructed to submit a subpoena.
How will the information I demanded be delivered to me?
Responsive production of records and information will be sent in an encrypted electronic container via email or, in some instances, via FedEx delivery. If no responsive information is available, a letter indicating this will be sent via email or, in some cases, via U.S. mail.
I am looking into whether a user's emails reach the requirements for interstate commerce. Where are the email servers located that support iCloud?
Apple's email servers are located in California, Nevada, and North Carolina.
Does Apple store GPS information that can be produced under proper legal process?
No, Apple does not track geolocation of devices.
What should be done with the produced files and records when law enforcement has concluded the investigation/criminal case using the produced documents?
Apple requires that any files and records produced for law enforcement that contain personally identifiable information (including any copies made) must be destroyed after the related investigation, criminal case, and all appeals have been fully exhausted.
Do you notify users of criminal legal process?
Yes, unless there is a non-disclosure order, or we believe in our sole discretion that such notice may pose immediate risk of serious injury or death to a member of the public or the case relates to a child endangerment matter. We do not provide notice when making emergency disclosures.
Can Apple intercept users' communications pursuant to a Wiretap Order?
Apple can intercept users' email communications, upon receipt of a valid Wiretap Order. Apple cannot intercept users' iMessage or FaceTime communications as these communications are end-to-end encrypted.
As per section II (D) above, to request that Apple voluntarily disclose information on an emergency basis, please fill out the Emergency Disclosure Form available at
with "Emergency Disclosure Request" included in the email subject.
Glenn Greenwald: how the NSA tampers with US-made internet routers.
Tue, 13 May 2014 21:55
A Huawei employee in Shenzhen, China, in 2005. The US has repeatedly claimed that its communications technology could be compromised. Photograph: MCT via Getty Images
For years, the US government loudly warned the world that Chinese routers and other internet devices pose a "threat" because they are built with backdoor surveillance functionality that gives the Chinese government the ability to spy on anyone using them. Yet what the NSA's documents show is that Americans have been engaged in precisely the activity that the US accused the Chinese of doing.
The drumbeat of American accusations against Chinese internet device manufacturers was unrelenting. In 2012, for example, a report from the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Mike Rogers, claimed that Huawei and ZTE, the top two Chinese telecommunications equipment companies, "may be violating United States laws" and have "not followed United States legal obligations or international standards of business behaviour". The committee recommended that "the United States should view with suspicion the continued penetration of the US telecommunications market by Chinese telecommunications companies".
The Rogers committee voiced fears that the two companies were enabling Chinese state surveillance, although it acknowledged that it had obtained no actual evidence that the firms had implanted their routers and other systems with surveillance devices. Nonetheless, it cited the failure of those companies to cooperate and urged US firms to avoid purchasing their products: "Private-sector entities in the United States are strongly encouraged to consider the long-term security risks associated with doing business with either ZTE or Huawei for equipment or services. US network providers and systems developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects. Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."
The constant accusations became such a burden that Ren Zhengfei, the 69-year-old founder and CEO of Huawei, announced in November 2013 that the company was abandoning the US market. As Foreign Policy reported, Zhengfei told a French newspaper: "'If Huawei gets in the middle of US-China relations,' and causes problems, 'it's not worth it'."
But while American companies were being warned away from supposedly untrustworthy Chinese routers, foreign organisations would have been well advised to beware of American-made ones. A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA's Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives '' or intercepts '' routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.
The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some "SIGINT tradecraft '... is very hands-on (literally!)".
Eventually, the implanted device connects back to the NSA. The report continues: "In one recent case, after several months a beacon implanted through supply-chain interdiction called back to the NSA covert infrastructure. This call back provided us access to further exploit the device and survey the network."
It is quite possible that Chinese firms are implanting surveillance mechanisms in their network devices. But the US is certainly doing the same.
Warning the world about Chinese surveillance could have been one of the motives behind the US government's claims that Chinese devices cannot be trusted. But an equally important motive seems to have been preventing Chinese devices from supplanting American-made ones, which would have limited the NSA's own reach. In other words, Chinese routers and servers represent not only economic competition but also surveillance competition.
' No Place to Hide, by Glenn Greenwald is published on 13 May 2014 by Hamish Hamilton
Real News
Casey Kasem is missing
Wed, 14 May 2014 08:19
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge on Monday ordered an investigation into the whereabouts of Casey Kasem after an attorney for the ailing radio personality's wife said the former "Top 40" host had been removed from Los Angeles without his children's knowledge.Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy ordered a court investigator and adult protective services to find out where Kasem is being treated and report back to the court. Kasem, 82, suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease, can no longer speak and has been in various medical facilities chosen by his wife, Jean Kasem.Casey Kasem's children have complained that they have been unable to see their father in accordance with an agreement with their stepmother. Daughter Kerri Kasem had sought a temporary conservatorship and was appointed her father's temporary caretaker on Monday. Her attorney, Troy Martin, said the family believes the entertainer has been taken to an Indian reservation in Washington state.Murphy's order came after Craig Marcus, an attorney who appeared on Jean Kasem's behalf at Monday's hearing, said he did not know where the radio personality was but that he was "no longer in the United States."The revelation brought stunned protests from Murphy and two of Casey Kasem's daughters, two of the entertainer's three children from a previous marriage."I have no idea where he is," Marcus said."Your statements concern me even more," the judge told Marcus, who declined to comment after the hearing.Marcus said in court that Jean Kasem had every right to move her husband as she saw fit. He argued that Murphy no longer had jurisdiction over Casey Kasem because he had been moved, but the judge rejected the argument.Murphy appointed a doctor to look into Casey Kasem's care and ordered a court-appointed attorney to find out his whereabouts as soon as possible.Casey Kasem gained fame with his radio music countdown shows, "American Top 40" and "Casey's Top 40," and was the voice of Shaggy in the cartoon "Scooby Doo."As temporary conservator, Kerri Kasem will have access to her father's medical records and other reports that have previously been sealed by court order.Kerri Kasem's case is the second one opened by one of the former host's children to try to gain access to their father and have some oversight over his care. A previous case by daughter Julie Kasem was dismissed after she reached a settlement with her stepmother, but the daughter said Monday that agreement has been breached.In a court filing last week, Kerri Kasem's attorneys wrote that the entertainer has been repeatedly moved without warning and his children have been unable to see him. The complaint accused Jean Kasem of elder abuse by isolating her husband from his family."We've been troubled for a long time," Kerri Kasem said after Monday's court hearing. She said Murphy's orders will ensure that the truth about her father's care comes out."Justice has been served today," she said.
Childhood bullying involvement predicts low-grade systemic inflammation into adulthood
Tue, 13 May 2014 23:28
William E. Copelanda,1,Dieter Wolkeb,Suzet Tanya Lereyab,Lilly Shanahanc,Carol Worthmand, andE. Jane CostelloaaDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27713;bDepartment of Psychology and Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom;cDepartment of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; anddDepartment of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322Edited by Thomas W. McDade, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, and accepted by the Editorial Board April 7, 2014 (received for review January 1, 2014)
SignificanceBullying is a common childhood experience that affects children at all income levels and racial/ethnic groups. Being a bully victim has long-term adverse consequences on physical and mental health and financial functioning, but bullies themselves display few ill effects. Here, we show that victims suffer from greater increases in low-grade systemic inflammation from childhood to young adulthood than are seen in others. In contrast, bullies showed lower increases in inflammation into adulthood compared with those uninvolved in bullying. Elevated systemic low-grade inflammation is a mechanism by which this common childhood social adversity may get under the skin to affect adult health functioning, even many years later.
AbstractBullying is a common childhood experience that involves repeated mistreatment to improve or maintain one's status. Victims display long-term social, psychological, and health consequences, whereas bullies display minimal ill effects. The aim of this study is to test how this adverse social experience is biologically embedded to affect short- or long-term levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade systemic inflammation. The prospective population-based Great Smoky Mountains Study (n = 1,420), with up to nine waves of data per subject, was used, covering childhood/adolescence (ages 9''16) and young adulthood (ages 19 and 21). Structured interviews were used to assess bullying involvement and relevant covariates at all childhood/adolescent observations. Blood spots were collected at each observation and assayed for CRP levels. During childhood and adolescence, the number of waves at which the child was bullied predicted increasing levels of CRP. Although CRP levels rose for all participants from childhood into adulthood, being bullied predicted greater increases in CRP levels, whereas bullying others predicted lower increases in CRP compared with those uninvolved in bullying. This pattern was robust, controlling for body mass index, substance use, physical and mental health status, and exposures to other childhood psychosocial adversities. A child's role in bullying may serve as either a risk or a protective factor for adult low-grade inflammation, independent of other factors. Inflammation is a physiological response that mediates the effects of both social adversity and dominance on decreases in health.
FootnotesAuthor contributions: W.E.C., D.W., S.T.L., C.W., and E.J.C. designed research; W.E.C. and C.W. performed research; W.E.C. and D.W. analyzed data; and W.E.C., D.W., S.T.L., L.S., and E.J.C. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. T.W.M. is a guest editor invited by the Editorial Board.
This article contains supporting information online at
Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.
Being a bully may be good for your health, study finds | The Verge
Tue, 13 May 2014 23:27
Childhood bullying has been linked to a number of physical and mental health effects, including lower self-worth, depression, and serious illnesses later in life. But until now, researchers had largely focused on examining these effects in victims of abuse, not the bullies themselves. This may soon change, as a long-term study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was able to demonstrate that "pure bullies," people who have never experienced bullying themselves, do in fact face a long-lasting health effect from abusing others. As it turns out, that effect is actually beneficial '-- even when compared to people who aren't involved in bullying at all.
Bullying is protective for bullies
"Pure bullies had the lowest blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation," says William Copeland, an epidemiologist at Duke University and co-author of the study. "This is kind of a beneficial outcome," because CRP is a risk factor for a variety of health problems down the road, such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, Copeland says. These findings therefore suggest that "the bullying experience was protective for the bullies."
In the study, researchers tracked over 1,000 children living in western North Carolina over seven years. They interviewed these kids multiple times starting at age nine, and then returned to interview them again in their early 20s. During each interview the scientists took blood samples, and asked participants a number of questions, including if they had experienced bullying over the course of the last three months. This allowed researchers to see and analyze changes in CRP levels over time, starting even before the bullying occurred.
"victims more frail to begin with?"
"Some people ask, 'Well aren't the victims more frail to begin with?'" Copeland says. "But we know that that's not the reason for these results because we can really isolate these other things on later CRP levels and account for any sort of behavior problems before the children were bullies or victims." The results, he says, are clear. "We're still seeing these lower levels [in bullies]."
As expected, Copeland adds, the victims had the highest levels of CRP. Interestingly, however, people who were both bullies and victims as children did not experience a positive or negative inflammatory effect. "They fell right in line with what folks were uninvolved in bullying have," Copeland says. This means that their experiences might be canceling each other out. That's especially surprising, Copeland says, because previous studies have found that "bully-victims" actually have the worst outcomesin terms of mental health.
"A dysregulation of our internal stress response system"
The researchers aren't sure what causes these changes in CRP levels, but previous studies have suggested that stressors such as bullying and childhood maltreatment might affect how the body responds to stress in the long run. "There may be a dysregulation of our internal stress response system," Copeland says, "such that because of the experiences of bullying, cortisol gets revved up too often and too early in childhood." Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory stress hormone, and if it gets over-excited repeatedly and for long periods at a time, the body's stress-response system essentially "burns out," leaving the body vulnerable to inflammation.
But pure bullies, Copeland says, don't experience this kind of stress. In fact, they often experience increased social status. "Obviously this doesn't mean that we are encouraging kids to go out and bully others," Copeland says. "There are many other ways to achieve that besides wreaking this havoc on other people, like athletics, clubs, social activities."
less stress, increased social status
The researchers caution, however, that high CRP levels don't necessarily mean that a person is in poor health. Rather, the marker is "a nice index of future health risk in people who are in their 20s and 30s."
Andrea Danese, a developmental psychobiologist at King's College London who did not participate in the study, said in an email to The Verge that "this new study is a helpful addition to the literature in showing that these effects extend to another important childhood stressor, namely bullying." Danese is part of a team of researchers who found similar effects in adults who experienced childhood maltreatment and social isolation at a young age. But Danese was unsure about how to interpret the results regarding the protective effects of bullying others. "The results about the protective effects of being a pure bully are less clear," he said, and "less supported by collateral information."
Copeland and his team are, for now, focused on analyzing the rest of the data they collected. They also plan to keep studying the study's participants, to find out more about the how these increased CRP levels might translate into serious health problems later in life. "It can't be overemphasized," he says, "how extraordinary it is to see these effects so long down the road."
Why Are Hollywood Celebrities Protesting the TPP?
Mon, 12 May 2014 16:52
The New Americanby Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
''Hollywood Boycott Threatens Trans-Pacific Partnership.''
That's the headline of an article published by the Huffington Post on May 6 reporting on the opposition of many in the entertainment industry to the inclusion of Brunei in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
A coterie of celebrities is irked by the fact that the would-be TPP participant has adopted ''a brutal penal code based on Sharia law with punishments including flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as adultery and sodomy.''
While Hollywood might be bringing attention to the TPP because of Brunei's laws, their colleagues in the television news aren't being quite so vocal.
A survey of television news coverage of the TPP by the liberal group MediaMatters found that a:
transcript search of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelly, ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams from August 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014 found no mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP received one mention on PBS' Newshour, when Doug Paal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argued that approving the TPP would improve relations with Asian nations.
The 24-hour cable news channels have been almost as silent. The report indicates that ''the three largest cable networks '-- CNN, MSNBC, Fox News '-- covered the ongoing negotiations 33 times during their evening programming. The overwhelming majority of these mentions (32) originated on MSNBC and aired during The Ed Show.''
It is a bit disingenuous for these progressives who claim to be so open-minded and accepting of all lifestyles, to deny to others the right to live their life the way their consciences dictate.
That isn't to say that Sharia Law, particularly some of the aspects singled out by the protesters, isn't reprehensible, it's just that it seems so incongruous for the enmity to come from those who insist their all-inclusive attitude is evidence of their evolved sensibilities.
The truth behind the naked emperor is that it's Islam's prohibitions on homosexuality that underlies the TPP protest. Consider this evidence from the Huffington Post story:
Ellen DeGenneres, Jay Leno and other Hollywood celebrities have joined the Human Rights Campaign, the Feminist Majority Foundation and the city of Beverly Hills in blasting Brunei and calling for a boycott of properties owned by the government of Brunei, including the Beverly Hills Hotel. Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson announced his companies will boycott all hotels owned by Brunei worldwide. These government-owned investments provide financial support to the medieval brutality in Brunei.
The radical ''gay'' lobby and the headline-grabbing glitterati that carries its water has little concern for the destruction of sovereignty, the surrender of legislative power to an extraconstitutional committee, and the subordination of the U.S. Constitution to international integration pacts masquerading as trade agreements. The TPP doesn't appear on the radar of these groups when it infringes upon fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, but it is ''deplorable'' when it infringes on the ''rights'' of homosexuals to commit acts regarded as sinful to most of the world's religions.
Here again, the source of the celebrities' anger as reported by the Huffington Post:
While human rights groups, religious freedom advocates, LGBT and women's rights groups protest a regime that supports the public flogging of women who have abortions, the jailing of women who become pregnant outside of marriage, the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians and the outlawing of Bibles and Christian missionaries, the Obama administration seems to be seeking deeper ties with the Islamic Sultanate of Brunei.
The real problem with the TPP is much more malign, however.
Secret Surrender of Sovereignty
In November 2013, portions of the TPP draft agreement published by WikiLeaks contained sketches of President Obama's plans to surrender American sovereignty to international tribunals.
Another WikiLeaks disclosure in January revealed that the president was attempting to surrender sovereignty over U.S. environmental policy to international bureaucrats interested in lowering those standards to mirror those of our TPP partner nations.
U.S. copyright laws, Internet freedom, and Web-based publishing would also be obliterated by the TPP, and, although it hasn't been widely reported, the TPP would give the global government sweeping surveillance powers, as well.
Although the American people (and the people of all nations involved in the pact) are prevented from seeing or commenting on the treaty being ostensibly negotiated on their behalf, multinational corporations have seats at the trading table.
While the TPP grants corporate giants such as Walmart and Monsanto the power to bypass Congress and the courts, the elected representatives of the American people are kept from even seeing the draft version of the agreement.
As with the multitude of similar trade pacts the United States has formed, the ultimate aim of the TPP is the creation of a regional super government, thus the stonewalling of federal lawmakers who dare seek to assert some sort of oversight.
Economic and Political Integration as a Step Toward Global Government
In the case of the TPP, the zone would be called the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Members of the proposed ''free trade'' bloc include all the current TPP participants: Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Canada, and the United States. The regional trading partnership is intended to establish ''a comprehensive free trade agreement across the region.''
The ultimate goal of the TPP isn't just the creation of an FTAAP, though. Supporters of the deal insist that the TPP is a ''trade agreement designed to achieve broad liberalization and a high degree of economic integration among the parties.''
''Integration'' is a word that is painful to the ears of constitutionalists and those unwilling to surrender U.S. sovereignty to a committee of globalists who are unelected by the American people and unaccountable to them. Integration is an internationalist tool for subordinating American law to the globalist bureaucracy at the United Nations.
Economic and political integration will push the once-independent United States of America into yet another collectivist bloc that will facilitate the complete dissolution of our country and our states into no more than subordinate outposts of a one-world government.
In an article examining the devastating effects of the TPP, William F. Jasper, senior editor of The New American, identified the end game for these globalists and their secretly planned trade pacts. Wrote Jasper:
The architects and promoters of the TPP and FTAAP frequently point with admiration to the ''integration'' process of the European Union (EU) as the model they would like to see implemented for the Asia-Pacific rim nations. As with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been designed to follow the EU example of relentless widening and deepening, constantly eroding national sovereignty, while building ''transnational governance'' that is not restrained by the checks and balances of national constitutions.
Equally significant is that 600 industry lobbyists and ''advisors,'' as well as unelected trade representatives, are at the table, while representatives from the public at large and businesses other than huge monopolies are conspicuously absent.
Each of the ''partners'' to the pact, including foreign corporations, would be exempted from abiding by American laws governing trade disputes. Moreover, the sovereignty of the United States and the Constitution's enumeration of powers would once again be sacrificed on the altar of global government by subordinating U.S. laws passed by duly elected representatives of the people to a code of regulations created by a team of transnational bureaucrats.
''The barbarism in Brunei shows us everything that's wrong with the TransPacific Partnership,'' the author of the Huffington Post piece claims.
Americans who study the subject realize, however, that the redrawing of national boundaries and domestic legal processes being carried out in secret by the globalists sitting around the TPP negotiating table is an attack on American laws, American courts, American freedom of expression, American sovereignty, and the American Constitution, and that's what's really wrong with the TPP.
The New American
Turkish PM Erdogan vows 'to sterilize' Gulen movement 'by boiling or molecularizing'
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:25
AFYONKARAHÄ°SAR '' H¼rriyet Daily News
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged to find the members of the Islamic scholar Fethullah G¼len movement in the judiciary and police."In order to sterilize this dirty water that contaminated the milk, we will either boil or molecularize it," Erdoğan said.
The vow came at the closing speech of his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) 22nd Consultation and Assessment Meeting in the western province of Afyonkarahisar, defending his promise against being called a ''witch hunt.''
''If changing the positions for those [officials] committing treason is called a 'witch hunt,' then yes, we perform a 'witch hunt,''' Erdoğan told his party's deputies referring to the reshuffles of thousands of officials in the judiciary and police departments. He reiterated his accusations of a ''parallel state,'' a term he used to define the members of the G¼len movement in top state positions and who allegedly are attempting to topple the government.
Erdoğan also called on all his deputies, mayors, provincial party heads and all of the public to inform the party about the presence of such people in the state structure to help in his ''witch-hunt.''
Erdoğan also said those who have infiltrated the state's branches are hard to identify, as they hide themselves tactically. He once again called on G¼len to come to Turkey and end his 15-year-long exile in the United States, saying ''there are many good places in Turkey for those who want to live in seclusion."
Producer of film about Dominique Strauss-Kahn starring Gerard Depardieu says establishment tried to block him
Mon, 12 May 2014 12:23
The film will be one of the great events at the Cannes International Film Festival starting on Wednesday, even though it has been excluded from the official programme.
Welcome to New York, starring G(C)rard Depardieu, tells the story of a French politician who is accused of the attempted rape of a chamber maid in a Manhattan hotel room. Any resemblance to real events and living persons from precisely three years ago is entirely deliberate.
Vincent Maraval, the producer of the much-awaited film on the ''affaire DSK'', claimed on Sunday that the French ''political and media'' elite had conspired, unsuccessfully, to block the making of the movie.
The two-hour film, which cost '‚¬3m (£2.45m) to make, has been funded mostly by American money, including an investment by the City of New York. Even though the production company, Wild Bunch, is French, the movie counts as American '' probably the first American movie to be made in the French language. The director, Abel Ferrara, is American.
It will be given its world premi¨re at midnight on Friday, in a private showing on the beach in Cannes and a simultaneous pay-to-view release for '‚¬7 on video-on-demand sites. It will appear in cinemas in other countries, including the UK, at a date yet to be announced.
The French media suggest that the producers decided to short-circuit French cinemas and go straight to the internet for legal reasons. They feared that Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers might try to block the showing of the film.
Mr Maraval rejects this explanation. ''We realised it was the perfect film to experiment with this type of release,'' he told the American magazine Variety.
''We'll get to target the widest possible audiences at a faster pace, with a smaller investment'... and preserve some kind of curiosity around the movie before the press starts unveiling what's in it.''
In his interview yesterday, however, Mr Maraval blasted the French political, TV and movie establishment. ''No French TV station wanted to finance us,'' he said.
''Everyone warned us not to make this film, both our friends and our enemies.''
He said that the ''incestuous relationship'' between ''media and political elites'' in France made it impossible to make films about ''current affairs''.
Depardieu, who put some of his own money into the film and accepted a low fee of '‚¬100,000, plays a DSK-like figure called ''Deveraux''. His wife is played by Jacqueline Bisset. Four other well-known actresses turned down the project.
The film broadly follows the events of exactly three years ago. A French economics professor becomes a politician, backed by his wife's millions. He is arrested in New York after being accused of the attempted rape of a chamber maid.
In real life, the charges against DSK were dropped. He admitted publicly that he had committed a ''moral fault'' and settled a civil suit brought by the chambermaid, Nafissatou Diallo.
VIDEO_French Foreign Minister Says 'We Have 500 Days to Avoid Climate Chaos' | MRCTV
Thu, 15 May 2014 07:37
patrick.goodenoughPatrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for 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's roster of international stringers.
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VIDEO-Bill Clinton: Russia Invading Ukraine 'Not the End of the World' | MRCTV
Thu, 15 May 2014 07:29
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.
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VIDEO- New Report Finds Antarctic Ice Sheet Now Melting At A Rate That Is Unstoppable - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 07:22
VIDEO- Michael "Terror WAR PROFITEER" Chertoff Explains The Emerging Threat Of "AL QAEDA 3.0" - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 07:10
VIDEO- Head Of TSA On How To Improve Airport Security - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 06:55
VIDEO-Majalah Jihad Al-Qaeda Berbahasa Inggris Baru, Resurgence - YouTube
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VIDEO- CHANGING FACE OF TERRORISM "We Are 10,000 Times More Likely To Die Of Cancer Then Terrorism" - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 06:23
VIDEO- "This Is The Greatest Hemorrhaging Of Legitimate American Secrets In The History Of The Republic" - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 05:21
VIDEO- Intellectual Property And Industrial Espionage In The 21st Century - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 05:03
VIDEO- Pentagon Releases 31 Page Plan For Military Response To Zombie Outbreak! Including "Space Zombies" - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 04:56
VIDEO- C-SPAN Host Cuts Off Caller Asking Glenn Greenwald About "Building 7" Being Taken Down By Explosives - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 04:47
VIDEO-The Hunt For the Boston Bombers - YouTube
Thu, 15 May 2014 04:36
VIDEO-Haiku Herman in Georgia
Thu, 15 May 2014 00:04
(C) European Union, 2004-2014 - Legal Notice
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VIDEO- Internet Citizens: Defend Net Neutrality - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:11
VIDEO-Wahlberg Promo Transformers
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:05
VIDEO-Drones - Movie Trailers - iTunes
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:30
Two soldiers are tasked with deciding the fate of a terrorist with a single push of a button. As the action plays out in real time, their window to use a deadly military drone on the target slowly closes. With time running out, the soldiers begin to question what the real motives are behind the ordered lethal attack.
DirectorRick RosenthalWritersMatt WittenActorsEloise Mumford, Matt O'Leary, Whip Hubley, William RussGenreAction and AdventureRun Time1 hour 39 minutes[an error occurred while processing this directive]
VIDEO- Godzilla - Official Main Trailer [HD] - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:19
VIDEO-MaidSafe - The New Decentralized Internet
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:10
MaidSafe - The New Decentralized InternetThe New Decentralized InternetMaidSafe is a fully decentralized platform on which application developers can build decentralized applications. The network is made up by individual users who contribute storage, computing power and bandwidth to form a world-wide autonomous system.
Calling Decentralized Application DevelopersHow would you like to create the next Dropbox, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Candy Crush, or secure email service? The MaidSafe platform offers every developer the opportunity to create applications without any infrastructure costs and without any barrier to entry.
VIDEO-U.S. 'Global Hawk' Drone Joins Search for Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls - NBC
Wed, 14 May 2014 22:01
Kyodo via AP fileThe Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft of the U.S. military, at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The ''Global Hawk'' '-- the U.S. military's high-altitude, long-endurance aerial drone '-- flew its first surveillance mission over Nigeria on Tuesday in search of some 276 school girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group, U.S. officials told NBC News.
With a wingspan of just over 130 feet, the Global Hawk's air time is a huge advantage in surveillance operations: It can remain airborne for 28 hours with a range of 8,700 miles and has a top speed of 310 knots (357 mph), according to the Air Force.
The Global Hawk also has a variety of surveillance systems including radar, optical and infrared sensors.
The drone joins the manned, propeller driven MC-12 surveillance aircraft which has already been conducting surveillance flights over Nigeria. The U.S. first flew the MC- 12 over Iraq then Afghanistan and is considered a low-cost workhorse in short-range missions.
Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca / U.S. Air ForceThe MC-12 Liberty aircraft is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.
According to the officials, it appears the kidnapped girls have been separated into three groups and are still believed to be in the Northeast corner of Nigeria between Niger and Cameroon.
On Monday the Boko Haram militants released a video that showed about 100 of the girls '-- who had been ostensibly "converted" to Islam '-- and said they were open to an exchange of the kidnapped students for the release of other Islamic terrorists imprisoned in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government has said "all options" are open, including negotiations or a possible military operation with foreign assistance.
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On Tuesday evening, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that the U.S. was doing all it could to find the girls.
"With respect to Nigeria, our people are on the ground. We are proud to be contributing to the effort in order to help find these young women," Kerry said in Washington.
"What I can guarantee is that we will make every effort possible in order to help free those young women. And we are there helping to do that now. I'm not going to discuss what mechanism or methodology may or may not be used in order to do so except to day that we are committed to this effort."
'-- with Catherine Chomiak and Hasani GittensFirst published May 13 2014, 3:53 PM
Jim MiklaszewskiJim Miklaszewski is the chief Pentagon correspondent for NBC News. On 9/11, he was the first at the scene to report that the Pentagon had been attacked and has since led the network's coverage of the war in Afghanistan.
Since joining NBC in 1985, Miklaszewski was a White House correspondent during the Clinton and Bush administrations, covering President Clinton's transition from Little Rock, his many trips abroad including Moscow and the Middle East and his reelection. He was also an NBC floor reporter at the Democratic and Republican conventions in 1996 and 2000.
In the Bush White House, Miklaszewski reported on the Gulf War with Iraq, summits with Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin and the Bush reelection campaign in 1992.
Miklaszewski has logged considerable foreign experience with battlefront coverage of wars in Lebanon, El Salvador and the Falkland Islands. He also covered the United States air raid on Libya, and the "tanker wars" in the Persian Gulf.
... Expand Bio
VIDEO-Self-Healing Plastics Make a Major Breakthrough >
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:56
In today's world of ubiquitous products one thing has always been missing: materials that can take a beating and still perform at their peak.While the age of shattered iPhones, remotes and car bumpers is still very much upon us, researchers at the University of Illinois may have made a breakthrough that could make self-healing plastics a reality sooner than ever imagined.
Even though self-healing materials have been around for centuries, they've really only been able to stitch up small cracks and fractures in a compromised material. However, if U. Illinois researchers have anything to say about it new materials may be able to repair even large holes in a material due to a biologically-inspired vascular nature.
''We have demonstrated repair of a nonliving, synthetic materials system in a way that is reminiscent of repair-by-regrowth as seen in some living systems,'' said Professor of Chemistry Jeffery Moore.
To achieve this repair by regrowth phenomenon the new material contains ''specially formulated fibers'' that act as capillaries, branching through the body of their host polymer. Composed of two separate lines that run parallel to one another, each capillary is equipped with two ''regenerative materials'' that are mixed when their host is damaged. Once mixed, the binary regenerative cocktail forms a gel that crawls over itself, hardening into a polymer with mechanical properties identical to its original.
''For the first time, we've shown that you can regenerate lost material in a structural polymer. That's the kicker here,'' said Scott White, lead researcher on the project. ''Prior to this work, if you cut off a piece of material, it's gone. Now we've shown that the material can actually regrow.''
Researchers state that their synthetic material can begin to form a gel and harden immediately, ensuring that damage is repaired efficiently without wasting any healing material. Furthermore, if a material is punctured to the point where it needs more material than was contained within its capillary network more material can be pumped in, coagulating once it reaches its destination.
Imagine returning home after a daredevil adventure and plugging a favorite but damaged device into a system that could pump that device full of chems and return it to pristine condition. Even better, imagine if buildings damaged by natural or man-made disasters could be repaired in a similar manner.
Though that reality seems a bit fanciful, it might be how the Illinois team's research manifests. If that does come to fruition, today's methods of manufacturing and warranties may become obsolete as buyers begin to purchase repair materials (rather than new machines) when a device is damaged.
Image and Video Courtesy ofBeckman Institute
VIDEO-Message I Clear- A.L.I.C.E training in Orrville - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:37
VIDEO- A.L.I.C.E training in Orrville - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:36
VIDEO- ALICE training prepares for school intruder - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 21:35
VIDEO-Osphena TV Commercial -
Wed, 14 May 2014 13:50
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VIDEO- At Maidan Square - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 09:06
VIDEO- Reality Show President: Inside the White House PR Machine - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 08:54
VIDEO-Extract on EU-Moldova Agreement - the President's Videos
Wed, 14 May 2014 08:51
Extract of press conference by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, during his visit to Moldova, on the signature of a EU-Moldova Association Agreement, foreseen for the European Council of June. 13 May, in ChiÈinău.
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VIDEO-SHUT UP SLAVE! Alcohol detection tag launch - YouTube
Wed, 14 May 2014 00:04
VIDEO-Emerging Threats Counterterrorism | Video |
Tue, 13 May 2014 23:16
April 24, 2014Michael Chertoff spoke about the changing nature of terrorist groups, cyber threats, and the potential dangers posed by insiders like'... read more
Michael Chertoff spoke about the changing nature of terrorist groups, cyber threats, and the potential dangers posed by insiders like Edward Snowden.'‚He spoke at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.'‚The center was the first university research center funded by the Homeland Security Department. close
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People in this videoHosting OrganizationMore Videos FromNational Terrorism Risk & Economic Analysis Center: 10th Anniversary ConferenceMore VideosRelated VideoApril 24, 2014Changing Face of TerrorismPanelists talked about the changing face of terrorism and the ability of U.S. government and law enforcement agencies'...
April 24, 2014Preparing for CatastrophesPanelists talked about preparing for catastrophes, including natural disasters such as earthquakes, accidents such as'...
April 24, 2014Improving Airport SecurityJohn Pistole spoke about possible changes to screening procedures at airports, including increased pre-screening of'...
April 24, 2014Homeland Security Risk ResearchHomeland security risk researchers talked about how their work was being used to improve homeland security.'‚They'...
VIDEO- KARL ROVE: Hillary Clinton May Have Brain Damage... - YouTube
Tue, 13 May 2014 23:00
VIDEO- X-Men: Days of Future Past | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX - YouTube
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:59
AUDIO-NPR: News - 'Past The Point Of No Return:' An Antarctic Ice Sheet's Slow Collapse | Listen via Stitcher Radio On Demand
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:36
NPR news, audio, and podcasts. Coverage of breaking stories, national and world news, politics, business, science, technology, and extended coverage of major national and world events. Listen to over 15,000 radio shows, podcasts and live radio stations for free on your iPhone, iPad, Android and PC. Discover the best of news, entertainment, comedy, sports and talk radio on demand with Stitcher Radio. more
VIDEO: FPI Board Member Eric Edelman Discusses Ukraine on Newsmax TV | Foreign Policy Initiative
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:05
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness.Read More
VIDEO-Former CIA director: 'We kill people based on metadata' '-- RT USA
Tue, 13 May 2014 22:01
Published time: May 12, 2014 18:27Edited time: May 13, 2014 16:06Former National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Michael Hayden (Reuters/Larry Downing)
At a recent debate concerning the National Security Agency's bulk surveillance programs, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden admitted that metadata is used as the basis for killing people.
The comments were made during a debate at Johns Hopkins University, after Georgetown University Law Center professor David Cole detailed the kind of information the government can obtain simply by collecting metadata '' who you call, when you call them, how long the call lasts, and how often calls between the two parties are made.
Although NSA supporters often claim such metadata collection is permissible considering the content of the call is not collected, Cole argued that is not the case, since the former general counsel of the NSA, Stewart Baker, has already stated metadata alone is more than enough to reveal vast amounts of an individual's personal information
Writing in the New York Review of Books, Cole elaborated (you can also watch his explanation around the 14 minute mark of the embedded video):
''Of course knowing the content of a call can be crucial to establishing a particular threat. But metadata alone can provide an extremely detailed picture of a person's most intimate associations and interests, and it's actually much easier as a technological matter to search huge amounts of metadata than to listen to millions of phone calls. As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said, 'metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody's life. If you have enough metadata, you don't really need content.'
''When I quoted Baker at a recent debate at Johns Hopkins University, my opponent, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker's comment 'absolutely correct,' and raised him one, asserting, 'We kill people based on metadata.'''
Hayden paused after making this statement '' around the 18 minute mark of the video '' and then qualified it by adding, ''but that's not what we do with this metadata.''
Presumably, when Hayden emphasizes ''this metadata,'' he is referring to the information collected from American citizens. As RT reported in February, the US is already using metadata to select targets for drone strikes around the world. In a report for the Intercept, an unnamed drone operator '' backed up by documents leaked by Edward Snowden '' said the agency analyzes metadata as well as mobile-tracking technology to determine targets, without employing human intelligence to confirm a suspect's identity.
''People get hung up that there's a targeted list of people,'' the operator said. ''It's really like we're targeting a cell phone. We're not going after people '' we're going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.''
According to Cole, the realization that the NSA is collecting such vast amounts of information has prompted action from both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Last week, two committees in the House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to support the USA Freedom Act, which would bar the NSA from collecting metadata in bulk. The data would remain in the possession of telecommunications companies, only to be accessed by the government if it can prove reasonable suspicion to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
As noted by Cole, however, the bill doesn't address all the facets of the NSA's surveillance program. As its currently written, the Freedom Act only applies to American citizens, not foreigners who are also under surveillance, nor does it address what he termed the NSA's ''guerilla-like tactics of inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications.''
As RT reported previously, the NSA designed at least two encryption tools offered by the security firm RSA '' one of which was made the default option, and which allowed the NSA to easily infiltrate computer security systems.
VIDEO-Maher: Anti-Islam YouTube Video Still to Blame for Benghazi Attack
Mon, 12 May 2014 05:19
Even though the White House has distanced itself from the claim, Maher used to rebut his guest, Reason's Matt Welch, who said there was enough surrounding the circumstances of the Benghazi attack for an investigation, especially the YouTube video claim that then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and others had used.
''I just want to get to the point that you're making,'' Maher said. ''There is no there there. I'm sorry, sir, you're wrong about this. This idea that somehow the Obama's and Hillary Clinton are guilty because they should have said 'terror' when they should have said mob or he should have said 'terrorism' when he said 'act of terror' is absolute nonsense. The New York Times did a very detailed study of this recently and it was that video, that video called, I think called 'Innocence of Muslims' that somebody made. It showed in America. There were riots in Cairo. It spread to all around the world and this latest smoking gun was just a memo from some guy who wasn't even about Benghazi specifically.''
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor
VIDEO- Eleanor Clift says Chris Stevens was "not murdered" in Benghazi attack - YouTube
Sun, 11 May 2014 23:08

Clips & Documents

Agenda 21
AntArctic Ice Sheet melt is UNSTOPPBALE.mp3
French Foreign Minister Says ‘We Have 500 Days to Avoid Climate Chaos’.mp3
Sen Sheldon Whitehouse-Coca Cola knows how to keep it a secret!!!.mp3
Sen Sheldon Whitehouse-Cyber Theft-Chiner$.mp3
Hillary 2016
Clift- Ambassador Stevens Wasn't Murdered.mp3
Maher- Anti-Islam YouTube Video Still to Blame for Benghazi Attack.mp3
JCD Clips
chris matthews now love hillary-1.mp3
chris matthews take away-1.mp3
eurovision character says something-1.mp3
french foreign minister on syraia and gas-1.mp3
guess the movie-1.mp3
KTVU does it again-1.mp3
msnbc drug commercial-1.mp3
peoplr want to work says rubio-1.mp3
rubio 1 the answer-1.mp3
rubio 2-1.mp3
rubio 3-1.mp3
rubio zero -- orignal query-1.mp3
Movie PR
Wahlberg-Transformers Promo.mp3
X-Men- Days of Future Past.mp3
BBC with Forensic analyst on Boko Haram Video.mp3
Global Hawk in Nigeria.mp3
Ronan idiotic zombie plan-NIGERIA-TUNESIA.mp31
Packet Inequality
comcast call-1 Title II allows paid prioritization.mp3
comcast call-2 2 different markets.mp3
comcast call-3 Usage based billing.mp3
Internet Citizens- Defend Net Neutrality .mp3
Police State
Chertoff -2 CYBER will FUCK US.mp3
Chertoff on the iNSIDER THREATS.mp3
Pistole on pre-check-2 a FREE SAMPLE.mp3
Pistole on pre-check-3-undwear bomber AS INTENDED.mp3
Pistole on pre-check.mp3
Greenwald on CSPAN cuts off WTC7 caller.mp3
We kill people based on metadata..mp3
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