618: Binge Watch

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 42m
May 18th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir JD, Sir Chris Speers, Dave O, Brandon Baker, Dwayne Lively

Associate Executive Producers: Shane Lindholm, Keith Jacobs, Todd the lowly serf of Tokyo

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

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No Agenda Paranoid Rap by ShortFuze
Hi Adam & John,
I made this song years ago after adam asked for a rap song. Adam made his own rap song on the very next episode. Any way I am a avid listener in Sacramento Ca and have never donated. I am a very broke musician and construction worker but love your show. Havent put the song on itunes becuse I don't think you will play it. But if you like it ill make it available asap and throw you some long deserved loot. If by chance you like this song call out Dubbie Dave, my brother , and myself Hogg (both of the rap group ShortFuze)out as Delta Bravo AKA douche bags.
Love the show
Hogg of ShortFuze
TODAY
Condescending email prick
Hi Adam,
I have no other way to say it.
Today there is Youtube, where dummies can easily and usually find videos on various subjects. I accept most of the time they a not well produced, but they help a lot. Before making a lot of dummy comments about something we don’t know, if we just make a simple search in Youtube, it can prevent us from being silly.
Oh, I almost forgot, you are two blondes. I can understand John's lack of knowledge of Apple stuff, after all he is a grumpy hater. Maybe it is because he had to deal with DOS, but knowns. Now in the other hand, your simple mind baffles me. I expected more from you.
To make it easy for you girls, here is a link on Youtube about Full-Screen use on OS X.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=666DUxXr74I
The guy makes some small glitches on this video, but gets it 90% of the time. The 10% left out is how you close the full screen mode. Hover your cursor to the top of the screen, and in a bit the top menu bar will pull down, look to the right and you will see the double arrows icon in blue. Click it and the full screen mode on that app is turned off. Full screen mode is independent for each app. If you have other apps in FS, turn it off on each app.
He also forgot to mention why Apple created FS. It was a way to give the whole screen for an app, mainly for notebooks that have smaller screens like in your MacBook Air.
Now that you have been filled in, you know why call it a version of DOS is a real statement of ignorance and stupidity. DOS was a shit OS, and doesn’t deserved comparison to any modern OS.
By the way, that you for nothing. On show 616 I made a $100 donation and asked John:
"Hello,
Today I sent a $100 donation by eBay, transaction #5MU76832A6184372M.
It had no space to make a comment, so here it is.
Please just mention my name as Marco Brandao, don’t need to use it in the full form.
I need a dee-duching for me and a recovery carma for my wife that had a knee ligament and meniscal surgery. I need her to get better quick because I hate to do housekeeping.
I love NA, it keeps my sanity when I have to do housekeeping.
Best regards,"
Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Burma
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:34
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 15, 2014
NOTICE
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CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO BURMA
On May 20, 1997, the President issued Executive Order 13047, certifying to the Congress under section 570(b) of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997 (Public Law 104-208), that the Government of Burma had committed large-scale repression of the democratic opposition in Burma after September 30, 1996, thereby invoking the prohibition on new investment in Burma by United States persons contained in that section. The President also declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1701-1706, to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Burma.
Because the actions and policies of the Government of Burma continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on May 20, 1997, and the measures adopted to deal with the emergency in Executive Orders 13047 of May 20, 1997; 13310 of July 28, 2003; 13448 of October 18, 2007; 13464 of April 30, 2008; 13619 of July 11, 2012; and 13651 of August 6, 2013, must continue in effect beyond May 20, 2014. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to Burma declared in Executive Order 13047. This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
BARACK OBAMA
THE WHITE HOUSE,May 15, 2014.
United Nations News Centre - On World Telecommunication Day, UN spotlights broadband for sustainable development.
Sun, 18 May 2014 09:02
17 May 2014 '' With digital development now well recognized as a transformative tool to fast-track sustainable development, the United Nations is marking World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with calls on the global community to roll-out high-speed broadband networks, making digital communication affordable as well as universally accessible.
“Broadband connectivity is a critical element today in ensuring that information and communication technologies are used as effective delivery vehicles for health, education, governance, trade and commerce in order to achieve sustainable socio-economic growth,” declared Hamadoun I. Tour(C), Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in his message on the Day.
Noting that the theme of this year's Day is “Broadband for Sustainable Development”, he said that ITU's efforts in line with that agenda focus on the dual goals of supporting the deployment of mobile broadband and the continued rollout of fixed-line technologies along with a thrust on meeting the global challenges of our times, such as combating climate change.
“I call upon our partners – Governments, industry, academia and technical experts – to identify key gaps in broadband research and development, [and ] infrastructure,” Mr. Tour(C) said, also urging stakeholders to define policy priorities for action in the areas of allocating radio frequency spectrum for broadband, and to seek leading edge technological solutions, particularly in the extension of broadband access into rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing States.
In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said broadband connectivity is a transformative tool to achieve the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental balance.
“It is a key element of the debate on the post-2015 development agenda,” he said, stressing that broadband networks provide smart eco-friendly solutions to manage booming cities and transport systems; conduct long-distance diagnosis and treatment for patients in remote locations; and promote innovative educational applications for students around the world.
Noting that the ITU was approaching its 150th anniversary next year, he urged stakeholders to work together to bridge the digital divide and harness the power of technology to create a better and more sustainable future for all.
Echoing many of those sentiments UN General Assembly President John Ashe said that modern communication tools make it possible to connect the remotest communities and endow people with information and knowledge so they can realize their social, cultural and economic aspirations.
“As we look to advance the post-2015 development agenda through North-South, South-South cooperation, to use ICT to advance our development goals, and to set the stage for a more technologically inclusive world, I encourage us to seek every solution that information and communication technologies offer to create a better future for all,” he said.
Presidential Proclamation -- 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:00
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 15, 2014
60TH ANNIVERSARY OF BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
May 17, 1954, marked a turning point in America's journey toward a more perfect Union. On that day, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing racial segregation in our Nation's schools. Brown overturned the doctrine of "separate but equal," which the Court had established in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson. For more than half a century, Plessy gave constitutional backing to discrimination, and civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People faced an uphill battle as they sought equality, opportunity, and justice under the law.
Brown v. Board of Education shifted the legal and moral compass of our Nation. It declared that education "must be made available to all on equal terms" and demanded that America's promise exclude no one. Yet the Supreme Court alone could not destroy segregation. Brown had unlocked the schoolhouse doors, but even years later, African-American children braved mobs as they walked to school, while U.S. Marshals kept the peace. From lunch counters and city streets to buses and ballot boxes, American citizens struggled to realize their basic rights. A decade after the Court's ruling, Brown's moral guidance was translated into the enforcement measures of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Thanks to the men and women who fought for equality in the courtroom, the legislature, and the hearts and minds of the American people, we have confined legalized segregation to the dustbin of history. Yet today, the hope and promise of Brown remains unfulfilled. In the years to come, we must continue striving toward equal opportunities for all our children, from access to advanced classes to participation in the same extracurricular activities. Because when children learn and play together, they grow, build, and thrive together.
On the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, let us heed the words of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who so ably argued the case against segregation, "None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody...bent down and helped us pick up our boots." Let us march together, meet our obligations to one another, and remember that progress has never come easily -- but even in the face of impossible odds, those who love their country can change it.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 17, 2014, as the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate this landmark decision and advance the causes of equality and opportunity for all.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- World Trade Week, 2014
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:32
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
WORLD TRADE WEEK, 2014
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Commercial ties build partnerships between nations and spur growth across the world. Here in America, trade bolsters our small businesses, which make up 98 percent of our exporters and create nearly two out of every three new jobs. During World Trade Week, we celebrate these benefits, and we redouble our efforts to promote trade while protecting workers, safeguarding the environment, and opening markets to new goods stamped, "Made in the USA."
My Administration is dedicated to supporting high-quality American jobs through exports. In 2010, I launched the National Export Initiative (NEI), and since then our determined focus on exports has helped more American small and medium-sized businesses and farmers create jobs by selling their products abroad. We are now selling more American goods and services overseas than at any time in our history. Last year alone, our exports supported 11.3 million American jobs.
Earlier this month, my Administration renewed its commitment to creating American jobs by launching a new phase of the National Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT. This new phase will build on the NEI's success by helping companies find export opportunities, gain access to financing, and move their goods across borders. NEI/NEXT will also open markets around the world while ensuring a level playing field for American companies. My Administration is also helping American companies strengthen their global competitiveness by investing in cutting-edge manufacturing techniques. Over the past 4 years, factories that once went dark have turned on their lights again, and the United States has seen the first sustained growth in manufacturing jobs in over two decades.
As we ensure the next technological revolution is American-made, we must also create new opportunities to sell our goods throughout the world. Alongside our partners in the Asia-Pacific, we are working to complete negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will lower barriers to trade, create jobs in America and across the Pacific, and open up markets to our exports in the world's fastest-growing region. And to grow prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, we launched negotiations with the European Union on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
America's economic strength is a source of strength in the world. As our global economy evolves, as countries forge ever-stronger links, the United States must not stand on the sidelines. If we do not shirk from this challenge, if we continue to embrace the grit and innovative spirit that has always defined our Nation, I am confident America's best days lie ahead.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 18 through May 24, 2014, as World Trade Week. I encourage all Americans to observe this week with events, trade shows, and educational programs that celebrate and inform Americans about the benefits of trade to our Nation and the global economy.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Armed Forces Day, 2014
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:30
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
ARMED FORCES DAY, 2014
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
In every generation, there are men and women who stand apart. They put on the uniform and put their lives on the line so the rest of us might live in a safer, freer, more just world. They defend us in times of peace, times of war, and times of crisis, both natural and man-made. On Armed Forces Day, we honor the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who render the highest service any American can offer.
The patriots who stand sentry for our security are a proud link in an unbroken chain that stretches through the centuries. This generation has distinguished itself on mission after mission, tour after tour. Because of their heroism, the core of al-Qaeda is severely degraded and our homeland is more secure. Thanks to their extraordinary sacrifice, we are winding down more than a decade of war and strengthening alliances that extend our values. These are the gifts they have given us, and this is why we owe them a profound debt of gratitude.
It is our obligation to ensure our troops have all they need to complete their missions abroad, but we must also support them when they return home. We must care for the families who serve alongside them and fulfill our promises today, tomorrow, and forever. And we must demonstrate our thanks by building a Nation worthy of their sacrifices, a Nation that lives up to our founding ideals and allows every citizen to write their chapter of the American story.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, continuing the precedent of my predecessors in office, do hereby proclaim the third Saturday of each May as Armed Forces Day.
I direct the Secretary of Defense on behalf of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and the Secretary of Homeland Security on behalf of the Coast Guard, to plan for appropriate observances each year, with the Secretary of Defense responsible for encouraging the participation and cooperation of civil authorities and private citizens.
I invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to provide for the observance of Armed Forces Day within their jurisdiction each year in an appropriate manner designed to increase public understanding and appreciation ofthe Armed Forces of the United States. I also invite veterans, civic leaders, and organizations to join in the observance of Armed Forces Day.
Finally, I call upon all Americans to display the flag of the United States at their homes on Armed Forces Day, and I urge citizens to learn more about military service by attending and participating in the local observances of the day. I also encourage Americans to volunteer at organizations that provide support to our troops and their families.
Proclamation 8984 of May 17, 2013, is hereby superseded.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thissixteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Emergency Medical Services Week, 2014
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:30
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES WEEK, 2014
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Wherever and whenever crisis hits, the men and women of our emergency medical services (EMS) rush to the scene. With unyielding steadiness, they bring care to those who need it most. During Emergency Medical Services Week, we show our gratitude to the EMS practitioners who aid our families, friends, and neighbors in their darkest moments.
We saw their professionalism in action after a devastating storm hit Vilonia, Arkansas. Immediately after a tornado struck, 200 people, including EMS personnel from other counties, were ready to go house to house searching for injured neighbors. We saw it after last month's mudslide in Washington State when first responders and rescue crews braved unsteady ground to search for survivors. And we see it in towns and cities across America every hour of every day. My Administration is dedicated to supporting the vital work of our paramedics, emergency medical technicians, 911 dispatchers, and EMS medical directors.
This week, we thank the EMS providers who ease suffering and so often mean the difference between life and death. Let us honor their service with a renewed commitment to them. Let us ensure that those who watch over our communities have the support they need to get the job done.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 18 through May 24, 2014, as Emergency Medical Services Week. I encourage all Americans to observe this occasion by showing their support for their local EMS providers and taking steps to improve their personal safety and preparedness.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Safe Boating Week, 2014
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:30
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK, 2014
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Our Nation's lakes, rivers, and oceans provide havens for reflection and offer boundless opportunities for recreation with loved ones. As we mark National Safe Boating Week, we emphasize the importance of taking precautions and practicing responsible behavior when embarking on America's waterways.
Before leaving shore, boaters can reduce their risks by taking a boating safety course, conducting a vessel safety check, and filing a float plan with family members or friends. Boaters should make sure they understand the marine forecast and take note of any significant weather. To prevent accidents, injury, and death, operators and passengers should always wear life jackets and never consume alcohol or drugs.
During National Safe Boating Week, we also recognize the crucial work of the United States Coast Guard to prevent boating accidents that claim lives, cause injuries, and damage property. We thank their partners across our Nation. And we recommit to taking the proper measures to keep America's waterways safe and enjoyable for all.
In recognition of the importance of safe boating practices, the Congress, by joint resolution approved June 4, 1958 (36 U.S.C. 131), as amended, has authorized and requested the President to proclaim annually the 7-day period prior to Memorial Day weekend as "National Safe Boating Week."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 17 through May 23, 2014, as National Safe Boating Week. I encourage all Americans who participate in boating activities to observe this occasion by learning more about safe boating practices and taking advantage of boating education.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA
Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Sat, 17 May 2014 03:36
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
Tomorrow, as we commemorate the 10th annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we recommit ourselves to the fundamental belief that all people should be treated equally, that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and that no one should face violence or discrimination -- no matter who they are or whom they love.
This year, the United States celebrates the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In doing so, we reflect on lessons learned from our own civil rights struggles and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that the human rights of all people are universally protected.
At a time when, tragically, we are seeing increased efforts to criminalize or oppress LGBT persons, we call on partners everywhere to join us in defending the equal rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters, and in ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Japanese PM embraces ''collective self-defence''
Sun, 18 May 2014 01:57
By Peter Symonds17 May 2014Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday took another major step toward the revival of Japanese militarism. In a televised speech, he backed a panel report, released on Wednesday, which justified a constitutional reinterpretation allowing Japan's armed forces to engage in what is euphemistically described as ''collective self-defence.''
Japan's post-war constitution, in which Article 9 formally renounced war and declared that land, air and sea forces would never be maintained, has already been ''reinterpreted'' beyond recognition. The Japanese ''self-defence'' forces are large and well-equipped. Over the past two decades, they have been dispatched overseas to join so-called UN peacekeeping missions, as well as to participate in the US-led neo-colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan'--none of which have anything to do with ''self-defence.''
Now, in the name of ''collective self-defence,'' the Abe government, with the full backing of Washington, is seeking to end all constitutional restraints on Japan's full involvement in US wars of aggression, and to forge new military alliances with countries such as Australia and the Philippines. Japan supplied naval refuelling vessels to support US operations in Afghanistan, and military engineers to help the occupation of Iraq. ''Collective self-defence'' would allow the deployment of a full range of combat capabilities in league with the US and other allies.
Like every government gearing up for war, Abe insisted his actions were to promote peace. ''There is a misunderstanding that Japan will once again become a country that wages war, but I absolutely reject this,'' he said. ''I will protect the principle of pacifism in the constitution.'' But, he declared, ''no country can keep the peace on its own'' and ''the world has big expectations for Japan's role,'' referring in particular to the US, Europe and South East Asia.
In reality, there is nothing defensive or peaceful about Japan's remilitarisation. By legitimising ''collective self-defence,'' Abe is ensuring that Japan is a full partner in the Obama administration's aggressive ''pivot to Asia'' and the US preparations for war against China.
US bases in Japan are already an integral component of the Pentagon's AirSea Battle strategy, which envisages devastating air and missile attacks on the Chinese mainland to destroy its military capabilities. As far as Washington is concerned, it is intolerable that the US is committed to the full defence of Japan in the event of a war, but the Japanese armed forces would be prevented from participating in offensive operations against China.
In a bid to justify his move, Abe referred to the current standoffs in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam and the Philippines. Blaming China for the disputes, he declared: ''In the South China Sea, even as we speak, confrontations between countries are continuing because of unilateral action backed by force.''
The chief responsibility for the rising tensions lies with Washington, which, as part of the ''pivot,'' has encouraged the Philippines and Vietnam to adopt a more aggressive stance in their territorial disputes with China. The same is true of Japan's dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.
''Collective self-defence'' is one aspect of Abe's plans for remilitarisation. Since taking office in December 2012, he has boosted the military budget and re-oriented strategic policy to ''island defence'' in the country's southern island chain adjacent to China. He has also established a US-style National Security Council and strengthened military collaboration with the US. Further, Abe has sought to revive the traditions of Japanese militarism, through an ideological campaign designed to whitewash the war crimes of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera has already hinted that Japan could engage in pre-emptive war'--in plain language, acts of military aggression. ''When an intention to attack Japan is evident, and there are no other options, Japan is allowed under the law to carry out strikes against enemy targets,'' he told Reuters in February last year.
Abe would like to go far further and rewrite the constitution, removing Article 9 in the process. To do so would provoke widespread opposition, however. Any constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds parliamentary majority, as well as ratification by a referendum.
As a result, Abe has chosen to revise the constitutional interpretation and cloak Japan's military revival as ''pro-active pacifism.'' He faces deep-seated hostility to Japanese militarism in the working class, which experienced systematic police-state repression under the pre-war and World War II regime. His moves have also provoked opposition from countries such as China and South Korea that suffered under Japan's brutal neo-colonial rule before and during the war.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded to Abe's speech by declaring: ''Asian countries, including China, and the international community, have full reason to be highly vigilant over Japan's true intention.'' The South Korean foreign ministry issued a statement calling on Japan to ''uphold the spirit of Japan's pacifist constitution.''
Within Japan, a poll in May by Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, found that 41 percent were against the constitutional reinterpretation, while just 34 percent were in favour. Following the deployment of Japanese troops as part of the US occupation of Iraq, there were substantial protests demanding an end to the war and Japan's involvement.
Yesterday evening, around 2,000 protesters rallied near the prime minister's office in Tokyo against his plans for constitutional revision, chanting ''Don't destroy the constitution.'' High school student Shu Fukui told the Japan Times: ''Lifting the collective self-defence ban through changes in the constitutional interpretation is unacceptable. We may be sent to war.''
The widespread anti-war sentiment finds no expression within the political establishment. While opposition parties, including the Stalinist Communist Party, pay lip service to the pacifist clause of the constitution, all of them have lined up behind the Japan's confrontation with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. As Abe prepares for war, these parties will seek to channel the widespread opposition to militarism into the dead-end of legal suits and parliamentary manoeuvres.
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A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths - Atlantic Mobile
Fri, 16 May 2014 01:41
Next ArticleIn part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides a year.
A Tokyo "gun" shop owner, who mostly sells air rifles, displays one of Japan's relatively few licensed rifles. (Reuters)
I've heard it said that, if you take a walk around Waikiki, it's only a matter of time until someone hands you a flyer of scantily clad women clutching handguns, overlaid with English and maybe Japanese text advertising one of the many local shooting ranges. The city's largest, the Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club, advertises instructors fluent in Japanese, which is also the default language of its website. For years, this peculiar Hawaiian industry has explicitly targeted Japanese tourists, drawing them away from beaches and resorts into shopping malls, to do things that are forbidden in their own country.
Waikiki's Japanese-filled ranges are the sort of quirk you might find in any major tourist town, but they're also an intersection of two societies with wildly different approaches to guns and their role in society. Friday's horrific shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater has been a reminder that America's gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world's 23 "rich" countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America's ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America's.
But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world's least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.
Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country's infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.
Japanese tourists who fire off a few rounds at the Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club would be breaking three separate laws back in Japan -- one for holding a handgun, one for possessing unlicensed bullets, and another violation for firing them -- the first of which alone is punishable by one to ten years in jail. Handguns are forbidden absolutely. Small-caliber rifles have been illegal to buy, sell, or transfer since 1971. Anyone who owned a rifle before then is allowed to keep it, but their heirs are required to turn it over to the police once the owner dies.
The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it's not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel's landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)
To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you'll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don't forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.
Even the most basic framework of Japan's approach to gun ownership is almost the polar opposite of America's. U.S. gun law begins with the second amendment's affirmation of the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" and narrows it down from there. Japanese law, however, starts with the 1958 act stating that "No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords," later adding a few exceptions. In other words, American law is designed to enshrine access to guns, while Japan starts with the premise of forbidding it. The history of that is complicated, but it's worth noting that U.S. gun law has its roots in resistance to British gun restrictions, whereas some academic literature links the Japanese law to the national campaign to forcibly disarm the samurai, which may partially explain why the 1958 mentions firearms and swords side-by-side.
Of course, Japan and the U.S. are separated by a number of cultural and historical difference much wider than their gun policies. Kopel explains that, for whatever reason, Japanese tend to be more tolerant of the broad search and seizure police powers necessary to enforce the ban. "Japanese, both criminals and ordinary citizens, are much more willing than their American counterparts to consent to searches and to answer questions from the police," he writes. But even the police did not carry firearms themselves until, in 1946, the American occupation authority ordered them to. Now, Japanese police receive more hours of training than their American counterparts, are forbidden from carrying off-duty, and invest hours in studying martial arts in part because they "are expected to use [firearms] in only the rarest of circumstances," according to Kopel.
The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different -- and Japan is such a generally peaceful country -- that it's functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It's not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan's unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a "police state," a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution's second amendment is intended in part to maintain "the security of a free State" by ensuring that the government doesn't have a monopoly on force. Though it's worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America's 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.
Next ArticleMax Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.
Chiner$
War with Vietnam
email from producer
Int' Schools are being closed and students was pulled home yesterday, my kids school, that mostly have Korean kids
had kids see their house attacked on facbook ,
Number of person from TW, China and Korea are moving to hotels in Saigon many waiting for free flight to leave, some driving
to the Cambodian border to cross into cambodia.
Lot of Int. Non asian firms are asking staff to take leave and pulling managers out of Vietnam, Shoe guys like NB Adidas are
pulling staff out of vietnam, they also btw the ones that had production stopped by looters.
China evacuates workers after Vietnam deadly riots.
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:51
18 May 2014Last updated at 07:15 China is sending five ships to evacuate Chinese nationals from Vietnam following a wave of anti-Chinese riots.
The Chinese government has already evacuated more than 3,000 people, Chinese state-run media report.
The first ship set sail on Sunday, while 16 critically injured Chinese nationals left Vietnam on a chartered flight, Xinhua news agency said.
Two Chinese workers have been killed and dozens more injured in unrest over a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters.
On Saturday the Vietnamese government called for an end to the protests.
Officials said "illegal acts" would be stopped as they could damage national stability.
However, dissident groups have urged people to rally again in major cities on Sunday and the authorities broke up some anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
In recent days crowds have set fire to at least 15 foreign-owned factories - including Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean businesses - in several Vietnamese industrial parks.
'Dissatisfied'Correspondents say the attacks appear to have worried authorities, as Hanoi depends heavily on foreign investment for economic growth.
However, China has urged authorities to take tougher measures to punish rioters.
"We are strongly dissatisfied by the Vietnamese side failure to respond effectively to curb an escalation," Xinhua quoted security chief Guo Shengkun as saying on Saturday.
The protests have been triggered by China's decision to move its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig into contested waters in the South China Sea.
This led to confrontations between Vietnamese and Chinese ships earlier this month, as Vietnam sought to block the move.
China insists it will continue drilling in the area, west of the Paracel Islands - which are controlled by China but also claimed by Vietnam, and Taiwan.
Nationalist sentiment is currently running very high in Vietnam over the issue, correspondents say.
Many of those evacuated are workers employed at Chinese-owned factories or construction projects in Vietnam, says the BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Beijing.
Have you been affected by the evacuations? Have you witnessed any of the riots? If you are happy to speak to the BBC you can email your experiences to haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk, using the subject line 'China Vietnam'.
BBC News - Vietnam riots: China ships to evacuate workers
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:30
18 May 2014 Last updated at 07:15
At least 15 foreign-owned factories have been torched in Vietnam in recent days China is sending five ships to evacuate Chinese nationals from Vietnam following a wave of anti-Chinese riots.
The Chinese government has already evacuated more than 3,000 people, Chinese state-run media report.
The first ship set sail on Sunday, while 16 critically injured Chinese nationals left Vietnam on a chartered flight, Xinhua news agency said.
Two Chinese workers have been killed and dozens more injured in unrest over a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters.
On Saturday the Vietnamese government called for an end to the protests.
Officials said "illegal acts" would be stopped as they could damage national stability.
However, dissident groups have urged people to rally again in major cities on Sunday and the authorities broke up some anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Police broke up some anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday Nationalist sentiment is running very high in Vietnam over the dispute In recent days crowds have set fire to at least 15 foreign-owned factories - including Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean businesses - in several Vietnamese industrial parks.
'Dissatisfied'
Correspondents say the attacks appear to have worried authorities, as Hanoi depends heavily on foreign investment for economic growth.
However, China has urged authorities to take tougher measures to punish rioters.
"We are strongly dissatisfied by the Vietnamese side failure to respond effectively to curb an escalation," Xinhua quoted security chief Guo Shengkun as saying on Saturday.
The protests have been triggered by China's decision to move its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig into contested waters in the South China Sea.
This led to confrontations between Vietnamese and Chinese ships earlier this month, as Vietnam sought to block the move.
China insists it will continue drilling in the area, west of the Paracel Islands - which are controlled by China but also claimed by Vietnam, and Taiwan.
Nationalist sentiment is currently running very high in Vietnam over the issue, correspondents say.
Many of those evacuated are workers employed at Chinese-owned factories or construction projects in Vietnam, says the BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Beijing.
Have you been affected by the evacuations? Have you witnessed any of the riots? If you are happy to speak to the BBC you can email your experiences to haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk, using the subject line 'China Vietnam'.
Vietnam PM Nguyen Tan Dung sends mass text to calm anti-China violence
Sat, 17 May 2014 07:48
Earlier in the week thousands of people had attacked businesses and factories in Vietnam's industrial parks, targeting Chinese workers and Chinese-owned businesses. They were reacting to Beijing's stationing of an oil rig in a part of the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam.
The Vietnamese government has said one person was killed in clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday, but a doctor at a hospital near one scene of rioting said he had seen 21 dead bodies and that at least 100 people had been wounded.
A witness to fighting between Chinese and Vietnamese workers in an industrial zone in the same area said she had seen at least 13 bodies. A Foreign Ministry spokesman described media reports and accounts on social networking sites of higher casualties as ''groundless''.
Workers near Formosa factory hold banners reading 'Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands belong to Vietnam' Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam's Prime Minister, has called on police and state and local authorities to ensure the safety of people and property in the affected areas.
A text message sent to mobile phone subscribers via state-owned operators read: ''Prime Minister asked and called every Vietnam citizen to promote patriotism and protect the fatherland's sacred sovereignty by practical activities following the law.''
Smoke and flames billow from a factory window in Binh Duong It added: ''Don't allow bad people to instigate extremist actions that damage the country's interest and image.'' There were no reports of fresh violence today.
The US has described China's deployment of the rig as ''provocative'', and President Barack Obama is under pressure to increase America's military presence in the region to counter China's rising influence. State media in China has placed blame for the violence solely at the feet of Vietnam.
Chinese ships used water cannon on a Vietnamese Sea Guard ship in the South China Sea near the Paracels islands (REUTERS) Industrial parks account for more than 30 per cent of Vietnam's exports, so the riots risk damaging the country's economic growth. Vietnam's leaders typically clamp down on public protests, but in this case the government can use the nationalist sentiment of its people to reinforce its protests to Beijing.
Reuters
Taiwanese in Vietnam Riots Turn to Mainland China for Help '' chinaSMACK
Sat, 17 May 2014 02:43
From Sina Weibo:
@龟éŸè¹é•TurboS: Finally found Wifi! Yesterday night was basically a riot! Attacking! Killing! Looting! The living district for Chinese has been looted clean! Equipment valued at over a million [yuan] at the worksite has been destroyed!! Everyone is nervous! We've currently retreated to Formosa Plastic's administration area. There are nearly ten thousand people gathered here. There's no air conditioning, insufficient water, and the temperature here is close to 38° [~100.4°F]. Everyone is looking forward to going home! Mother country [here, referencing China], where are you? I'm at: Vietnam, Ky Anh District
Comments from Sina Weibo:
é(C)¬åé¾å¥¥æ–¯ä¸¼š
I looked over the original poster's account. It's a new account. In a moment of emergency, registering a new Weibo account truly is both daring and resourceful. China organized an evacuation long ago, and the vast majority of those who stayed behind are Wan-wan [Taiwanese]. Now China is your ''mother country''? You're inviting tragedy, haha. Normally calling yourselves Taiwanese, but where's that resolve now? Now you say you're Chinese.
å¹²å'公产å†>>¼š
Don't worry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will strongly condemn the Vietnamese government [and nothing else, which is a popular domestic criticism of the Chinese government in matters of foreign affairs]. You guys organize all your workers to have a meeting, learn from the spirit of Jiao Yulu, and have your leaders walk The Mass Line. Once tired, just lay down, sleep for a bit and have a Chinese Dream. The difficulty will pass, and oh yeah, the Americans are on the road'...
林æ''lonelin¼š
Compatriots, stay strong! The mother country is counting cash! It has already broken four cash counters! So please, compatriots, stay strong! Tomorrow we will severely condemn Vietnam!
王cherie¼š
How are there this many shit youth? At times like this, if the diplomatic route is not taken, should we really declare war on Vietnam? Even if we declare war, would other countries sit by and not intervene? Wan-wan [Taiwanese people] sure are amusing. Normally shouting insistently about Taiwanese independence and how they aren't Chinese, but in a critical moment, it's all ''mother country'' and ''countrymen'' and ''everybody is of one family''? I hope our countrymen are safe and sound. It's best to first hide [retreat, avoid confrontation]. Don't listen to those people inciting people to take up arms and fight back. They aren't even the ones there [in the situation], so all their talk is of course blind to the consequences.
ä¸æ'¬çƒŸä¹...¼š
After my father saw this on the news today, he was furious. As a result, I was yelled at and scolded. Was this fucking my fault?
假è±ç'Ÿå¼š
OP, just where are you from actually? ''When China started drilling on the platform on May 7th, it had already issued notices to [Chinese] businesses in Vietnam. Those who have suffered the most losses in this incident are Taiwanese businesses, over 100 companies. The five Chinese companies that have suffered losses were attacked because they were close to Taiwanese businesses and have had dealings with them'... The majority of employees of Chinese businesses evacuated long ago, and those that didn't were mainlanders working for Taiwanese businesses.'' So you think of the mother country now, do you? How embarrassing.
ç±"èé¼ 外å(C)†¼š
A certain party of your mother country is busy counting money, secretly transferring assets over to Imperialist America.
难çå'¥å'¥¼š
Fighting a war against Vietnam is inevitable, and better sooner than later. This has been decided by the larger international environment and the smaller Asian regional environment, and it will not be changed by our will. We love peace, but do not fear war. Now the first question is, should the first battle be at Hengdian? The second is, should the task of attacking be given to August First Film Studio or the general television and art center?
良æ¯å¤§ç¥ž¼š
You guys [Taiwanese], each and every one of you, are always make making a fuss about separating [from China, with formal Taiwanese independence], making a fuss more reliably than ghosts, but the moment something goes wrong, your democratic Taiwan looks to the mainland for help. That one time, I don't remember if it was Libya or Syria, but when Chinese were being evacuated, every one of you Taiwanese people were crying and begging to get a flight out on the mainland's [charter] planes. Now why are you crying for the mainland's help? Go cry to your American or Japanese dads [masters]. Aren't you the most close with them? You Taiwanese people look down on us mainlanders so, sorry, we're too poor to dispatch planes to save anyone other than Chinese people.
ç--°å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)å¤(C)¼š
So you cry for the mother country now? Taiwanese people'...
The American Dollar is Dumping Vietnam | philosophyofmetrics
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:28
And Why That's A Good Thing
By JC Collins
Not long after landing in Vancouver and leaving the airport we came upon a small protest along Granville Street. Vietnamese Canadians held signs demanding that China stop the invasion of their homeland. There was a lameness about it as no one appeared to care or give it much attention. In fact, there was a level of irritation over the slowing of traffic and blocking of local business.
We were in Vancouver for the 2014 Canadian Institute of Mining Convention. Every year the mining industry in Canada gets together to share technological advancements and industry knowledge. The CIM attracts national leaders and businesses from within Canada and abroad.
This year there was a strong contingent of Chinese businesses looking for national distribution of their products and services. They stuck together in one area of the convention and didn't seem to attract much attention outside of the odd curious passerby. They were very cheerful and welcoming to those who ventured within speaking distance.
My interaction with them was very friendly and kind. They left a happy impression.
The Chinese have developed everything from large mining shovels to underground mining equipment. The quality of some of the products was obviously lacking. But the drive to succeed and improve was evident. There is a level of enthusiasm about them that the western mind has seemed to have forgotten.
All success begins with enthusiasm.
This is the same drive and determination which the Vietnamese have shown in their push to modernize and rebuild their country after the Vietnam War.
In the post Why the Vietnamese Dong Will Reset we covered this drive and the strategies which Vietnam utilized to export products and services under constant U.S. sanctions. But there is more to the story.
It is encouraged in the western world to say that the United States lost the war in Vietnam. Though the media presents the so-called facts as a withdrawal, the slant in presentation along with the manufactured alternative medias proclamations of American defeat are clear.
Like other areas of economics and geopolitics which we discuss here, defining wars in simplistic terms of winning and losing is nonsensical and detrimental to a full understanding of current and historical events. Wars are never about winning or losing but about gain.
Since two cavemen fought with sticks over a water source, no war has ever been fought for ideological or humanitarian reasons. Every war in the history of the world has been over economics. It is recognized that economics are an extension of the human survival instinct.
The Vietnam War was about the hunt for WW2 gold and the securing of resources. Based on this filter, the United States got exactly what it wanted from the war.
It is common knowledge for most readers that the U.S. dropped the dollars anchor to gold in 1971 so they could continue printing more fiat currency. It is also common knowledge that the creation of the petrodollar also facilitated this process.
So with the Paris Agreement on January 27, 1973, during the time period when the petrodollars status was being secured, the American congress cut funding to South Vietnam, in essence handing them over to the North. The last American troops left Vietnam on Mar 29, 1973. Saigon finally fell to the North on April 30, 1975.
So what was it about the Paris Agreement which encouraged congress to cut funding to the south?
Securing the status of the petrodollar was accomplished by forcing or getting all energy exporting countries to sell their energy in dollars. North Vietnam was heavy in coal and the off-shore oil fields still needed to be further developed. The Paris Agreement covered both the coal and oil exporting capabilities of Vietnam and ensured that exports would be completed in U.S. dollars. This was the goal of the American interests which encouraged the war from the beginning.
North Vietnam sold out to the dollar in return for gaining political control over the South. Communism was never the real threat, but only the manufactured ''problem'' component of the Hegelian Dialectic. Ideologies were designed and used that way intentionally. It has been so since the French Revolution.
Since the fall of Saigon, energy production in Vietnam has increased by 10% annually. All sold in U.S. dollars. Though there have been variations in Vietnams energy exports over the years, they still remain one of the most pro-American countries in Asia. The dollar is primarily used within Vietnam as the dong has been intentionally devalued by the State Bank of Vietnam to encourage an influx of American inflation.
The fact that China is now setting up an oil rig in Vietnams Economic Zone is very telling of the move away from the dollars reserve status and towards a multilateral reserve currency system. As reported previously, Vietnam has been slowly and quietly decreasing their dollar reserves and increasing their SDR reserves.
Like in the Ukraine, the Hegelian Dialectic is also playing out in the South Pacific. When we see China sending naval ships to secure and enforce its position in the new and emerging paradigm, and no response from America other than ''we take no position on China's disputes in the China sea'', how are we to interpret that when displaced by the obvious contradiction being displayed in the Ukraine?
The answer is because it is designed that way. The stage drama is unfolding as planned and the end game is the removal of the dollar as the world's primary reserve currency.
Awhile back I stated that Russia is playing the bad guy and China is quietly left out of the negative media game because it will facilitate the positive component of the transition to the SDR system. This is exactly what can be inferred from the constant negative portrayal of Russia over the Ukraine and the dismissive American response to China's moves against Vietnam.
When I first started this blog I wrote in the SDR's and New Bretton Woods series that we would see more national protests and civil unrest as the system transitions. This Hegelian Dialectic component is required in order to move the minds of the masses in the desired direction.
Each area in the world where there is tension and unrest are areas where American dollar interests are attempting to maintain a foot hold or areas where those interests are being pushed out to make room for the multilateral reserve SDR.
Most of the readers here have already caught on to the fact that the IMF loan to Ukraine was paid in SDR's as opposed to the traditional IMF loan denominated in dollars. We can also expect to see more of that as well.
Many opponents of what I present here in regards to the SDR system make the case that the BRICS countries will never accept the American dominated institutions of the IMF, BIS and World Bank. These are not American institutions. They are institutions which were created to control and expand the dollar debt system. These institutions have controlled the United States and any other country which used dollars.
Many times already I have stated that the Bank for International Settlements controls all the central banks in the world. This includes the central banks of the BRICS countries. No BRICS bank is going to exist outside of the structure of the new multilateral system. All will be consolidated and centralized.
With each passing week America becomes more isolated from its traditional allies. Europe is looking less likely to support American sanctions on Russia, and even France is going ahead with a ship deal with Russia. China, the voice of reason suddenly, is stating their opposition to ''unproductive sanctions''.
Russia and China are on the verge of announcing a massive energy trade deal which will put the final touches on the dollars removal from its reserve status. A ''substantial statement'' is expected from the two countries during meetings in Shanghai on May 20 and 21.
During meetings at the CIM in Vancouver with large mining contractors and mine operators the general consensus is that commodity prices have to increase in order for there to be a recovery in the international mining industry. It is expected that a large tech company, say a Twitter, will see a dramatic collapse of its overvalued stock and the money which has poured into the new tech bubble will flee into the more secure investments which actually produce something of real value, say like mining and commodities.
But what will it take for commodity prices to increase?
There seemed to be a complete unawareness of the dollars current precarious situation and the emergence of a multilateral SDR system. The western world is still stuck in the dollar mindset.
New energy trade deals will blaze the trail away from the dollar and towards the SDR system, after a short stop in regional currencies.
One day soon the western world will awaken to the news that oil transactions are now being completed in rubles, yuan, or whatever is agreed upon between two countries, or groupings of countries. It will be a mess for awhile until the SDR is presented as the solution to the manufactured problem.
When the commodities of the world are priced in SDR's the international mining industry will surge and become recapitalized. Until then we will watch as the stage drama continues to unfold. Public opinion is being masterfully manufactured.
America is signalling its intent to allow Vietnam to be sucked into the Chinese orbit. They dumped dollar inflation into Vietnam and now they are dumping Vietnam itself.
And this is a good thing for the people of Vietnam.
After the transition is complete, Vietnam will be even more economically viable as their own currency moves to the forefront of their international energy agreements. The M1 money supply of the dong, as discussed in the New Exchange Rate System, will be consolidated under an SDRM '' Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism '' and the remaining supply will be anchored to the SDR at an exchange rate which will benefit the Vietnamese people and their economy.
The American dollar is dumping Vietnam and that's a good thing. -JC
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At least 21 dead in Vietnam anti-China protests over oil rig.
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:06
At least 21 people were killed and nearly 100 injured in Vietnam on Thursday during violent protests against China in one of the deadliest confrontations between the two neighbours since 1979.
Crowds set fire to industrial parks and factories, hunted down Chinese workers and attacked police during the riots, which have spread from the south to the central part of the country following the start of the protests on Tuesday.
The violence has been sparked by the dispute concerning China stationing an oil rig in an area of the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam. The two nations have been fighting out a maritime battle over sovereignty and that battle has now seemingly come ashore.
Early Thursday morning a 1,000-strong mob stormed a giant Taiwanese steel mill in Ha Tinh province, central Vietnam, where they set buildings ablaze and chased out Chinese employees, according to a Taiwanese diplomat, Huang Chih-peng. He said both the head of the provincial government, and his security chief, were at the mill at the time of the riots, but did not "order tough-enough action".
Five Vietnamese workers, and 16 others described as Chinese, were killed during the rioting, a doctor at a hospital in Ha Tinh told Reuters. An additional 90 people were injured in the attack.
"There were about 100 people sent to the hospital last night. Many were Chinese. More are being sent to the hospital this morning," the doctor said.
The attack on the steel mill comes just two days after other mobs burned and looted scores of foreign-owned factories in south Vietnam, believing they were Chinese-run, though many were actually Taiwanese or South Korean.
No deaths were reported in those initial attacks, and the Vietnamese government has since tried to crack down on protesters. More than 600 have been arrested since Tuesday.
The protests have sparked an exodus of Chinese nationals, many of whom have fled to neighbouring countries or further.
More than 600 are believed to have gone to Cambodia, while scores gathered at Ho Chi Minh airport and bought one-way tickets to Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and China.
On Thursday, China's embassy in Vietnam urged the police to take "effective measures" to protect Chinese citizens' safety and legal rights. China's tourism administration urged Vietnam-bound tourists to carefully consider their plans, while Taiwan's ministry of foreign affairs was printing thousands of stickers saying "I am from Taiwan" in Vietnamese and English and distributing them to local Taiwanese business owners, to help them avoid the wrath of anti-China mobs.
Anti-Chinese sentiment, while never far below the surface in Vietnam, has hit a formidable peak since Beijing's deployment of the oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea on 1 May.
In an attempt to assert sovereignty Vietnam quickly sent a flotilla of ships to the area; these became involved in skirmishes with 80 Chinese boats sent to protect the oil rig. China accused the Vietnamese ships of ramming its vessels after the Chinese fleet deployed water cannon against the Vietnamese. On Wednesday China reportedly sent two amphibious ships equipped with anti-air missiles as further defence.
The Vietnamese government has issued stark warnings to the Chinese that this "aggression", which had to date been met with Vietnamese diplomacy, would turn ugly if it continued.
Vietnam would "make no concession to China's wrongful acts", Major General Nguyen Quang Dam, the coast guard commander, told local media. He said: "Their violent acts have posed serious threats to the lives of Vietnamese members of law enforcement."
An article in the English-language daily Vietnam News was just as blunt: "The Vietnamese people are angry. The nation is angry. We are telling the world that we are angry. We have every right to be angry. "
"Over thousands of years we have shown we never cease fighting aggressors. We are proud of our freedom-fighting forefathers, and resistance is in our blood. We are a small country, but we are not weak. We will stand as one, united in the cause of protecting our motherland's integrity."
China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, urged Vietnam "not to attempt to further complicate and aggravate the current maritime friction", according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.
The paper said that Wang told Indonesia's foreign affairs minister, Marty Natalegawa: "China's position on safeguarding its legitimate sovereign rights and interests is firm and clear and will not change." .
On Thursday night China's top military leader blamed the Obama administration's new focus on Asia for various disputes in the East and South China seas, saying "some neighbouring countries" are using it as an opportunity to provoke problems.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, People's Liberation Army's chief of the general staff Gen Fang Fenghui also warned that the US must be objective about tensions between China and Vietnam or risk harming relations between Washington and Beijing. He defended China's deployment of an oil rig in the South China Sea and said Beijing has no intention of abandoning the drilling despite the protests it has spawned in Vietnam.
While China and Vietnam have considerable political and economic ties, anti-Chinese sentiment in Vietnam goes back more than 1,000 years to when it was a Chinese colony.
The quest for sovereignty and self-rule has long been a theme, as has what Vietnam sees as China's endless provocation over maritime boundaries around the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea '' an area that about 10 countries lay full, or partial, claim to '' because of its rich oil and gas reserves.
The recent attacks on Vietnam's factories and industrial parks could damage the country's economy. Industrial zones, like the Ha Tinh area where the mill was set ablaze, generate a third of Vietnam's total export revenue, according to Reuters.
Vietnam's prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, issued a message Thursday urging Vietnamese authorities to protect foreign investors. Businesses are expected to receive payouts for incurred damages.
While it seems the Vietnamese and Chinese governments each want to downplay the severity of the situation '' a leaked Chinese government circular obtained by the online China Digital Times urged media to "not report on any news" regarding the protests '' the repercussions are most closely felt on the ground.
"People don't feel safe here," Xu Wen Hong, a Chinese national who works at one of Vietnam's iron and steel companies and bought a one-way ticket to China, told Reuters. "We just want to get out of Vietnam. We're scared, of course. With all the factories burning, anyone would be scared."
Thousands of workers rally to protest China's oil rig in Vietnamese waters
Fri, 16 May 2014 02:32
Thousands of workers in the southern Vietnamese province of Binh Duong joined a rally on Tuesday to condemn China over the illegal operation of its oil rig in Vietnam's waters, local authorities said.
>> Vietnam hub summons Chinese Consul General to protest illegal oil rig deployment>> Chinese vessel rams, destroys railing of Vietnam Coast Guard ship>> Chinese vessels keep firing water at Vietnamese ships in Vietnam's seas>> China eyes sovereignty when illicitly putting oil rig in Vietnam's waters: experts>> Vietnamese ship hits back at 15 Chinese vessels with water cannon
During the protest, demonstrators raised national flags and banners that read ''Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratlys) belong to Vietnam,'' and ''Oppose China's illegal oil rig deployment in Vietnam's waters.''
They also shouted chants demanding that China remove the rig from Vietnamese waters immediately.
The protesters marched along many streets and industrial parks such as Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 1 (VSIP 1), Viet Huong Industrial Park, Song Than 1 Industrial Park, and some other industrial clusters in the province.
The rally received special attention and support from local residents. However, taking advantage of the busy atmosphere surrounding the march, some people illegally rushed into office buildings at the VSIP 1 and Viet Huong IP, breaking glass doors and smashing valuable items.
While talking with Tuoi Tre on Tuesday, Le Thanh Cung, chairman of the Binh Duong Province People's Committee, said that the local government respected the demonstration that showed the workers' patriotism in response to China's infringement of Vietnam's waters.
However, the authorities will coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security to strictly punish those who took advantage of the rally to smash windows, steal assets, or commit other lawbreaking acts, Cung insisted.
Local authorities have called on people to strictly comply with laws while conducting such demonstrations, and will take measures to ensure safety and property for investors at provincial industrial parks, the province's leader said.
Over the past several days, many peaceful protest marches have been organized in many other localities across the country, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang City, Hue City, and Can Tho City.
Overseas Vietnamese in many countries around the world, including Germany, France, Japan, the Czech Republic, Australia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and Cambodia have also taken to the streets to strongly oppose China's violation of Vietnamese waters and demand that it remove the rig from the waters at once.
The Chinese rig is now located at 15°29'58'' North latitude and 111°12'06'' East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This location is about 119 nautical miles (221 km) from Ly Son Island off the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai and 18 nautical miles south of Tri Ton Island of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
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Vietnam's Binh Duong Province vows to protect foreign investors
Fri, 16 May 2014 02:31
Authorities in southern Vietnam's Binh Duong Province will leave no stone unturned to protect foreign investors and their assets, Tran Van Nam, deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday.
>> Vietnam police detain over 600 rioters in southern localities
This assertion followed the arrest of over 440 rioters who took advantage of peaceful marches against China's illegal deployment of an oil rig to Vietnamese waters to sabotage many factories of foreign-owned enterprises in the province on Tuesday and Wednesday.
''We highly appreciate investors' contributions to the province in the past years so Binh Duong will continue standing side by side with them as we have done so far,'' Nam said.
Local officials will calculate damage suffered by businesses and give financial support to those enterprises which had their property destroyed in the recent riots, he added.
''If there is anything beyond our competence, we will report it to the Prime Minister for instructions,'' the deputy chairman said.
Many workers and people peacefully marched on Tuesday and Wednesday to show their patriotism in response to the illegal operation of Chinese drilling rig Haiyang 981 in Vietnamese waters, he said.
The protest marches took place peacefully at first but a number of people later took advantage of them to illegally rush into many companies to smash corporate assets, set fire on factories, loot property, and even attack police officers, the provincial leader said.
Nam emphasized that such violent actions have violated laws and will be strictly punished.
Police have seized more than 440 violent people in Binh Duong Province while around 186 others have been nabbed in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province following these riots.
Riots earlier spread from Binh Duong to Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province, local officials said.
Binh Duong police are coordinating with the Ministry of Public Security to investigate the riots, Nam said.
The rioters wanted to cause instability to the investment environment in Vietnam so they aimed not only at Chinese companies but also at other enterprises owned by Japanese and Korean investors, Nam said.
Binh Duong authorities have called on people to keep calm, act with restraint, and not to be incited to commit illegal acts, the provincial People's Committee said in a statement released Wednesday.
According to the statement, hundreds of enterprises in Binh Duong '' most of which are owned or managed by Chinese, Taiwanese, and Koreans '' had their assets destroyed during the chaos as of 1:00 am on May 14.
At least 15 factories were set on fire, causing losses worth billions of dong, and leaving thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Specifically, some thuggish people stormed into the factory of Diamond Company at My Phuoc 1 Industrial Park in Ben Cat Town late Tuesday when they smashed valuable items and broke glass windows before setting them all on fire at around 5:00 am on Wednesday.
Tens of factories at Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 1 and Viet Huong Industrial Park were also set ablaze. Some people even made use of the riots to steal assets from the companies at the parks.
As previously reported, the Chinese rig is now located at 15°29'58'' North latitude and 111°12'06'' East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The platform has been positioned there since May 1 despite strong protests from Vietnam.
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Vietnam police detain over 600 rioters in southern localities
Fri, 16 May 2014 02:31
Police in southern Vietnam's Binh Duong Province have captured hundreds of aggressive people who are suspected of taking advantage of peaceful marches against China's illicit placement of an oil rig in Vietnamese waters to cause public disturbance and destroy property since Tuesday, Vo Thanh Lap, an industrial park management chief told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday.
More than 440 such violent people have been nabbed since riots erupted in the province yesterday, Lap said, adding that these hooligans damaged corporate assets, looted property, and even attacked police officers.
Lap is the head of the management board of industrial parks in the southern province of Dong Nai. He revealed the number after meeting with Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese investors the same day.
Riots spread from Binh Duong to Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province, he said, divulging that over 100 have been arrested in the former and 86 others nicked in the latter.
The Binh Duong authorities have called on people to keep calm, act with restraint, and not to be incited to commit illegal acts, the provincial People's Committee said in a statement released today.
The committee has also instructed that local police resolutely crack down on those who made use of the peaceful marches to cause public disorder and damage property of residents and enterprises.
According to the statement, hundreds of enterprises in Binh Duong '' most of which are owned or managed by Chinese, Taiwanese, and South Koreans '' had their assets destroyed during the chaos as of 1:00 am on May 14.
At least 15 factories were set on fire, causing losses worth billions of dong, and leaving thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Tran Van Nam, deputy chairman of the Binh Duong People's Committee and the province's spokesman, said some people had took advantage of the peaceful demonstrations to incite local workers to go on strike and ravage corporate assets in the locality.
Specifically, some thuggish people stormed into the factory of Diamond Company at My Phuoc 1 Industrial Park in Ben Cat Town late Tuesday when they smashed valuable items and broke glass windows before setting them all on fire at around 5:00 am on Wednesday.
Tens of factories at Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 1 (VSIP 1) and Viet Huong Industrial Park were also set ablaze. Some people even took advantage of the riots to steal assets from the companies at the parks.
From 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm on May 14, many aggressive people blocked traffic on a section of National Highway 13 where the main gate of VSIP 1 is located.
A seven-seat car heading to Ho Chi Minh City from Binh Duong was stopped by some thugs who thought that the people inside were Chinese.
However, those in the car were allowed to continue their journey after the hooligans realized that they were South Koreans.
A large number of anti-riot policemen have been deployed to several hotpots in the province to restore public order.
Over the last days, many people in Binh Duong have marched peacefully along many streets and industrial parks such as VSIP 1, Viet Huong Industrial Park, Song Than 1 Industrial Park, and some other industrial clusters to oppose the deployment of Chinese oil rig Haiyang 981 in Vietnamese waters on May 1.
The rig is now located at 15°29'58'' North latitude and 111°12'06'' East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The rallies received special attention and support from local residents, Le Thanh Cung, chairman of the Binh Duong People's Committee said, noting that the provincial government will coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security to strictly punish those who took advantage of the peaceful demonstrations to smash windows, steal assets, or commit other lawbreaking acts.
Local authorities have called on people to comply with laws while conducting such demonstrations, and will take measures to ensure safety and property for investors at provincial industrial parks.
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SDR
Oil SDR's and the New Currency Basket | philosophyofmetrics
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:42
By JC Collins
Oil, along with other commodities, will soon be priced in the Special Drawing Right issued by the International Monetary Fund. This was first mentioned back in 1979 in a secret White House memo written by Henry Owen for President Jimmy Carter.
In that memo, it is stated that if oil were to be priced in SDR's then the value of the U.S. dollar would be effected on the exchange markets due to lower demand. Though the price of oil itself would see little change if priced in SDR's. The recommendation at the time was to keep oil priced in dollars.
Todays things have changed dramatically as the world is shifting away from the dollar as the reserve currency. It is inevitable that oil will be priced in something other than dollars.
The likelihood is that oil trade deals will be first denominated in regional currencies such as the Russian ruble and Chinese yuan. This will increase the demand for some form of multilateral reserve currency agreement to ensure a level playing field between markets and regions.
The SDR will be offered up as the obvious solution. In order for that to happen the basket of currencies from which the SDR gets its value will have to be expanded to include Russia and China, and most likely Canada and Australia as well.
This is why Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and now Vietnam are such important factors in the emergence of the more powerful SDR. Each country is either directly involved in the production of oil and gas or are located on or near transport roots by which energy is traded.
Those who work in the Canadian oil and gas industry have watched over the last 5 years as massive infrastructure and transport projects have been started to facilitate the explosive growth which will take place when the SDR pricing begins.
Canadian mining is on the verge of a massive realization of potential. Its as if all the bases are loaded and the best batter just stepped up to the plate.
The same can be said for other regions of the world. Vietnam's off-shore oil fields will be further developed as demonstrated by the urgency of China's placement of their massive drilling platform in Vietnams Economic Zone.
What has been happening over the last 6 years since the financial crisis is becoming clearer and clearer. The move away from the dollar is quickening at a rate that is surprising the most hardened critic of dollar alternatives.
Canada is now backing off on sanctions against Russia. As reported in this RT article:
Canada has chosen not to impose sanctions against two of Russia's top officials already targeted by the US '' Rosneft's Sechin and Rostec's Chemezov. Reports say Ottawa doesn't want politics to be hurting one of the country's biggest business projects.
''Our goal is to sanction Russia, it is not to go out of our way to sanction or penalize Canadian companies,'' as Reuters quotes a Canadian government source familiar with Ottawa's sanctions strategy.
''We will continue to apply pressure to Russia, we will continue to impose sanctions along with our allies, but we will also look out for Canada's broader interests,'' it added.
Sergei Chemezov is head of state-owned industrial and defense conglomerate, Rostec. The company has an aircraft assembly joint venture lined up with Bombardier Inc '' a deal vital for the Canadian plane and train maker. Last year the two companies signed a $3.4 billion deal to sell 100 short '' haul aircraft in Russia. Another Bombardier interest in Russia includes a long-standing joint venture in its rail business.
Igor Sechin is CEO of oil giant, Rosneft, which owns some 30 percent of an Exxon Mobil Corp oil field in the western province of Alberta.
All roads are now leading away from the dollar. The aggressive measures which the G20 countries discussed back in Feb are now being realized. The International Monetary Fund will have no choice but to collectively remove the veto power of the United States and allow the Executive Board to be restructured. The BRICS Bank will join the World Bank in a common cause under the IMF banner with the Bank for International Settlements acting as the clearing house.
With this restructuring will come the merging of the Euro-Atlantic financial powers with the Euro-Asian financial powers. The semi-fiat semi-commodity SDR supra-sovereign reserve currency is on the way. '' JC
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The American Dollar is Dumping Vietnam | philosophyofmetrics
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:28
And Why That's A Good Thing
By JC Collins
Not long after landing in Vancouver and leaving the airport we came upon a small protest along Granville Street. Vietnamese Canadians held signs demanding that China stop the invasion of their homeland. There was a lameness about it as no one appeared to care or give it much attention. In fact, there was a level of irritation over the slowing of traffic and blocking of local business.
We were in Vancouver for the 2014 Canadian Institute of Mining Convention. Every year the mining industry in Canada gets together to share technological advancements and industry knowledge. The CIM attracts national leaders and businesses from within Canada and abroad.
This year there was a strong contingent of Chinese businesses looking for national distribution of their products and services. They stuck together in one area of the convention and didn't seem to attract much attention outside of the odd curious passerby. They were very cheerful and welcoming to those who ventured within speaking distance.
My interaction with them was very friendly and kind. They left a happy impression.
The Chinese have developed everything from large mining shovels to underground mining equipment. The quality of some of the products was obviously lacking. But the drive to succeed and improve was evident. There is a level of enthusiasm about them that the western mind has seemed to have forgotten.
All success begins with enthusiasm.
This is the same drive and determination which the Vietnamese have shown in their push to modernize and rebuild their country after the Vietnam War.
In the post Why the Vietnamese Dong Will Reset we covered this drive and the strategies which Vietnam utilized to export products and services under constant U.S. sanctions. But there is more to the story.
It is encouraged in the western world to say that the United States lost the war in Vietnam. Though the media presents the so-called facts as a withdrawal, the slant in presentation along with the manufactured alternative medias proclamations of American defeat are clear.
Like other areas of economics and geopolitics which we discuss here, defining wars in simplistic terms of winning and losing is nonsensical and detrimental to a full understanding of current and historical events. Wars are never about winning or losing but about gain.
Since two cavemen fought with sticks over a water source, no war has ever been fought for ideological or humanitarian reasons. Every war in the history of the world has been over economics. It is recognized that economics are an extension of the human survival instinct.
The Vietnam War was about the hunt for WW2 gold and the securing of resources. Based on this filter, the United States got exactly what it wanted from the war.
It is common knowledge for most readers that the U.S. dropped the dollars anchor to gold in 1971 so they could continue printing more fiat currency. It is also common knowledge that the creation of the petrodollar also facilitated this process.
So with the Paris Agreement on January 27, 1973, during the time period when the petrodollars status was being secured, the American congress cut funding to South Vietnam, in essence handing them over to the North. The last American troops left Vietnam on Mar 29, 1973. Saigon finally fell to the North on April 30, 1975.
So what was it about the Paris Agreement which encouraged congress to cut funding to the south?
Securing the status of the petrodollar was accomplished by forcing or getting all energy exporting countries to sell their energy in dollars. North Vietnam was heavy in coal and the off-shore oil fields still needed to be further developed. The Paris Agreement covered both the coal and oil exporting capabilities of Vietnam and ensured that exports would be completed in U.S. dollars. This was the goal of the American interests which encouraged the war from the beginning.
North Vietnam sold out to the dollar in return for gaining political control over the South. Communism was never the real threat, but only the manufactured ''problem'' component of the Hegelian Dialectic. Ideologies were designed and used that way intentionally. It has been so since the French Revolution.
Since the fall of Saigon, energy production in Vietnam has increased by 10% annually. All sold in U.S. dollars. Though there have been variations in Vietnams energy exports over the years, they still remain one of the most pro-American countries in Asia. The dollar is primarily used within Vietnam as the dong has been intentionally devalued by the State Bank of Vietnam to encourage an influx of American inflation.
The fact that China is now setting up an oil rig in Vietnams Economic Zone is very telling of the move away from the dollars reserve status and towards a multilateral reserve currency system. As reported previously, Vietnam has been slowly and quietly decreasing their dollar reserves and increasing their SDR reserves.
Like in the Ukraine, the Hegelian Dialectic is also playing out in the South Pacific. When we see China sending naval ships to secure and enforce its position in the new and emerging paradigm, and no response from America other than ''we take no position on China's disputes in the China sea'', how are we to interpret that when displaced by the obvious contradiction being displayed in the Ukraine?
The answer is because it is designed that way. The stage drama is unfolding as planned and the end game is the removal of the dollar as the world's primary reserve currency.
Awhile back I stated that Russia is playing the bad guy and China is quietly left out of the negative media game because it will facilitate the positive component of the transition to the SDR system. This is exactly what can be inferred from the constant negative portrayal of Russia over the Ukraine and the dismissive American response to China's moves against Vietnam.
When I first started this blog I wrote in the SDR's and New Bretton Woods series that we would see more national protests and civil unrest as the system transitions. This Hegelian Dialectic component is required in order to move the minds of the masses in the desired direction.
Each area in the world where there is tension and unrest are areas where American dollar interests are attempting to maintain a foot hold or areas where those interests are being pushed out to make room for the multilateral reserve SDR.
Most of the readers here have already caught on to the fact that the IMF loan to Ukraine was paid in SDR's as opposed to the traditional IMF loan denominated in dollars. We can also expect to see more of that as well.
Many opponents of what I present here in regards to the SDR system make the case that the BRICS countries will never accept the American dominated institutions of the IMF, BIS and World Bank. These are not American institutions. They are institutions which were created to control and expand the dollar debt system. These institutions have controlled the United States and any other country which used dollars.
Many times already I have stated that the Bank for International Settlements controls all the central banks in the world. This includes the central banks of the BRICS countries. No BRICS bank is going to exist outside of the structure of the new multilateral system. All will be consolidated and centralized.
With each passing week America becomes more isolated from its traditional allies. Europe is looking less likely to support American sanctions on Russia, and even France is going ahead with a ship deal with Russia. China, the voice of reason suddenly, is stating their opposition to ''unproductive sanctions''.
Russia and China are on the verge of announcing a massive energy trade deal which will put the final touches on the dollars removal from its reserve status. A ''substantial statement'' is expected from the two countries during meetings in Shanghai on May 20 and 21.
During meetings at the CIM in Vancouver with large mining contractors and mine operators the general consensus is that commodity prices have to increase in order for there to be a recovery in the international mining industry. It is expected that a large tech company, say a Twitter, will see a dramatic collapse of its overvalued stock and the money which has poured into the new tech bubble will flee into the more secure investments which actually produce something of real value, say like mining and commodities.
But what will it take for commodity prices to increase?
There seemed to be a complete unawareness of the dollars current precarious situation and the emergence of a multilateral SDR system. The western world is still stuck in the dollar mindset.
New energy trade deals will blaze the trail away from the dollar and towards the SDR system, after a short stop in regional currencies.
One day soon the western world will awaken to the news that oil transactions are now being completed in rubles, yuan, or whatever is agreed upon between two countries, or groupings of countries. It will be a mess for awhile until the SDR is presented as the solution to the manufactured problem.
When the commodities of the world are priced in SDR's the international mining industry will surge and become recapitalized. Until then we will watch as the stage drama continues to unfold. Public opinion is being masterfully manufactured.
America is signalling its intent to allow Vietnam to be sucked into the Chinese orbit. They dumped dollar inflation into Vietnam and now they are dumping Vietnam itself.
And this is a good thing for the people of Vietnam.
After the transition is complete, Vietnam will be even more economically viable as their own currency moves to the forefront of their international energy agreements. The M1 money supply of the dong, as discussed in the New Exchange Rate System, will be consolidated under an SDRM '' Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism '' and the remaining supply will be anchored to the SDR at an exchange rate which will benefit the Vietnamese people and their economy.
The American dollar is dumping Vietnam and that's a good thing. -JC
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Packet Inequality
Goodbye email
I've been listening to No Agenda for quite some time now. Although I disagree with some opinions you have (specially about global warming), I kept watching you and John because you're funny and provide other more reasonable points of view and ways of thinking. You say a lot of wrong stuff about other topics too, but I have let them all slide because of the same reasons.
I think you have crossed a boundary, in my head, when you went on the attack against net neutrality. Although you claim to have more knowledge on the subject then the shitizenry, you clearly have no idea of what you're talking about.
I'm not gonna do a sentence-by-sentence dissection of your speech, on net neutrality or global warming, because that would be boring for me, boring for you and plainly ineffective, since you'd just dismiss it.
If you don't know who the guy on the video you played is, it's CGP Grey. He's very well loved on the Internet and I predict you'll get a lot of backlash because of that.
Note, however, that that's not the reason I'm turning you off; I'm not CGP's body guard, although many people are. I'm turning you off because I think that, sometimes, you take a position about a subject not because of what you read and believe, but because you just wanna be against the majority.
Have fun in Japan.
Kris isp cap email
Hello gents. In the morning and thanks for your courage. I just wrapped up listening to episode 618. I found the packet neutrality clips very interesting. The pricing model that the comcast exec was talking about is already happening with my cable provider. We use suddenlink for data only and not cable. 6 months ago suddenlink moved to the pricing model of a total data cap for the month based on the speed you pay for and charging $10 for each 50gb you go over. We pay $70 a month for 30 up and 5 down. We are an all Netflix house so we hit the data cap quickly. To avoid overages I had to set my Netflix account to back of on the streaming quality. Now I never come close to our 250gb cap even with streaming to 4 TVs and 4 mobile devices. Just thought you would like to know this pricing is already in play. Thanks for all your hard work and for watching cspan so I dont have to.
Statement by the Press Secretary on Net Neutrality
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 15, 2014
The President has made clear since he was a candidate that he strongly supports net neutrality and an open Internet. As he has said, the Internet's incredible equality '' of data, content, and access to the consumer '' is what has powered extraordinary economic growth and made it possible for once-tiny sites like eBay or Amazon to compete with brick and mortar behemoths.
The FCC is an independent agency, and we will carefully review their proposal. The FCC's efforts were dealt a real challenge by the Court of Appeals in January, but Chairman Wheeler has said his goal is to preserve an open Internet, and we are pleased to see that he is keeping all options on the table. We will be watching closely as the process moves forward in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality.
The President is looking at every way to protect a free and open Internet, and will consider any option that might make sense.
PopularResistance.Org
Thu, 15 May 2014 19:19
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Internet access may be taxed for first time
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:54
The Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 will expire on Nov. 1, which means US's internet access and usage could soon be taxed for the first time. How will this affect your internet access bills?
The Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 is set to expire on Nov. 1, which means internet access and usage in the US could soon be taxed for the first time. Combined with efforts to standardize a sales tax on online purchases, these new taxes could mean a big hit on consumers. Congress could act to eliminate one or both taxes, but it is unlikely they will make any unpopular moves so close to the midterm elections.
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Fortunately for Internet users, extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act enjoys broad bipartisan support in Congress. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, these tax cuts are likely to get bundled with other internet taxes '-- specifically, state-level sales taxes on out-of-state online retailers (a Supreme Court decision had previously prohibited taxing online retailers without a presence in the state). And while the ITFA has bipartisan support, collecting sales taxes over the internet does not, especially in the Republican-controlled House. Combining the bills could force the issue of the sales tax by tacking it on to more widely supported legislation, but it could leave both issues stalled.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the timing: the ITFA's Nov. 1 deadline is just before the midterm elections on Nov. 4. Just before election day, no one's going to want to make an unpopular move like supporting internet sales taxes '-- and internet access taxes, which consumers are less aware of than extra fees tacked on to everyday purchases, might just slip through in the confusion.
So how much will this cost the consumer? The Journal estimates an average $50 to $75 extra a year tacked on to internet access bills. But even if the ITFA does expire, we're unlikely to see new taxes appearing on Nov. 2. Some states may need to pass additional legislation before they could implement any kind of internet access tax.
Whether we see new internet access taxes, more internet sales taxes, or neither is still up in the air '-- there's plenty of time for Congress to act before the ITFA expires. As to whether they will, however, is something we're all going to have to wait and see.
Elizabeth Harper is a contributing writer for Dealnews.com, where this story first appeared: http://dealnews.com/features/Will-Your-Internet-Access-And-Emails-Be-Taxed-/1050159.html
Nigeria
Douchebag email
From: Hector
Subject: Boko Haram
Message Body:
I like your guys show and everything but i just don't see your angle of how you can confidently just call this Boko Haram thing a hoax. Literally from what iv'e heard, you seem to think there isn't much foilage or buildings so it couldn't happen or that parents should be able to pick their children out of a crowd quicker..etc.?! Honestly, come with something better because this is one of the worst analysis and justification for a hoax I have ever heard from you guys. P.S. It's also getting a bit too obvious that whatever Country Adam happens to pop into next is 100% pristine and when you return home everything is awful??!! I have been to many other airports all over and they are very similar. The fact that you try to paint every security worker in foreign airports as nice. Then every security worker in the US as an douche just makes you look too biased.
Nigerian schoolgirls' home town in despair after president cancels visit.
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:16
Relatives of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who have been missing for more than a month after being kidnapped by Islamic militants have voiced anger and despair after the country's president cancelled a visit to their home town, citing security concerns.
As the international effort to find and rescue the girls gathered momentum, with military and intelligence resources from the US, UK, France, Israel and Canada pouring into Nigeria, and the #bringbackourgirls social media campaign exceeded 1m tweets, there was mounting criticism of President Jonathan Goodluck's slow response to the crisis.
In Chibok on Friday, the home town of the missing girls, families said they had lost faith in the government to do everything possible to rescue their daughters, sisters and nieces. In Washington, a senior US official admonished Nigeria's failure to tackle the insurgency.
Many relatives had gathered at the Chibok government girls secondary school, from which the teenagers were abducted in a night raid on 14 April, to greet Jonathan on his first visit to the area during the crisis.
"You begin to question what could be more important to the president than the lives of these students," Dr Allen Manasseh, whose 18-year-old sister Maryamu Wavi was abducted from the school, told the Guardian.
"The parents were hoping he would come with some information for them about where the girls may be and what efforts are being done to recover them, but instead to be told he is not coming was not easy for them. It's not an easy thing to have a missing child."
He said the families were upset that it had taken more than a month for Jonathan to schedule a visit to Chibok, but that to have promised to come and then postponed without adequate explanation had further diminished their faith in the authorities.
Bulus Mungo Park, a civil servant volunteering with a local vigilante force protecting Chibok from Boko Haram and the uncle of two missing girls, said the villagers were extremely disappointed.
"The parents were happy that our president would come and see for himself. He was our last resort," he said. "And now we don't know what is happening. We're hoping he can still come some time."
Following the release of a video by Boko Haram earlier this week, showing around 130 of the abducted teenagers, Mungo Park escorted a group of girls who had managed to escape and relatives of those still missing to the nearby town of Maiduguri to identify the captives.
"They were able to identify about 75 by name," he said. The faces of other girls were known to their school colleagues. "Soon we will know all their names."
Manasseh said his sister was not among the girls in the video released. "It makes me very worried for her because I do not know whether she is alive or where she might be."
A leading Nigerian politician claimed Boko Haram blundered and handed the search mission a golden opportunity when it released a video of the captured girls because it contains significant clues to their whereabouts.
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a former defence minister who has spent years combating the militant group, said: "On TV they are exposing themselves to an intelligent military. Anyone who is familiar with this area can pinpoint the place. Terrorists who are clever put white cloths behind them but in this one you can see the location of the children in Sambisa forest."
He added: "We have people very well trained. A layman will tell you that all of the clues are there. A tree that I saw there is special: it's not a tree you find in many places."
Kwankwaso is now governor of the northern Kano province, the scene of one of Boko Haram's deadliest attacks, and tipped as a possible challenger to the president in next year's elections. He was scathing about Jonathan's response to the present crisis.
"The issue is on CNN, Sky News," he said. "All the international stories are helping us to remind him that what is happening is very significant in Nigeria.
"To him it was nothing. They wanted to sweep it under the carpet like nothing happened. But if everybody is talking about it, it is an issue. I have never seen in the history of the world where more than 200 people are kidnapped and it is not an issue."
Kwankwaso challenged the president: "Yes, you inherited the problem, but what did you do when you came in? You have had five years on the throne. Five years is enough to make a difference. In 2015, by grace of God, he should get out of the [presidential] villa."
Relatives and activists have raised fears that the girls could be intended as sex slaves for the militants, or trafficked to other countries. However, the Nigerian government has said it believes the girls are still within the country's borders, most likely hidden in the Sambisa forest.
Mohammed Dunoma, the chairman of the local parent-teacher association, told the Guardian earlier this week that many villagers were now reluctant to allow their daughters to go to school. Boko Haram, whose name means "western education is sinful", was an ever-present threat, he said: "We don't know when they will come."
The area is a stronghold of Boko Haram. Insurgents killed at least four soldiers in an ambush on Monday.
In Washington, a senior US official criticised inaction by the Nigerian government. "In general, Nigeria has failed to mount an effective campaign against Boko Haram," Alice Friend, the Pentagon's principal director for African affairs, told the Senate foreign relations committee. "In the face of a new and more sophisticated threat than it has faced before, its security forces have been slow to adapt with new strategies, new doctrines and new tactics."
She added: "We're now looking at a military force that's, quite frankly, becoming afraid to even engage."
Dampening hopes of an imminent breakthrough in the internally backed search mission, state department spokesperson Marie Harf said military and intelligence teams faced "a tough challenge".
The US has deployed manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft over the area. According to the New York Times, 30 specialists from the state department, FBI and Pentagon, with medical, intelligence, counter-terrorism and communications expertise, have been sent to Nigeria.
Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, said there would be no active deployment of US forces in Nigeria. "At this point, we're not actively considering the deployment of US forces to participate in a combined rescue mission," he told reporters.
Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, told CBS News it was an open question whether Nigerian forces were capable of rescuing the girls. "We just don't know enough yet to be able to assess what we will recommend to the Nigerians, where they need to go, what they need to do, to get those girls back," Hagel said.
US general David Rodriguez met Nigerian officials in Abuja this week, as did British Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds. Canada announced it had sent special forces to Nigeria, and Israel also joined the search and rescue mission.
Jonathan was due to fly to Paris on Friday for a summit hosted by Fran§ois Hollande, the French president, to discuss the security threat posed by Boko Haram. Nigeria's neighbours '' Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad '' were expected to attend, along with US, UK and EU representatives.
A social media campaign over the kidnapped girls has won global backing, with more than 1m tweets under the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. High profile endorsements have come from Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie and Malala Yousafzai.
Obama Administration Threatened Nigeria with Sanctions in 2013 for Fighting Boko Haram
Fri, 16 May 2014 02:58
Obama diplomatic CYA than actually caring about the fate of kidnapped Nigerian childrenHillary Clinton wasn't the only Obama administration official who went to bat for Boko Haram over the past few years.
Soon after John Kerry took over as Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley, accused the Nigerian government of butchery during a confrontation with Boko Haram terrorists in Baga, a Nigerian town on the shores of Lake Chad, and in May 2013 threatened to withdraw U.S. military aid from the West African nation.
Boko Haram militants attacked a Nigerian military outpost in April 2013 outside Baga, killing one soldier. Following the three-day battle human rights activists, including the George Soros-funded and liberal aligned Human Rights Watch, which is not exactly known for its impartiality when it comes to reporting on Islamic issues, claimed the Nigerian military wantonly slaughtered 183 civilians and burned down over 2,000 homes and businesses.
The Nigerian government denied the claims saying the death toll and destruction had been vastly overstated by its enemies, and in fact 30 Boko Haram terrorists, 6 civilians and one soldier, had died in the fighting. Reports from the Baga clinic, which treated 193 people following the battle, but only 10 with serious injuries, seemed to back up the Nigerian government claim that no large-scale massacre had occurred.
The U.S. Nigerian Ambassador, blindly believing any Islamist sob story that crossed his path, responded in a May 2013 meeting with human rights activists by defending Boko Haram:
Mr. Terrence announcedto the activists that the US congress had previously passed a law that bars the United States from rendering military assistance to any government that violates basic rights of citizens. He said the Obama led US government has therefore ceased to assist Nigeria militarily in obedience to the law.
The threat of military sanctions, and whether or not they were actually implemented, is an open question as there has been zero coverage of this issue in the mainstream media, may have had a chilling effect on Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram. Since Ambassador McCulley's proclamation the Nigerian civilian death toll by Boko Haram Islamic militants has skyrocketed over the past year.
No wonder the Nigerian government was initially reluctant to accept U.S. assistance with finding the more than 200 Christian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month. Emboldening Nigeria's Islamic terrorist enemies and having been already accused by the Obama administration of crimes against humanity for fighting militants who were responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths since 2010, they likely felt that Obama's belated support was more a product of diplomatic CYA than actually caring about the fate of kidnapped Nigerian children.
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Fred Dardick is the owner and operator of a medical staffing company based in Chicago. Prior to the business world, he worked as a biological researcher at Northwestern University and The University of Chicago. He has BS and MS degrees in biology and maintains a blog at conservativespotlight.com.
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Is the U.S. Government Funding Boko Haram? #BringBackOurGirls
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:35
Somebody has been routing large sums of cash and/or weapons to the Nigerian terrorist Boko Haram. Most experts agree that the money itself is difficult to trace, but we do know a few things about their organization. You won't hear U.S. politicians or the corporate media going into detail about the group's leadership structure or alliances because doing so would open up some very uncomfortable questions, questions such as: are some of the weapons and money that the U.S. is sending to the Syrian rebels being routed to the Nigerian terrorist group?
How would an honest look at Boko Haram's organization lead us to ask such an extreme question? Well, let's take a look at what we know:
1. The head of the U.S, Africa Command has gone on the record saying that Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda in north Africa are sharing money, explosives and training.2. In 2012 Al-Shabab officially merged with al-Qaeda, and is still currently affiliated with the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda which is attempting to topple Assad.3. The U.S. government has been backing the Syrian rebels for several years now, and in recent months Washington has been increasing its support by sending more advanced weaponry in spite of the fact that the Syrian rebels are not only fighting along side al-Qaeda but are in fact dominated by the organization.
Of course U.S. officials claim that these weapons are being handed to "moderate" rebels, but these so called moderate forces have admitted that they conduct joint operations with Al-Qaeda, and that they don't consider it an enemy.
Even if you believe Washington's official statements on the matter (and I don't), if the groups that the U.S. is funding and arming are conducting joint operations with Al-Qaeda, it would be naive to think that none of that weaponry or money is making its way into the hands of extremists. The idea that the U.S. government can control how their assets are distributed in a war zone dominated by Islamic militants is ludicrous. That the U.S. would support such groups when they have established connections with terrorist organizations, is criminal. Unfortunately it's par for the course.
Also par for the course is the pattern of backing dubious groups or political figures in foreign countries when they are useful, only to later demonize them and use them as a justification for military intervention. The CIA's assistance in putting Saddam Hussein in power in 1963 and the U.S. government's subsequent backing of his brutal war of aggression against Iran in 1980 is a perfect example of this. Saddam's brutality was useful when it was directed at Iran, and it was also useful when it was time to turn him into a boogie man and build support for the war.
It is in this light that we should evaluate the events unfolding in Nigeria today. When you have perpetual hawks like Hillary Clinton jumping on to the #BringBackOurGirls bandwagon, demanding that something be done, your spider sense should be tingling. It would definitely be tingling if you were paying attention to the fact that Hillary actively worked to keep Boko Haram from being listed as a terrorist organization while she was in charge of the State Department. This in spite of repeated requests by the CIA, the FBI and the Justice Department, and in spite of the fact that the group had already committed a number of atrocities.
Whether or not Hillary's protection of Boko Haram was intentional and malicious is a topic for debate, but that it was in line with U.S. foreign policy interest in Africa is not. Over the past several years the U.S. has been quietly strengthening its position on the resource rich continent. The toppling of Gaddafi in Libya in 2011, the deployment of the Dagger Brigade which established U.S. troops in 35 African countries in early 2013, and the recent interventions in Mali, and Uganda (Kony 2014), taken together form a pattern of intent.
The Nigerian government has interfered with this neocolonial push in a number of ways. Like Gaddafi the Nigerian government has had the audacity to form an economic and political coalition of African nations without the approval or support of the U.S. or Europe. Nigeria's position in the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (aka ECOMOG) which is comprised of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and a number of other small states has overshadowed NATO's influence in the region. The Nigerian government's willingness to engage in peace keeping operations in conjunction with neighboring countries has also widened Nigeria's sphere of influence. However perhaps the most significant variable in this equation is Nigeria's close cooperation with China.
China wants a piece of Africa too, they're just going about it in a slightly different way than Washington. Over the past decade the Chinese government has spent over 75 billion dollars on aid and projects on the continent in what many are calling a "charm offensive". Having a defiant Nigeria allied with China in one of the most resource rich corners of the earth is not in Washington's interest, a broken and embattled Nigeria that is struggling to fight off a terrorist insurgency on the other hand is.
Boko Haram's increasing strength has already had a direct impact on Nigeria's influence as the fighting has forced the Nigerian Army to withdraw several hundred soldiers from peace keeping operations in neighboring countries this past year.
Unfortunately the American public has little or no sense of the geopolitical stakes at play in here. They hear a story about girls being kidnapped, they see a catchy hashtag, and they run with it. They would never even think for a moment that their outrage might be playing into the hands of the very people who created the problem in the first place.
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SnowJob
Announcement | emptywheel
Fri, 16 May 2014 15:50
This is just a quick announcement that I have ended my affiliation with First Look/The Intercept. My departure was voluntary and amicable.
To anticipate questions some may ask, my departure from The Intercept doesn't relate to anything I wrote or didn't write about Ukraine. It did not relate to the downtime The Intercept just took (and seems to be coming out of). The reasons for my departure predate both of those things, to January.
I'll have more to say''not about The Intercept, per se, but about things I've learned about my own journalism over the last 7 months, as the Edward Snowden story played out and the Intercept discussed hiring me''at some later point, after some reflection.
Things here will remain the same.
We will, however, be doing a fundraising campaign next week (or you can beat the rush by donating today!). Until such time as a billionaire wants to support the work we do here, we will rely on readers to pay the bills.
Thanks, as always, for making all that possible!
Glenn Greenwald loves Sony, now that they've bought the rights to his Edward Snowden book · Newswire · The A.V. Club
Sat, 17 May 2014 03:01
May 15, 20142:17 PM
Like a columnist jumping all over a movie he hasn't seen, Sony Pictures has pounced on the movie rights to Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, And The U.S. Surveillance State.
''I'm very happy to be working with Amy Pascal, Doug Belgrad and the team at Sony Pictures Entertainment, who have a successful track record of making thoughtful and nuanced true-life stories that audiences want to see,'' said Greenwald of the same executives he had previously accused of producing ''the ultimate hagiography of the most secretive arm of America's National Security State'' when they made Zero Dark Thirty, but now heartily endorses, because they're giving him lots of money.
''We are extremely proud that ['...] Glenn chose Sony to bring this riveting story to the big screen,'' added Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, the Sony subsidiary Greenwald likened to the Nazi propaganda machine a year and a half ago, but which now owns the rights to Greenwald's book.
No Place To Hide will be produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, whose involvement with the pro-government-secrecy James Bond franchise also doesn't bother Greenwald in the least, because the question of whether it is ''possible to separate the filmmakers' political propaganda and dissemination of falsehoods from their technical skills in producing a well-crafted entertainment product'' becomes irrelevant when you are being paid well.
The exact specifics of Greenwald's deal remain unknown, but it is expected to be even more profitable than the time he changed his mind about the War on Terror.
Suggested Reads
Which Tech Companies Protect Your Data From the Government?
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:33
Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation releases its "Who Has Your Back" report card, detailing the privacy policies of tech companies. Here's the rundown of who fights for your privacy in the face of government requests for your data'--and who doesn't even bother.
We entrust our most sensitive, private, and important information to technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Verizon. Collectively, these companies are privy to the conversations, photos, social connections, and location data of almost everyone online. The choices these companies make affect the privacy of every one of their users. So which companies stand with their users, embracing transparency around government data requests? Which companies have resisted improper government demands by fighting for user privacy in the courts and on Capitol Hill? In short, which companies have your back?
These questions are even more important in the wake of the past year's revelations about mass surveillance, which showcase how the United States government has been taking advantage of the rich trove of data we entrust to technology companies to engage in surveillance of millions of innocent people in the US and around the world. Internal NSA documents and public statements by government officials confirm that major telecommunications companies are an integral part of these programs. We are also faced with unanswered questions, conflicting statements, and troubling leaked documents which raise real questions about the government's ability to access to the information we entrust to social networking sites and webmail providers.
The legal landscape is unsettled. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations have filed constitutional challenges to mass surveillance programs. Both Congress and President Obama are negotiating legislative reform that could curtail or even end bulk surveillance programs, while other Congressional proposals would instead enshrine them into law. In multiple recent public opinion polls, the American people attest that they believe government surveillance has gone too far.
In the face of unbounded surveillance, users of technology need to know which companies are willing to take a stand for the privacy of their users.
In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies'--including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites'--to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business. It is also designed to incentivize companies to adopt best practices, be transparent about how data flows to the government, and to take a stand for their users' privacy in Congress and in the courts whenever it is possible to do so.
The categories we evaluate in this report represent objectively verifiable, public criteria and so cannot and do not evaluate secret surveillance. We compiled the information in this report by examining each company's published terms of service, privacy policy, transparency report, and guidelines for law enforcement requests, if any. As part of our evaluation, we contacted each company to explain our findings and to give them an opportunity to provide evidence of improving policies and practices.
Evaluation CriteriaWe used the following six criteria to assess company practices and policies:
Require a warrant for content of communications. In this category, companies earn recognition if they require the government to obtain a warrant from a neutral magistrate and supported by probable cause before they will hand over the content of user communications to the government. This policy ensures that private messages stored by online services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are treated consistently with the protections of the Fourth Amendment.[1]Tell users about government data requests. To earn a star in this category, Internet companies must promise to tell users when the government seeks their data unless prohibited by law, in very narrow and defined emergency situations,[2] or unless doing so would be futile or ineffective.[3] Notice gives users a chance to defend themselves against overreaching government demands for their data. The best practice is to give users prior notice of such demands, so that they have an opportunity to challenge them in court, but we also recognize that prior notice is not always possible, for instance in emergency situations.Publish transparency reports. We award companies a star in this category if they publish useful data about how many times government sought user data and how often they provide user data to the government. Until recently, companies were not allowed to include national security requests in transparency reports, and such reporting is still strictly limited by the government, but the government has recently allowed the companies to provide some transparency about those requests.Publish law enforcement guidelines. Companies get a star in this category if they make public their policies or guidelines explaining how they respond to data demands from the government, such as guides for law enforcement.Fight for users' privacy rights in courts. This star recognizes companies who have publicly confirmed that they have resisted overbroad government demands for access to user content in court.[4]Publicly oppose mass surveillance. Tech companies earn credit in this category by taking a public policy position opposing mass surveillance.Results Summary: Transparency Reports, Notice to Users and Opposition to Mass Surveillance Become Industry TrendsMajor Findings in 2014 Report:
Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo Top Chart, Receive 6 Stars EachApple, Adobe, Internet Archive, Credo, Dropbox Facebook, Foursquare, Google, LinkedIn, Lookout, Microsoft, Pinterest, Sonic, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wickr, WordPress, and Yahoo Promise to Give Notice to UsersApple, Yahoo Show Enormous Improvements in Government Access PoliciesOverwhelming Number of the Companies We Reviewed, even Major ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast Are Now Issuing Transparency ReportsMajority of Tech Companies (but only one Telecom) Publicly Oppose Mass SurveillanceCREDO Mobile Demonstrates That Telecom Companies Can Champion Transparency, Resistance to Government Access RequestsSnapchat, AT&T, and Comcast Lag Behind Others in IndustryIn Wake of Snowden Disclosures, More Companies Revised Policies About Government Access to User DataThis year, we saw major improvements in industry standards for informing users about government data requests, publishing transparency reports, and fighting for the user in Congress. For the first time in our four years of Who Has Your Back reports, every company we reviewed earned credit in at least one category. This is a significant improvement over our original report in 2011, when neither Comcast, Myspace, Skype, nor Verizon received any stars.
These changes in policy were likely a reaction to the releases of the last year, which repeatedly pointed to a close relationship between tech companies and the National Security Agency. Tech companies have had to work to regain the trust of users concerned that the US government was accessing data they stored in the cloud. This seems to be one of the legacies of the Snowden disclosures: the new transparency around mass surveillance has prompted significant policy reforms by major tech companies.
We are pleased to announce that nine companies earned stars in every category: Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo. In addition, six companies earned stars in all categories except a court battle: LinkedIn, Pinterest, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Wickr, and WordPress. We are extremely pleased to recognize the outstanding commitment each of these companies has made to their users. CREDO Mobile, a new addition to this year's report, demonstrated through its exemplary policies that it is possible for a telecom to adopt best practices when it comes to transparency and resistance to government demands.
We added several other new companies to our report this year, including the Adobe, Internet Archive, Lookout, Pinterest, Snapchat, Wickr, and Wikimedia. Each of these companies has a significant user base and some hold huge amounts of sensitive user data that could be the target of invasive government investigations. Most of them scored quite well.
However, Snapchat stands out in this report: added for the first time this year, it earns recognition in only one category, publishing law enforcement guidelines. This is particularly troubling because Snapchat collects extremely sensitive user data, including potentially compromising photographs of users. Given the large number of users and nonusers whose photos end up on Snapchat, Snapchat should publicly commit to requiring a warrant before turning over the content of its users' communications to law enforcement. We urge them to change course.
Improvements Since 2013We saw two companies make enormous improvements in the last year: Apple and Yahoo.
In 2013, Apple earned only one star in our Who Has Your Back report. This year, Apple earns 6 out of 6 stars, making remarkable progress in every category.
Similarly, Yahoo jumped to earning credit in all 6 categories this year. Yahoo deserves special recognition because it fought a many-year battle with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, defending user privacy in a secret court battle that it was forbidden from discussing publicly until July of 2013, but it also made great strides in other areas.
Microsoft also jumped to 6 stars, promising to give notice and in protecting a user in the courts.
Facebook has also made notable improvements over the years, moving from one star in 2011, to 1.5 stars in 2012, to 3 stars in 2013, and finally to 6 stars in this year's report.
Warrant for ContentWe are pleased to note that more companies are publicly committed to requiring warrants from law enforcement before handing over user data, including for the first time Amazon, Apple, Verizon, and Yahoo. We were particularly impressed by the strong language in Tumblr's policies when it comes to warrants:
A search warrant issued under the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or equivalent state warrant procedures, based on a showing of probable cause, is required to compel disclosure of the stored contents of any account, such as blog posts or messages'.... Requests must come from appropriate government or law enforcement officials; Tumblr will not respond to requests from other sources.
User NotificationThe Who Has Your Back report was partially inspired by Twitter's fight to tell users that their data was being sought as part of the WikiLeaks investigation in 2010. Since then, we have rated companies on whether they promise to tell users about government demands for their data. More companies are promising to inform users about government data requests, including for the first time Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Tumblr and Yahoo. And we're pleased that Google has revised its user notification policy to remove some vague language it had added last year. As a result, we reinstated Google's star in the notice category.
LinkedIn has particularly clear language describing its commitment to notify users of government data demands, and pointing out to law enforcement the proper legal mechanism to use when an investigation might require delayed notice:
When our Members trust LinkedIn with information about their professional lives, they expect to have control over their data. Thus, LinkedIn's policy is to notify Members of requests for their data unless it is prohibited from doing so by statute or court order. Law enforcement officials who believe that notification would jeopardize an investigation should obtain an appropriate court order or other process that specifically precludes Member notification, such as an order issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §2705(b).
Transparency Reports & Law Enforcement GuidesAnnual transparency reports are also becoming a standard practice for major communications companies. In fact, almost all of the companies we examined have now published transparency reports. For the first time, we are seeing major telecom companies publishing transparency reports, including AT&T, Comcast, CREDO Mobile, and Verizon. We are particularly glad to see Facebook's recent transparency report, which we have anticipated for many years.
EFF believes that National Security Letters (NSLs)'--secretive FBI orders for user data accompanied by a gag provision'--are a violation of the Constitution. We are currently litigating a challenge to the NSL statute, and a federal district court recently held that NSL gags are unconstitutional but stayed the order while the government appeals. We think it is vital that companies are as forthcoming as legally allowable about these national security requests to help shed light on government abuses of contested surveillance powers.
Several companies, including Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Credo, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Internet Archive, LinkedIn, Lookout, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tumblr, Verizon, Wickr, WordPress, and Yahoo deserve particular recognition for including information about national security requests, such as National Security Letters they have received (if any). While companies are gagged from discussing specifics about National Security Letters that they receive, they are now permitted to publish general information about how many NSLs were received in a year and how many accounts were affected. Several companies stated that they fought government demands brought under national security laws even while being gagged, fights that are particularly important since the secrecy means that users cannot stand up for themselves.
As with transparency reports, the overwhelmingly number of companies we examined have published their law enforcement guidelines, some directly and some, like Facebook and Microsoft, with a user-friendly interactive guide.
Fighting for Users in the CourtsOne category we're tracking deserves special discussion: standing up for users in court. It is important to note that not every company has been presented with an opportunity to go to court to challenge the government over user privacy and that sometimes companies are gagged when they do. Some companies have never received an overbroad subpoena, others may have convinced the FBI to withdraw one, and still others may be subject to a gag'--yet none of those circumstances would merit a star.
Thus, just because a particular company doesn't have a star in the fifth column, it doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't have your back'--it just means that we cannot verify that it has been put into a situation where it has needed to defend user privacy in court. At the same time, standing up for users in court is a vital check on overbroad government data demands. We want to recognize those companies that have fought for their users in court so they can receive credit and so their stories can inspire others.
In particular, this past year we finally learned that Yahoo had engaged in a multi-year battle in the secret FISA Court, though it did not receive a star for several years in our report because it was prevented for publicizing this fact. We also learned that Microsoft had resisted a request for user data stored in Ireland. We commend Yahoo, Microsoft, and other companies that have fought for user privacy in courts.
Fighting for Users in CongressIn years past, we have given credit for standing up in Congress to companies that participated in the Digital Due Process coalition, which encourages Congress to improve the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act. While this remains an important goal, in the wake of the Snowden revelations, this year focuses on the fight in Congress over mass surveillance. As a result, this year we are rating companies on whether they have taken a public policy position opposing mass warrantless surveillance.
This is because such positions are an important demonstration to users and because company participation, especially public participation, is so important for the Congressional debate given the key role that companies play in the government's surveillance strategy (both wittingly and unwittingly). It's also within reach for every company we track.
Mass surveillance of law-abiding users infringes on fundamental individual rights of free expression and privacy, and the specter of mass data collection threatens user trust all around the world. Every technology company should stand by its users and urge Congress to end warrantless mass surveillance programs once and for all. While this report only tracks response to US government demands, taking a stand against US government activity can also help companies stand strong against requests from foreign governments.
We are pleased to note that many of the major Internet companies and even some telecommunication companies have taken a public stand, many through the Reform Government Surveillance coalition but also through the StopWatchingUs coalition. WordPress (and its parent company Automattic), demonstrated leadership in demanding an end to mass spying by creating a WordPress plug-in that allowed users to oppose mass spying on their own WordPress blogs, in addition to issuing a public statement opposing warrantless surveillance.
ConclusionsThis has been a watershed year for companies taking a stand for user privacy, with more companies than ever publishing transparency reports and law enforcement guides, and publicly opposing mass surveillance. But there is still room for growth.
Transparency reports have become the industry standard for major tech companies, but Adobe, Amazon, Foursquare, Myspace, Wikimedia and Snapchat have yet to publish a report.
Additionally, Comcast has grown into a leading ISP and is seeking to grow significantly with its purchase of Time Warner Cable. It should step up to be a leader in protecting its growing number of customers. AT&T and Verizon issued transparency reports, but remain near the bottom of the pack despite their key role in the communications infrastructure. Amazon has a tremendous amount of user data, both from its direct retail businesses and from its hosting services through Amazon Web Services, but it fails to let users, and potential users, evaluate their policies and understand how law enforcement seeks to gain access to data stored with them.
This report is encouraging, with many companies heading in the right direction, especially based on where we started in 2011. Yet the report also makes clear that the law has fallen woefully behind in protecting users as users increasingly rely on changing technologies. This past year confirmed that the government has been relying on legal uncertainties and technological innovations to push for as much access as possible to user information, stretching policy, statutory interpretation, and constitutional law past the breaking point.
Too often, technology companies are the weak link, providing the government with a honeypot of rich data. We must strengthen their ability to resist overbroad data demands and bring light to the flow of data from corporate servers to the government.
This article firstappeared on Electronic Frontier Foundationand is republished here in abridged form under Creative Commons license. You canread the full report here.
The (misguided) passion of Glenn Greenwald.
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:28
It's not that journalists have thin skins '-- it's that they have no skins.
This adage gets trotted out once a month or more in better newsrooms to provide context for the overreaction of a reporter or editor who has found himself on the receiving end of criticism for something they've published. This week, some journalists who have been critical of Glenn Greenwald are seeking skin grafts for their skin grafts after reading his denunciation of them in the final chapter of his new book about the Snowden files, No Place to Hide.
I would ordinarily write something like '-- ''Greenwald settles scores with the New York Daily News, David Gregory of NBC News, Alan Dershowitz, CNN, Reuters reporters, the Washington Post's Walter Pincus, Leslie Kaufman, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jill Abramson, and Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, and others in the press corps for criticizing him, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange'' '-- except Greenwald isn't a score-settler. Once you earn a place in his scope, there you will stay, even after he runs out of ammunition.
Which would be never. Whether the venue be the Web, TV, or Twitter, Greenwald is the sort of fighter who goes on punching after the bell has rung, after the last round has been fought, and continues once the ring has been packed up. If split open by a speeding Mack truck and left bleeding at the side of the Interstate, Greenwald would still be observed shouting at passing traffic, ''Ya didn't hurt me! Come back and get what you deserve, you diesel pig!''
I could be mistaken, but I must be one of the few journalists writing in the vicinity of Greenwald's interests who have never tasted the orange of his flame, an oversight I hope to correct with this column. It's gotta be my turn for abuse, if only because in No Place to Hide he quotes favorably from something praiseful I wrote about him for Reuters last summer.
For all its fury, Greenwald's bellicosity becomes harmless if read through a filter. He's the underdog, so he has to bark louder. He's a loner (by design, it seems), so he has to be his own posse. He's a David (by choice, it seems) against Goliaths. He graduated from law school, which teaches the art of making your offense your defense.
The downside of perpetually savaging your enemies comes when you make so much noise you can't hear their sensible arguments. I'm fine with Greenwald skinning a few journalists, if only because everybody in our business needs an aggressive defoliation now and again. But Greenwald '-- who with Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman, have aided liberty with their exposes of government surveillance '-- gets tangled up in his own rancor when he dismisses as supplicants the national security beat reporters who consult with government officials before publishing.
The source of ''establishment media hostility'' for Snowden, Assange, and Greenwald, Greenwald writes almost categorically, is their acceptance of ''the rule of dutiful spokespeople for political officials, especially where national security is concerned.'' He continues, saying that the establishment media is ''contemptuous of those who challenge or undermine Washington's centers of power.''
As evidence, Greenwald points to the New York Timesdecision in 2004 to delay by more than a year the publication of its domestic spying story, and of a Los AngelesTimes call to spike '-- under Dean Baquet, the new executive editor of the New York Times '-- an AT&T-NSA story. Also steaming his endless buffet is the idea that journalists talk to national security officials before they publish secrets. Greenwald's schema also doesn't square with the Washington Post's aggressive pursuit of the Snowden story. No paper is more representative of the establishment and Washington power than the Post, and yet it has published on and on about the NSA files.
He's right that some reporters tend to get too close to their sources (no matter what the beat, I might add) and fall into orbital capture. But national security reporters haven't been sitting on their hands as Greenwald implies, a point that Michiko Kakutani and David Cole make in their reviews of No Place to Hide this week in the New York Times and Washington Post. It wasn't a bend-over press that published stories about Abu Ghraib, rendition, torture, black sites, and drones. And while he can carp about the delay, the New York Times ultimately defied the Bush administration to publish the NSA surveillance story and followed it with the controversial Swift financial surveillance investigation.
Greenwald seems to want to damn national security reporters for talking to national security officials about national security issues, thinking that it compromises them somehow or prevents them from publishing empire-shaking scoops. But talking to the government isn't the same thing as taking orders from it. National security reporters can write more insightful and more accurate stories by discussing the leaks they obtain. They can also avoid publishing stories that are detrimental to my immediate safety, your immediate safety, the immediate safety of Glenn Greenwald's life as well as the lives of U.S. troops. The cartoon Greenwald paints of a weakling press taking orders from the government clashes with the well-documentedaccounts of how contentious and brutal the reporting and publishing process can get.
Remember, not even Glenn Greenwald has dumped his entire stash of NSA files into the public domain. He's in his Fortress of Solitude right now, turning them over in his hands and making mental notes. Like anybody who takes the mound, Greenwald wants to decide when to hurl his fastballs. Is anybody calling Greenwald a pliant hack for his style of deliberative journalism?
I've put myself on record as being a fan of Greenwald's adversarial reporting, but that doesn't mean I approve of every story and editorial choice he's made. I'm also a fan of the more conventional and cautious brand of journalism, which frequently needs a kick in the ass from outsiders like Greenwald. Who says you can't be a critic of both.
******
Note to Glenn: Reach for the oxyacetylene if you decide to torch me, okay? Send fireworks to Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com. My Twitter feed burns all night. Sign up for email notifications of new Shafer columns (and other occasional announcements). Subscribe to this RSS feed for new Shafer columns.
PHOTOS: Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who first published the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, testifies before a Brazilian Congressional committee on NSA's surveillance programs, in Brasilia August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenn Greenwald, is surrounded by journalists while he arrives to the George Polk Awards in New York, April 11, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
NA-Tech
Tech Companies Sue Over Michael Jackson Hologram
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:53
Sports Fan InsiderKeep up with your favorite teams and athletes with daily updates.
Sign UpLOS ANGELES (AP) '-- The owners of technology used to digitally resurrect Tupac Shakur have asked a federal judge to block the use of their techniques in any effort to project a Michael Jackson hologram at Sunday's Billboard Music Awards.
Hologram USA Inc. and Musion Das Hologram Ltd. sued Jackson's estate and producers of the awards show Thursday in a Nevada federal court in an attempt to block any appearance of a Jackson hologram at Sunday's ceremony.
A hearing on their emergency restraining order request has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in a Las Vegas court.
Show producers have not confirmed that a Jackson hologram will appear at the show, but they have promised a history-making performance by Jackson. The segment at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena will be used to promote the singer's latest posthumous album, ''Xscape.''
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Jackson's estate, wrote in a statement that the lawsuit was baseless.
He said the filing was a stunt by businessman Alki David, owner of Hologram USA, who hosted an event this year and claimed to reveal a secret son of Jackson.
''It is ludicrous,'' Weitzman wrote in the statement. ''There is no merit to his claim.''
Show producers dick clark productions did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Hologram USA and Musion own patents to technology that creates 3-D images and projects them on stage to appear as if they're alongside live performers.
The digital Shakur hologram was a sensation at the 2012 Coachella music festival, and according to the lawsuit it was created using a product called Musion Eyeliner.
The companies say Musion Eyeliner has been used without authorization by a competitor to create a segment that depicts Jackson performing a new song, ''Slave to the Rhythm,'' at Sunday's awards show.
Hologram USA obtained the rights to the patents after the bankruptcy of Florida effects house Digital Domain, which created the Shakur performance. Thursday's lawsuit also names Atlanta-based Pulse Entertainment Inc., whose CEO is the former head of Digital Domain, according to the complaint. Pulse is accused of using the hologram techniques without a proper license.
Phone and email messages left for Pulse Entertainment were not immediately returned.
In March, Hologram USA sued Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International over its show, ''Michael Jackson ONE'' at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. The show features a performance by a digital rendition of Jackson, which the company also contends is an unlicensed use of its technology.
The case is being handled in an L.A. federal court and Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts have been granted an extension until May 23 to respond to the lawsuit.
((C) Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Google Now Starts Reminding You to Pay Bills Based on Your Email
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:43
Android: Continuing the never-ending onslaught of new Google Now cards, Google has begun rolling out a feature that will remind you of upcoming bills. Provided you have email scanning turned on, of course.
The feature probably won't be able to check all bills (notably because not all bill reminder emails include due dates or amounts due), but it can be a handy reminder for those that it does support. The features seems to be quietly rolling out and may not be available to all users just yet. If you have email scanning turned on, though, take a look!
Google Now Bill Reminder Integration Rolling Out Now | Android Police
Paedophile asks Google to remove pages about his case in wake of historic European Court ruling
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:07
The 'take down' requests to the world's biggest internet search engine came after a European Court ruling on Tuesday that people have the ''right to be forgotten.'' The controversial decision, by the Court of Justice of the European Union, was in response to a case brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results had infringed his privacy. It applies to all web search companies and will affect hundreds of millions of people living in Europe.
The ruling, described as ''disappointing'' by Google, means that web search engines face legal action if they refuse to remove information deemed ''inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.''
And it has emerged that a former British politician seeking re-election has demanded that links to information about his behaviour in office be removed, while a man convicted of possessing child abuse images has requested links to pages about his conviction be deleted. And a doctor wants negative reviews from patients removed from the results, according to the BBC.
The court decision allowing such demands is in contrast to assurances made by the EU's advocate general last year that search engines were not obliged to honour such 'take down' requests. And although EU Commissioner Viviane Reding supported this week's ruling as ''a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans'', Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales dubbed it ''one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I've ever seen'' and warned: ''When will a European Court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn't like it?''
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google, admitted there are ''many open questions'' when asked about the impact of the ruling, during the company's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. ''A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google's perspective that's a balance,'' he commented. ''Google believes having looked at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong.''
The company will need an ''army of removal experts'' to comply with the ruling, according to a source close to the internet giant. And concern is mounting that there will be a wave of demands by people wishing to clean up their past. Emma Carr, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ''It is hardly surprising that people, intent on rewriting their own history, have already requested that Google remove links to articles referring to their past.'' She added: ''Those arguing that this ruling is a successful move towards 'the right to be forgotten' are quite simply wrong, it is going to be of huge detriment to freedom of speech.'' And Ms Carr warned: ''There is little doubt that making intermediaries responsible for the actions of the content of other people will inevitably lead to greater surveillance and a risk of censorship.''
In a statement, a Google spokesman said: ''The ruling has significant implications for how we handle take down requests.'' They added: ''As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.''
Facebook Trialling Option to Pay to Send Messages to Strangers
Sat, 17 May 2014 22:13
Published on January 21, 2013 by Brett M. Christensen
Plans by Facebook to provide an option for users to pay to send a message to non-friend inboxes, do NOT validate old "Facebook charging for access" hoaxes like the one above
Facebook is currently trying out a new facility by which users can pay to have messages delivered directly to the inboxes of people they don't know. Currently, if you send a message to someone you don't know via Facebook, the message will be delivered to the recipient's "Other" folder rather than his or her Inbox. Given that many users may only occasionally ( or sometimes never) check their "Other" folder, there is no guarantee that a message you send to a stranger will ever be seen.
The new system will allow users to pay a fee to have their message sent to the non-friend recipient's inbox rather than his or her "Other" folder, thereby making it much more likely that it will actually be read. The fee for contacting people in this way has reportedly initially be set at $1, but may change if and when the system is further rolled out.
The system is still in trial, so it is not currently available to all users.
A December 21, 2012 BBC article about the trial notes:
Facebook has begun a trial which allows users to pay $1 to send messages direct to people who are not their friends.
The fee will mean messages go straight to a recipient's inbox rather than the Other folder which contains all unsolicited correspondence.
The trial is only for a "small number of people" and is initially being tested just in the US.
Users will be able to receive a maximum of one paid-for message per week, and no more than three each month.
Unfortunately, news of the move has given wings to older and oft-circulated hoaxes that falsely claim that Facebook is about to start charging users for actually accessing the network. Some Facebookers who have come across news about the pay for messages trial - and apparently misunderstood its meaning - have mistakenly concluded that the old hoaxes about Facebook charging a month fee for access must be true after all. However, these hoaxes are just as much nonsense as they always were. Facebook has no plans to start charging users for normal, everyday access to the network.
The bottom line? The new "pay to send messages" option is exactly that - an OPTION. Users will have no obligation to pay to send a message. And they certainly will not be charged for accessing Facebook and will be able to use the network in the same way that they have always done. As it says right on the Facebook front page, "It's free and always will be".
Keyboard Shortcut for "Save as PDF..." in OS X '-- MacSparky
Sun, 18 May 2014 01:02
Dear Reader,
This post was updated in 2013 with a fancy screencast. You should go there now.
------------------------------------------------
Here is one thing that has been driving me crazy for some time. I constantly find myself saving from Safari to PDF. Whether it is a utility bill or legal research, I have a fetish for saving PDF copies. The problem is that in order to do so you must click print, then the PDF button, then the "Save as PDF" button. Each step requires me to get the mouse in the right place and read the menu. Granted this is probably less than 10 seconds but I do it a lot and it makes me just a little bit nuts.
So I've been thinking about this and wondering if there is an Automator action or perhaps an Applescript that can simplify this. Well tonight I stumbled upon
an excellent hint at MacOSXHints
that address this very problem very easily through with a keyboard shorcut.
Here is the walkthrough.
Open your Keyboard Shortcuts tab in the Keyboard & Mouse system preference pane.
Click the "+" sign to add a new shortcut for all applications.
Then a box pops up asking for the command.
Type in the Command exactly as it appears: "Save as PDF..." For the ellipses, use the combination: option + semicolon. Don't ask me why because I have no clue. Just do it.
For the keyboard shortcut use: command + P (I know this sounds like a conflict with the print shortcut, but trust me)
Now you are done.
Now go to your favorite webpage and hold down the command key and press "P" twice.
Bingo. "Save as PDF..." lickity split.
Firefox's adoption of closed-source DRM breaks my heart.
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:26
Future versions of the open-source Firefox browser will include closed-source digital rights management (DRM) from Adobe, the Mozilla project's chief technology officer, Andreas Gal, announced on Wednesday.
The purpose is to support commercial video streams. But this is a radical, disheartening development in the history of the organisation, long held out as a beacon for the open, free spirit of the web as a tool for liberation.
As Gal's blogpost makes clear, this move was done without much enthusiasm, out of a fear that Firefox (Mozilla's flagship product and by far the most popular free/open browser in the world) was being sidelined by Apple, Google and Microsoft's inclusion of proprietary technology to support Netflix and other DRM-encumbered videos in their browsers.
In my long-running discussions with Mozilla's most senior management over this issue, they've been clear in their belief that their userbase '' and relevance to the internet '' will dwindle unless they add support for viewing Hollywood movies in their browser. Not just Hollywood; the BBC has been one of the major ''rights holder'' voices calling for the addition of DRM to the web.
This shift is part of a change in the way that browsers work in general. Since the early days of the Netscape browser, third-party plug-ins have been a common way to extend browser functionality. Users who wanted to watch DRM-restricted video could install proprietary plugins such as Microsoft's Silverlight or Adobe's Flash.
The plug-in architecture is a security nightmare, and a source of numerous breaches through which buggy or malicious code was able to reach into users' computers and compromise them. Now that browsers run in computers that we carry around in our pockets, connected to microphones and video cameras, and manage everything from our finance to our thermostats, abolishing plug-ins was an inevitable and welcome step.
Plugged back inHowever, in the absence of plug-ins, the proprietary browser companies have privately negotiated with Netflix to add DRM. This shift to private negotiations '' instead of industry-wide standards '' spooked the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and its founder, web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, into a controversial plan to add DRM to HTML5, the next-generation web standard.
The W3C's solution is baroque: it is specifying something called ''encrypted media extensions'' through which the browser creates a ''sandbox'' within which a ''content decryption module'' (CDM) operates, receiving scrambled video, descrambling it and passing it out of the sandbox for display.
At times, the W3C has insisted that this isn't really DRM '' it's a thing that can be used for DRM. The fact that it was conceived in order to respond to demand for DRM from companies that insist on DRM for their business-models, and that its deployment and use is entirely concerned with DRM, makes this a pretty thin excuse.
The fear of irrelevance that drove Mozilla to add DRM is a microcosm of the fear of irrelevance that drove the W3C to standardise DRM. By the same token, Mozilla's roundabout description of its DRM plan also echoes some of the W3C's not-really-DRM claims.
Mozilla says it isn't providing DRM; it's providing a fully open utility that automatically fetches and installs DRM from Adobe's servers. I am unconvinced that there is a meaningful distinction between ''installing DRM'' and ''installing code that installs DRM''.
Still, Mozilla has taken some admirable pains to minimise the harms from its DRM. The open sandbox in which Adobe's software operates very strictly limits the DRM's access to the computer's other processes and systems. This is crucial, because the Adobe module is not only closed source, it is also protected by controversial global laws that threaten security researchers who publish information about its security flaws.
These laws '' the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the European EUCD, Canada's C-11 and so on '' prohibit revealing information that can be used to weaken DRM, and previous security researchers who disclosed information about vulnerabilities in DRM have been threatened and prosecuted.
This created a chilling effect on the publication of vulnerabilities in DRM, even where these put users at risk from hackers. For example, when word got out that Sony BMG had infected millions of computers with an illegal rootkit to stop (legal) audio CD ripping, security researchers stepped forward to disclose that they'd known about the rootkit but had been afraid to say anything about it.
This gap between discovery and disclosure allowed the Sony rootkit to become a global pandemic that infected hundreds of thousands of US military and government networks. Virus writers used the Sony rootkit to cloak their own software and attack vulnerable systems.
The inclusion of Adobe's DRM in Firefox means that Mozilla will be putting millions of its users in a position where they are running code whose bugs are illegal to report. So it's very important that this code be as isolated as possible.
By open-sourcing the sandbox that limits the Adobe software's access to the system, Mozilla is making it auditable and verifiable. This is a much better deal than users will get out of any of the rival browsers, like Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer, and it is a meaningful and substantial difference.
Unhappy turnIt's clear that Mozilla isn't happy about this turn of events, and in our conversations, people there characterised it as something they'd been driven to by the entertainment companies and the complicity of the commercial browser vendors, who have enthusiastically sold out their users' integrity and security.
Mitchell Baker, the executive chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation, told me that ''this is not a happy day for the web'' and ''it's not in line with the values that we're trying to build. This does not match our value set.''
But both she and Gal were adamant that they felt that they had no choice but to add DRM if they were going to continue Mozilla's overall mission of keeping the web free and open.
I am sceptical about this claim. I don't doubt that it's sincerely made, but I found the case for it weak. When I pressed Gal for evidence that without Netflix Firefox users would switch away, he cited the huge volume of internet traffic generated by Netflix streams.
There's no question that Netflix video and other video streams account for an appreciable slice of the internet's overall traffic. But video streams are also the bulkiest files to transfer. That video streams use a lot of bytes isn't a surprise.
When a charitable nonprofit like Mozilla makes a shift as substantial as this one '' installing closed-source software designed to treat computer users as untrusted adversaries '' you'd expect there to be a data-driven research story behind it, meticulously documenting the proposition that without DRM irrelevance is inevitable. The large number of bytes being shifted by Netflix is a poor proxy for that detailed picture.
There are other ways in which Mozilla's DRM is better for user freedom than its commercial competitors'. While the commercial browsers' DRM assigns unique identifiers to users that can be used to spy on viewing habits across multiple video providers and sessions, the Mozilla DRM uses different identifiers for different services.
And unlike the commercial browsers' DRM, the Mozilla implementation does not intentionally leak any information about the user's system or its configuration to video services.
The Mozilla DRM is a very neat illustration of the difference between ''free'' and ''open'', a distinction that often seems abstract to the point of meaninglessness for most people.
Mozilla's open-source sandbox can be examined and compiled by users who have access to its source code. It is fully transparent and ''open'' to them.
But if users modify the sandbox in any way '' if they add new features or improvements to it '' the Adobe plug-in can detect the alteration and it will refuse to pass any more decoded video. The Mozilla sandbox comes with total openness, but without any of the freedoms that the free software movement cherishes.
How the Adobe module validates the sandbox is a mystery '' a proprietary technique whose workings are illegal to report, thanks to the same laws that ban reporting vulnerabilities in DRM.
I was surprised to learn that there was a GNU/Linux version of Adobe's module that will work with Firefox on systems running Ubuntu, Red Hat and related operating systems.
This seems unlikely to work very well: whatever techniques the module is using to assure itself that the sandbox is behaving as expected ultimately depend on it asking the operating system questions about the sandbox (''is the sandbox running as a process that can't access the hard drive?'').
A user who can modify her operating system can easily get it to lie to the Adobe software '' we do this all the time, such as when a cheap digital recorder pretends to be a mass storage device to your computer so that it can access its stored recordings.
The Mozilla Project has been one of the internet's most hopeful success stories, and the people who do Mozilla's good works have been personal heroes of mine for more than a decade.
The decision to produce systems that treat internet users as untrusted adversaries to be controlled by their computers was clearly taken out of a sense of desperation and inevitability.
It's clear that Mozilla plans to do everything it can to mitigate the harms from its DRM strategy and to attempt to reverse the trend that brought it to this pass.
Like many of Mozilla's longtime supporters, I hold it to a high standard. It is not a for-profit. It's a social enterprise with a mission to empower and free its users.
I understand that Apple, Microsoft and Google are for-profit entities that have demonstrated repeatedly that their profitability trumps their customers' rights, and I fault them for this. But it's not unreasonable to hold mission-driven nonprofits to a higher standard than their commercial counterparts.
Mozilla says it's doing everything it can to reduce the harm from what it sees as an inevitable decision. As a Mozilla supporter, contributor and user, I want it to do more. Here are some practical things that Mozilla can do to help:
1 Protect security researchersMozilla has demonstrated that it has some negotiating leverage with Adobe '' after all, it was able to fend off the demand for details of users' systems to be leaked to video companies.
It should demand that Adobe give it a covenant not to sue or threaten developers who report vulnerabilities in the Adobe decoder. Adobe does not need to give up the right to sue people who release cracks for their DRM or competing products in order to do this.
In an era in which vulnerabilities are leveraged to expose users to identity theft, sexual exploitation and government surveillance, no one should fear legal reprisal for warning people about flaws in the software they use.
Mozilla's competitors don't do offer this protection to developers. They should. Mozilla can shame them for not doing so, and be the leader we want it to be.
2 Educate usersMozilla has a brilliant, far-reaching technology literacy programme that teaches users how to be makers and programmers and how to be safe and private on the Web.
Mozilla should develop a curriculum about the way that DRM undermines security by making vulnerability reporting illegal and treating users as hostile adversaries.
And it should teach would-be makers that DRM only allows you to be a passive viewer and not a tinkerer, because if you change the ''open'' decoder, it stops working.
3 Research and publish the case for DRMWith both the W3C and Mozilla ready to add DRM in order to preserve their relevance in the face of Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Video, we need some actual data on how users view these service and to what precise extent the lack of in-built DRM support is enough to drive away users.
If Mozilla wants its supporters to accept that irrelevance was the inevitable alternative to DRM, it should have the data to back that up. We can use that data to inform anti-DRM strategies.
4 Formulate and articulate a DRM policyThere are lots of industries that want the W3C to standardise DRM for them, too.
The ebook people have asked for a W3C standard to lock up formatted text '' basically, webpages '' and I wouldn't be surprised to see paywall sites and others converging on this.
Gal told me he didn't think that users would accept DRM for text in the same way that they've accepted DRM for video, pointing out that most text is not DRMed.
However, nearly all the video on the web today is DRM-free '' YouTube users alone post 96 hours' worth of DRM-free video every minute.
It's only a small slice of ''premium'' video that is locked up with DRM, in the same way that only a small slice of text '' commercial books, paywalled newspapers '' would likely be DRMed if the ebook people get their W3C DRM.
The promulgation of DRM video on the web is the beginning, not the end. If Mozilla wants long-term support from its stakeholders, it can't make decisions about future DRM fights on an ad hoc basis.
We need a statement of principles that explains when DRM is the right answer '' it's certainly a debate I'd relish participating in.
Mozilla won't comment on whether its forthcoming Firefox OS for mobile devices will be born with DRM, and that's an ominous sign for those of us who were hoping for a free/open alternative to the existing mobile infrastructure, which is basically a global surveillance system that allows us to make the occasional phone call.
Like many of Mozilla's supporters '' and like many of the Mozillans I know and respect '' I am devastated by this turn of events. The free and open web needs an entity like Mozilla to stand on principle, especially when the commercial internet world so manifestly stands on nothing but profits.
I fully accept that Baker and Gal have taken this decision reluctantly and unhappily. I disagree with their rationale, but I understand it. And I accept that they have gone to enormous lengths to devise a DRM with as few harms as possible.
But there is more that Mozilla can do, and should do, even if they're wrong that DRM is the only way '' and especially if they're right.
F-Russia / Ukraine
Text of S. 2277: Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us
Sun, 18 May 2014 12:14
II
113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2277
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 1, 2014
(for himself, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and ) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
A BILL
To prevent further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes.
1.(a)This Act may be cited as the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 .
(b)Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Definitions.
TITLE I'--Reinvigorating the NATO alliance
Sec. 101. Strengthening United States assistance and force posture in Europe and Eurasia.
Sec. 102. United States efforts to strengthen the NATO alliance.
Sec. 103. Expanded support for Poland and the Baltic states.
Sec. 104. Accelerating implementation of European and NATO missile defense efforts.
Sec. 105. Strengthened United States-German cooperation on global and European security issues.
TITLE II'--Deterring further Russian aggression in Europe
Sec. 201. United States policy toward Russian aggression in Europe.
Sec. 202. Sanctions to address continuing aggression of the Russian Federation toward Ukraine.
Sec. 203. Additional sanctions in the event of increased aggression by the Russian Federation toward Ukraine or other countries.
Sec. 204. Limitation on Russian access to United States oil and gas technology.
Sec. 205. Diplomatic measures with respect to the Russian Federation.
Sec. 206. Support for Russian democracy and civil society organizations.
TITLE III'--Hardening Ukraine and other European and Eurasian states against Russian aggression
Sec. 301. Military assistance for Ukraine.
Sec. 302. Sense of Congress on intelligence sharing with Ukraine.
Sec. 303. Major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova.
Sec. 304. Expanded security force training, assistance and defense cooperation with key non-NATO states.
Sec. 305. Expediting natural gas exports.
Sec. 306. European and Eurasian energy independence.
Sec. 307. Crimea annexation nonrecognition.
Sec. 308. Support for democracy and civil society organizations in countries of the former Soviet Union.
Sec. 309. Expanded broadcasting in countries of the former Soviet Union.
2.In this Act:
(1)The term alien has the meaning given that term in section 101(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)).
(2)The term appropriate congressional committees means'--
(A)the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; and
(B)the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.
(3)The terms correspondent account and payable-through account have the meanings given those terms in section 5318A of title 31, United States Code.
(4)The term domestic financial institution means a financial institution that is a United States person.
(5)The term financial institution means a financial institution specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), (I), (J), (K), (M), (N), (R), or (Y) of section 5312(a)(2) of title 31, United States Code.
(6)The term NATO means the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
(7)The term Russian financial institution means'--
(A)a financial institution organized under the laws of the Russian Federation or any jurisdiction within the Russian Federation, including a foreign branch of such an institution;
(B)a financial institution substantially owned or controlled by one or more citizens of the Russian Federation; and
(C)a financial institution owned, in whole or in part, or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation.
(8)The term senior Russian official means'--
(A)the President of the Russian Federation;
(B)any immediate advisor of the President of the Russian Federation;
(C)any other senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation, including the Prime Minister, any deputy prime minister, and any federal minister; and
(D)any immediate advisor to such an official.
(9)The term senior executive means a member of the board, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, secretary, treasurer, general counsel, or chief information officer, or the functional equivalent thereof, of an entity.
(10)The term United States person means'--
(A)a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States; or
(B)an entity organized under the laws of the United States or of any jurisdiction within the United States, including a foreign branch of such an entity.
I101.(a)(1)Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, with concurrence by the Secretary of State, shall develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategic framework for United States security assistance and cooperation in Europe and Eurasia.
(2)The strategic framework required by paragraph (1) shall include'--
(A)an evaluation of the extent to which the threat to security and stability in Europe and Eurasia is a threat to the national security of the United States and the security interests of the NATO alliance;
(B)an identification of the primary objectives, priorities, and desired end-states of United States security assistance and cooperation programs in Europe and Eurasia and an assessment of the resources required to achieve such objectives, priorities, and end-states;
(C)a methodology for assessing the effectiveness of United States security assistance and cooperation programs in such regions in making progress towards such objectives, priorities, and end-states, including an identification of key measures for such progress; and
(D)criteria for bilateral and multilateral partnerships in such regions.
(b)The President, consistent with the President's responsibilities as Commander in Chief, including ensuring the readiness of the United States Armed Forces, shall immediately halt, for a 180-day period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, all current and planned redeployments of combat forces from Europe, other than redeployments of forces for which replacement forces are already in place or are planned to be in place, with the intent to maintain force numbers at current levels for the 180-day period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act.
(c)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President, consistent with the President's responsibilities as Commander in Chief, including ensuring the readiness of the United States Armed Forces, shall identify, and develop a plan to correct, any deficiencies in the ability of the Armed Forces to rapidly and fully respond, in coordination with other NATO allies, to foreseeable contingencies in Europe and Eurasia, including the ability to execute current United States European Command contingency plans.
(d)Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing the specific deficiencies identified, the plan for correcting such deficiencies, including a cost estimate, and the status of corrective actions being undertaken pursuant to the plan required by subsection (c).
102.(a)The President shall direct the United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (in this Act referred to as the United States Permanent Representative to NATO ), to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to'--
(1)reaffirm the United States commitment to the NATO Alliance, including its Article V commitment to all NATO member-states, regardless of size or duration of membership;
(2)strengthen NATO's capabilities to deter and, as needed, to rapidly and appropriately respond, including through the use of military force as necessary, to security crises, including any crisis in Europe and Eurasia created by efforts of any state to undermine the territorial, economic, or political sovereignty or integrity of any NATO member-state;
(3)call on all NATO member-states to make substantial progress towards meeting the Alliance's defense spending requirements and national capability targets and seek to ensure that such progress is in fact made; and
(4)encourage NATO member-states to work together to achieve energy independence for NATO member-states and other NATO partners in Europe and Eurasia.
(b)It is the sense of Congress that the NATO Alliance represents the single most successful collective security agreement of the modern era and that a strong and revitalized NATO is critical to maintaining peace and security in Europe and Eurasia and ensuring that the Russian Federation plays an appropriate role in the region.
103.(a)(1)Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a plan, including a cost estimate, for substantially increasing United States and NATO support for the armed forces of the Republics of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, and other NATO member-states as determined by the President, including substantially increasing'--
(A)the complement of forward-based NATO forces in those states, through appropriate bilateral agreements; and
(B)security assistance, including the provision of defense articles, services, and training by the United States and NATO in those states.
(2)Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall begin implementation of the plan required under paragraph (1).
(b)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing the specific efforts being undertaken and planned to be undertaken by the United States Government to implement the plan required by subsection (a).
(c)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State$50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2017to carry out the activities described under subsection (a) .
(d)Funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to subsection (c) for the provision of defense articles, services, and training may be used to procure such assistance from the United States Government or other appropriate sources.
(e)The President shall direct the United States Permanent Representative to NATO to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to seek consideration by NATO of the wisdom and efficacy of permanently basing NATO forces on a rotational basis in the Republics of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and other NATO member-states as determined by the President.
104.(a)(1)Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a plan, including a cost estimate, for'--
(A)accelerating the implementation of phase three of the European Phased Adaptive Approach for Europe-based missile defense, in order to complete such implementation of phase three by no later than the end of calendar year 2016, or providing alternative capabilities to protect key NATO allies in Europe and Eurasia, including, as appropriate, provision of PATRIOT, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or other missile defense systems; and
(B)accelerating NATO's development of an alliance missile defense capability and its expansion of current missile defense command, control, and communications capabilities to protect NATO European and Eurasian populations, territory, and forces against increasing missile threats.
(2)Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall begin implementation of the plan under paragraph (1).
(b)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing the specific efforts being undertaken and planned to be undertaken by the United States to implement the plan required by subsection (a).
105.(a)It is the policy of the United States Government to work closely with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on issues related to global and European security, particularly in light of ongoing events in Europe and Eurasia.
(b)The President shall establish a United States-German Global and European Security Working Group to focus on areas of mutual concern, including addressing the ongoing situation in Ukraine and to increase the political, economic, and military cooperation between the two states, including additional intelligence sharing between the two states.
(c)The working group required to be established under subsection (b) shall meet not less than annually at the Secretary level or above, semi-annually at the Deputy Secretary level or above, and quarterly at the Assistant Secretary level or above.
(d)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State$5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2017to carry out the activities described under subsections (b) and (c).
(e)Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the meetings of the working group required to be established under subsection (b), including a description of the specific issues discussed and decisions made by the working group, and its efforts to improve, expand, and deepen the relationship between the United States Government and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
II201.It is the policy of the United States'--
(1)to use all appropriate elements of United States national power, in coordination with United States allies, to protect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial and economic integrity of Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia from Russian aggression;
(2)to actively work to deter further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia by imposing costs on the Russia Federation for its ongoing activities, as well as to make clear the consequences for further aggressive activities;
(3)to work with United States partners in the European Union, NATO, and at the United Nations to ensure that all states, including the Russian Federation, recognize and not undermine, nor seek to undermine, the independence, sovereignty, or territorial or economic integrity of Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia;
(4)to condemn the continuing and long-standing pattern and practice by the Government of the Russian Federation of physical and economic aggression toward various countries in Europe and Eurasia;
(5)to condemn the unjustified military intervention of the Russian Federation in the Crimea region of Ukraine and its concurrent occupation of that region, as well as any other form of political, economic, or military aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, including the unnecessary and destabilizing presence of tens of thousands of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border;
(6)to condemn economic extortion by the Government of the Russian Federation against the governments and people of Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Georgia, and other countries in the region designed to obstruct closer ties between the European Union and the countries of the Eastern Partnership and to reduce the harmful consequences of such extortion;
(7)to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to, and to remind Russia of its ongoing obligations under, and commitment to, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which was executed jointly with the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom and explicitly secures the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and borders of Ukraine;
(8)to not recognize the unlawful referendum that took place in Crimea on March 16, 2014, or the Russian Federation's illegal annexation of Crimea, including to not recognize any de jure or de facto sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea, its airspace, or its territorial waters, and to call for the immediate reversal of the Russian Federation's illegal annexation of Crimea;
(9)to condemn the unjustified activities of agents of the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine seeking to foment civil unrest and disturbance;
(10)to support the people of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia in their desire to forge closer ties with Europe, including signing an Association Agreement with the European Union as a means to address endemic corruption, consolidate democracy, and achieve sustained prosperity;
(11)to enhance and extend United States security cooperation with, security assistance to, and military exercises conducted with, states in Europe and Eurasia, including NATO member countries, NATO aspirants, and appropriate Eastern Partnership countries;
(12)to reaffirm United States defense commitments to its treaty allies under Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty;
(13)that the continued participation of the Russian Federation in the Group of Eight (G''8) states and its receipt of assistance from the World Bank Group should be conditioned on the Government of the Russian Federation respecting the territorial integrity of its neighbors and accepting and adhering to the norms and standards of free, democratic societies;
(14)to support the people of Ukraine and Moldova in their efforts to conduct free and fair elections, including the Presidential elections in Ukraine in May 2014 and the parliamentary elections in Moldova in November 2014, as well as any subsequent elections;
(15)to support the May 2012 NATO Chicago Summit Declaration's statement that [i]n accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, NATO's door will remain open to all European democracies which share the values of our Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, which are in a position to further the principles of the Treaty, and whose inclusion can contribute to security in the North Atlantic area, particularly those cases where the aspirant is able to meet appropriate defense spending commitments and prepared to contribute to ongoing and future contingency operations; and
(16)to explore ways for the United States Government to assist the countries of Europe and Eurasia to diversify their energy sources and achieve energy security, including through the development of a transatlantic energy strategy.
202.(a)(1)If the armed forces of the Russian Federation have not withdrawn from Crimea (other than military forces present on military bases subject to agreements in force between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Ukraine) by not later than the date that is 7 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall impose the sanctions described in subsection (b) with respect to'--
(A)any official or agent of the Government of the Russian Federation, and any close associate or family member of an official of the Government of the Russian Federation, that the President determines is responsible for, participating in, complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing'--
(i)violations of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine beginning in February 2014; or
(ii)acts of significant corruption in the Russian Federation, including the expropriation of private or public assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or the facilitation or transfer of the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions;
(B)any individual that the President determines sponsored or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the commission of acts described in subparagraph (A);
(C)any individual or entity with respect to which sanctions were imposed before the date of the enactment of this Act pursuant to'--
(i)authority provided under any Executive order relating to violations of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine beginning in February 2014; or
(ii)authority provided under section 8 or 9 of the Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014 ( Public Law 113''95 );
(D)any entity owned or controlled by an entity described in subparagraph (C) that is owned or controlled by a citizen of the Russian Federation; and
(E)any senior executive of an entity described in subparagraph (C) or (D) who is a citizen of the Russian Federation.
(2)If the Government of the Russian Federation has not withdrawn substantially all of the armed forces of the Russian Federation from the immediate vicinity of the eastern border of Ukraine by not later than the date that is 7 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, or agents of the Russian Federation do not cease taking active measures to destabilize the control of the Government of Ukraine over eastern Ukraine on or after that date (including through active support of efforts to unlawfully occupy facilities of the Government of Ukraine), the President shall impose the sanctions described in subsection (b) with respect to'--
(A)Sberbank;
(B)VTB Bank;
(C)Vnesheconombank;
(D)Gazprombank;
(E)Gazprom;
(F)Novatek;
(G)Rosneft;
(H)Rosoboronexport;
(I)any entity owned or controlled by an entity specified in any of subparagraphs (A) through (H) that is owned or controlled by a citizen of the Russian Federation; and
(J)any senior executive of an entity specified in any of subparagraphs (A) through (I) who is a citizen of the Russian Federation.
(b)(1)The sanctions described in this subsection are the following:
(A)The exercise of all powers granted to the President by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. ) to the extent necessary to block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property of a person determined by the President to be subject to subsection (a) if such property and interests in property are in the United States, come within the United States, or come within the possession or control of a United States person.
(B)In the case of an alien determined by the President to be subject to subsection (a), denial of a visa to, and exclusion from the United States of, the alien, and revocation in accordance with section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1201(i) ), of any visa or other documentation of the alien.
(2)A person that violates, attempts to violate, conspires to violate, or causes a violation of paragraph (1)(A) or any regulation, license, or order issued to carry out paragraph (1)(A) shall be subject to the penalties set forth in subsections (b) and (c) of section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1705 ) to the same extent as a person that commits an unlawful act described in subsection (a) of that section.
(3)(A)The requirement to block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property under paragraph (1)(A) shall not include the authority to impose sanctions on the importation of goods.
(B)In this paragraph, the term good has the meaning given that term in section 16 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2415) (as continued in effect pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. )).
(4)Sanctions under paragraph (1)(B) shall not apply to an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, between the United Nations and the United States, or other applicable international obligations.
(c)The President may waive the application of sanctions under this section with respect to a person or a transaction if the President'--
(1)determines that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States; and
(2)on or before the date on which the waiver takes effect, submits a notice of and a justification for the waiver to'--
(A)the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate; and
(B)the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives.
(d)Not later than 7 days after the imposition of sanctions pursuant to subsection (a), the President shall publish a list of the persons with respect to which sanctions were imposed pursuant to that subsection.
(e)The President shall issue such regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this section.
203.(a)If the armed forces of the Russian Federation expand further into, or the Government of the Russian Federation annexes, the sovereign territory of Ukraine or any other country in Europe or Eurasia after the date of the enactment of this Act without the consent of the legally recognized government of that country'--
(1)all of the sanctions described in subsection (b) shall be imposed the following business day by action of law with respect to'--
(A)any senior Russian official;
(B)any entity owned or controlled by a senior Russian official; and
(C)any close associate of a senior Russian official that provides significant support or resources to that senior Russian official;
(2)the sanctions described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of subsection (b)(1) shall be imposed the following business day by action of law on'--
(A)any entity'--
(i)organized under the laws of the Russian Federation or any jurisdiction within the Russian Federation;
(ii)that is owned, in whole or in part, or controlled by'--
(I)the Government of the Russian Federation;
(II)any person with respect to which sanctions are imposed under section 202;
(III)any person with respect to which sanctions are imposed under paragraph (1); or
(IV)any person with respect to which sanctions are imposed pursuant to an Executive order or any other provision of law in relation to violations of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine beginning in February 2014; and
(iii)that operates in the arms, defense, energy, financial services, metals, or mining sectors of the Russian Federation; and
(B)any senior executive of an entity described in subparagraph (A) who is a citizen of the Russian Federation; and
(3)the President shall exercise all powers granted to the President pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. ) to the extent necessary to prohibit any transaction by a domestic financial institution with a Russian financial institution or with respect to an account held by a Russian financial institution, other than routine interest and service fees.
(b)(1)The sanctions described in this subsection are the following:
(A)The exercise of all powers granted to the President by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. ) to the extent necessary to block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property of a person determined by the President to be subject to subsection (a) if such property and interests in property are in the United States, come within the United States, or come within the possession or control of a United States person.
(B)In the case of an alien determined by the President to be subject to subsection (a), denial of a visa to, and exclusion from the United States of, the alien, and revocation in accordance with section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1201(i) ), of any visa or other documentation of the alien.
(C)A prohibition on the opening, and a prohibition or the imposition of strict conditions on the maintaining, in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that the President determines has knowingly conducted, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, transactions with a person determined by the President to be subject to subsection (a).
(2)A person that violates, attempts to violate, conspires to violate, or causes a violation of subparagraph (A) or (C) of paragraph (1) or any regulation, license, or order issued to carry out either such subparagraph shall be subject to the penalties set forth in subsections (b) and (c) of section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1705 ) to the same extent as a person that commits an unlawful act described in subsection (a) of that section.
(3)(A)The requirement to block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property under paragraph (1)(A) shall not include the authority to impose sanctions on the importation of goods.
(B)In this paragraph, the term good has the meaning given that term in section 16 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2415) (as continued in effect pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. )).
(4)Sanctions under paragraph (1)(B) shall not apply to an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, between the United Nations and the United States, or other applicable international obligations.
(c)The President may waive the application of sanctions under subsection (b) with respect to a person or transaction if the President'--
(1)determines that such a waiver is in the vital national security interests of the United States; and
(2)on or before the date on which the waiver takes effect, submits a notice of and a justification for the waiver to'--
(A)the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate; and
(B)the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives.
(d)Not later than 7 days after the imposition of sanctions pursuant to subsection (a), the President shall publish a list of the persons with respect to which sanctions were imposed pursuant to that subsection.
(e)The President shall issue such regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this section.
204.(a)If the Government of the Russian Federation has not withdrawn substantially all of the armed forces of the Russian Federation from the immediate vicinity of the eastern border of Ukraine by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, or agents of the Russian Federation do not cease taking active measures to destabilize the control of the Government of Ukraine over eastern Ukraine on or after that date (including through active support of efforts to unlawfully occupy facilities of the Government of Ukraine), the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall revise the Export Administration Regulations under subchapter C of chapter VII of title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, to strictly limit the transfer or export by any United States person of any advanced technology described in subsection (b) to any person in the Russian Federation or any citizen of the Russian Federation.
(b)Advanced technology described in this subsection is advanced technology that'--
(1)is developed or controlled by a United States person and is not available from a person that is not a United States person; and
(2)relates to the discovery, exploration, or extraction of onshore or offshore oil or natural gas deposits, including the discovery, exploration, or extraction of oil or natural gas deposits in shale.
(c)The President may authorize a transaction for the transfer or export by a United States person of an advanced technology described in subsection (b) if the President determines that such authorization is in the national security interests of the United States.
(d)The prohibition under subsection (a) shall remain in effect until such time as the President'--
(1)determines that such regulations are no longer warranted or appropriate; and
(2)submits a notification of and justification for that determination to'--
(A)the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Appropriations, and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate; and
(B)the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Appropriations, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives.
(e)The President shall issue such regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this section.
205.(a)The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Commerce, shall work with United States allies in Europe and around the world to strictly limit'--
(1)the sales of defense articles and services to the Government of the Russian Federation; and
(2)the cooperation of the United States and its allies with the Government of the Russian Federation on matters related to the production of defense articles and services by Russian entities.
(b)The diplomatic measures required to be instituted pursuant to subsection (a) shall remain in effect until such time as the President determines in writing to the appropriate congressional committees that such diplomatic measures are no longer warranted or appropriate, including a justification for such determination.
(c)(1)It is the policy of the United States to not engage in further negotiations with the Russian Federation to reduce nuclear forces until the Russian Federation is in full compliance with all existing bilateral nuclear agreements with the United States, including the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, signed at Washington December 8, 1987, and entered into force June 1, 1988.
(2)Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President shall not enter into any agreement with the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to the reduction of nuclear forces except with the advice and consent of the Senate pursuant to article II, section 2, clause 2 of the United States Constitution.
(d)The President shall not take any steps to reduce the number of accountable deployed or non-deployed launchers under the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, signed at Prague April 8, 2010, and entered into force February 5, 2011 (commonly referred to as the New START Treaty), while the armed forces of the Russian Federation remain prepositioned to strike Ukraine or are threatening the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Ukraine or another European or Eurasian state.
(e)(1)The President shall not permit any sharing of sensitive United States missile defense information with the Government of the Russian Federation.
(2)No amounts may be obligated or expended to integrate into any United States or NATO common-funded missile defense system, including the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment, any standalone radar or missile defense system manufactured, sold, or exported by a Russian entity or by any person or entity currently sanctioned or designated under United States law for missile technology proliferation.
(f)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing any and all violations of international or bilateral arms control or other agreements by the Russian Federation since the entry into force of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, including any suspected or confirmed violations of that treaty and the implications of the Russian suspension of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, as well as any steps taken by the President to hold the Russian Federation accountable for any such violations.
(g)The President shall not authorize any overflights of the territory of the United States or United States Government facilities or installations by aircraft of the Russian Federation pursuant to the Treaty on Open Skies, signed at Helsinki March 24, 1992, and entered into force January 1, 2002, that employ any surveillance devices beyond those employed on such aircraft prior to January 1, 2014.
(h)Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on alternatives to the use of RD''180 rocket engines produced in the Russian Federation for national security launches and a recommendation on whether any domestic alternatives to the use of such engines should be pursued in the next two fiscal years.
(i)The Secretary of State shall prioritize and undertake efforts to identify and provide access to appropriate consular resources, including prioritized access to applications for refugee and other appropriate immigration or travel status to the United States, for journalists and political and civil society activists and dissidents in the Russian Federation.
(j)(1)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on significant corruption in the Russian Federation and the extent to which such corruption undermines political and economic development in the independent countries of the former Soviet Union.
(2)The report required by paragraph (1) may contain a classified annex, but shall include in unclassified form the following elements:
(A)A detailed description of corruption among senior officials of the Government of the Russian Federation and the connections between such corruption and business leaders in the Russian Federation.
(B)A detailed description of how the Government of the Russian Federation uses corruption to sustain the power of specific individuals in government and business.
(C)An estimate in United States dollars of the personal net wealth of any senior Russian official, or a family member or close associate of such official, who is responsible for, or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, acts of significant corruption in Russia, including the expropriation of private or state assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or the facilitation or transfer of the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions.
(D)An estimate in United States dollars of the amount of money derived from acts of significant corruption in the Russian Federation that has been invested, laundered, or otherwise transferred into the sovereign jurisdiction of each of the independent countries of the former Soviet Union.
(E)Detailed descriptions of specific instances of significant corruption in the Russian Federation.
(F)A detailed description of how the Government of the Russian Federation uses corruption in other states in order to create and maintain a dependence on the Russian Federation and on specific Russian government officials, entities, and business leaders.
(G)A detailed description of the extent to which the flow of money described in subparagraph (D) contributes to public or private corruption, non-transparent or unaccountable government or private sector decisionmaking, or the weakening, subversion, or undermining of sovereignty, democratic institutions, rule of law, or economic or financial systems in each of the independent countries of the former Soviet Union.
(H)A detailed description of the political and financial networks and other mechanisms through which the money described in subparagraph (D) contributes to the malign effects in the independent countries of the former Soviet Union as described in subparagraph (G).
(3)The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall convene an interagency working group, including representatives of the United States intelligence community, to coordinate the production of the report required by this subsection, prioritize the collection and analysis of intelligence and financial information required for such report, and support efforts to address the effects of corruption in the Russian Federation on Russian citizens, the United States, and United States allies and partners in Europe and Eurasia, including increasing public awareness of such issues in the Russian Federation and other countries.
(4)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor$2,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2017to support the efforts of the interagency working group described in paragraph (3), including the hiring of staff as appropriate, and to produce the report required by paragraph (1) .
(k)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees and make publically available a report on the state of economic activity and government-owned enterprises in the Russian Federation. The report shall analyze relevant economic indicators, including gross domestic product (GDP) and the amount of GDP derived from government spending, money supply, inflation, unemployment, capital flows, and foreign direct investment.
206.(a)The Secretary of State shall increase efforts, directly or through nongovernmental organizations, to'--
(1)improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts in the Russian Federation;
(2)strengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in the Russian Federation;
(3)expand uncensored Internet access in Russia; and
(4)expand free and unfettered access to independent media of all kinds in Russia, including through increasing United States Government-supported broadcasting activities, and to assist with the protection of journalists and civil society activists who have been targeted for free speech activities.
(b)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State$10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2017to carry out the activities set forth in subsection (a) .
(c)Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy to carry out the activities set forth in subsection (a).
(d)(1)Funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to subsection (b) may not be obligated until 15 days after the date on which the President has provided notice of intent to obligate such funds to the appropriate congressional committees.
(2)The President may waive the notification requirement under paragraph (1) if the President determines that failure to do so would pose a substantial risk to human health or welfare, in which case notification shall be provided as early as practicable, but in no event later than three days after taking the action to which such notification requirement was applicable in the context of the circumstances necessitating such waiver.
III301.(a)Notwithstanding any other provision of law limiting the assistance to be provided under this section, beginning on the date following the date of completion of the assessment required by subsection (b), the President is authorized to provide to the Government of Ukraine upon that Government's request, as appropriate and in a manner consistent with the capabilities and needs of the armed forces of Ukraine identified in such assessment, the following defense articles, services, and training:
(1)Anti-tank weapons and ammunition.
(2)Anti-aircraft weapons and ammunition.
(3)Crew weapons and ammunition.
(4)Small arms and ammunition, including pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns, and sniper rifles.
(5)Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
(6)High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.
(7)Inflatable boats.
(8)Body armor.
(9)Fire control, range finder, optical and guidance and control equipment.
(10)Explosive disposal and improvised explosive device detection equipment.
(11)Mine detection equipment.
(12)Chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear detection, testing, and protection equipment.
(13)Communications, logistic, combat support, medical equipment, rations, specialized equipment, and other defense articles, services, and training requested by the Government of Ukraine that the President determines to be appropriate.
(b)No later than 15 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall conduct an assessment, or complete any ongoing assessment, of the capabilities and needs of the armed forces of Ukraine and shall ensure that it includes'--
(1)an assessment of the releasability of the equipment set forth in subsection (a), equipment requested by the Government of Ukraine, or equipment that may foreseeably be requested based on the current state of the armed forces of Ukraine; and
(2)an assessment of the need for, appropriateness of, and force protection concerns of any United States military advisors to be made available to the armed forces of Ukraine.
(c)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State$100,000,000 for fiscal year 2014to carry out the activities set forth in subsection (a) .
(d)The funds made available pursuant to subsection (c) for the provision of defense articles, services, and training may be used to procure such assistance from the United States Government or other appropriate sources.
(e)Not later than 7 days following the completion of the assessment required by subsection (b), the President shall provide such assessment to the appropriate congressional committees.
302.It is the sense of Congress that the President, subject to the discretion of the President protect sources and methods of intelligence collection and to protect the capabilities of the intelligence community and the United States Armed Forces, should'--
(1)provide the Government of Ukraine with appropriate intelligence and other information to assist the Government of Ukraine'--
(A)to determine the location, strength, and capabilities of the military and intelligence forces of the Russian Federation located on the eastern border of Ukraine and within the territorial borders of Ukraine, including Crimea; and
(B)to respond effectively to further aggression by military and intelligence forces of the Russian Federation; and
(2)take steps to ensure that such intelligence information is fully and appropriately protected from further disclosure, including limiting, as appropriate, the provision and nature of such intelligence information.
303.(a)During the period in which Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova meet the criteria set forth in subsection (b), notwithstanding any other provision of law, for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services under the Arms Export Control Act ( 22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq. ), the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 ( 22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq. ), or any other provision of law, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia shall be treated as though each were designated a major non-NATO ally (as defined in section 644(q) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 ( 22 U.S.C. 2403(q) )).
(b)In order to be treated as a major non-NATO ally pursuant to subsection (a), a country must'--
(1)have a democratically elected government that came to power pursuant to free and fair elections;
(2)cooperate fully with the United States on matters of mutual security concern, including counterterrorism matters; and
(3)respect the political and legal rights of its citizens, including maintaining the right of its citizens to democratically elect their government.
(c)Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the President shall provide to the appropriate congressional committees a report assessing whether Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova should continue to be treated, for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services, as major non-NATO allies and whether the treatment should be expanded or reduced.
304.(a)The President shall take steps, consistent with the President's responsibility as Commander in Chief, to substantially increase, within one year after the date of the enactment of this Act'--
(1)the military-to-military interactions of the United States Armed Forces with the armed forces of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, including specifically increasing the current tempo of military exercises and training efforts and exchanges with such armed forces; and
(2)United States and NATO security assistance to such states.
(b)The President shall direct the United States Permanent Representative to NATO to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to encourage NATO to create a European Partners Security Fund with appropriate contributions from all member-states to support the provision of expanded NATO training, exercises, assistance to, and exchanges with, the armed forces of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
(c)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, shall seek to enter into negotiations with Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to establish new, or strengthen existing, bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation agreements, including agreements related to cyber defense cooperation.
(d)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a country-by-country report detailing the specific efforts being undertaken and planned to be undertaken by the United States Government to implement the increased military-to-military interactions and security assistance required by subsection (a) and to undertake the negotiations required by subsection (c).
305.(a)Section 3(c) of the Natural Gas Act ( 15 U.S.C. 717b ) is amended'--
(1)by striking (c) For purposes and inserting the following:
(2)in paragraph (2) (as so designated), by striking a nation with which there is in effect a free trade agreement requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas and inserting a World Trade Organization member nation.
(b)The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply to applications for authorization to export natural gas under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act ( 15 U.S.C. 717b ) that are pending on, or filed on or after, the date of enactment of this Act.
306.(a)The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development should prioritize'--
(1)loan, lease, and bond guarantees to appropriate financial institutions and other eligible borrowers through the Development Credit Authority to facilitate the involvement of such institutions and borrowers in financing efforts in Ukraine to help exploit existing natural gas reserves, to conduct additional exploration for oil and gas, to develop alternative sources of energy, including oil and gas, and to encourage energy efficiency, for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including the development of associated transportation, storage, and refinement facilities; and
(2)direct assistance to expand efforts in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to help exploit existing natural gas reserves, to conduct additional exploration for oil and gas, and to develop alternative sources of energy, including oil and gas, and to encourage energy efficiency, for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including the development of associated transportation, storage, and refinement facilities.
(b)The Director of the Trade and Development Agency should promote United States private sector efforts to help exploit existing natural gas reserves, to conduct additional exploration for oil and gas, and to develop alternative sources of energy, including oil and gas, for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including the development of associated transportation, storage, and refinement facilities, by conducting and funding project preparation activities for projects in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including feasibility studies, technical assistance, pilot projects, reverse trade missions, conferences, and workshops.
(c)The Overseas Private Investment Corporation'--
(1)should prioritize support for investments to help exploit existing natural gas reserves, to conduct additional exploration for oil and gas, to develop alternative sources of energy, including oil and gas, and to encourage energy efficiency, for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including the development of associated transportation, storage, and refinement facilities; and
(2)shall implement procedures for expedited review of and, where appropriate, approval of, applications by eligible investors (as defined in section 238 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 ( 22 U.S.C. 2198 )) for loans, loan guarantees, and insurance for such investments.
(d)The President shall direct the United States Executive Directors of the World Bank Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to encourage the World Bank Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to invest in, and increase their efforts to promote investment in, efforts to help exploit existing natural gas reserves, to conduct additional exploration for oil and gas, to develop alternative sources of energy, including oil and gas, and to encourage energy efficiency, for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including the development of associated transportation, storage, and refinement facilities, and to stimulate private investment in such projects.
(e)In providing loan guarantees, assistance, and support as described in this section and in prioritizing the projects as described in this section, the President and the heads and other appropriate officials of the United States Agency for International Development, the Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation shall ensure that the effectiveness of such guarantees, assistance, support, and projects is measured through the use of clear, accountable, and metric-based targets aimed at achieving energy independence for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova.
(f)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Energy shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the costs, benefits, and economic viability of a gas pipeline extending from the border of Turkey into Eastern Europe and interconnected to the proposed Trans-Anatolian pipeline.
(g)Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Energy, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report'--
(1)identifying the nuclear fuel requirements of the power sector of Ukraine; and
(2)including a plan for'--
(A)supporting commercial production capabilities to provide alternative nuclear fuel supplies for Ukraine; and
(B)providing such support as the Secretary of the Energy deems appropriate for Ukraine to maintain the safe, secure, and sustainable operation of nuclear reactors in Ukraine.
307.(a)No Federal department or agency may take any action that recognizes sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea, its airspace, or its territorial waters or otherwise endorses the Russian Federation's illegal annexation of Crimea.
308.(a)(1)The Secretary of State shall increase efforts, directly or through nongovernmental organizations, to'--
(A)improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts in countries of the former Soviet Union;
(B)strengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in countries of the former Soviet Union;
(C)expand uncensored Internet access in countries of the former Soviet Union; and
(D)expand free and unfettered access to independent media of all kinds in countries of the former Soviet Union, including through increasing United States Government-supported broadcasting activities, and to assist with the protection of journalists and civil society activists who have been targeted for free speech activities.
(2)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State$25,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2017to carry out the activities set forth in paragraph (1) .
(b)The Secretary of State shall substantially increase'--
(1)educational and cultural exchanges with countries of the former Soviet Union; and
(2)public affairs grants and activities in countries of the former Soviet Union.
(c)Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy to carry out the activities set forth in subsections (a) and (b).
(d)(1)Funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to subsection (a) may not be obligated until 15 days after the date on which the President has provided notice of intent to obligate such funds to the appropriate congressional committees.
(2)The President may waive the notification requirement under paragraph (1) if the President determines that failure to do so would pose a substantial risk to human health or welfare, in which case notification shall be provided as early as practicable, but in no event later than three days after taking the action to which such notification requirement was applicable in the context of the circumstances necessitating such waiver.
309.(a)Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Director of Voice of America shall provide Congress with a plan, including a cost estimate, for immediately and substantially increasing and maintaining through fiscal year 2017 the quantity of United States-funded Russian-language broadcasting into countries of the former Soviet Union.
(b)The plan required by subsection (a) shall prioritize broadcasting into Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova and shall ensure that the increased broadcasting content required by subsection (a) is focused on conveying the perspective of the United States Government and public regarding ongoing events in those states to Russian language audiences.
(c)The plan required by subsection (a) should also consider'--
(1)near-term increases in Russian-language broadcasting in other priority countries including Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia;
(2)increases in broadcasting in other critical languages, including Ukrainian and Romanian languages; and
(3)prioritizing work by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America with European and Eurasian allies to increase their broadcasting and communications content directed into countries of the former Soviet Union.
(d)There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State$7,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2017to carry out the activities required by subsections (a) through (c) .
US Vice President Biden's son, Kerry fundraiser take positions with Ukrainian gas firm
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:24
By Patrick Martin15 May 2014The younger son of Vice President Joseph Biden has taken the position of member of the board of directors and legal adviser to Burisma Holdings Ltd., the largest private natural gas production company in Ukraine. Hunter Biden joins another American who recently became a director of the firm, Devon Archer, a top fundraiser for Secretary of State John Kerry during Kerry's 2004 presidential bid and the college roommate of Kerry's stepson.
Burisma Holdings Ltd. is controlled by Nikolai Zlochevsky, a former top official in the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted February 22 in a US-backed right-wing coup, spearheaded by fascist thugs of the Right Sector and the Svoboda (Freedom) party.
Zlochevsky was a member of parliament for Yanukovych's Party of Regions. He was minister of environmental protection and then minister of ecology and natural resources under Yanukovych, both positions of value to the oil and gas industry. In April 2012, he was named deputy secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, a position he held until Yanukovych fled Kiev and the current regime seized power.
It is unclear, as of this writing, whether Zlochevsky is one of the many Yanukovych cronies who switched sides when it became clear that the corrupt president was incapable of resisting the right-wing coup, or whether, in his key national security position, he was already functioning as an instrument of US imperialism. Burisma took on its first American executive, Board Chairman Alan Apter, an investment banker, last year, while Yanukovych was still in power.
In either case, the move by Zlochevsky to enlist two Americans with the highest level connections in Washington seems clearly intended to insure that the company's interests do not suffer under the new regime.
White House spokesman Jay Carney made a pro forma denial that Hunter Biden's role in the Ukrainian firm constituted a conflict of interests for the vice president or the Obama administration. ''Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens, and where they work does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president,'' he said Tuesday during a press briefing. An aide to the vice president said he ''does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company.''
Hunter Biden issued a brief statement, declaring, ''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.''
Burisma's financial and business operations are anything but transparent, however. The company was chartered in 2006 in Cyprus'--a location frequently used by Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs seeking to avoid taxes, regulations and any kind of public scrutiny. The company is privately held and does not issue financial statements.
Press reports say the firm controls natural gas production facilities in northeast Ukraine, near Poltava, and is engaged in exploration in several other areas in the country, both east and west. Its output of 450 million cubic feet amounts to about one percent of Ukraine's total gas consumption in 2011, which came to 44 billion cubic feet.
The bulk of Ukrainian gas consumption is supplied by Russia, which recently raised the price from the subsidized level offered to the Yanukovych regime to the European-wide price of $385 per 1,000 cubic feet. At that price, Burisma's total annual output would be valued at $173 million.
It is difficult to discern what legal advice Biden, a member of the bar for Connecticut and the District of Columbia, could provide for a company established in Cyprus and operating in Ukraine. The Burisma statement said that Biden would provide support for the company ''among international organizations.''
The vice president's son has made his career in financial manipulation, serving as CEO and chairman of the hedge fund Paradigm Global Advisors, co-founded with his uncle James Biden and the financier Allen Stanford, who is now serving a jail sentence of 110 years for a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He went on to work as a senior vice president at MBNA Corporation, a major US bank, and worked on e-commerce policy at the Department of Commerce in the Clinton administration. President George W. Bush appointed him to the board of directors of Amtrak, the national passenger rail corporation.
Biden's new colleague on the Burisma board of directors, investment banker Devon Archer, was a top Kerry fundraiser in 2004 and the college roommate of Kerry's stepson, Christopher Heinz, one of the heirs to the H. J. Heinz ketchup billions. He has held senior positions at Citibank, New England Financial and MetLife. Biden and Archer both now work at Rosemont Seneca Partners, a US investment house, which is affiliated to the private equity firm Rosemont Capital, cofounded by Archer and Heinz.
There is ample reason to suspect that the Burisma connection has as much to do with US covert operations in Ukraine as with the immediate payoff for Biden and Archer, however lucrative that may turn out to be.
Hunter Biden, in addition to being an investment banker, is active in think tanks that develop the strategy being pursued by US imperialism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He is on the board of directors of the Center for National Policy, a national security think tank aligned with the Democratic Party, including such prominent figures as Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, and Leon Panetta, CIA director and secretary of defense in the Obama administration.
According to a press release from Burisma, Biden is also on the chairman's advisory board of the National Democratic Institute, an arm of the National Endowment for Democracy, a federal agency. The NED plays an active role in political subversion against governments targeted by Washington for overthrow, and the NDI is sending a high-level delegation to Ukraine to monitor the upcoming presidential elections, headed by Madeleine Albright.
Even more sinister are the connections of Devon Archer, who was appointed to the Burisma board the day after Vice President Biden visited Kiev for talks with the fascist-backed regime. Archer is a director of Diamondback Tactical, a company that supplies sophisticated weapons systems to police agencies around the world.
The chairman of Diamondback Tactical is Stephen R. Kappes, who, according to his company biography, ''retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as the Deputy Director in May 2010 after 30 years of service. From 2006 to 2010 he was directly involved in the leadership and management of all elements of the Agency under two different Directors and two Presidential administrations.''
The CEO of Diamondback Tactical, Andrew Bair, spent 25 years in national security positions with the US government and private contractors, including special advisor for counter-terrorism in the Office of the Secretary of State and senior advisor to the US special envoy to the Balkans. He spent three years as a senior political advisor with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia.
The company is named after the rattlesnake and its logo features a sniper rifle scope, while its corporate tagline promises ''Serious Gear for the Serious Operator,'' mainly body armor tailored for a range of police, military and paramilitary operatives.
The mission statement declares: ''The events of today demand high-performance, high-quality gear for every mission. At Diamondback Tactical, we pride ourselves in the design and manufacture of high-quality tactical armor gear for today's operators. From state and local law enforcement, to international and special operations, Diamondback Tactical engineers work in conjunction with active operators to ensure the performance and functionality of every piece of gear.''
Given the reports that hundreds of American mercenaries, in the pay of one or another successor company to the notorious Blackwater firm, are now active in the service of the Ukrainian government, it requires little imagination to guess what the director of a firm that makes body armor for such mercenaries is doing in Ukraine.
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United Nations News Centre - UN report documents 'alarming' deterioration of human rights in eastern Ukraine.
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:16
16 May 2014 '' A United Nations report released today documents an ''alarming'' deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine, including serious problems emerging in Crimea, citing numerous examples of targeted killings, torture and beatings, abductions, intimidation and some cases of sexual harassment, committed mostly by anti-Government groups.
Following the release of the report produced by her 34-member monitoring team in Ukraine, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on ''those with influence on the armed groups responsible for much of the violence in eastern Ukraine to do their utmost to rein in these men who seem bent on tearing the country apart.''
The 36-page report is the second to be produced by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, based in five Ukrainian cities, and covers the period from 2 April to 6 May.
While noting that many peaceful rallies and demonstrations continue to take place in Ukraine, the report describes ''an increasing tendency in some critical urban areas for rallies of opposing groups to be held simultaneously, often leading to violent confrontations.''
It also notes ''repeated acts of violence against peaceful participants of rallies,'' mainly those in support of Ukraine's unity. ''In most cases, local police did nothing to prevent violence, while in some cases it openly cooperated with the attackers,'' said a news release on the report.
It lists numerous specific examples of targeted killings, torture and beatings, abductions, intimidation and some cases of sexual harassment '' mostly carried out by well-organized and well-armed anti-Government groups in the east.
The report also draws attention to missing persons, including 83 still unaccounted for after disappearing during the events related to the original ''Maidan'' protests in the capital, Kyiv. In the east, there has been a worrying rise in abductions and unlawful detention of journalists, activists, local politicians, representatives of international organizations and members of the military, the report says.
While some have subsequently been released, the bodies of a number of others have been dumped in rivers or other areas, and some remain unaccounted for. The problem has been especially marked in and around the town of Slovyansk, in the Donetsk region, with a group called the 'Slovyansk self-defence unit' heavily implicated.
The report also notes cases when the State Security Service and army units operating in the east have been accused of killing individuals and of being responsible for forced disappearances.
''Security and law enforcement operations must be in line with international standards and guarantee the protection of all individuals at all times,'' the report says, adding that ''law enforcement bodies must ensure that all detainees are registered and afforded legal review of the grounds of their detention.''
The report draws particular attention to the deteriorating climate facing the media in eastern Ukraine, noting that journalists, bloggers and other media personnel either based in the region, or visiting, are facing ''increasing threats and acts of intimidation, including abduction and unlawful detention by armed groups.''
There are numerous examples of harassment, intimidation and blocked broadcasting in eastern Ukraine and especially in Crimea, where a number of radio and TV stations have had to cease broadcasting altogether.
The report notes numerous difficulties arising from the fact that ''the legislation of the Russian Federation is being enforced on the territory of Crimea,'' which is creating difficulties for Crimean residents given the many differences with Ukrainian laws.
One example concerns the halting on 6 May of the opioid substitution therapy programme that had been available to HIV/AIDS patients in Crimea as well as in the rest of Ukraine. ''The majority of former OST patients now face deterioration in their health condition due to the fact that this treatment has been curtailed,'' the report states.
The report highlights a number of other emerging problems in Crimea, especially in relation to the Crimean Tatars and minorities, including alarming developments surrounding the issue of citizenship; the freedom of movement of their leaders; cases of physical harassment; restrictions on Crimean Tatar media; and fears of religious persecution of those who are practising Muslims. Already, more than 7,200 people from Crimea '' mostly Tartars '' have become internally displaced in other areas of Ukraine.
The High Commissioner urged all Ukrainian political leaders to avoid any actions that would further inflame the situation, noting that the country's population should be allowed to vote on their future in a peaceful and secure environment during the elections scheduled for 25 May.
''Free, fair and transparent presidential elections '' in line with relevant international standards '' are an important factor if tensions are to be reduced and law and order restored, which of course is essential for the peaceful development of the country and all its inhabitants.
''Instead, the continuing rhetoric of hatred and propaganda, coupled with killings and other acts of violence, is fuelling the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine,'' she stated.
Czech News Agency: It's all about South Stream, former PM says
Sun, 18 May 2014 09:00
May 14th, 201412:08pmPosted In: Press NotesThe aim of the current Russian-Ukrainian crisis is to push through the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline that would bring Russian gas to Europe outside Ukraine, former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolnek said at a meeting held by the Public Discussion Institute today.
It is similar to 2009, when the main aim was to push through the Nord Stream gas pipeline, he added. The energy crisis in 2009, when gas supplies via Ukraine to Europe were interrupted, had similar features as this year's crisis, Topolnek said.
"While in 2009 one of the crisis's main goals was to weaken the resistance of Sweden, Baltic countries and Poland to the construction of Nord Stream, which was then completed immediately, the main aim of this Russia-Ukraine crisis can be expected to be the enforcement of the South Stream construction," said Topolnek (prime minister in 2006''09), who headed the Czech government during the gas crisis at the time.MORE
Ron Paul and Charles Goyette - Ukraine: The Fuse Has Been Lit -
Sun, 18 May 2014 12:12
Ukraine: The Fuse Has Been LitThe Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2114
By Ron Paul and Charles Goyette
Another separatist victory at the ballot box in East Ukraine. At the same time warlike members of the Senate are calling for U.S. military exercises in 10 countries around Russia. And they have even introduced legislation calling for the U.S. to spend $10 billion meddling in the internal politics of Russia. On The Weekly Podcast, Ron Paul and Charles Goyette discuss the latest explosive developments in Ukraine, Washington's war trajectory, and about calls for the U.S. to prop up Ukraine's failing currency.
Press Play To Listen
Posted May 17, 2014 - http://www.moneyandmarkets.com
Russia to Ukraine: We'll Talk Gas Discount If You Pay Off Debt | News From Antiwar.com
Sat, 17 May 2014 03:40
Ukraine's interim government may have lost the long-standing natural gas discount they were getting from Russia in the past, but negotiations for a new one are possible, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
According to Novak, the Russian government is willing to discuss a new price discount provided Ukraine actually starts making good on its payments for gas delivered under the old discount program, through April 1.
That's $2.237 billion in back payments, just to get them current through the first of April, and reflects how long it's actually been since Ukraine was paying for its gas, no matter what price was being charged on paper.
Russian officials announced yesterday that Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas company, will insist on up-front payment before any future deliveries to Ukraine. Though this makes sense on the surface, the situation is more complicated than that.
That's because a lot of Russia's paying customers are in central Europe, and that gas goes through the pipeline into Ukraine. Cutting off gas to Ukraine risks them trying to syphon off those supplies, or making shipments to Europe completely impossible. It's the desire to protect those markets that has Russia interested in cutting a deal with Ukraine, though with the interim government so far unwilling to pay its bills a deal may be hard to broker.
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Kerry arrives - 'Friends of Syria' group set for London talks.
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:23
15 May 2014Last updated at 19:13 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
William Hague read out an agreed statement in which the Friends of Syria vowed further help for Syria's opposition
Presidential elections in Syria will be a "parody of democracy", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
Mr Hague said Syria's government had an "utter disregard" for life, and President Bashar al-Assad decision to call an election for 3 June "disgusted" the international community.
The foreign secretary also announced the Syrian opposition would have its diplomatic status in the UK upgraded.
Syria's three-year conflict has left some 150,000 people dead.
The UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections.
'Illegitimate'Mr Hague hosted a meeting of the The Friends of Syria group - made up of Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US - in London.
Afterwards, he said: "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."
The group agreed a short communique criticising the decision to hold an election at a time when millions of people were displaced and the bloodshed was continuing.
Mr Hague called on the whole international community to "reject these illegitimate elections", saying: "We've also agreed unanimously to take further steps to... do everything we can to hold the Assad regime accountable for the terror it is perpetrating."
He promised the UK government would increase its humanitarian efforts, with £30m of extra funding.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said this money would be used for "a range of different things including helping the opposition and supporting regional sustainability".
In a separate media briefing, US Secretary of State John Kerry commented on France's claim that the Assad government has used chemical weapons at least 14 times since October.
He said he had seen "raw data that suggests that there may have been... a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war".
Mr Kerry added: "If it has, and it could be proven, then that would be against the agreements of the chemical weapons treaty and against the weapons convention that Syria has signed up to."
"Out of today's meeting, every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up - every facet. That includes political effort. It includes aid to the opposition. It includes economic efforts, sanctions," he said.
Friends of Syria was set up in 2012 in response to moves by Russia and China to block UN resolutions against the Assad government.
The meeting comes days after UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stepped down over lack of progress in ending the crisis.
Ukraine Slides Deeper Toward War as Russia Warns on Vote.
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:22
May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discusses the conflict in Ukraine with Bloomberg's Ryan Chilcote at the Foreign Ministry building in central Moscow.(Source: Bloomberg)
Russia's foreign minister said Ukraine is sliding into a civil war that could make it impossible to hold legitimate elections, as Ukrainian leaders and their international allies blamed Russia for the violence.
''When Ukrainians kill Ukrainians, I believe it's as close to civil war as you can get,'' Sergei Lavrov told Bloomberg Television yesterday in an interview in Moscow. ''In the east and south of Ukraine, there is a war, a real war, with heavy weaponry used, and if this is something that is conducive to free and fair elections, then I don't understand something about freedom.''
The Kiev government and its U.S. and European Union allies blame Russia for the unrest in Ukraine's easternmost regions. Pro-Russian separatists there were excluded from national unity talks that began yesterday in the capital to ease tensions as a May 25 presidential vote looms. U.S. and EU leaders say they'll tighten sanctions on Russia if the ballot is disrupted. Lavrov said it's ''ridiculous'' to hold Russia responsible.
More on the Crisis in Ukraine:
Rebels killed at least six paratroopers near the city of Kramatorsk on May 13, the deadliest attack on Ukrainian forces since the secession campaign began after Russia annexed Crimea in March.
Photographer: John Moore/Getty ImagesA billboard advertisement for Ukrainian presidential candidate Mikhail Dobkin is defaced by paint balls on May 14, 2014 in Kramatorsk. Close
A billboard advertisement for Ukrainian presidential candidate Mikhail Dobkin is... Read More
Close
OpenPhotographer: John Moore/Getty ImagesA billboard advertisement for Ukrainian presidential candidate Mikhail Dobkin is defaced by paint balls on May 14, 2014 in Kramatorsk.
Geneva Proposal''Quite a number'' of the rebel fighters have also been killed, Lavrov said, as the Kiev government sent troops into the eastern regions to reassert control. Separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk, where unofficial ballots on breaking away from Kiev were held last weekend, have agreed to join forces to confront the central government.
At the roundtable talks in Kiev, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said ending the crisis requires an international conference in Geneva, which Ukraine, Russia, the EU and U.S. should attend. He said the election of a president this month will help stabilize the situation.
A Snapshot of Ukraine's Past and Future
Some of Ukraine's richest people have weighed in with suggestions. At the unity talks, Vadym Novinsky, a lawmaker and owner of LLC Smart Holding, said all of Ukraine's parties and presidential candidates should commit to the country's neutrality, ''to calm down our eastern neighbor.''
Not 'Fascist'Billionaire Rinat Akhmetov said on his website that constitutional change to decentralize Ukraine is the ''only proper way'' out of the crisis, as alternatives such as secession for the eastern regions will lead to sanctions and economic damage.
Photographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./BloombergSergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister. Close
Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister.
Close
OpenPhotographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./BloombergSergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister.
Another billionaire, Petro Poroshenko, is the frontrunner for Ukraine's presidential vote. Lavrov said Poroshenko isn't a ''fascist,'' a term Russia applies for some forces in Ukraine's interim government. He said the emergence of a Ukrainian leader with broad support may help diplomacy because ''it's easier to have such an interlocutor than self-appointed people.''
Lavrov also said Russia has no intention of sending troops into eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week promised to move soldiers back from the border.
Even though Ukraine and the U.S. say he hasn't fulfilled the pledge, his more conciliatory tone has prompted a rally on Russian financial markets, which extended gains today.
The benchmark Micex Index of stocks rose for a seventh session, adding 0.6 percent, while the ruble gained 0.1 percent against the dollar. Ukraine's hryvnia, which has lost 31 percent in 2014, has weakened for three days.
Bond SaleUkraine's government sold $1 billion of U.S.-backed bonds yesterday to shore up its finances. It's also seeking international arbitration in a natural gas dispute with Russia, asking a Stockholm court to help ensure its neighbor doesn't cut off supplies as a payment deadline looms next month, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said yesterday.
Ukraine's economy may shrink 7 percent this year, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said yesterday. The impact of the conflict, including sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU, may push Russia into recession and cause growth across the region to ''grind to a halt,'' it said.
The U.S. and EU are backing Ukraine's election plan. Preparations for the vote are ''on track'' and Russia ''ought to support that process instead of taking steps to undermine it,'' White House spokesman Jay Carney said yesterday. He described Lavrov's warnings about the risk of civil war as ''a convenient position to take when you've actively exacerbated and stoked tensions and instability.''
To contact the reporters on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net; Daria Marchak in Kiev at dmarchak@bloomberg.net; Ryan Chilcote in London at rchilcote@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net Andrew Langley, Scott Rose
Amid diplomatic offensive against Syria, France presses for war
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:23
By Kumaran Ira15 May 2014During an official visit to Washington on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he regretted that Washington had not gone to war with Syria last autumn and again advanced unsubstantiated accusations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against the Syrian people.
In making these accusations, Fabius was directly pressing for war in Syria. He recalled US President Barack Obama's ''red line'' pledge to go to war if Assad used chemical weapons. Falsely claiming that the Syrian regime had used poison gas last August in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Fabius said he regretted that France could not go to war with Syria because Washington and London decided not to attack Syria in September.
''It was out of the question for France to act alone,'' Fabius said. ''We regret that, because we believe it would have changed many things, in many respects.''
Fabius' accusations of chemical weapons use were a deliberate, politically criminal falsification. He ignored the fact that, when the British Parliament voted against war in Syria last September, British Prime Minister David Cameron himself admitted that the Western powers did not have proof that the Assad regime had carried out the Ghouta attacks.
Fabius also ignored the devastating report by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, which established that it was the Turkish government, a US and French ally, that organised the Ghouta attack. Its purpose, as with Fabius's statements today, was to provide a pretext for launching war in Syria. (See: ''New expos(C) by Seymour Hersh: Turkey staged gas attack to provoke US war on Syria'')
Fabius's statements are a warning to the international working class. Not only does France's Socialist Party (PS) government want war in Syria'--which could escalate into a global war involving Syria's main regional allies, Iran and Russia'--but it is working closely with Washington and other NATO powers to launch it.
There are numerous signs of a renewed diplomatic push for war. Talks on Syria are starting today in London, headed by Kerry along with ministers from France, Germany, Britain, and several Arab countries, as well as Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba. Jarba just spent over a week in Washington in high-level meetings aimed to strengthen US support for the opposition in their battle against Assad.
On Tuesday, Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria, announced his resignation after serving in that post since 2012.
Fabius's accusations of chlorine gas use by Assad echoed a report published Tuesday by the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization. HRW's report alleged that pro-Assad forces used chlorine gas packed into crude bombs in attacks in mid-April on three towns in northern Syria, killing 11 people and wounding as many as 500. Neither HRW nor Fabius advanced any reliable factual evidence to support their allegations.
HRW claimed that it ''cannot independently confirm'' allegations of poison gas use, which it said were based largely on charges advanced by the Western powers' far-right Islamist proxy fighters inside Syria.
As for Fabius, at a press conference with his US counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, he said: ''We have at least 14 indications that show us that, in the past recent weeks again, chemical weapons in a smaller scale have been used, in particular chlorine.'' Cynically claiming it had been difficult to obtain definitive proof because chlorine evaporates too fast to collect samples, he said: ''Right now we are examining the samples that were taken.''
Kerry echoed Fabius's remarks, denouncing Assad ''who will not negotiate, who absolutely refused to negotiate at every single session... This represents a continuation of the stubborn clinging to power of a man who is willing to drop barrel bombs on his people, to gas them, to shell artillery on innocent civilians, to starve people in their homes, and somehow claim a right to be able to run a country.''
Fabius's ''regret'' that the Western powers did not launch a war with Syria, together with the new fabricated charges of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime, show that the Western powers are again mobilizing for war against Syria. It also underscores the significance of the military build-up Washington, Berlin, Paris and their allies are carrying out throughout Eastern Europe aimed at Russia, ostensibly over the Ukraine crisis.
Russia, a key ally of Syria, emerged as the critical obstacle to launching a war against Syria last September, vetoing UN Security Council resolutions prepared to justify a US-led war against Syria. Now, Russia faces not only the hostile, far-right Ukrainian regime in Kiev that emerged from the NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch this February, but NATO troops stationed all along its western border. It is in a far weaker position to oppose a war against Syria, its main ally in the Arab world, by Washington and Paris.
In pressing for such a conflict, which directly threatens to provoke a world war, the PS government of French President Fran§ois Hollande is demonstrating its utterly reactionary and anti-working class character. It is trampling on deep public opposition to war in the French working class. During the war scare last September against Syria, polls found that 64 percent of the French population opposed going to war.
Hollande is pushing for war nonetheless, seeking to divert the escalating internal class tensions caused by his attacks on the working class'--which have made it France's most unpopular government since World War II'--into the cauldron of war.
In his two years in power, Hollande has pursued aggressive wars in Africa, including military interventions in Mali and Central African Republic, as well as in the Middle East. As they launched the war in Mali, PS officials repeatedly stated that a major goal in launching the wars was to shift the political atmosphere in France and permit Hollande to move ahead with unpopular attacks on the working class.
They openly commented that they were modelling their wars on the 1982 British Falkland Islands war. In this war, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sought to boost support for her government in the middle classes and prepare for austerity measures against the workers, including the crushing of the 1984-5 miners strike. (See: ''France seizes on murder of RFI journalists to intensify Mali war '').
With such policies, Paris is setting in motion the drive towards either a catastrophic war, or a confrontation between the PS and the working class with revolutionary implications. As the imperialist pyromaniacs in Paris seek to resolve their intractable internal problems by staking everything on war, they are tobogganing with eyes closed towards catastrophe.
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BTC
Corrected - Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director
Sat, 17 May 2014 05:56
Corrected - Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new directorBusiness
Corrected - Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director
Sat, May 17 04:46 AM IST
By Joseph Menn
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - (Corrects spelling of Mt. Gox CEO in paragraph 16 to Karpeles, not Kapeles)
As the most prominent trade group pushing adoption of the electronic currency Bitcoin begins its annual conference on Friday, it is being roiled by controversy.
At least 10 members of the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation have resigned over last week's election of onetime Disney child star and current Bitcoin entrepreneur and financier Brock Pierce as a new director, officials at the group said.
Some of the members cited Pierce's troubled past. That includes allegations in lawsuits from three employees of Pierce's first company, bankrupt web video business Digital Entertainment Network, that he provided drugs and pressured them for sex when they were minors.
Pierce has denied the accusations, which first surfaced in 2000.
''The allegations against me are not true, and I have never had intimate or sexual contact with any of the people who made those allegations,'' Pierce told Reuters via email.
Court records show 33-year-old Pierce, who played the title role in Disney's ''First Kid,'' paid more than $21,000 to settle one employee suit, and he said others dropped their claims without money changing hands.
While Bitcoin Foundation officials played down the defections, several members who resigned from the Foundation assailed its governance track record.
''The track record of prominent Bitcoin Foundation members has been abysmal,'' said Patrick Alexander, a resigning Foundation member in a post on its discussion pages. ''I no longer want to be associated with these people.'' Attempts to reach him for additional comment were unsuccessful.
Though it is highly volatile, the value of the electronic currency in existence has skyrocketed into the billions of dollars as the number of businesses accepting it has increased and investors have sought to create new ways for it to be used.
More than 1,000 Bitcoin investors, business people and enthusiasts are expected to attend the conference in Amsterdam.
The programming effort that governs how Bitcoin works is led by Gavin Andresen, who is chief scientist at the Foundation and gets a salary from it. The Foundation also plays an important role for Bitcoin in lobbying on its behalf in various jurisdiction as authorities grapple with how to police the semi-anonymous currency.
CALL TO VET CANDIDATES
Other members who resigned called on the board to more carefully vet future candidates as well as remove Pierce from the board.
Bitcoin Foundation General Counsel Patrick Murck said that his group had more than 1,500 members and would bounce back from the latest controversy.
''Democracy is messy sometimes,'' Murck said. ''If in the future members decide they want to have a vetting process, that's great.''
Some Bitcoin Foundation members say they weren't aware of Pierce's past until after the election, when others circulated media accounts concerning the allegations.
Pierce was voted in by the Foundation's industry members, who pay higher dues, to fill one of two spots vacated by others who had resigned: Mark Karpeles, chief executive of the bankrupt top Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, and Charlie Shrem, who has been charged with conspiring to launder money for users of the shuttered Silk Road underground drug bazaar.
Pierce has made a splash in the insular Bitcoin world by backing more than a dozen startups, speaking frequently at conferences, and leading a bid to buy Mt. Gox for one Bitcoin, currently worth less than $500.
Bitcoin startups have attracted investment from some venture capital firms and from individuals through "crowdfunding," in which many amateurs support projects, often with small investments and without the due diligence typically conducted by professional investors. Pierce has been a major beneficiary of the trend, garnering pledges of more than $700,000 for his investment syndicate on the crowdfunding site AngelList.
Cyan Banister, a startup CEO who made a nonbinding pledge of $5,000 to Pierce's investing syndicate, after learning of the allegations said she would withdraw from his group.
Phil Sanderson, an IDG Ventures investor in San Francisco who follows Bitcoin, said that the currency's growth was being hindered by the lack of effective public faces. ''Bitcoin hasn't really had a strong, vocal leader with a great background,'' he said.
(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Martin Howell)
Corrected - Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new directorBusiness
Corrected - Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director
Sat, May 17 04:46 AM IST
By Joseph Menn
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - (Corrects spelling of Mt. Gox CEO in paragraph 16 to Karpeles, not Kapeles)
As the most prominent trade group pushing adoption of the electronic currency Bitcoin begins its annual conference on Friday, it is being roiled by controversy.
At least 10 members of the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation have resigned over last week's election of onetime Disney child star and current Bitcoin entrepreneur and financier Brock Pierce as a new director, officials at the group said.
Some of the members cited Pierce's troubled past. That includes allegations in lawsuits from three employees of Pierce's first company, bankrupt web video business Digital Entertainment Network, that he provided drugs and pressured them for sex when they were minors.
Pierce has denied the accusations, which first surfaced in 2000.
''The allegations against me are not true, and I have never had intimate or sexual contact with any of the people who made those allegations,'' Pierce told Reuters via email.
Court records show 33-year-old Pierce, who played the title role in Disney's ''First Kid,'' paid more than $21,000 to settle one employee suit, and he said others dropped their claims without money changing hands.
While Bitcoin Foundation officials played down the defections, several members who resigned from the Foundation assailed its governance track record.
''The track record of prominent Bitcoin Foundation members has been abysmal,'' said Patrick Alexander, a resigning Foundation member in a post on its discussion pages. ''I no longer want to be associated with these people.'' Attempts to reach him for additional comment were unsuccessful.
Though it is highly volatile, the value of the electronic currency in existence has skyrocketed into the billions of dollars as the number of businesses accepting it has increased and investors have sought to create new ways for it to be used.
More than 1,000 Bitcoin investors, business people and enthusiasts are expected to attend the conference in Amsterdam.
The programming effort that governs how Bitcoin works is led by Gavin Andresen, who is chief scientist at the Foundation and gets a salary from it. The Foundation also plays an important role for Bitcoin in lobbying on its behalf in various jurisdiction as authorities grapple with how to police the semi-anonymous currency.
CALL TO VET CANDIDATES
Other members who resigned called on the board to more carefully vet future candidates as well as remove Pierce from the board.
Bitcoin Foundation General Counsel Patrick Murck said that his group had more than 1,500 members and would bounce back from the latest controversy.
''Democracy is messy sometimes,'' Murck said. ''If in the future members decide they want to have a vetting process, that's great.''
Some Bitcoin Foundation members say they weren't aware of Pierce's past until after the election, when others circulated media accounts concerning the allegations.
Pierce was voted in by the Foundation's industry members, who pay higher dues, to fill one of two spots vacated by others who had resigned: Mark Karpeles, chief executive of the bankrupt top Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, and Charlie Shrem, who has been charged with conspiring to launder money for users of the shuttered Silk Road underground drug bazaar.
Pierce has made a splash in the insular Bitcoin world by backing more than a dozen startups, speaking frequently at conferences, and leading a bid to buy Mt. Gox for one Bitcoin, currently worth less than $500.
Bitcoin startups have attracted investment from some venture capital firms and from individuals through "crowdfunding," in which many amateurs support projects, often with small investments and without the due diligence typically conducted by professional investors. Pierce has been a major beneficiary of the trend, garnering pledges of more than $700,000 for his investment syndicate on the crowdfunding site AngelList.
Cyan Banister, a startup CEO who made a nonbinding pledge of $5,000 to Pierce's investing syndicate, after learning of the allegations said she would withdraw from his group.
Phil Sanderson, an IDG Ventures investor in San Francisco who follows Bitcoin, said that the currency's growth was being hindered by the lack of effective public faces. ''Bitcoin hasn't really had a strong, vocal leader with a great background,'' he said.
(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Martin Howell)
Agenda 21
White line bullcrap email
A week or so ago I get a text from my neighbor, "Do you know what the fuck is up with this white line of powder running down the sidewalk?"
When I get home I see that there is a 4 inch wide trail of lime going down the sidewalk in both directions as far as can be seen.
Everybody in the hood was asking the same question on Facebook. Shortly the answer turns up that some dope decided to take a lime spreader and mark out the high water mark of where the Delaware river will rise to once Climate change happens. It's ludicrous and arbitrary on so many levels that I'm sure you already understand.
It's pure fear-mongering and hysteria. Just like that stupid google maps water rise visualizer.
What really pissed me off is that I had to walk thru that shit everyday until it rained (about a week) and I'd track it in my house along with my dogs. Also lime burns dogs foot pads when they walk in it. Very inconsiderate. If you mention this on air this guy needs a douchebag call out for sure.
(Local Blog)
http://www.philebrity.com/2014/04/29/update-whoever-guessed-that-line-through-port-richmond-fishtown-was-somebodys-art-project-bingo/
(Facebook event)
https://www.facebook.com/events/1453433394891430/
(and most importantly, this is who "hosted" it. Science!
https://www.facebook.com/ChemHeritage
Anyway, I thought you'd find it amusing
ITM
Jason
A Complete List Of Things Supposedly Caused By Global Warming
Sun, 18 May 2014 00:23
Acne , agricultural land increase , Afghan poppies destroyed , Africa devastated, Africa in conflict,African aid threatened, African summer frost , aggressive weeds , air pressure changes , airport malaria , Agulhas current , Alaska reshaped, moves , allergy season longer , alligators in the Thames , Alps melting , Amazon a desert , American dream end , amphibians breeding earlier (or not) , anaphylactic reactions to bee stings , ancient forests dramatically changed , animals head for the hills,animals shrink , Antarctic grass flourishes , Antarctic ice grows , Antarctic ice shrinks , Antarctic sea life at risk, anxiety treatment , algal blooms , archaeological sites threatened , Arab Spring , Arctic bogs melt , Arctic in bloom , Arctic ice free , Arctic ice melt faster , Arctic lakes disappear , Arctic tundra to burn , Arctic warming (not),Atlantic less salty , Atlantic more salty, atmospheric circulation modified , attack of the killer jellyfish , avalanches reduced , avalanches increased , Baghdad snow , Bahrain under water , bananas grow , barbarisation , beer shortage , beetle infestation , bet for $10,000, better beer,big melt faster,billion dollar research projects , billion homeless , billions face risk , billions of deaths , bird distributions change , bird loss accelerating , birds shrinking , bird strikes , bird visitors drop , birds confused , birds decline (Wales) , birds driven north , birds return early , bittern boom ends , blackbirds stop singing , blackbirds threatened , Black Hawk down , blood contaminated , blue mussels return , bluetongue , brain eating amoebae , brains shrink , bridge collapse (Minneapolis),Britain one big city , Britain Siberian , brothels struggle , brown Ireland , bubonic plague , budget increases , Buddhist temple threatened , building collapse , building season extension , bushfires , business opportunities , business risks, butterflies move north, camel deaths , cancer deaths in England,cannibalism, cannibalism again , caterpillar biomass shift, cave paintings threatened , childhood insomnia,Cholera , circumcision in decline , cirrus disappearance , civil unrest , cloud increase , coast beauty spots lost , cockroach migration, coffee threatened , cold climate creatures survive , cold spells (Australia) , cold wave (India) , computer models , conferences , conflict , conflict with Russia , consumers foot the bill , coral bleaching, coral fish suffer , coral reefs dying , coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , coral reefs twilight, Cabbage Shortage , cost of trillions , cougar attacks, crabgrass menace, cradle of civilisation threatened , creatures move uphill,crime increase , crocodile sex,crops devastated , crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems , curriculum change , cyclones (Australia), danger to kid's health , Darfur , Dartford Warbler plague , death rate increase (US) , deaths to reach 6 million,Dengue hemorrhagic fever , depression , desert advance , desert retreat , destruction of the environment , disappearance of coastal cities, disasters , diseases move from animals to humans , diseases move north , dog disease , Dolomites collapse , dozen deadly diseases , drought, ducks and geese decline , dust bowl in the corn belt , early marriages , early spring , earlier pollen season , Earth biodiversity crisis , Earth dying , Earth even hotter , Earth light dimming , Earth lopsided,Earth melting , Earth morbid fever , Earth on fast track , Earth past point of no return , Earth slowing down , Earth spins faster,Earth to explode,Earth's poles shift, earth upside down , earthquakes , earthquakes redux , earthquakes redux 2 , Egypt revolt , El Ni±o intensification , end of the world as we know it , erosion , emerging infections, encephalitis,English villages lost , equality threatened , Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, eutrophication , evolution accelerating , expansion of university climate groups,
extinctions (human , civilisation, logic , Inuit , smallest butterfly , cod,ladybirds , pikas , polar bears, possums , walrus, toads , plants , salmon , trout , wild flowers , woodlice , a million species , half of all animal and plant species, mountain species , not polar bears , barrier reef , leaches , salamanders , tropical insects)
experts muzzled , extreme changes to California , fading fall foliage , fainting , famine, farmers benefit , farmers go under , farm output boost , fashion disaster , fever , figurehead sacked , fir cone bonanza , fish bigger , fish catches drop , fish downsize, fish catches rise , fish deaf,fish get lost , fish head north , fish stocks at risk , fish stocks decline , five million illnesses, flames stoked , flesh eating disease , flood patterns change , floods, floods of beaches and cities , flood of migrants,flood preparation for crisis , Florida economic decline , flowers in peril , fog (more) in San Francisco , fog (less) in San Francisco , food poisoning, food prices rise , food prices soar , food security threat (SA), football team migration , footpath erosion,forest decline , forest expansion , frog with extra heads , frostbite , frost damage increased , frosts , fungi fruitful , fungi invasion , games change , Garden of Eden wilts , geese decline in Hampshire , genetic diversity decline,gene pools slashed , giant oysters invade, giant pythons invade , giant squid migrate , gingerbread houses collapse , glacial earthquakes , glacial retreat, glacial growth , glacier grows (California) , glacier wrapped , global cooling , global dimming,glowing clouds , golf course to drown , golf Masters wrecked , grandstanding , grasslands wetter , Great Barrier Reef 95% dead , Great Lakes drop , great tits cope , greening of the North , Grey whales lose weight , Gulf Stream failure , habitat loss , haggis threatened , Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harmful algae , harvest increase , harvest shrinkage , hay fever epidemic , health affected , health of children harmed, health risks,heart disease,heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves,hibernation affected, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, high court debates, HIV epidemic, homeless 50 million, hornets, horses shrink, human development faces unprecedented reversal, human fertility reduced,human health risk , human race oblivion , hurricanes , hurricane reduction , hurricanes fewer , hurricanes not , hydropower problems , hyperthermia deaths , ice age , ice sheet growth , ice sheet shrinkage, icebergs , illegal immigration , illness and death , inclement weather , India drowning , infrastructure failure (Canada) , industry threatened , infectious diseases, inflation in China , insect explosion,insurance premium rises , Inuit displacement , Inuit poisoned , Inuit suing , invasion of cats , invasion of crabgrass , invasion of herons , invasion of jellyfish , invasion of king crabs , invasion of midges, island disappears , islands sinking , itchier poison ivy , jellyfish explosion , jets fall from sky , jet stream drifts north , Kew Gardens taxed , kidney stones , kidney stones again , killer cornflakes , killing us , kitten boom , koalas under threat , krill decline , lake and stream productivity decline, lake empties , lake shrinking and growing , landslides , landslides of ice at 140 mph , lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!) , lawyers want more , legionnaires' surge , lives saved , Loch Ness monster dead , Locust plagues suppressed , Longer wprk breaks , Lopsided Earth , lush growth in rain forests, Malaria, mammoth dung melt , mango harvest fails , Maple production advanced , Maple syrup shortage , marine diseases,marine food chain decimated,Meaching (end of the world) , Mediterranean rises , megacryometeors , Melanoma , Melanoma decline , meteors from space , methane emissions from plants , methane burps, methane runaway , melting permafrost , Middle Kingdom convulses , migration , migration difficult (birds) , migratory birds huge losses , microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly , minorities hit,monkeys on the move , Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled,moose dying, more bad air days, more research needed, mortality increased,mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountaineers fears, mountains break up , mountains green and flowering, mountains taller , mortality lower , murder higher , Myanmar cyclone , narwhals at risk , National security implications , native wildlife overwhelmed , natural disasters quadruple , new islands , next ice age , NFL threatened,Nile delta damaged , noctilucent clouds , no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks dying , oaks move north, ocean acidification , ocean acidification faster , ocean dead zones unleashed , ocean deserts expand , ocean waves speed up , oceans noisier , opera house to be destroyed , outdoor hockey threatened, ozone repair slowed,ozone rise , Pacific dead zone , penguin chicks frozen,personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks , pests increase, phenology shifts , plankton blooms , plankton destabilised , plants lose protein , plants march north, plants move uphill, polar bears aggressive , polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears deaf, polar bears drowning, polar bears eating themselves, polar tours scrapped , popcorn rise , porpoise astray , profits collapse, prostitution, psychiatric illness, puffin decline, radars taken out , railroad tracks deformed , rainfall increase , rape wave , refugees , reindeer endangered , release of ancient frozen viruses , resorts disappear , rice threatened,rice yields crash, rift on Capitol Hill , rioting and nuclear war,Rise and Fall of Rome, river flow impacted , rivers raised , roads wear out , robins rampant, rocky peaks crack apart , roof of the world a desert,rooftop bars , Ross river disease , ruins ruined, Russia under pressure , salinity reduction , salinity increase , Salmonella, Salmon Decline, satellites accelerate , school closures , sea level rise , sea level rise faster , seals mating more , sewer bills rise , severe thunderstorms , sex change, sexual promiscuity , shark attacks , sharks booming , sharks moving north , sheep shrink , shop closures , short-nosed dogs endangered , shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine , ski resorts threatened , skin cancer , slow death, smaller brains , smog , snowfall increase , snowfall heavy, soaring food prices,societal collapse , soil change , songbirds change eating habits , sour grapes , space problem , spectacular orchids , spiders invade Scotland , squid aggressive giants , squid population explosion , squid tamed , squirrels reproduce earlier , stingray invasion , storms wetter , stormwater drains stressed , street crime to increase, subsidence , suicide , swordfish in the Baltic , Tabasco tragedy , taxes , tectonic plate movement , teenage drinking , terrorism , threat to peace , ticks move northward (Sweden) , tides rise , tigers eat people , tomatoes rot , tornado outbreak , tourism increase , trade barriers,trade winds weakened , traffic jams , transportation threatened , tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed , trees in trouble , trees less colourful , trees more colourful , trees lush , tropics expansion , tropopause raised , truffle shortage, truffles down , turtles crash , Turbulence in air travel , turtle feminised , turtles lay earlier , UFO sightings , UK coastal impact , UK Katrina , uprooted - 6 million , Vampire bats , Vampire moths , Venice flooded , violin decline , volcanic eruptions , volcanic eruptions redux , Iceland volcano eruption, walrus pups orphaned , walrus stampede , war , war between US and Canada , wars over water , wars sparked , wars threaten billions , wasps , water bills double , water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress , weather out of its mind , weather patterns awry , Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever , whales lose weight , whales move north , whales wiped out , wheat yields crushed in Australia , wildfires, wind shift , wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry , wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (France), wine - more English wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English , wine - England too hot , wine -German boon , wine - no more French, wine pass(C) (Napa) , wine stronger , winters in Britain colder , winter in Britain dead , witchcraft executions , wolves eat more moose , wolves eat less,workers laid off , World at war , World War 4 , World bankruptcy , World in crisis , World in flames , Yellow fever.
and all on 0.006 deg C per year!
Serbia and Bosnia floods: More than 30 dead, thousands evacuated after days of record rainfall - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:28
Soldiers have deployed huge amphibious vehicles to rescue hundreds of people in Obrenovac.
More than 30 people have died in the worst floods to hit Serbia and Bosnia in more than a century, with thousands evacuated from towns still under threat from rising rivers.
Thousands of volunteers joined soldiers, police and firefighters in building flood barriers made of sandbags in the Serbian capital Belgrade and the western town Sabac.
The Sara River hit its highest recorded level in Serbia, the army said, rising at a rate of three centimetres per hour after several days of the heaviest rainfall in almost 120 years.
Authorities in Serbia said they would not give a death toll for the town of Obrenovac, with a population of about 30,000 people, until the waters had receded and the extent of the damage was clear.
Soldiers have deployed huge amphibious vehicles to rescue hundreds of people crammed into a primary school in the town, 30 kilometres south-west of Belgrade.
A Reuters photographer said the entire town centre was submerged under two to three metres of water.
Tens of thousands of homes in Serbia were cut off from electricity and around 150,000 in Bosnia, where the north-eastern town of Doboj suffered the most.
"It was especially difficult in Doboj because the floodwaters acted as a tsunami, three to four metres high. No-one could have resisted," Serb Republic police chief Gojko Vasic said.
In Belgrade, residents donated food, clothes and bedding while police appealed for more boats.
More rain has been forecast for the region.
Photo About 10,000 people will be evacuated from Bosnia.Reuters: Dado Ruvic"Now we have to sit and wait, to wait for that next wave and to hope," Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic told a joint news conference with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.
In the Bosnian border town of Bijeljina, authorities said they would evacuate 10,000 people.
"We left behind the car, motorcycle, tools, all our furniture, valuables," Dragana Ilic, an Obrenovac resident evacuated to a shelter in Belgrade, said.
"We just grabbed our mobile phones and left. All our IDs were left behind. The whole house is under water."
In Bosnia, helicopters evacuated people from the northern towns of Samac and Modrica and trucks and bulldozers carried food to the hardest hit areas.
About 1,000 people, including babies, pregnant women, invalids and the elderly were evacuated from the region of Zeljezno Polje in central Bosnia, where hundreds of homes were destroyed in landslides.
"I think we'll never be able to return to our village," local Zuhdija Ridzal said. "It has disappeared."
"Only three houses survived, all others were buried, totally gone," villager Ragib Menzilovic said.
Photo A landslide and floodwaters around houses in the village of Topcic Polje, near the central Bosnian town of Zenica.AFP: Elvis BarukcicReuters
MOVIE REVIEW: 'Godzilla' is an anti-global-warming alarmism blockbuster - Washington Times
Sun, 18 May 2014 01:39
This film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows a scene from ''Godzilla.'' (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)
If it's summer movie season, that means it's time for me to make some counterintuitive claims about the blockbusters in our midst. Last year, I made the case that Star Trek: Into Darkness was accidentally a pro-drone-strike parable and that Matt Damon's Elysium was actually an anti-Obamacare warning. Let's get things going this year by suggesting that Godzilla, which looks like it will open to a big box office debut, is actually a message to humanity to chill out about global warming, everything's going to be okay.
(Some light spoilers for Godzilla below. My review is here.)
SEE RELATED: MOVIE REVIEW: 'Godzilla' bigger, louder than predecessors
The film opens at a huge quarry, where humanity's insatiable thirst for fossil fuels (or diamonds or platinum or something) has uncovered a terrifying secret: a pair of radioactive MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms). The point here, nominally, is that man brings about his own destruction by despoiling the planet. However, it's worth noting that the one of the MUTOs immediately attacks a nuclear power plant, while the other, later, attacks a repository of nuclear waste. In this, the MUTOs feel like close cousins of the worst of the greens, those folks who demand action on climate change yet mindlessly attack nuclear power'--the sole technology that could allow us to maintain our standard of living while reducing carbon emissions.
As the film progresses, the intellectual center of the picture is revealed to be Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), who takes an almost zen-like approach to the MUTOs. He believes that Godzilla, who he has been searching for his entire adult life, is not a threat to humanity but a part of Earth's natural biosphere. The giant lizard exists to ''restore balance.'' Serizawa also laments the ''arrogance of man'' for thinking he can control nature; the good doctor believes that the only way to stop the rampaging MUTOs is to let Godzilla fight them and kill them, to let nature run its course. The leaders of men disagree, opting to try and gather all three of the giant creatures into the same area off America's west coast, where they will be destroyed by a thermonuclear warhead. This plan backfires, leading to a nuke threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans.
There's a lot going on here, but think about it this way: Serizawa, the only man who seems to grasp the true nature of the issue facing humanity, believes that the ecosphere will heal itself, will restore its own balance. He denounces mankind's belief that we are able to drastically impact the environment in such a way that would make it uninhabitable. In other words, the Earth is a massively complex system, one that we can't really damage by pumping a little excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We can, however, make things radically worse for mankind by arrogantly believing in our own ability to ruin, then fix, the world. The nuclear bomb that threatens to wipe out San Fran represents mankind's fumbling attempts to fix a problem it has no ability to impact'--it is a rather explicit denunciation of the urge to ''do something!'' even though we have no idea what to do. We can make things much worse for ourselves, but we can't really stop nature from running its course. And nature will be just fine regardless of what we sentient apes believe'--or do.
' Sonny Bunch is managing editor of the Washington Free Beacon. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @SonnyBunch.
Where Did '97 Percent' Global Warming Consensus Come From? | The Daily Caller
Sat, 17 May 2014 03:23
The University of Queensland in Australia is taking legal action to block the release of data used by one of its scientists to come up with the oft-quoted statistic that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that mankind is causing global warming.
Since coming out with this figure last year, climate scientist John Cook of the University of Queensland's Global Change Institute has been under fire for the methodology he used.
''Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on [anthropogenic global warming] is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research,'' Cook and his fellow authors wrote in their study which was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters last year.
The university has told climate skeptic blogger Brandon Schollenberger that the data on the study he possesses was illegally obtained and they would take legal action against him if he published it.
''UQ has therefore published all data relating to the paper that is of any scientific value to the wider community,'' said Queensland's acting pro-vice-­chancellor Alastair McEwan.
''UQ withheld only data that could identify research participants who took part in the ­research on condition of anonymity,'' McEwan added. ''Such conditions are not uncommon in academic ­research, and any breach of confidentiality could deter people from participating in valuable research in the future.''
McEwan said that all the data Cook used to come up with his ''97 percent'' consensus was published on his blog SkepticalScience.com. The school says it wants to protect the privacy of those surveyed in Cook's research.
''That's right. The University of Queensland sent me a threatening letter which threatens me further if I show anyone that letter,'' Schollenberger wrote on his blog Thursday. ''Confusing, no? It gets stranger. Along with its threats, the University of Queensland included demands.''
''According to it, I'm not just prevented from disclosing any of the 'intellectual property' (IP) I've gained access to,'' Schollenberger added. ''I'm prevented from even doing anything which involves using the data. That means I can't discuss the data. I can't perform analyses on it. I can't share anything about it with you.''
''Apparently I badgered Cook too much. I tried too hard to get him to do his duty and try to protect his subjects' privacy. The University of Queensland needs me to stop. If I don't, they'll sue me,'' he said.
Cook's paper has been touted by environmentalists and the Obama administration as evidence that virtually all scientists agree that global warming is a man-made threat.
''Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest,'' President Obama said last year announcing his climate plan. ''They've acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.''
But Cook's 97 percent consensus claim was rebutted in subsequent analyses of his study. A paper by five leading climatologists published in the journal Science and Education last year found that Cook's study misrepresented the views of most consensus scientists.
The definition Cook used to get his consensus was weak, the climatologists said. Only 41 out of the 11,944 published climate studies examined by Cook explicitly stated that mankind caused most of the warming since 1950 '-- meaning the actual consensus is 0.3 percent.
''It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors' own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%,'' said Dr. David Legates, a geology professor at the University of Delaware and the study's lead author.
Queensland's legal fight with Schollenberger comes while UK news outlets are reporting that one of the world's top scientific journals rejected a study from five climate scientists for political reasons.
The UK Times reported that a reviewer with the journal Environmental Research Letters rejected the study because it was ''harmful'' to the climate cause because it ''opens the door for oversimplified claims of 'errors' and worse from the climate skeptics media side.''
''The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist,'' Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, told the Times.
Bengtsson was one of the study's authors and recently joined the camp of scientists skeptical of global warming.
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Study suggesting global warming is exaggerated was rejected for publication in respected journal because it was 'less than helpful' to the climate cause, claims professor | Mail Online
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:41
Professor Lennart Bengtsson claims his study on global warming has been rejected as it might fuel climate scepticismSays he suspects an intolerance of dissenting views on climate sciencePaper suggests that climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thoughtBy Ben Spencer
Published: 21:10 EST, 15 May 2014 | Updated: 00:33 EST, 16 May 2014
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Professor Lennart Bengtsson, who claims his research on global warming is being 'covered up'
A scientific study which suggests global warming has been exaggerated was rejected by a respected journal because it might fuel climate scepticism, it was claimed last night.
The alarming intervention, which raises fears of 'McCarthyist' pressure for environmental scientists to conform, came after a reviewer said the research was 'less than helpful' to the climate cause.
Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of five authors of the study, said he suspected that intolerance of dissenting views on climate science was preventing his paper from being published.
'The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist,' he told the Times.
Prof Bengtsson's paper suggests that the Earth's environment might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought.
If he and his four co-authors are correct, it would mean that carbon dioxide and other pollutants are having a far less severe impact on climate than green activists would have us believe.
The research, if made public, would be a huge challenge to the finding of the UN's Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double.
The paper suggested that the climate might be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September, and recommended that more work be carried out 'to reduce the underlying uncertainty'.
The five contributing scientists submitted the paper to Environmental Research Letters '' a highly regarded journal '' but were told it had been rejected. A scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process reportedly wrote: 'It is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ''errors'' and worse from the climate sceptics media side.'
Prof Bengtsson, 79, said it was 'utterly unacceptable' to advise against publishing a paper on the political grounds.
He said: 'It is an indication of how science is gradually being influenced by political views. The reality hasn't been keeping up with the [computer] models.
Professor Bengtsson currently works for the Meteorology department at the University of Reading
'If people are proposing to do major changes to the world's economic system we must have much more solid information.'
Next year the UN hopes to broker an international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol which would impose legally binding targets on every country.
The last attempt, at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, ended in disaster, with recriminations flying and all chances of a deal in tatters.
The Paris conference in December 2015 is thought by many politicians to be the last realistic chance for a deal to be made if disastrous climate change is to be averted.
A controversy at this stage risks putting the science which underpins the negotiations at doubt, something many - not least politicians in Britain and the US - will be keen to avoid.
The publisher of the Environmental Research Letters journal last night said Professor Bengtsson's paper had been rejected because it contained errors and did not sufficiently advance the science.
A spokesman for IOP Publishing said: 'The paper, co-authored by Lennart Bengtsson, was originally submitted to Environmental Research Letters as a research Letter.
'This was peer-reviewed by two independent reviewers, who reported that the paper contained errors and did not provide a significant advancement in the field, and therefore failed to meet the journal's required acceptance criteria.
'As a consequence, the independent reviewers recommended that the paper should not be published in the journal which led to the final editorial decision to reject the paper.'
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''AGW theory is in a state of epic fail''
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:01
Earlier this evening an Instapundit reference reminded me of Eliezer Yudkowsky's insightful essay Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs, in which he uses a clever physics analogy to explain why cult-like groups often respond to strong evidence against their core beliefs by becoming more fanatical.
Glen Reynolds used the reference to take a swipe at what political feminism has become, but a more interesting example occurred to me. I think AGW (anthropogenic global warming) alarmism is beginning to undergo some serious evaporative cooling. Let's examine the evidence, how it might fit Yudkowsky's model, and what predictions it implies.
The 15-years-and-counting period of no statistically significant measured increase in GAT (Global Average Temperature) has been increasingly embarrassing to AGW partisans for years, but the ''strong evidence'' I'm thinking of is well expressed by this quote from Judith Curry which she reported presenting at the American Physical Society in March 2014:
''The most recent climate model simulations used in the AR5 indicate that the warming stagnation since 1998 is no longer consistent with model projections even at the 2% confidence level.''
This is cautious jargon for ''AGW theory is in a state of epic fail''. Curry is saying that by all the usual standards of scientific evidence, the IPCC sheaf of climate models that alarmists rely on is completely, utterly busted. Its dismal incompetence to predict the behavior of the actual atmosphere can no longer be ignored by actual scientists without doing violence to those standards of evidence.
(I really cannot resist pointing out that I have been predicting this something like this quite loudly since at least the beginning of the grand solar minimum in 2008, when I forecast correctly that measured GAT would track the falling direction of change in incident solar radiation rather the rising direction of CO2 levels. By a year later I had demonstrated a better predictive record than the IPCC ever has.)
Here's a major sign of evaporative cooling: the American Physical Society has since appointed a committee of working scientists (one of whom is Curry herself) to reexamine and possibly reverse its public commitment to AGW alarmism. As well it should; the alarmists' predictions have failed so massively that they no longer have a scientific case '' they're going to have to rebuild one with a set of models that at least retrodicts the actual data.
Whatever findings the APS committee issues, the very fact that it has been convened at all is a sign that (in Yudkowsky's analogy) the higher-energy molecules have become excited by the counterevidence and are exiting the cold trap. Or, in the metaphor of an earlier day, the rats are looking for a way off the sinking ship'...
This is happening at the same time that the IPCC's AR5 (Fifth Assessment Report) asserts its highest ever level of confidence that the (nonexistent for 15+ years) global warming is human-cased. What Yudkowsky tells us is that AR5'²s apparently crazed assertion is a natural result of the mounting counterevidence. The voices of sanity and moderation, such as they are in the AGW crowd, are evaporating out; increasingly, even more than in the past, their game will be run by the fanatics and the evidence-blind.
Thus, we can expect the screaming about ''denialists'' to become ever shrill and frantic as the edifice crumbles further. Many alarmists are now vocally hoping that a massive El Nino event will spike GAT to where it should be according to the models (directly contradicting their own previous argument that the 15-17 year apparent cessation of warming is a data artifact caused by a 1997-1998 El Nino spike). This reifies Richard Feynman's famous warning about ''cargo cult science''; if they wait with faith and purity, surely reality will conform itself to the sacred theory!
Others are attempting to bolt epicycles onto the models to make them retrodict the ''pause'' correctly; that's why you'll see references to ''stadium waves'', ''ANSO'', and ''multidecadal oscillations'' increasingly leaking into press accounts. All these attempts have the shadow of doom on them, something even many of their proponents seem to half-understand. But Yudkowsky's analogy predicts nevertheless that these efforts will redouble.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the simplest explanation for the observed facts is that the CO2/H20 positive greenhousing feedback central to the alarmist models simply doesn't happen '' it was an unphysical fantasy all along. CO2 levels do affect GAT, but only in a straightforward logarithmic/sublinear way that leads to extremely low climate sensitivity '' and even that effect is now basically saturated (the atmosphere is thermalizing as much as it can).
Don't hold your breath waiting for the popular press to catch up to that, alas. They can be counted on to continue siding with the fanatics long after the sane scientists have left the building. Actually, to quote Douglas Adams, ''There is another theory which states this has already happened.''
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LGBBTQQIAAP
United Nations News Centre - 'Speak up, speak out' against homophobia, UN urges on International Day.
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:45
17 May 2014 '' Leading the United Nations family's push to help build a world rooted in tolerance where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons live free from discrimination, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia with a strong plea for action: “Equality begins with you.”
“Human rights are for everyone, no matter who you are or whom you love,” the UN chief declared in a special LinkedIn blogpost on the International Day. His message was echoed by other senior officials who called not only for changes in discriminatory attitudes but also to laws on the books in many countries so all LGBT people could live with dignity.
Such changes are vital, said Mr. Ban, noting that in all parts of the world, LGBT people experience discrimination in every aspect of daily life. As children, too many are bullied by their peers, rejected by their own families, driven to drop out of school. As adults, too many suffer stigma, unfair treatment, even violence.
Fearing prejudice or persecution, many LGBT and intersex people are reluctant to discuss the simplest aspects of their personal lives with colleagues at work or in social settings.
“In 76 countries, having a partner of the same sex is even a prosecutable crime. People are arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases executed, just because they are in a loving relationship,” said the Secretary-General adding further that LGBT people also face deeply-ingrained hostility in the place where many of us spend most of our waking hours – at work.
“We must ask ourselves: Do we want to live in a world where love is targeted or where it is celebrated; where people live in fear or in dignity?,” declared the UN chief.
Noting that millions of people around the world observe the International Day, he said that the UN human rights office (OHCHR) has released a short video as part of its Free & Equal campaign called The Power of Sharing.
“The video focuses on the impact that each of us can have by sharing our own stories and by showing our support for our LGBT colleagues, friends and family members. I encourage you all to watch the video and share it to help spread the word,” said Mr. Ban.
Changing people's attitudes takes time, effort and perseverance. “It takes us all to speak up and speak out against homophobia, even when it's presented as harmless fun or as an accepted cultural trait. It's not. It's discrimination. And it's our responsibility to fight it and to strive for a world that is truly free and equal,” the Secretary-General declared.
“Speaking up empowers us, it always has... And when enough people listen it can change the world,” affirms the OHCHR video, which underscores that individuals can effect positive change by sharing personal stories and by showing support for LGBT and intersex friends, colleagues and family.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke earlier at the Fifth European Transgender Council about raising awareness of the discrimination and violence LGBT people face on a routine basis.
“As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I have always spoken out against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And I have yet to come across a Government that says it supports violence and discrimination against LGBT people. Yet very few take action to protect people against such violations,” Ms. Pillay said.
For the first time, UN independent human rights experts and Special Rapporteurs have produced a joint statement for the Day.
It pinpoints, “States must build a climate of tolerance and respect in which all people, including LGBT '... can express their thoughts and opinions without fear of being attacked, criminalized or stigmatized for doing so.”
Quoting late South African President Nelson Mandela, Michel Sidib(C), Executive Director The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said: 'To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.'
With that in mind, the UNAIDS chief underscored that criminalization of LGBT people puts entire communities at risk. It keeps those in need of prevention and treatment services out of reach of life-saving interventions.
“It is outrageous that in 2014, when we have everything we need to defeat AIDS, we are still fighting prejudice, stigma, active discrimination and homophobic laws in 78 countries around the world,” he said, warning that stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity drive new HIV infections.
“We can only be free when we respect the freedom of our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Let us walk the road to freedom together, he said.
Echoing those concerns, Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said that in the past year, harmful anti-LGBT laws have been passed under the guise of protecting children and families. “Punitive laws such as these have the potential to stir up homophobia and transphobia, and can have very toxic effects on people's lives,” she said.
Such laws scapegoat LGBT people and distract from the real social and development challenges which countries face. She stressed that anti-LGBT laws are based on the incorrect assumption that homosexuality poses a danger to a country's social fabric.
“The evidence does not demonstrate this – where nations have decriminalized same sex sexual conduct, no threat to the institution of marriage nor to the well-being of children has been witnessed,” said Ms Clark, explaining that, instead, decriminalization has been a key step in providing an opportunity for historically oppressed LGBT people to flourish and fully participate as respected members of society.
Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Sat, 17 May 2014 03:36
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
Tomorrow, as we commemorate the 10th annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we recommit ourselves to the fundamental belief that all people should be treated equally, that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and that no one should face violence or discrimination -- no matter who they are or whom they love.
This year, the United States celebrates the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In doing so, we reflect on lessons learned from our own civil rights struggles and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that the human rights of all people are universally protected.
At a time when, tragically, we are seeing increased efforts to criminalize or oppress LGBT persons, we call on partners everywhere to join us in defending the equal rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters, and in ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Libya
Fixing Libya, USA, UK and France Fight to Win Biggest Piece of Oil Rich Libya.
Sun, 18 May 2014 12:55
Harry Reid's enriching 'g...
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader
NEW YORK '' At the center of a Nevada ''good old boys'' network of movers and shakers through which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his family have profited for decades is the Las Vegas-based law firm Lionel Sawyer & Collins.
Some have questioned how Reid, who arrived in Washington in 1983 with a net worth estimated at $1 million,
HAARP
Ionosphere - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 18 May 2014 00:57
The ionosphere// is a region of the upper atmosphere, from about 85 km (53 mi) to 600 km (370 mi) altitude, and includes the thermosphere and parts of the mesosphere and exosphere. It is distinguished because it is ionized by solar radiation. It plays an important part in atmospheric electricity and forms the inner edge of the magnetosphere. It has practical importance because, among other functions, it influences radio propagation to distant places on the Earth.[1]
Geophysics[edit]The ionosphere is a shell of electrons and electrically charged atoms and molecules that surrounds the Earth, stretching from a height of about 50 km (31 mi) to more than 1,000 km (620 mi). It owes its existence primarily to ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
The lowest part of the Earth's atmosphere, the troposphere extends from the surface to about 10 km (6.2 mi). Above 10 km (6.2 mi) is the stratosphere, followed by the mesosphere. In the stratosphere incoming solar radiation creates the ozone layer. At heights of above 80 km (50 mi), in the thermosphere, the atmosphere is so thin that free electrons can exist for short periods of time before they are captured by a nearby positive ion. The number of these free electrons is sufficient to affect radio propagation. This portion of the atmosphere is ionized and contains a plasma which is referred to as the ionosphere. In a plasma, the negative free electrons and the positive ions are attracted to each other by the electrostatic force, but they are too energetic to stay fixed together in an electrically neutral molecule.
Ultraviolet (UV), X-Ray and shorter wavelengths of solar radiation are ionizing, since photons at these frequencies contain sufficient energy to dislodge an electron from a neutral gas atom or molecule upon absorption. In this process the light electron obtains a high velocity so that the temperature of the created electronic gas is much higher (of the order of thousand K) than the one of ions and neutrals. The reverse process to ionization is recombination, in which a free electron is "captured" by a positive ion. Recombination occurs spontaneously, and causes the emission of a photon carrying away the energy produced upon recombination. As gas density increases at lower altitudes, the recombination process prevails, since the gas molecules and ions are closer together. The balance between these two processes determines the quantity of ionization present.
Ionization depends primarily on the Sun and its activity. The amount of ionization in the ionosphere varies greatly with the amount of radiation received from the Sun. Thus there is a diurnal (time of day) effect and a seasonal effect. The local winter hemisphere is tipped away from the Sun, thus there is less received solar radiation. The activity of the Sun is associated with the sunspot cycle, with more radiation occurring with more sunspots. Radiation received also varies with geographical location (polar, auroral zones, mid-latitudes, and equatorial regions). There are also mechanisms that disturb the ionosphere and decrease the ionization. There are disturbances such as solar flares and the associated release of charged particles into the solar wind which reaches the Earth and interacts with its geomagnetic field.
The ionospheric layers[edit]At night the F layer is the only layer of significant ionization present, while the ionization in the E and D layers is extremely low. During the day, the D and E layers become much more heavily ionized, as does the F layer, which develops an additional, weaker region of ionisation known as the F1 layer. The F2 layer persists by day and night and is the region mainly responsible for the refraction of radio waves.
D layer[edit]The D layer is the innermost layer, 60 km (37 mi) to 90 km (56 mi) above the surface of the Earth. Ionization here is due to Lyman series-alpha hydrogen radiation at a wavelength of 121.5 nanometre (nm) ionizing nitric oxide (NO). In addition, with high Solar activity hard X-rays (wavelength < >cosmic rays produce a residual amount of ionization. Recombination is high in the D layer, the net ionization effect is low, but loss of wave energy is great due to frequent collisions of the electrons (about ten collisions every msec). As a result high-frequency (HF) radio waves are not reflected by the D layer but suffer loss of energy therein. This is the main reason for absorption of HF radio waves, particularly at 10 MHz and below, with progressively smaller absorption as the frequency gets higher. The absorption is small at night and greatest about midday. The layer reduces greatly after sunset; a small part remains due to galactic cosmic rays. A common example of the D layer in action is the disappearance of distant AM broadcast band stations in the daytime.
During solar proton events, ionization can reach unusually high levels in the D-region over high and polar latitudes. Such very rare events are known as Polar Cap Absorption (or PCA) events, because the increased ionization significantly enhances the absorption of radio signals passing through the region. In fact, absorption levels can increase by many tens of dB during intense events, which is enough to absorb most (if not all) transpolar HF radio signal transmissions. Such events typically last less than 24 to 48 hours.
E layer[edit]The E layer is the middle layer, 90 km (56 mi) to 120 km (75 mi) above the surface of the Earth. Ionization is due to soft X-ray (1-10 nm) and far ultraviolet (UV) solar radiation ionization of molecular oxygen (O'‚‚). Normally, at oblique incidence, this layer can only reflect radio waves having frequencies lower than about 10 MHz and may contribute a bit to absorption on frequencies above. However, during intense Sporadic E events, the Es layer can reflect frequencies up to 50 MHz and higher. The vertical structure of the E layer is primarily determined by the competing effects of ionization and recombination. At night the E layer rapidly disappears because the primary source of ionization is no longer present. After sunset an increase in the height of the E layer maximum increases the range to which radio waves can travel by reflection from the layer.
This region is also known as the Kennelly''Heaviside layer or simply the Heaviside layer. Its existence was predicted in 1902 independently and almost simultaneously by the American electrical engineer Arthur Edwin Kennelly (1861''1939) and the British physicist Oliver Heaviside (1850''1925). However, it was not until 1924 that its existence was detected by Edward V. Appleton and Miles Barnett.
Es[edit]The Es layer (sporadic E-layer) is characterized by small, thin clouds of intense ionization, which can support reflection of radio waves, rarely up to 225 MHz. Sporadic-E events may last for just a few minutes to several hours. Sporadic E propagation makes radio amateurs very excited, as propagation paths that are generally unreachable can open up. There are multiple causes of sporadic-E that are still being pursued by researchers. This propagation occurs most frequently during the summer months when high signal levels may be reached. The skip distances are generally around 1,640 km (1,020 mi). Distances for one hop propagation can be as close as 900 km (560 mi) or up to 2,500 km (1,600 mi). Double-hop reception over 3,500 km (2,200 mi) is possible.
F layer[edit]The F layer or region, also known as the Appleton-Barnett layer, extends from about 200 km (120 mi) to more than 500 km (310 mi) above the surface of Earth. It is the densest point of the ionosphere, which implies signals penetrating this layer will escape into space. At higher altitudes, the number of oxygen ions decreases and lighter ions such as hydrogen and helium become dominant; this layer is the topside ionosphere. There, extreme ultraviolet (UV, 10''100 nm) solar radiation ionizes atomic oxygen. The F layer consists of one layer at night, but during the day, a deformation often forms in the profile that is labeled F'‚. The F'‚‚ layer remains by day and night responsible for most skywave propagation of radio waves, facilitating high frequency (HF, or shortwave) radio communications over long distances.
From 1972 to 1975 NASA launched the AEROS and AEROS B satellites to study the F region.[2]
Ionospheric model[edit]An ionospheric model is a mathematical description of the ionosphere as a function of location, altitude, day of year, phase of the sunspot cycle and geomagnetic activity. Geophysically, the state of the ionospheric plasma may be described by four parameters: electron density, electron and ion temperature and, since several species of ions are present, ionic composition. Radio propagation depends uniquely on electron density.
Models are usually expressed as computer programs. The model may be based on basic physics of the interactions of the ions and electrons with the neutral atmosphere and sunlight, or it may be a statistical description based on a large number of observations or a combination of physics and observations. One of the most widely used models is the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI)[3](IRI 2007), which is based on data and specifies the four parameters just mentioned. The IRI is an international project sponsored by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the International Union of Radio Science (URSI).[4] The major data sources are the worldwide network of ionosondes, the powerful incoherent scatter radars (Jicamarca, Arecibo, Millstone Hill, Malvern, St. Santin), the ISIS and Alouette topside sounders, and in situ instruments on several satellites and rockets. IRI is updated yearly. IRI is more accurate in describing the variation of the electron density from bottom of the ionosphere to the altitude of maximum density than in describing the total electron content (TEC) .Since 1999 this model is "International Standard" for the terrestrial ionosphere (standard TS16457).
Persistent anomalies to the idealized model[edit]Ionograms allow deducing, via computation, the true shape of the different layers. Nonhomogeneous structure of the electron/ion-plasma produces rough echo traces, seen predominantly at night and at higher latitudes, and during disturbed conditions.
Winter anomaly[edit]At mid-latitudes, the F2 layer daytime ion production is higher in the summer, as expected, since the Sun shines more directly on the Earth. However, there are seasonal changes in the molecular-to-atomic ratio of the neutral atmosphere that cause the summer ion loss rate to be even higher. The result is that the increase in the summertime loss overwhelms the increase in summertime production, and total F2 ionization is actually lower in the local summer months. This effect is known as the winter anomaly. The anomaly is always present in the northern hemisphere, but is usually absent in the southern hemisphere during periods of low solar activity.
Equatorial anomaly[edit]Electric currents created in sunward ionosphere.
Within approximately ± 20 degrees of the magnetic equator, is the equatorial anomaly. It is the occurrence of a trough in the ionization in the F2 layer at the equator and crests at about 17 degrees in magnetic latitude. The Earth's magnetic field lines are horizontal at the magnetic equator. Solar heating and tidal oscillations in the lower ionosphere move plasma up and across the magnetic field lines. This sets up a sheet of electric current in the E region which, with the horizontal magnetic field, forces ionization up into the F layer, concentrating at ± 20 degrees from the magnetic equator. This phenomenon is known as the equatorial fountain.
Equatorial electrojet[edit]The worldwide solar-driven wind results in the so-called Sq (solar quiet) current system in the E region of the Earth's ionosphere (ionospheric dynamo region) (100 km (62 mi) '' 130 km (81 mi) altitude). Resulting from this current is an electrostatic field directed E-W (dawn-dusk) in the equatorial day side of the ionosphere. At the magnetic dip equator, where the geomagnetic field is horizontal, this electric field results in an enhanced eastward current flow within ± 3 degrees of the magnetic equator, known as the equatorial electrojet.
Ephemeral ionospheric perturbations[edit]X-rays: sudden ionospheric disturbances (SID)[edit]When the Sun is active, strong solar flares can occur that will hit the sunlit side of Earth with hard X-rays. The X-rays will penetrate to the D-region, releasing electrons that will rapidly increase absorption, causing a High Frequency (3 - 30 MHz) radio blackout. During this time Very Low Frequency (3 '' 30 kHz) signals will be reflected by the D layer instead of the E layer, where the increased atmospheric density will usually increase the absorption of the wave and thus dampen it. As soon as the X-rays end, the sudden ionospheric disturbance (SID) or radio black-out ends as the electrons in the D-region recombine rapidly and signal strengths return to normal.
Protons: polar cap absorption (PCA)[edit]Associated with solar flares is a release of high-energy protons. These particles can hit the Earth within 15 minutes to 2 hours of the solar flare. The protons spiral around and down the magnetic field lines of the Earth and penetrate into the atmosphere near the magnetic poles increasing the ionization of the D and E layers. PCA's typically last anywhere from about an hour to several days, with an average of around 24 to 36 hours.
Geomagnetic storms[edit]A geomagnetic storm is a temporary intense disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere.
During a geomagnetic storm the F'‚‚ layer will become unstable, fragment, and may even disappear completely.In the Northern and Southern pole regions of the Earth aurorae will be observable in the sky.Lightning[edit]Lightning can cause ionospheric perturbations in the D-region in one of two ways. The first is through VLF (Very Low Frequency) radio waves launched into the magnetosphere. These so-called "whistler" mode waves can interact with radiation belt particles and cause them to precipitate onto the ionosphere, adding ionization to the D-region. These disturbances are called "lightning-induced electron precipitation" (LEP) events.
Additional ionization can also occur from direct heating/ionization as a result of huge motions of charge in lightning strikes. These events are called Early/Fast.
In 1925, C. T. R. Wilson proposed a mechanism by which electrical discharge from lightning storms could propagate upwards from clouds to the ionosphere. Around the same time, Robert Watson-Watt, working at the Radio Research Station in Slough, UK, suggested that the ionospheric sporadic E layer (Es) appeared to be enhanced as a result of lightning but that more work was needed. In 2005, C. Davis and C. Johnson, working at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, UK, demonstrated that the Es layer was indeed enhanced as a result of lightning activity. Their subsequent research has focussed on the mechanism by which this process can occur.
Applications[edit]Radio communication[edit]DX communication, popular among amateur radio enthusiasts, is a term given to communication over great distances. Thanks to the property of ionized atmospheric gases to refract high frequency (HF, or shortwave) radio waves, the ionosphere can be utilized to "bounce" a transmitted signal down to ground. Transcontinental HF-connections rely on up to 5 bounces, or hops. Such communications played an important role during World War II. Karl Rawer's most sophisticated prediction method[1] took account of several (zig-zag) paths, attenuation in the D-region and predicted the 11-year solar cycle by a method due to Wolfgang GleiŸberg.
Mechanism of refraction[edit]When a radio wave reaches the ionosphere, the electric field in the wave forces the electrons in the ionosphere into oscillation at the same frequency as the radio wave. Some of the radio-frequency energy is given up to this resonant oscillation. The oscillating electrons will then either be lost to recombination or will re-radiate the original wave energy. Total refraction can occur when the collision frequency of the ionosphere is less than the radio frequency, and if the electron density in the ionosphere is great enough.
The critical frequency is the limiting frequency at or below which a radio wave is reflected by an ionospheric layer at vertical incidence. If the transmitted frequency is higher than the plasma frequency of the ionosphere, then the electrons cannot respond fast enough, and they are not able to re-radiate the signal. It is calculated as shown below:
where N = electron density per m3 and fcritical is in Hz.
The Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF) is defined as the upper frequency limit that can be used for transmission between two points at a specified time.
where = angle of attack, the angle of the wave relative to the horizon, and sin is the sine function.
The cutoff frequency is the frequency below which a radio wave fails to penetrate a layer of the ionosphere at the incidence angle required for transmission between two specified points by refraction from the layer.
Other applications[edit]The open systemelectrodynamic tether, which uses the ionosphere, is being researched. The space tether uses plasma contactors and the ionosphere as parts of a circuit to extract energy from the Earth's magnetic field by electromagnetic induction.
Measurements[edit]Overview[edit]Scientists also are exploring the structure of the ionosphere by a wide variety of methods, including passive observations of optical and radio emissions generated in the ionosphere, bouncing radio waves of different frequencies from it, incoherent scatter radars such as the EISCAT, Sondre Stromfjord, Millstone Hill, Arecibo, and Jicamarca radars, coherent scatter radars such as the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) radars, and using special receivers to detect how the reflected waves have changed from the transmitted waves.
A variety of experiments, such as HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program), involve high power radio transmitters to modify the properties of the ionosphere. These investigations focus on studying the properties and behavior of ionospheric plasma, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and military purposes. HAARP was started in 1993 as a proposed twenty-year experiment, and is currently active near Gakona, Alaska.
The SuperDARN radar project researches the high- and mid-latitudes using coherent backscatter of radio waves in the 8 to 20 MHz range. Coherent backscatter is similar to Bragg scattering in crystals and involves the constructive interference of scattering from ionospheric density irregularities. The project involves more than 11 different countries and multiple radars in both hemispheres.
Scientists are also examining the ionosphere by the changes to radio waves, from satellites and stars, passing through it. The Arecibo radio telescope located in Puerto Rico, was originally intended to study Earth's ionosphere.
Ionograms[edit]Ionograms show the virtual heights and critical frequencies of the ionospheric layers and which are measured by an ionosonde. An ionosonde sweeps a range of frequencies, usually from 0.1 to 30 MHz, transmitting at vertical incidence to the ionosphere. As the frequency increases, each wave is refracted less by the ionization in the layer, and so each penetrates further before it is reflected. Eventually, a frequency is reached that enables the wave to penetrate the layer without being reflected. For ordinary mode waves, this occurs when the transmitted frequency just exceeds the peak plasma, or critical, frequency of the layer. Tracings of the reflected high frequency radio pulses are known as ionograms. Reduction rules are given in: "URSI Handbook of Ionogram Interpretation and Reduction", edited by William Roy Piggott and Karl Rawer, Elsevier Amsterdam, 1961 (translations into Chinese, French, Japanese and Russian are available).
Incoherent scatter radars[edit]Incoherent scatter radars operate above the critical frequencies. Therefore the technique allows to probe the ionosphere, unlike ionosondes, also above the electron density peaks. The thermal fluctuations of the electron density scattering the transmitted signals lack coherence, which gave the technique its name. Their power spectrum contains information not only on the density, but also on the ion and electron temperatures, ion masses and drift velocities.
Solar flux[edit]Solar flux is a measurement of the intensity of solar radio emissions at a frequency of 2800 MHz made using a radio telescope located in Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.[5] Known also as the 10.7 cm flux (the wavelength of the radio signals at 2800 MHz), this solar radio emission has been shown to be proportional to sunspot activity. However, the level of the Sun's ultraviolet and X-ray emissions is primarily responsible for causing ionization in the Earth's upper atmosphere. We now have data from the GOES spacecraft that measures the background X-ray flux from the Sun, a parameter more closely related to the ionization levels in the ionosphere.
The A and K indices are a measurement of the behavior of the horizontal component of the geomagnetic field. The K index uses a scale from 0 to 9 to measure the change in the horizontal component of the geomagnetic field. A new K index is determined at the Boulder Geomagnetic Observatory40°08'²15'"N105°14'²16'"W>> / >>40.137558°N 105.237875°W>> / 40.137558; -105.237875.The geomagnetic activity levels of the Earth are measured by the fluctuation of the Earth's magnetic field in SI units called teslas (or in non-SI gauss, especially in older literature). The Earth's magnetic field is measured around the planet by many observatories. The data retrieved is processed and turned into measurement indices. Daily measurements for the entire planet are made available through an estimate of the ap index, called the planetary A-index (PAI).GPS/GNSS[edit]Ionospheres on other planets and Titan[edit]The atmosphere of Titan includes an ionosphere that ranges from about 1,100 km (680 mi) to 1,300 km (810 mi) in altitude and contains carbon compounds.[6]
Planets with ionospheres (incomplete list): Venus, Uranus.
History[edit]Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic radio signal on December 12, 1901, in St. John's, Newfoundland (now in Canada) using a 152.4 m (500 ft) kite-supported antenna for reception. The transmitting station in Poldhu, Cornwall used a spark-gap transmitter to produce a signal with a frequency of approximately 500 kHz and a power of 100 times more than any radio signal previously produced. The message received was three dits, the Morse code for the letter S. To reach Newfoundland the signal would have to bounce off the ionosphere twice. Dr. Jack Belrose has recently contested this, however, based on theoretical and experimental work.[7] However, Marconi did achieve transatlantic wireless communications beyond a shadow of doubt in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia one year later.
In 1902, Oliver Heaviside proposed the existence of the Kennelly-Heaviside Layer of the ionosphere which bears his name. Heaviside's proposal included means by which radio signals are transmitted around the Earth's curvature. Heaviside's proposal, coupled with Planck's law of black body radiation, may have hampered the growth of radio astronomy for the detection of electromagnetic waves from celestial bodies until 1932 (and the development of high frequency radio transceivers). Also in 1902, Arthur Edwin Kennelly discovered some of the ionosphere's radio-electrical properties.
In 1912, the U.S. Congress imposed the Radio Act of 1912 on amateur radio operators, limiting their operations to frequencies above 1.5 MHz (wavelength 200 meters or smaller). The government thought those frequencies were useless. This led to the discovery of HF radio propagation via the ionosphere in 1923.
In 1926, Scottish physicist Robert Watson-Watt introduced the term ionosphere in a letter published only in 1969 in Nature:
We have in quite recent years seen the universal adoption of the term 'stratosphere'..and..the companion term 'troposphere'... The term 'ionosphere', for the region in which the main characteristic is large scale ionisation with considerable mean free paths, appears appropriate as an addition to this series.
Edward V. Appleton was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1947 for his confirmation in 1927 of the existence of the ionosphere. Lloyd Berkner first measured the height and density of the ionosphere. This permitted the first complete theory of short wave radio propagation. Maurice V. Wilkes and J. A. Ratcliffe researched the topic of radio propagation of very long radio waves in the ionosphere. Vitaly Ginzburg has developed a theory of electromagnetic wave propagation in plasmas such as the ionosphere.
In 1962 the Canadian satellite Alouette 1 was launched to study the ionosphere. Following its success were Alouette 2 in 1965 and the two ISIS satellites in 1969 and 1971, further AEROS -A and -B in 1972 and 1975, all for measuring the ionosphere.
See also[edit]References[edit]Davies, Kenneth (1990). Ionospheric Radio. IEE Electromagnetic Waves Series #31. London, UK: Peter Peregrinus Ltd/The Institution of Electrical Engineers. ISBN 0-86341-186-X. Hargreaves, J. K., "The Upper Atmosphere and Solar-Terrestrial Relations". Cambridge University Press, 1992,Kelley, M. C, and Heelis, R. A., "The Earth's Ionosphere: Plasma Physics and Electrodynamics". Academic Press, 1989.Leo F. McNamara. (1994) ISBN 0-89464-804-7 "Radio Amateurs Guide to the Ionosphere".Rawer,K.:"Wave Propagation in the Ionosphere". Kluwer Academic Publ., Dordrecht 1993 ISBN 0-7923-0775-5.D. Bilitza, "International Reference Ionosphere 2000,".Radio Science 36, #2, pp 261''275, 2001.J. Lilensten et P.-L. Blelly: Du Soleil la Terre, A(C)ronomie et m(C)t(C)orologie de l'espace, Collection Grenoble Sciences, Universit(C) Joseph Fourier Grenoble I, 2000. ISBN 978-2-86883-467-6P.-L. Blelly and D. Alcayd(C), Ionosphere, in: Y. Kamide/A. Chian, Handbook of the Solar-Terrestrial Environment, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 189''220, 2007. doi:10.1007/11367758_8H. Volland, Atmospheric Electrodynamics, Springer Verlag, Berlin, 1984.External links[edit]
Air Force prepares to dismantle HAARP ahead of summer shutdown | State News | ADN.com
Sun, 18 May 2014 00:52
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.
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 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 superweapon 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, Murkowski 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 $1 billion investment for a small nuclear reactor is a huge obstacle.
Reach Dermot Cole at dermot@alaskadispatch.com.
Bank$ters
Corporate lawyer jumps to his death from 22nd-floor Central Park West apartment: cops
Sun, 18 May 2014 09:01
A high-powered corporate lawyer jumped to his death from his luxury Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park, police said Saturday.
Stephen Hertz jumped from his home on the 22nd floor of the highrise on Central Park West near 105th St. about 9:20 p.m. Friday, cops said, landing in a tree.
Emergency responders had to cut down branches to get to his mangled body, a police source said.
Hertz, 55, was a partner in Midtown lawfirm Debevoise & Plimpton, where he specialized in venture capitalism and mergers and acquisitions.
bpaddock@nydailynews.com
Deutsche Bank boss' video message to traders: 'Stop being boastful and vulgar'
Sat, 17 May 2014 07:48
Deutsche Bank's co-head of corporate banking and securities Colin Fan has told traders and salesman that he has ''lost patience'' with their behaviour in a ''clean up your act'' video message.
The message was distributed internally to traders and sales staff. As a result it was quickly circulating around the City and beyond.
In the recording, a sober looking Mr Fan says: ''Some of you are falling way short of our established standards. Being boastful, indiscreet and vulgar is not ok. It will have serious consequences for your career and I have lost patience on this issue.''
He went on: ''Communications that run even a small risk of being seen as unprofessional stops right now. I need you to exercise good sense and sound judgement. Think carefully about what you say and how you say it, if not it will have serious consequences for you personally.''
Deutsche Bank is Germany's most prestigious financial institution and has a major presence in the City of London. But it is beset with regulatory difficulties and is known to have been caught up in the Financial Conduct Authority's Libor and foreign exchange trading investigations.
The Libor scandal has shone a deeply unflattering light on the behaviour of traders at numerous banks, with regulators publishing lurid emails and electronic chats sent between traders at Barclays, UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Holland's Rabobank so far, in addition to brokers such as Icap and RP Martin.
Some have become infamous. They include the external trader who promised a Barclays trader a ''bottle of Bollinger'' for their help with Libor, an interest rate used to price a huge range of financial products. ''Dude. I owe you big time!'' they said, alongside the promise of a bottle of bubbly.
In others traders gave themselves childish nicknames while peppering their chats with profanities and using boastful terms such as ''humungous'' to describes deals they were involved in.
If Deutsche is on the hit list, it can expect similar treatment. The bank has already paid a '‚¬725m penalty to the EU which found traders had colluded to fix rates linked to Libor. It was the biggest single fine in a total of '‚¬1.7bn charged to six banks.
With more fines expected to follow, the finance house has been desperately trying to clean up its image.
A spokesman said that Mr Fan's missive is part of that. ''A new culture is taking hold, step by step, here at Deutsche Bank. The substance and tone of this video is intentionally direct and part of an ongoing programme. We expect every employee to understand and comply with our standards,'' they said.
Banks such as Deutsche, JP Morgan and others have increasingly sought to curtail access to venues such as chat rooms in a bid to at least curtail their traders behaviours.
Despite the skills which see banks handing star traders salaries that take them into the rockstar league, many appear not to have noticed that e-mails and even chats over trading terminals can be easily made available to watchdogs. In addition to the casual discussion of unethical, and potentially illegal activities, bosses at some City institutions have become concerned about the level of casual misogyny found across all or predominantly male trading floors.
''They'll think nothing of trading lewd comments about the appearance of any woman unfortunate enough to find themselves in their vicinity,'' said one industry source.
But another banking source warned that such efforts as Mr Fan's could have limited success: ''Banks have to make money. That's what they are there to do. The question people have to ask is whether they want to be the person to sack the top rainmaker because of a few off-colour remarks?''
Vaccine$
The CDC Comes Out Swinging for Truvada, an HIV-Preventing Miracle Drug
Sun, 18 May 2014 09:00
Truvada, the other little blue pill.Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Truvada, which prevents HIV infection with a single daily pill, is the miracle drug that almost nobody takes. It prevents HIV more reliably than condoms, which can break. It has exceedingly minimal side effects. It's covered by most private insurers and state Medicaid programs. But because of its novelty, doctors have been wary of prescribing it'--and because of the absurd stigma it still carries, its target audience has been hesitant to take it.
That's all about to change. This week, as part of its cheerfully named Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC came out swinging for Truvada, unequivocally encouraging health care professionals to prescribe the drug to numerous at-risk groups. So far, those groups include anybody in a serodiscordant relationship, non-monogamous gay and bi men who sometimes have unprotected sex, straight men and women who sometimes have unprotected sex with drug users or bi men, and anybody who injects illicit drugs.
To my mind, these categories are still a bit under-inclusive. It's alarmingly easy to get HIV through anal sex: Condoms are more likely to break during anal intercourse than vaginal intercourse, and the HIV transmission risk from anal sex is 18 times higher than from vaginal penetration. As I've written before, there's nothing inherently unhealthy about anal sex. But unless you're in a monogamous relationship with someone who's HIV-negative, the risk of HIV transmission during gay anal intercourse is always going to be a little higher than you're probably comfortable with.
Of course, I understand why the CDC didn't simply recommend Truvada for all sexually active gay men: That'd be going too far, too soon, and might carry an insulting, even condescending undertone. But the spirit of the new guidelines clearly leans in that direction. Truvada isn't necessary for every man who has sex with another man. But if you're a man who has sex with men, plural, you should consider getting a prescription. By this point, the science on Truvada is largely settled. It's only the stigma that continues to prevent gay Americans from fully embracing a drug that could save their lives.
Statins row: Critics are biased, says doctor who warned of drugs' side-effects
Sat, 17 May 2014 07:48
Responding to the BMJ's decision to withdraw statements from two articles, following complaints by Professor Rory Collins, of Oxford University, Dr Aseem Malhotra pointed out that the papers' main claim, that statins do not reduce mortality rates among people with a low risk of heart disease, had not been challenged.
Cholesterol-lowering statins are currently taken by around seven million people in the UK. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended earlier this year that they should be prescribed to patients with a heart attack risk as low as one in 10, following research overseen by Professor Collins.
Dr Malhotra, a London cardiologist, pointed out that Professor Collins' research unit ''received millions in research funding from the pharmaceutical industry''. He also claimed that Professor Collins lacked the perspective of ''front-line doctors'' given by day-to-day contact with patients. He said ''I believe he therefore has a biased view.''
Some doctors have questioned the ''over-medication'' of patients, claiming the side-effects of statins outweigh any benefit they may deliver to low-risk populations.
The debate was revived this week after the BMJ announced it would be withdrawing statements from two articles, one a study by Harvard clinician John Abramson and colleagues, and the other a comment piece by Dr Malhotra, which claimed that 20 per cent of patients suffered side effects.
The claim was based on a real-world, uncontrolled study, in which it was not clear whether the adverse events had occurred as a result of statins or other factors. In correction statements for both articles, the BMJ said that neither had ''reflect[ed] necessary caveats'' or ''take[n] sufficient account of the uncontrolled nature of the study''.
Dr Malhotra told The Independent that he thought the BMJ had been ''absolutely correct'' to clarify the articles, but pointed out that there was still a ''discrepancy'' between side effects reported by trials sponsored by the drugs industry and ''real world experience''.
Professor Collins has said previously that evidence shows statins are ''very well tolerated'' by patients, with a small increase in diabetes and one in 10,000 patients suffering muscle weakness.
Dr Malhotra called for the pharmaceutical industry to release all trial data on statins to allow doctors to have ''more honest and open discussions with patients''.
''The fact that [there is] such a discrepancy between side effects reported in industry sponsored trials and real world experience needs to be seriously examined and cannot be resolved until industry allows full access to data to third parties,'' Dr Malhotra said. ''The pharmaceutical industry has a financial interest to expand the use of their drugs to as many people as possible. Winding back from these harms and excesses is one if the greatest challenges facing modern medicine.''
Professor Collins did not respond to a request for a comment.
Woman's cancer killed by measles virus in unprecedented trial.
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:14
Her name is Stacy Erholtz. For years, the 50-year-old mom from Pequot Lakes, Minn., battled myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She had few options left.
She had been through chemotherapy treatments and two stem cell transplants. But it wasn't enough. Soon, scans showed she had tumors growing all over her body.
One grew on her forehead, destroying a bone in her skull and pushing on her brain. Her children named it Evan, her doctor said. Cancer had infiltrated her bone marrow.
A nurse uses a syringe to prepare an injection of the combined Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination at an MMR drop-in clinic in 2013. (GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
So, as part of a two-patient clinical trial, doctors at the Mayo Clinic injected Erholtz with 100 billion units of the measles virus '' enough to inoculate 10 million people.
Her doctor said they were entering the unknown.
Five minutes into the hour-long process, Erholtz got a terrible headache. Two hours later, she started shaking and vomiting. Her temperature hit 105 degrees, Stephen Russell, the lead researcher on the case, told The Washington Post early Thursday morning.
''Thirty-six hours after the virus infusion was finished, she told me, 'Evan has started shrinking,''' Russell said. Over the next several weeks, the tumor on her forehead disappeared completely and, over time, the other tumors in her body did, too.
Russell said he and his team had engineered the virus to make it more suitable for cancer therapy. And, after just one dose of it, Erholtz's cancer went into remission. She has been completely cleared of the disease, Russell wrote in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Though, in this trial, the treatments were successful on only one of the two patients.
And Tanios Bekaii-Saab, a researcher at James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute in Ohio, said the study must be confirmed in large randomized clinical trials '-- where many hopes get dashed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
''Unless we get to the third stage of development, we are cautiously optimistic,'' he said.
Accordingthe clinic's statement released Wednesday:
In a proof of principle clinical trial, Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated that virotherapy '-- destroying cancer with a virus that infects and kills cancer cells but spares normal tissues '-- can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma. '...
Oncolytic virotherapy '-- using re-engineered viruses to fight cancer '-- has a history dating back to the 1950s. Thousands of cancer patients have been treated with oncolytic viruses from many different virus families (herpes viruses, pox viruses, common cold viruses, etc.). However, this study provides the first well-documented case of a patient with disseminated cancer having a complete remission at all disease sites after virus administration.
''What this all tells us is something we never knew before '' we never knew you could do this in people,'' Russell said. ''It's a very important landmark because now we know it can happen. It's a game changer. And I think it will drive a development in the field.''
The Star Tribune explained how it works:
[Viruses] bind to tumors and use them as hosts to replicate their own genetic material; the cancer cells eventually explode and release the virus. Antiviral vaccines that have been rendered safe can produce the same effects and can also be modified to carry radioactive molecules to help destroy cancer cells without causing widespread damage to healthy cells around the tumors. The body's immune system then attacks any remaining cancer that carries remnants of the vaccine's genetic imprint.
Russell said the trial taught the medical researchers two things: ''No. 1, you need a really big dose and No. 2, the patient needs to not have an antibody to the virus.''
Russell said the treatment worked in Erholtz, whose tumors were mostly in her bone marrow. However, it was unsuccessful in the other patient, whose tumors were mainly in her leg muscles, the Star-Tribune reported. He said more research is needed to know how the nature of the tumor affects the virus.
For now, once the vaccine has been administered, the body's immune system will recognize it the second time and attack it. Russell said an upcoming clinical trial will look at breaking down the immune system before treatment.
Also, many people have had the vaccine, though, Russell said patients with myeloma often have weakened immune systems, which can allow the virus to work anyway.
Eventually, this type of technique could become a standardized treatment for cancers such as myeloma or pancreatic cancer, Saab said.
The next step for this method is another clinical trial, which is expected to launch by September, to see if the massive measles dose works on a large number of patients.
Other such trials are going on across the country, such as the NeuVax clinical trial for patients at risk for breast cancer recurrence. Another one, which is run by the Providence Cancer Center, will use bacteria instead of viruses to treat glioblastoma, a type of common brain cancer, according to Medical Daily.
As for Erholtz, her next step is an annual checkup next month, but she's optimistic.
''We don't let the cancer cloud hang over our house, let's put it that way, or we would have lived in the dark the last 10 years,'' Erholtz told the Star Tribune.
Antidepressant Celexa, or citalopram, may reduce plaques linked to Alzheimer's
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:26
ST. LOUIS, May 14 (UPI) --The antidepressant Celexa, or citalopram, may reduce production of brain plaques linked to Alzheimer's disease.Senior author John Cirrito, an assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania said amyloid beta is a protein produced by normal brain activity. However, these protein levels rise in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's causing them to clump together into plaques.
The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, found citalopram stopped the growth of plaques in mice and in young adults who were cognitively healthy, a single dose of the antidepressant lowered the production of amyloid beta -- the primary ingredient in plaques -- by 37 percent.
"Antidepressants appear to be significantly reducing amyloid beta production, and that's exciting," senior author John Cirrito, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University, said in a statement.
"
But while antidepressants generally are well tolerated, they have risks and side effects. Until we can more definitively prove that these drugs help slow or stop Alzheimer's in humans, the risks aren't worth it. There is still much more work to do."
The scientists said the findings were encouraging, but they cautioned it would be premature for people to take antidepressants solely to slow Alzheimer's disease.
ADHD
NYTimes: Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries
DPRK
Kim Jong-un's 'executed' ex-girlfriend miraculously reappears on North Korean state television
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:59
In what is a miraculous turn of events, singer Hyon Song-wyol seems to have come back from the dead after being interviewed during a state broadcast.
Last year, reports from newspapers in neighbouring South Korea reported that Hyon had been one of a group of musicians arrested and then machine gunned down after charges of pornography were brought against her.
According to the reports, the singer, along with band members of the Unhasu Orchestra, the Wangjaesan Light Music Band and the Moranbong Band were accused of filming themselves having sex with one another and then selling the recordings.
Up until now, Hyon was thought to have been dead for almost a year.
This was corroborated by the South Korean intelligence chief, Nam Jae-Joon, who said in October that he was aware of an execution.
However, Hyon was seen recently on North Korean television, praising her leader for his work to help the arts sector in the country.
North Korea has always denied the reports calling them ''unpardonable'', saying the rumours were the work of ''psychopaths'' in the South Korean government.
The singer was a big star in Korea before she went missing from the public eye last year, with big patriotic hits such as "The Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang" and her biggest hit "Excellent Horse Like Lady" part of her repertoire.
During this popularity she is said to have had a relationship with the now North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after they met nearly a decade ago.
However, the then leader and father of Jong-un, Kim Jong-il reportedly disapproved of the relationship and forced his son to end it.
Hyon was then said to have married an army officer to whom she had a baby.
LNG/GAS/OIL
New oil era in US? Washington mulls lifting 41-yr export ban
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:57
Published time: May 14, 2014 14:59Edited time: May 15, 2014 08:25The US government is considering doing away with a four-decade-old law that bans the sale and export of American oil abroad. The decision follows a slew of US-led strategic wars and sanctions in the Middle East that have raised oil prices and demand.
The policy shift comes on the heels of the crisis in Ukraine, as the US may be taking advantage of an opportunity to disrupt Russian oil exports to Europe. The US produces 10 percent of global crude oil supply, but exports precisely zero barrels because of a ban Congress set in reaction to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo.
Washington is seriously considering changing federal laws to let oil flow abroad, according to US Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz.
''The issue of crude oil exports is under consideration'...A driver for this consideration is that the nature of the oil we're producing may not be well matched to our current refinery capacity," Moniz said on Tuesday at the end of an energy conference in Seoul, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Many Democrats in Congress oppose the idea, as lawmakers believe newfound oil wealth should be kept inside the US to keep domestic energy prices low.
The idea is being floated because of a tremendous supply surplus, resulting resulted from hydraulic-fracturing technology, also known as fracking, which has increased the country's oil and gas production capacity. The International Energy Agency predicts the US will become the world's largest oil producer by 2020, and could be energy-independent by 2037.
However, the US is still a net importer of gas, and in 2013, imported 1.3 cubic feet for domestic consumption.
The US has used war and revolutions as a tool to crush their oil producing competition, leaving oil exporting countries like Iraq, Venezuela, Iran and Libya in a disadvantageous position when it comes to developing their oil industry potential.
''The rise in US oil and energy production is made possible by major investment in fracking, and that is made possible by the high price of oil obtained since the US invaded Iraq and destroyed its state-owned oil industry,'' William Dores, a political analyst at the New-York based International Action Center, told RT.
''War in the Middle East, whether it's the destruction of Iraq, the bombing of Libya, the sanctions on Iran'... have served to keep prices high and restrict production, which has given the US a big edge,'' Dores said.
Six of the top ten nations in terms of proven oil reserves cannot export their oil in full, because of sanctions or intervention by the US.
''The war in Iraq is the best thing that ever happened for ExxonMobil and Chevron and the biggest US oil producers. It took 10 percent of the world's oil supply off the market; that's what the sanctions in Iran are about,'' said Dores.
It took Iraq years to recover from the blow delivered by the sanctions, the US invasion and the subsequent civil war. It is now the second largest OPEC producer, having surpassed Iran.
Iraq's output only began to rise four years ago after partnering with big oil companies such as BP, ExxonMobil, and Eni, which are looking to profit despite security challenges.
''These countries are not getting any benefit from this oil, it's not like anyone is investing in roads or electricity or anything else,'' Lawrence Freeman of the Executive Intelligence Review Magazine told RT.
Libya's oil production plummeted from 1.4 million barrels a day in 2011 to 150,000 barrels a day in March.
Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, but conflict has derailed its oil production capabilities. Major international energy companies operating there hope production will pick up.
Syria's oil production is in shambles due to civil war; in the last three years it has gone down from 400,000 barrels to 25,000 barrels per diem.
''I think the political and economic destruction of these countries goes together with an increase of control by these oil companies,'' said Freeman.
The US currently imports its oil from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq, as well as Nigeria and other South American countries.
In April, crude oil production in America averaged 8.3 million barrels a month and imports averaged 9.6 million barrels. Crude oil imports averaged 15.9 million barrels a month as of May 2.
The US Energy Information Administration predicts that the spot price of Brent crude oil will decline throughout 2014, dropping from the current barrel price of $108 to $103 by the fourth quarter.
Washington's Shale Boom Going Bust
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:52
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 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.''
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 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 strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds 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''
2TTH
Laos Oil & Gas News - Oil & Gas Industry Today
Sun, 18 May 2014 00:30
Oil & Gas Industry Today by EIN Newsdesk & EIN Presswire (a press release distribution service)
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Veertien doden vliegtuigongeluk Laos | nu.nl/buitenland | Het laatste nieuws het eerst op nu.nl
Sat, 17 May 2014 22:32
Bekijk video
Daarbij zijn veertien doden gevallen, onder wie de minister van Defensie van het land in Zuidoost-Azi, generaal Douangchay Phichit en de minister van Openbare Veiligheid, Thongban Saengaphon.
Drie inzittenden overleefden het ongeluk met een vliegtuig van het type Antonov 74TK-300. De groep hoogwaardigheidsbekleders was op weg naar een plechtigheid in het noorden van het land, meldden media in de regio zaterdag.
De autoriteiten meldden aanvankelijk een hoger aantal doden.
Bekijk beelden:
Ottomania
Turkish PM filmed threatening man with a slap - Al Jazeera English
Sat, 17 May 2014 07:46
Turkish PM filmed threatening man with a slap
Umut Uras
Last updated: 12 minutes ago
Video taken in Soma, where mining accident killed 298, shows Erdogan telling a man he will be slapped for booing him.A video has emerged of Turkey's prime minister threatened a young man with a slap if he booed him on a visit to a town recovering from a mining disaster.
The video, released by Turkey's Dogan News Agency, was apparently taken during Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit on Wednesday to the eastern town of Soma - a day after nearly 300 people died as they worked underground.
In the video, Erdogan walks with his bodyguards as Soma residents around him boo. Then he approaches a young man and says: "If you boo this country's prime minister, you get slapped."
The accident in Soma has been controversial not only because of lax safety standard accusations targeting the government, but also incidents involving an aide of Erdogan and the prime minister himself during his Soma visit.
Photos showing Yusuf Yerkel, an adviser to Erdogan, kicking a protester held down by Turkish police during the visit emerged earlier in the week.
Confirming the photo's authenticity, Yerkel said in a press statement on Thursday that he was sorry "he could not keep his calm in the face of the provocations" in Soma.
Angry crowds
Erdogan featured in earlier videos where he is alleged to have threatened protesters with a slap.
Shaky videos with different angles taken in a chaotic and crowded atmosphere make it difficult to detect the exact circumstances of the incident. However, in the beginning of one of the videos, Erdogan is seen saying, "Come and boo to my face," while walking among angry crowds who are chanting for his resignation.
Then he enters a market shop where the alleged slapping took place.
The Soma man, named Taner Kuruca, talked to the national media after the incident and said Erdogan did not mean to slap him, calling the action "involuntary". He added that he was not a protester.
He told Turkish media: "I was not one of the protesters. I came face to face with the prime minister. As his bodyguards started to push, the prime minister unfortunately did something involuntarily and slapped me while I was walking backwards, because he was angry at the crowd and he could not control himself."
Protests have taken place in various Turkish cities as the extent of the disaster, with at least 298 deaths, becomes clear. Demonstrations have targeted mine owners, accusing them of ignoring safety standards and Erdogan's government of being too close to businessmen and insensitive to the tragedy.
In the days following the accident, police clashed with protesters in Turkey's three biggest cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir as well as other ones.
The Turkish company that owns the mine has defended its safety record and senior Turkish officials have denied allegations of poor government oversight.
Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Thriceee
Turkey mine disaster: Tear gas fired at Soma protesters.
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:17
16 May 2014Last updated at 13:03 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Turkish police fired water cannon at protesters
Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of protesters in the eastern town of Soma, where some 300 miners died on Tuesday.
The demonstrators in the town shouted anti-government slogans.
The protest occurred after the mine operators held a news conference to deny any negligence over the disaster.
There have been angry anti-government rallies across Turkey for the last three days over what has become the country's worst-ever mine disaster.
An explosion sent carbon monoxide gas into the mine's tunnels while 787 miners were underground.
Up to 18 are still missing. Another 363 escaped, while 122 are injured.
'Unexplained'Several thousand demonstrators gathered in the centre of Soma on Friday, shouting: "People of Soma, show your solidarity with the miners."
They scattered into side streets as police intervened.
"We have done nothing wrong here," one woman told the BBC. "They don't even let us feel our pain."
Earlier, representatives from Soma Holding defended their response to the disaster, telling a news conference that their priority had been to save lives.
They added that an unexplained build-up of heat in the mine appeared to have caused the collapse.
"There is no negligence of ours in this incident," said plant manager Akin Celik.
But Sengiz Shahan, who used to worked at the mine, told the BBC that he and his fellow miners were too afraid to complain of bad safety standards.
'Insensitive'Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that a fire was still burning inside the mine on Friday, but it was "declining".
He said anyone negligent about safety at the mine would be punished, adding: "We won't take any notice of their tears."
Relatives of the miners who died held prayers on Friday at the cemetery in Soma where they were buried.
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to push a man during his visit to Soma, as Orla Guerin reports
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised for being insensitive in his reaction to the disaster, by appearing to suggest that it was a fact of life.
And pictures of Mr Erdogan appearing to slap a protester in a local supermarket have been shown in the Turkish media.
His aide Yusuf Yerkel made headlines on Thursday when photos emerged of him appearing to kick a protester in Soma.
Turkey mine explosion: This disaster deals another blow to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian rule
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:05
When the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Soma on Wednesday he was forced to take a refuge in a supermarket as crowds shouted that he was a thief and liar. One of his aides was photographed kicking a protester who was on the ground. There have been demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara blaming the government for failing to do enough to prevent the accident. One banner carried by demonstrators read: ''It's not an accident, it's murder.''
All this happened just as Mr Erdogan was expected to announce his candidacy for the presidential election in August. The opposition points to his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) opposition to tougher safety regulations in mines. As recently as two weeks ago it voted down a proposal in parliament for an investigation into accidents in mines at Soma.
Mr Erdogan was always going to carry some of the blame for the disaster because his party has been in power since 2002 and because it is notorious for its cosy relations with construction and mining companies. But he added to the odium by making a speech on a visit to Soma last week when he mixed his regrets for the disaster with remarks about the inevitability of heavy loss of life in coal mining round the world. ''These are normal things,'' he said.
This attitude is not cutting much ice with Turkish miners. Erkan Akay, a local opposition MP, says that a worker in Turkey is 8.5 times more likely to die in an accident than a worker in the EU. In the mining sector the International Labour Organisation says that Turkey has the worst record in Europe and the third worst in the world.
How far is this going to damage Mr Erdogan politically? Two themes have emerged in Turkish politics over the last year. There has been a stream of political scandals. At the same time, Mr Erdogan and the AKP retain strong support as shown by their triumph in the 30 March local elections when the AKP won 42.8 per cent of the vote while the opposition remains divided and unable, so far, to choose a presidential candidate.
None of this is very new. Whenever there has been an election rather than a military coup to decide who holds power in Turkey it is the centre right that has won with a moderate Islamic programme. Mr Erdogan has also delivered on economic development that may be rickety at present, but has vastly increased living standards. On vital issues like relations between the state and its Kurdish population, Mr Erdogan and the AKP are the only ones with the political strength to negotiate a long-term agreement.
Like Tony Blair in Britain after winning his third general election, Mr Erdogan has been at the top long enough to acquire a long list of opponents, including former allies, who have little in common except opposition to the Prime Minister. There were the demonstrations over property development in Istanbul last year that exploded into protests across the country. Well-attested accusations of ministerial corruption led to a purge of the police and judiciary. Foreign envoys complained that details of confidential meetings were leaked.
Mr Erdogan has behaved as if victory at the polls gave him the right and ability to monopolise power. He has successfully chipped away at the security services, army and judiciary to establish his over-riding authority, but this means he is blamed for anything going wrong such as the Soma mine disaster.
Shut Up Slave!
"Feeding The Homeless" Is A Crime In Increasingly More US Cities
Sat, 17 May 2014 07:40
Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,
Have you ever given food to a homeless person? Well, if you do it again in the future it might be a criminal act depending on where you live. Right now, there are dozens of major U.S. cities that have already passed laws against feeding the homeless. As you will read about below, in some areas of the country you can actually be fined hundreds of dollars for just trying to give food to a hungry person. I know that sounds absolutely insane, but this is what America is turning into. Communities all over the country are attempting to "clean up the streets" by making it virtually illegal to either be homeless or to help those that are homeless. Instead of spending more money on programs to assist the homeless, local governments are bulldozing tent cities and giving homeless people one way bus tickets out of town. We are treating some of the most vulnerable members of our society like human garbage, and it is a national disgrace.
What does it say about our country when we can't even give a warm sandwich to a desperately hungry person that is sleeping on the streets? A retired couple down in Florida named Debbie and Chico Jimenez wanted to do something positive for their community during their retirement years, so they started feeding the homeless in Daytona Beach. But recently the police decided to crack down on their feeding program and slapped everyone involved with a $373 fine...
For the past year, the Jimenezes have set up shop every Wednesday on Manatee Island in Daytona Beach, Fla., where they feed hot dogs, chicken, pasta salad and other BBQ staples to about 100 homeless people, WFTV reported. Handing out meals is just one aspect of the ministry the two founded, Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word, to help people living in poverty.
But on Wednesday, the Jimenezes said that without warning, they and four other volunteers were accosted by police, fined and told that they could be thrown in jail if they continue their program, according to NBC News.
Each of the six was fined $373 and were given 10 days to either pay up or go to court.
"We're going to court," Debbie Jimenez, 52, a former auto parts store manager, told NBC News. "The police don't like it. But how can we turn our backs on the hungry? We can't."
Don't the police down in Daytona Beach have something better to do with their time?
Sadly, more than 50 major cities have passed laws against feeding the homeless at this point. It appears that "cleaning up the streets" has become a big point of emphasis all over the nation.
And what the city of Camden, New Jersey just did is even worse than what happened in Daytona Beach.
Camden just bulldozed an entire tent city and dumped all of the belongings of the homeless people living there into the trash...
Hazmat teams showed up at the camps in the early morning to search for syringes. A drug-sniffing dog followed a police officer around the area. And bulldozers tossed trash and discarded belongings into dumpsters before razing the premises.
Over the past few weeks, flyers had warned people in the tent cities that this was going to happen. Yet it still seemed surreal to many of them that their communities were about to be demolished for good.
But for most of the people that were living in that tent city, there is no place else for them to go. The homeless shelters in the area are at max capacity, and so many of them will end up sleeping in the streets without any shelter at all...
Aaron Howe, the "mayor" of a tent city that had 12 tents the night before eviction day, said he had called every shelter in town and not a single place had room for him and his girlfriend.
"There's no available spots, and the city is saying if we pitch a tent somewhere else they're gonna rip it down," he said. "It's not gonna look good when there's a bunch of homeless on the streets."
Camden has got to be one of the most mismanaged communities in the entire country. Why is Camden spending time and money bulldozing homeless communities when it has so many other problems? For much more on the nightmare that Camden has become, please see my previous article entitled "Camden, New Jersey: One Of Hundreds Of U.S. Cities That Are Turning Into Rotting, Decaying Hellholes".
Other big cities that are a little bit more "progressive" are attempting to get rid of their homeless populations by giving them one way tickets out of town. Some of the major cities that are doing this include San Diego and San Francisco...
When her Greyhound bus pulled into town 6 months ago, Maria Castillo got off with two bags and dream.
"Start over, start a new life," said the 42-year-old.
Castillo had been homeless in San Diego when a social worker offered her a one-way bus ticket to Portland.
"They said come here because all the opportunities in Portland, Oregon," she said.
But Castillo said life isn't much better in her new town. She's still homeless. A Unit 8 investigation found several cities from San Diego to San Francisco are providing one-way bus tickets to the homeless.
As shocking as everything that you just read is, what one lawmaker out in Hawaii is doing tops it all. In a previous article, I described how a state representative named Tom Brower has actually been using a sledgehammer to destroy shopping carts used by homeless people. Just check out the following short excerpt from an RT article that was published a few months ago...
In the past two weeks residents in Hawaii noticed what appeared to be a crazed individual carrying a sledgehammer through the streets of Honolulu, a state lawmaker looking to rid the city of homeless people by targeting their belongings.
State Representative Tom Brower (D) is currently dedicated to dealing out his own personal brand of ''justice'' by seeking out homeless people and destroying their possessions. Brower estimates that he has used the sledgehammer to smash at least 30 shopping carts, rendering them useless by bashing in the front wheels.
''I got tired of telling people I'm trying to pass laws. I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,'' he told Hawaii News Now. ''I find abandoned junk, specifically shopping carts, and I remove them.''
Is this how our society is going to treat those that are down on their luck from now on?
Where is the love?
Where is the compassion?
Why can't we seem to be able to take care of these people?
The federal government sure seems to have plenty of money to waste on other things. For example, it is being reported that workers at an Obamacare processing facility in Missouri are being paid to do nothing but stare at their computers...
Employees at an ObamaCare processing center in Missouri with a contract worth $1.2 billion are reportedly getting paid to do nothing but sit at their computers.
"Their goals are set to process two applications per month and some people are not even able to do that," a whistleblower told KMOV-TV, referring to employees hired to process paper applications for ObamaCare enrollees.
The facility in Wentzville is operated by Serco, a company owned by a British firm that was awarded $1.2 billion in part to hire 1,500 workers to handle paper applications for coverage under the law, according to The Washington Post.
The whistleblower employee told the station that weeks can pass without data entry workers receiving even a single application to process. Employees reportedly spend their days staring at their computers, according to a KMOX-TV report.
So we have millions upon millions of dollars to waste on that, but we can't take care of our homeless population?
And without a doubt, the need to help the homeless is greater than it ever has been before. Right now, there are 1.2 million public school students in America that are homeless. That number is an all-time record, and it has grown by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
In addition, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity. Even in the midst of this so-called "economic recovery", poverty is absolutely exploding.
And it is going to get a whole lot worse.
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PRINCIPAL CALLS COPS ON MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT OVER DOODLE | PatriotsBillboard
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:32
PARENTS NOT NOTIFIED OF POLICE INTERROGATION, STATES LAWSUIT. HOW FAR HAS THIS COUNTRY FALLEN? THESE PAST 5 YEARS HAVE SEEN AMERICA CHANGE DRASTICALLY WITH MORE CHANGES COMING DUE TO REGULATIONS & POLICIES OBAMA HAS SIGNED INTO LAW.Paul Joseph Watson 5-15-14 A principal at a middle school in Portland, Ore. suspended a student and then called the cops after the boy doodled a picture of a man hanging, another example of the mindless overkill that is becoming prevalent in American schools.The boy's father, Robert Bernard Keller, is suing the Beaverton Police Department and Beaverton School District in Federal Court after his 13-year-old son, B.R.K, was pulled out of class at Raleigh Hills and sent to the principal's office for drawing a picture of a hanging man which was deemed to be threatening by school officials.Despite the boy's parents clearly expressing their demand that he not be interviewed alone, B.R.K. was questioned by both school psychologists and then interrogated by Beaverton Police Department officers about the drawing. His parents were not even notified that the police had been called, according to the lawsuit.''At no time did the officers or school obtain a warrant, contact the minor child's parents to obtain parental consent, provide a counselor or attorney to the minor child or advise B.R.K. of his right against self-incrimination or provide an advocate who could explain,'' reports Courthouse News.The family is seeking $100,000 dollars in damages for violations of the Fourth and 14th Amendments, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional trauma.Stories about children being suspended or even threatened with arrest for harmless drawings, particularly of firearms, have become so commonplace that to list them all would be redundant.A recent similar case involved a student in Chicago who was suspended for wearing a t-shirt which featured an image of an AK-47.When an 8-year-old special needs kid ran away from Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in Allegan, Michigan earlier this year, he was quickly found by school staff in a local store. However, instead of calling Edward Hart's parents, the officials immediately contacted the police and Hart was later charged with two felonies.
Obama Nation
Notwegian diplomat reveals White House fury over Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:08
Morten Wetland, the former Norwegian ambassador to the UN, claimed in an article for the business paper Dagens N...ringsliv this week that, when the Prize was announced, Mr Obama's then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel confronted and ''dressed down'' the country's ambassador to the US, Wegger Str¶mmen. Mr Emanuel reportedly accused Mr Str¶mmen and Norway of ''fawning'' over the freshly elected Mr Obama.
Mr Wetland, now a partner in an Oslo lobbying firm, wrote: ''My most embarrassing day in the United Nations over the years I was the Norwegian ambassador there was the day the award to US President Barack Obama was announced. My colleague in Washington received an overhaul from Obama's chief of staff.''
The White House may have believed that the prize was little more than a ploy to lure the popular new President to Norway, Mr Wetland told the country's English language news service The Local. ''My guess is that the President's staff want to be in control and not to be forced into a position that they have not been seeking themselves,'' he said. ''It could have been perceived that someone was consciously or subconsciously thinking about the prospect of having Obama visit Norway. Obama wouldn't have visited Norway if it hadn't have been for the Peace Prize.''
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year by the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee, who are appointed by the country's parliament. Though the committee is officially independent of the Norwegian government, it is nevertheless made up of former MPs. The current chair of the committee is former Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbj¸rn Jagland. Mr Jagland, who is expected to be replaced this year, led the committee in 2009 and in 2012, when it was criticised for awarding the Peace Prize to the European Union.
President Obama had been in office for less than a fortnight when the deadline for nominations for the 2009 Prize passed, but the panel praised the new US leader for the promises he had made during his election campaign: to fight climate change, to support international diplomacy, and to begin to rid the world of nuclear weapons. ''Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future,'' the committee said in its citation.
Mr Obama was shocked when informed of the Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Institute. ''To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honoured by this prize,'' he said at the time.
Mr Emanuel is now the Mayor of Chicago, but it was in Washington DC that he earned the nickname ''Rahmbo'' for his combative approach to politics. Early in his career he famously sent a large dead fish to a pollster who had displeased him. He demonstrated his flair for international diplomacy as an aide to Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal: when British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Washington on an official visit and was preparing to appear alongside Mr Clinton at a press conference, Mr Emanuel is said to have offered him the immortal words of advice: ''This is important. Don't f*** it up.''
Mr Wetland declined to disclose exactly how he found out about Mr Emanuel's encounter with Mr Str¶mmen.
Ministry of Truth
CNN Fires News Editor Over Plagiarism In Nearly 50 Stories
Sat, 17 May 2014 00:33
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 1323 GMT (2123 HKT)
(CNN) -- CNN has discovered multiple instances of plagiarism by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, a former CNN news editor. She wrote frequently about international news, writing and reporting about Africa, Europe, and the Middle East from our London bureau.
An unpublished story flagged last week during our editing process led to an internal investigation that uncovered other examples in about 50 published stories, and our investigation is ongoing.
We've terminated Gumuchian's employment with CNN, and have removed the instances of plagiarism found in her pieces. In some cases, we've chosen to delete an entire article.
Trust, integrity and simply giving credit where it's due are among the tenets of journalism we hold dear, and we regret that we published material that did not reflect those essential standards.
We also believe in letting audiences know when we've remedied situations that threaten to compromise that trust.
- Meredith Artley, Managing Editor and VP, CNN Digital- Manuel Perez, Editorial Director, CNN Digital- Richard T. Griffiths, Senior Editorial Director and VP, CNN
EUROLand
Portugal Laden With $293 Billion Debt Exits Bailout Plan.
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:27
Portugal exits its international bailout program tomorrow, regaining the economic sovereignty the nation lost after the European debt crisis erupted while facing enduring challenges to its finances.
The Iberian country's 214 billion euros ($293 billion) of debt is the third highest in the euro region as a percentage of gross domestic product. The economy is about 4 percent smaller than in 2010, a year before the government had to ask for an international rescue. Borrowing costs based on 10-year (GSPT10YR) bond yields are almost twice those of France and all three major ratings companies consider the country non-investment grade.
''There will now be two or three decades of lean times for the state, which will have to purge that debt burden,'' said Diogo Teixeira, chief executive officer of Optimize Investment Partners, a Lisbon-based firm that manages 87 million euros in assets including Portuguese government debt. ''The debt burden is sustainable, but it's heavy.''
Portugal decided to mimic Ireland in exiting the bailout without the safety of a precautionary credit line after last month auctioning bonds for the first time since requesting the 78 billion-euro rescue package. While the country has emerged from its longest recession in at least 25 years, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's government must trim spending this year and next to meet deficit targets.
Learning Lessons''I hope that everyone has learned that it's not by following a path of squandering, spending what we don't have and doing everything that is contrary to the sustainability of the economy that we can improve the wellbeing of the Portuguese,'' Luis Marques Guedes, Portugal's minister for parliamentary affairs, said yesterday.
Portugal, which had last received external help from the International Monetary Fund in 1983, had been trying to avoid requesting aid again. European Union and then euro membership had allowed Portugal to gorge on cheaper financing.
With the country's budget deficit at 9.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, the country ended up seeking money a year later as investors turned against European debt after Greece revealed an unexpectedly big hole in its finances.
Former Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said the government at the time had no choice because the interest rates Portugal was being asked to pay had become unsustainable. His successor following elections, Vitor Gaspar, said ''Portugal's imbalances were exposed.'' There had been a ''bust without a boom,'' he said.
Austerity PackageWith the bailout, Portugal sold assets, raised taxes on everything from wages to diesel cars and reduced budget spending by 12 billion euros since 2010. The austerity measures caused a rift in the government coalition after then-Secretary of State for Treasury Maria Luis Albuquerque was named finance minister to replace Gaspar, who quit on July 1.
It started to pay off. The Bank of Portugal said in a March 26 presentation that Portugal in 2013 recorded the first surplus in the balance of trade of goods and services since 1943. The central bank also said that exports will represent 45 percent of GDP (PTGDPQOQ) in 2016, up from 32 percent in 2008.
''Everyone in Portugal understands how important fiscal discipline is,'' Bruno Macaes, Portugal's secretary of state for European affairs, said in an April 2 interview. ''We don't want to go through the same again. So I'm optimistic that this can be sustained in the future. It's not a temporary adjustment.''
Selling AssetsThe government said on Jan. 9 it raised 8.1 billion euros from asset sales, more than the proceeds of about 5 billion euros projected in the bailout program.
Last year it sold shares in postal service CTT-Correios de Portugal SA in the country's first initial public offering since 2008, and also sold airport operator ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal SA. Earlier it sold stakes in utility EDP-Energias de Portugal SA and in REN-Redes Energeticas Nacionais SA, Portugal's power and natural gas grid operator.
The country's borrowing costs dropped since the beginning of 2012, helped by signs of economic recovery and a market rally spurred by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's pledge to do ''whatever it takes'' to defend the euro.
Bonds RallyPortugal's 10-year bond yields fell to as low as 3.44 percent on May 9, the least since 2006, after reaching more than 18 percent in January 2012. While they remain higher than other euro members -- Ireland, Spain and Italy all pay between 2.69 percent to 3.06 percent, while French 10-year bonds yield 1.8 percent -- the drop in yields allowed Portugal to opt against seeking a precautionary line of credit.
The country also built up a cash buffer before the end of the aid program and debt agency IGCP said in an April 2 presentation that it ended 2013 with what it calls a treasury cash position of 15.3 billion euros.
''Portugal was able to accomplish the best possible exit,'' Vice Premier Paulo Portas said on May 8. ''The Portuguese state will stop having the obligation to negotiate its laws line by line with the creditors.''
The country still has its troubles. The economy shrank 1.4 percent last year, the most in the euro region aside from Greece and Cyprus, the European Commission said this month. The jobless rate is at 15.1 percent. The government forecasts the economy will now grow 1.2 percent in 2014 and 1.5 percent in 2015.
Surprise ContractionGDP contracted for the first time in a year in the three months through March as exports dropped. It fell 0.7 percent from the fourth quarter. Economists had predicted a rise of 0.1 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Last week, Portugal's government bond rating was raised to Ba2 from Ba3 by Moody's Investors Service, which cited faster-than-projected improvement in fiscal health. Yet it left Portugal at a junk rating, four months after lifting Ireland out of the non-investment grade category.
The government targets a budget deficit of 4 percent of GDP in 2014 and forecasts the shortfall will drop below the EU's 3 percent limit in 2015. The deficit narrowed to 4.9 percent in 2013, when debt reached 129 percent of GDP.
Prime Minister Coelho will convene his cabinet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. local time to mark the end of the aid program, though it expects the final disbursement from the package in June.
''We are on the right path to never again allow Portugal to go through another collapse, another rescue, another national emergency,'' Coelho said in a televised address on May 4, flanked by his ministers. ''May 17, 2014, will stay in our history as a day of paying tribute to all the Portuguese, because without their effort it wouldn't have been possible.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Joao Lima in Lisbon at jlima1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Heather Harris at hharris5@bloomberg.net Rodney Jefferson, Dara Doyle
Second Dutch MERS case revealed
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:26
Posted by Zack Newmark on 19:29 CEST, Thursday, 15, May, 2014 in Health, Netherlands | 0 comments
A woman from Den Haag was confirmed by authorities as the second case of MERS in the Netherlands. Dutch public health agency RIVM said the woman is related to the male patient with the respiratory virus currently in quarantine at a Den Haag hospital.
The pair were both infected during a trip to Saudi Arabia where they visited Mecca and Medina. Both are reportedly in stable condition.
The female patient is in an isolation unit at a Zwolle facility.
Investigators are rapidly trying to identify everyone who has come in contact with either of the two. Though MERS is difficult to transfer via most human-to-human interaction, the virus causes the death of nearly 40 percent of those who contact the illness.
Since 2012, MERS has been reported in over 500 people, mostly who either live in our gave visited the Middle East. Of the current outbreak, 110 people have died.
Front page & upper left image: The view through an electron microsope of MERS-coronavirus particles (CDC/Maureen Metcalfe, Cynthia Goldsmith, Azaibi Tamin)
Lawyers fight Dutch terror suspect's arrest, extradition to US
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:25
Posted by Marvin Hokstam on 12:42 CEST, Thursday, 15, May, 2014 in Crime, Netherlands | 0 comments
By Marvin Hokstam
The Rotterdam lawyers of a Somalia born Dutchman who is being held on terrorism charges in Turkey are fighting his extradition to the US.
Achmed D.
''There is no proof that Ahmed D. is even involved in these types of activities. Whatever the Americans have built the foundation of their case on is completely unclear,'' Ahmed's attorney Andr(C) Seebregts told NLTimes today. Seebregts' lawfirm that specializes in human rights violations in terrorism cases, has filed protest against his client's extradition to the US; a Turkish judge is expected to rule on this on May 22.
Ahmed D. (26), the grandson of former Somali president Siad Barre, was raised in the Netherlands. He came here as a toddler in the 1990s with his parents when his grandfather was ejected from the country. He lived here till he was about 17, after which he moved to England where he studied for aircraft mechanic and then to Egypt with his German wife. In August last year Egyptian authorities arrested him at his apartment; apparently they were searching for his roommate. ''He said he does not know much about this roommate and what he was into. And that person had not lived there for at least a year before police raided the apartment,'' Seebregts said.
In March this year Ahmed was suddenly released from prison in Egypt and was transiting through an airport in Turkey on his way back to Amsterdam when he was nabbed by authorities there. Seebregts said that he is questioning the role the Dutch consulate may have played in the US authorities' plans to to have his client's arrested by Turkish authorities.
Attorney Andre Seebregts, @seebregts-saey.nl
Ahmed had traveled to Turkey at the advice of the Dutch consulate in Cairo, because there supposedly were no direct flights to Amsterdam that day. ''The advice he got from the consulate is indeed an element in this case that we are questioning. The Americans rather have that a suspect with a Dutch passport who want to arrest travels to Turkey. If he would arrive in Amsterdam they could request Dutch authorities to arrest and extradite him, but as a Dutch citizen he could apply for a 'return guarantee', meaning that he could request for his trial to be held under Dutch jurisdiction. That could lead to a lower sentence than the one he would get in the US. That is not something the Americans want, so we are questioning why a Dutch citizen was advised to travel through Turkey where all this would not be an issue,'' Seebregts explained.
He said he was also questioning the legitimacy of Achmed's arrest at the airport in Turkey, as the transit area of an airport is supposed to be international territory.
The lawyer said that while all this is playing, Ahmed is mostly happy to be released from the Tora prison in Cairo where he was enduring harsh treatment. ''I was not able to visit him there, but I know he was suffering. He was having it hard at the hands of jailers and fellow inmates,'' said Seebregts. According to him the Tora prison is overcrowded, leaving inmates with insufficient space for comfortable sleep.
While locked up there Ahmed had went on a thirst-strike in protest against the circumstances in the penitentiary. The Netherlands later raised the issue of his health with Egyptian authorities. ''He is happy that at least he is out of there; his family is too,'' said Seebregts, adding though that the young man's relatives are now worried about whether he will receive fair treatment from US authorities.
He said that if Ahmed would be extradited he would likely end up in the notorious ADX Florence prison in Colorado, reportedly the most secure prison in the US prison system. ''Inmates there are under constant lockdown and are not allowed human contact, not even with the prison guards. His family is worried about that,'' said Seebregts.
Front page & upper left image:
Paedophile asks Google to remove pages about his case in wake of historic European Court ruling
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:07
The 'take down' requests to the world's biggest internet search engine came after a European Court ruling on Tuesday that people have the ''right to be forgotten.'' The controversial decision, by the Court of Justice of the European Union, was in response to a case brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results had infringed his privacy. It applies to all web search companies and will affect hundreds of millions of people living in Europe.
The ruling, described as ''disappointing'' by Google, means that web search engines face legal action if they refuse to remove information deemed ''inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.''
And it has emerged that a former British politician seeking re-election has demanded that links to information about his behaviour in office be removed, while a man convicted of possessing child abuse images has requested links to pages about his conviction be deleted. And a doctor wants negative reviews from patients removed from the results, according to the BBC.
The court decision allowing such demands is in contrast to assurances made by the EU's advocate general last year that search engines were not obliged to honour such 'take down' requests. And although EU Commissioner Viviane Reding supported this week's ruling as ''a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans'', Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales dubbed it ''one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I've ever seen'' and warned: ''When will a European Court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn't like it?''
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google, admitted there are ''many open questions'' when asked about the impact of the ruling, during the company's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. ''A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google's perspective that's a balance,'' he commented. ''Google believes having looked at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong.''
The company will need an ''army of removal experts'' to comply with the ruling, according to a source close to the internet giant. And concern is mounting that there will be a wave of demands by people wishing to clean up their past. Emma Carr, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ''It is hardly surprising that people, intent on rewriting their own history, have already requested that Google remove links to articles referring to their past.'' She added: ''Those arguing that this ruling is a successful move towards 'the right to be forgotten' are quite simply wrong, it is going to be of huge detriment to freedom of speech.'' And Ms Carr warned: ''There is little doubt that making intermediaries responsible for the actions of the content of other people will inevitably lead to greater surveillance and a risk of censorship.''
In a statement, a Google spokesman said: ''The ruling has significant implications for how we handle take down requests.'' They added: ''As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.''
Eurozone GDP: France stagnates, Germany grows strongly, Netherlands slumps, Italy contracts
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:24
Over to Greece, where the countdown to European and local elections (the first round of the latter taking place this weekend) has sent passions skyrocketing.
Protestors, including fired school guards who have been demonstrating outside the country's administrative reform ministry since early this morning, see the double poll as the ideal chance to vent their spleen.
The mood outside the administrative reform ministry is as explosive as each of the protestors now gathered outside it. With dismissed school guards vowing to remain on the streets ''for as long as it takes'' authorities have dispatched vanloads of riot police to the area.
Scuffles have intermittently broken out as the guards, who were laid off as part of plans to streamline Greece's bloated public sector, have tried to enter the building.
Harris Bastas who heads the group now representing the 2,000 offloaded school guards told me: ''right now we want to meet the minister [Kyriakos Mitsotakis] and if it takes one, two, three days we will stay here. In fact as long as it takes. Our basic demand is to be reinstated. We want the jobs that we lost in one night,'' he yelled, screaming himself hoarse. ''We want what every state should guarantee its citizens: the right to live with dignity.''
Mitsotakis, who is under immense pressure to trim the civil service from Greece's ''troika'' of creditors at the EU, ECB and IMF, has shown no inclination to meet the guards. Down the road irate finance ministry cleaners, who also lost their jobs at the end of March after being put into a special labour reserve, are similarly demonstrating. Now the emblem of austerity's corrosive effects, the women have become increasingly organised, establishing a stall outside the national economy ministry from where they distribute leaflets describing their plight.
Baustin
FBI killer of Ibragim Todashev revealed as ex-Oakland cop accused of cover-up and abuse
Fri, 16 May 2014 23:15
By Gabriel Black16 May 2014The FBI agent who shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a key witness in the events related to the Boston Marathon bombing, is alleged to have falsified evidence, abused and intimated suspects, and been complicit in corruption during a four-year stint in the Oakland (California) Police Department. This revelation, published by the Boston Globe Wednesday, and ignored by the major American media outlets, supports the notion that Todashev was assassinated by the state because he knew too much.
Todashev was killed by an FBI Special Agent after being detained and questioned in his Florida apartment for over four hours by the agent and two Massachusetts state troopers. The WSWS wrote at the time that Todashev, a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, most likely had some information on Tsarnaev's relationship to intelligence agencies.
The FBI and Massachusetts state police officials withheld the names of the officers involved in the killing, citing fears for their safety. However, an improperly redacted version of the investigative report into the killing was obtained, and its redactions removed, by the Globe .
The FBI shooter has been identified as Aaron McFarlane. Before joining the FBI's Boston office in 2008, McFarlane was accused of various illegal actions while serving in the Oakland Police Department from 2000 to 2004. His history, involving alleged cover-up, planting of evidence, intimidation and violence suggests that he would be a perfect tool in what appears to have been a premeditated state killing.
In a criminal trial against four Oakland police officers accused of planting evidence and beating and kidnapping citizens, McFarlane testified in defense of the officers. During his cross-examination, however, the prosecutor accused McFarlane of falsifying a police report in order to produce evidence that would justify a man's arrest. After this, McFarlane pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination.
McFarlane was also the defendant in two lawsuits directed against him. In one lawsuit, McFarlane was accused of holding down Michael Cole, a convicted drug dealer, while McFarlane's partner stomped on Cole's head. According to the Globe, the incident, which left the plaintiff with an injured eye and broken nose, was retaliation against Cole because his uncle had filed a complaint against McFarlane's partner. The city settled the suit out of court for $22,500.
In the other lawsuit, a friend of Cole, Robert Girard, alleged that McFarlane and his partner attacked and beat him right after he photographed Cole's injuries in the hospital. McFarlane never acknowledged wrongdoing and the city settled the lawsuit for $10,000. The Oakland police department also conducted an internal investigation into both incidents which have been classified and withheld.
Several lawyers linked to the Oakland events spoke to the Globe after being told that Aaron McFarlane was working for the FBI. Ian Kelly, a prosecuting lawyer on the Cole case, said, ''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.'' He told the newspaper that the contents of the lawsuit ''should have thrown up a red flag.'' Another lawyer implied that the FBI had reached ''low into the barrel'' by hiring McFarlane.
Just before the killing of Todashev, one of the state troopers, Joel Gagne, left the room to make a phone call, violating the team's protocol that three officers remain with Todashev. Staying in the room were McFarlane and Curtis Cinelli, a Massachusetts state trooper who, according to the Globe, ''specializes in hunting fugitives.''
Though unarmed, Todashev was shot seven times, three of those bullets in his back and one in his head. No explanation was given of why Todashev was shot in the back three times. An investigative report that exonerated McFarlane nonetheless described two of the shots to the back as being ''not consistent'' with McFarlane's purported position.
Cinelli said that he had his gun drawn but never shot because he was afraid of hurting McFarlane in crossfire. A local Florida coroner's report, however, said evidence pointed to two shooters, not one.
In the aftermath of the event, the media released multiple reports on Todashev's death, given to them by law enforcement agencies, which mutually contradicted each other. Todashev was reported to have attacked an FBI agent with a knife in one story, lunged for the agent's gun in the other, and brandished an ornamental samurai sword in another. All of these differed from the final official account.
In the official investigation into the killing, which spanned ten months, the FBI did not allow the lead prosecutor to record McFarlane's interview. The prosecutor thus declined the interview and received written statements through the FBI.
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VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-DoD Official Details Boko Haram's 'War Against Education' | MRCTV
Sun, 18 May 2014 13:35
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-Kerry Says Chlorine Gas May Have Been Used in Syria But is Vague About Consequences | MRCTV
Sun, 18 May 2014 13:25
patrick.goodenoughPatrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.
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VIDEO-NBC Fears Colleges Becoming 'Islands of Intolerance' As MSNBC Cheers How Commencement Speakers 'Drop Like Flies' | MRCTV
Sun, 18 May 2014 13:20
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
While a Thursday article posted on MSNBC.com celebrated college commencement speakers who "drop like flies" due to to "feisty campus dissent," on Friday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander warned: "On campuses in the last two years, 25 speakers have withdrawn or been disinvited....The growing trend is fueling concern that campuses could become islands of intolerance."
A soundbite was included of Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education observing: "The danger here is that we send a message to students that they have a right to only hear from people that they already agree with. It becomes very difficult to find anyone you can invite to speak who's done anything interesting with their lives."
VIDEO- MSNBC: NEXT 4 MONTHS WILL DECIDE THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET! - YouTube
Sun, 18 May 2014 13:08
VIDEO-France: Cannes to screen controversial DSK movie | euronews, world news
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:53
A controversial film inspired by the downfall of Dominique Strauss Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, is being screened in Cannes on Saturday, May 17.
It is the first time starring Gerard Depardieu is to be shown on the big screen in France. It could also be the last.
''Welcome to New York'' is being released on video-on-demand websites, not in cinemas in the country.
The US producers of the film say they have faced pressure from the French establishment not to release the film.
''Welcome to New York'' sees Depardieu play 'Mr Deveraux'.There are several signs that the character is modelled on Strauss Kahn, known as DSK.
He who was once considered a front-runner to become the president of France, but he went on to face numerous allegations of corruption and was accused of rape by a hotel chamber maid in 2011.
He reached a multi-million euro settlement with the chamber maid.
VIDEO-March in May rallies: Thousands gather to protest against federal budget - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Sun, 18 May 2014 08:32
Thousands of people have gathered in cities across Australia to protest against the Federal Government's 2014 budget.
Protesters angered by the announced budget cuts to Government services - including health and education - gathered in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth today, as part of the nationwide March in May rallies.
In Sydney, the crowd was estimated at up to 10,000 people.
Protesters gathered in Sydney's CBD carrying placards with messages such as "hands off health, education and welfare".
Heather Williams, who works in education, said she was concerned about the Government's changes to unemployment benefits announced in the budget.
"I'm very concerned about the young, unemployed [people] under this budget," she said.
"It really worries me. I know a lot of people who tried very hard to get work."
In Melbourne, the proposed cuts to assistance for unemployed young people were also in focus, as was the lifting of the pension age to 70.
Deputy Greens leader Adam Bandt told the crowd the budget unfairly targets vulnerable people.
"If you say to the Australian people, 'What do you think is better '' asking Gina Rinehart and the big banks and the big polluters to pay a bit more or taking the axe to the young and the sick and the poor?' I know which way this country will vote," he said.
In Brisbane, hundreds of people gathered for a rally at Queens Park in the CBD.
Many of the protesters were angry about the announced cuts to a number of government services.
Here are some of the photos from the rallies that were shared on social media.
External Link Storify: March in May rallies
VIDEO-Chicago Hit with May Snowfall
Sun, 18 May 2014 01:27
Chicago isn't the only place with uncharacteristic cold today. The National Weather Service has forecasted ''unseasonably low temperatures across parts of the Midwest and northern Plains Friday morning, with overnight lows 10-15 degrees below normal'' and ''frost advisories and freeze warnings are in effect across the region.''
Follow Ian on Twitter @IanHanchett
VIDEO-Report: Russian space rocket breaks apart after launch in Kazakhstan - CNN.com
Sun, 18 May 2014 01:27
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
The rocket had veered off path, causing an emergency system to cut off propulsionIt was carrying a communications satellite into orbit and was about 100 miles highIt burned up in the atmosphere, but some small fragments could fall to Earth(CNN) -- A Russian space rocket launch went sour Friday, destroying the booster and its payload, Russian state media said.
Nine minutes after the Proton-M rocket lifted off in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Friday, officials on the ground lost contact with the it, ITAR-Tass reported, citing an official from Russia's Federal Space Agency.
The rocket had veered off path, causing an emergency system to cut off propulsion.
The rocket, which was carrying a communications satellite into orbit, was about 100 miles high into its ascent at the time and burned up in the atmosphere, the agency reported.
But the agency also said that part of the rocket could be in a "non-intended orbit" and small pieces could fall down to Earth.
First U.S. woman in space
Making space history
First satellite in space
First human in space
First American in space
First American to orbit Earth
First woman in space
First casualty on a space mission
First man on the moon
First U.S. space station
First U.S.-Soviet joint mission
First Cuban cosmonaut
First shuttle launch
First African-American astronaut
First untethered flight
First couple in space
First astronaut on top of Everest
First commercial flight to space station
HIDE CAPTION
Friday's mishap marks the second time a Proton rocket has destructed after liftoff within a year and is one in a series of failures.
In July, an unmanned Proton rocket exploded after liftoff over Kazakhstan.
In 2010, another Proton-M rocket carrying three satellites crashed in the Pacific Ocean.
And in 1999, a Proton rocket exploded six minutes after liftoff, destroying the rocket and its payload.
The Russian Federation is known for its active space program; it carried out more than 30 space launches last year, according to a Russian media report.
It was a Russian Proton rocket that placed the first piece of the International Space Station, the Zarya module, into orbit in 1998.
Part of complete coverage on
Space
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
It's hard to describe billions of years of cosmic history. But scientists have used a code to create a model of how the universe as we know it today might have evolved.
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
At least one corner of the solar system may be serving up an ice-and-water sandwich, with the possibility of life on the rocks.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
Planetary nebula Abell 33 has taken on romantic proportions.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
You can't see it happening on Earth, but space itself is stretching. Ever since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been getting bigger.
March 26, 2014 -- Updated 2059 GMT (0459 HKT)
Scientists have added another celestial body to the short list of objects in our solar system that have rings around them.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet that's even farther away than Pluto.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
Our galactic neighborhood just got a lot bigger. NASA announced the discovery of 715 new planets.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT)
Scientists have made a breakthrough in understanding how our world as we know it came to be.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Cassiopeia A was a star more than eight times the mass of our sun before it exploded in the cataclysmic, fiery death astronomers call a supernova.
February 10, 2014 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)
Researchers have found clues that water could be flowing in the present, at least during warm seasons.
February 15, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
The "jelly doughnut" rock that seemed to appear out of nowhere on Mars last month did not fall out of an extraterrestrial pastry box.
February 7, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
It's a dot in the sky.
February 13, 2014 -- Updated 0744 GMT (1544 HKT)
Reports of Jade Rabbit's demise may have been premature.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
It's rare for astronomers to spot a planet in a star cluster. That's partly why a cluster called Messier 67 is so special: We now know that it has three planets orbiting stars.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)
What do you need to map a billion stars? A billion-pixel camera certainly helps.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
NASA's rover Curiosity has now given scientists the strongest evidence to date that the environment on the Red Planet could have supported life billions of years ago.
December 7, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided your multicolored space distraction of the day: images of a swirling, six-sided weather feature on the surface of Saturn.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 2023 GMT (0423 HKT)
Imagine the delight at unwrapping your Christmas present in 2043 and discovering you've been gifted a trip around the Moon.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
A Dutch company says it is moving along with its plan to send four lucky Earthlings to colonize the Red Planet. The catch: They won't ever come back.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
You may have heard it before: billions of years ago Mars probably looked more like Earth does now, with clouds and oceans and a much thicker atmosphere.
November 13, 2013 -- Updated 1552 GMT (2352 HKT)
NASA has given the people of Earth a rare treat: A color mosaic that captures not only Saturn, but also the tiny dots of Earth and other planets in the background.
November 5, 2013 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Ever have one of those days where you just wanna be alone, maybe have the planet to yourself?
VIDEO-Ukip Spokesman Tries To Shut Down Most Difficult Interview Nigel Farage Has Had All Year (VIDEO)
Sun, 18 May 2014 01:04
Nigel Farage endured a car crash live radio interview with LBC presenter James O'Brien on Friday morning. In began with the Ukip leader challenged over the "avalanche" of controversial comments made by his candidates.
One Ukip candidate was revealed to have made remarks about what would happen if he "shot one poofter". Farage said he was "perfectly happy for us to have a debate about our idiots" but complained that other political parties were not subject to the same level of scrutiny as his was.
As the interview continued Ukip communications director Patrick O'Flynn intervened in an attempt to get the programme shut down. "We had an agreement and you've massively overrun," he said. But his protests were ignored.
Farage said it was unfair for the media to hold up a "handful of people" who made racist or homophobic comments as being representative of Ukip. And he insisted he could not be expected to know the views of every Ukip politician as he did not run the "day-to-day management" of the party.
O'Brien also took Farage to task over his previous remarks that he felt uncomfortable when he heard people speaking languages other than English. And he was asked whether that meant he felt awkward when his German wife spoke German not English, he replied: "I don't suppose she speaks it on the train."
SEE ALSO:Tory MP Tells Farage Not To Be Such A 'F***ing Shrinking Violet'
Farage was also quizzed over why it was acceptable to say, as he has, that people should be nervous about Romanians moving in next door to them. Asked what the difference was between Germans and Romanians was, Farage said cryptically: "You know what the difference is."
O'Brien asked Farage why he was so concerned about the number of bilingual children in London school, given his own children speak both English and German.
Chloe Smith vs Paxman (skip to 6:20)This isn't so much a car crash of an interview, more a head-on collision between the last two spaceships ferrying mankind away from a doomed planet Earth thereby wiping out our entire species. It's that bad.
Michael Howard vs PaxmanVintage Paxman this, a veritable Grand Cru of an interview. Howard is asked a whopping 14 times "Did you threaten to overrule him?", (referring to a meeting with Derek Lewis, head of Her Majesty's Prison Service). Evasive is not the word...
Bill Shorten vs AgendaShowing unflinching party loyalty that would have made Stalin proud, Bill Shorten sacrificed his own opinions to subscribe to a stance he hadn't even heard yet. "I haven't seen what she said but let me says I support what it is that she said." Good for you Bill, good for you...
Brown vs MarrAsking the PM if he's on drugs? Brave Marr, very brave...
Brown vs BoultonFor one glorious second it almost looks like the two gents are about to come to actual blows, which lets face it, would be an utterly fantastic wonder. My money would be on Brown.
Brown (again) vs HimselfWatching Brown's face, not to mention election chances, crumble live on TV is a behemoth of a spectacle, Shakespearean in it's utter tragedy.
Lord Pearson vs His Own ManifestoA monumental failure to misunderstand the fundamentals of politics.
Diane Abbot vs NeilSuperb piece of grilling here as a continually smirking Portillo looks on clearly enjoying every squirming second...
Karl Rove vs The Rest Of The WorldWhen Fox News calls the election for a Democratic president you know it's time to give it up...
Chairman Nhlanhla Nene vs GravitySometimes negotiating the interviewer is the easy part.. The best thing about this clip is the first crack 11 seconds in. From that moment on this unfortunate gent has a look in his eyes of someone who knows he's doomed...
Ukip was embroiled in another race row today after it emerged that one of its local election candidates has described Islam as a "totalitarian ideology" that is "against everything modern Britain stands for".
Labour said the "deeply offensive" views - contained in an email apparently sent last year to the London council on which Heino Vockrodt wishes to sit - undermined Farage's insistence that he did not lead a racist party.
In an angry diatribe complaining about an alleged planning breach by "the Afghan community" in Brent, north London, Vockrodt said parts of the borough resembled Afghanistan's Helmand province. Political correctness was preventing the council taking action, he alleged, "for fear of being called racists, when, just like in all the other cases where Muslims are grooming children to be sex slaves under the eyes of the authorities, the council does nothing".
SEE ALSO:'Gay Marriage Made God Angry And He Is Probably Making It Rain'
It is a fresh embarrassment for Ukip as it tries to fend off racism allegations following a series of scandals involving candidates, and a controversial poster campaign warning about Europeans coming to take UK jobs.
Farage has sought to dispel the image, accusing the media of stirring up hatred against Ukip and appearing on a platform alongside a number of the party's black and ethnic minority candidates.
But one of the party's prominent British Asian Ukip supporters has quit, accusing Farage of playing the race card to win votes. Sanya-Jeet Thandi, a youth member who was previously put up to defend the party in television interviews, said its current direction was "terrifying".
MEHDI HASAN: The Ukip Racism Debate - Three New Pieces of Evidence
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VIDEO-Air Force Admits Weather Control via HAARP and New Tech | Zen Gardner
Sun, 18 May 2014 00:53
By Susan Duclos
While HAARP and weather control has been called a conspiracy theory by the mainstream media and government officials, during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technology and engineering, dropped a bombshell in answer to a question asked by Lisa Murkowski in relation to the dismantling of the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer.Walker 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.''
Many believe HAARP was created and has been used for weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes and comments such as this bring about the question of whether conspiracy theorists are more on target than anyone has admitted to date.
This is not the first time a public official has acknowledged that HAARP and weather control is not only possible, but has been and continues to be, used as a ''super weapon,'' as evidenced by a statement in 1997 by former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, where he said ''Others [terrorists] are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves'... So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations'...It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our [counterterrorism] efforts.''
Is it still just a conspiracy theory if public officials admit it is true?
Watch the question and answer session below:
MORE>
VIDEO-BBC News - Laos Deputy PM Douangchay Phichit dies in plane crash
Sun, 18 May 2014 00:27
17 May 2014Last updated at 11:31 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Footage from the scene shows the wreckage of the plane
Laos Defence Minister and Deputy PM Douangchay Phichit has been killed along with other senior officials in a plane crash.
The military aircraft came down in a wooded area of the northern province of Xiangkhouang, nearly 500km (311 miles) from the capital Vientiane.
The Laotian news agency and the Thai foreign ministry said the minister and his wife had died in the crash.
Up to 20 people were believed to be on board.
The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports that they included the Laotian minister of public security, the secretariat of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party's central committee, the chairman of the propaganda training committee and the mayor of Vientiane.
The officials are believed to have been travelling to an official ceremony in Xiangkhouang from Vientiane.
The official Laos news agency KPL said the plane that went down was an Antonov AN- 74TK-300 operated by the Laos air force.
Laos, a landlocked country of about seven million people, has an authoritarian communist one-party government and is one of Asia's poorest nations.
It has a poor air safety record. Last October a civilian aircraft crashed into the Mekong river in bad weather, killing all 49 people on board.
In 1998, a Vietnamese military aircraft crashed in Xiangkhouang. All passengers on board, including a senior Vietnamese general, were killed.
VIDEO-Retired military leaders fret kids will be 'too fat to fight'
Sat, 17 May 2014 23:22
A serious problem
Current military officials agree that the nation's obesity epidemic has created a serious problem, currently and for the next generation of soldiers. They say the military also is starting to address the issue, with efforts such as improving nutrition for current service members and by trying to help military families promote healthy eating and exercise habits with their children.
"If we really need the service now and of the future to be more physically fit and healthy, we certainly find that we can engage as a country ... how to address strategies of healthy living," said Public Health Service Capt. Kimberly Elenberg, program manager for population health at the Defense Health Agency.
The effort comes amid proposals to reduce the number of U.S. troops significantly following lengthy conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as military operations become ever-more technologically advanced. Despite those trends, experts say it's still going to be just as important to have fit, able soldiers in a generation to come.
"There's nothing about war that is becoming fundamentally less physically demanding, for at least half the people on the battlefield," said Michael O'Hanlon, director of research for the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.
O'Hanlon said that's because the military may not be able to avoid messy, on-the-ground conflicts in countries where there are massive humanitarian violations or other lawlessness.
Even if their military duties don't require on-the-ground combat, Elenberg said, troops need to be in good shape. Nurses must be able to carry a large load of equipment to help the wounded. Service members on ships need to be able to nimbly climb vertical ladders from deck to deck. And personnel on submarines need to be fit enough to stay alert for hours on end.
Youngman said many civilians also don't realize that the soldiers of today and tomorrow are expected to be more prepared in other ways. Gone are the days when high school dropouts could show up and expect the military to whip them into shape. The military now says many potential candidates are rejected because they don't have a high school diploma or meet basic literacy requirements.
Read MoreA jet fighter that can do it all'--maybe
VIDEO-BBC News - RBS asks Clifford Chance to probe small firm allegations
Sat, 17 May 2014 09:58
25 November 2013 Last updated at 16:30
RBS has asked law firm Clifford Chance to investigate claims it forced firms to close so it could make a profit.
Two reports published on Monday criticised the bank for its treatment of small firms, claims which Chancellor George Osborne described as "shocking".
Clifford Chance will look into the allegations contained in reports by Sir Andrew Large and Lawrence Tomlinson.
RBS said in a letter to Sir Andrew that the bank had in many areas fallen short in its treatment of customers.
Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said: "The reports published today make clear that there is a fundamental cultural problem with RBS's lending to and treatment of SMEs [small and medium enterprises].
"This is unwelcome but not wholly surprising. It confirms what my parliamentary colleagues and I have been hearing for a number of years and which was, at various times, vigorously rebutted by RBS."
'A tough read'
Sir Andrew Large's report, commissioned by RBS, looked into the bank's lending to small businesses. It said that the bank must tackle some "serious allegations" by a small number of firms.
The Tomlinson report, set up by Business Secretary Vince Cable, said there was evidence that the bank deliberately put some "good and viable" businesses into default so it could make more profit.
Mr Cable has passed the Tomlinson report to City regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Ross McEwan, RBS chief executive, said in his letter to Sir Andrew that the report by the former Bank of England deputy governor had "been a tough read".
He said that RBS had already put in place new procedures to improve lending to small firms and halt "the reckless lending practices that broke this bank five years ago".
It is not altogether surprising, given the scale of the mess, if RBS succeeded in doing over and doing in some business that did not deserve it"Your report also highlights that when times are tough for our customers, some have said they were angry about the treatment they received," the letter said.
Although Mr McEwan did not refer directly to the Tomlinson report, the company added later that the allegations were not "something that Clifford Chance would ignore".
Mr Cable told the BBC that the evidence compiled by Mr Tomlinson looked "solid". In a television interview with ITV, Mr Osborne said the allegations were "shocking" and would not be "brushed under the carpet".
The Tomlinson allegations centre on the bank's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) lending division, which specialises in handling loans seen as being more risky.
The Tomlinson report says that putting a business into the GRG generated revenue for the bank through fees, increased profit margins and the purchase of devalued assets by their property division, West Register.
The practice of removing a bad debt from a bank's books is not an unreasonable one, particularly as major lenders have been trying to move away from riskier assets.
But Mr Tomlinson told the BBC that there was a perception among small businesses that they were being "purposefully distressed" in order to get them into the GRG, which, even if wrong, should be addressed by RBS.
'Really disturbing'
Mr Cable said his department would not take the report at "face value", but added: "We are pretty confident that the evidence is solid."
But he added: "I am, however, confident that the new management of RBS is aware of this history and is determined to turn RBS into a bank that will support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses."
Mr Tomlinson, an entrepreneur, acted independently of government in producing the report, and did not set out to look solely at RBS.
Lawrence TomlinsonEntrepreneur who has amassed a £500m fortuneBusiness empire includes care home, chemicals, computer and construction firmsBought the Ginetta racing car maker in 2005 for an undisclosed sumHigh-speed career for Ginetta owner
But he said what he had uncovered through talking to businesses had put RBS and its GRG into focus.
He also said conversations with affected businesses had made a big impact on him.
"I feel really sick sometimes. It is really disturbing," he said.
"It is ruining people's businesses for sure, and in some cases having a huge impact on their personal lives too, even leading to family breakdown."
He told the BBC later that he had uncovered some "horrific stories" suggesting that the conduct at RBS was "systematic and institutional".
The report found:
"Many examples" of property revaluations without site visits, and mistakes in documentationProperty taken over by RBS subsequently sold for a price higher than the bank's own valuationIn one "very clear example" the reasons a business was put into GRG "changes throughout the conversation"One business submitted evidence that in fees alone, their time in GRG had cost them £256,000'Distress'
The bank said in a statement: "In the boom years leading up to the financial crisis, the overheated property development market became a major threat to the UK economy.
"RBS did more than its fair share to fuel this and commercial property lending was one of the key drivers of our near collapse as valuations rapidly plummeted.
"Facing up to these mistakes has been a difficult, but essential part of making RBS a safe and strong bank once again."
The shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, said: "The claims made by Lawrence Tomlinson against RBS' Global Restructuring Group are extremely serious indeed."
Sir Andrew Large's report said there had been confusion over RBS's lending objectives and strategy.
The bank must "ensure clear and simple lines of responsibility, and reduce organisational fragmentation," the report said. Currently, lending is split across several divisions.
RBS, 81%-owned by the government, is the UK's biggest lender to small firms. Mr McEwan pledged in his letter that RBS would write to thousands more businesses setting out how much more the bank was willing to lend them.
It had already offered £4bn in this way, and this would go up to £10bn, he said.
VIDEO-Net neutrality protesters removed by armed guards at FCC meeting - YouTube
Sat, 17 May 2014 04:52
VIDEO-West Wing Week 05/16/14 or, ''Go Solar!'' | The White House
Sat, 17 May 2014 03:35
May 14, 2014 | 3:13
This week, the President praised the power of solar, honored this year's TOP COPS, awarded the Medal of Honor and traveled to New York for the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Public Domain
VIDEO-Sony plans Snowden movie - YouTube
Fri, 16 May 2014 09:09
VIDEO-Why Should Anyone Trust Bill Nye? [Video]
Fri, 16 May 2014 05:28
Bill Nye the Science Guy has appeared in many global warming debates and has recently stepped up in support of the findings of the National Climate Assessment, which was newly released. Nye vehemently supports the science behind humans' role in climate change and urges others to study statistics in order to understand that action must be taken to change the world's current circumstances. Nye has been an influential presence in the realm of science for decades; his credentials are impressive and his passion contagious, which is why many people choose to trust him over many climate-change skeptics and anyone who denies the science behind the issues.
John Oliver, the Last Week Tonight host touched on the issue of climate change, and the fact that Nye is on nearly every debate panel about the world's current climate crisis. Nye can be found fighting for the science behind detrimental climate trends and seems to always have an important, yet easily-understood stance on the topic. Nye's approach to science has been easily accessible for adults and children alike for years, helping many people believe the current issues of climate change when Nye presents the issues.
Nye has always been interested in science and understanding how things and the universe operate. He graduated from Cornell University, achieving a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has worked for Boeing in Seattle, Washington, where he currently resides. Nye started stand-up comedy and quit his job as an engineer to pursue this new passion. This is where Bill Nye the Science Guy blossomed from, which is a key player in how generations of children learn about science.
Nye has authored numerous children books about science and is currently involved in three television series about science and how to live conscious to the environment. The scientist is also the Vice President of the Planetary Society, which is the world's largest group with a keen interest in space. Nye also has three Honorary Doctorate degrees and two patents on educational products. The stand-up scientist is also a firm believer in human-induced global warming, and will apparently defend his beliefs even if it is on National television, against very pronounced television personalities. Anyone can understand why Nye stands by the positions that he represents, and due to the informed way he presents his viewpoints, viewers often feel that they can trust Nye's scientifically based judgment on important topics.
This year alone Nye has appeared in many different television debates in order to defend his scientifically-backed beliefs that climate change is anthropogenic and must be acted upon. His vocalized viewpoints are well supported by peer-reviewed scientific facts; for example, over 97 percent of papers written on global warming recently support that the issue is man-made, including the National Climate Assessment, which eerily depicted the current state of the world and what must be done to change the issues. Nye is very well-read and very qualified to speak on the topics that he often publicly does. As is seen in many of his debates, the opposition to Nye's claims often attempts to stump the scientist, or encourage him to admit that global warming should not be the utmost concern for Americans.
Nye is not simply just a man seen on television, often speaking about science. He is personally very environmentally concerned, having invented many ways for humans to live more consciously, and lives consciously himself. Nye's credentials, education and lifestyle are all reasons why humans should trust Bill Nye and live consciously, just as he does.
Opinion by Courtney Heitter
Sources:InquisitrBill NyeThe Week
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VIDEO-Could the US Air Force take Godzilla? - Stripes Central - Stripes
Fri, 16 May 2014 02:46
By Seth RobsonPublished: May 8, 2014The U.S. Air Force is willing and able to take on the giant fictitious monster, Godzilla, if and when it emerges from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to threaten Japan.
Members of the 18th Wing, based at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, went on record in a recent and extremely silly video '-- Godzilla: Hypothetical Defense Strategies '-- about their determination to defeat the great radioactive beast in a head-to-head fight.
One airman envisages shooting Godzilla with helicopter-mounted machine guns while a wing public affairs officer posits a surprise attack by slingshots and thousands of ground troops on Segway scooters, perhaps assisted by the Incredible Hulk and the Power Rangers.
A reboot of the Godzilla movie is due in theaters later this month:
robson.seth@stripes.comTwitter: @SethRobson1
VIDEO- But we're speaking Japanese! - YouTube
Fri, 16 May 2014 02:18
VIDEO-FCC Meeting Net Neutrality Wireless Spectrum | Video | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 15 May 2014 19:16
May 15, 2014The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held an open commission meeting on promoting an open Internet, wireless spectrum use, telecommunications, and promoting competition and innovation.
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