620: Dead Man Cuffed

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 19m
May 25th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Paul, Sir David Foley Arch Duke of Silicon Valley, Hyperware Technologies, Dwayne Parker, Sir Dallas Spongberg, Parker Snyder, Sir Gene Naftulyev Earl of Texas, Sir Dr. Sharkey, Anonymous, Ken Chevanu, Sir JD

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Nate Wilson, Dame Monica Lansing, Sir Andrew Largeman, Black Knight Scott Spenser, John Grumling, Christopher & Michelle Hollman, David K, Sir Ara Derderian, James Romano

Cover Artist: MartinJJ


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Presidential Memorandum -- Establishing a National Goal and Developing Airport Specific Action Plans to Enhance the Entry Process for International Travelers to the United States
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:06
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 22, 2014
SUBJECT: Establishing a National Goal and Developing Airport Specific Action Plans to Enhance the Entry Process for International Travelers to the United States
The U.S. travel and tourism sector is critical to the Nation's prosperity and drives economic growth. In 2013, international visitors alone supported more than 1.3 million U.S. jobs.
Executive Order 13597 of January 19, 2012 (Establishing Visa and Foreign Visitor Processing Goals and the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness), mobilized the Federal Government to increase visa processing capacity, expand the Visa Waiver Program, and expand expedited traveler programs, all without compromising national security requirements.
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy, published 2 years ago, set a target of attracting and welcoming 100 million visitors by 2021, which the United States is on track to meet. To ensure we properly welcome and process those visitors at our airports, I am directing the Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security (Secretaries) to develop a national goal for improving service levels for international arrivals, including the time passengers spend waiting for primary inspection, i.e. passport control, and other steps of the arrival process. The Secretaries shall also develop airport-specific action plans that include actions from both private and public sectors to measurably improve the entry experience and reduce the wait time for international arrivals to those airports. The goal and action plans shall be consistent with efforts that have already demonstrated significant improvements through partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and international airports, such as improvements at Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare over a 12-month period that have resulted in average wait times of just 15 minutes and reduced the percentage of travelers with more than 30-minute wait times from 29 percent to 14 percent.
The purpose of this goal and action plans is to maximize the economic contribution of travel and tourism for business, leisure, academic, medical, and other lawful purposes by improving the experience of international travelers coming to the United States, in particular their experience with passport control and customs processing at airports in the United States.
The experience of an international arrival at one of our airports is not limited to the interaction with the U.S. Government. Airports, airlines, and local governments figure heavily into the arrival's experience -- and they have an essential role to play in creating a positive first impression. Therefore, as part of the action plans, the Secretaries will identify opportunities for private and nonfederal public sector actors to help achieve the goal, and ask for their public commitment to take specific actions to improve the entry experience for international guests.
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to remove barriers to traveler entry while continuing to protect our national security, public health, and safety, I hereby direct as follows:
Section 1. National Goal for Improving the Entry Process for International Arrivals. (a) Within 120 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretaries shall, in consultation with the Tourism Policy Council established by the United States National Tourism Organization Act of 1996, National Security Council, National Economic Council, Council of Economic Advisers, Office of Management and Budget, Secretaries of State, Agriculture, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, and other executive departments and agencies (agencies) as appropriate, develop the following:
(i) in consultation with private and nonfederal public actors, a national goal for improving the experience of international arriving passengers, including expediting the arrival and entry process for international visitors to the United States. In developing the goal, the Secretaries shall consider all steps the Federal Government can take to improve the arrivals experience, including by expediting primary inspection and customs clearance, while maintaining public health and national security. In addition to steps to be taken by agencies, the Secretaries shall identify opportunities for both private and nonfederal public sector actors to help achieve the goal; and
(ii) in consultation with airlines, airport authorities, worker representatives, State and local governments, and appropriate private and nonfederal public actors, airport-specific action plans to measurably improve the international arrivals' experience and reduce the processing time for international arrivals in at least 15 U.S. gateway airports. The action plans shall draw upon the lessons and successes of the targeted pilot efforts that demonstrated significant service level improvements and wait time reductions at Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare airports. These action plans could include automating paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94, implementing Automated Passport Control kiosks, expanding the DHS Global Entry program, and airports entering into voluntary partnerships with stakeholders to provide increased services on a reimbursable basis.
(b) In developing the goal and action plans as set forth in subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries shall establish metrics for measuring progress in implementing the action plans and achieving service-level improvements, taking into account the Federal Government's responsibility to protect the safety, public health, and national security of the United States and its visitors. These metrics shall include measurements of wait times that consider the entire arrivals process (from landing to exiting the airport), private sector effects on the arrivals process, and traveler perceptions of their experience.
(c) In developing the goal and action plans, the Secretaries shall consult with existing non-governmental entities and advisory councils with relevant expertise and experience, such as the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board within the Department of Commerce, for continued input and advice.
Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law, and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with the requirements of this memorandum.
NASA meteorshower - Same folks that bring you proof of climate change and global warming
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Presidential Proclamation -- National Hurricane Preparedness Week, 2014
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:37
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 23, 2014
- - - - - - -
Hurricanes can demolish towns, obliterate coastlines, and devastate families. We cannot eliminate the threats they pose, but with careful planning, we can better protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. During National Hurricane Preparedness Week, America fortifies our homes and businesses so that we are ready long before these powerful storms make landfall.
My Administration works closely with State, local, and tribal governments up and down our coastlines, helping prepare for and respond to storms. We are building partnerships with nonprofits and in the private sector, including leading technology companies, which are identifying innovative ways their platforms could strengthen relief efforts and bolster communication during emergencies. As the climate continues to warm, hurricane intensity and rainfall are projected to increase, and we expect sea level rise to make storm surges more costly. That is why, last year, I issued an Executive Order directing the Federal Government to take coordinated action to prepare our Nation for the impacts of climate change. In the years ahead we will remain committed to increasing resilience, investing in scientific research, and cutting red tape so we can quickly send assistance where it is needed most.
It is also critical for individuals, families, and businesses to prepare well in advance. As this year's hurricane season approaches, Americans who live in at-risk areas should assemble emergency supply kits and create action plans -- including where to go and routes to follow if State and local officials issue an evacuation order. Keep in mind that hurricanes and tropical storms are not just coastal events; they can produce damaging winds, catastrophic floods, and tornadoes hundreds of miles inland from the center of the storm.Whether you live along a coastline, inland, or on one of America's many islands, it is essential to know if you are vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. Contact your local emergency management officials for detailed information, and visit www.Ready.gov or www.Hurricanes.gov/Prepare to learn what to do before, during, and after a storm.
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 25 through May 31, 2014, as National
Hurricane Preparedness Week. I call upon government agencies, private organizations, schools, media, and residents in the coastal areas of our Nation to share information about hurricane preparedness and response to help save lives and protect communities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third 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.
Presidential Proclamation -- Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2014
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 23, 2014
- - - - - - -
Constant in the American narrative is the story of men and women who loved our country so deeply they were willing to give their all to keep it safe and free. When a revolution needed to be won and our Union needed to be preserved, brave patriots stepped forward. When our harbor was bombed and our country was attacked on a clear September morning, courageous warriors raised their hands and said, "send me." On the last Monday of each May, our Nation comes together to honor the selfless heroes who have defended the land we love and in so doing gave their last full measure of devotion.
Today, we pause to remember our fallen troops, to mourn their loss, and to pray for their loved ones. Though our hearts ache, we find a measure of solace in knowing their legacy lives on in the families our heroes left behind -- the proud parents who instilled in their sons and daughters the values that led them to serve; the remarkable spouses who gave our Nation the person they cherished most in the world; and the beautiful children who will grow up with the knowledge that their mother or father embodied the true meaning of patriotism. To those we lost, we owe a profound debt that can never be fully repaid. But we can honor the fallen by caring for their loved ones and keeping faith with our veterans and their fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
The security that lets us live in peace, the prosperity that allows us to pursue our dreams, the freedom that we cherish -- these were earned by the blood and the sacrifices of patriots who went before. This Memorial Day, as we near the end of more than a decade of war, let us never forget their service and always be worthy of the sacrifices made in our name. And today and every day, let us pray for and hold close the families of the fallen.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.
I request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third 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.
Sun, 25 May 2014 12:34
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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West wedding pictures show them saying vows in front of wall of flowers | Mail Online
Sat, 24 May 2014 23:01
Kris Jenner told E! News she was 'bursting with happiness' about the addition of her 'new son' to the familyKim's brother Rob is understood to have skipped the wedding after feeling under pressure about his weightBeyonce and Jay Z are also understood not to have attended, although her songs Drunk In Love and Single Ladies were playedRapper appeared visibly nervous beforehand, swigging obsessively from a bottle of waterItalian tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded Kim and Kanye during the ceremony with songs including Con te PartiroJohn Legend played At Last for the couple's first danceCelebrity event planner Sharon Sacks, who planned Kim's second wedding to Kris Humphries in 2011, organised ceremonyGuests dined on traditional Italian food whichwas color-coordinated - with pink being the themeBy Lizzie Smith and Lizzie Edmonds In Florence
Published: 12:24 EST, 24 May 2014 | Updated: 17:46 EST, 24 May 2014
Kanye West married Kim Kardashian in a lavish Italian ceremony on Saturday - then introduced her to their hundreds of guests as 'my baby, Kim Kardashian West'.
The multi-million dollar nuptials saw the couple say their vows on a hilltop overlooking Florence, shielded by a 20ft high wall of white roses and peonies as the sun began to set at the 16th century Forte di Belvedere.
The pair were seen standing with their hands clasped watched by rows and rows of their 600 guests - who did not include Kanye's friends Beyonce and Jay Z or Kim's brother Rob.
Scroll down for video
Her fairytale moment: Kim Kardashian is photographed in her backless Givenchy gown next to a white piano during her wedding ceremony in Florence on Saturday
They do! Kim and Kanye, right, say their vows in front of her bridesmaids, in white, and 600 guests
Idyllic: The couple wed in the shade of a tree on the hillside, just as the sun began to go down
Kim chose a demure mermaid-silhouette gown in delicate white lace custom-made by Givenchy, who also designed a little white dress for her 11-month-old daughter North.
Small panels of a sheer lace decorated the arm and also accentuated her slimmed down waist.
The backless dress was long-sleeved with a train, while a dramatic flowing white cathedral-length veil completed the look.
The bride's hair was worn loose and long, with her make-up restrained and flawless.
The wedding spot: The huge floral backdrop was hand made, and is a larger version of Kanye's extravagant Mother's Day gift to Kim
Guests stood as Kim came face to face with her fianc(C), who wore a black suit.
The couple gazed at one another as the vows were said under the direction of Rich Wilkerson Jr, a pastor from North Miami.
Kim's bridesmaids, her sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie were all dressed in white, although their dresses did not match.
They sat front row next to mother-of-the-bride Kris Jenner, also in white, and Bruce Jenner, who like most of the male guests wore a black suit.
Kim's girly gang: Designer Rachel Roy wore a suit, founder of burlesque troupe The Pussycat Dolls Robin Antin wore black, as did LaLa Anthony
Grandmother Kris held baby North on her lap, while Kourtney had little Penelope on hers.
Speaking moments after the ceremony to E! News, who film the family's reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kris Jenner said she was 'beyond bursting with happiness for Kim, Kanye and baby North.'
'Such a magical, romantic wedding!' she added. 'I feel blessed to have my new son and his family as part of ours.'
And Kanye seemed equally ebullient, with a source telling MailOnline he gave an eight-minute speech to the gathered guests.
'I just wanna stop the music a second 'cos my baby's coming back with a new dress on. Here she is - Kim Kardashian West,' he said, introducing his bride.
Snazzy dressers: Celebrity magician David Blaine and Spin City reality star Jonathan Cheban, a close chum of Kim's, dressed for the wedding
'The gang!' Kim's friends LaLa Anthony, Malika Haqq and Loren Ridinger posed for an Instagram pic before the nuptials
John Legend and other celebrity guests arrive for wedding
After the ceremony the guests broke bread together sitting family style on a 70-metre-long marble banquet table - a gift from master craftsman Gualtiero Vannelli who used marble from the Tuscan quarry in Carrara, according to Us Weekly.
And as Kim finally relaxed her strict low carb diet, they feasted on traditional Italian food with an 'innovative' twist.
The menu included chicken, steak, salmon, tortelloni, strawberry gelato and both rose and gold Armand de Brignac champagne.
The food was color-coordinated with pink being the theme.
During the ceremony famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded Kim and Kanye with several of his songs, including Con te Partiro.
Not in mourning: Lala joined Khloe's best friend Malika Haqq, along with Kim's pal Brittny Gastineau and her guest Simon
Fashion meets fame: Former American Vogue's editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley and rapper Common
Then pop star John Legend took over festivities as the party began in earnest.
A source told MailOnline exclusively that he played At Last, thought to have been the couple's first dance, followed by All Of You.
And in a short speech he told the newlyweds: 'Kim and Kanye. It's really inspired me to be here.
'All these wonderful people here - it's a celebration of your love.'
Then the crowd jokingly heckled him as he referenced Kanye's ex girlfriends.
'I've seen Kanye with other women,' he said. 'I'm serious... this is a bad speech but I have never seen him as in to someone as he is in to you Kim.
'He was so in to you before he was even with you. He is in love with you. I am so happy to see you two together.'
Girls Gone Wild owner Joe Francis and his pregnant girlfriend Abbey Wilson were amongst those with the golden ticket
The singer also played Ordinary People, getting the crowd to sing along.
And there was a shout out to 'the mother of the bride'.
As the dancing began - tracks including Beyonce's Drunk In Love, showing that there were no hard feelings despite the singer's absence.
But it was Kanye's All Of The Lights that got the party-goers singing along.
The wedding was organised by long-time Kardashian family friend and celebrity event planner Sharon Sacks - with much direction from Kanye.
Sacks also planned Kim's 72-day second wedding to Kris Humphries in 2011.
Welcome to Florence: Kylie, Kris and Kendall Jenner waved at fans as they arrived at Fort Belvedere in Florence
Sister act: Khloe is thought to be a bridesmaid and wore her white dress as she and Bruce Jenner arrived at the Fort
Family time: Kourtney Kardashian carried her daughter Penelope in her arms
Despite the huge guest list Beyonce and Jay Z did not the couple for their big day.
Instead Beyonce posted a picture of herself in bed, make-up free, before later tweeting a snap of Kim and Kanye's controversial Vogue shoot with a message of goodwill.
And while Jay Z was widely expected to be the best man at the nuptials, he did not attend.
Another notable absence was Rob Kardashian, Kim's only brother.
Star guest: Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded Kim and Kanye with several of songs, including Con te Partiro
Arm-in-arm: The famed Italian tenor, 55, serenaded Kim and Kanye with several of his songs
According to reports the 27-year-old sock designer rowed with his famous sister and left Paris early on Saturday morning on a flight for Los Angeles.
His decision followed a row with Kim prior to the pre-wedding lunch at designer Valentino's chateau.
A source told X17: 'Rob said he was sickened by Kim and Kanye's display of wealth and clothes and beauty and called it 'superficial bulls***' but Kim was pissed that Rob hadn't made an effort to drop any weight over the past few months.
'Rob basically thinks Kim cares about him only for his appearance and he said he'd 'make life easier' for her and just leave.'
Beyonce, Jay Z and Rob certainly missed an incredible party, with guests a mixture of close family and friends, and the pair's clebrity chums.
In their wedding finery: High powered publicist Tracy Nguyen and her plus one depart their Florence hotel, left, as many guests chose shades of violet for the nuptials
The big day is here: Supermodel Allie Rizzo carried off her floral maxi dress, while other guests chose lilac and a crushed silver
They included Chrissy Teigen, rapper Common, Vogue's Andre Leon Talley, celebrity magician David Blaine, designer Rachel Roy, founder of burlesque troupe The Pussycat Dolls Robin Antin, and Kim's besties LaLa Anthony and Brittny Gastineau all seen leaving their Florence hotel dressed in their wedding finery.
Kim had earlier arrived at the wedding venue with her grandmother, Mary Jo Shannon, shortly after catching a private jet from Paris with her bridal party.
This included sisters, Kourtney and Khlo(C) Kardashian, and mother, Kris Jenner, fresh from the pre-wedding celebration at the Palace of Versailles on Friday night.
Rapper Kanye West arrived alone about 90 minutes earlier.
Friends and family: Along with the high profile arrivals, there were also plenty of close relations and old chums
An eyewitness told E! News'A convoy of cars arrived at around 3pm local time. Kim was in the first car, which was a Mercedes-Benz.
'They drove the car right up and her assistant opened the door and Kim dashed in. She looked to be wearing white.
'Kourtney was carrying her daughter Penelope and her son Mason - in a red-striped outfit - followed behind.
'Kris Jenner got out of second car wearing a black suit. And she put a big professional camera on a strap on her shoulders. She has obviously been taking professional pictures to remember the occasion.'.
Men in black: Kanye and Kim's guests suited up after they arrived in Florence, before heading to the venue
Girls on parade: The guests wore a dazzling array of designer gowns for the big day
The family's entourage carried large dress bags with them as the group made their way in to the venue.
At least 20 SUVs drove into the venue - all with at least five people on board - one of whom is rumoured to be Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber.
MailOnline exclusively reported that scores of excited Bieber fans have waited outside the venue all day - and security have been struggling to contain the crowds.
The idyllic spot: Kim and Kanye said their vows in front of these specially erected walls, which were covered in peonies and roses
Hollywood meets history: The couple chose to wed at the 16th century Forte di Belvedere
Deliveries included flowers, chairs and a piano; visible is the table in which the 'family style' evening meal of Italian food with a modern twist will be served
Guest Jaden Smith was spotted at Florence airport earlier that day - but while he will attend, it is not known if he will be there as Kylie Jenner's boyfriend despite them being seen in Paris together prior to the big day.
New Slaves hitmaker Kanye surprised Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Kim by proposing to her on her 33rd birthday on October 21 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The couple started dating just months after the reality TV star split from ex-husband Kris in October 2011 after 72 days of marriage.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Italian stage is set
A tale of two cities, rivers of champagne, fireworks over Versailles, a fairy tale Givenchy gown, and wonderwall of roses overlooking Renaissance Florence : How Kim and Kanye's epic two day wedding played out...FRIDAY: Kim, Kanye and family enjoyed a pre-wedding brunch hosted by designer Valentino Garavani at his home Chateau de Wideville, the magnificent French residence where King Louis XIV used to keep a mistress. On Friday night, the couple hosted a glamorous party with close friends including music producer Rick Rubin and 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen at their first-choice wedding venue the Palace Of Versailles
FRIDAY NIGHT: Kimye welcomed guests to their fabulous reception at the Palace Of Versailles in the iconic Hall of Mirrors. Guests feasted on truffled delights washed down with $6000 bottles of champagne and Lana Del Rey performed three songs, included Kim's favourite - Young and Beautiful. The evening ended with a spectacular firework display.
SATURDAY: Guests shuttled between Paris and Florence by private jet, with the groom leading the way. Kanye arrived alone around lunchtime to inspect preparations at the 16th century Medici seat Fort Belvedere the couple chose for their ceremony. A 25ft floral wall had been erected at the vista point selected for their big moment. His bride followed a few hours later in a car with her grandmother, Mary Jo, followed by a fleet containing her mother and sisters. Kim was walked down the aisle by her stepfather Bruce around 7pm as Andrea Botticelli sang. The bride wore Givenchy.
And we're off! Kim and Kanye began the wedding extravaganza early on Friday morning. They left their hotel with baby North - and Kris Jenner in tow
Deluxe: The couple celebrated with fabulous fashion friends and family at the brunch hosted by designer Valentino
Designer seal of approval: The elegant brunch hosted by designer Valentino at his magnificent French home, Chateau de Wildeville , a 17th Century residence to the west of Paris
Quick change: By Friday evening, Kim and Kanye changed outfits ahead of the party at Versailles
She's no blushing bride! Kim wore Maison Martin Margiela white tuxedo and Kanye showed off matching cleavage
Guests have started to arrive for Kimye's wedding
Let the preparations begin: Thousands of flowers were delivered to the Palace of Versailles, the former home of the French monarchy and now a historical building, on Friday morning
A venue fit for Hollywood royalty: The vast grounds of the French palace
Drum roll please: Drummers in traditional dress look like they are readying themselves for a procession at the wedding party for Kim and Kanye
Grand arrival! The couple rolled up to Versailles in black cars and were greeted by costumed guards on horseback
Grandiose: The Chteau de Versailles, is considered one of the most beautiful architectural achievements of 18th-century French art
Meanwhile in Italy... Preparations got underway on Friday at the Fort Belvedere in Florence
Inside Versailles: Kim and Kanye took the stage to welcome guests at their pre-wedding party in the Hall of Mirrors on Friday evening. Singer Lana Del Rey serenaded the couple with her song Young and Beautiful
Orchestra: Musicians, pictured inside the event, wore classic 18th century gowns and wigs
Family affair: Kim was joined by sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kylie, Kendall and her mother Kris Jenner at the lavish celebration on Friday night
Fireworks: The couple put on quite the display for their guests
Instagram time! Friends, including Jonathan Cheban, couldn't resist boasting about the extravaganza
Keep up with the latest Kim Kardashian videos
Watch video Kimye head to pre-wedding celebration at Palace of Versailles
Watch video Fans go wild as Kim and Kanye arrive at Palace of Versailles
Watch video Kim Kardashian takes over Versailles with pre-wedding bash
Watch video Kim Kardashian steps out in a bejeweled Balmain quilted frock
Watch video Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Italian stage is set
Watch video Kim Kardashian causes frenzy at Eiffel Tower in leather outfit
Watch video Final preparations underway for Kim and Kanye's wedding
Watch video Kim Kardashian sports sexy black dress to Paris dinner
Watch video Pre-wedding workout: Kim and Kanye hit the gym in Paris
Watch video 'No talking ok?' Kanye is protective of Kim in Paris
Watch video Kim Kardashian carries adorable baby North in Paris
Watch video Kim and Kanye go for pre-wedding work-out in Paris
Watch video Kim Kardashian flashes a hint of sideboob in revealing top
Watch video Kim Kardashian and Kanye West stop for H¤agen-Dazs in Paris
Watch video Kim and Khloe Kardashian take on the battle of the black dress
Watch video Kim Kardashian jets out of LAX ahead of Kanye wedding
Watch video Kim Kardashian showcases incredible wall of flowers
Watch video Kim Kardashian wears white to her Paris themed bridal shower
Watch video Practising for the wedding? Kim Kardashian dresses all white
Watch video Kim Kardashian unwittingly gets selfied in fan's photo
Watch video Mr. and Mrs. to-be: Kim and Kanye at Met Gala 2014
Watch video Kim Kardashian wearing a smart suit shopping in NYC
Watch video Kim Kardashian is in a New York state of mind
Watch video Kim and Kanye stay quiet on marriage questions in NY
Watch video Kim Kardashian and Kayne West jet out of LA
Watch video Kim ignores marriage questions amid reports wedding is imminent
Watch video Kim Kardashian signs autographs after returning to LA
Watch video Kim Kardashian steps out in an ill-fitting outfit
Watch video Kim Kardashian steps out in stylish bell covered sandals
Watch video Kim Kardashian shows off her figure in chic pink jumpsuit
Watch video Kim Kardashian stocks up on Vogue issue with HER on the cover!
Watch video Kim Kardashian keeps quiet on questions about her big day
Watch video Kim Kardashian steps out in stylish bell covered sandals
Watch video Kim Kardashian shows off her figure in chic pink jumpsuit
Watch video Kim Kardashian and Kanye stroll hand-in-hand through Paris
Watch video Kim Kardashian hits Paris shops in skintight velvet gown
Watch video Kim Kardashian took the plunge for date with Kanye West
Watch video Kim Kardashian goes for bizarre chain mail outfit at Miami event
Watch video She's on a boat! Kim Kardashian looks exquisite on Thai trip
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Rodger Dodger
Why nothing about the weapon used??
Why did news immediately start with timelines?
CNN: "Priveledge breeds pressure'
Where are the iPhone videos??
Son of Hollywood director-hunger games, yet no one knew him?
First parent screaming about politicians and NRA and 'Rights" to live
Janet Napolitano runs the California system now
Asbergers = Highly Functioning Austistic Disorder
Working through it with Brian the gay crusader
Was the 'manifesto' emailed?
When I couldn't find it and before Matthew posted it, I was convincing myself he must have printed it out and had sent for Saturday delivery to KEYT (even though doing that would break from his upload everything pattern).
When I couldn't find it and before Matthew posted it, I was convincing myself he must have printed it out and had sent for Saturday delivery to KEYT (even though doing that would break from his upload everything pattern).
Questions after watching the press conference:
- Police spokesman just said "handcuffed him and he was obviously dead"
Why handcuff a corpse?
- Elliot Rodger was 5'8" tall, 140lbs. How does someone that size with no muscle tone use the method of stabbing and successfully kill three grown men that are the same apartment? If he's out to murder women, killing the three men he lives with would be the more difficult task to pull off without being overpowered; why not use the gun to murder the three men?
Three firearms, tons of ammo and he uses a knife to murder three men... makes no sense.
Born in London, moved to US when he was 6
Elliot Rodger was the son of filmmaker Peter Rodger, the second unit director for 2012 blockbuster The Hunger Games; and the grandson of George Rodger, a celebrated British photojournalist and co-founder of the Magnum Photos agency.
Always starts videos with 'Elliot Rodger here..." Almost like a podcaster...
Other videos are music only and all 80's hits
Police - Every little thing
Katrina & the waves - Walking on sunshine
Whitney Houston - How will I know
Steve Perry - Oh Sheri
Steve Winwood - Higher Love
George Michael - Father Figure
Modern English - I Melt with you
Clearly hates the world because girls don't want him, only other men
MKUltra Analysis
Kid keeps repeating the same bullet points over and over again
Very typical of mind control
Father's eyes look completely zoned out
Rodger "Oh My God" movie on google
The manifesto
Mentions where he purchased the weapons, but not the manufacturer or model of the weapons. WTF?
The Isla Vista Car Massacre: Ten Years Later
Sun, 25 May 2014 05:43
A group of community members gathered last week for a candlelight vigil to honor the 10-year anniversary of the lives lost in a tragedy now called ''The Isla Vista Car Massacre.'' The memorial service, led by Father Jon Hedges of Isla Vista's St. Athanasius Orthodox Church, was held at Little Acorn Park, which borders the original scene of the crime: the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde Road.
The Isla Vista Car Massacre describes the incident on February 23, 2001 in which 20-year-old UCSB freshman David Attias, son of Hollywood director Daniel Attias, drove his Saab into a group of pedestrians, killing four on the spot and critically injuring one. The victims were Santa Barbara City College student Ruth Levy (20 years old), UCSB students Nick Bourdakis and Christopher Divis (both 20 years old), and Ellie Israel (27 years old), who was visiting town. The sole survivor was Albert Levy, Ruth's older brother. The incident left Albert permanently disabled.
Upon striking the victims, Attias exited his car and began shouting deranged obscenities. According to eyewitness reports, Attias screamed ''I am the angel of death!'' and his behavior appeared erratic. Levels of marijuana and Lidocaine (a dental anesthetic) were found in Attias's system and later ruled to have played no role in the incident. This outraged many individuals, who felt that the drugs did, in fact, play a critical role in the event.
file photo
David Attius escorted by courthouse bailiffs in 2002
In the 2002 criminal trial, a jury convicted Attias of four counts of second-degree murder. Attias pleaded insanity, and roughly two weeks later the same jury found Attias not guilty by reason of insanity. He was then committed to Patton State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in San Bernardino. According to Tricia Bourdakis, mother of victim Nick Bourdakis, it is a common misconception that Attias was sentenced to serve a full 60 years at Patton. In reality, the idea of Patton is to ''cure'' patients of their insanity.
Currently, Attias is evaluated twice a year, in January and June. Both Patton Hospital and CONREP, the Department of Mental Health's statewide system that serves patients found to be not guilty by reason of insanity in the judicial system, conduct separate evaluations and give future recommendations regarding the patient. The patient could conceivably be released to a halfway house. The past evaluation in January suggested that Attias remain at Patton, yet, if the June evaluation states that Attias be released, the Santa Barbara Superior Court must comply.
According to Patrick McKinley, the former District Attorney who was the case prosecutor, the idea of 60 years most likely stems from the standard conviction for second-degree murder, which is 15 years to life in prison. The judge may have followed this reasoning, run the four counts of murder of which Attias was convicted, and decided on the verdict of 60 years. According to McKinley, even if there is no intent to kill, if an individual partakes in dangerous activity that he or she knows is dangerous and death results, it is classified as second-degree murder.
Yet, according to McKinley, the initial verdict of second-degree murder was crucial. ''In general, you stay at Patton until you are no longer considered dangerous. By law, they can't keep you longer than the maximum sentence, even if you are dangerous. In this case, the maximum sentence is life. That's what made the murder part so important,'' said McKinley. Although one could conceivably stay at Patton for a minimum of only six months, if it is determined that the event was simply one single manic episode. ''They could say 'You're okay now, go home and take your meds,'' said McKinley. McKinley continued by stating that if Attias had instead been charged with gross vehicle manslaughter, he most likely would have withdrawn his insanity plea. ''[We were] disappointed by the reason of insanity but very happy with the murder conviction. If it weren't for the murder conviction, he would be out by now,'' explained McKinley.
However, according to Tricia Bourdakis, the ultimate decision baffled the legal community, leaving people unable to comprehend how an individual could first be convicted of second-degree-murder, which implies conscious awareness, and then be found insane. ''A psychotic break does not last two minutes,'' said Tricia, who feels that the ruling was unfair. ''One thing that's discouraging is that we were never able to talk about the children we lost. Most people in a criminal trial get to speak about [that], and we were never allowed to,'' said Bourdakis, noting that the trial became focused on the issue of insanity.
According to California Appeal Court records, no appeal has been made by Attias, but this comes as no surprise to some. ''Why would he want to appeal?'' said Tony Bourdakis, father of Nick, ''He was originally found guilty of four counts of second-degree murder, which is the best possible outcome [in our eyes].'' According to the Bourdakis', judge Adams stated that had Attias not been found insane, he would have sentenced him to 60 years to life in prison. Yet, in theory, Attias could have appealed the original murder conviction, which may have resulted in a shorter stay at Patton. ''I don't know why he didn't, but I feel it is a near certainty that it would have been rejected,'' said McKinley, concluding that the trail was virtually error free.
''I think the jury felt he'd be [at Patton] for 60 years, which he could be, but its not going to happen. I don't think they jury realized the effect of their decision,'' said Tricia Bourdakis. McKinley also feels that the jury did not expect the results of their decision, but no jury is ever made aware of the possible outcomes. ''The jury, in any criminal case, are not told what the penalty is. They just decide innocent or guilty,'' said McKinley. ''And in the sanity case, not only are they told that but they are also told not to worry about it; that it's none of their business.'' Regardless, McKinley feels that the jury acted in an appropriate manner: ''I don't fault the jury for anything,'' he concluded.
Yet, Tricia Bourdakis remains troubled by the insanity ruling. She is perplexed by the notion that Attias, if ever filling out a job application, could legally remark that he has never been convicted of a felony because he was legally found not guilty by reason of insanity. However, the term ''insanity'' is a tricky matter in the courtroom. ''Just because you are severely mentally ill doesn't mean your are legally insane,'' said McKinley. According to McKinley, in legal terms, the test for insanity measures the ability to discern right from wrong. ''The test is not a medical one; it's a legal one'... The test is not a symptom of any known medical disorder. If you don't know right from wrong, it does not equal schizophrenia or bipolar disorder; it's just a legal term. It's quite possible to be very mentally sick and not meet the legal test,'' explained McKinley.
According to McKinley, the insanity ruling came as no surprise. McKinley stated that Attias had different psychiatrists claiming that he was insane, including court psychiatrists, private psychiatrists, and psychiatrists that treated Attias before the killings. In addition, Attias had a longstanding history of prior mental health issues. According to McKinley, around age 13 Attias spent 30 days in treatment at UCLA after strangling his sister. ''I wasn't shocked by the verdict,'' said McKinley, ''We were left with little or no expert opinion saying he was legally sane. [The] overwhelming weight of professional testimony was that he met the test.''
In addition to psychiatric testimony, a video clip from Isla Vista TV exists from the night of the incident. It shows the victims in the initial aftermath before police and medical personnel arrived. According to McKinley, the footage shows Attias screaming and attempting to fight various individuals. ''[The footage] hurt us. It showed him as crazy,'' said McKinley.
What is interesting is that even after this public display of crazed behavior, Attias's alleged first response in custody was to ask for a lawyer. ''That's a pretty good indication that he knew right from wrong,'' said McKinley. Such an indication comes as a surprise considering the insanity ruling. ''The big surprise was, if [the jury] thought that he '-- and they must have because they convicted him of second-degree murder '-- knew what he was doing, they wouldn't think he didn't know right from wrong,'' said McKinley.
With regards to the ultimate decision, McKinley remains unsure of Attias's mental state. ''I think it was a very close question,'' said stated. ''Given the jury's finding that he knew what he was doing was dangerous to human life, they should have found him sane, even though he is very mentally ill. But they did not, and that's life,'' he concluded.
Shocking or not, ten years later, community members continue to feel that the verdict was unjust. ''Personally, I believe he is more responsible for it,'' said Father Jon of St. Athanasius. ''I thoroughly do believe that an appeal should be rejected and he should definitely be held accountable for what he did, and at least be kept away from doing it again.''
However, the purpose of the milestone memorial was not to remember Attias or to dwell over the trial. Instead, it was to honor the lives of the individuals lost in tragedy. ''We're not here to remember the 'Attias incident.' We are here to remember four wonderful lives and carry on the good stuff that they got started and didn't have a chance to finish,'' remarked Father Jon. In addition to the lives lost, the memorial meant to speak to all the lives that were impacted by the event, from the paramedics and officers who responded to the scene to the nurses and doctors in the hospital and all witnesses, friends, roommates, and attorneys. ''It hit the community very hard, and I mean very hard. The people that were there that night were effected by it, even if they were total strangers,'' said McKinley.
Many of the attendees present at the candlelight vigil were also present the night of the original incident. This includes Commander Darin Fotheringham, CHP Captain Jeff Sgobba, Sergeant Robertson, responding medics, and Chancellor Yang and his wife Dilling. Additional attendees were Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Ray Vuillemainroy and former assistant district attorney Patrick McKinley, who was the prosecuting attorney in the case. Families of the victims were also present.
Chancellor Yang, who was present at the scene the night of the event, rose to the occasion, in attempt to make a more positive situation of the tragedy. One of the key contributions of Yang has been the acquisition and renovation of what is now the Santa Catalina Dormitory. Attias lived in the dorm, formerly known as Francisco Torres. ''When Attias was there, it was like an institution '-- a warehouse for students. Now you go there, and there's a sense of community, and that's because of things that the university did. [It was] a good outcome [from a tragedy],'' said Father Jon.
Father Jon says the improvements to dormitory life are vital to college students who frequently feel academic pressures or stress from being away from home, and often turn to drug experimentation as a means of coping. The hope is that with greater sense of community, the remodeled dormitory will increase the quality of student life. ''When people are disconnected, they tend to do crazier things. [It's important] to stay connected with family and friends,'' explained Father Jon. ''[Attias] was someone who had issues that hadn't been dealt with, and it got worse. It got way worse, with tragic consequences.''
According to Chancellor Yang, additional action was taken to improve the quality of life both on campus and in Isla Vista. ''As members of a university community, we constantly ask ourselves what more can be done to improve the quality of life for our students, and to ensure their health and safety. After the tragedy, our campus and community redoubled our efforts to work together to improve the living and learning environment in Isla Vista for our students and local residents,'' stated Yang in an email. Among improvements were the expansion of academic and mental health counseling, the construction of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station on university land in Isla Vista, and the building of Embarcadero Hall '-- the former Bank of America location '-- where many community resources are located, such as CLAS classrooms.
Along with Father Jon, McKinley reiterated the importance of being aware of fellow classmates. ''A lot of people in the dorms could see that he wasn't normal, but no one did anything. Its very similar to some of these other cases, like Virginia Tech, where a student is weird and instead of trying to deal with it and address the mental health issues, he was ignored,'' said McKinley, who further praised University efforts to address and improve such issues on campus.
The families of the victims have also become supporters of the university in the aftermath of the tragedy. Tony and Tricia Bourdakis, who lost their son Nick in the incident, make visits to Santa Barbara several times a year. The family comes out to support university functions, specifically those connected to the Geography major, which Nick was perusing. ''At the time of the tragedy, Nick had just recently declared Geography as his major and was excited about pursuing his studies in this area.
To honor his memory, the Bourdakis family established the Nicholas Bourdakis Memorial Fund, which supports student scholarships for undergraduates in Geography,'' stated Yang. ''They took an incredible tragedy and turned it into something really beautiful,'' said Father Jon, regarding the Bourdakis' connection with UCSB. ''The family has really become supporters of the university and community.''
At the time of the tragedy, both Tony and Tricia Bourdakis wanted to crumble. But they realized that their daughter, Nancy, still had her entire life ahead of her. For her, they had to be strong. ''We found strength in knowing we had to go on,'' said Tricia. ''The pain never goes away. The heartache never goes away. We just get better at disguising it.'' She continued, ''We learned to realize that we were lucky to have Nick for the 20 years that we did. [We have to] look on the positive side.''
The theme of negligent driving remains present in the minds of many community members. Lieutenant Fotheringham, who at the time of the incident was a sergeant assigned to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, was on duty the night of the tragedy. He stated at last week's memorial that one remark in particular troubled him: ''A comment was made that Attias is still in a mental facility, and thank goodness for that, otherwise he would potentially be on the roads. And that really struck me. [Working in] law enforcement, I'm used to people getting [released], but the thought that some day he could be behind the wheel again is frightening,'' said Fotheringham.
Victims of the family share similar fears. ''My concern is that this kid could be, in theory, out this summer. And I'm concerned'--and this is my personal opinion'--that he could do this again,'' said Tony Bourdakis.
Furthermore, Fotheringham stressed the importance of driving safety, stating that the tragedy should be used as a daily reminder of the dangers of driving under the influence of any sort of substance. ''Driving a vehicle is a dangerous act that we take for granted. [We must] be diligent,'' remarked Fotheringham.
Other officers echoed similar sentiments. ''It's just incredibly sad, to put it briefly and succinctly. [The memorial] symbolized, to me, anyways, how fragile life is. Emergency respondents deal with it everyday, but college students became acutely aware at one instance [of] how fragile life is, and the value of friendship, and driving safety,'' said officer Sgobba.
A civil suit was brought against David Attias's parents, Daniel and Diane Attias, who purchased the vehicle used in the incident. The two were accused of negligence for purchasing the car for their son, despite his history of drug use and erratic behavior. According to records, the separate lawsuits filed by the families of victims were consolidated into one lawsuit, which has now been settled. No additional comments concerning the lawsuit were made.
While not present at the memorial, survivor Albert Levy has surprised many in his recovery. Despite having both legs crushed, he is now walking. ''We are really proud of him'... He definitely has a strong, heroic spirit [and] he's outdone what we thought he would do, in a really good way,'' remarked Father Jon.
As time passes, those involved continue to be grateful to the Santa Barbara community for the support shown throughout the horrific misfortune. ''As far as we're concerned, [Attias] should be in prison, and that's the bottom line. But we appreciate all of the people in Santa Barbara. It is one of the most fabulous communities, and has been supportive to all of us,'' said Tony. Tricia continued, stating, ''[people have shown] their feelings of sympathy and regret. The Santa Barbara community is really wonderful and we've made some really good friends out of the tragedy.''
Coalition Against Gun Violence: A Santa Barbara County Coalition
Sun, 25 May 2014 05:43
''The Brady Bill has finally become law in a fundamental sense not because of any of us, but because grassroots America changed its mind and demanded that this Congress not leave here without doing something about this. And all of us'--even Jim and Sarah (Brady)'--did was to somehow light that spark that swept across the people of this country and proved once again that Democracy can work.'' President Clinton, November 30, 1993
The Brady Act requires that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer'--unless an exception applies. If there are no additional state restrictions, a firearm may be transferred to an individual upon approval by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) maintained by the FBI. Background checks for firearms purchases operate in only one direction because of NRA opposition. That is, although a firearms dealer may obtain electronic information that an individual that they are excluded from firearms purchases, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, (ATF) do not receive electronic information in return to indicate what firearms are being purchased.
I can't remember a time when a kid in school was proud to show a failing grade to mom and dad. The student knew all too well that mom and dad would be disappointed because 60 percent on a test did not only mean the child did not pass, it was also unacceptable. A continued performance at 60 percent would also prevent the student from graduating to the next grade level.
Unfortunately, the same embarrassment in poor academic performance does not exist when it comes to the number of gun sales covered by background checks in this country. Like the student's less than stellar exam, background checks apply to only about 60 percent of gun purchases.
The reason Americans deserve better than 60 percent when it comes to background checks on gun sales is because they work when required. Background checks are an effective tool that have blocked more than 2 million purchases, keeping guns away from convicted felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people.
The good news is that we have an opportunity to strengthen the background check system, already a demonstrated success. Like the student who commits to more study time, in an effort to boost his academic performance, we can make the current law better by ensuring a background check is required for every gun purchase.
Expanding Brady background checks addresses the reality that more and more criminals are buying their guns online because the Internet is a no man's land when it comes to requiring a background check.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton signing the Brady background check bill into law. Gun violence prevention advocates, victims and supporters gathered in our nation's capital to tell Congress that it's time to finish the job and expand Brady background checks to cover all gun sales
Ninety percent of the American public supports extending background checks to gun sales online and at gun shows. This also includes over 80 percent of gun owners and NRA members.
Two decades later, we are seeing the tide turn, once again, to sensible solutions meant to reduce the number of gun deaths and keep people safer. We need to finish the job and expand background checks to all gun sales. In a country where gun violence kills more than thirty-one thousand people a year, sixty percent is not getting the job done.
Make your voice matter. Go to: www.VoicesAgainstViolence.com
Peter Rodger '' Directing
Sun, 25 May 2014 05:02
Commercials and Filmplease scroll down to select clips
Rodger's Divorce Lawyer-Alan Shifman
Sun, 25 May 2014 03:13
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Clients appreciate Alan's financial experience because it gives him superior negotiating and/or litigating advantages. Your family and finanicial security is his priority. Alan has successfully obtained Court orders granting sole physical custody of children, a parents right to move with a child to another state, domestic violence restraining orders, and sole possession of the primary residence.
High Net Worth Cases can be a complicated and emotional process. Careful attention must be applied to account for the number of assets, their worth, controls, and division. In addition, difficulties may be encountered if there are agreements (prenuptial or postnuptial) that may determine the direction of the proceedings. Although these agreements may simplify the process, more often than not it becomes the central issue in the case.
In analyizing a high net-worth divorce, the treatment of debts and liabilities must be carefully considered too. As with assets, debts are generally divided equally in the event they were incurred by the parties during marriage. We will make all efforts to assure that the community property and debts are treated properly. Very often, material assets that are addressed include:
The personal residenceFamily businesses and partnershipsInvestments including stocks and bondsRetirement accountsVacation homesIncome producing real propertiesWe seek to protect professionals with a high net-worth from negative publicity or harrassment. We work closely with private investigators to make sure that we have all the information available to prepare the strongest case for trial or settlement.
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Sheriff Brown Reappointed to State Mental Health Commission
Sun, 25 May 2014 03:06
Posted on 04.08.2013 4:31 p.m.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has reappointed Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown to serve on the State of California's Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
Sheriff Bill Brown
Brown was originally appointed to the position by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2010.
Brown, who is a firm believer in the importance of addressing mental health issues, said he is honored to have been selected to serve as a commissioner again.
''Many mentally ill people who commit crimes are housed in California jails, so it's essential that law enforcement and corrections have a voice in the discussion as mental health policy is shaped and Prop. 63 funding is distributed to counties by the state,'' Brown said. ''In order to protect public safety we must encourage the mentally ill to seek treatment by reducing stigma and insuring that appropriate services are made available, both within jails and in the community.
''I am privileged to continue to serve alongside an extraordinarily dedicated group of fellow commissioners who represent mental health professionals, legislators, advocates, family members and consumers as I represent our state's 58 sheriffs and Santa Barbara County.''
The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission was created as a result of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, passed by California voters in 2004.
Among the roles of the group is to oversee the implementation of the MHS Act, to help develop strategies for overcoming stigmas related to mental health, and to advise the governor and the Legislature on mental health policy. The mission of the MHSOAC is to provide vision and leadership to help ensure positive outcomes for those living with serious mental illness, and for their families.
'-- Kelly Hoover is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.
UC President Janet Napolitano calls mass shootings tough to prevent - Nation - The Boston Globe
Sun, 25 May 2014 02:54
OAKLAND, Calif. '-- University of California President Janet Napolitano says a mass shooting in the community around UC Santa Barbara is ''almost the kind of event that's impossible to prevent and impossible to predict.''
The former secretary of Homeland Security who took over as head of the UC system in September made the remarks after a commencement speech in Oakland Saturday, a day after the rampage that authorities say left seven people including the gunman dead and seven others injured. UC Santa Barbara says students were among the victims.
Continue reading below
Napolitano issued a statement saying she's ''shocked and deeply saddened'' by the shooting and sending thoughts and prayers ''to the victims of this tragedy, their families and the entire Santa Barbara community.''
She says she's working with UCSB to help students and families.
Sheriff no fan of gun control
Sun, 25 May 2014 02:51
On the eve of Gun Appreciation Day, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said gun control debates have distracted the American people from the issue most affecting mass violence: mental health.
''If we look at virtually all of the mass shootings that have occurred in our country, the common denominator in them, in virtually every one, is either untreated or seriously undertreated severe mental illness,'' Brown said. ''And addressing that issue needs to be our highest priority.''
''Gun control is very controversial, and in reality, it's very limited in its effectiveness at the end of the day,'' Brown said.
California voters passed Proposition 63, an income tax to provide additional mental health services, in November 2004. Brown, a member of California's Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, said Prop. 63 does not go far enough.
''The reality is that evil and determined minds can always get around gun control or any other laws that prohibit something in particular,'' Brown said. ''We've seen that with Timothy McVeigh when he killed 168 people in Oklahoma with fertilizer and a rental truck.
''We've seen that locally in Isla Vista when a student just used a car and plowed into a crowd and killed a number of innocent people.''
Most recently, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School moved gun control to the center of legislative debate as legislators, experts and gun advocates offer different opinions about the significance of the phrase ''assault weapons.''
Some say differences between firearms and those deemed assault weapons are purely cosmetic. Others identify functional differences and specific features.
President Barack Obama unveiled a $500 million plan Wednesday to ban ''military-style assault weapons'' and limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
Danny Wells, a local firearms instructor and range master, has been teaching firearms training for 25 years.
''Let's talk about rifles,'' he said. ''Functionally, you have a single-shot rifle, which means you put one bullet in it, you close the action on it and you pull the trigger. Then, you have a repeating-type rifle.''
He said semi-automatic rifles allow more rapid fire than bolt action, lever action and pump action rifles.
''But you have to pull the trigger every time you fire the gun,'' Wells explained.
California legislators banned designated semi-automatic firearms defined as assault weapons in the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989.
That list of weapons includes the series of A-K rifles, centerfire rifles that can accept detachable ammunition magazines, and any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
List of adverse effects of risperidone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 25 May 2014 00:07
List of adverse effects of risperidone:
Note: The percentages provided next to these adverse effects is the incidence of them according to DrugPoint.[1]
Common ('‰¥1%)[edit]Rash (oral, adults, 1% to 4%; pediatrics, up to 11% ; IM, less than 4%)Hyperprolactinaemia (risperidone is probably the most notorious antipsychotic for causing hyperprolactinaemia via its potent blockade of D2 receptors expressed on the lactotrophic cells of the pituitary)[4] (oral, adults, less than 1%; pediatrics, 49% to 87% ; IM, less than 4%)Weight gain (causes less weight gain than clozapine, olanzapine and zotepine, around as much weight gain as quetiapine and more weight gain than amisulpride, aripiprazole, lurasidone, asenapine and ziprasidone)[4] (oral, adult, 8.7% to 20.9%; pediatric, 14% to 32.6% ; IM, adult, 8% to 10%)Constipation (oral, 8% to 21% ; IM, 5% to 7%)Diarrhoea (oral, 1% to 8% ; IM, less than 4%)Excessive Salivation (oral, 1% to 10% ; IM, 1% to 4%)Increased appetite (oral, adult, more than 5%; pediatric, 4% to 47% ; IM, 4%)Indigestion (oral, 2% to 10% ; IM, 6%)Nausea (oral, 4% to 16% ; IM, 3% to 4%)Vomiting (oral, 10% to 25% ; IM, less than 4%)Upper abdominal pain (oral, adult, more than 5%; pediatric, 13% to 16%)Xerostomia (oral, 4% to 15% ; IM, up to 7%)Akathisia (oral, up to 10% ; IM, 4% to 11%)Dizziness (oral, 4% to 16% ; IM, 3% to 11%)DyspnoeaAstheniaAgitationUrinary incontinenceArthralgiaMyalgiaEpistaxisSomnolence (oral, adult, 3% to 6%; pediatric, 8% to 29% )Sleep disturbancesDose-dependent extrapyramidal side effects such as dystonia (oral, adult, 3% to 5%; pediatric, 2% to 6% ; IM, adult, less than 4%), tremor (oral, 2% to 12% ; IM, 3% to 24%) and Parkinsonism (oral, 6% to 28% ; IM, 8% to 15%)Blurred vision (oral, 1% to 7% ; IM, 2% to 3%)Anxiety (oral, up to 16% IM, less than 4%)Cough (oral, adults, 2%; pediatrics, 24% ; IM, 2% to 4%)Nasal congestion (oral, adult, 4% to 6%; pediatric, 13%)Nasopharyngitis (oral, adult, 3% to 4%; pediatric, 21%)Pain in the throat (oral, adult, more than 5%; pediatric, 3% to 10%)Upper respiratory tract infection (oral, 2% to 8% ; IM, 2% and 6%)Fatigue (oral, adult, 1% to 3%; pediatric, 18% to 42% ; IM, 3% to 9%)Generalised pains (IM, 1% to 4%)Gynecomastia[5]Galactorrhea[6]Prolonged QT intervalSudden cardiac deathSyncope (oral, up to 1% ; IM, up to 2%)Diabetic ketoacidosisHypothermiaPancreatitisAgranulocytosisNeutropeniaLeukopeniaThrombocytopeniaThrombotic thrombocytopenic purpuraStroke (oral, less than 5% ; IM, less than 4%)Seizure (oral, 0.3% ; IM, 0.3%)Tardive dyskinesia (oral, less than 5% ; IM, less than 4%)PriapismPulmonary EmbolismNeuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (oral, adults, less than 1%; pediatrics, less than 5%)AnorexiaHypoaesthesiaECGImpaired concentrationSexual dysfunctionAngioedemaIntestinal obstructionOedemaHyponatraemiaReferences[edit]
Risperidone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 25 May 2014 00:06
RisperidoneSystematic (IUPAC) name4-[2-[4-(6-fluorobenzo[d]isoxazol-3-yl)-1-piperidyl]ethyl]-3-methyl-2,6-diazabicyclo[4.4.0]deca-1,3-dien-5-oneClinical dataTrade namesRisperdal,Risperdal Consta,Risperdal M-Tab,Risperdal QuickletsAHFS/Drugs.commonographMedlinePlusa694015Pregnancy cat.B3 (AU) C (US)Legal statusPrescription Only (S4)(AU)POM(UK)'ž-only(US)RoutesOral (tablets and liquid form), IMPharmacokinetic dataBioavailability70% (oral)[1]MetabolismHepatic (CYP2D6-mediated)to 9-hydroxyrisperidone[1]Half-life20 hours (Oral), 2.9-6 days (IM) [1]ExcretionUrinary (70% [adults], 4.3% [children], 7.4% [adolescents]), faecal (14%) [1]IdentifiersCAS number106266-06-2 YATC codeN05AX08PubChemCID 5073IUPHAR ligand96DrugBankDB00734ChemSpider4895 YUNIIL6UH7ZF8HC YKEGGD00426 YChEBICHEBI:8871 YChEMBLCHEMBL85 YChemical dataFormulaC23H27FN4O2 Mol. mass410.485 g/molCc1c(c(=O)n2c(n1)CCCC2)CCN3CCC(CC3)c4c5ccc(cc5on4)F Y (what is this?) (verify)Risperidone (//ri-SPAIR-i-dohn) (trade name Risperdal, and generics) is an antipsychotic drug mainly used to treat schizophrenia (including adolescent schizophrenia), schizoaffective disorder, the mixed and manic states of bipolar disorder, and irritability in people with autism.
Risperidone belongs to the class of atypical antipsychotics which are second generation.[2] It is a dopamine antagonist possessing antiserotonergic, antiadrenergic and antihistaminergic properties.
Adverse effects of risperidone include significant weight gain and metabolic problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2,[3] as well as tardive dyskinesia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Risperidone and other antipsychotics also increase the risk of death in people with dementia.[4]
The drug was developed by Janssen-Cilag, subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, from 1988-1992 as an improvement from the typical antipsychotic and first approved by the FDA in 1994.[5] Today many generic versions are available. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.[6]
Medical uses[edit]Risperidone is used for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder also including behavior problems in people with autism.[7] A 2010 Cochrane review found a slight benefit during the first few weeks of treatment of schizophrenia but the article raised concerns regarding bias favoring risperidone.[8] In autism it does not improve conversational ability or social skills, and does not appear to reduce obsessive behavior in most people with autism.[7]
Risperidone provides no benefit in the treatment of eating disorders or personality disorders.[9]
While antipsychotic medications such as risperidone have a slight benefit in people with dementia, they have been linked to higher incidences of death and stroke.[9] Because of this increased risk of death, treatment of dementia-related psychosis with risperidone is not FDA approved.[10]
Adverse effects[edit]Drug interactions[edit]Discontinuation[edit]The British National Formulary recommends a gradual withdrawal when discontinuing antipsychotic treatment to avoid acute withdrawal syndrome or rapid relapse.[12] Due to compensatory changes at dopamine, serotonin, adrenergic and histamine receptor sites in the central nervous system, withdrawal symptoms can occur after cessation or abrupt reduction in dosage. These symptoms include sleeplessness, nausea, emesis, lightheadedness, diaphoresis, dyskinesia, orthostatic hypotension, tachycardia, nervousness, dizziness, headache, excessive crying, and anxiety.[13][14] Some have argued the additional somatic and psychiatric symptoms associated with dopaminergic super-sensitivity, including dyskinesia and acute psychosis, are common features of withdrawal in individuals treated with neuroleptics.[15][16][17][18] This has led some to suggest the withdrawal process might itself be schizomimetic, producing schizophrenia-like symptoms even in previously healthy patients, indicating a possible pharmacological origin of mental illness in a yet unknown percentage of patients currently and previously treated with antipsychotics. This question is unresolved, and remains a highly controversial issue among professionals in the medical and mental health communities, as well the public.[19]
Risperidone is available as an oral tablet, oral dissolving tablet, or intramuscular injection.[7] The intramuscular preparation, marketed as Risperdal Consta, can be given once every two weeks. It is slowly released from the injection site. This method of administration may be used on sanctioned patients who are declining, or consenting patients who may have disorganized thinking and cannot remember to take their daily doses.[20]
Risperidone undergoes hepatic metabolism and renal excretion. Lower doses are recommended for patients with severe liver and kidney disease.[10]
Risperidone has been classified as a "qualitatively atypical" antipsychotic agent with a relatively low incidence of extrapyramidal side effects (when given at low doses) that has more pronounced serotonin antagonism than dopamine antagonism. It has actions at several 5-HT (serotonin) receptor subtypes. These are 5-HT2C, linked to weight gain, 5-HT2A, linked to its antipsychotic action and relief of some of the extrapyramidal side effects experienced with the typical neuroleptics.[21]
It was recently found that D-amino acid oxidase, the enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of D-amino acids (e.g. D-alanine and D-serine '-- the neurotransmitters) is inhibited by risperidone.[22]
Risperidone acts on the following receptors:
Dopamine receptors: This drug is an antagonist of the D1 (D1, and D5) as well as the D2 family (D2, D3 and D4) receptors. This drug has "tight binding" properties, which means it has a long half-life and like other antipsychotics, risperidone blocks the mesolimbic pathway, the prefrontal cortex limbic pathway, and the tuberoinfundibular pathway in the central nervous system. Risperidone may induce extrapyramidal side effects, akathisia and tremors, associated with diminished dopaminergic activity in the striatum. It can also cause sexual side effects, galactorrhoea, infertility, gynecomastia and, with chronic use reduced bone mineral density leading to breaks all of which are associated with increased prolactin secretion.[21]
Serotonin receptors: Its action at these receptors may be responsible for its lower extrapyramidal side effect liability (via the 5-HT2A/2C receptors) and improved negative symptom control compared to typical antipsychotics such as haloperidol for instance. Its antagonistic actions at the 5-HT2C receptor may account, in part, for its weight gain liability.
Alpha α1 adrenergic receptors: This action accounts for its orthostatic hypotensive effects and perhaps some of the sedating effects of risperidone.[21]
Alpha α2 adrenergic receptors: Perhaps greater positive, negative, affective and cognitive symptom control.[23]
Histamine H1 receptors: effects on these receptors account for its sedation and reduction in vigilance. This may also lead to drowsiness and weight gain.[21]
Though this medication possesses similar effects to other typical and atypical antipsychotics, it does not possess an affinity for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. In many respects, this medication can be useful as an "acetylcholine release-promoter" similar to gastrointestinal drugs such as metoclopramide and cisapride.
ReceptorBinding Affinity (Ki [nM])[24]Action5-HT1A423Antagonist5-HT1B14.9Antagonist5-HT1D84.6Antagonist5-HT2A0.17Inverse agonist5-HT2B61.9Inverse agonist5-HT2C12.0Inverse agonist5-HT5A206Antagonist5-HT62,060Antagonist5-HT76.60Irreversible antagonist[2]D1244AntagonistD23.57AntagonistD2S4.73AntagonistD2L4.16AntagonistD314.7Inverse agonistD44.66AntagonistD5290Antagonistα1A5.0Antagonistα1B9.0Antagonistα2A16.5Antagonistα2B108Antagonistα2C1.30AntagonistmAChRs>10,000NegligibleH120.1Inverse agonistH2120Inverse agonistSociety and culture[edit]Regulatory status[edit]Risperidone was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994 for the treatment of schizophrenia.[25] On August 22, 2007, risperidone was approved as the only drug agent available for treatment of schizophrenia in youths, ages 13''17; it was also approved that same day for treatment of bipolar disorder in youths and children, ages 10''17, joining lithium. Risperidone contains the functional groups of benzisoxazole and piperidine as part of its molecular structure. Although not a butyrophenone, it was developed with the structures of benperidol and ketanserin as a basis. In 2003, the FDA approved risperidone for the short-term treatment of the mixed and manic states associated with bipolar disorder. In 2006, the FDA approved risperidone for the treatment of irritability in children and adolescents with autism.[26] The FDA's decision was based in part on a study of autistic people with severe and enduring problems of violent meltdowns, aggression, and self-injury; risperidone is not recommended for autistic people with mild aggression and explosive behavior without an enduring pattern.[27]
Availability[edit]Janssen's patent on risperidone expired on December 29, 2003, opening the market for cheaper generic versions from other companies, and Janssen's exclusive marketing rights expired on June 29, 2004 (the result of a pediatric extension).
Risperidone is available as a tablet, an oral solution, and an ampule, Risperdal Consta, which is a depot injection administered once every two weeks. It is also available as a wafer known in the United States and Canada as Risperdal M-Tabs and elsewhere as Risperdal Quicklets. Risperidone is also available as paliperidone IM injections (a risperidone derivative). This injection is given 12 times a year on the same day each month.
Risperidone became available as a generic drug in October 2008 from Teva Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Inc. and Patriot Pharmaceutics. The Patriot generic is an authorized generic pharmaceutical. The drug is currently marketed in India under several brand names including Risperdal, Risdon and Sizodon.
Lawsuits[edit]On 11 April 2012, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., were fined $ 1,200,000,000 by an Arkansas judge.[28] The jury found the companies had downplayed multiple risks associated with risperidone (Risperdal). The judge held that nearly 240,000 violations of the state's Medicaid fraud law had been committed. Each violation carried a fine of $5,000. The companies were also fined $11 million for more than 4,500 violations of the state's deceptive practices laws.
According to an online report from the Wall Street Journal on June 20, 2012, "Johnson & Johnson and the Justice Department are close to settling a protracted investigation into the company's promotion of the antipsychotic Risperdal, for what would be one of the highest sums to date in a drug-marketing case. The sides are trying to wrap together a number of lawsuits, state investigations and other probes of alleged illegal marketing, and are discussing a payment of $1.5 billion or higher."
In August 2012, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $181 million to 36 U.S. states in order to settle claims that it had promoted risperidone for non-approved uses including dementia, anger management, and anxiety.[29]
In 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled a lawsuit claiming that Risperdal caused hundreds of male patients to grow breast tissue. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson face many claims that consumers were misled by both marketing and product packaging of Risperdal.[30]
In 2013, Johnson and Johnson settled out of court for a fine of $2.2 billion in response to allegations that they used illegal marketing techniques to encourage deliberate overmedication of children, elderly and mentally disabled.[31]
References[edit]^ abcdTruven Health Analytics, Inc. DrugPoint® System (Internet) [cited 2013 Sep 18]. Greenwood Village, CO: Thomsen Healthcare; 2013.^ abKomossa K, Rummel-Kluge C, Schwarz S, Schmid F, Hunger H, Kissling W, Leucht S (Jan 19, 2011). "Risperidone versus other atypical antipsychotics for schizophrenia.". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews (1): CD006626. PMID 21249678. ^Hasnain M, Vieweg WV, Hollett B (July 2012). "Weight gain and glucose dysregulation with second-generation antipsychotics and antidepressants: a review for primary care physicians". Postgraduate medicine124 (4): 154''67. doi:10.3810/pgm.2012.07.2577. PMID 22913904. ^"Risperidone '-- PubMed Health". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2012-03-23. [dead link]^Risperdal (risperidone) at naminh.org/resources (web archive)^"WHO Model List of EssentialMedicines". World Health Organization. October 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014. ^ abc"Respiridone". The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Retrieved 3 April 2011. ^Rattehalli RD, Jayaram MB, Smith M (2010). "Risperidone versus placebo for schizophrenia". In Rattehalli, Ranganath. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD006918. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006918. PMID 20091611. ^ abMaher AR, Theodore G (June 2012). "Summary of the comparative effectiveness review on off-label use of atypical antipsychotics". J Manag Care Pharm18 (5 Suppl B): S1''20. PMID 22784311. ^ ab"Risperdal Prescribing Information Label". Drugs@FDA: FDA Approved Drug Products. Jannsen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Retrieved 17 April 2014. ^ abhttp://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/020272s065,020588s053,021444s041lbl.pdf^BMJ Group, ed. (March 2009). "4.2.1". British National Formulary (57 ed.). United Kingdom: Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. p. 192. ISSN 0260-535X. "Withdrawal of antipsychotic drugs after long-term therapy should always be gradual and closely monitored to avoid the risk of acute withdrawal syndromes or rapid relapse." ^Kim DR, Staab JP (May 2005). "Quetiapine discontinuation syndrome". Am J Psychiatry162 (5): 1020. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.5.1020. PMID 15863814. ^Michaelides C, Thakore-James M, Durso R (Jun 2005). "Reversible withdrawal dyskinesia associated with quetiapine". Mov Disord20 (6): 769''70. doi:10.1002/mds.20427. PMID 15747370. ^Chouinard G, Jones BD (1980). "Neuroleptic-induced supersensitivity psychosis: clinical and pharmacologic characteristics". Am J Psychiatry137 (1): 16''21. PMID 6101522. ^Miller R, Chouinard G (Nov 1993). "Loss of striatal cholinergic neurons as a basis for tardive and L-dopa-induced dyskinesias, neuroleptic-induced supersensitivity psychosis and refractory schizophrenia". Biol Psychiatry34 (10): 713''38. doi:10.1016/0006-3223(93)90044-E. PMID 7904833. ^Chouinard G, Jones BD, Annable L (Nov 1978). "Neuroleptic-induced supersensitivity psychosis". Am J Psychiatry135 (11): 1409''10. PMID 30291. ^Seeman P, Weinshenker D, Quirion R, Srivastava LK, Bhardwaj SK, Grandy DK, Premont RT, Sotnikova TD, Boksa P, El-Ghundi M, O'dowd BF, George SR, Perreault ML, M¤nnist¶ PT, Robinson S, Palmiter RD, Tallerico T (Mar 2005). "Dopamine supersensitivity correlates with D2High states, implying many paths to psychosis". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A102 (9): 3513''8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0409766102. PMC 548961. PMID 15716360. ^Moncrieff J (Jul 2006). "Does antipsychotic withdrawal provoke psychosis? Review of the literature on rapid onset psychosis (supersensitivity psychosis) and withdrawal-related relapse". Acta Psychiatr Scand114 (1): 3''13. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2006.00787.x. PMID 16774655. ^Antipsychotic Medications, About.com: Mental Health May 30, 2006^ abcdBrunton L, Chabner B, Knollman B. Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, Twelfth Edition. McGraw Hill Professional; 2010.^Abou El-Magd RM, Park HK, Kawazoe T, Iwana S, Ono K, Chung SP, Miyano M, Yorita K, Sakai T, Fukui K (July 2010). "The effect of risperidone on D-amino acid oxidase activity as a hypothesis for a novel mechanism of action in the treatment of schizophrenia". Journal of Psychopharmacology24 (7): 1055''1067. doi:10.1177/0269881109102644. PMID 19329549. ^Hecht EM, Landy DC. Alpha-2 receptor antagonist add-on therapy in the treatment of schizophrenia; a meta-analysis. Schizophrenia Research [Internet]. 2012 Feb [cited 2013 Oct 1];134(2''3):202''6. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920996411006281^National Institute ofMental Health. PDSD Ki Database (Internet) [cited 2013 Aug 10]. ChapelHill (NC): University of North Carolina. 1998-2013. Available from: http://pdsp.med.unc.edu/pdsp.php^"Electronic Orange Book". Food and Drug Administration. April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-24. ^"FDA approves the first drug to treat irritability associated with autism, Risperdal" (Press release). FDA. October 6, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-14. ^Scahill L (2008). "How do I decide whether or not to use medication for my child with autism? should I try behavior therapy first?". J Autism Dev Disord38 (6): 1197''8. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0573-7. PMID 18463973. ^Companies belittled risks of Risperdal, slapped with huge fine^"NY AG: Janssen pays $181M over drug marketing". The Seattle Times. 30 August 2012. ^http://allnurses.com/psychiatric-nursing/risperdal-gynecomastia-galactorrhea-74429.html^[1]External links[edit] Adamantanes: AmantadineMemantineRimantadine; Aminotetralins: 7-OH-DPAT8-OH-PBZIRotigotineUH-232; Benzazepines: 6-Br-APBFenoldopamSKF-38,393SKF-77,434SKF-81,297SKF-82,958SKF-83,959; Ergolines: BromocriptineCabergolineDihydroergocryptineEpicriptineLisurideLSDPergolide; Dihydrexidine derivatives: 2-OH-NPAA-86,929CiladopaDihydrexidineDinapsolineDinoxylineDoxanthrine; Others: A-68,930A-77636A-412,997ABT-670ABT-724AplindoreApomorphineAripiprazoleBifeprunoxBP-897CY-208,243DizocilpineEtilevodopaFlibanserinKetamineMelevodopaModafinilPardoprunoxPhencyclidinePD-128,907PD-168,077PF-219,061PiribedilPramipexolePropylnorapomorphinePukateineQuinagolideQuineloraneQuinpiroleRDS-127Ro10-5824RopiniroleRotigotineRoxindoleSalvinorin ASKF-89,145SumaniroleTergurideUmespironeWAY-100,635ReceptorMiscellaneous: Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline,doxepin,trimipramine, etc)Tetracyclic antidepressants (mianserin,mirtazapine, etc)Typical antipsychotics (chlorpromazine,thioridazine, etc)Atypical antipsychotics (clozapine,olanzapine,quetiapine, etc)TransporterEnzymeOthers Agonists: Azapirones: AlnespironeBinospironeBuspironeEnilospironeEptapironeGepironeIpsapironePerospironeRevospironeTandospironeTiospironeUmespironeZalospirone; Antidepressants: EtoperidoneNefazodoneTrazodoneVortioxetine; Antipsychotics: AripiprazoleAsenapineClozapineQuetiapineZiprasidone; Ergolines: DihydroergotamineBromocriptineErgotamineLisurideMethysergideLSD; Tryptamines: 5-CT5-MeO-DMT5-MTBufoteninDMTIndorenatePsilocinPsilocybin; Others: 8-OH-DPATAdatanserinBay R 1531BefiradolBMY-14802CannabidiolDimemebfeEbalzotanEltoprazineF-11,461F-12,826F-13,714F-14,679F-15,063F-15,599FlesinoxanFlibanserinLesopitronLY-293,284LY-301,317MKC-242NaluzotanNBUMPOsemozotanOxaflozanePardoprunoxPiclozotanRauwolscineRepinotanRoxindoleRU-24,969S 14,506S-14,671S-15,535SarizotanSSR-181,507SunepitronU-92,016-AUrapidilVilazodoneXaliprodenYohimbineAntagonists: Antipsychotics: IloperidoneRisperidoneSertindole; Beta blockers: AlprenololCyanopindololIodocyanopindololOxprenololPindobindPindololPropranololTertatolol; Others: AV965BMY-7,378CSP-2503DotarizineFlopropioneGR-46611IsamoltaneLecozotanMefwayMetitepine/MethiothepinMPPFNAN-190RobalzotanS-15535SB-649,915SDZ 216-525SpiperoneSpiramideSpiroxatrineUH-301WAY-100,135WAY-100,635XylamidineAgonists: Lysergamides: DihydroergotamineMethysergide; Triptans: AlmotriptanAvitriptanEletriptanFrovatriptanNaratriptanRizatriptanSumatriptanZolmitriptan; Tryptamines: 5-CT5-Ethyl-DMT5-MT5-(Nonyloxy)tryptamine; Others: CP-135,807BromocriptineCP-286,601GR-46611L-694,247L-772,405PNU-109,291PNU-142633Antagonists: Lysergamides: Metergoline; Others: AlniditanBRL-15,572ElzasonanGR-127,935KetanserinLY-310,762LY-367,642LY-456,219LY-456,220Metitepine/MethiothepinRitanserinYohimbineZiprasidone Agonists: Phenethylamines: 2C-B2C-E2C-I2C-T-22C-T-72C-T-21DOBDOCDOIDOMMDAMDMAMescaline; Piperazines: AripiprazolemCPPTFMPP; Tryptamines: 5-CT5-MeO-α-ET5-MeO-α-MT5-MeO-DET5-MeO-DiPT5-MeO-DMT5-MeO-DPT5-MTα-ETα-Methyl-5-HTα-MTBufoteninDETDiPTDMTDPTPsilocinPsilocybin; Others: A-372,159AL-38022AAlstonineBromocriptineCP-809,101DimemebfeLorcaserinMedifoxamineMK-212Org 12,962ORG-37,684OxaflozanePHA-57378PNU-22394PNU-181731Ro60-0175Ro60-0213VabicaserinWAY-629WAY-161,503YM-348Antagonists: Atypical antipsychotics: ClorotepineClozapineIloperidoneMelperoneOlanzapinePaliperidoneQuetiapineRisperidoneSertindoleZiprasidoneZotepine; Typical antipsychotics: ChlorpromazineLoxapinePimozidePipamperone; Antidepressants: AgomelatineAmitriptylineAmoxapineAptazapineEtoperidoneFluoxetineMianserinMirtazapineNefazodoneNortriptylineTedatioxetineTrazodone; Others: AdatanserinCEPCCinanserinCyproheptadineDeramciclaneDotarizineEltoprazineEsmirtazapineFR-260,010KetanserinKetotifenLatrepirdineMetitepine/MethiothepinMethysergidePizotifenRitanserinRS-102,221S-14,671SB-200,646SB-206,553SB-221,284SB-228,357SB-242,084SB-243,213SDZ SER-082Xylamidine Agonists: Lysergamides: DihydroergotamineErgotamineLisurideLSDMesulergineMetergolineMethysergide; Tryptamines: 2-Methyl-5-HT5-BT5-CT5-MTBufoteninE-6801E-6837EMD-386,088EMDTLY-586,713N-Methyl-5-HTTryptamine; Others: WAY-181,187WAY-208,466Antagonists: Antidepressants: AmitriptylineAmoxapineClomipramineDoxepinMianserinNortriptyline; Atypical antipsychotics: AripiprazoleAsenapineClorotepineClozapineFluperlapineIloperidoneOlanzapineTiospirone; Typical antipsychotics: ChlorpromazineLoxapine; Others: BGC20-760BVT-5182BVT-74316CerlapirdineEGIS-12,233GW-742,457KetanserinLatrepirdineLu AE58054Metitepine/MethiothepinMS-245PRX-07034RitanserinRo04-6790Ro 63-0563SB-258,585SB-271,046SB-357,134SB-399,885SB-742,457Agonists: Lysergamides: LSD; Tryptamines: 5-CT5-MTBufotenin; Others: 8-OH-DPATAS-19BifeprunoxE-55888LP-12LP-44RU-24,969SarizotanAntagonists: Lysergamides: 2-Bromo-LSDBromocriptineDihydroergotamineErgotamineMesulergineMetergolineMethysergide; Antidepressants: AmitriptylineAmoxapineClomipramineImipramineMaprotilineMianserin; Atypical antipsychotics: AmisulprideAripiprazoleAsenapineClorotepineClozapineOlanzapineRisperidoneSertindoleTiospironeZiprasidoneZotepine; Typical antipsychotics: ChlorpromazineLoxapine;Pimozide; Others: ButaclamolEGIS-12,233KetanserinLY-215,840Metitepine/MethiothepinRitanserinSB-258,719SB-258,741SB-269,970SB-656,104SB-656,104-ASB-691,673SLV-313SLV-314SpiperoneSSR-181,507Vortioxetine
Exit Interview: Matthew Keys : Columbia Journalism Review
Sun, 25 May 2014 00:00
It's been a rough month and a half for Matthew Keys. In March, Reuters's now-former deputy social media editor was indicted by the US Justice Department, accused of sharing a past employer's network information with hackers. Reuters suspended him (with pay) shortly thereafter, and Keys, 26, spent the last month tweeting news much like he did before the suspension, with his Reuters title still on his Twitter profile.
The Boston Marathon bombing proved to be Keys's final undoing; he lashed out at Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa, accusing his boss of tweet plagiarism. Keys also took a lot of heat for erroneously tweeting that one of the bombing suspects was in custody and live-tweeting the Boston police scanner after the police department had asked the media to stop. Yesterday, Keys announced (on Twitter, of course) that his 14-month employment with Reuters had come to an end. He replied to my questions via email.
Were you surprised when you got the phone call on Monday morning? Were you surprised when you were suspended last month?
The suspension came as a surprise. The phone call this morning was unfortunate, but not unexpected.
What's the last month been like for you?
Very tiring. After the indictment came down, my roommates kicked me out of the apartment. With nowhere else to go, I packed the trunk of my car with the stuff I wanted to take, had it shipped, booked a plane ticket, and moved back to California. I'll be here for a little while.
What went wrong with your Boston coverage, if anything?
Nothing. Like the networks and wires, I had anonymous sources within law enforcement. Unlike the networks and the wires, my sources were solid. Not once did I have to retract anything my sources told me. Reuters is faulting me for not adhering to a request published by other news organizations. As far as I'm aware, there was no request by law enforcement on social media and no request by law enforcement by way of a press release or media statement asking for people on Twitter to not tweet emergency scanner traffic.
Reuters fired you because of your tweets about Boston, but you also gained about 10,000 followers during that time. What do you think that means?
I gained 10,000 followers in 24 hours covering the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, but to be fair, my follower count dropped by about 1,000 followers after Friday. People tune in to various Twitter feeds during breaking news situations. My follower count always goes up when big news breaks, though it's rare it goes up that much. I assume the same happens for other news aggregators and social media journalists who cover similar stories. If you're lucky, the new followers will stick around, but it's not unreasonable to assume some tune in for the big news event and then tune out when it's over.
You've been about as open about this whole thing as anyone I've ever seen, from the indictment until now. On one hand, the transparency is refreshing. On the other, every time you tweet or post or what have you, you run the risk of getting in more trouble. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? And do you think, if you had just stopped tweeting entirely when the suspension began, that you'd still be employed by Reuters?
A manager with Reuters told me on Friday the company would have been perfectly happy if I had stopped tweeting when the suspension was handed down. That would have been the more conservative approach, but I don't think it would have made a difference. The company was looking for a reason to dispose of me.
When the indictment came down, the first thing I said publicly is that I was okay and that things would go back to normal the next day. Still, there were people who worried about me. I hope by tweeting the news and writing posts'---committing acts of journalism even through tough times'---it alleviates some of the worry others have.
You're young, with only a few news producer jobs under your belt, and suddenly you became one of the social media faces of a huge, international media brand. Did Reuters expect too much from you, and was it too quick to issue that ''final warning'' (which you said was also the first warning) when it felt that you came up short?
While it doesn't say it in the written warning, Reuters issued the final warning while admitting that I hadn't received the proper training on how Reuters operates as a news organization, what is expected of their journalists, and so on. A good example is the Trust Principles, which Reuters claims I violated. I had no idea what the Trust Principles were until I was sent to training in early November'--two weeks after the ''final warning.'' I don't understand how the company can expect its journalists to abide by a set of principles without telling its journalists what those principles are. That's like trying to play a board game without having first read the rules.
When Reuters hired me, I think they expected a lot. And I delivered. With a staff of just two people dedicated to social media, we surpassed our competitor in Twitter followers. We grew our Facebook following by leaps and bounds. We broke one million follows on Google Plus (on that one, we had some help from our colleagues in London). We grew our Tumblr following tenfold in a year. We created a robust Olympics page, and ran several amazing liveblogs during large events. We experimented and took risks and occasionally broke things. Sometimes, we broke rules we didn't even know were in place. Sometimes, we changed the rules.
Anthony De Rosa hired you'--''took a chance on this goober'' as you wrote on your blog'--but things have seemed a bit tense between you two since your suspension, especially last week. Why are you seemingly trying to burn your bridge with the guy who hired you in the first place?
I like Anthony as a person and I respect him as a journalist. When I worked at Reuters, I looked the other way when it came to copying and pasting tweets. I figured, we're all on the same team, we're all working for the same product, so it didn't matter to me then. After March, it started to matter. Reuters made it clear by way of the suspension that they didn't want me contributing to their products. Yet you have someone who works in their editorial department copying and pasting what I post on Twitter, and moving it as if they've written it. I felt it was unfair the company didn't want me in the office but they were still willing to use my work without some kind of credit.
Anthony is one of the best bosses I've had. I felt really bad for calling him out. But I feel defending the work I put out was the right thing to do, however innocuous it may seem to lift copy from a tweet. If it had been anyone else at Reuters, I would have done the same thing, though I'm not sure it would have been written about in CJR'...
You're dealing with what has to be some scary stuff right now. The federal court case, unemployment, and now-well-publicized past questionable activity (the stuff BuzzFeed dragged up, for example). How do you think this will all end? What have you learned from this, and what are you looking forward to?
There's nothing ''questionable'' about what BuzzFeed ''dragged up.'' The reporter who wrote the piece has been in the spotlight before for writing a questionable story. Their ''source'' is the equivalent of a rambling homeless man on the subway. I think the reporter who wrote the piece is really talented, and I think BuzzFeed gets some great scoops, but the piece they wrote about me was a ploy to get pageviews. Let's not treat it as anything more than it is.
As for where this all winds up, who knows. I still have a pretty loyal following. My work stands for itself. After we win our court case and our arbitration with Reuters, I might take another swing at journalism. Or maybe after the crazy has died down I'll decide journalism isn't for me. If that's the case, there's a small island, inhabited in the South Pacific, that I will try to swim to.
Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.
Matthew Keys Fired From Reuters | New York Observer
Sat, 24 May 2014 23:57
Matthew Keys
When Matthew Keys tweeted on Monday morning that he had been fired from his position as deputy social media editor at Reuters, speculation spread quickly on the Internet.
Mr. Keys, who last month was indicted for conspiring with the hacker group Anonymous to gain illegal access to the website of The Los Angeles Times, had already been suspended, with pay, from his job, and many assumed that the firing was related to the criminal charges brought against him.
But in a blog post on his personal website, Mr. Keys listed various other reasons for his termination'--based on a telephone conversation he said he had had with Reuters'--that were unrelated to the indictment, such as tweeting inaccurate information from a police scanner after the Boston Marathon bombing and identifying himself as a ''Reuters journalist'' while suspended.
''Still,'' Mr. Keys wrote, ''one has to wonder if they are connected.'' If he has learned anything from this debacle, however, it may be that he should wait to draw any conclusions. Meanwhile, the 26-year-old ''wunderkind of new media,'' as he was once dubbed in The New York Times, has filed a grievance with his union.
''Our contract with Thomson Reuters prohibits management from dismissing anyone without just and sufficient cause,'' said Peter Szekely, secretary-treasurer of the Newspaper Guild of New York, in a statement. ''We don't believe the company has the required justification here. At this point, we intend to vigorously defend Matthew Keys as we would any other hardworking member of the Newspaper Guild of New York who had been fired without cause.''
Mr. Keys's firing comes at a time when some traditional and social media sites have taken heat for reporting inaccuracies in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. These include Reddit, whose users launched a kind of vigilante detective tear to find the bombers, which ''fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation,'' as Reddit's general manager Erik Martin, who apologized for the manhunt, wrote on Monday. In light of this, firing someone for errant tweeting seems like a harsh punishment, especially since, as Mr. Keys has pointed out, Reuters itself has reportedinformation from police scanners in the past.
Still, it would seem that Mr. Keys, who now has more than 35,000 followers on Twitter, has a responsibility not to report unconfirmed information, as he did after the bombing. ''Just in: Suspect 2 on the ground at gunpoint,'' Mr. Keys tweeted on Friday; it was retweeted nearly 250 times and turned out to be incorrect, which Mr. Keys himself pointed out in a later tweet.
Such recklessness prompted Choire Sicha to publish a post on The Awl last week titled ''Is Your Social Media Editor Destroying Your News Organization Today?'' In the post, Mr. Sicha singled out Mr. Keys'--and his Twitter account'--writing, ''The sheer amount of useless, misleading and random noise put out by this account is unreal.''
Reuters spokesperson David Girardin confirmed to Off the Record that Mr. Keys is no longer with the company, though he would not comment on why the social media editor was let go.
Mr. Keys'--who could face 25 years in prison for allegedly providing Anonymous with information to log in to the server of the Tribune Company, among other charges'--has more than just the Newspaper Guild on his side. Many concerned users took to Twitter on Monday to show their support. One Twitter user, ChristineKaratnytsky, wrote, ''As a librarian, I valued your commitment to truth/accuracy. I think Reuters errs in judgment. You deserve public support.''
The ever-opinionated Jose Canseco even entered the fray. In a tweet directed to BuzzFeed politics reporter Andrew Kaczynski, Mr. Canseco wrote: ''Andy hire Matt @thematthewkeys reuters totally hosed him for doing his job. when did reuters become pravda.''
Mr. Keys tweeted back: ''May I use you as a reference?''
Matthew Keys - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 24 May 2014 23:55
Matthew Keys is an entrepreneurial journalist and blogger formerly[1] employed as the deputy social media editor for Reuters. Keys is best known for using social media platforms to advance developing news stories.
At Reuters, Keys published news to the organization's various social media accounts. As a journalist for the organization, Keys also occasionally contributed to reports (namely those with a social media-specific focus or where information may be found on social media platforms). Keys reported to the company's lead social media editor Anthony De Rosa.
Early work[edit]Keys attended American River College in Sacramento, California. While at American River College, Keys signed on as the first online news producer for local television station KTXL. In 2011, Keys joined KGO-TV as a weekend web producer.
Accolades[edit]In 2012, Time Magazine named Keys one of the Top 140 people to follow on Twitter.[2] That same year, the Huffington Post named Keys one of the 50 people to subscribe to for news on Facebook.[3]
Alleged hacking incident[edit]In March 2013, Keys was charged by federal prosecutors with providing unauthorized access to the Los Angeles Times website for members of the hacker group Anonymous in December 2010. The hackers published a false story on the website.[4] Keys pleaded not guilty in federal court in April, 2013.[5]
Dismissal from Reuters[edit]On April 22, 2013 Reuters fired Keys over purported inaccuracies in reporting on his personal Twitter account while covering the Boston Marathon Bombings.[1][6] The dismissal has been challenged by the union that represented him. [7]
References[edit]^ abKim, Victoria; Serna, Joseph (April 22, 2013). "Alleged L.A. Times hacker Matthew Keys fired by Reuters". The Los Angeles Times (The Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 22 April 2013. ^"Time Magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012". Time Magazine. March 21, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2013. ^Aquino, Mia (April 30, 2012). "50 People in Media You Should Subscribe To on Facebook". HuffingtonPost.com. Retrieved February 2, 2013. ^Kim, Victoria; Serna, Joseph (March 14, 2013). "Thomson Reuters editor Matthew Keys faces hacking charges". The Los Angeles Times (The Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 22 April 2013. ^Schwartz, Carly (April 23, 2013). "Matthew Keys Arraignment: Former Reuters Employee Pleads Not Guilty To Helping Anonymous Hackers". The Huffington Post (The Huffington Post). Retrieved September 10, 2013. ^Morrison, Sara (April 23, 2013). "Exit Interview: Matthew Keys". Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved September 10, 2013. ^"Guild statement on Thomson Reuters firing of Matthew Keys - See more at: http://www.nyguild.org/reuters-news-details/items/guild-statement-on-termination-of-matthews-keys-by-thomson-reuters.html#sthash.Vj59Mxys.dpuf". April 22, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013. External links[edit]PersondataNameKeys, MatthewAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican journalistDate of birthPlace of birthDate of deathPlace of death
Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara mass shooting suspect, "My Twisted World" manifesto
Sat, 24 May 2014 23:32
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Atomoxetine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:44
Atomoxetine (brand name: Strattera) is a drug approved for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).[4] It is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI),[4] not to be confused with serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), both of which are currently the most prescribed form of antidepressants.[5]
Medical use[edit]Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder[edit]Classified as a norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitor, atomoxetine is approved for use in children, adolescents, and adults.[4] However, its efficacy has not been studied in children under six years old.[2] Its primary advantage over the standard stimulant treatments for ADHD is that it has no abuse potential.[2]
The initial therapeutic effects of atomoxetine usually take 2''4 weeks to be become apparent.[1] A further 2''4 weeks may be required for the full therapeutic effects to be seen.[5] Its efficacy may be less than that of stimulant medications.[6]
Unlike α2 adrenoceptor agonists such as guanfacine and clonidine atomoxetine's use can be abruptly stopped without significant withdrawal effects being seen.[2]
Investigational uses[edit]There has been some suggestion that atomoxetine might be a helpful adjunct in people with major depression, especially in cases where ADHD occurs comorbidly to major depression.[7][8][9] Several randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trials found that atomoxetine was an efficacious treatment for various disorders like paediatric bedwetting,[10]binge eating disorder,[11] and is an efficacious weight loss medication.[12]
Adverse effects[edit]Incidence of adverse effects:[2][3][13][14]
Very common (>10% incidence) adverse effects include:
Nausea (26%)Xerostomia (dry mouth) (20%)Appetite loss (16%)Insomnia (15%)Fatigue (10%)HeadacheCoughCommon (1-10% incidence) adverse effects include:
Constipation (8%)Dizziness (8%)Erectile dysfunction (8%)Somnolence (8%)Abdominal pain (7%)Urinary hesitation (6%)Tachycardia (high heart rate) (5-10%)Hypertension (high blood pressure) (5-10%)Irritability (5%)Abnormal Dreams (4%)Dyspepsia (4%)Ejaculation disorder (4%)Hyperhidrosis (4%)Vomiting (4%)Hot flashes (3%)Paraesthesia (3%)Menstrual disorder (3%)Weight loss (2%)DepressionSinus headacheDermatitisMood swingsUncommon (0.1-1% incidence) adverse effects include:
Suicide-related eventsHostilityEmotional labilityAggressionPsychosisSyncopeTremorMigraineHypoaesthesiaSeizurePalpitationsSinus tachycardiaQT interval prolongationIncreased blood bilirubinAllergic reactionsRare (0.01-0.1% incidence) adverse effects include:
The FDA of the US has issued a black box warning for suicidal behaviour/ideation.[3] Similar warnings have been issued in Australia.[2][16] Unlike stimulant medications atomoxetine does not have abuse liability or the potential to cause withdrawal effects on abrupt discontinuation.[2]
Contraindications[edit]Contraindications include:[2]
Hypersensitivity to atomoxetine or any of the excipients in the productSymptomatic cardiovascular disease including:-moderate to severe hypertension-atrial fibrillation-atrial flutter-ventricular tachycardia-ventricular fibrillation-or ventricular flutter-advanced arteriosclerosisSevere cardiovascular disordersPoor metabolisers (due to the metabolism of atomoxetine by CYP2D6)Interactions[edit]Atomoxetine is a substrate for CYP2D6 and hence concurrent treatment with CYP2D6 inhibitors or inducers is not recommended as this can lead to significant elevations or reductions of plasma atomoxetine levels, respectively.[2] Other possible drug interactions include with:[2]
Antihypertensive and pressor agents, due to the potential pressor effect of indirect sympathomimetics such as atomoxetine.Norepinephrine-acting agents such as α1 adrenoceptor agonists or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors due to the potential for additive or synergistic pharmacologic effects.β-adrenoceptor agonists due to the potential for the effects of these drugs to be potentiated by atomoxetine.Tricyclic antidepressants as they may potentiate the cardiovascular effects of atomoxetine.Highly plasma protein-bound drugs due to the potential of atomoxetine to displace these drugs from plasma proteins and hence potentiate their adverse effects. Examples include diazepam, paroxetine and phenytoin.Overdose[edit]Atomoxetine is relatively non-toxic in overdose as single-drug overdoses involving over 1500 mg of atomoxetine have not resulted in death.[2] The most common symptoms of overdose include:[2]
Gastrointestinal symptomsand less commonly:[2]
Recommended treatment of overdoses include activated charcoal treatment to prevent further absorption of the drug.[2]
Detection in biological fluids[edit]Atomoxetine may be quantitated in plasma, serum or whole blood in order to distinguish extensive versus poor metabolizers in those receiving the drug therapeutically, to confirm the diagnosis in potential poisoning victims or to assist in the forensic investigation in a case of fatal overdosage.[17]
Chemistry and composition[edit]Atomoxetine is designated chemically as ('')-N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-(o-tolyloxy)-propylamine hydrochloride, and has a molecular mass of 291.82.[4] It has a solubility of 27.8 mg/mL in water.[4] Atomoxetine is a white solid that exists as a granular powder inside the capsule, along with pre-gelatinized starch and dimethicone.[4] The capsule shells contain gelatin, sodium lauryl sulfate, FD&C Blue No. 2, synthetic yellow iron oxide, titanium dioxide, red iron oxide, edible black ink, and trace amounts of other inactive ingredients.[4]
Strattera 60 mg capsule back
Strattera 60 mg capsule front with Lilly logo
Pharmacology[edit]Atomoxetine inhibits NET, SERT and DAT with respective Ki values of 5, 77 and 1451 nM.[18] In microdialysis studies it increased NE and DA levels by 3 fold in the prefrontal cortices but did not alter DA levels in the striatum or nucleus accumbens.[19] Atomoxetine also acts as an NMDA-receptor antagonist at clinically relevant doses.[20] The role of NMDA-receptor antagonism in atomoxetine's therapeutic profile remains to be further elucidated, but recent literature has further implicated glutaminergic dysfunction as central in ADHD pathophysiology and etiology.[21][22]
4-hydroxyatomoxetine, the principle metabolite of atomoxetine, exhibits affinity for μ-opioid receptors and κ-opioid receptors. Creighton et al. reported no activation of μ-opioid receptors and a partial agonist effect at κ-opioid receptors.[23] The clinical significance of these effects are not known.
Atomoxetine has been found to inhibit both brain and cardiac GIRKs, a characteristic it shares with the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitorreboxetine.[24]
Binding profile[18][19][23][25]
Synthesis[edit]First step appears to be a Mannich reaction between acetophenone, paraformaldehyde and dimethylamine, although not formally written in the scheme.
Foster, B. J.; Lavagnino, E. R.; European Patent, 1982, EP 0052492 .
History[edit]This compound is manufactured, marketed and sold in the United States under the brand name Strattera by Eli Lilly and Company as a hydrochloride salt (atomoxetine HCl), the original patent filing company, and current U.S. patent owner. Strattera was approved by the FDA in 2006 for the treatment of ADHD. There is currently no generic manufactured directly in the United States since it is under patent until 2017.[26] On 12 August 2010, Lilly lost a lawsuit that challenged Lilly's patent on Strattera, increasing the likelihood of an earlier entry of a generic into the US market.[27] On 1 September 2010, Sun Pharmaceuticals announced it would begin manufacturing a generic in the United States.[28] In a 29 July 2011 conference call, however, Sun Pharmaceutical's Chairman stated "Lilly won that litigation on appeal so I think [generic Strattera]'s deferred."[29]
Production and brand-names[edit]In India, Atomoxetine is found under different names like Tomoxetin, Attentrol, Axepta, Atokem and Attentin.
References[edit]^ abcdef"atomoxetine (Rx) - Strattera". Medscape Reference. WebMD. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqr"STRATTERA® (atomoxetine hydrochloride)". TGA eBusiness Services. Eli Lilly Australia Pty. Limited. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^ abcdefg"ATOMOXETINE HYDROCHLORIDE capsule [Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.]". DailyMed. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. October 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^ abcdefg"STRATTERA® (atomoxetine hydrochloride) CAPSULES for Oral Use. Full Prescribing Information" (PDF). Indianapolis, USA: Eli Lilly and Company. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014. ^ abTaylor, D; Paton, C; Shitij, K (2012). The Maudsley prescribing guidelines in psychiatry (in English). West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-470-97948-8. edit^Kooij, JJS (2013). Adult ADHD Diagnostic Assessment and Treatment (PDF). Springer London. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-4138-9. ISBN 9781447141372. ^Spencer TJ, Faraone SV, Michelson D, Adler, LA; Reimherr, FW; Glatt, SJ; Biederman, J (March 2006). "Atomoxetine and adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: the effects of comorbidity". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry67 (3): 415''20. doi:10.4088/JCP.v67n0312. PMID 16649828. ^Carpenter LL, Milosavljevic N, Schecter JM, Tyrka AR, Price LH (October 2005). "Augmentation with open-label atomoxetine for partial or nonresponse to antidepressants". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry66 (10): 1234''8. doi:10.4088/JCP.v66n1005. PMID 16259536. ^Kratochvil CJ, Newcorn JH, Arnold LE, Duesenberg, D; Emslie, GJ; Quintana, H; Sarkis, EH; Wagner, KD; Gao, H; Michelson, D; Biederman, J (September 2005). "Atomoxetine alone or combined with fluoxetine for treating ADHD with comorbid depressive or anxiety symptoms". Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry44 (9): 915''24. doi:10.1097/01.chi.0000169012.81536.38. PMID 16113620. ^Sumner, CR; Schuh, KJ; Sutton, VK; Lipetz, R; Kelsey, DK (December 2006). "Placebo-controlled study of the effects of atomoxetine on bladder control in children with nocturnal enuresis". Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology16 (6): 699''711. doi:10.1089/cap.2006.16.699. PMID 17201614. ^McElroy, SL; Guerdjikova, A; Kotwal, R; Welge, JA; Nelson, EB; Lake, KA; Keck, PE Jr; Hudson, JI (March 2007). "Atomoxetine in the treatment of binge-eating disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled trial". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry68 (3): 390''8. doi:10.4088/JCP.v68n0306. PMID 17388708. ^Gadde, KM; Yonish, GM; Wagner, HR; Foust, MS; Allison, DB (July 2006). "Atomoxetine for weight reduction in obese women: a preliminary randomised controlled trial". International Journal of Obesity30 (7): 1138''42. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803223. PMID 16418753. ^"Strattera 10mg, 18mg, 25mg, 40mg, 60mg, 80mg or 100mg hard capsules". electronic Medicines Compendium. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^"Strattera Product Insert". Retrieved 8 December 2013. ^"STRATTERA Medication Guide". Eli Lilly and Company. 2003. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^"Atomoxetine and suicidality in children and adolescents". Australian Prescriber36 (5). October 2013. p. 166. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^Baselt, Randall C. (2008). Disposition of Toxic Drugs and Chemicals in Man (8th ed.). Foster City, CA: Biomedical Publications. pp. 118''20. ISBN 0-931890-08-X. ^ abRoth, BL; Driscol, J (12 January 2011). "PDSP Ki Database". Psychoactive Drug Screening Program (PDSP). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the United States National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^ abBymaster, FP; Katner, JS; Nelson, DL; Hemrick-Luecke, SK; Threlkeld, PG; Heiligenstein, JH; Morin, SM; Gehlert, DR; Perry, KW (November 2002). "Atomoxetine Increases Extracellular Levels of Norepinephrine and Dopamine in Prefrontal Cortex of Rat: A Potential Mechanism for Efficacy in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" (PDF). Neuropsychopharmacology27 (5): 699''711. doi:10.1016/S0893-133X(02)00346-9. PMID 12431845. ^Ludolph, AG; Udvardi, PT; Schaz, U; Henes, C; Adolph, O; Weigt, HU; Fegert, JM; Boeckers, TM; F¶hr, KJ (May 2010). "Atomoxetine acts as an NMDA receptor blocker in clinically relevant concentrations" (PDF). British Journal of Pharmacology160 (2): 283''291. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00707.x. PMC 2874851. PMID 20423340. ^Lesch, KP; Merker, S; Reif, A; Novak, M (June 2013). "Dances with black widow spiders: dysregulation of glutamate signalling enters centre stage in ADHD". European Neuropsychopharmacology23 (6): 479''491. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2012.07.013. PMID 22939004. ^Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: New gene study of ADHD points to defects in brain signaling pathways^ abCreighton, CJ; Ramabadran, K; Ciccone, PE; Liu, J; Orsini, MJ; Reitz, AB (2 August 2004). "Synthesis and biological evaluation of the major metabolite of atomoxetine: elucidation of a partial kappa-opioid agonist effect.". Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters14 (15): 4083''5. PMID 15225731. ^Kobayashi, T; Washiyama, K; Ikeda, K (Jun 2010). "Inhibition of G-protein-activated inwardly rectifying K+ channels by the selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors atomoxetine and reboxetine.". Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology35 (7): 1560''9. PMID 20393461. ^Bymaster, FP; Katner, JS; Nelson, DL; Hemrick-Luecke, SK; Threlkeld, PG; Heiligenstein, JH; Morin, SM; Gehlert, DR; Perry, KW (November 2002). "Atomoxetine increases extracellular levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in prefrontal cortex of rat: a potential mechanism for efficacy in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder". Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology27 (5): 699''711. doi:10.1016/S0893-133X(02)00346-9. PMID 12431845. ^"Patent and Exclusivity Search Results". Electronic Orange Book. US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 26 April 2009. ^"Drugmaker Eli Lilly loses patent case over ADHD drug, lowers revenue outlook". Chicago Tribune. ^"Sun Pharma receives USFDA approval for generic Strattera capsules". International Business Times. ^"Sun Pharma Q1 2011-12 Earnings Call Transcript 10.00 am, July 29, 2011". External links[edit]
My Aspergers Child: Aspergers and Medication
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:43
"Are there any medications on the market to treat a child Asperger's Syndrome? If so, which ones have had the greatest benefit to those with the disorder?"Because there is no identifiable biochemical problem in Aspergers Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, and because many researchers believe the syndrome is a result of fundamental changes in the brain structure, medications will probably never treat or cure it. On the other hand, there are several medications that have been found to control some of the symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome or the comorbidities found with the condition.A medication called atomoxetine has been found to improve some of the aspects of Aspergers Syndrome that mimic those of attention deficit disorder. Several studies have used the drug to reduce symptoms of irritability, social withdrawal and repetitive speech seen in this disorder.Medications normally directed toward treating obsessive compulsive disorder have been tried in children with Aspergers Syndrome who have shown obsessive and compulsive tendencies. While the medication doesn't treat some of the core symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome, it has been shown to improve OCD symptoms.Antidepressants can be attempted in those Aspergers individuals who suffer from secondary depression. The depression isn't generally a part of the Aspergers Syndrome itself, but is found as a result of some of the distressing life circumstances often found in Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children and teens know that they do not fit in with others, and while some prefer social isolation, others lament their lack of ability to get comfortable dealing with others. This and other issues of self-esteem, etc., can lead to depression, which is often manageable with antidepressant medication.Finally, people with Aspergers Syndrome often suffer from debilitating insomnia. While it's best to use non-drug ways of controlling the symptoms, some people can make use of sleeping medication that doesn't have to be addicting. Sometimes a short course of sleeping medication can get the individual back into a regular sleeping pattern.Medications directed at anxiety may be necessary when the person with Aspergers suffers from nervousness or irritability surrounding their life situations. "Aspies" can become quite distressed by things not being the same or as expected, and anti-anxiety medication can help with this.In truth, there is no single medication or class of medications that works to treat many of the core symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome. Some of the secondary or related symptoms can be effectively managed, however, with certain psychotropic medications.Medication will help in very specific ways. Medication helps in reducing panic attacks, anxiety and aggression and explosive behavior. AS kids have restricted interests by definition of the disorder. They focus in on details on whatever it is they are talking about. Even with medication. But it helps to have the medication reduce some the stress. A good book to refer to for doses for AS kids is "Clinical Treatment of Autism" by Dr. Eric Hollander (From Mt. Sinai Autism Center) For example, AS kids start at low doses of Zoloft (25mg up to 50mg) or Prozac (10mg up to 20mg).What else is needed is a different approach. Many activities need to be rehearsed in very small steps over years of exposures. And with a positive reinforcement plan. I have found Yale University Parent and Child Conduct Clinic very helpful. I have been trained by them on the phone over the last two years.Here are some strategies:1) Avoid stores with him until you can work on a behavior plan with him on this. When you have time, he needs to be taught to shop from a list, stick to a budget, ignore items he sees that are not on the list and that shopping is a reward to be earned by doing both. Tagging along with parents shopping is going to be irritating to him for a long time in the future.2) Only pair him up with kids that are younger or not challenging personalities. Make the social activity predictable (movie, with defined snacks), or (park and a drink and chips we bring with) or (bowling 2 games and a snack and drink). Rehearse the social activity. And praise all positive behavior. Often as they get older, they will start to be able to be more flexible with peers.3) Practice talking at meals about pleasant things that others are interested in. Don't allow dinners to be all special interests all the time. Practice at some meals taking an interest in the parent's interests or other members of the family. This is a skill that takes time to develop. If he was shut out of conversation all day at school, then dinner may be his time to talk about his interests. It may have to wait until a less stressful time of the year to practice this skill.3) Church is going to be difficult. All those people and the noise from all directions. It is an irritating place for many AS kids. My daughter goes to Sunday school (and I have taught the class for 8 years) not church services (except for Christmas and Easter when there is lots of music and we attend the children's mass).I think parent's need support from a behaviorist. Parents of typical kids and teachers will not understand that these kids need very small steps and exposures to life in general.Teachers and school staff will push too hard, it is only a certified behaviorist of autistic kids that understand behavior shaping is a slow process of gradual change with positive supports.A better day for your son would be:1) Lunch at his favorite place with you only. Agree on your limits ahead of time. The less limits the less irritated he will be. So pick an affordable place with food choices that you approve of.Practice menu choices. Without a fight. Practice budget. When he can go to the lunch place without a meltdown over menu choices he is ready for your boyfriend to be there and then his son.The goal of this exercise is to have a positive social experience. Don't expect to go to a busy noisy rushed place at lunch on Saturday with a group of people and expect him to be well behaved. It all has to be rehearsed and practiced.2) Find him a church setting where there is very small Sunday school groups for kids his age. Let the teacher know he needs support and understanding.3) Melatonin tablets are very helpful for relaxing AS kids at bedtime. This really works. The Mayo Clinic recommends them an hour before bedtime. I forgot the dose I use for my daughter, look at the Mayo Clinic web site on Asperger kids and medications. It has made a huge difference for my daughter. She use to get very anxious and had a busy mind at bedtime. Now she is asleep within an hour.4) Follow this plan: One outing a day, one place, and allow 1 hour or more. Don't rush him to leave. Give him a warning. Offer a small reward if he leaves calmly when it is time.There is so much to share about parenting an AS child. This is a rushed summary, and I am rushing through the details. But it is meant to give you an idea of the strategies that work. You will find a behaviorist very helpful. Yale was affordable for me. $75 for 45 min and I did get some money from insurance back. More comments:
' Anonymous said... 1. It's not a 'disorder' 2. No there is no suitable medication 3. Start finding ways to ease the anxieties, not turn children into Zombies with drugs. Rant over' Anonymous said... Allison, My almost 12yr old grandson has been on Risperdol since he was 3. He has had no side effects other than weight gain which is under control with diet. His parents did take him off one summer & everyone, including our Aspie, was miserable due to daily meltdowns. Monitor closely but don't let peers pressure you to DC meds for no good reason.' Anonymous said... Catapres nightly to assist sleep (age 7)' Anonymous said... Dietary changes, ABA & OT therapy, and counseling have all been beneficial for our son/family. Our son no longer does OT, counseling is on an as needed basis and he'll most likely be done with ABA therapy too. As for the diet, that is a lifestyle change. We've also found great support through our church family & getting him involved with youth group & more structured type activities that he enjoys.' Anonymous said... Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so this is mine. Why do people get so tetchy over words? Who cares what it is called as long as no offensive words are used. Why are people so against medication? Surely it is up to the individual parent. I know for sure I would much rather my daughter be stable than having her slit her wrists all the time because her mother didn't think she was worth enough to help her with medication. Many other therapies have been tried but failed because of her lack of communication ability be it verbal or otherwise. I would not deny my daughter calpol if she had a headache and would not wish for her to suffer the pain instead so who am I to deny her a chance of an anxiety free life just because of my belief against medication! Rant over!!' Anonymous said... Go to the Amen clinic. They are wonderful!' Anonymous said... I always caution, when considering medication for children, people to make sure they clearly weigh the pros and cons. Some medications for social issues (depression/anxiety) end up seeming to work and then backfire with symptoms that are even more aggravating including suicidal tendencies or violent outbursts. For so many medication works for many things, but since, as the article says, autism has not been found to be any particular imbalance that can be corrected, it may well be the best option is for us to make our environments more aspie/autism friendly than to try to force change at a medicinal level in them.' Anonymous said... I would suggest starting with therapy, and see what direction that sends you in. There are so many medications you can put them on but lots of them have many cons.' Anonymous said... I would suggest therapy also. Our son is not on any meds, but has been seeing a therapist for 2 years, and it has made a world of difference in his behavior. Medication may help some, but for us, we want that to be the very last option we choose.' Anonymous said... My boy uses meds to help with his focus at school. I have had to educate our school a lot about reinforcing bad behavior. Education is the key. I would probably use meds even if we homeschooled. He tells me it is liked having steering and breaks. He feels more in control.' Anonymous said... My daughter was on Risperdol and went off the deep end. She hasn't been on any meds (except melatonin) since age 7. Now shes in full blown puberty and NEEDS anti anxiety meds. No amount of therapy has helped, and she could hurt herself or someone else if she can't calm down.' Anonymous said... My son began taking medication for anxiety when he was a teen. It has helped a ton. He still gets anxious, but it is not completely debilitating anymore. The medication side effects are very minimal as he takes a low dose.' Anonymous said... My son is an aspie that also has adhd. He's six and takes vyvanse and tenex. I hated putting him on meds but sometimes you just have to.' Anonymous said... Risperdol has been a life saver for my 14 year old son with Asperger's. His aggression has reached scary proportions and this med has helped with his anger and meltdowns. He also takes Lexapro for his high anxiety. I agree that it's the parent's choice...we all want the best for our children medicine or not. I honestly do not think my son could live with our family if he wasn't on medication.' Anonymous said... risperdol has been a life saver for us as well, though with my son only being 5 years old I'm not sure how long I'll be willing to keep him on it, at least not for long term, we're thinking to just use it for the months he's in school. He also takes Fluvox for his OCD which has really helped him as well.' Anonymous said... There is no medication for Asperger's. There are, however, medications for comorbid diagnoses such as OCD or ADHD. For Asperger's in and of itself, there is none.
More comments below...
Risperdal: Uses, Dosage & Side Effects - Drugs.com
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:43
Generic Name:risperidone (oral) (ris PER i done)Brand Names:Risperdal, Risperdal M-Tab
What is Risperdal?Risperdal is an antipsychotic medication. It is an "atypical antipsychotic". It works by changing the effects of chemicals in the brain.
Risperdal is used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). It is also used in autistic children to treat symptoms of irritability.
Risperdal may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
Important informationRisperdal is not for use in psychotic conditions related to dementia. Risperidone may cause heart failure, sudden death, or pneumonia in older adults with dementia-related conditions.
Do not give Risperdal to a child without a doctor's advice.
While you are taking Risperdal, you may be more sensitive to temperature extremes such as very hot or cold conditions. Avoid getting too cold, or becoming overheated or dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially in hot weather and during exercise. It is easier to become dangerously overheated and dehydrated while you are taking this medication.
Video: Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Treatment for bipolar disorder is getting better every day and there are things you can start doing right away.
Risperdal may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.
Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of Risperdal. Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have fever, stiff muscles, confusion, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, restless muscle movements in your face or neck, tremor (uncontrolled shaking), trouble swallowing, feeling light-headed, or fainting.
Before taking this medicineRisperdal is not for use in psychotic conditions that are related to dementia. Risperdal has caused fatal heart attack and stroke in older adults with dementia-related conditions. You should not use this medication if you are allergic to risperidone.
To make sure you can safely take Risperdal, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
liver disease;
kidney disease;
heart disease, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems;
high cholesterol or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);
a history of heart attack or stroke;
a history of low white blood cell (WBC) counts;
a history of breast cancer;
seizures or epilepsy;
diabetes (risperidone may raise your blood sugar);
a history of suicidal thoughts;
Parkinson's disease; or
trouble swallowing.
Risperdal may cause you to have high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Talk to your doctor if you have any signs of hyperglycemia such as increased thirst or urination, excessive hunger, or weakness. If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis while you are taking Risperdal.
The risperidone orally disintegrating tablet may contain phenylalanine. Talk to your doctor before using this form of risperidone if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).
FDA pregnancy category C. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication. Taking antipsychotic medication during the last 3 months of pregnancy may cause problems in the newborn, such as withdrawal symptoms, breathing problems, feeding problems, fussiness, tremors, and limp or stiff muscles. However, you may have withdrawal symptoms or other problems if you stop taking your medicine during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Risperdal, do not stop taking it without your doctor's advice. Risperidone can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while taking Risperdal.
See also:Pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
Do not give Risperdal to a child without a doctor's advice.
How should I take Risperdal?Take Risperdal exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Risperdal can be taken with or without food.
To take risperidone orally disintegrating tablets (Risperdal M-Tabs):
Keep the tablet in its blister pack until you are ready to take the medicine. Open the package and peel back the foil from the tablet blister. Do not push a tablet through the foil or you may damage the tablet.
Using dry hands, remove the tablet and place it in your mouth. It will begin to dissolve right away.
Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing.
Swallow several times as the tablet dissolves. If desired, you may drink liquid after the tablet is completely dissolved.
Use Risperdal regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
Measure the liquid form of Risperdal with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Do not mix the liquid form of Risperdal with cola or tea.
It may take several weeks before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.
Store Risperdal at room temperature away from moisture, light, and heat. Do not allow the liquid form of Risperdal to freeze.
What happens if I miss a dose?Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include drowsiness, fast heart rate, feeling light-headed, fainting, and restless muscle movements in your eyes, tongue, jaw, or neck.
What should I avoid?While you are taking Risperdal, you may be more sensitive to temperature extremes such as very hot or cold conditions. Avoid getting too cold, or becoming overheated or dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially in hot weather and during exercise. It is easier to become dangerously overheated and dehydrated while you are taking risperidone.
Risperdal can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase some of the side effects of Risperdal.
Risperdal side effectsGet emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking Risperdal and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
fever, stiff muscles, confusion, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats;
restless muscle movements in your eyes, tongue, jaw, or neck;
drooling, tremor (uncontrolled shaking);
seizure (convulsions);
fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
trouble swallowing;
feeling like you might pass out; or
penis erection that is painful or lasts 4 hours or longer.
Less serious Risperdal side effects may include:
weight gain;
feeling hot or cold;
headache, dizziness;
drowsiness, tired feeling;
dry mouth, increased appetite;
feeling restless or anxious;
sleep problems (insomnia);
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation;
cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose; or
mild skin rash.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also:Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Risperdal?Before you take Risperdal, tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression, or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by Risperdal.
Also tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:
carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol);
cimetidine (Tagamet) or ranitidine (Zantac);
clozapine (Clozaril);
fluoxetine (Prozac,Sarafem, Symbyax) or paroxetine (Paxil);
phenytoin (Dilantin) or valproic acid (valproate, Depakene, Stavzor);
phenobarbital (Solfoton);
rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifater); or
medicines used to treat Parkinson's Disease such as levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa, Sinemet, Atamet, others), bromocriptine (Parlodel, others), pergolide (Permax), pramipexole (Mirapex), or ropinirole (Requip).
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Risperdal. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
Next Page '†' Side EffectsSee also:Consumer resourcesProfessional resourcesOther formulationsRelated treatment guidesWhere can I get more information?Your pharmacist can provide more information about Risperdal.Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 20.01. Revision Date: 11/2/2011 1:07:15 PM.
Asperger Syndrome Medication | Drugs.com
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:42
Care NotesMedication ListQ & ADefinition of Asperger Syndrome:
Asperger syndrome is often considered a high functioning form of autism. Persons with this syndrome have impaired social interactions, limited repetitive patterns of behavior, and often are clumsy. Motor milestones may be delayed.
Drugs associated with Asperger SyndromeThe following drugs and medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of Asperger Syndrome. This service should be used as a supplement to, and NOT a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners.
See 3 generic medications used to treat this condition
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Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:41
What is Asperger syndrome?Asperger syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Other ASDs include autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). ASDs are considered neurodevelopmental disorders and are present from infancy or early childhood. Although early diagnosis using standardized screening by age 2 is the goal, many with ASD are not detected until later because of limited social demands and support from parents and caregivers in early life.
The severity of communication and behavioral deficits, and the degree of disability, is variable in those affected by ASD. Some individuals with ASD are severely disabled and require very substantial support for basic activities of daily living. Asperger syndrome is considered by many to be the mildest form of ASD and is synonymous with the most highly functioning individuals with ASD.
Two core features of autism are: a) social and communication deficits and b) fixated interests and repetitive behaviors. The social communication deficits in highly functioning persons with Asperger syndrome include lack of the normal back and forth conversation; lack of typical eye contact, body language, and facial expression; and trouble maintaining relationships. Fixated interests and repetitive behaviors include repetitive use of objects or phrases, stereotyped movements, and excessive attachment to routines, objects, or interests. Persons with ASD may also respond to sensory aspects of their environment with unusual indifference or excessive interest.
The prevalence of AS is not well established. It is often not recognized before age 5 or 6 because language development is normal. Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Experts estimate that as many as 1 in 88 children age 8 will have an autism spectrum disorder1 No studies have yet been conducted to determine the incidence of Asperger syndrome in adult populations, but studies of children with the disorder suggest that their problems with socialization and communication continue into adulthood. Some of these children develop additional psychiatric symptoms and disorders in adolescence and adulthood. Males are four times more likely than girls to have ASD.
Studies of children with Asperger syndrome suggest that their problems with socialization and communication continue into adulthood. Some of these children develop additional psychiatric symptoms and disorders in adolescence and adulthood.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 30, 2012.
Why is it called Asperger syndrome?In 1944, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger observed four children in his practice who had difficulty integrating socially. Although their intelligence appeared normal, the children lacked nonverbal communication skills, failed to demonstrate empathy with their peers, and were physically awkward. Their speech was either disjointed or overly formal, and their all-absorbing interest in a single topic dominated their conversations. Dr. Asperger called the condition ''autistic psychopathy'' and described it as a personality disorder primarily marked by social isolation.
Asperger's observations, published in German, were not widely known until 1981, when an English doctor named Lorna Wing published a series of case studies of children showing similar symptoms, which she called ''Asperger's'' syndrome. Wing's writings were widely published and popularized. AS became a distinct disease and diagnosis in 1992, when it was included in the tenth published edition of the World Health Organization's diagnostic manual, International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), and in 1994 it was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic reference book. However, scientific studies have not been able to definitively differentiate Asperger syndrome from highly functioning autism. Because autism is defined by a common set of behaviors, changes that were announced in DSM-V (which took effect in mid-2013) represent the various forms under a single diagnostic category, ASD.
What are some common signs or symptoms?Children with Asperger syndrome may have speech marked by a lack of rhythm, an odd inflection, or a monotone pitch. They often lack the ability to modulate the volume of their voice to match their surroundings. For example, they may have to be reminded to talk softly every time they enter a library or a movie theatre.
Unlike the severe withdrawal from the rest of the world that is characteristic of autism, children with Asperger syndrome are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. Children with the disorder will gather enormous amounts of factual information about their favorite subject and will talk incessantly about it, but the conversation may seem like a random collection of facts or statistics, with no point or conclusion. They may approach other people, but make normal conversation difficult by eccentric behaviors or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest.
Many children with AS are highly active in early childhood, but some may not reach milestones as early as other children regarding motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy.
Some children with AS may develop anxiety or depression in young adulthood. Other conditions that often co-exist with Asperger syndrome are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), tic disorders (such as Tourette syndrome), depression, anxiety disorders, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
What causes Asperger syndrome?The cause of ASD, including Asperger syndrome, is not known. Current research points to brain abnormalities in Asperger syndrome. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, scientists have revealed structural and functional differences in specific regions of the brains of children who have Asperger syndrome versus those who do not have the disorder. These differences may be caused by the abnormal migration of embryonic cells during fetal development that affects brain structure and ''wiring'' in early childhood and then goes on to affect the neural circuits that control thought and behavior.
For example, one study found a reduction of brain activity in the frontal lobe of children with Asperger syndrome when they were asked to respond to tasks that required them to use their judgment. Another study found differences in activity when children were asked to respond to facial expressions. A different study investigating brain function in adults with AS revealed abnormal levels of specific proteins that correlate with obsessive and repetitive behaviors.
Scientists have long suspected that there are genetic and environmental components to Asperger syndrome and the other ASDs because of their tendency to run in families and their high concordance in twins. Additional evidence for the link between inherited genetic mutations and AS was observed in the higher incidence of family members who have behavioral symptoms similar to AS but in a more limited form, including slight difficulties with social interaction, language, or reading.
A specific gene for Asperger syndrome, however, has never been identified. Instead, the most recent research indicates that there are most likely a common group of genes whose variations or deletions make an individual vulnerable to developing ASD. This combination of genetic variations or deletions, in combination with yet unidentified environmental insults, probably determines the severity and symptoms for each individual with Asperger syndrome.
How is it diagnosed?The diagnosis of Asperger syndrome is complicated by the lack of a standardized diagnostic test. In fact, because there are several screening instruments in current use, each with different criteria, the same child could receive different diagnoses, depending on the screening tool the doctor uses.
Asperger syndrome, also sometimes called high-functioning autism (HFA), is viewed as being on the mild end of the ASD spectrum with symptoms that differ in degree from autistic disorder.
Some of the autistic behaviors may be apparent in the first few months of a child's life, or they may not become evident until later.
The diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and all other autism spectrum disorders is done as part of a two-stage process. The first stage begins with developmental screening during a ''well-child'' check-up with a family doctor or pediatrician. The second stage is a comprehensive team evaluation to either rule in or rule out AS. This team generally includes a psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, speech therapist, and additional professionals who have expertise in diagnosing children with AS.
The comprehensive evaluation includes neurologic and genetic assessment, with in-depth cognitive and language testing to establish IQ and evaluate psychomotor function, verbal and non-verbal strengths and weaknesses, style of learning, and independent living skills. An assessment of communication strengths and weaknesses includes evaluating non-verbal forms of communication (gaze and gestures); the use of non-literal language (metaphor, irony, absurdities, and humor); patterns of inflection, stress and volume modulation; pragmatics (turn-taking and sensitivity to verbal cues); and the content, clarity, and coherence of conversation. The physician will look at the testing results and combine them with the child's developmental history and current symptoms to make a diagnosis.
Are there treatments available?There is no cure for Asperger syndrome and the autism spectrum disorders. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of individual children. There is no single best treatment package for all children with AS, but most health care professionals agree that early intervention is best.
An effective treatment program builds on the child's interests, offers a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engages the child's attention in highly structured activities, and provides regular reinforcement of behavior. This kind of program generally includes:
social skills training, a form of group therapy that teaches children with AS the skills they need to interact more successfully with other children
cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of ''talk'' therapy that can help the more explosive or anxious children to manage their emotions better and cut back on obsessive interests and repetitive routines
medication, if necessary, for co-existing conditions such as depression and anxiety
occupational or physical therapy, for children with sensory integration problems or poor motor coordination
specialized speech/language therapy, to help children who have trouble with the pragmatics of speech ''the give and take of normal conversation, and
parent training and support, to teach parents behavioral techniques to use at home.
Do children with AS get better?With effective treatment, children with AS can learn to overcome their disabilities, but they may still find social situations and personal relationships challenging. Many adults with Asperger syndrome work successfully in mainstream jobs, although they may continue to need encouragement and moral support to maintain an independent life.
What research is being done?Within the Federal government, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports and conducts research on the brain and nervous system. The NINDS and other NIH components support research on autism spectrum disorders, either at NIH laboratories or through grants to major research institutions across the country.
In 1997, at the request of Congress, the NIH formed its Autism Coordinating Committee (NIH/ACC) to enhance the quality, pace, and coordination of efforts at the NIH to find a cure for autism (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-pervasive-developmental-disorders/nih-initiatives/nih-autism-coordinating-committee.shtml). The NIH/ACC involves the participation of seven NIH Institutes and Centers: the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The NIH/ACC has been instrumental in the understanding of and advances in ASD research. The NIH/ACC also participates in the broader Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) that is composed of representatives from various component agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the U.S. Department of Education and other government organizations.
In fiscal years 2007 and 2008, NIH began funding the 11 Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE), coordinated by the NIH/ACC. The ACEs are investigating early brain development and functioning, social interactions in infants, rare genetic variants and mutations, associations between autism-related genes and physical traits, possible environmental risk factors and biomarkers, and a potential new medication treatment.
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute's Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:
," NINDS. Publication date
NIH Publication No. 13-5624
Prepared by:Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.
All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.
High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:36
Autism is a brain disorder in which communication and interaction with others are difficult. The symptoms of autism may range from total lack of communication with others to difficulty in understanding others' feelings. Because of the range of symptoms, this condition is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
High-functioning autism (HFA) is at one end of the ASD spectrum. Signs and symptoms are less severe than with other forms of autism. In fact, a person with high-functioning autism usually has average or above-average intelligence. The differences from other forms of autism have led many psychiatrists to consider high-functioning autism as similar to or the same as Asperger's syndrome. However, usually children with HFA have language delays early on like other children with autism. Children with Asperger's, though, don't show classic language delays until they have enough spoken language so that their language difficulties can be noted.
Recommended Related to AutismActor Gary Cole Spotlights Autism
When my daughter Mary was diagnosed with autism in 1995,'' says actor Gary Cole, ''all I had to go on was Rain Man.'' Today, an estimated one in 150 American children under age 8 are diagnosed with autism or related conditions such as Asperger's syndrome -- all with symptoms such as an inability to relate to others, the insistence on rigid routines, and engaging in repetitive behaviors. ''It seems you can ask any friend, any relative,'' says Cole, ''and they'll be able to tell you about someone...
Read the Actor Gary Cole Spotlights Autism article > >
Whether it's labeled high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome, coping with this condition presents daily challenges for those who have it and for their family and friends.
What Are the Symptoms of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome?Other than the difference in their language development, people with high-functioning autism and people with Asperger's syndrome share many similar characteristics. They typically have average or above-average intelligence. They may, though, show other behaviors and signs similar to what's seen with other types of autism. These include:
A delay in motor skillsA lack of skill in interacting with othersLittle understanding of the abstract uses of language, such as humor or give-and-take in a conversationObsessive interest in specific items or informationStrong reactions to textures, smells, sounds, sights, or other stimuli that others might not even notice, such as a flickering lightUnlike people with other forms of autism, people with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome want to be involved with others. They simply don't know how to go about it. They may not be able to understand others' emotions. They may not read facial expressions or body language well. As a result, they may be teased and often feel like social outcasts. The unwanted social isolation can lead to anxiety and depression.
Causes of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's SyndromeAutism runs in families. The underlying causes, however, are not known. Potential causes under investigation include:
Inherited genetic conditionsOther medical problemsEnvironmental factorsThe fact that higher levels of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive diorder, and Tourette's syndrome as well as other tic disorders often occur in families with children with autism suggests some relationship among these different mental processes.
A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive by Sally Ozonoff | 9781572305311 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:34
Editorial ReviewsDoody's Review ServiceReviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, MS, BCETS, CATSM (Columbia College of Missouri)Description: This book provides a much needed, highly empathic, and easy-to-read guide for parents whose child may have Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism.Purpose: The purpose is to provide parents with a comprehensive, straightforward, and informative guide to Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. Considering the amount of confusion in diagnosis as well as the number of impractical, jargon-laden books available, the objective of this book is a worthy one met by the authors.Audience: Intended mainly as a guide for parents, clinicians, and researchers across mental disciplines will find this book extremely valuable as they will be easily able to implement the thoughtful knowledge and ideas contained here and recommend this book to their patients' families. The authors are credible authorities in the field.Features: The book contains a tremendous amount of information, beginning with an overall history and description of Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. The subsequent chapters walk parents through what occurs during the diagnostic process, thus allaying any fears or concerns. The causes and various treatments are discussed, but more important are the chapters on living with Asperger's and high-functioning autism. These chapters are an integral part of the book and certainly the information answers many parents' questions and concerns. A highlight is the resources section in the appendix that lists numerous books, newsletters, videotapes, medical centers, etc., for further reference.Assessment: This is an excellently written and definitely needed addition to the field of child and adolescent mental health. Parents and clinicians alike will be hard-pressed to find a finer guide and resource on Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism.Library JournalAmong various autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism (AS-HFA) are similar diagnoses. Representing a majority of ASD cases, these two diagnoses are used interchangeably, and Ozonoff (M.I.N.D. Inst.) and her coauthors rightfully make little distinction between them. In Part 1 of this book, the authors cover definitions, diagnosis, causes, and treatments of AS-HFA, while Part 2 considers living with AS-HFA, channeling a child's strengths, and dealing with home, school, and the social world and life as an adult with AS-HFA. Throughout, readers will find excellent examples and solutions to basic problems; also included are numerous instances of older children who went beyond basic communication issues to social situations such as dating, school, living on their own, and employment. Most books on AS-HFA focus on early intervention and basic skills, but this book offers help for older children and adults as well, making it very valuable. Strongly recommended for public libraries and academic libraries with autism or education collections. Corey Seeman, Univ. of Toledo Libs., OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.From the Publisher"I really like how this book emphasizes building on the talents and strengths of a person with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome. It contains many useful case histories and combines both scientific and practical information for parents, teachers, and other professionals."--Temple Grandin, PhD, author of Thinking in Pictures"This is the most comprehensive and practical resource available on raising a child with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. Parents, who are typically baffled by the confusing information given to them on the topic, now have the guidance they need to maximize their child's potential while celebrating their child's uniqueness. Written in a clear and lucid style, the book is rich in real-life examples and concrete plans of action. It will empower any parent to become an effective and savvy advocate, and to help their child live a more successful and fulfilling life."--Ami Klin, PhD, Yale Child Study Center
"This is a wonderfully thoughtful, comprehensive, and clearly written book that every parent and professional interested in the subject will want to read. The authors deal with the subject in its full complexity, yet are able to present this detailed information in a straightforward, easily comprehensible way. Professional jargon is translated into readily understandable concepts and ideas, and controversial issues are handled sensitively and well. I applaud the authors for their splendid effort in translating the rapidly growing body of knowledge on autism spectrum disorders into language that everyone can understand."--Gary B. Mesibov, PhD, Division TEACCH and Department of Psychiatry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"My wife and I are thrilled to have found this book. Refreshingly positive and very informative, it is helping us understand so much more about our son's diagnosis. The last book my wife tried to read on the topic made her cry but this one is empowering us both to action!"--Peter Mantell, father of a child with Asperger syndrome, Long Island, NY
The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review"This book does exactly what the title suggests; it explains to parents, and other adults living with high functioning autists, how they can adapt their own, and other's, approach to meet their child's needs both during childhood and later in life. It is clearly written by professionals who have considerable experience in this field, and take a practical and pragmatic approach....The authors' approach of building resiliency and skills is very practical....a reference that should be available to parents of children with these diagnoses. It would also be a useful text for medical students and residents with an interest in this area. The appendix of resources is a valuable reference in itself. All of the web sites that we have found serendipitously over many months are listed, along with others that I cannot wait to explore."--The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ReviewJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry"This is a really great book for parents with more able children with autism or Asperger syndrome. It is upbeat, positive, practical, and succeeds in being both jargon free and highly informative. The various chapters offer clear and up-to-date information on the causes of Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism; a review of diagnostic assessments, and what parents should be looking for when they go through the diagnostic process; and a summary of the many and varied treatments that are currently available....Unlike many books for parents, this is very well referenced, has a good index, and is also full of useful information about relevant websites, newsletters, videotapes and special centers. In short, although marketed as a parents' guide, the book is likely to be equally helpful to clinicians and educators working in this area, providing them with strategies that they themselves case use, as well as a host of practical approaches that they can pass on to parents."--Journal of Child Psychology and PsychiatryFamily Ministry"This highly informative book is a must have for all parents of children with Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism (AS-HFA)....A Parent's Guide to Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism can be a valuable resource. It not only informs readers but also leaves them with a sense of hope. They will realize that it is possible for children with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism to lead full and happy lives."--Family MinistryChild Neuropsychology"The book is sensitively written and easy to read. Throughout this text, there is evidence of the considerable respect that the authors have for both the affected children and their families. Particularly illuminating are the many poignant case examples that lead to a better explanation of positive ways of using these children's 'special interests' by ways of turning them into assets. This emphasis on strengths is a major goal of the book. However, the authors do not minimize the challenges these children and their families face....The positive approach of this book will be encouraging to parents and will also be very practical. I have recommended this book to the parents of affected children with whom I have worked and also to my graduate students who are eager to better understand the world of children with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism. I would urge other clinicians, researchers and educators to do the same."--Child NeuropsychologyHuman Nature Review"This is a book with its feet firmly on the ground. It brings a breath of fresh air to a subject that, due to its complexity, is often presented as a series of academic debates, difficult for even an intelligent lay person to access....This is an academic book, but not just for academics to read. I gave it to three sets of parents, all with boys between 8 and 16 years old who have had considerable difficulties making sense of the health and education systems in relation to their sons' needs. All found it useful, making comments such as 'it made sense'; 'I felt that what I had been trying to say all along was right'; 'it said what I knew, but put it better'; 'the practical suggestions were a real help', 'I let my son read it - he kept saying' 'I told you that'; 'it gave us lots of new ideas, new things to try'....Ultimately this book gives children and adults with these disorders, and those caring for them, the message that while challenges may never entirely go away, you can identify and maximize strengths, function better and be happy."--Human Nature Review5 Stars! from Doody
Misandry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fri, 23 May 2014 16:53
Misandry// is the hatred, dislike, contempt for or ingrained prejudice against men and/or boys.[1][2] Misandry can be manifested in numerous ways that have their parallel in misogyny including sexual discrimination, denigration of men, violence against men, and sexual objectification of men. Warren Farrell has written of how men are uniquely marginalized in what he calls their "disposability," the manner in which the most dangerous of societies' jobs throughout history, particularly soldiering, have been performed by men. The female counterpart of misandry is misogyny, the hatred or dislike of women; the antonym of misandry is philandry, the love or fondness of men.
The word misandry can be traced, in English language, back to at least 1871, when it was used in The Spectator magazine.[3] It appeared in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) in 1952. Translation of the French "Misandrie" to the German "M¤nnerhaŸ" (Hatred of Men)[4] is recorded in 1803.[5]Misandry is formed from the Greek misos (μá–σÎς, "hatred") and anÄ'r, andros (á¼Î½Î®Ï, gen. á¼Î½Î´ÏÏŒÏ‚; "man").[6]
Comparisons with other forms of prejudice[edit]Writer Warren Farrell compared the dehumanizing stereotyping of men to the dehumanization of American slaves, stating that the male role in most traditional societies is similar to the role of the second class slave, while the female role is similar to the first class slave. The second class slave would labor outside, while the first class slave worked in the home.[7]
In the past quarter century, we exposed biases against other races and called it racism, and we exposed biases against women and called it sexism. Biases against men we call humor.
'--Warren Farrell, Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say
Religious Studies professors Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young made similar comparisons in their 2001, three-book series Beyond the Fall of Man,[8] which defines misandry as a form of prejudice and discrimination that has become institutionalized in North American society, saying "The same problem that long prevented mutual respect between Jews and Christians, the teaching of contempt, now prevents mutual respect between men and women."
In the 2007 book International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities, Marc A. Ouellette dismissively contrasted misandry with misogyny, arguing that "misandry lacks the systemic, transhistoric, institutionalized, and legislated antipathy of misogyny" though acknowledging the possibility of specific "racialized" misandries.[9]Anthropologist David D. Gilmore argues that while misogyny is a "near-universal phenomenon" there is no male equivalent to misogyny. He writes:
Man hating among women has no popular name because it has never (at least not until recently) achieved apotheosis as a social fact, that is, it has never been ratified into public, culturally recognized and approved institutions (...) As a cultural institution, misogyny therefore seems to stand alone as a gender-based phobia, unreciprocated.[10]
Gilmore also states that neologisms like misandry refer "not to the hatred of men as men, but to the hatred of men's traditional male role" and a "culture of machismo". Therefore, he argues, misandry is "different from the intensely ad feminam aspect of misogyny that targets women no matter what they believe or do".[10]
Instances[edit]Academic Alice Echols, in her 1989 book Daring To Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967''1975, argued that radical feministValerie Solanas, best known for her attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968, displayed an extreme level of misandry compared to other radical feminists of the time in her tract, The SCUM Manifesto. Echols stated,
Solanas's unabashed misandry'--especially her belief in men's biological inferiority'--her endorsement of relationships between 'independent women,' and her dismissal of sex as 'the refuge of the mindless' contravened the sort of radical feminism which prevailed in most women's groups across the country.[11]
The text contains aspects of Freudian psychoanalytical theory: the biological accident, the incomplete sex and "penis envy" which became "pussy envy."[12][13]
bell hooks has discussed the issue of "man hating" during the early period of women's liberation as a reaction to patriarchal oppression and women who have had bad experiences with men in non-feminist social movements, but has criticized separatist strands of feminism as "reactionary" for promoting the notion that men are inherently immoral, inferior and unable to help end sexist oppression or benefit from feminism.[14][15][16] In Feminism is For Everybody, hooks laments the fact that feminists who critiqued anti-male bias in the early women's movement never gained mainstream media attention and that "our theoretical work critiquing the demonization of men as the enemy did not change the perspective of women who were anti-male" leading to an unnecessary rift between the men's movement and the women's movement.[17]
Though bell hooks does not name individual separatist theorists, Mary Daly's utopian vision of a world in which men and heterosexual women have been eliminated is an extreme example of this tendency.[18] Daly argued that sexual equality between men and women was not possible and that women, due to their superior capacities, should rule men.[19] Yet later, in an interview, Daly argued "If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males."[20]
Naomi Wolf in Fire With Fire contrasted "power feminism" with "victim feminism" arguing that the latter promotes the "angelization" of women as victims that speak with a pure voice and inversely demonizes men as inherently amoral.[21] Wolf's analysis of victim feminism echos the criticism that Betty Friedan made of female chauvinism which she defined as "the assumption that women have any moral or spiritual superiority as a class".[22]
Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young argued that "ideological feminism" as opposed to "egalitarian feminism" has imposed misandry on culture.[23] Their 2001 book, Spreading Misandry, analyzed "pop cultural artifacts and productions from the 1990s" from movies to greeting cards for what they considered to be pervasive messages of hatred toward men. Legalizing Misandry (2005), the second in the series, gave similar attention to laws in North America.
In 2002, punditCharlotte Hays wrote "that the anti-male philosophy of radical feminism has filtered into the culture at large is incontestable; indeed, this attitude has become so pervasive that we hardly notice it any longer".[24]
Sociologist Anthony Synnott argues that the reality of misandry is undeniable when one looks to cultural, academic, and media depictions of men. He states that "misandry is everywhere, culturally acceptable, even normative, largely invisible, taught directly and indirectly by men and women, blind to reality, very damaging and dangerous to men and women in different ways and de-humanizing."[25] He also criticizes modern scholarship on men as "dehumanizing" and lacking in awareness of statistical reality.
Wendy McElroy, an individualist feminist,[26] wrote in 2001 that some feminists "have redefined the view of the movement of the opposite sex" as "a hot anger toward men seems to have turned into a cold hatred."[27] She argued it was a misandrist position to consider men, as a class, to be irreformable or rapists. McElroy stated "a new ideology has come to the forefront... radical or gender, feminism," one that has "joined hands with [the] political correctness movement that condemns the panorama of western civilization as sexist and racist: the product of 'dead white males'."[28]
In 2001, novelist Doris Lessing delivered a speech at Edinburgh Books Festival criticizing a "lazy and insidious" culture had taken hold within feminism that reveled in flailing men. Lessing stated "I find myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed" and linked the pervasiveness of these attitudes within schools to boys educational underachievement.[29]
Barbara Kay, a Canadian Journalist, has been critical of feminist Mary Koss's discussion of rape culture, describing the notion that ''rape represents an extreme behavior but one that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture" as "remarkably misandric".[30]
In literature[edit]Ancient Greek literature[edit]Classics professor Froma Zeitlin of Princeton University discussed misandry in her article titled "Patterns of Gender in Aeschylean Drama: Seven against Thebes and the Danaid Trilogy."[31] She writes:
The most significant point of contact, however, between Eteocles and the suppliant Danaids is, in fact, their extreme positions with regard to the opposite sex: the misogyny of Eteocles' outburst against all women of whatever variety (Se. 181-202) has its counterpart in the seeming misandry of the Danaids, who although opposed to their Egyptian cousins in particular (marriage with them is incestuous, they are violent men) often extend their objections to include the race of males as a whole and view their cause as a passionate contest between the sexes (cf. Su. 29, 393, 487, 818, 951).[31]
Literary criticism[edit]In his book, Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, Harry Brod, a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, writes:
In the introduction to The Great Comic Book Heroes, Jules Feiffer writes that this is Superman's joke on the rest of us. Clark is Superman's vision of what other men are really like. We are scared, incompetent, and powerless, particularly around women. Though Feiffer took the joke good-naturedly, a more cynical response would see here the Kryptonian's misanthropy, his misandry embodied in Clark and his misogyny in his wish that Lois be enamored of Clark (much like Oberon takes out hostility toward Titania by having her fall in love with an ass in Shakespeare's Midsummer-Night's Dream).[32]
Julie M. Thompson, a feminist author, connects misandry with envy of men, in particular "penis envy," a term coined by Sigmund Freud in 1908, in his theory of female sexual development.[33] Nacy Kang has discussed "the misandric impulse" in relation to the works of Toni Morrison.[34]
Feminist philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers has highlighted the misandric nature of Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues where "there are no admirable males...the play presents a rogues' gallery of male brutes, sadists, child-molesters, genital mutilators, gang rapists and hateful little boys" which she finds out of step with the reality that "most men are not brutes. They are not oppressors"[35]
Criticism of the term[edit]In his 1997 book The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, sociologist Allan G. Johnson stated that accusations of man-hating have been used to put down feminists and shift attention onto men in a way that reinforces male-centered culture.[36] Johnson said that comparisons between misogyny and misandry are misguided because mainstream culture offers no comparable anti-male ideology. He says in his book that accusations of misandry work to discredit feminism because "people often confuse men as individuals with men as a dominant and privileged category of people."[36] He wrote that given the "reality of women's oppression, male privilege, and men's enforcement of both, it's hardly surprising that every woman should have moments where she resents or even hates 'men'."[36]
See also[edit]References[edit]^http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/misandry^http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misandry^Review of novel "Blanche Seymour", The Spectator, London, Apr. 1, 1871, p. 389]^"Translations for M¤nnerhaŸ in the German >> English dictionary". Pons Dictionary German To English. PONS GmbH, Stuttgart. Archived from the original on Mar 19, 2014. ^Johann Georg Kr¼nitz (1803). Oekonomische Encyklop¤die oder allgemeines System der Staats-, Stadt-, Haus- u. Landwirthschaft: in alphabetischer Ordnung. Von Lebens-Art bis Ledecz : Nebst einer einzigen Fig. Friedrich's des Einzigen, u. 3 Karten90. Pauli. p. 461. ^Oxford Dictionaries http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/misandry^Warren Farrell "The Myth of Male Power," Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996.^(Nathanson & Young 2001, pp. 4''6)^Flood, Michael, ed. (2007-07-18). International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities. et al. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-33343-1. ^ abGilmore, David G. Misogyny: The Male Malady. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009, pp. 10''13, ISBN 978-0-8122-1770-4.^Echols, Nicole. Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967''1975. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989, pp. 104-105, ISBN 978-0-8166-1786-9.^Castro, Ginette. "American Feminism: A Contemporary History". New York: New York University Press, 1990, p. 73, ISBN 978-0-8147-1435-5.^Smith, Patricia Juliana. The Queer Sixties. New York: Routledge, 1999, p. 68, ISBN 978-0-415-92168-8.^Hooks, Bell (2000), Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics, South End Press; Cambridge.^Hooks, Bell. (1984), Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, South End Press; Boston.^Hooks, Bell. (2005), The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, New York; Washington Square Press.^Hooks, Bell (2000), Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics, South End Press; Cambridge, p. 69.^Daly, Mary. (1998), Quintessence...Realizing The Archaic Future, Beacon Press; Boston.^Daly, Mary. (1990), Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, pp. 384 & 375''376^ridle, Susan (Fall/Winter 1999). "No Man's Land". EnlightenNext Magazine^Wolf, Naomi (1993), Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How it Will Change the 21st Century, Chatto & Windus; London, pp. 156-163^Friedan, Betty. 1998. It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement. Harvard University Press.^(Nathanson & Young 2001, p. xiv) "[ideological feminism,] one form of feminism'--one that has had a great deal of influence, whether directly or indirectly, on both popular culture and elite culture'--is profoundly misandric".^Hays, Charlotte. 'The Worse Half.' National Review 11 March 2002.^Why Some People Have Issues With Men: Misandry, Psychology Today, October 6, 2010^The Independent Institute^(McElroy 2001, p. 5)^(McElroy 2001, pp. 4''6)^Gibbons, Fiachra. "Lay off Men, Lessing Tells Feminists", The Guardian, Tuesday 14 August 2001.^Barbara Kay, (2014) 'Rape culture' fanatics don't know what a culture is", National Post, http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/08/barbara-kay-rape-culture-fanatics-dont-know-what-a-culture-is/^ abZeitlin, Froma I. (April 1, 1990). Patterns of Gender in Aeschylean Drama: Seven against Thebes and the Danaid Trilogy (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-21. Princeton University, paper given at the Department of Classics, University of California, Berkeley^Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, Harry Brod^Emphasis added. Julie M. Thompson, Mommy Queerest: Contemporary Rhetorics of Lesbian Maternal Identity, (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002).^Kang, N. (2003), "To Love and Be Loved: Considering Black Masculinity and the Misandric Impulse in Toni Morrison's "Beloved", Callaloo, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 836-854.^Sommers, Christina Hoff. (2008), What's Wrong and What's Right with Contemporary Feminism?, Hamilton College. Retrieved 2014-01-27..^ abcJohnson, Alan G. (2005). The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy (2, revised ed.). Temple University Press. p. 107. ISBN 1592133843. Further reading[edit]Benatar, D. (2012), The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys, Malden; Wiley-Blackwell.Hooks, Bell., (2005), The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, New York; Washington Square Press.Sommers, Christina Hoff (1995) [First published 1994]. Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80156-6. Farrell, Warren (2001) [First published 1993]. The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex. Berkley Trade. ISBN 0-425-18144-8. Ferguson, Frances; Bloch, R. Howard (1989). Misogyny, Misandry, and Misanthropy. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06546-8. Levine, Judith (1992). My Enemy, My Love: Man-Hating and Ambivalence in Women's Lives. Da Capo Press. ISBN 1-56025-568-4. MacNamara, J.R. (2006), Media and Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men, Palgrave Macmillian; New York.McElroy, Wendy (2001). Sexual Correctness: The Gender-Feminist Attack on Women. Harper Paperbacks. New York: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1144-9. Synnott, Anthony (2009), Re-Thinking Men: Heroes, Villains and Victims, Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 1409491951.Smith, William A., Yosso, Tara J., Solorzano, Daniel G. (2007), ''Racial Primes and Black Misandry on Historically White Campuses: Toward Critical Race Accountability in Educational Administration'', Educational Administration Quarterly, vol. 43 no. 5, pp. 559''585.Rosenblum, Darren (2010), ''Beyond Victimisation and Misandry'', International Journal of Law in Context, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 114''116.Nathanson, Paul; Young, Katherine R. (2001). Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture. Harper Paperbacks. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-3099-1. Nathanson, Paul; Young, Katherine R. (2006). Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2862-8. Katherine K. Young; Paul Nathanson (2010). Sanctifying Misandry: Goddess Ideology and the Fall of Man. MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-8544-7. Nathanson, Paul, Young, Katherine K., (2012), ''Misandry and Emptiness: Masculine Identity in a Toxic Cultural Environment'', New Male Studies: An International Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 4''18.Schwartz, Howard (2003). The Revolt of the Primitive: An Inquiry into the Roots of Political Correctness (Revised ed.). Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0-7658-0537-5. Nathanson, Paul and Katherine Young. (2009), ''Coming of Age As a Villain: What Every Boy Needs to Know in A Misandric World'', Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studie, Vol. 3, p. 2, pp. 155-177.External links[edit]
He is not experiencing College as he should be, as the others are
He's all alone, girls don't want him
He hates them so much
Yet he feels he is so good looking and sophisticated
22 y/o Virgin
Initial Analysis
Priveledged Millenial
Feels he deserves to get girls
Can't understand why he doesn't get girls
Has the right clothes, car, sunglasses
An yet, it all feels like an eloquently written character for a psycho movie
I guess NSA really doesn't listen and sweep the interwebs
War on Men
Misogyny email
Hello Adam,
Just a quick note here. In my sociology class we are discussing gender/sex/race and the dominant/minority cultures. I noticed people were using the term misogyny, and remembered you asked on the show if there was a reverse misogyny term. Only one person in class knew the term (including the teacher didn't know) and that term is misandry. The student, a feminist in the Game Art and Design program, pointed out how misandry "basically doesn't exist".
Hope that helps. Looking forward to Thursday!
Safe travels.
Boots on the Ground email
So what makes this particular kidnapping so special? For one thing, the
March 2014 Boko Haram assault on Giwa army barracks in Maiduguri
(capital of Borno state. North East), and the freeing by Boko Haram of
over a thousand civilian prisoners being held by the Nigerian Army.
Among these prisoners, women and children, family members of Boko Haram
fighters. The assault was filmed by Boko Haram and youtubed:
Later on, the Nigerian military caught up with most of the freed
prisoners and killed everyone they found. Almost all of them were trying
to give themselves up. About 600 of these prisoners were executed by the
Nigerian military.
- http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26819965
As you can see from the video of the Giwa assault, these guys have quite
the arsenal now. How did they go from street kids to a force with access
to military hardware and training? Three schools of thought here. One,
the CIA (via Libya):
The second, the Nigerian government/military. Third school of thought,
it's both.
How again are the CIA and the Nigerian government involved in this? Oil.
And China. It's not just about dialing down Nigeria's military influence
over West Africa. It's mostly about oil and China. There are training
camps in the border region to Cameroon where Boko Haram fighters are
being trained by CIA and Arabs from Libya and Syria. Recently, captured
Boko Haram fighters had said they were being "trained by white men" in
camps near the Cameroon border. There is also a significant
multi-generational Lebanese community, mostly in the North of Nigeria.
At one point one of our previous military dictator's wife in the early
90s facilitated Hezbollah arms trafficking through Nigeria into Lebanon.
Yes, over $50b in oil money are unaccounted for, as mentioned in your
previous shows, but that is not all there is to it. China plays a
massive role in Nigeria, and China has been trying to get into the oil
industry, which has historically been dominated by European and American
corporations and interests. China also features prominently in the
countries on Nigeria's north eastern border, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Back to the hashtag. Those 200 girls were kidnapped last month for a
very specific reason. These are not hostages to be exchanged for
hostages held by the government. These girls are meant to be rewards to
the fighters involved in the Giwa barracks assault last March. That was
the goal here. Then someone (CIA?) put a hashtag out and now the whole
world is involved, the US sent 10 Marines (who are said to be hanging
out in Abuja doing... not that much), "aerial surveillance assets" and
those accountants Adam talked about.
While the goal is to get a grip over Nigeria, drive out the Chiners and
split the country for oil, either officially like in South Sudan, or
unofficially like in Libya, the powers involved in this game have no
clue what they're getting into. February 2015 is when the next Nigerian
presidential elections are due. Jonathan intends to run for a "second"
term, but already I am noticing Western media burning Jonathan and the
Nigerian military. The US and France are going to get rid of Jonathan,
either peacefully, or by "heinous Boko Haram terrorist attack", or by a
2-two-the-head military coup. I think the coup is the most likely option
here. Why? Well, Boko Haram has infiltrated the Nigerian military. The
days of rogue governors funding Boko Haram are over.
I believe there is a military coup coming. The military is splintering
and eventually it's going to break. I think this problem was not
originally part of the plan and is being severely underestimated. I
believe Jonathan's successor is meant to be Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
the current Nigerian Finance Minister. She was previously a Managing
Director at the World Bank. Check out her Book of Knowledge page:
While Okonjo is meant to be the next president, things will not turn out
that way, unfortunately. The almost inevitable military coup, the
wildcard that is Ansaru, the eventual rise and resurgence of other
ethnic/religious militant groups in Nigeria will drag the country down
into a second civil war. One that will have Iraq-level body counts and
eventually lead to the split of the country into at least five or six
different countries and/or autonomous ethnic/religious regions. I think
the US and France in all this madness will rapidly greenzone both oil
regions (the Niger Delta in the South-South, and the Chad Basin in the
North-East). I also believe the Chinese "hacking scandal" is bogus and
is related to the unfolding events in Nigeria and the general maligning
of the Chinese image in Africa. Keep an eye on the news relating to
Chinese involvement in Africa, and how the exploitation meme is suddenly
Letter from the President --War Powers Notification on Chad
Fri, 23 May 2014 11:20
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 21, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Approximately 80 U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Chad as part of the U.S. efforts to locate and support the safe return of over 200 schoolgirls who are reported to have been kidnapped in Nigeria. These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area. The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required.
This action has been directed in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.
Obama administration asserts unlimited war powers without Congressional authorization
Fri, 23 May 2014 18:00
By Joseph Kishore22 May 2014In testimony before the US Congress on Wednesday, top Obama administration officials asserted that the president has unlimited war powers without even the fig-leaf of Congressional authorization.
Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the administration officials'--State Department Deputy Legal Adviser Mary McLeod and Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston'--declared that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) was not required for any of the drone attacks, troop deployments and other war operations carried out by the Obama administration.
For more than a decade, the AUMF has been a catch-all justification for all the illegal and unconstitutional activities of the Bush and Obama administrations'--military invasions, indefinite detention (including at Guantanamo Bay), torture and drone assassination. Congress is currently considering revising or ending the AUMF as part of an effort to shift these operations onto a more permanent foundation.
In the course of questioning from senators on the future of AUMF, McLeod and Preston indicated that, in the administration's view, there are in fact no additional powers that the executive has as a result of the AUMF that it does not already have from Article II of the US Constitution'--an assertion of unlimited executive power.
Preston testified, ''I am not aware of any foreign terrorist group that presents a threat against this country that the president lacks authority to defend against simply because they are not covered by the AUMF. If the group presents a threat the president does have authority to take steps against that threat.''
When asked by Republican Senator Bob Corker whether the president could continue to ''carry out the counter-terrorism activities he is carrying out today'' if the AUMF were repealed, McLeod replied, ''Yes, I believe he could.''
''The US has the authority to target individuals, including Americans, who pose an imminent threat to attack our country,'' McLeod added (emphasis added).
In the language of administration lawyers, ''imminent'' has been redefined to render this condition meaningless. McLeod did not say whether the killing of Americans could take place within the United States.
A report in Rolling Stone on the hearings noted: ''When asked by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) 'what could [the president] not do without the AUMF,' Preston didn't have an immediate answer. Kaine then asked if the US could continue to hold detainees at Guantanamo Bay if the AUMF were repealed. Preston dodged; McLeod added that the US can continue to detain prisoners 'as long as we're in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda.'''
''I think it would be fair to say that with or without an AUMF, to the extent that it grants authority for use of military force against al Qaeda, and the Taliban, and associated forces in which we're in armed conflict '... the president does have constitutional authority to act,'' said Preston.
Asked whether the executive could unilaterally attack any country that it declares is ''harboring'' terrorists, without Congressional approval, McLeod replied, ''We would have to think about whether individuals in that state or in that government of that state actually posed an imminent threat.'' That is to say, the executive would have an internal deliberation and decide on whether to wage war based on its definition of ''imminent.''
McLeod added that in the administration's view it had the authority to wage war against Syria without Congressional authority based on the spurious allegations of chemical weapons use (in an internal civil conflict) last year. In the Syrian civil war, it was the United States, and not the Syrian government, that was directly allied with Al Qaeda and its ''associated forces.''
Wednesday's testimony is part of an internal debate within the political establishment over how to justify endless war. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee almost exactly one year ago, Assistant Defense Secretary Michael Sheehan argued that the AUMF gives the administration virtually unlimited war powers anywhere in the world, including within the United States. He added that the war authorization would go on indefinitely, ''at least 10 to 20 years.''
Thus, according to Sheehan at the time, further authorization from Congress was not required to launch drone strikes or wage war in the future, as long as these military operations could be connected in some way to Al Qaeda or its ''associated forces'''--a phrase that does not appear in the AUMF itself. Sheehan specially referred to the recent bombing of the Boston Marathon to extend the ''battlefield'' to the United States.
Later the same month, Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University, dedicated to a defense of drone assassination. For the first time, Obama publicly acknowledged that he ordered the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen. Stating that ''America is at a crossroads,'' Obama said his administration intended to ''engage Congress'' about the AUMF in order ''to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.''
The testimony of McLeod and Preston makes clear that the administration is in fact seeking a mechanism for rooting unending war, drone assassination and associated illegal activities in the Constitutional powers of the president.
This legal rationale for what amounts to presidential dictatorship has been an underlying theme in the memoranda drawn up by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush's Vice President Dick Cheney and his lawyers in particular sought to argue that the AUMF was essentially superfluous, a formality, and that the ability to torture and kill came from Article II.
These pseudo-legal arguments have been continued and extended under Obama, particularly as they relate to extrajudicial assassination. On Wednesday, the US Senate voted 52-43 to clear the way for a confirmation vote on Obama's appointee for the First US Circuit Court of Appeals, David Barron. Barron is the author of the still secret memoranda drawn up to justify the killing of al-Awlaki and other US citizens without due process.
The vote on Wednesday was almost entirely along party lines, with Democrats voting for and Republicans against. Because of changes to Senate rules made late last year, the procedural vote prior to confirmation required only a simple majority, not a supermajority of 60 votes.
In order to facilitate confirmation, the administration said on Tuesday that it would cease its efforts to block the court-ordered declassification of one of the several memos drawn up by Barron during his tenure in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2009 to 2010. This declassification, the White House announced, would take place at some indefinite point in the future.
The administration's promise was enough to satisfy critics within the Democratic Party. Their basic agreement with the White House's claims of unlimited executive power were summed up Senator Ron Wyden, who announced after voting for Barron's nomination to go forward: ''I believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it has the right to kill them.''
A full confirmation vote on Barron will likely take place today.
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Kidnapped Nigerian girls sighted for the first time, 200 miles from where they were abducted.
Sun, 25 May 2014 04:43
Nigerian military says it has sighted more than 200 missing schoolgirlsThey are thought to be in camps near Lake Chad, in the country's northHowever sources say it could still be a week before the girls are freedIn five weeks since girls went missing, there has been international outcryPresident Goodluck Johnathan has been criticised for handling of situationBy Chris Pleasance
Published: 14:09 EST, 23 May 2014 | Updated: 21:05 EST, 23 May 2014
The schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria by Islamic militants have been sighted for the first time, it was reported locally last night.
More than 200 girls were snatched from their school five weeks ago by Boko Haram, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda.
The girls have been tracked to three camps in the north of Nigeria, near Lake Chad, 200 miles from where they were abducted, senior officials told a Nigerian newspaper.
Scroll down for video
More than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram five weeks aog have been spotted in camps near Lake Chad, nearly 200 miles from where they were last seen (file pic)
Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, has threatened he will sell the girls into the sex trade or as wives unless the government frees militants that have been jailed
Boko Haram demands prisoner swap for kidnapped girls
However, they added that it may still take a week to free the girls.
'It has been a most difficult but heroic breakthrough,' a senior military official told Nigeria's Premium Times newspaper.
Another added: 'Our team first sighted the girls on April 26 and we have been following their movement with the terrorists ever since.'
The development comes after 150 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks by the militants across the country this week.
On Tuesday night a double car bombing in a market in the central city of Jos killed at least 130 civilians, while two days later another 48 died when militants stormed and burned settlements near Chibok.
Boko Haram have killed more than 2,000 in terror attacks in the last 12 months in Nigeria, including 130 who died in the city of Jos on Tuesday when two car bombs detonated
Just two days after the bombings, another 48 people died when militants attacked settlements near Chibok, burning homes and looting possessions
Boko Haram attack survivor recounts killing of father, brother
Boko Haram released a video two weeks ago showing some of the abducted girls in veils and reciting from the Qu'ran, and claimed they had converted to Islam.
Their leader Abubakar Shekau offered to trade the girls for the release of prisoners, which was declined by the Nigerian government
Boko Haram's leaders had been threatening to sell the girls as brides for as little as £12, or force them to work in the sex trade if their demands were not met.
But as the beleaguered Nigerian military closed in on the kidnapped girls, US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared in the dark about the rescue mission.
John Kerry today claimed the US is the only country looking for the schoolgirls, despite the fact that both France and Britain have sent teams to help
Speaking to the State Department marking the 90th anniversary of the creation of the American diplomatic service, Mr Kerry said: 'And Boko Haram, Nigeria, only the United States is there offering the assistance to help find those young women.
According to The Telegraph, he added: 'Other countries not only aren't there invited, but they didn't even offer. That's a difference, and I think it's a difference worth dwelling on.'
The comments were made despite the fact that both English and French forces have been sent to the African state to assist in the rescue, including three teams of UK advisors, and an RAF search aircraft.
The Nigerian government recently voted to extend a state of emergency which has already been in place for a year as militants stepped up both the range and ferocity of their attacks.
More than 2,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram attacks in the last 12 months alone, compared to 3,600 in three years between 2010 and 2013.
Boko Haram, which means 'Western education is a sin', is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state within Nigeria ruled by Sharia law.
The United Nations security council officially designated Boko Haram a terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda on Thursday, and imposed sanctions on it including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban.
The Foreign Office declined to comment.
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US deploys Air Force troops to Chad
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:24
By Thomas Gaist23 May 2014The US military launched a new deployment of 80 troops to Chad this week, in the latest expansion of a military ''footprint'' that stretches across the African continent.
The White House is asserting that the troops, who are US Air Force personnel specializing in surveillance and drone operations, will focus on efforts to locate the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted last month by the Islamist group Boko Haram. However, the military deployment is part of a broader effort to strengthen US influence throughout West Africa.
''These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,'' said the official White House announcement sent by President Barack Obama to Congress.
Speaking on Wednesday, Lt. Colonel Myles Caggins confirmed that the forces deployed to Chad will facilitate a region-wide expansion of US drone operations, including both armed Predator drones and unarmed Global Hawk drones.
The timeframe for the deployment is open-ended, with the White House saying the force will remain ''until its support resolving the kidnapping is no longer required.'' While there are no details about where precisely the US forces will be stationed inside Chad, reports have suggested they may be deployed to a French base near the Chadian capital of N'Djamena.
The deployment to Chad has been justified by US officials on the basis that the country provides an ideal launching pad for operations inside of Nigeria.
The abduction of some 280 Nigerian schoolgirls in mid-April by the extremist group Boko Haram has been seized upon by the US, which has been planning military intervention in Nigeria for years, to ramp up its military presence in a country that is home to vast untapped oil reserves.
US drones have been carrying out expanded operations over Nigeria since earlier this month, as additional US ground forces have been deployed to the country, where they are working in tandem with a sizable contingent of non-military US government agents from the Departments of Justice and State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The #BringBackOurGirls campaign, promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama in response to the abductions, is only the latest attempt to use humanitarian pretexts to further the strategic agenda of the US in Africa. In 2011, US troops were deployed to Uganda after a strikingly similar propaganda campaign focusing on the use of child soldiers by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The deployments to Uganda have been followed by an ever-increasing US military presence in the surrounding countries, continuing up to the present.
In addition to the latest deployment to Chad, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) maintains an official military presence in numerous African countries. US forces are currently carrying out an average of 1.5 military operations per day across the continent in countries including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Especially since 9/11, the US has developed a far-flung network of permanent military installations on the continent. A US base in Burkina Faso, established in 2007, serves as the hub for a spying network operating throughout the region, carrying out missions in the Sahara and West Africa. Another major base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti houses a force of more than 40,000 troops.
The Chad deployment comes as the US-backed Nigerian regime of Goodluck Jonathan, at this point utterly dependent on US imperialism for survival, is turning to all-out civil war against Boko Haram in an effort to stabilize its rule.
Nigerian security forces blocked attempts by protesters to march on the Presidential Villa in the capital city of Abuja on Thursday, according to Reuters. Jonathan responded by issuing a statement reprimanding the protesters, writing, ''When terrorists see Nigerians turn on each other in blame it gives them a huge morale boost'...the terrorists are the real enemy.''
In the wake of major bombings this week against a market and bus terminal in Jos that killed at least 130, raids mounted by Boko Haram against several villages in the north of the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a car bomb that exploded in Kano Monday killing 24, top Nigerian officials have called for ''total war'' and warned that the country is ''at a crossroads.''
Former top Nigerian military officer Brigadier General Williams Obene warned Nigerians Wednesday that their government would likely be at war with Boko Haram for at least another 10 years, even with military aid from the US and other European powers. Obene said that the six-month state of emergency that has been declared in the Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe is an unrealistic timeframe for defeating the Islamist group based in the country's north.
''Nigerians need to come to terms with the fact that we are at war and it is not a conventional war, where the enemy can be identified,'' Obene said. ''Let's not delude ourselves to think that we are going to use the military to stop the insurgency in six months.''
''My question is: what is the alternative to the state of emergency? In fact, we should declare total war. Nigerians should prepare for war,'' Obene said.
Nigerian governor Sullivan Chime of the state of Enugu said Thursday that the country is ''at a crossroads.''
''We want to also seize this opportunity to call on Enugu residents and Nigerians generally to shine their eyes; report any strange person or activity to security agents. We shall conquer these enemies of our nation,'' Chime said.
The strengthening of extremist militant groups like Boko Haram is a product of the drive of US imperialism to return Africa to colonial status and counter growing Chinese influence across the continent. The imperialist powers have covertly built up groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Shaabab and others with weapons and funding, even while using their activities as the pretext for their steadily escalating military interventions in the region.
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Is it really Boko Haram?
Boko Haram appears to be mounting an offensive in that attacks on successive days are not its usual style. On the other hand, the past might not be a helpful guide for prediction because Boko Haram is changing, or has changed.
The attacks are very different in character and widely separated. They evidence a multiplication of fighting cells, diversity in tactics, and significant support among the northern population.
The attacks are not evidence of central command and control in that general guidance and cell phones are sufficient to achieve the effects. The largest worry is that the terrorist group is evolving into an insurgency. More frequent attacks aimed at seizing and holding territory will be indicators of that transformation.
A final point is that the attacks indicate Boko Haram remains defiant and aggressive in the face of international outrage and responses. Northern Nigeria is in trouble.
McCain: Send U.S. troops to rescue kidnapped girls in Nigeria
Mon, 19 May 2014 07:36
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants to see more than hashtag messages voicing displeasure over the abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. He wants to see U.S. troops go into Nigera and rescue the girls, even if it means doing so without permission from the Nigerian government.
'If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without the permission of the host country,' McCain said Tuesday. Referring to Nigeria's president, McCain added: 'I wouldn't be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan.'
Thus far, the Obama administration has sent a team to Nigeria that includes FBI officials with hostage negotiation skills, five State Department officials, including a team leader, two strategic communications experts, a civiliam security expert and a regional medical support officer. There are also 10 Defense Department planners and advisers who were already in Nigeria and have been instructed to provide support to the kidnapping response, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said the United Nations' charter gives the United States, the authority to mount a military resscue of the girls.
'It's a crine against humanity to kidnapped hundreds of young girls,' McCain said. 'That gives any nation, if they can, the license to stop a crime against humnanity, That's the United Nations charter, not John McCain's policy. It's the same reason we should have, if we could have, gone in and freed the people of Auschwitz and Dachau.'
McCain said Obama shouldn't worry about whether the Nigerian government would approve of disapprove of a U.S. military intervention into the country's affairs. The president didn't seek approval from Pakistan before he sent U.S. troops into that country to get Osama bin Laden.
'I would not be involved in the niceties of getting the Nigerian government to agree, because if we rescue these people, there would be nothing but gratitude from the Nigerian government, such as it is,' McCain said.
And Obama shouldn't worry about what the Senate and the House of Representatives would say if he exercised his authority as commander-in-chief and sent American troops into Nigeria.
'If we rescued these young girls, an appetite for that?' McCain said 'It be at the high point of the president's popularity.'
Salma Hayek gets political on Cannes red carpet - UPI.com
Tue, 20 May 2014 00:57
CANNES, France, May 18 (UPI) --Actress Salma Hayek got a little political Saturday on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, holding up a sign in support of more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian girls.The schoolgirls were abducted April 15 by Boko Haram, and since then the girls' families have criticized the Nigerian government for failing to dedicate sufficient resources to find the missing girls.
The incident inspired a #bringbackourgirls Twitter campaign to which political figures and celebrities alike have added their support, and the latest is Hayek.
She held up a sign with the #bringbackourgirls hashtag while walking the red carpet for the premiere of the animated film The Prophet.
Marie-Pierre Hauville, director of communications for the film festival, said the move was "most unusual."
"It's rare. But clearly this is happening all over the world and was a personal impulse," she said.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.Recommended Stories
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WTF-PAYBACK-First Look Media will give $550,000 to support press freedoms | Poynter.
Fri, 23 May 2014 11:23
by Kristen HarePublishedMay 20, 201412:24 pmUpdatedMay 20, 201412:49 pm
First Look Media
First Look Media announced Tuesday that it will give $550,000 to support three organizations ''at the forefront of integrating freedom of the press with technology,'' according to the press release.
Those organizations are:
'' Freedom of the Press Foundation, with a grant of up to $350,000.
FPF started as a crowdsourcing site for journalism outlets, but now also provides newsroom software that allows people to submit anonymous whistleblower tips electronically.
'' Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, with a grant of $100,000.
As one of the country's premier non-profits devoted to the legal rights of journalists, Reporters Committee has taken the lead in supporting First Amendment and press rights cases, as well as Freedom of Information Act efforts.
'' Electronic Frontier Foundation with a grant of $100,000.
Upcoming projects include instructional resources covering communication technologies, secure communication principles and privacy for professional journalists, citizen media, and activists, as well as planning for an ''Encryption Usability Prize'' to incent developers and design professionals to create accessible encryption software.
According to the press release, ''the funding is part of First Look's broader strategy to strengthen freedom of the press while introducing new technologies to the journalism industry.''
''The grants represent First Look's strong commitment to finding new tools that will support the First Amendment,'' said Lynn Oberlander, First Look's general counsel, media operations. ''Growing the capacity for other organizations to do this work is fundamental to First Look's mission.''
In January, Poynter wrote about First Look Media, founded by Pierre Omidyar, and Omidyar's plans for the future. Journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and many others all work for First Look's The Intercept, which debuted in February.
Tags: First Look Media
NYT: Edward Snowden Talks to Brian Williams of NBC.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:15
March: How to ask for help with software.#
NYT: Edward Snowden Talks to Brian Williams of NBC.#
Michael Kinsley reviews No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald.#
NYT: Celebrating New Pier While Debating Park's Uses.#
People get so sanctimonious about Kinsley being corrupt or stupid or clueless, but don't they see he has a point? The government does have secrets that must remain private. The launch codes for the missiles, for example. The passwords that allow you to upload viruses to Air Force One. Someone has to decide. Do I feel better that Glenn Greenwald seems to be that person? No! He's a jackass. I mean seriously. This guy stonewalls straight questions in ways that would make Dick Cheney blush. If this is what it's come to, that we're dependent on the judgement of a guy like that, yes it does deserve a piece in the NYT. Maybe people should find out who Greenwald is before they get so huffy. #
Jon Glick calls it platishing. A mashup of platform and publishing.#
Jason Pontin says it's okay if you like what Forbes did. (I don't.)#
Conde Nast is changingTraveler to become a platform. #
I've been urging news organizations to do this since 2000.#
Read this excellentMike Arrington rant from 2012. A few minutes after I read it, something dawned on me. You know that idea if you can't find the product then you're the product? That's optimistic. You're not the product. Your writing, your photographs, your relationships, that's the product. You're as important as yeast in the beer-making process. Completely fungible. One yeast is as good as the next. What the tech industry is thriving on is your output. The stuff that you think is so valuable, your vacation pictures, pictures of your cat, your kid's graduation, to them that's the gold. #
Theyeast metaphor comes from a Kurt Vonnegut book, Breakfast of Champions.#
''Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.'' #
So there's a whole spectrum of platishes possible. At one extreme, the Sulzbergers have a great one that's served them for a long time. The writers are glorified, they're the best at what they do. Smartest. Best connected. Well-paid. It's exclusive. Medium is closer to the writer-as-yeast model. Inclusive. Anyone can post. Yet still it has the aura of quality.#
These are fluid times. All of a sudden people who can research and write are in demand. Use that new power to create a system that works for writers. Don't settle for being mere yeast.#
Joseph Talamantez writes, via email: "What was your thinking using UDRL for moving headlines? It seems like the arrows would make more sense, no?"#
I really believe in continuity in software, and if people have learned how to do something one way, it's best if future versions do it the same way. In this case, the reason is entirely historic. If outliners were new today, we'd probably do all the keyboard-based reorganizing commands with the arrow keys, as Joseph suggests.#
Here's the history. The first version of my outliner that was visual, i.e. not built around a command-line user interface, was on the early Apple II. It only had two arrow keys, left and right. We needed to provide for four directions, move to previous sibling, next sibling, out one level, and in one level. So the arrow keys were out. Therefore U, D, R and L.#
The Apple III that came out shortly there after had four arrow keys. But it was too late. All of our users had learned the UDRL keystrokes. I had learned them. So that was the way it worked.#
We did support the full set of arrow keys in the IBM PC version. And then Apple played more mischief with keyboards on the first Mac, which we developed for. It had no cursor keys at all! An oversight (ahem) that was fixed with the Mac Plus in 1986.#
I can't change it now, it's deeply imprinted on my personal ROM. I hit those four keys instinctively, without any thought at all. #
The best part is where Katy Perry does this really sexy thing with her shoulders and eyes. It's hard to describe, it's very hot. But the whole commercial is very attractive and interesting. #
A #throwbackthursday picture, me, on the left with the freaked-out look, mom, Eve Winer and newborn brother, Peter Winer sometime in late 1958 or early 1959. Caption: First-born child not altogether pleased with no longer being an only child.#
Last night's season finale of The Americans was great. #
If you're looking for a show to binge-watch, this is a good one. #
Omydiar water waster
Fri, 23 May 2014 13:34
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What does GCHQ know about our devices that we don't? | Privacy International
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:18
While the initial disclosures by Edward Snowden revealed how US authorities are conducting mass surveillance on the world's communications, further reporting by the Guardian newspaper uncovered that UK intelligence services were just as involved in this global spying apparatus. Faced with the prospect of further public scrutiny and accountability, the UK Government gave the Guardian newspaper an ultimatum: hand over the classified documents or destroy them.
The Guardian decided that having the documents destroyed was the best option. By getting rid of only the documents stored on computers in the UK, it would allow Guardian journalists to continue their work from other locations while acquiescing to the Government's demand. However, rather than trust that the Guardian would destroy the information on their computers to the Government's satisfaction, GCHQ sent two representatives to supervise the operation. Typically, reliable destruction of such hardware in the circumstances would be to shred or melt all electronic components using a much larger version of the common paper shredder and leaving only the dust of the original devices. Indeed, some devices such as external USB sticks were turned to dust.
Alternatively, it might have been expected that GCHQ would solely target the hard drives of the devices in question. The hard drives, after all, are one of the few components of a computer where user data is supposed to be retained after the power to the device is removed.
Surprisingly, however, GCHQ were not just interested in hard drives nor did they destroy whole devices. An examination of the targeted hardware by Privacy International, with cooperation from the Guardian, has found the whole episode to be more troubling and puzzling than previously believed.
During our invesitgation, we were surprised to learn that a few very specific components on devices, such as the keyboard, trackpad and monitor, were targeted along with apparently trivial chips on the main boards of laptops and desktops. Initial consultation with members of the technology community supported our identification of the components and that the actions of GCHQ were worth analyzing further.
In light of GCHQ's actions, we have asked hardware manufacturers to explain what these elements actually do: what information can be stored on a device, how much information it can retain, and for how long.
Manufacturers must be transparent
By getting answers to these questions, we can get a glimpse into GCHQ's understanding of IT security threats, but also give individuals the information to better understand the devices they use everyday and how they can protect their personal information. For instance, people and organisations may need to re-evaluate how they dispose of their computing devices, given the very specific hardware components destroyed by GCHQ.
With such a wide range of chip manufacturers, it is impossible to know for certain which vendor produced the actual chips destroyed on the model in question. However, we hope the device manufacturers can shed some light on their preferred sources for such components. Furthermore, without cooperation from the device manufacturers it is impossible to know the precise role played by the component in the overall operation of the device.
Whatever the actual vendor and role of the chip, we need to know more about why GCHQ believes that these components can store user data and retain that data without power.
What was targeted?
We examined all the destroyed components, and while much was destroyed, our intial investigation will look to find out more about the following components targeted by GCHQ:
- keyboard controller chip
- trackpad controller chip
- inverting converter chip
Below, the left image shows a keyboard controller board intact while the right image is the destroyed component provided by the Guardian. From our analysis, we believe the targeted component of the keyboard is the keyboard encoder responsible for communicating over the USB and interpreting key presses on its various I/O pins. We believe this component, under the black covering in the image below, is similar in function to the chip described here.
Intact Keyboard Component Destroyed Keyboard Component
We have reached out to the following companies to ascertain the storage characteristics of a USB keyboard: Apple, Dell, HP, Logitech and Microsoft.
In relation to the trackpad, the first image below shows an intact trackpad controller board from a MacBook Air device, while the second image below shows the destroyed component. We believe the targeted component is a serial flash chip that may perform a similar function to the keyboard controller also targeted. It is noteworthy that the device in question uses the controller board on the trackpad to also connect the keyboard to the main device. We believe the component to be similar to the one described here.
Intact Trackpad Component
Destroyed Trackpad Component
We have reached out to Apple and Synaptics to ascertain the storage characteristics of their trackpads and the components they use.
The final component is an inverting converter, again used on the Apple MacBook Air systems. The image below to the left depicts a similar model to the one destroyed with the component intact while the image to the right clearly shows the component targeted. Due to the generality of this component, it is difficult to ascertain what role this plays in the overall operation of the device, however we believe this component is similar in function to the chip described here.
Intact Inverting Converter Component Destroyed Inverting Converter Component
We have reached out to Apple to understand the storage characteristics of this component and the role it plays in overall device operation.
We will continue to explore the rest of the chips destroyed by GCHQ. We welcome any thoughts from individuals who have an understanding of these components and what their storage capabilities are, and for what purposes. We hope to achieve some much needed transparency about what our devices do and how the unseen components on the inside might betray our privacy.
Text of H.R. 1852: Email Privacy Act (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us
Mon, 19 May 2014 18:56
1st Session
H. R. 1852
May 7, 2013
(for himself and ) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To amend title 18, United States Code, to update the privacy protections for electronic communications information that is stored by third-party service providers in order to protect consumer privacy interests while meeting law enforcement needs, and for other purposes.
1.This Act may be cited as the Email Privacy Act .
2.Section 2702(a)(3) of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
(3)a provider of remote computing service or electronic communication service to the public shall not knowingly divulge to any governmental entity the contents of any communication described in section 2703(a), or any record or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer of such service.
3.(a)Section 2703 of title 18, United States Code, is amended'--
(1)by striking subsections (a), (b), and (c) and inserting the following:
(a)A governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by the provider only if the governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) that is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction directing the disclosure.
(b)Except as provided in section 2705, not later than 10 business days in the case of a law enforcement agency, or not later than 3 business days in the case of any other governmental entity, after a governmental entity receives the contents of a wire or electronic communication of a subscriber or customer from a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service under subsection (a), the governmental entity shall serve upon, or deliver to by registered or first-class mail, electronic mail, or other means reasonably calculated to be effective, as specified by the court issuing the warrant, the subscriber or customer'--
(1)a copy of the warrant; and
(2)a notice that includes the information referred to in clauses (i) and (ii) of section 2705(a)(4)(B).
(c)(1)Subject to paragraph (2), a governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer of the provider or service (not including the contents of communications), only if the governmental entity'--
(A)obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) that is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction directing the disclosure;
(B)obtains a court order directing the disclosure under subsection (d);
(C)has the consent of the subscriber or customer to the disclosure; or
(D)submits a formal written request relevant to a law enforcement investigation concerning telemarketing fraud for the name, address, and place of business of a subscriber or customer of the provider or service that is engaged in telemarketing (as defined in section 2325).
(2)A provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service shall, in response to an administrative subpoena authorized by Federal or State statute, a grand jury, trial, or civil discovery subpoena, or any means authorized under paragraph (1), disclose to a governmental entity the'--
(C)local and long distance telephone connection records, or records of session times and durations;
(D)length of service (including start date) and types of service used;
(E)telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and
(F)means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number), of a subscriber or customer of such service.
(3)A governmental entity that receives records or information under this subsection is not required to provide notice to a subscriber or customer.
(2)by adding at the end the following:
(h)Nothing in this section or in section 2702 shall be construed to limit the authority of a governmental entity to use an administrative subpoena authorized under a Federal or State statute or to use a Federal or State grand jury, trial, or civil discovery subpoena to'--
(1)require an originator, addressee, or intended recipient of an electronic communication to disclose the contents of the electronic communication to the governmental entity; or
(2)require an entity that provides electronic communication services to the officers, directors, employees, or agents of the entity (for the purpose of carrying out their duties) to disclose the contents of an electronic communication to or from an officer, director, employee, or agent of the entity to a governmental entity, if the electronic communication is held, stored, or maintained on an electronic communications system owned or operated by the entity.
(b)Section 2703(d) of title 18, United States Code, is amended'--
(1)by striking A court order for disclosure under subsection (b) or (c) and inserting A court order for disclosure under subsection (c) ; and
(2)by striking the contents of a wire or electronic communication, or.
4.Section 2705 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
2705.(a)(1)A governmental entity that is seeking a warrant under section 2703(a) may include in the application for the warrant a request for an order delaying the notification required under section 2703(b) for a period of not more than 180 days in the case of a law enforcement agency, or not more than 90 days in the case of any other governmental entity.
(2)A court shall grant a request for delayed notification made under paragraph (1) if the court determines that there is reason to believe that notification of the existence of the warrant may result in'--
(A)endangering the life or physical safety of an individual;
(B)flight from prosecution;
(C)destruction of or tampering with evidence;
(D)intimidation of potential witnesses; or
(E)otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial.
(3)Upon request by a governmental entity, a court may grant one or more extensions of the delay of notification granted under paragraph (2) of not more than 180 days in the case of a law enforcement agency, or not more than 90 days in the case of any other governmental entity.
(4)Upon expiration of the period of delay of notification under paragraph (2) or (3), the governmental entity shall serve upon, or deliver to by registered or first-class mail, electronic mail, or other means reasonably calculated to be effective as specified by the court approving the search warrant, the customer or subscriber'--
(A)a copy of the warrant; and
(B)notice that informs the customer or subscriber'--
(i)of the nature of the law enforcement inquiry with reasonable specificity;
(ii)that information maintained for the customer or subscriber by the provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service named in the process or request was supplied to, or requested by, the governmental entity;
(iii)of the date on which the warrant was served on the provider and the date on which the information was provided by the provider to the governmental entity;
(iv)that notification of the customer or subscriber was delayed;
(v)the identity of the court authorizing the delay; and
(vi)of the provision of this chapter under which the delay was authorized.
(b)(1)A governmental entity that is obtaining the contents of a communication or information or records under section 2703 may apply to a court for an order directing a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to which a warrant, order, subpoena, or other directive under section 2703 is directed not to notify any other person of the existence of the warrant, order, subpoena, or other directive for a period of not more than 180 days in the case of a law enforcement agency, or not more than 90 days in the case of any other governmental entity.
(2)A court shall grant a request for an order made under paragraph (1) if the court determines that there is reason to believe that notification of the existence of the warrant, order, subpoena, or other directive may result in'--
(A)endangering the life or physical safety of an individual;
(B)flight from prosecution;
(C)destruction of or tampering with evidence;
(D)intimidation of potential witnesses; or
(E)otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial.
(3)Upon request by a governmental entity, a court may grant one or more extensions of an order granted under paragraph (2) of not more than 180 days in the case of a law enforcement agency, or not more than 90 days in the case of any other governmental entity.
(4)Upon expiration of the period of delay of notice under this section, and not later than 3 business days before providing notice to a customer or subscriber, a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service shall notify the governmental entity that obtained the contents of a communication or information or records under section 2703 of the intent of the provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to notify the customer or subscriber of the existence of the warrant, order, or subpoena seeking that information.
(c)In this section and section 2703, the term law enforcement agency means an agency of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State, authorized by law or by a government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of criminal law, or any other Federal or State agency conducting a criminal investigation.
5.Not later than September 30, 2015, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report regarding the disclosure of customer communications and records under section 2703 of title 18, United States Code, which shall include'--
(1)an analysis and evaluation of such disclosure under section 2703 of title 18, United States Code, as in effect before the date of enactment of this Act, including'--
(A)a comprehensive analysis and evaluation regarding the number of individual instances, in each of the 5 years before the year in which this Act is enacted, in which Federal, State, or local law enforcement officers used section 2703 of title 18, United States Code, to obtain information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation;
(B)an analysis of the average length of time taken by a provider of an electronic communication service or a remote computing service to comply with requests by law enforcement officers for information under section 2703 of title 18, United States Code;
(C)the number of individual instances, in each of the 5 years before the year in which this Act is enacted, in which information was requested by law enforcement officers from a provider of an electronic communication service or a remote computing service under a warrant as authorized under section 2703(a) of title 18, United States Code;
(D)the number of individual instances and type of request, in each of the 5 years before the year in which this Act is enacted, in which information was requested by law enforcement officers from a provider of an electronic communication service or a remote computing service under the other information request provisions in section 2703 of title 18, United States Code; and
(E)the number of individual instances, in each of the 5 years before the year in which this Act is enacted, in which law enforcement officers requested delayed notification to the subscriber or customer under section 2705 of title 18, United States Code; and
(2)an analysis and evaluation of such disclosure under section 2703 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by this Act, including'--
(A)an evaluation of the effects of the amendments to the warrant requirements on judges, court dockets, or any other court operations;
(B)a survey of Federal, State, and local judges and law enforcement officers to determine the average length of time required for providers of an electronic communication service or a remote computing service to provide the contents of communications requested under a search warrant, which shall include identifying the number of instances in which a judge was required to order a provider of an electronic communication service or a remote computing service to appear to show cause for failing to comply with a warrant or to issue an order of contempt against a provider of an electronic communication service or a remote computing service for such a failure; and
(C)determining whether the amendments to the warrant requirements resulted in an increase in the use of the emergency exception under section 2702(b)(8) of title 18, United States Code.
6.Nothing in this Act or an amendment made by this Act shall be construed to preclude the acquisition by the United States Government of'--
(1)the contents of a wire or electronic communication pursuant to other lawful authorities, including the authorities under chapter 119 of title 18 (commonly known as the Wiretap Act ), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), or any other provision of Federal law not specifically amended by this Act; or
(2)records or other information relating to a subscriber or customer of any electronic communications service or remote computing service (not including the content of such communications) pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ( 50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. ), chapter 119 of title 18 (commonly known as the Wiretap Act ), or any other provision of Federal law not specifically amended by this Act.
Twitter's selective censorship of tweets may be the best option, but it's still censorship '-- Tech News and Analysis
Thu, 22 May 2014 12:45
19 hours ago May. 21, 2014 - 10:28 AM PDT
Twitter's ability to block certain tweets or users from being seen in specific countries, a somewhat Orwellian feature it calls the ''country-withheld content'' tool, seems to be getting more popular, according to the Chilling Effects clearinghouse, which tracks such things: tweets and/or users are now being blocked in Pakistan as well as Turkey, and a pro-Ukrainian account is apparently unavailable to users who try to view it from inside Russia, at the request of the government.
In much the same way that Google now shows different maps to users depending on whether they live in Russia or Ukraine, Twitter is shaping the view that its users have of the world around them. Is this a clever way of getting around censorship, or does it ultimately just disguise the problem?
Twitter first introduced the selective censorship tool in 2012, after repeated requests from a number of countries to remove tweets that were judged to be illegal, such as pro-Nazi comments in Germany. When it was launched, the company said that Twitter would do its best to avoid using it as much as possible and to remain the ''free-speech wing of the free-speech party,'' to use a phrase popularized by Twitter's former general counsel Alex Macgillivray.
The best of all the unpleasant options?Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and an expert in the effects of social-media use during events like the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, wrote at the time it was introduced that the policy was the best available way for Twitter to protect free speech while also trying to expand its network into new parts of the world. As she described it in a blog post:
''In my opinion, with this policy, Twitter is fighting to protect free speech on Twitter as best it possibly can'... previously, when Twitter would take down content when forced to do so by a court order, it would disappear globally. Now, it will only be gone in the specific country in which the court order is applicable. This is a great improvement.''
As Tufekci pointed out, Twitter's approach is a lot better than that taken by Facebook, which routinely deletes content from its platform with little or no warning, and virtually no attempt at transparency. To take just one example, pages posted by dissidents in Syria that are devoted to the chemical weapon attacks of last year are being deleted, which blogger Brown Moses has pointed out is thereby depriving the world of a crucial record of those events.
It's also true that Twitter has a much better track record of fighting for the free-speech rights of its users than just about any other platform: it alerted users that the Justice Department was asking for their personal information in relation to a WikiLeaks investigation, even though it was asked not to do so, and it fought hard in a French court for the right not to turn over user data related to tweets that broke that country's laws on homophobia and anti-Semitic content.
Selective censorship is still censorshipAll that said, however, not everyone is convinced that selective censorship is the best possible approach for Twitter to take. Jillian York, the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, seemed frustrated by the company's increasing use of the ''country-withheld content'' tool, judging by some of her comments on Twitter '-- and some critics of Tufekci's stance on the issue have argued that the feature actually makes the problem worse by making it less obvious that censorship has occurred.
For me, the troubling thing about Twitter's selective content-blocking tool is that, like Google's selective adjusting of the borders between countries based on where the user is located, it almost makes censorship too easy '-- just another feature box that can be checked '-- and that encourages governments like those in Turkey and Pakistan to use it for anything that seems even remotely offensive or irritating, a list that seems to grow by the day.
By selectively removing that content or changing the borders on maps for certain users, the world becomes a little less open, without most people even realizing that it is happening. Would it be better if there was a hue and cry every time such actions were taken, so that people who don't happen to check Chilling Effects would know about it and be able to protest? Perhaps. I confess I don't really know. But making censorship easier shouldn't be the goal, I don't think.
Free speech doesn't always succumb to a public onslaught from governments or corporations with hidden agendas and massive resources '-- sometimes it dies the death of a thousand small cuts, without so much as a whimper.
CINCINNATUS-Glenn Greenwald's Pulse-Pounding Tale of Breaking the Snowden Leaks | Threat Level | WIRED
Wed, 21 May 2014 17:50
Edward Snowden photographed in Moscow, Russia December, 2013. Photo: Barton Gellman/Getty Images
In June 2013, Edward Snowden was sitting in his room at the Mira hotel in Hong Kong, watching the world react to the first of his explosive leaks about the NSA's out-of-control surveillance, when he was tipped off that the NSA might be closing in on him.
Snowden's identity as the source of the documents was still unknown to the public. But through a ''net-connected device'' he installed at his now-abandoned home in Hawaii to watch out for the watchers '-- presumably an IP surveillance camera with microphone '-- he knew when two people from the NSA showed up at the house looking for him, an NSA ''police officer'' and someone from human resources.
This is one of the new details revealed in No Place to Hide, the much-anticipated book by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who worked with Snowden and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras to publish a number of blockbuster stories about the NSA.
Snowden had known it would only be a matter of time before the NSA was on his trail '-- he had intentionally left electronic footprints behind that would help the agency identify him as the leaker.
Though he could have covered his tracks '-- the NSA's internal security was so poor the agency failed to catch him downloading thousands of documents over many weeks '-- he hadn't wanted his colleagues to be subjected to needless suspicion or false accusations during the inevitable investigation that would follow the leaks. Snowden in fact intended to reveal his identity with the first story that was published, but Greenwald convinced him to wait so that the public's initial reactions would be focused on the NSA leaks and not the leaker.
The book, which is being released today, provides an extensive look at Greenwald's earliest encounters '-- online and in person '-- with the mysterious whistleblower who for months would only identify himself as Cincinnatus. It also expands on existing reporting about the agency's spy operations through the publication of more than 50 previously unpublished documents.
Although there may be little in the documents that's startling to anyone who has carefully followed the leak revelations over the last year, the book does a good job of providing an overview of what the documents and stories have revealed until now, while adding fresh detail. [One complaint with the book, however, is the lack of an index. Greenwald has said he plans to publish it online today, but this won't likely satisfy readers with print copies who don't want to jump on their computer or phone each time they want to find something in the book.]
Among the fresh details he reports '-- the NSA routinely intercepts networking devices such as routers, servers, and switches as they're in transit from U.S. sellers to international customers and plants digital bugging devices in them, before repackaging them with a factory seal and sending them on their way. Although it's been previously reported that the NSA, CIA and FBI intercept laptops to install spyware, the tampering with network hardware would potentially affect more users and data.
He also reports that U.S. telecoms partnering with foreign telecoms to upgrade their networks help subvert foreign networks for the spy agency.
''The NSA exploits the access that certain telecom companies have to international systems, having entered into contracts with foreign telecoms to build, maintain, and upgrade their networks,'' he writes. ''The US companies then redirect the target country's communications data to NSA repositories.''
Glenn Greenwald's new book.
In addition to this information, Greenwald devotes a fair amount of space in the book to bashing the Washington Post, the New York Times and other media for failing to hold the government accountable. Within these outbursts, though, readers can see the impetus for First Look Media '-- the new media venture he launched this spring with Poitras, Pierre Omidyar and others '-- making it clear why he jumped ship from the Guardian when he did.
Though he ultimately was grateful to the Guardian for help publishing the stories and documents, Greenwald got so impatient with the paper over several delays with the first story that he considered publishing the stories and documents on his own at nsadisclosures.com.
''Risky. But bold. I like it,'' Snowden told him about the plan. But friends and colleagues wisely advised against it, reminding him of the legal minefield he was entering if he went out on his own.
Greenwald also addresses how the Guardian and the Post got into a battle over the PRISM scoop, causing the latter to rush a story to print that was incorrect. It turns out a government official tipped off the Post that the Guardian was about to publish its own PRISM story, after the Guardian contacted officials for comment.
Contacting the government for comment is standard procedure to give officials a chance to make a case for withholding truly sensitive information. But in this case, Greenwald writes, the official exploited the process that was designed to protect national security simply to ''ensure that his favored newspaper would run the story first.''
All of these are interesting asides, but it's clear that the focus of the book is on Snowden and the tale of how the leaks came to be. Nearly half of the book is devoted to this backstory and to the man responsible for one of the most significant intelligence leaks of the century.
Though the broadstrokes of the story are by now well-known, Greenwald augments it with new details that paint a remarkable picture of the many obstacles and missteps that occurred along the way that could easily have short-circuited the whole operation.
It all began when Snowden made his first contact with Greenwald on Dec. 1, 2012 in an anonymous email sent under the name Cincinnatus '-- a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a virtuous Roman statesman and farmer who in the 5th century BC was called to Rome during a time of crisis to serve as dictator. Cincinnatus resigned his post just two weeks later, after resolving the crisis, and returned to his fields, thus establishing his legacy as someone who wielded power only when it was called upon for the public good.
Like Cincinnatus, Snowden intended that once his own task was completed he, too, would fade into the background. Though unlike Cincinnatus, he would never be able to fade into his former life.
Snowden as Cincinnatus urged Greenwald in the email to install PGP, so the two could communicate securely. But Greenwald famously ignored the request. Cincinnatus tried again, helpfully providing step-by-step instructions, and Greenwald ignored this request, too. Two months later in January 2013, he provided a 10-minute video to walk Greenwald through the process, and Greenwald, busy with other projects, again did nothing.
It wasn't until April, that things started to come together. During a visit to New York, Greenwald heard from Poitras who asked to meet him. She told him about an important anonymous source she had, apparently without knowledge that the source had contacted Greenwald months before. In fact, the connection between Snowden and Cincinnatus wouldn't occur until after the first stories were published, when Greenwald suddenly remembered the long-abandoned Cincinnatus and sent him an email to say he'd finally installed PGP. It was then that Snowden spelled it out for him that he was Cincinnatus.
Following the initial meeting with Poitras and other discussions, Greenwald was certain the source was legitimate and contacted his editor at the Guardian, a paper he had only recently joined.
But while he was still getting up to speed on the encryption and security programs the source wanted them to use, Poitras introduced a wrinkle '-- she'd been communicating with the Washington Post about one story the source wanted the paper to publish '-- the PRISM story '-- but the relationship had quickly soured. She had taken the story to Bart Gellman, a freelance reporter for the Post, who was eager to proceed. But the Post's lawyers were not. The anonymous source had insisted on a meeting in Hong Kong, but the lawyers argued against it, and the paper refused to pay Poitras's expenses if she went.
Furious with the Post, Poitras asked Greenwald to go with her to Hong Kong instead. He'd already seen a sample of the documents '-- a file containing 25 documents that the source had called ''the tip of the tip of the iceberg.''
On their way to the airport, Poitras reached into her backpack and pulled out a USB flash drive. ''Guess what this is?'' she asked Greenwald. ''The documents. All of them.''
For the next sixteen hours, Greenwald sat on the plane to Hong Kong poring over the files, completely unmolested, while the stewardesses passed out cocktails and snacks around him.
Remarkably, the man who had become one of the government's biggest agitators over its warrantless wiretapping program and other constitutional breaches held within his hands a weapon with the power to bring down the surveillance state, and there was no one around to stop him.
Greenwald was amazed at how organized the documents were. Snowden had arranged them all carefully in folders, sub-folders and sub-sub-folders according to issue and importance, clearly indicating that he had read and understood each one. He had even provided glossaries of acronyms and program names as well as supporting documents that weren't meant to be published but were included simply to provide context.
One of the last files Greenwald examined, right before he landed, was the file he should have read first. The file, named ''README_FIRST,'' contained Snowden's full name, his Social Security number, CIA alias, and agency ID number.
Snowden, he soon learned, was more than a systems administrator for the intelligence community. During his stint with the CIA in Switzerland, he was considered the top technical and cybersecurity expert in the region and had been chosen to provide President Obama with support at the 2008 NATO summit in Romania. He had trained to become a high-level cyber operator and had seen things that few see.
''I could watch drones in real time as they surveilled the people they might kill,'' he told Greenwald during their meeting in Hong Kong. ''You could watch entire villages and see what everyone was doing. I watched NSA tracking people's Internet activities as they typed. I became aware of just how invasive US surveillance capabilities had become. I realized the true breadth of this system. And almost nobody knew it was happening.''
From the moment Greenwald and Poitras landed in Hong Kong, things moved quickly. Greenwald began writing his NSA stories the first day he and Poitras interviewed Snowden and had four of them completed that night. He was determined to beat the Post to publication in order to set the tone for how the issues would be discussed.
The moment the first story published '-- the FISA Court order that revealed the government's bulk phone records collection program '-- the clock began ticking loudly on Snowden's freedom. But despite the grim outlook he faced, Snowden slept soundly each night.
He told Greenwald that he felt ''profoundly at peace'' with what he'd done.
''I decided a while ago that I can live with whatever they do to me. The only thing I can't live with is knowing I did nothing.''
Cincinnatus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 21 May 2014 17:49
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 '' 430 BC) was a Roman aristocrat and statesman whose service as consul in 460 BC and dictator in 458 BC and 439 BC made him a model of civic virtue.[1]
Cincinnatus was regarded by the Romans, especially the aristocratic patrician class, as one of the heroes of early Rome and as a model of Roman virtue and simplicity.[2] He was a persistent opponent of the plebeians.[2] When his son, Caeso Quinctius, was convicted and condemned to death, Cincinnatus was forced to live in humble circumstances, working on his own small farm, until an invasion caused him to be called to serve Rome as dictator, an office which he resigned two weeks later, after completing his task of defeating the rivaling tribes of the Aequians, Sabines, and Volscians.
His immediate resignation of his near-absolute authority with the end of the crisis has often been cited as an example of outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue, lack of personal ambition and modesty. As a result, he has inspired a number of organizations and other entities, many of which are named in his honor.
Biography[edit]Early career[edit]Politically, Cincinnatus was a persistent opponent of attempts to improve the legal situation of the plebeians.[2] His son Caeso Quinctius often drove the tribunes of the plebeians out from the forum, the heart of Roman political life, preventing them from reaching a formal decision.[3] In 461 BC, these actions finally resulted in a capital charge against Caeso. After Caeso was released on bail and escaped to the Etruscans, he was condemned to death in absentia and his father had to pay an immense fine, forcing him to sell most of his lands and retire to a small farm, where he and his family were able to subsist on the work of his hands.[4]
The following year, Cincinnatus was elected suffect consul. During his consulship, his main adversary was the Plebeian TribuneGaius Terentilius Harsa. During this time period, the Roman senate was preoccupied with a war against the Volsci, a neighbouring Italic people. Though Cincinnatus was initially able to prevent their enactment, Terentilius attempted to use the upheaval associated with the war effort to push through a series of reforms which were specifically to benefit the proletarii and peasantry, including a proposal to draw up a code of written laws applicable equally to patricians and plebeians '-- an early push for what would eventually become the Ten or Twelve Tables.
Dictator[edit]In 458 BC, the Romans were fighting the Aequi and the Sabines. The consul Minucius Esquilinus had led an army against them, but had been trapped by the Aequians in the Alban Hills and was attempting to fight off a siege. A few Roman horsemen escaped and returned to Rome to tell the senate what had happened. The senate fell into a panic and authorized the other consul for the year, Horatius Pulvillus, to nominate a dictator. Horatius nominated Cincinnatus for a dictatorial term (also known as Magister Populi or "Master of the People") for six months.[5]
A group of senators were sent to tell Cincinnatus that he had been nominated dictator. According to Livy, the senators found Cincinnatus while he was plowing on his farm. Cincinnatus cried out "Is everything all right?" They said to Cincinnatus that they hoped "it might turn out well for both him and his country," and then they asked him to put on his senatorial toga and hear the mandate of the senate. He called to his wife, Racilia, telling her to bring out his toga from their cottage.[5]
When he put on his toga, the senatorial delegation hailed him as dictator, and told him to come to the city. He then crossed the Tiber river in a boat provided by the senate, as his farm was on the far side of the river. When he reached the other side of the Tiber, he was greeted by his three sons and most of the senators. Several lictors were given to him for protection.
The next morning, Cincinnatus went to the Roman forum and nominated as his Master of the Horse (his second in command) Lucius Tarquitius, who was considered one of the finest soldiers in Rome. Cincinnatus then went to the Roman popular assembly and issued an order to the effect that every man of military age should report to the Campus Martius'--the Field of Mars, god of war'--by the end of the day.[6]
Once the army assembled, Cincinnatus took them to fight the Aequi at the Battle of Mons Algidus. Cincinnatus led the infantry in person, while Tarquitius led the cavalry. The Aequi were surprised by the double attack and were soon cut to pieces. The commanders of the Aequi begged Cincinnatus not to slaughter them all.[7]
Cincinnatus did not want to cause any unnecessary bloodshed, and told the Aequi that he would let them live if they submitted to him and brought their leader, Gracchus Cloelius, and his officers to him in chains. A yoke was set up, made up of three spears, and the Aequi had to pass under it, bowing down while confessing that they had been conquered. After this, the war ended and Cincinnatus disbanded his army. He then resigned his dictatorship and returned to his farm, a mere fifteen days after he had been nominated dictator.[8]
Later events[edit]He came out of retirement again for a second term as dictator (439 BC) to put down a conspiracy of Spurius Maelius, who supposedly was planning to become king. He was nominated by his old friend and relative, Titus Quinctius Capitolinus Barbatus, consul of the year. Maelius was killed immediately when the Master of the Horse was sent to bring him to trial and the incipient coup perished with him. Once more he resigned his commission.[citation needed]
Within his lifetime Cincinnatus became a legend to the Romans. Twice granted supreme power, he held onto it for not a day longer than absolutely necessary. The high esteem in which he was held by his compatriots is illustrated with an anecdote from the end of his life: one of his sons was tried for military incompetence. The great Capitolinus defended him by asking the jury who would go to tell the aged Cincinnatus the news in the event of a conviction. The son was acquitted because the jury could not bring itself to break the old man's heart.[citation needed]
Named in his honor is the town of Cincinnato, in Lazio, Italy. In the United States he was honored with the name of the town of Cincinnatus, New York and the Society of the Cincinnati which, in turn, lent its name to the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.
George Washington was often compared to Cincinnatus for his willingness to give up near-absolute power once the crisis of the American Revolution had passed and victory had been won, and the Society of the Cincinnati is a historical association founded in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War to preserve the ideals of the military officer's role in the new American Republic.
Edward Snowden communicated to journalist Glenn Greenwald using the pseudonym Cincinnatus. [9]
See also[edit]^N.S. Gill. "Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus". About.com. Retrieved 2008-08-25. ^ abc"The Early Roman Republic". Retrieved 11 September 2012. ^Livy translated by William Gordon in 1813 (26 BC), Ab Urbe Condita, "Under his conduct, the tribunes had frequently been driven out of the forum" ^Livy, Book 3, sect 14, Project Gutenberg.^ abLivy, Ab Urbe Condita, 3.26^Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 3.27^Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 3.28-9^Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 3.29^By Kim Zetter (2012-12-01). "Glenn Greenwald's Pulse-Pounding Tale of Breaking the Snowden Leaks | Threat Level". WIRED. Retrieved 2014-05-19. References[edit]Primary sources[edit]Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, iii. 26-29"'...it was determined that a dictator should be appointed to retrieve their shattered fortunes, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was appointed by universal consent.It is worthwhile for those persons who despise all things human in comparison with riches, and who suppose that there is no room either for exalted honour, or for virtue, except where riches abound in great profusion, to listen to the following'..."Project Gutenberg version of Ab Urbe ConditaSecondary material[edit]W. Ihne, History of Rome, i.Dante, Paradiso, canto 15, line 127E. Pais, Storia di Roma, i. ch. 4 (1898)Schwegler, R¶mische Geschichte, bk. xxviii. 12Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Credibility of early Roman History, ch. xii. 40 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cincinnatus, Lucius Quinctius". Encyclop...dia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. External links[edit]PersondataNameCincinnatusAlternative namesLucius Quinctius CincinnatusShort descriptionRoman politician and military figureDate of birth519 BCPlace of birthRoman RepublicDate of death430 BCPlace of deathRoman Republic
Surf's Up or What's Up: Hacker Convergences in Hawaii - Wired State
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:45
The coincidental presence of the hacker and WikiLeaks promoter Jacob Appelbaum in Hawaii in April 2012 and April 2013 when Edward Snowden was also in Hawaii has been noted. Formally, Appelbaum said he first heard of Appelbaum around May 2013 and did an interview of him for Der Spiegel together with Laura Poitras published in May 2013. He makes it seem like he "didn't know his name" or "didn't know who it was" when evidently discussing this source with Laura Poitras, who says she first heard from Snowden in January 2013.
But to recruit and vet Snowden, organize the hack, discover the files, torrent the files out or download them to thumb-drives, then secure them somewhere in encrypted form -- and talk about all this in carefully encrypted e-mail -- takes time and effort. That's why some of us think that Assange and others from WikiLeaks, their hacker helpers and Snowden had to have been in touch long before this.
Snowden came to Hawaii in 2012 and was in Hawaii in April 2012 working for Dell. His girlfriend came to live with him a month later.
I posted a transcript of Appelbaum's efforts to explain away his Hawaii trip in his June talk in Berlin and followed up further on his data trail. Streetwise Professor has now posted a blog summarizing the research on these hypotheses some of it supplied by @LibertyLynx on Twitter from sources she had and from Internet sleuthing.
I've added a comment there pointing out that Appelbaum himself tweeted that he was in Hawaii on his birthday in April 2012. That's why it seemed so disingenuous when he created this elaborate cover story of his friends paying for a birthday trip to Hawaii in April 2013, his lifelong dream -- i.e., if he had just had the lifelong dream the year before, what's up?
There's more to surf on all this, and Streetwise and LibertyLynx came up with the Spring Break of Code, a coding retreat organized by Moxie Marlinspike, a prominent hacker and colleague of Appelbaum's who, like Appelbaum and Poitras, has been stopped and searched at the border when returning to the US from abroad because of his proximity to hacking stories and WikiLeaks. Also involved inthe SBOC was Claudine Corbett, a brainy female scientist also interested in hacking and encryption -- rare in this field -- with numerous talents who also hung out with the MIT hackers while there. She goes way back with Appelbaum; here they are lounging around at Burning Man.
Streetwise discusses whether all of these people are "in on it" -- "it" being a plot to recruit and help Snowden. Appelbaum mentions that he had "20 friends" with him -- one or some of whom paid for the trip -- and we know Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing, his long-time friend was also in Hawaii at the same time swimming with the sea turtles -- and other friends can be teased out of the retweets and the Instagrams. Corbett has an Instagram of Appelbaum standing in the exotic Hawaiian flora with the fog rising...perhaps Snowden will emerge any moment.
On the SBOC website, one receipient of the grant to come and code for a week "for the cause" (which is, roughly speaking, encrypting people with anarchist views who want to overthrow governments and create some utopian society with Bitcoins and whatnot) is a guy named Tyler who writes an interesting blog:
This is the sort of rabid stuff the young hackers write these days:
I know very well that each and every crisis of modernity is concentrating, concatenating, and seating more deeply into everyday life. I know the struggles of the world's unseen and unheard are being subsumed '' appropriated '' under and into the framework of a liberal democracy, leaving those at the periphery still under the yoke of capital. The Right further entrenches itself into political discourse, both in the United States, and (more extremely) abroad (Finland, Greece, '... et al.). The Left is no less problematic: reiterating the petty values of social democracy, negotiating the terms of our entrapment within capitalism. Every season, new horrors fall from the clouds and rise from the seas as industrial civilization demonstrates that terraforming can also work in reverse. The world's genetic library '' the most prime commons, if ever one existed '' is rapidly contracting via extinction, privatization, and engineering. The colossal failure of ideology in the twentieth century has left the radicals of today no other choice but to see themselves as ''post-ideological''. This is a deeply concerning conundrum, as ideology survives in post-ideology, different only to the extent that it is less apparent. Yes, it seems like we are living in end times '' an entire era of Apocalypse '' made only more insidious by our optimism in its shadow.
Oh, dear. Spoiled kids, raised on the Internet, like in a barn. Where's Dad?
But then he gives a clue as to who might be at the beach party:
Personally, I've tried to live according to that principle '' right now, I'm a high-school dropout sitting amongst current and former employees of Twitter, an MIT-educated theoretical physicist, globe-trotting journalists, renown mathematicians, and emerging prodigy developers.
The people who won the contest for the all-expense-paid coding retreat -- their bios are on the site -- don't fit all these descriptions. Former employees of Twitter? who is that? The guy who used to try to make it run on Ruby on Rails? The MIT theoretical physicist is probably Corbett, but who are the globe-trotting journalists. Laura Poitras? Glenn Greenwald doesn't seem to have been in Hawaii, and Spencer Ackerman told me he was last in Hawaii in 1997 or something, although he has relatives there...
Corbett also writes about a journalist on the same website:
A journalist visiting Open Whisper Systems' Spring Break of Code commented that she expected more philosophy, politics, and conversation. After all this group is composed of people who are not only technologists, but also open source evangelists, activists, and humanists.
But that could be Xeni Jardin who also wrote of being in Hawaii at the same time, or anybody else in the list who happens to be a journalist -- which in their world, could mean "blogger." But probably not Quinn Norton, because she doesn't get along with Appelbaum, and while she runs with the same MIT hacker/open source/crypto/WikiLeaks crowd, I don't see any evidence she was there.
Anyone is welcome to go mine all this endlessly and built NodexL graphs like Katy Pearce to their heart's content.
The thing is, I think what Appelbaum has done here is created a kind of Tor-like obfuscation, or a sort of jungle print, in which lots of people are doing lots of things and then they all have alibis. The SBOC may have been conceived right at the time Laura Poitras said she first heard from Snowden, but that could be a coincidence. Or it could be the effort to make a cover of an innocent idealistic activity that would serve as a cover for the contact with Snowden.
But really, the problem is that while we know Snowden was in Hawaii, he can't be confirmed as placed in Maui, about 90-100 miles away, via boat or via a short and cheap plane ride, at the SBOC or Jacob's birthday party.
Given how Snowden seemed to methodically wipe out his online footprint from 2009 to present, what's left?
Well, there are some tantalizing clues left by the also-wiped narcissistic blog of Snowden's girlfriend. Lindsay.
While she took down her blog, some of it is still in Google cache, and some of the photos survive still in her Instagram and Flickr accounts. I didn't see any photos of Maui in there matching the dates in question, but there is this, in Google cache, from the now-deleted blog:
Rear Portrait | L's Journey | Page 3www.lsjourney.com/category/rear-portrait/page/3/Posted on September 21, 2012 by lsjourney .... I'm not sure I can really consider my trip to Maui, and the fun that occurred on Oahu afterward, as a vacation.
The date isn't right, but maybe she wrote it later while making the album. Or maybe that date fits with another item on the page that is just truncated here in Google's cache. The fact is, she did make a trip to Maui -- not unusual if you live in Honolulu and like to make photographs for a hobby or even profession.
Yet it was a trip that she didn't consider as a vacation -- maybe because she went with her bf Edward, and had his nose in the laptop the whole time...
There's another interesting ghost of a clue in Instagram search that now no longer hooks up to anything:
coral jj | Search.Stagram - Discover Instagram Photos (beta)search.stagram.com/tag/coral%20jjThat #coral at the bottom of the #ocean in #maui is sharp! ... #coral #stripes and a #blazer help too  #jj #photooftheday @photooftheday #lsjourney #hintofpink.
Those hashtags include #lsjourney, which is the name of her blog. But again, this may not fit with any entry she made, as search phrases can render in Google cache that are attached to other things on that Instagram page with those tags, i.e. somebody else's photo of Maui (which is what it looks like).
If you look up Lindsay's blog on the Wayback Machine, where some of it is still held from past crawlings, you find another tantalizing mention on April 1, 2013 of Edward's travel March 30:
Flight was the theme of my weekend. Okay, who am I kidding? Flight is the theme of nearly all my recent days. Maybe I just have hollow bones! E flew off Saturday evening giving me six hours to kill before I had to pick up DucatiD from the airport. Luckily Hawaii has good food and friends to pass the time. With E soaring through the sky and friends dropped off, I snuggled to sleep in my empty home. Only to start Sunday circus with another airport pickup '-- taxi license in my future? Chisel arrived home in perfect time for silks and acro in the park. I commend him for being alert and willing enough to play after traveling all day. We ran the sun down and had our usual fruit-filled dinner while being serenaded by our new favorite local guitarist Greencard. One final pitstop on the weekend's run around schedule, was dropping Chisel off at his vacant home. Where we found his jeep had a flat tire. In true duo fashion we tackled the tire task. And as I was putting the final tightening touch on the lug nuts, I slipped and punched Chisel's jeep with my face. My clumsy super power always shows up at the most appropriate times. I can now check off jeep face-punching from my to-do list. Thankfully the resulting black eye is faint enough that I don't look too abused. Nothing a little sunshine and arnica won't solve. Spring has sprung in its jumbling-of-life manner. Everyone has been coming or going lately. Perhaps it's my time to mix things up and be chauffeured next week. My time to soar away.
So...Edward flew off somewhere on April 1st; Appelbaum's birthday beach bash was on or around April 3rd, his 30th birthday.
This entry sounds like LS was pressed into service picking up and dropping off a lot of people -- I don't know who all the references relate to, but maybe they are the "20 friends".
Remember, as the South China Morning Post originally reported, Snowden joined Booz, Hamilton Allen in March 2013 deliberately to hack more (see also timeline). He disappeared then for a few weeks in May, telling his employer that he needed treatment for epilepsy.
But this is April 2013, where he's flying...somewhere. Maybe just 90 miles away to Maui?
The next entry, showing LS posing half-naked with a stuffed turtle, also speaks of how she is alone:
Just me and turtle for the next week or two. If you don't have a house turtle I highly recommend procuring one. They are comforting and make a house feel like a home. And I will surely need his snuggle powers this month with all that is going down. April is turning into spring cleaning on crack '-- houses, travel, relationships '-- and the month hasn't even begun! E is leaving tomorrow for two weeks of business on the mainland. If you know of any fun slumber parties going down over the next two weeks count me in! There may be a ticket to the east coast with my name on it somewhere in those two weeks or potentially later in April/early May (you know I'm a last minute decider). On top of mainland adventures there is this pesky task of moving. We just happen to be moving two streets away from our current house. Which is convenient, but of course I would prefer a hillside abode in the city. So now I have to coordinate the next month. Rendezvous with E on the east coast and make it back in time to move; pack the house and forego seeing E for a month; plan my east coast visit to fall around the time of family/friends' travel plans; forget it all and head for antarctica '-- the options are endless. And when the options are endless my indecisive nature completely shuts down, leaving me at the mercy of random chance.
But that entry says he is going "to the mainland," which sounds like the States. Was this for training at BHA?
Could he have done both -- gone to Maui *and* gone to the mainland?
She notes that he returns by April 15, and there's a rare photo of them together, lying on the floor of their new as-yet-unfurnished home.
Philip Bump at the Atlantic Wire asks questions about the sequence of events, and whether Snowden hacked all or only some of his files from BHA.
This week or two in late March/early April must be covered somewhere in all the news coverage of Snowden's work history, but I haven't seen it (i.e. it's not here).
SNOWJOB-Documents: Feds Targeting Others Over Snowden Leaks
Sun, 25 May 2014 00:16
Newly-unsealed court documents reveal several individuals are likely under criminal investigation for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history.
Documents related to a government search warrant executed against the Dallas-based secure e-mail service Lavabit were unsealed in federal court on Tuesday.
The documents reveal the government's interest in two e-mail accounts that are widely believed to be associated with Edward Snowden, a contractor-turned-whistleblower who admitted to giving journalists thousands of documents related to clandestine National Security Agency surveillance programs.
Snowden is never explicitly named in the redacted court records that were released earlier this week. However, information contained in various motions and a February court transcript indicate that accounts used by him (various accounts say Snowden used the e-mail addresses cincinnatus@lavabit.com and edsnowden@lavabit.com) were targeted by a FBI search warrant executed against Lavabit last August.
The warrant also reveals the government is investigating individuals other than Snowden who may be connected to the disclosure of classified documents. Specifically, the government sought ''evidence of the identities of the users of the account and co-conspirators and others associated with the account'' and ''records relating to who created, used or communicated with the account'...including records about their identities and whereabouts.''
A portion of the redacted search warrant released on Tuesday. (Click for a larger view)
Attorneys for the now-defunct e-mail service petitioned the court to unseal most of the documents, including the search warrant, in the case. Lavabit and the government eventually reached a compromise on most of the documents, including which documents would be redacted, but could not agree on redacting the portion of the warrant that dealt with the target's co-conspirators.
Jesse Binnall, an attorney representing Lavabit founder Ladar Levison, told a magistrate judge in February that Levison would be unable to engage in public discourse regarding the government's collection of Lavabit records without potentially violating a court-issued gag order if the information were to remain under seal.
''My client is not someone who signed up for a security clearance,'' Binnell argued. ''He's not someone who voluntarily entered into something where he would give up his First Amendment rights. He is just a plain old American citizen who wishes to be able to engage in the public discourse going on today on these subjects and in the industry that he's a part of.''
But the government argued that the information in question should remain under seal '-- and thoroughly redacted in unsealed documents '-- because of the potential that co-conspirators would destroy evidence after being tipped off to the investigation.
''It's the government's belief that if they (the co-conspirators) put two and two together, they could destroy evidence that is relevant to the investigation,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Peterson told the court.
Magistrate Judge Thomas Rawles Jones disagreed. The judge found that the government lacked sufficient argument to justify the continued sealing of the information at hand.
''The court cannot imagine that any person related to any criminal enterprise would fail to assume that investigators were interested in the sort of information described (in the warrant) and seek it wherever they could find,'' Jones wrote. ''The government simply could not provide even a hypothetical connection between the concerns it expressed and the disclosure of this portion of the warrant.''
Shortly after the documents were unsealed on Tuesday, Levison wrote a lengthy account for The Guardian that detailed his interaction with federal authorities shortly after the first reports centered on secret surveillance programs were published. Among other things, Levison wrote that authorities had obtained a pen-and-trap subpoena that required him to allow federal agents to install spy hardware on Lavabit's servers that would automatically ''access to all of the messages '-- to and from all my customers '-- as they travelled between their e-mail accounts and other providers on the Internet.''
Levison fought the government after agents requested the private encryption keys that were needed to decode the secure Lavabit e-mails. The search warrant unsealed on Tuesday stated Lavabit ''must provide any and all information necessary to decrypt (e-mail) content, including, but not limited to public and private keys and algorithms.''
Levison initially fought the request, but complied in early August by providing the government with encryption keys printed in small font on paper. He shut down Lavabit a few days later.
Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.
Agenda 21
VIDEO_O'Keefe Strikes AGAIN! Hollywood Progressives Duped in Anti-Fracking Sting Operation (Video) | Progressives Today
Wed, 21 May 2014 02:50
James O'Keefe strikes again!
The conservative journalist duped progressives Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemmingway to get involved in an anti-fracking film that was funded by Middle Eastern oil interests.O'Keefe will unveil the movie at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday!Via The Hollywood Reporter:
James O'Keefe says he duped Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemmingway into agreeing to get involved with an anti-fracking movie while hiding that its funding comes from Middle Eastern oil interests.
Journalist James O'Keefe, known for his controversial undercover sting operations aimed usually at liberals '-- is set to unveil at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday the first of a group of videos that he says will reveal hypocrisy among Hollywood environmentalists.
In the video, obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter and embedded below, actors Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemmingway are duped by a man named ''Muhammad,'' who is looking to make an anti-fracking movie while hiding that its funding is coming from Middle Eastern oil interests.
Muhammad, accompanied by a man pretending to be an ad executive, seemingly has the two actors agreeing to participate in the scheme, even after he acknowledges that his goal is to keep America from becoming energy independent. The meeting, which appears to have been secretly recorded, took place a few months ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And, he's going to release this Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival!Brilliant!
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Obama Admits: 'Hard to Talk About Global Warming' in Chicago.
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:46
''I know it's hard to talk about global warming here in Chicago after this winter,'' he said. ''But everybody here understands that it's changing weather patterns that are at stake here, with potentially devastating, catastrophic consequences.''
According to the National Weather Service, it was one of the Windy City's coldest winters in history.
Obama pointed out that Republicans continued to ''deny the science'' on climate change but highlighted the progresss that his administration had achieved in subsidizing solar and wind energy.
''Climate change remains a generational challenge that we've got to tackle boldly,'' he said. ''And, unfortunately, we've got a Congress that right now just can't seem to get anything done.''
Obama attended a fundraiser at the home of Michael Polsky, the president and CEO of Invenergy, an energy company heavily invested in wind and solar power. Noting media reports of Congressional gridlock, Obama pointed out that many Americans were getting discouraged.
''There's a tendency to say, a plague on both your houses. But the truth of the matter is that the problem in Congress is very specific,'' he added, citing the Republican Party.
Democrats, he claimed, were willing to compromise.
''The problem is not that the Democrats are overly ideological -- because the truth of the matter is, is that the Democrats in Congress have consistently been willing to compromise and reach out to the other side,'' Obama said.
Obama also joked during his speech that he was beginning to feel old.
''All of you look the same and I look like Morgan Freeman,'' he said after pointing out some of his old friends from his days in Chicago.
''So the job has been wearing me down a little bit, I admit, grey hair and all that. But Michelle still thinks I'm cute. She's not ready to trade me in yet,'' he added.
Kerry Says--Wrongly--Some Temps This Week Broke 'Every Record That's Ever Been Seen'.
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:46
Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a Cleantech Challenge event in Mexico City on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (Photo: State Department)
(CNSNews.com) '' Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience in Mexico on Wednesday that temperatures in Europe and in Vietnam were ''unprecedented'' and broke ''every record that's ever been seen.'' However, although it was hot that day, he was off the mark.
Speaking at an environmentally-friendly technology event in Mexico City, Kerry said he had just caught a CNN weather report in his hotel and ''saw the temperatures around the world right now.''
''Thirty-four degrees centigrade [Celsius] in Vietnam today, in May. Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-two, thirty-three in places all around Europe,'' he said. ''Unprecedented. Breaks every record that's ever been seen.''
''What we are seeing around the world is what scientists have predicted,'' Kerry continued. ''They're not telling us that we may see global climate change. We are seeing it, and we're seeing the impacts now.''
Wednesday was a hot day in Vietnam, with temperatures rising at their highest to 36 degrees celsius (96.8°F) at Tan Son Nhut international airport in Ho Chi Minh City. But according to Vietnam's foreign ministry, the highest temperature recorded in May is 39°C (102.2°F) in Ho Chi Minh City, and 42°C (107.6°F) in Hanoi. The Hanoi record was registered in 1926.
European temperatures on the early afternoon of Wednesday, May 21, 2014 (Map: weatheronline.co.uk)
The hottest places in Europe in the heat of the day on Wednesday, according to weatheronline.co.uk included parts of Russia, Germany, central Italy and southern Turkey, all in the 29-32°C (84-89°F) range.
The highest temperature ever recorded in European Russia was 44°C (111.2°F) in 2010; in Germany was 40.2°C (104.4°F) in 1983 and 2003; in Italy was 48.5°C (119.3°F) in 1999; and in Turkey was 48.8°C (119.8°F) in 1993.
Kerry went on to underline the urgency of combating climate change.
''We are closer and closer to a time where the tipping point that they've warned us about is going to be reached. It's becoming more and more dangerous,'' he said.
''All you have to do is look at the last two reports, and particularly the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report of the United Nations, with 97 percent of the scientists of the world warning us about the devastating impact of global climate change if we don't take action '' and take serious action '' soon.''
Kerry then reprised some of the points he made in a commencement speech at Boston College early this week, when he said that if ''members of the flat earth society'' turn out to be wrong about climate change, ''then we are risking nothing less than the future of the entire planet.''
''There's still a debate in some places about why we ought to do it or whether it's real '' amazingly,'' he said.
''But let me ask you something. If we do what you know you can do as entrepreneurs, as scientists, as innovators, if we do it, and if we were wrong about the science '' which I don't believe we are, but if we were '' and we move to new and sustainable energy, what is the worst thing that could happen to us?
''The worst thing is we would create millions of new jobs; we would transition to cleaner energy, which hopefully would be homegrown, which makes every country much more secure; we would have cleaner air, which would mean we have less hospitalization for children for asthma and people with particulates causing cancer; and we would have greater energy security for everybody and independence as a result,'' he said. ''That's the worst that could happen.''
''What's the worst that happens if the other guys are wrong, the people who don't want to move in this direction?'' he continued. ''Catastrophe. Lack of water. Lack of capacity to grow food in many parts of the world. Refugees for climate. People fighting wars over water. Devastation in terms of sea-level rise. We're already seeing it in the Pacific.''
USDA warns of sticker shock on U.S. beef as grilling season starts - Yahoo News.
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:24
By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Agriculture has warned of sticker shock facing home chefs on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the unofficial start of the U.S. summer grilling season.
The agency said conditions in California could have "large and lasting effects on U.S. fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices," as the most populous U.S. state struggles through what officials are calling a catastrophic drought.
The consumer price index (CPI) for U.S. beef and veal is up almost 10 percent so far in 2014, reflecting the fastest increase in retail beef prices since the end of 2003. Prices, even after adjusting for inflation, are at record highs.
"The drought in Texas and Oklahoma has worsened somewhat in the last month, providing further complications to the beef production industry," USDA said.
Beef and veal prices for the whole of 2014 are now forecast to increase by 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, a sharp advance from last month's forecast for a 3 to 4 percent rise. Pork prices are set to rise by 3 percent to 4 percent, up from a 2 to 3 percent advance expected a month ago.
The USDA said overall U.S. food price inflation for 2014, including food bought at grocery stores and food bought at restaurants, would rise by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2014.
That is up from 2013, when retail food prices were almost flat, but in line with historical norms and unchanged from April's forecast.
"The food-at-home CPI has already increased more in the first four months of 2014 then it did in all of 2013," USDA noted. At-home spending accounts for about 60 percent of the U.S. food CPI.
A major factor for rising pork prices is the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), responsible for more than 7 million U.S. piglet deaths in the past year.
Egg prices are also climbing - up 15 percent in April alone - and are expected to rise by 5 to 6 percent on the year, and higher milk prices are feeding through to other products in the dairy case, particularly cheese.
Sweet lovers and caffeine addicts will see some relief, however, since global prices for sugar and coffee remain low, USDA said.
The agency forecast prices of sugar and sweets to rise by 1 percent to 2 percent in 2014 and prices for non-alcoholic beverages to rise by 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. Both forecasts were lowered this month.
"It appears supermarkets are maintaining minimal price inflation on packaged food products, possibly in an effort to keep prices competitive in light of rising cost pressures for most perishable items," USDA said.
So far the severe California drought has not had a discernible impact on national fruits or vegetable prices, USDA said, while warning that the effects are still to come.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Eric Beech, Doina Chiacu and Bernadette Baum)
'I Recant' Says Author of Infamous Seventies Newsweek 'Global Cooling' Article
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:16
Peter Gwynne, began his piece by declaring portentously:
"There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production - with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth."
And this wasn't just a minority opinion, he went on to stress:
"Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in their view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic."
But now Gwynne has decided that this certainty was misplaced:
"While the hypotheses described in that original story seemed right at the time, climate scientists now know that they were seriously incomplete. Our climate is warming -- not cooling, as the original story suggested,"
Gwynne is apparently sick and tired of having the article rubbed in his face by "websites and individuals that dispute, disparage and deny the science that shows that humans are causing the Earth to warm." Especially painful for him - it seems - was the occasion when his piece was triumphantly brandished by comedian (and notorious skeptic) Dennis Miller on the Tonight Show in 2006.
Luckily, Gwynne is in no danger of being made to look a fool twice. He has now chosen to place his faith in the expertise of perhaps the most widely respected, uncontroversial figures in the entire field of climate science - a man he quotes approvingly throughout his recantation.
"There's no serious dispute any more about whether the globe is warming, whether humans are responsible, and whether we will see large and dangerous changes in the future '' in the words of the National Academy of Sciences '' which we didn't know in the 1970s," said Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He added that nearly every U.S. scientific society has assessed the evidence and come to the same conclusion.
Gwynne concludes by sounding a warning note on the dangers of science writers failing to ask the right questions and reporting over-enthusiastically on the latest scare story.
"If I had applied those lessons back in 1975, I might not now be in the embarrassing position of being a cat's paw for denial of climate change," he says ruefully.
Indeed. But at least Gwynne has learned his lesson. Now that he believes in global warming - as all the experts do - no one is ever going to take him again for a gullible idiot who has failed to perform his due diligence on one of the most important scientific issues of the day.
West Antarctic ice collapse 'could drown Middle East and Asia crops'.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:28
The ongoing collapse of a large part of the Antarctica ice sheet could devastate global food supply, drowning vast areas of crop lands across the Middle East and Asia, according to new research.
The report, Advancing Global Food Supply in the Face of a Changing Climate, urges the Obama Administration to step up research funding '' especially in developing countries '' to help make up a projected gap in future food supply.
It also warns America's corn belt could face yield declines of more than 25% by mid-century - unless there are new advances in agriculture to compensate for hotter temperatures, changing rainfall and more aggressive weeds and pests under climate change.
The report, due to be released at a high-level conference in Washington DC on Thursday, is the first to factor in the effects of the slow-motion collapse of the Western Antarctica ice sheet on future food security.
Two independent studies last week warned the retreat of the Western Antarctica ice sheet was unstoppable '' and could lead to sea-level rise of up to four metres over the coming centuries.
Those rising seas would displace millions of people from low-lying coastal areas - and wipe out rice-growing areas across Asia, Gerald Nelson, a University of Illinois economist and author of Thurday's report, said.
"That sea-level rise would take out half of Bangladesh and mostly wipe out productive rice regions in Vietnam," Nelson told The Guardian. "It would have a major effect on Egyptian agricultural areas."
The projected levels of sea-level rise, due to the retreat of ice in West Antarctica, pose a far greater threat to future food supply even than that envisaged in the United Nations' IPCC report in March, Nelson said.
"A sea level rise of three metres over the next 100 years is much more likely than the IPCC thought possible," the report said.
In terms of absolute land loss, China would be at risk of losing more than 3 million hectares. Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar could lose more than 1 million hectares, the report said.
The potential loss of viable crop land underscores the urgent need for new breakthrough technologies to increase agricultural productivity to keep pace with growing world population, the report said.
"Agriculture is a huge world-wide industry that requires stable weather, 'or else', and we might just be entering the 'or else' period," Dan Glickman, agriculture secretary under Bill Clinton and a co-chairman of the conference, told The Guardian.
"The question is: 'are we doing the right kind of research at our universities, at the department of agriculture, or in the private sector to deal with those changes? We need more and more applied research to help us move those numbers up. That is the real challenge for scientists."
The increasing agricultural yields of the last 50 years have already slowed down or plateaued '' even before climate change is taken into account. By mid-century, those declines will make it increasingly difficult for farmers to maintain the increases in crop yields needed to feed a growing population.
According to some computer models included in the report, projected growth in yields in America's corn belt could drop by 25% by 2050'' unless there are breakthroughs in agricultural research '' because of higher temperatures, uncertain rainfall, and more aggressive weeds and pests under climate change.
"We have got to figure out how to get plants to continue performance when average temperatures go up, and we don't know how to do that," Nelson said. "We need 60% more food generally, and this will make it harder to get there," he said.
Pope Francis Makes Biblical Case For Addressing Climate Change --- Guess he forgot that bible story about God not flooding the earth again...
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:27
Exposing the comprehensive UN plan to bring about an authoritarian world government via international regulations and treaties under the guise of environmentalism and social equity.
Remember, a lot of this is heavy doublespeak. I.E. "Commuter Friendly" = Commuter hell, at the mercy of public transportation, unfriendly-to-cars, no leaving the area etc., "Walkable" = car unfriendly, literally poverty infrastructure
New UrbanismTriple Bottom LineSustainability/Sustainable DevelopmentSocial EquityEconomic EmpowermentSocial Responsibility"Smart" i.e. Smart GrowthEconomic/Environmental JusticeCorporate Social Responsibility(CSR)Liveable/WalkableNew NormalComplete StreetsMixed-Use (property)"Green"Commuter Friendly"Well-Being"Community ActionResilience/Resilient CommunitiesTransition TownNext/New EconomySECTION I. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS: Chapter 2.1.
In order to meet the challenges of environment and development, States have decided to establish a new global partnership. This partnership commits all States to engage in a continuous and constructive dialogue, inspired by the need to achieve a more efficient and equitable world economy, keeping in view the increasing interdependence of the community of nations and that sustainable development should become a priority item on the agenda of the international community. It is recognized that, for the success of this new partnership, it is important to overcome confrontation and to foster a climate of genuine cooperation and solidarity. It is equally important to strengthen national and international policies and multinational cooperation to adapt to the new realities.
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Climategate 3.0: Blogger Threatened for Exposing 97% "Consensus" Fraud
Fri, 23 May 2014 01:16
In what is nearly a replay of the Climategate e-mail scandal of the University of East Anglia, independent climate blogger Brandon Shollenberger has been threatened with a lawsuit and arrest if he releases data that climate alarmists left online unencrypted showing their claim that 97.1 percent of climate scientists ''endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming'' is false '-- and a huge fabrication. The lawsuit threat is the latest development in a drama that began a little over a year ago, when Shollenberger scooped the global establishment media and the world scientific community to expose one of the biggest science frauds of all time.
We've all seen and heard reports and statements, too numerous to be counted, that ''more than 97 percent'' of scientists endorse the proposition that humans are causing catastrophic climate change. Al Gore, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, et al '-- have repeated (again and again and again) this climate ''consensus'' claim. And the New York Times, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, et al, parrot these parrotings over and over and over, never bothering to check, let alone challenge, the absolute ludicrousness of the hyperbolic assertion.
The 97-percent myth was launched last year by Australian global-warming activist John Cook and the alarmist website, SkepticalScience.com. Responsible scientists and sensible laymen were properly skeptical of the SkepticalScience claims from the get-go, but it took the investigative digging of independent blogger Brandon Shollenberger to expose how Cook was cooking the data.
0.5 percent, Not 97.1 Percent!
Incredibly (but not so surprisingly, considering the fanaticism of some climate zealots), after deconstructing Cook's data that was publicly available, Shollenberger found that only 65 (yes, 65) of the 12,000+ scientific abstracts Cook and his team of volunteers studied can be said to endorse the position that human activity is responsible for most of the experienced global warming. For a 97.1-percent ''consensus'' we would expect 11,640+ abstracts to endorse anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, or AGW '-- not a mere 65! This was big news, but the silence from Big Media was deafening, which was, again, not so surprising. And this was not the only newsworthy revelation concerning the Cook study, which Cook tellingly referred to as ''The Consensus Project'' or ''TCP.'' Clearly, Cook and his band of zealous sous chefs cooked the data recipe to create their consensus pi¨ce de r(C)sistance. They were caught pants down, in flagrante delicto; but, again, silence from the mainstream media newshounds who can be counted on to bay and howl unceasingly at the slightest peccadillo, misstep, or blooper by political conservatives. However, The New American published a detailed series of reports on the important Shollenberger/Cook expos(C): Global Warming ''Consensus'': Cooking the Books (May 21, 2013); Climate ''Consensus'' Con Game: Desperate Effort Before Release of UN Report (May 22, 2013); and Cooking Climate Consensus Data: ''97% of Scientists Affirm AGW" Debunked (June 5, 2013).
As we noted, Cook's ''study'' was merely an expanded reprise of the earlier, much-quoted, fraudulent ''research'' of Naomi Oreskes, who first popularized the 97-percent consensus deception in 2004. We wrote:
Cook's ''Introduction'' admits that ''TCP is basically an update and expansion of Naomi Oreskes' survey of the peer-reviewed literature with deeper analysis.'' That is an interesting admission, since the 2004 Oreskes study '-- which was the original source for the 97 percent claim '-- was exposed for the same methodological flaws. Dr. Benny Peiser, a social science professor at John Moores University and visiting fellow at the University of Buckingham, eviscerated the Oreskes study, pointing out that Oreskes had falsified the so-called consensus by her faulty selection criteria in choosing papers to include in her survey.
If You Print the Truth, We'll Sue You.
But Shollenberger did not rest on his laurels; he kept digging. Last week, on May 15, Shollenberger published his 100th posting, entitled, ''MY HUNDREDTH POST CAN'T BE SHOWN.''
He explained:
Dear readers, I wanted to do something special for my hundredth post at this site. I picked out a great topic for discussion. I wrote a post with clever prose, jokes that'd make your stomach ache from laughter and even some insightful commentary. Unfortunately, I can't post it because I'd get sued.??
You see, I wanted to talk about the Cook et al data I recently came into possession of. I wanted to talk about the reaction by Cook et al to me having this data. I can't though. The University of Queensland has threatened to sue me if I do.
In fact, the University of Queensland (in Queensland, Australia) threatened to sue Shollenberger if he even published their threatening letter to him! And, for an extra measure of overkill, the university implied that Shollenberger had illegally ''hacked'' their computer system, and that he might face arrest and criminal charges.
According to Shollenberger, he recently retrieved the raw data of Cook, et al from a ''publicly accessible, third-party website,'' where it was being stored. Shollenberger says it didn't require any ''hacking'' because it was unprotected and unencrypted.
After some consideration and consultation, Shollenberger announced May 18 on his blog that he is challenging the university and ''calling their bluff.'' He released their letter and said he would release the Cook data, unless the university, SkepticalScience, or Cook would respond to his inquiries for an explanation as to what legal or ethical consideration should compel him not to publish this publicly accessed data. This a replay of the Climategate e-mail scandal of the University of East Anglia, where ''scientists'' refused to make public their data for peer and public review, so that an honest assessment of the alleged science upon which policies affecting the entire planet (and involving trillions of dollars) might be conducted. They illegally refused Freedom of Information requests, destroyed data, and threatened legal action against those who divulged their e-mail communications concerning their unethical and illegal activities.
Shollenberger wrote:
Nobody has told me what I need to keep confidential. Nobody has explained why I need to keep things like datestamps secret. Nobody has explained how knowing people performed 65 ratings two years ago (to the day) could affect anyone's contractual obligations. Nobody has explained how disclosing material like that could possibly harm anyone.
So here's the challenge I want to propose to the Skeptical Science team, to the University of Queensland, and to anyone else who thinks I shouldn't release the data I possess:
Tell me what material I possess could cause harm if disseminated. Tell me what agreements or contractual obligations would be impinged upon if that material were released to the public. [Bold in original.]
If you are unable or unwilling to meet such a simple challenge, I'll release the data and you can bite me. I mean, sue me.
The threatening letter from University of Queensland Solicitor Jane Malloch to Shollenberger can be accessed here.
So, Shollenberger has once again scooped all of the MSM ''investigative'' journos. And, of course, the MSM thought cartel is, once again, ignoring his latest huge breakthrough, as well as the unconscionable (and ridiculous) threats of a major university. We ran a check on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for news stories about the Shollenberger/Cook/U of Queensland dustup. Almost a total zip; only one MSM story '-- a blog post on May 19 at the Washington Post. Nada, nothing from the New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, and all the rest of the MSM choir that have been trumpeting Cook's phony consensus ''research'' for the past year. As usual, it has remained for climate skeptic sites, with minuscule fractions of the resources available to the corporate MSM giants, to do the job of responsible reporting on this dramatic development. Especially informative (and amusing) reports and analysis of the Shollenberger/Cook story have been posted by JoNova, Steve McIntyre at ClimateAudit, and Steven Hayward at Powerline.
Related articles:
Global Warming ''Consensus'': Cooking the Books
Climate ''Consensus'' Con Game: Desperate Effort Before Release of UN Report
Cooking Climate Consensus Data: ''97% of Scientists Affirm AGW" Debunked
Obama Launches New Global Warming Video as Phony "Consensus" Crumbles
NOAA and the New "Climategate" Scandal
Chinagate: The Continuing Climategate Saga
Climategate 2: More E-mails Leaked Ahead of UN Summit
New E-mails Link BBC Executives to Climategate Scientists
Were the "Climategate" Inquiries Whitewashed?
UN Climateers and the ''Complete Transformation of the World''
Fiat Chrysler CEO: Please don't buy Fiat 500e electric car | Reuters
Fri, 23 May 2014 09:57
By Eric Beech
WASHINGTONWed May 21, 2014 4:18pm EDT
WASHINGTON May 21 (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has a request for potential buyers of the automaker's Fiat 500e electric car: Don't buy it. He's tired of losing money.
Speaking at a conference in Washington on Wednesday, Marchionne said Tesla Motors Inc was the only company making money on electric cars and that was because of the higher price point for its Model S sedan. Decrying the federal and state mandates that push manufacturers to build electric cars, Marchionne said he hoped to sell the minimum number of 500e cars possible.
"I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000," he said to the audience at the Brookings Institution about the 500e. "I'm honest enough to tell you that."
The gasoline-powered Fiat 500 starts at almost $17,300 including delivery charges, while the 500e starts at $32,650 before federal tax credits. Consumers are not willing to pay a price that covers Fiat's costs so it loses money on the 500e.
Through April, the automaker sold 11,514 of the 500 cars in the United States this year, down about 15 percent from the same period last year. The company does not break out 500e sales.
"I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more," Marchionne said of the 500e.
Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and received a U.S taxpayer-funded bailout. Italy's Fiat took over the U.S. automaker at the time and completed the buyout earlier this year.
"If we just build those vehicles, we'll be back asking ... in Washington for a second bailout because we'll be bankrupt," Marchionne said of electric cars.
The state of California's zero-emission vehicle mandates and federal fuel efficiency requirements for 2025 were pushing the need for electric cars, but Marchionne said he would prefer the U.S. Department of Energy simply set targets and let the automakers achieve them in their own way.
Marchionne said for the company in 2025 to maintain the same type of U.S. sales mix it has now, hybrid vehicles that are powered by both gasoline and electric engines will make up more than half if not close to three-quarters of sales.
Electric car sales have been held back by inadequate driving range in the eyes of many consumers and high sticker prices. (Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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El Nino Is Back: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Version
Wed, 21 May 2014 11:59
Meteorologists predict that we may see an El Nino in 2014, which means that it might be a good time to brush up on what the heck this supposedly terrifying weather phenomenon actually is. Here's what you need to know.
So what is an El Nino?According to NOAA, El Nino "refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific." In other words, warmer water in the Pacific that messes up normal weather patterns across our continent.
An El Nino event typically occurs once every several years. The last El Nino we saw was in 2004, but the one before that, in 1997, is considered a textbook example of a strong El Nino. According to NASA climatologist Bill Patzert, "a pattern of sea surface heights and temperatures has formed that reminds me of the way the Pacific looked in the spring of 1997." Data collected by a NASA satellite shows a series of "Kelvin waves," or massive oceanic ripples that could suggest an upcoming El Nino. It will take a few months before we know whether or not we'll seen a El Nino this year. NASA offers some more information on how an El Nino is formed:
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Was the 1997 El Nino that bad?In a word, yes. In Peru, the weather event caused massive amounts of rainfall which led to deadly flooding and mudslides and cost $2 billion in damage. The climactic changes created Hurricane Linda off the coast of Mexico, which turned into the strongest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone ever recorded. Another hurricane hit Mexico a month later. The extreme weather spurred cycles of mosquito-transmitted diseases in Africa. Meanwhile, other countries experienced severe drought. In August of 2012, Nature published a report showing that El Nino events "suppress the monsoon rains that usually put a damper on the use of fire to clear land for agriculture." That means more pollution, which means more deaths '-- as many as 15,000 more in El Nino years, according to the report.
In the U.S., the weather event didn't take quite as much of a toll. According to the Weather Underground, El Nino mostly just caused excessive rainfall in North America:
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In the U.S., the most significant manifestation of the El Ni±o were the record rainfalls in California during the water season of 1997-1998. Santa Barbara received 21.74'' of precipitation in February alone contributing to its wettest water season on record (July 1-June 30) with a 46.99'' total. Other California cities that reported their wettest season on record included Bakersfield (14.66''), Fort Bragg (79.13''), Monterey (47.12''), and Santa Maria (32.56'').
As a result of the environmental tumult, 1998 was one of the hottest years to date.
What about the 2014 El Nino?If we do see an El Nino event in 2014, it's not totally clear what that would mean for the U.S. The Midwest could see a cooler than usual'-- or warmer than usual '--summer depending on when the weather event hits, reports CBS Chicago:
According to the National Weather Service, the region has an ''enhanced chance'' for below normal temperatures from June through August. An El Nino episode is developing in the tropical Pacific, and this tends to favor cooler conditions in the summer here. Timing is the key: If El Nino conditions set up soon, then cooler temperatures are possible. However, if it arrives later there is an equal chance of warmer than average temperatures as well.
Summer weather aside, an El Nino this year could actually be a good thing for the U.S., per the Weather Underground:
Researchers have found that instances of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes are usually reduced during an El Ni±o year. Based on the current model data, it appears that El Ni±o could develop near the height of the Atlantic hurricane season '-- potentially inhibiting some tropical development... If El Ni±o develops, beneficial rains could bring much-needed relief to some drought-stricken areas, most notably California. During El Ni±o, winters in parts of California are sometimes wetter than normal. But, before the beneficial rains arrive, Californians would likely have to endure a grueling drought through the spring and summer.
In other parts of the world, like Indonesia, an El Nino could mean an unwelcome dry spell. Beyond that, we'll have to wait and see.
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/05/el-nino-2014-refresher/371188/
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Natural PhenomenaNature & EnvironmentEl Nino
More sea turtles will be born female as climate warms, study shows.
Tue, 20 May 2014 08:02
Hotter sands triggered by a warming climate could cause greater numbers of sea turtles to be born female, increasing the reptiles' numbers in the short term, research shows.
But the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, warns that once the sands in which sea turtle eggs incubate grow too warm, the population could become entirely female, risking the animal's extinction.
''Sea turtles are unusual in that the gender of the offspring is not driven by sex chromosomes, as in humans,'' said Professor Graeme Hays, one of the lead authors of the study.
Instead, a sea turtle's sex is determined by the temperature of the sand in which the female turtle buries her eggs.
''The logic is that warming temperatures will lead to more female hatchlings being produced, because the females are produced at the warmer temperatures,'' Hays said.
Sand temperature depends strongly on its colour, Hays said. ''The darker the sand, the more heat it absorbs from sunlight. So blacker sand would be much warmer than lighter coloured sand.''
At the ''pivotal temperature'', 29C, the gender ratio of turtle hatchling is approximately 50:50. The ratio is upset as the sand temperature increases, until it reaches around 31C. Sand that hot will ''almost exclusively produce female hatchlings'', Hays said.
Similarly, sand at 28C will likely produce only males.
The study, carried out on a loggerhead turtle rookery in Cape Verde, in the Atlantic Ocean, modelled the likely impact of unchecked temperature increases over the next 150 years.
''Over the next 20 to 30 years, it's not going to create problems,'' Hays said. ''In fact there's going to be a benefit to the turtles, because there's going to be more females produced, which means more females laying eggs. More females will lead to a population expansion.
''But ultimately, if you extrapolate long enough into the future '... once you get 100 years or more into the future, then things start to look serious. You have so few males left that it's likely to be a problem. There will be heaps of female but not enough males to fertilise all those eggs.''
It is possible the hardy reptile could adjust by laying its eggs in a cooler season or shifting to a colder part of the world, Hays added. Humans could adjust too, by avoiding the development of hotels and resorts on lighter beaches. "They're going to be the most important ones to protect,'' he said.
Other reptiles whose sex relies on temperature, including alligators, crocodiles and many species of lizard, could be exposed to the same process.
Pat Sajak: ''global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists''
Wed, 21 May 2014 00:03
(Wheel of Fortune on YouTube)
Here's one puzzle from Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak I doubt anyone can solve: Why in the world he said this:
Sajak voices strongly held views about weather and climate on Twitter frequently, reports Huffington Post Green
He obviously missed my post calling for more constructive climate change discussions:
But a plea: let's debate this issue constructively and avoid name-calling.
Deep-six the term ''denier'' and abandon ''alarmist''. Let's get ''warmist'' out of the way, too.
Erdogan visit brings Turkey's divisions to streets of Cologne.
Sun, 25 May 2014 04:45
By Alexandra Hudson
BERLINFri May 23, 2014 7:34am EDT
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the opening ceremony of Ford Otosan Yenikoy car plant in in Kocaeli May 22, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer
BERLIN (Reuters) - A visit by Tayyip Erdogan to Cologne on Saturday to address thousands of expatriate Turks threatens to bring Turkey's political tensions to German streets, despite an appeal by Chancellor Angela Merkel for him to adopt a sensitive tone.
Some German lawmakers are concerned by what they see as Erdogan's inflammatory language and authoritarian behavior in dealing with demonstrations and in handling a corruption scandal that touched on former ministers. His expected candidacy in August presidential elections could further raise passions.
Erdogan typically addresses a mass audience of expatriate Turks when visiting Germany. They are rousing patriotic affairs with thousands waving the Turkish flag. In 2008 he caused uproar by warning Germany's largest minority against assimilation.
At least 16,000 supporters are expected at the 10th anniversary of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD).
The event also falls a year after anti-government protests swept the country, fired largely by a violent police crackdown on a small demonstration against development of a city park. Erdogan has denounced protesters variously as vandals, terrorists and anarchists.
As many as 30,000 anti-Erdogan protesters are due to gather nearby on Saturday, as well as a German far-right party, leading Yeni Safak, a pro-Erdogan paper in Turkey to warn on its front page on Friday of a "trap". Berlin, it suggested, wanted to hold Erdogan responsible for stirring trouble.
Critics in Germany say it is insensitive to give such a speech 11 days after Turkey suffered its worst ever mining accident, in which 301 miners died.
They also oppose giving Erdogan a platform when there is deep doubt in Europe about the direction Ankara is taking - two months before he is expected to stand for a presidency he aspires to turn from a largely figurehead role to that of a strong executive head of state.
Erdogan, for his part, portrays his government as fighting an international conspiracy to undermine Turkey as an emerging power in the region. His outspoken manner constitutes part of his appeal in his conservative Anatolian heartland.
Merkel told the Saarbruecker Zeitung paper in an interview published on Friday: "I assume he knows how sensitive this event is, especially this time, and that he will act responsibly."
But she acknowledged Berlin was "concerned about some developments in Turkey, such as actions against demonstrators, attacks on social networks and the situation for Christians".
The two leaders spoke by telephone on Thursday, Merkel's office said, with Erdogan, by far the most popular politician in Turkey, outlining plans for his visit.
"You can hope that Erdogan will be sensitive but you cannot expect it," said Gokay Sofuoglu, co-leader of the Turkish Community in Germany organization, noting that people were very divided about the visit. "He will use the event to win votes."
"Anybody who knows him also knows that whether it be loss of life, or corruption allegations, he always manages to twist events to boost his own support," he said.
Last month, when German President Joachim Gauck criticized Erdogan's leadership style and curbs on civil liberties, the Turkish premier responded: "Keep your advice to yourself."
The UETD says their anniversary event will be somber in tone to reflect mourning for the miners and it is unrelated to the presidential poll. But critics feel Erdogan's very appearance in Germany is inevitably an appeal for support from expatriate Turks, significant voters after changes to the electoral system.
Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany and 1.4 million Turkish citizens can vote, a number equivalent to the electorate of Turkey's fifth largest city Adana, according to the Institute of Turkish Studies and Integration (ZfTI).
Under previous rules, expats could only vote at Turkey's borders. Around 62 percent of those who did in 2011 backed Erdogan's AK Party, but few of those eligible voted.
Erdogan, in power for more than a decade, has weathered a bitter power struggle with an influential Islamic preacher, as well the graft scandal he says was engineered to undermine him. Most recently he was accused by critics of insensitivity in denouncing protests over the mining disaster.
His two-week closure of social networking site Twitter and a block on access to video-sharing platform YouTube earlier this year drew condemnation around the world, yet he remains hugely popular among Turkey's poorer and more religious voters.
"We want to show Erdogan that he has more opponents in Germany than supporters and that here we can demonstrate, unlike in Turkey. We want him to see there is a democratic culture here, and he is undemocratic," said Yilmaz Karaman, a spokesman for Germany's Alevi Community who are organizing the protest.
Alevis are a religious minority in mainly Sunni Muslim Turkey who espouse a liberal version of Islam and have often been at odds with Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government.
Events in Turkey in recent years have shocked a diaspora whose divisions mirror those at home.
"Erdogan has really taken Turkey places. People should be grateful. Of course he has a temper. But calling him a dictator is ridiculous. He works and works for our country," said 70-year-old Hasan Oz, a retired machine operator living in Germany for 45 years. He plans to vote for Erdogan as president.
But a friend sitting with him at a street cafe in Berlin, who declined to give his name, thought differently.
"Erdogan did a good thing in curbing the military and the economic strength is very admirable. But during the last years the balance between economic reforms and democratic reforms got lost, and now people's freedoms are being restricted."
(Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Editing by Stephen Brown)
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Kurdish government in Iraq says its oil has left a Turkish port for Europe
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:32
ERBIL, Iraq, May 23 (UPI) --A tanker full of crude oil from the Kurdish region of Iraq left a Turkish port bound for European markets, the Kurdistan Regional Government said Friday."A tanker loaded with over one million barrels of crude oil departed last night from Ceyhan towards Europe," the semiautonomous KRG said in a statement. "This is the first of many such sales of oil exported through the newly constructed pipeline in the Kurdistan region."
A pipeline from the Kurdish north is sending oil to storage tanks in Ceyhan, a Turkish sea port. Exports of Kurdish oil, however, had been on hold because of the lingering stalemate between the Kurdish and central governments over who controls what in the Iraqi energy sector.
KRG said it was operating according to rules spelled out in the Iraqi Constitution and invited outsiders to observe the sales in an effort to highlight its commitment to transparency.
The Kurdish government says it has a legal right to export and sell its oil independent from Iraqi state-owned enterprises, but stressed its commitment to negotiate in good faith to find a compromise solution to oil issues in the country.
The central government in Baghdad says unilateral and independent operations in the Kurdish oil sector are illegal.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
400 mines across Turkey ready 'to explode,' expert says
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:56
Erdin§ ‡elikkanZONGULDAK
Rescuers wait in front of the coal mine after a mine explosion in Soma, May 16. REUTERS / Osman Orsal
Some 400 mining facilities across Turkey pose massive safety risks, Mehmet Torun, a former head of the Chamber of Mining Engineers, said at a coal mining congress in the wake of the Soma disaster that took at least 301 lives.Other participants at the event in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, the heart of coal mining in Turkey, highlighted further risks and concerns about Turkey's planned nuclear plants.
''There 400 mines ready to explode across Turkey,'' Torun said.
''It has been more than one week since the Soma [disaster]. What has changed? What are the regulations to come out? They have asked nobody's opinions,'' he said while criticizing the lack of civil contribution to a mining draft law in the pipeline.
Erdoğan Kaymak§Ä±, deputy head of the mining engineering department at B¼lent Ecevit University, said at the same event that officials and companies had failed to observe the coming disaster in Soma.
''The heating-up process, which can be called the brooding phase, was not tracked in Soma. No one can call this disaster 'fate,''' he said, referring to the high heat levels of coal before the accident and the prime minister's propensity for describing mining deaths as ''natural'' and part of ''fate.''
The current head of the Mining Engineers Chamber, Ayhan Y¼ksel, also highlighted the risks of planned nuclear plants in Turkey in an environment of poor inspection.
''The government has been embarking on a new adventure recently. It is the nuclear plant. It is not logical to take such a foreign-dependent move before making the total use of our coal,'' he said, recalling the ''nuclear despair'' of Japan after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
The chamber chairman also criticized hastily prepared mining draft, which according to him, has not considered lessons from the May 13 Soma disaster. ''These changes will not solve the problems of both Soma and the sector,'' he said.
Other participants underlined the lack of rescue chambers which could keep miners trapped underground safe for days, the subcontractor-based business model, poor inspections and an absence of emergency plans.
Evidence mounts of criminal negligence in Turkish mine disaster
Wed, 21 May 2014 11:58
By Jerry White21 May 2014More than a week after the disaster that killed 301 coal miners in western Turkey, evidence continues to emerge of criminal negligence of the Soma mine owners and top officials in the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
While feigning sympathy for victims and their families and ordering the arrest of several managers and engineers at the mine'--not including chief executive Alp Gurkan'--the government is working to conceal the causes of the worst mining and industrial disaster in Turkish history and protect those responsible.
Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has spearheaded the drive to privatize and deregulate coal mining and other industries to strengthen the country's bid to enter the European Union and satisfy the demands of the IMF. After the Soma mine was privatized in 2005, Gurkan waged a brutal cost-cutting campaign'--with the blessing of the AKP government'--sacrificing the lives of miners to boost profits.
Nearly 2,000 university students, some wearing hard-hats, called on the government to resign Monday in the capital, Ankara, where Erdoğan gave a speech to commemorate Turkey's war of independence in 1919. In the past few days, the government has responded to popular opposition with a violent crackdown in Soma and Turkey's three largest cities'--Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The intent is to send a signal to international investors that Turkey will remain a cheap labor platform.
The Hurriyet Daily News, HaberTurk and other Turkish newspapers reported Monday that prosecutors and inspectors had confiscated data indicating that sensors showed dangerously high levels of toxic gas in the mine for days before the May 13 disaster. Company officials did not record the high levels in logbooks or take precautionary measures. Several survivors confirmed this, telling the Associated Press that supervisors ignored rising gas levels.
Higher heat readings were also recorded'--a sign of an ongoing fire and the danger of an imminent methane gas or coal dust explosion. However, company officials continued to operate the mine, according to the report.
Prosecutor Bekir Şahiner said Saturday a preliminary report indicated that coal had been smoldering days before the disaster, causing the roof to collapse in one part of the mine and unleashing poisonous gases throughout the mine. On Monday, he said the fire had not been caused by an explosion in a power distribution unit, as originally announced, but was due to the collapse of burning coal.
The fire started at 3:10 p.m. on May 13, but firefighters were called 57 minutes after this, while the emergency line was called 63 minutes late, according to data collected by prosecutors.
The miners were trapped 400 meters (1,312 feet) underground as the electricity powering mine elevators to the surface failed. The miners' gas masks reportedly only worked for 45 minutes, indicating that the delay in the call for help was a fatal. In addition, some of the masks did not work. Most of the victims were said to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
More information has come to light about the brutal conditions faced by miners, whose average monthly wage was just 1,200 Turkish Lira ('‚¬420 or US$575). On Tuesday the Guardian posted an interview with a miner who has worked at the Soma pit for nine years. Using the pseudonym Veli Yilmaz to protect himself from retribution, he said
the miners work in a climate of fear and intimidation, with regular punishments and fines used to control behavior.
''The owners and the authorities collude in staged safety inspections, the workforce is told how to vote and the drive for profit overrides elementary safety concerns, according to the miner's account,'' the Guardian wrote.
Quoting the miner, it continued, ''Work safety? There is no work safety. They cut corners wherever they can. The foremen receive a bonus if we produce more coal than planned. So all they worry about is working faster and extracting more coal.''
Yilmaz said inspections are announced weeks in advance so the company can correct obvious violations, cover up poor working conditions, and pass the tests. ''We always prepared for these visits, cleaning everything, temporarily closing dangerous shafts, hiding faulty machines. In our mine, we are not allowed to use diesel-fuelled machinery. These machines were hidden away for the inspections. We were also instructed to tell them that everything was just fine, that we were happy,'' the Guardian quoted the miner saying.
The miner said after the disaster, the company forbade workers from speaking to journalists and outsiders about anything concerning the mines. ''We are just workers. Expendable. Those who get fired won't be able to find work in a mine in Soma again. I have many friends who are unemployed because of this. There are no jobs left outside the pits. It's all we have.''
Any ''inquiry'' by the government will be a whitewash. The company and the government are no doubt counting on the economic fears'--9,000 out of 10,000 miners in Soma reportedly have debts to pay'--to intimidate workers and limit the exposure of conditions at the mine. Der Spiegel reported that many women in nearby rural areas who lost their husbands in the Soma mine disaster will have no choice but to work in the fields as day laborers to feed their children. The German magazine reported from Elmadere, a remote village in the mountainous Soma district, where at least one male member of every local family in the impoverished town of just 120 houses, work in the mines, including many who started as soon as they turned 18.
All that was left of Asli Yildirim's husband was a blue garbage bag filled with his smoke-filled clothing and his work boots that was delivered to her door. When the governor of the neighboring province of Izmir came for a photo-op he had to be protected from angry residents by police.
Angry Elmadere residents denounced him, with one saying, ''We won't remain silent any longer. You can only get away with this because we never say anything. Because we're poor and weak. But Erdogan will pay for this.''
Soma Holding's attempt to force 3,200 miners back underground Tuesday at its three mines'--including the cite of the disaster'--provoked widespread anger, forcing the main miners union in Soma to call on workers to put down their tools until all sites were inspected. Other mining facilities in the region have also told miners to return to work.
''We want mining affairs directorate inspectors to carry out inspections and we will walk out until this has been done,'' Tamer K¼§¼kgencay, the regional head of the Maden-İş mineworkers union, told reporters.
''After the press meeting, K¼§¼kgencay himself faced reactions from some angry local protesters, and he was forced to take shelter in the town hall,'' Hurriyet reported.
A group of striking miners'--from the Işıklar and Ata Bacası coal mines, both of which are also managed by the Soma Coal Mining Company'--interrupted the press conference in front of the Soma Governor's Office. The miners stated that working conditions at their mines are much worse than those in the mine where the disaster occurred and declared that they would not enter the mines until working conditions improved.
Arif Karabaca, a miner who quit working at Ä°mbat mine coal mine near Soma, said a catastrophe could occur where he used to work. Karabaca said his former mine, which employs 6,500 workers, is filled with poisonous gas that spread there from the mine in Soma. Another disaster could happen, he said, if the necessary precautions are not taken.
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Turkey is pressing to be included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Wed, 21 May 2014 08:41
Turkey would find it very hard to continue in a customs union with Europe if the country is excluded from a free trade deal with the United States, but quitting the union is not an option, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said May 15.Turkey is pressing to be included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the United States and the European Union, which would cut tariffs and harmonize regulations in the world's biggest economic blocs.Under Turkey's current customs agreement with the European Union, the TTIP would also give the United States automatic access to Turkish markets, but Turkey's exports would not see the same reciprocal benefit.''In that case, to continue in the customs union would be very difficult,'' Zeybekci said during a visit to Washington, where he met with U.S. trade officials. A World Bank study found Turkey could gain $130 million if it were included in the TTIP but could lose up to $160 million in a one-way arrangement to drop duties on U.S. imports.But Zeybekci stressed Turkey was optimistic that its customs agreement with the EU would be upgraded to allow automatic access to any third-party trade agreements and said dropping out of the union would be like cutting off an arm.''I don't think of this as an option,'' he told Reuters. The next talks with the EU on the customs agreement are scheduled for June, he told a Brookings Institute event. The EU wants to add services, agriculture and public procurement to the deal. Hurriyet Dailyq
Turkey- mining disaster town Soma under lockdown with commando deployment
Mon, 19 May 2014 07:28
Banu Şen - Turan G¼ltekinMANÄ°SA - H¼rriyet
Turkish lawyers that came to support the miners' families chant slogans as they are escorted away by police after they were detained in Soma, May 17. AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis
Soma was under complete lockdown on May 18, after police and gendarmerie forces set up checkpoints on the main roads connecting to the town in the wake of protests over the mining accident that has claimed 301 lives.Security forces deployed in the surroundings of Soma were reinforced by commando troops dispatched from garrisons in Istanbul, Ankara, Ä°zmir and Denizli.
Only officials, rescuers, some journalists and relatives of miners are allowed to pass through the checkpoints set up 30 kilometers from the disaster-struck mine. Buses and private cars have all been halted and checked.
Protests, marches and demonstrations were banned after tension rose due to anger against the authorities following the disaster. The Manisa Governor's Office has claimed that most of the protesters came from outside Soma and described the protests as ''provocative.''
Eight lawyers who tried to access the town were detained on May 17, including Progressive Lawyers Association (‡HD) head Sel§uk Kozağa§lı. An image showing Kozağa§lı's arm in a bandage circulated on social media after his detention, with claims that his arm was broken as the result of a beating inflicted by the police.
F-Russia / Ukraine
'Cyber-attack' on Ukraine's election system may force 'manual vote count'
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:57
Election commission workers prepare the poling station for the upcoming presidential election in Kiev, May 24, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)
Ukraine's Security Service claims that it has removed a virus at the Central Election Commission's server, designed to delete the results of the presidential vote. According to the interior minister the cyber-attack may force a 'manual vote count.'
''The virus has been eliminated, software is replaced. So, we now have the confidence that the Central Election Commission's server is safe,'' Valentin Nalivaychenko, SBU head, is cited by UNN news agency. He is cited as saying that the virus was meant to destroy the results of presidential election on May 25.
However the CEC programmers may not be able to fix the system in time for the elections, coup-installed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on his website.
''On May 22 unknown intruders destroyed the 'Elections' information-analytical system of the Central Elections Commission, including those of the regional election commissions.''
''Criminal negligence of some of the CEC officials led to a very late reporting of this issue to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security Service,'' Avakov wrote. As a result, ''programmers so far failed to fix the CEC equipment,'' the minister said announcing that fixing the problem in time for the vote count is ''impossible.''
Avakov assured this is not a ''catastrophe'' and said that counting may be done manually, claiming this way Ukraine will have ''more reliable results.''
At the same time, Nalivaychenko did not mention any intruders but claimed the harmful program was''illegally''installed on the server under the previous government of President Viktor Yanukovich, who was overthrown via an armed coup in February.
On Friday, UNN reported about a hacker attack, which made the Central Election Commission's website inoperable for several hours.
The agency's ''informed source'' claimed the perpetrators tried to steal data for the Commission's sever and thereby disrupt the Sunday's election.
However, the source failed to clarify how the information theft could affect the vote, saying that the lost data has to be analyzed first.
A members of the election comission mops the floor of a pooling station ahead of the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election at the Octyabr village in the Donetsk region on May 22, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)
Just hours before the election, Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs has admitted that it cannot ensure the security of the elections in several cities in the Donetsk region, according to the deputy Minister of the Central Election Commission.
''Security cannot be ensured in Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Krasniy Liman and Grushivka,'' Sergey Yarovoy said, adding that the ministry established special operational headquarters to coordinate security issues with the CEC. Contact information of these Ministry of Internal Affairs' centers has been provided to foreign observers due to cover elections in east Ukraine, Yarovoy says.
Earlier Vladimir Grinyak, the head of the Department of Public Safety in the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs acknowledged that only 17 out of 34 district election commissions in Donetsk and Lugansk regions are ready for polls.
''I think that 5 percent will still vote and 10 percent of the votes will be lost,'' the head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine Aleksandr Chernenko said. During the last presidential race in 2010, in Donetsk region 2,510 polling stations were active and handled 2.69 million voters. In Lugansk region, 1483 polling stations processed votes from 1.39 million people.
The two regions combined constitute roughly 14 percent of Ukraine's eligible voters. At the same time in the other 12 regions of Ukraine the polling stations ''have been secured'' ahead of the vote, Grinyak added.
Twenty-one candidates will take part in the early presidential election in Ukraine, scheduled for Sunday, May 25. According to opinion polls, oligarch Petr Poroshenko enters the vote as favorite on 28 per cent, followed by ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on 9.5 per cent.
The country's Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which rebelled against the coup imposed authorities and held independence referendums, declared they won't be participating in the vote.
South Stream Launch Allows to Avoid Russian Gas Transit Via Ukraine - Medvedev
Fri, 23 May 2014 11:22
MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - The Nord Stream gas pipeline is one of the guarantees of reliable Russian gas delivery to Europe and if the South Stream is launched, then deliveries will no longer depend on the situation in Ukraine, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.
''I would like to draw your attention to the fact that one of the guarantees for Europeans that everything remains normalized and that everything is in order is the presence of the North Stream [gas pipeline], the so-called Nord Stream. If we can in the next few years launch the South Stream, then, strictly speaking, [gas] transit through Ukraine will simply not be needed, though we understand that this is needed for Ukraine itself,'' Medvedev said during an interview with Bloomberg.
The Russian Prime Minister stressed that the launch of the South Stream will guarantee regular gas supplies to Europe if the situation at the Ukrainian market stabilizes and the country meets its commitments.
In 2012 the construction of the South Stream pipeline began near the Russian city of Anapa. The aim of the 15.5-billion-euro project is to cut Russia's dependence on the Ukrainian transit system and diversify Russian gas deliveries to Europe.
Commercial deliveries through this pipeline to Europe are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016, with the pipeline becoming fully operational in 2018.
Russia annually pumps about 100 billion cubic meters of gas to European countries via Ukraine, which makes up 80 percent of its total gas supplies to Europe.
Victoria Nuland Accused Of Meeting With Neofascists In Washington | FDL News Desk
Fri, 23 May 2014 13:29
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland
In an interview with Bloomberg News Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland had meetings with the Ukrainian neofascist group Right Sector in Washington DC. The Right Sector has been involved in numerous killings including the burning of pro-Russian supporters in Odessa.''The other thing to which I wanted to get response from Washington was these reports about the secret visit of the Right Sector coordinator (Andrei) Artyomenko to Washington for alleged meetings with Victoria Nuland. And we want answers to these questions because it's too serious to manipulate events in Europe across the Atlantic. It's not a remote-control game. It's very serious for us.'' Lavrov said.
Whether Nuland met with Artyomenko or any other representative of the Right Sector to help with fundraising and support is unknown. What is known is that the US is supporting the gang in Kiev's ''interim government'' which includes Svoboda an openly neofascist party which aligns itself historically and currently with the principles of Hitler's Nazi party.
Lavrov also said he questioned US officials over claims made in the German press concerning the employment of mercenaries from companies such as Greystone and Academi (formerly Blackwater) in Ukraine. Lavrov said US officials never explicitly denied the charge but instead made counter-charges.
Today it has been reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops performing maneuvers on the Ukrainian border back to their permanent bases. Whether the troops will actually leave or stay back at base for long is unknown especially with the Ukrainian presidential elections still scheduled for May 25th.
Georgia, Moldova, to sign key EU pact on June 27
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:50
Georgia will sign a key trade and political pact with the European Union in Brussels on June 27, at the same time with Moldova. This was reconfirmed today by Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, at a press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
The two signed today a financing agreement. It will help a number of core Georgian institutions central for implementing the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), and the Visa Liberalisation and Readmission Agreements. Through this programme, which will be carried out over five years, the European Union will allocate up to '‚¬19 million to following Georgian institutions: Public Service Development Agency, National Food Agency, Georgian Agency for Standards and Metrology, Georgian Accreditation Centre, Parliament of Georgia, Public Defender's Office and the State Audit Office to support the legislative alignment process to EU standards and the provisions of the Association Agreement. Georgia will contribute '‚¬550 000 to this programme.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy had already visited Tbilisi on 14 May, making a similar statement and calling the signing of an Association Agreement with Georgia an "important milestone."
The pact with both Georgia and Moldova was agreed in principle in November at an Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. Following Georgian and Moldovan ratification of the Association Agreement, provisional application could start by 1 October 2014.
The EU assistance to Georgia amounted to '‚¬452 million from 2007 - 2013. Georgia is an important transit country for the gas and oil from Azerbaijan, and the European Commission welcomed the intention of Georgia to accede to the Energy Community Treaty.
Both Georgia and Moldova are feeling the consequences of the Ukraine crisis. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said last week in a report that Ukraine's crisis is having a negative impact not only on the Ukrainian and Russian economies, but also across much of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The geopolitical situation is making foreign investment in the region appear riskier and also is reducing the demand for exports.
In Warsaw on May 14, at the bank's annual board meeting, EBRD economists forecast that Ukraine will slump into deep recession this year and that sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis will contribute to economic stagnation there. But the EBRD also is downgraded its growth forecasts for Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
Moldova had an 8.9 percent growth rate in 2013. But the EBRD now predicts growth will slow to 2 percent in 2014.
Armenia's growth forecast for 2014 has been downgraded from 3.5 percent in 2013 to about 3 percent for 2014.
Azerbaijan saw growth of 5.8 percent in 2013. But oil production fell at the start of 2014. The EBRD says even if oil production manages to rebound, growth for 2014 will be about 3.5 percent.
In Georgia, despite an expected export boost from the signing of a EU Association Agreement in June, the growth forecast has been reduced to 4 percent for 2014 and 2015 due to lower regional export demand in connection with the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Georgia, Moldova, to sign key EU pact on June 27
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:50
Georgia will sign a key trade and political pact with the European Union in Brussels on June 27, at the same time with Moldova. This was reconfirmed today by Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, at a press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
The two signed today a financing agreement. It will help a number of core Georgian institutions central for implementing the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), and the Visa Liberalisation and Readmission Agreements. Through this programme, which will be carried out over five years, the European Union will allocate up to '‚¬19 million to following Georgian institutions: Public Service Development Agency, National Food Agency, Georgian Agency for Standards and Metrology, Georgian Accreditation Centre, Parliament of Georgia, Public Defender's Office and the State Audit Office to support the legislative alignment process to EU standards and the provisions of the Association Agreement. Georgia will contribute '‚¬550 000 to this programme.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy had already visited Tbilisi on 14 May, making a similar statement and calling the signing of an Association Agreement with Georgia an "important milestone."
The pact with both Georgia and Moldova was agreed in principle in November at an Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. Following Georgian and Moldovan ratification of the Association Agreement, provisional application could start by 1 October 2014.
The EU assistance to Georgia amounted to '‚¬452 million from 2007 - 2013. Georgia is an important transit country for the gas and oil from Azerbaijan, and the European Commission welcomed the intention of Georgia to accede to the Energy Community Treaty.
Both Georgia and Moldova are feeling the consequences of the Ukraine crisis. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said last week in a report that Ukraine's crisis is having a negative impact not only on the Ukrainian and Russian economies, but also across much of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The geopolitical situation is making foreign investment in the region appear riskier and also is reducing the demand for exports.
In Warsaw on May 14, at the bank's annual board meeting, EBRD economists forecast that Ukraine will slump into deep recession this year and that sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis will contribute to economic stagnation there. But the EBRD also is downgraded its growth forecasts for Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
Moldova had an 8.9 percent growth rate in 2013. But the EBRD now predicts growth will slow to 2 percent in 2014.
Armenia's growth forecast for 2014 has been downgraded from 3.5 percent in 2013 to about 3 percent for 2014.
Azerbaijan saw growth of 5.8 percent in 2013. But oil production fell at the start of 2014. The EBRD says even if oil production manages to rebound, growth for 2014 will be about 3.5 percent.
In Georgia, despite an expected export boost from the signing of a EU Association Agreement in June, the growth forecast has been reduced to 4 percent for 2014 and 2015 due to lower regional export demand in connection with the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Russia, China veto UN move to refer Syria to ICC
Fri, 23 May 2014 18:00
UNITED NATIONS (AP) '-- Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes, prompting angry responses from the proposal's supporters who said the two countries should be ashamed.
This is the fourth time Russia and China have used their veto power as permanent council members to deflect action against the government of President Bashar Assad. The 13 other council members voted in favor of the resolution.
More than 60 countries signed on to support the French-drafted measure, in a dramatic demonstration of international backing for justice in the conflict which has sent millions fleeing and killed more than 160,000, according to activists.
The resolution would have referred Syria's crisis, now in its fourth year, to the world's permanent war crimes tribunal for investigation of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, without specifically targeting either the government or the opposition.
Before the vote, French Ambassador Gerard Araud warned, "A veto would cover up all crimes. It would be vetoing justice."
But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin walked into the council meeting with a smile, telling reporters, "I'm going to be boringly predictable."
Churkin, who had called the vote a French "publicity stunt" that would hurt efforts to find a political solution to a crisis, lashed out at France again on Thursday. He asked why France was damaging the unity of the five veto-wielding permanent members, who had agreed on earlier resolutions to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons and on improving delivery of humanitarian aid.
"Is it just to try once again to create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict?" Churkin asked.
China's deputy U.N. ambassador Wang Min added that a referral to the ICC won't lead to an early resumption of peace talks.
Frustration has soared as the international community struggles to find a solution to the war, deliver humanitarian aid to almost 3.5 million Syrians in need and end impunity for horrific crimes. Attempts at peace talks are at a standstill, leading the joint U.N.-Arab league envoy who tried to broker them to resign.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power had her speech ready for the promised veto. "Sadly, because of the decision by the Russian Federation to back the Syrian regime no matter what it does, the Syrian people will not see justice today," she said.
The resolution would have condemned the "widespread violation" of human rights and international humanitarian law by Syrian authorities and pro-government militias as well as abuses by "non-state armed groups" during the last three years. It would have authorized the ICC to investigate "the situation in Syria," without targeting either side.
"It is to Russia and China's shame that they have chosen to block efforts to achieve justice for the Syrian people," said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
The Security Council has been deeply divided over Syria, with Syrian allies Russia and China at odds with the U.S., its Western allies and other members who support the opposition.
"Russia and China's vote for continued impunity is a disgrace of historic proportion," said Richard Dicker, director of international justice at Human Rights Watch. The opposition Syrian Coalition also called the vetoes a "disgrace."
Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, so the only way it can be referred to The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal is by the Security Council.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari who lobbied countries not to support the resolution, told the council that it was based on "nothing but mendacious allegations and fabricated lies."
Power brought a Syrian activist who survived an August 2013 chemical weapons attack to the council. She told her fellow diplomats that because of the vetoes, Qusai Zakariya will not be able to testify before the ICC about his ordeal.
Zakariya he walked out before Churkin and Ja'afari addressed the council.
"I couldn't just stay there and hear all those lies," he told The Associated Press.
The U.S., Britain and France vowed to keep pursing justice despite Thursday's defeat.
France's Araud said Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan are working on a draft resolution that would "further" the Syria humanitarian resolution approved earlier this year, which has largely failed to get aid to millions in need.
Araud later told reporters in an admission of frustration: "There is a moment you feel powerless ... in front of barbarians and their supporters."
Billion-dollar medical project helped fund 'Putin's palace-- on the Black Sea
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:01
Billion-dollar medical project helped fund ''Putin's palace'' on the Black Sea THE LEADER: President Vladimir Putin, here in the Kremlin in late March, stabilised Russia's economy and re-established its regional power. But corruption remains widespread. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/KremlinTwo associates of President Vladimir Putin profited from a state scheme to buy expensive medical equipment - and sent money to Swiss bank accounts linked to a property known as ''Putin's palace''
MOSCOW - In 2005, President Vladimir Putin personally ordered up a vast programme to improve Russia's poor healthcare facilities. Five years later, authorities found that suppliers were charging some hospitals two or even three times too much for vital gear such as high-tech medical scanners.
Dmitry Medvedev, serving as Putin's hand-picked successor at the time, went on national television to denounce the alleged scam. The perpetrators, he said, had engaged in ''absolutely cynical, loutish theft of state money.'' Medvedev instructed Russia's top law enforcement agencies to make sure that ''everyone who participated in this is seriously and sternly punished.''
Suspects were rounded up in far-flung places, and in 2012 the police ministry said 104 people had been charged in connection with overpriced scanners. Several local officials and business executives were convicted of fraud and sent to prison.
But a Reuters investigation has found that two wealthy associates of Putin engaged in the same profiteering and suffered no penalty.
They sold medical equipment for at least $195 million to Russia and sent a total of $84 million in proceeds to Swiss bank accounts, according to bank records reviewed by Reuters. The records also indicate that at least 35 million euros ($48 million) from those accounts were funnelled to a company that then helped construct a luxury property near the Black Sea known as ''Putin's palace'' - a nickname earned after a businessman alleged that the estate was built for Putin. The Russian leader has denied any connection to the property.
These findings are part of a Reuters investigation into how associates of the Kremlin profit from state contracts in the Putin era. This and a later article examine what became of the president's grand hospital undertaking. Another story, drawing on a confidential database of Russian bank records, will explore billions of dollars in spending on state railway contracts.
The wealth of Putin's comrades has come under global scrutiny amid sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe on the president's associates over the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia has been renowned for graft since the Soviet Union fell a generation ago. Under the first post-Soviet leader, Boris Yeltsin, ''oligarchs'' gained control of state-owned industries and grew fabulously wealthy. Those wild days are long over.
Yeltsin's successor, Putin, has restored much of the nation's most lucrative industries, such as oil and gas, to state control. Many citizens feel Putin's Russia is a vast improvement from the chaos of the Yeltsin era. Putin, a former KGB officer, has brought order. Rising oil prices have driven growth. Russia's economy has more than doubled on his watch, measured by income per head.
But corruption remains a deep-seated problem. The path to wealth today, say independent economists, lies not in seizing government assets but in tapping the vast flow of business the state does with the private sector.
''The current system in Russia is based not on corruption in the traditional sense, but on a complete merger of public service and private business interests,'' said economist Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Institute for Post-Industrial Studies, a think tank in Moscow.
One reason the well-connected can game the state contracting system: In Russia, doing so may be perfectly legal.
Lax rules, poorly enforced, make it possible for state entities to give contracts to companies that do not disclose their owners or have no presence at their registered address. Russian legislation doesn't expressly forbid collusion or ownership affiliations between competitors in public tenders. It is in this grey zone, more so than in outright theft, that graft flourishes in Putin's Russia.
Faced with widespread suspicion that sleaze remains rampant, Putin has responded by declaring war on corruption. In November, he said: ''We will tear out this infection from its roots.'' In December, he ordered the creation of a ''counter-corruption directorate,'' according to a Kremlin announcement.
Opponents of Putin have been levelling charges of cronyism and favouritism against him for years. What they haven't done is detail how the president's associates actually extract money from the government.
Money Flows to the Black Sea
In the hospital project, significant sums ended up in the hands of intermediaries with links to Putin: profits that could have provided additional facilities or badly needed services in Russia.
The two associates of Putin who supplied medical equipment acted as middlemen in deals with the Russian state worth at least $195 million. They made profits by buying high-tech medical equipment through a British company they controlled and selling it on to Russia at much higher prices - sometimes double the market rate.
Much of the equipment came from the German multinational Siemens AG. Siemens sold its products to the British company, which then sold the equipment on to Russia '' and some of those imports fetched prices at or above those described by Medvedev as ''cynical, loutish theft.''
PROJECT HEALTH: Putin visits a new heart hospital in Penza in 2008. The hospital was part of Moscow's push to spend more on health and education. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Healthcare, Putin himself has said, is one of the most pressing issues facing post-Soviet Russia.
Life expectancy at birth plunged after the fall of the Soviet Union, hitting 65 in 2002 '' down from 69 in 1989. Though it recovered to 69 in 2011, according to World Bank figures, it remains well below Western nations such as Britain and the United States, where life expectancies were 81 and 79 that year. Since Putin came to power, Russia's population has declined to 143 million from 147 million.
Putin saw the need for improvements. In 2005, then in his second term as president, he initiated plans to spend $1 billion to build and equip 15 high-tech hospitals across Russia. His National Project Health was one of several efforts he said were vital to lift the quality of life for ordinary Russians. New clinics for emergency, heart and prosthetic patients were planned from Vladivostok in the east to Kaliningrad on the Baltic.
''It is a guarantee against the sloppy eating up of resources without any discernible results,'' Putin said.
What Putin did not announce was that two of his associates became involved in constructing and equipping some of the hospitals.
One was a former dentist called Nikolai Shamalov, a well-built, strong-willed man now in his sixties. He knew Putin from their days in St. Petersburg, where the future president was a powerful city official. One of Shamalov's sons worked for Putin's department in the city's administration.
Shamalov and Putin were also among a small group of men who founded an exclusive lakeside development of dachas north of the city known as the Ozero Cooperative. Shamalov grew rich through a stake in Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg company that expanded rapidly after Putin moved to Moscow and became president in 2000. He also worked as a top Russian sales executive for Siemens - a major producer of medical equipment.
The other associate in the hospital project was Dmitry Gorelov, who graduated from a military medical academy in 1973. Gorelov, described by one associate as a thoughtful man who is keen on photography, was also a shareholder in Bank Rossiya until June 2013. In 2000, Gorelov was granted the title of ''honoured healthcare practitioner of the Russian Federation'' in a presidential decree issued by Putin.
A third key figure in the tale of the hospital deals and the Black Sea estate is Sergei Kolesnikov, a former business associate of Shamalov and Gorelov. A biologist by training, Kolesnikov said he helped Shamalov manage an investment company; he was also a shareholder with Gorelov in a healthcare company. His roles, he said, gave him deep insight into the two men's association with the president as well as knowledge of the hospital and Black Sea deals.
For instance, Kolesnikov said, the two were guests at the leader's 55th birthday party in 2007. ''They were at his birthday; they told me about it,'' Kolesnikov said in an interview in Estonia, where he now lives. He said Shamalov and Gorelov were also guests at parties held at Valdai, a secluded presidential residence between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Independently of Kolesnikov, flight details seen by Reuters may underscore the proximity of Shamalov and Gorelov to Putin.
In 2008, the two businessmen travelled on a small private plane from Prague to the Russian resort of Sochi with Alina Kabayeva, a former Olympic gymnast described by some Russian media as having been Putin's girlfriend. At the time the president, who was then still married, denied he had a relationship with Kabayeva and told journalists to keep their ''snotty noses'' out of his private life. Kabayeva declined to comment.
Also on the plane, according to the flight information, was Vladimir Kozhin, a senior Kremlin official who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in March. Asked about the flight, Kozhin said he would not respond to speculation.
In 2010 Kolesnikov wrote an open letter to then-President Medvedev, claiming that Shamalov was building a luxury estate for Putin by the Black Sea. Kolesnikov said in his letter that he didn't have a direct role in managing the palace project. The operation, he said, was run by Shamalov, but it drained funds from other projects that Kolesnikov oversaw. The letter said Kolesnikov knew about the project's costs because of ''detailed reports and budgets'' he reviewed during his work with Shamalov.
Shamalov did not respond to questions for this article. Gorelov, asked about his role in companies involved in Putin's healthcare project, told Reuters: ''The achievements of modern medicine until recently were accessible only for inhabitants of the largest megalopolises of Russia, mainly Moscow and St. Petersburg. The aim of the project was to provide an opportunity for inhabitants of other regions of the country, in particular Siberia and the Far East, to receive highly specialised treatment with the use of the latest advances of medical sciences.''
A spokesman for Putin did not respond to questions about Kolesnikov's claims. The Kremlin has previously dismissed Kolesnikov as an aggrieved man, saying he left Russia because of business disputes. Kolesnikov said he left Russia because he ''decided to do something for my country'' by speaking out about corruption.
Russian graft rife and multi-faceted, says exile
ECONOMIST: Former Russian government adviser Sergei Guriev, now an economist in Paris, reflects on the changing face of corruption in Putin's Russia and how ordinary Russians are affected by it. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Gorelov was well placed to arrange a deal to equip Putin's health project. He was a co-founder of a St. Petersburg company called Petromed that was set up in the early 1990s to provide medical equipment for the region. Among the providers of seed capital was the city's external affairs committee - which was then run by Putin.
Kolesnikov became a shareholder in the company with Gorelov, and the two remain shareholders, corporate filings show.
Shamalov, meanwhile, was regional head of sales for the medical equipment division of Siemens, which supplied high-tech systems, such as scanners. He had worked for the company since the 1990s, according to former colleagues.
Asked about Shamalov, a spokesman for Siemens said he left the company ''effective October 1st in 2008.''
Between 2006 and 2008, the Russian federal agency Technointorg, which was general contractor for the national health project, granted Petromed the right to supply equipment to 14 of Putin's new hospitals. After Technointorg ran into problems, Petromed ended up supplying only eight completed hospitals.
GATHERING: Businessman Sergei Kolesnikov (far right) says two associates of Putin, Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitry Gorelov (centre left and centre right), used profits from state projects to help build a mansion later dubbed ''Putin's palace.'' Kolesnikov verified the people in this photo, which appeared on a Russian website. Reuters is unable to independently verify the location, source or date of the image.
It is not clear exactly how much the state paid Petromed in total. But court documents show the company was awarded $120 million in relation to five of the hospitals. And records from a person in the Russian Customs Service indicate Petromed imported more than $205 million worth of medical equipment in 391 consignments from 2005 to 2010.
The data shows most of this equipment, by value, came from Germany (65 percent) and the United States (25 percent). Siemens, which has production facilities in the United States as well as Germany, was the biggest supplier. It sent goods that included computerised X-ray machines and medical scanners.
The equipment was delivered straight from Siemens to Petromed, the importer acting on behalf of the Russian state. But payment did not go straight from Petromed to Siemens.
Instead, the money took a more circuitous route, involving a second intermediary - one controlled by Shamalov and Gorelov, according to Kolesnikov.
According to the customs data, Petromed paid $195 million to a British company called Greathill Ltd. Greathill acted as an intermediary in buying equipment from Siemens and other suppliers.
The arrangement worked like this: The Russian state paid Petromed to supply medical equipment. Meanwhile, Greathill bought equipment from Siemens and other suppliers, according to Kolesnikov. In turn, Petromed bought the equipment from Greathill at much higher prices, up to double the going rate, according to customs documents. Bank records seen by Reuters support that account.
Kolesnikov said he helped set up Greathill on behalf of Shamalov and Gorelov. A trail of documents reviewed for this article suggests that Greathill was an equipment supplier only on paper. According to Kolesnikov, Greathill's real function was to act as an intermediary ''where profits could be made.''
Gorelov said it was normal practice to use such a company for big projects and that it had a ''highly positive effect for the realisation of the project.'' He said Greathill's business was ''absolutely transparent.''
Corporate documents list Greathill as having a headquarters office in the town of Rochdale in northern England. At the address is a firm of accountants. The firm said Greathill was a client for which it provides a registered office. A spokeswoman for the accountants said she knew nothing more about Greathill's business.
Greathill doesn't disclose who really runs and owns the company. It uses so-called nominee directors - people appointed by shareholders to represent their interests on a corporate board - from another firm of accountants in the southern English county of Essex. And it lists companies managed by the same firm of accountants as its shareholders.
A manager at the Essex accounting firm confirmed to Reuters that it administered Greathill. He said the companies listed as Greathill's shareholders were, most likely, nominees - in other words, entities acting on behalf of others. ''A nominee company is just acting as a front,'' he said. ''So they are holding shares on behalf of a third party. But they are not the legal owners of the shares.''
According to Kolesnikov and documentsreviewed by Reuters, Greathill was owned by Shamalov and Gorelov.
Copies of agreements seen by Reuters indicate that Shamalov and Gorelov each hired a Swiss trust company called Interis to acquire stakes in Greathill on their behalf '' 50 percent each. Interis and Shamalov declined to comment.
A spokesman for Siemens said the German manufacturer was unaware of Shamalov having any involvement in Greathill.
''The company Greathill was a business partner of Siemens Healthcare until 2010. Siemens has no information to the effect that a Siemens employee was invested either in Greathill or Petromed,'' the spokesman said.
Evidence that Greathill sold Siemens products to Petromed at large mark-ups appears in customs records reviewed by Reuters.
They show that between September 2007 and August 2008, Greathill acquired at least four Siemens Somatom Sensation 64 CT scanners. Greathill then sold the machines to Petromed for 1.9 million euros to 2 million euros each, which customs documents recorded as the equivalent of $2.7 million to $3 million at the prevailing exchange rates.
The prices are nearly double the typical price charged by suppliers for CT scanners in the same technological class, including those made by Siemens, according to a 2010 investigation by the Kremlin into sales of medical equipment.
Several people involved in the sale of medical gear in Germany told Reuters that hospitals in Germany and elsewhere could buy the same Siemens scanners in 2007-2008 for between 1 million and 1.2 million euros, depending on the extras included.
NEW BUILD: In 2010, Kolesnikov claimed that a luxurious estate near the Black Sea was for Putin. A Russian website published pictures, including the one above, which it said were of the mansion. The Kremlin denied Putin had anything to do with the building. Reuters is unable to independently verify the authenticity, content, location, source or date of this photograph.
Customs records also show that Greathill sold Petromed a Siemens Avanto MRI scanner for more than 3 million euros, which the records say was the equivalent of 130 million roubles. Greathill sold Petromed another seven of the machines, all for more than 2.6 million euros each. German experts said the typical price of such equipment was 1.2 million to 1.7 million euros apiece.
''One hundred and thirty million roubles is a clearly inflated price,'' said Alexei Popov, a Russian surgeon who has researched the pricing of medical scanners. ''The approximate price for this is up to 80 million to 85 million roubles '' that's with all the bells and whistles.''
Petromed made no comment on the deals. Its general director, Enver Useinov, said he had only been in his post a year and knew nothing of Greathill. ''I can't say anything,'' he said. ''I don't know.''
In a written response to Reuters, Gorelov said Petromed had secured equipment at competitive prices, and that those supplies and prices were approved by government experts.
Not far from the Black Sea coast of southern Russia stands an imposing property, built in neo-classical style with formal gardens. The sprawling estate, near the resort of Gelendzhik, looks fit for a tsar and includes a theatre and helicopter landing pad. This is the property popularly known as ''Putin's palace.''
How did money from Putin's project to buy scanners for Russian hospitals end up in a property that has nothing to do with medical care?
There were three key steps. First, Petromed paid money to Greathill. Then, Greathill sent at least $56 million to the Swiss bank accounts of a Belize company. Finally, the Belize company sent funds to a firm registered in Washington, DC.
That firm, Medea Investment, received at least $48 million for supplying building materials for the ''Putin palace'' property. According to Kolesnikov, Medea's owner was an Italian architect, Lanfranco Cirillo, who designed the building. (For details on how Reuters traced the money trail, see related story below.)
Through his spokesman, Putin has denied having any connection to the Black Sea property. Far from enjoying a luxurious mansion, he has limited wealth, according to an official report of his assets.
In December 2011, an official statement of his income showed that he had earned 17.73 million roubles ($539,000) in four years '' an average of $135,000 a year. He owned only one home, a modest apartment, according to the statement.
That same year, following Medvedev's orders to punish people responsible for overpricing medical scanners, Russia's prosecutor general said 68 criminal cases had been launched in 45 regions of the country.
In the Volga River city of Ulyanovsk, for example, the regional health minister, two businessmen and a senior doctor were prosecuted in a case concerning the purchase of a Siemens Emotion 6 scanner in 2008. The minister was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison. The businessmen got seven years. The doctor received a suspended sentence of three years.
The price paid for the scanner was 44 million roubles (equal to $1.7 million at the time). The court's ruling, signed by the judge, described this price as ''deliberately inflated.''
Even so, it was a bargain compared to what the president's associates charged.
According to customs records, Greathill reaped 61 percent more - 71 million roubles - for selling Petromed the very same model.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow, Brian Grow in Atlanta, and Jens Hack in Munich. Editing by Richard Woods and Simon Robinson.)
Unless otherwise indicated, currency conversions at $0.0304 per rouble, and $1.374 per euro, the rates at the end of 2013
Next, Part 2: When Putin ordered up new hospitals, his associates botched the operation
By Jason Bush
GRAND DESIGNS: One of the pictures described by a Russian website as showing the mansion dubbed ''Putin's palace.'' The Kremlin has denied Putin has anything to do with the building. Reuters is unable to independently verify the authenticity, content, location, source or date of this photograph.
In 2010, a St. Petersburg businessman called Sergei Kolesnikov published an open letter to Dmitry Medvedev, who was then president of Russia while Vladimir Putin held the post of prime minister. Among other things, Kolesnikov claimed that a luxurious estate was being built near the Black Sea for the benefit of Putin.
This extravagant Italianate mansion had a helicopter landing pad, summer theatre and underground tunnels. Located near Gelendzhik, close to the Black Sea coast, the mansion was quickly dubbed ''Putin's palace'' and covered by Russian and international media. The Kremlin denied Putin had any connection to it.
But curiosity persisted. Kolesnikov's claims sparked interest partly because he was a former business associate of Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitry Gorelov, two businessmen with links to Putin. Shamalov is, and Gorelov was until last year, a shareholder in Bank Rossiya, a bank whose shareholders ''include members of Putin's inner circle,'' according to the U.S. Treasury. The two men were guests at Putin's 55th birthday party, according to Kolesnikov.
The company that originally oversaw the building of the estate was called Rirus. According to a document previously published by Kolesnikov, the founders of Rirus were Shamalov and Gorelov. Rirus shared the same address as other companies in which the two men had stakes.
In 2011 the Russian newspaper Vedomosti, citing official corporate records, reported that the owner of Rirus as of 2010 was Shamalov alone.
In February 2011, Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper in Russia, published documents indicating that senior officials in the presidential administration had approved plans for the Black Sea estate. The officials did so on two separate occasions, once during Putin's second presidential term and again in 2008 when Putin was prime minister, said the paper.
A group of journalists and activists who tried to visit the estate in February 2011 said it was being protected by the Federal Guard Service, a government agency whose role is to provide security for high-ranking officials.
The Kremlin made no comment at the time. Two months later Vladimir Kozhin, head of the Kremlin's Department of Presidential Affairs, said in an interview with the newspaper Kommersant that his department had been involved in the initial phase of the Black Sea estate, years earlier - but only as part of a project to encourage investors into real estate developments.
Soon after the Novaya Gazeta reports, Russian billionaire Alexander Ponomarenko announced he had bought the unfinished estate from Shamalov for an undisclosed sum. Ponomarenko has said he views the property as an investment project and would rent parts of it out.
The latest corporate records show Rirus is now owned by a Cypriot company.
In an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta in 2012, Kozhin denied the property was for Putin. ''There is no dacha of Putin in Gelendzhik,'' he said. ''What sort of estate is there? I don't know ... I can officially, for the hundredth time, state: The President has three residences outside Moscow: Ogarevo in Moscow region, Bocharov Ruchei in Sochi, and in Valdai.''
Kolesnikov left Russia in September 2010 and now lives in Estonia.
By Stephen Grey, Jason Bush, and Roman Anin
EMIGRE: Sergei Kolesnikov, who left Russia to speak out about alleged corruption there, photographed in Antibes, France. Kolesnikov now lives in Estonia. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
Two Putin associates, Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitry Gorelov, struck lucrative deals to supply medical scanners and other gear for Russia's state health programme. Some of the proceeds from those deals, Reuters found, ultimately wound up helping to finance the luxurious mansion on the Black Sea popularly known as ''Putin's palace.''
The money trail is a convoluted one.
A UK-registered company owned by the two men, Greathill, received at least $195 million from sales of medical equipment to Russia.
In total, Greathill sent some $84 million to accounts at the former Dresdner Bank in Zurich. According to bank statements reviewed by Reuters, more than $56 million went from Greathill to the Swiss accounts after 2006, when Putin's national health project began.
Those Swiss accounts were controlled by a Belize-registered company called Lanaval - a firm that was also owned by Shamalov and Gorelov, according to Sergei Kolesnikov, a former business associate of the two men.
The claim that Shamalov and Gorelov own Lanaval is supported, in part, by documents reviewed by Reuters. The documents set out an arrangement under which Greathill agreed to act as an agent for Lanaval, remitting profits to Lanaval from business conducted by Greathill. Shamalov did not respond to written questions.
No one from Lanaval could be reached for comment. A spokesman for LGT Group, the successor bank to Dresdner, said that under Swiss and Liechtenstein laws the bank was unable to respond to Reuters' questions.
Reuters reviewed more than 140 pages of Lanaval bank statements, covering 2003 to 2010. The statements indicate that between June and October 2009, Lanaval sent at least $48 million from its Zurich accounts to an account in Liechtenstein. The Liechtenstein account was controlled by a firm called Medea Investment, which is registered in Washington, DC, according to contract documents and corporate records.
Medea supplied Italian building materials to the property known as ''Putin's palace,'' according to an agreement dated June 2009 between Lanaval and Medea Investment.
Under that agreement, which was reviewed by Reuters, Lanaval agreed to buy goods from Medea worth 37.5 million euros (about $52 million at the time). The contract says the goods were for a ''big building project (resort)'' in the region of Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea. Novorossiysk is a town near the palace, about 40 km (25 miles) away. The ''big building project'' and the ''Putin palace'' estate are one and the same, said Kolesnikov.
The owner of Medea Investment is Lanfranco Cirillo, an Italian architect, Kolesnikov said. It was Cirillo, who has often worked in Russia, who designed the ''Putin palace'' property, Kolesnikov said.
Reuters asked Cirillo, through Medea's lawyer in Switzerland, about the contract, his ownership of Medea and his role as architect in the Black Sea development. Cirillo replied with a brief statement in which he confirmed his role as architect in the project. He said a Russian company had ''assigned me the work'' because of his skills. ''I am specialised and focused in the creation of high standing objects in many countries of the world,'' he said. He declined to go into detail.
The Russian company Cirillo identified as his client is named Stroygazconsulting. Corporate records indicate no tie to Shamalov and Gorelov. Asked whether it had hired Cirillo to work on the Black Sea estate known as ''Putin's palace,'' a spokeswoman for Stroygazconsulting said: ''The story in question is an invention.'' She added that the ''only thing we can confirm'' was that Stroygazconsulting and Cirillo had had a joint company ''many years ago.''
In any case, the contract documents reviewed by Reuters show that Cirillo's firm Medea was paid by Lanaval, the company owned by Shamalov and Gorelov.
Kolesnikov possesses a tape recording of what he describes as a 2009 meeting in St. Petersburg. There, he says, Shamalov, Gorelov and Cirillo - as well as Kolesnikov himself - discussed details of the Black Sea property and Medea's involvement.
On the tape, which was reviewed by Reuters, a man addressed by the others as ''Lanfranco'' talks in Russian about importing materials for the luxury estate via Medea Investment.
The man says: ''If I need to import through Medea Investment, then I need to open an official representative office for Medea Investment in Russia to receive permission for customs clearance, to receive money here for investment programmes and to pay roubles and to pay here.''
When Kolesnikov talks of paying for the goods, ''Lanfranco'' asks whether paying ''with black money to an American company'' would be problematical. It is not clear what was meant by the reference to ''black'' money.
Cirillo, who speaks Russian, declined to answer questions about Kolesnikov's tape and did not say who the Black Sea property belonged to. He said in his written statement: ''Every meeting held with my counterparty and any act connected thereto, that you may be aware of, was exclusively directed to define the construction work, its status and development, as well as payments to me for the services rendered.''
The tape also includes a man identified as Shamalov by Kolesnikov - and referred to by others as ''Nikolai Terentievich,'' Shamalov's first and patronymic names. On the tape, this man refers to Lanaval as ''our company.''
Shamalov did not respond to questions about the tape. Reuters was unable to confirm the identities of people speaking on the tape, and there is no reference on the tape to who owns the property being discussed.
When Putin ordered up new hospitals, his associates botched the operation MEDICAL KIT: A new hospital in Perm, some 1,150 km (720 miles) east of Moscow, pictured in January. The facility, opened in February 2012, was part of Moscow's push to spend more on areas such as health and education. REUTERS/Maxim KimerlingThe president's allies won contracts to build new medical centres across Russia. They failed, and the project hit $700 million in cost overruns
PERM, Russia - At the foot of the Ural Mountains stands a symbol of how even the best intentions in Russia can enable well-connected individuals to bleed money from the state. It's a modern hospital built in this industrial city of a million people, and intended to be a flagship of a grand project to improve the country's healthcare.
The hospital's chain-smoking director, Sergei Sukhanov, loves his new facility, the Federal Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery, which has beds for 167 patients. He also admires Russian President Vladimir Putin, who championed the hospital and whose letter of thanks to the surgeon adorns his office.
''It's a huge gift to the Perm region,'' said Sukhanov in his new white office. ''It's like we've moved from a one-bedroom apartment to a five-bedroom apartment.''
But a Reuters investigation shows the hospital, and a $1 billion construction project of which it was part, were also business opportunities for Putin's allies. While it isn't clear whether they managed to turn a profit, their involvement cost Russian taxpayers dearly.
A previous article detailed how two associates of Putin profited from selling high-tech medical equipment to the Russian state and sent money to Swiss bank accounts linked to the building of a lavish estate near the Black Sea.
Those two men, Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitry Gorelov, also had stakes in two companies that received contracts to build a series of hospitals around Russia. The undertaking later led to accusations of ''unjust enrichment'' against one of the companies. That company ended up going bust, owing around 860 million roubles ($26 million) to the state. Hundreds of people lost their jobs.
Corporate records show there was another major investor in the two building companies: Rosinvest, a Russian investment firm owned by offshore entities.
In 2010 Sergei Kolesnikov, a businessman who used to work with the two Putin associates, went public with a claim that Rosinvest was ultimately controlled by the Russian leader himself. The role of Rosinvest in Putin's $1 billion health project, however, hasn't been previously reported.
Kolesnikov says that Putin owned an offshore entity called Lirus Investment Holding, which had ultimate control of Rosinvest. He told Reuters that he knew this because he ''participated in the creation'' of Lirus. Lirus was a Liechtenstein company that, he said, was owned through bearer shares - securities that don't record the name of the owner.
Putin owned 94 percent of the company, Kolesnikov said, while he, Shamalov and Gorelov owned 2 percent each. Kolesnikov said he was informed by both Gorelov and Shamalov that they had given Putin his bearer shares and that Putin had placed these in a safe. ''The situation was specially done in such a way that nowhere would be anyone's signatures,'' Kolesnikov said.
Kolesnikov said he helped to manage a portfolio of investments through Rosinvest on behalf of Shamalov, Gorelov and himself. But the prime beneficiary, he said, was Putin. Kolesnikov said he delivered reports about the investments to Shamalov, and that Shamalov presented them to Putin.
Putin's ownership role in the project couldn't be confirmed. The Kremlin did not respond to Reuters questions about Rosinvest, which was liquidated in 2012. In the past, Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has firmly denied any connection between Putin and Rosinvest.
Shamalov and Gorelov did not respond to requests for comment on Kolesnikov's account.
This series examines Russian capitalism in the Putin era. A complex system of reward and obligation has operated among the elite since Putin gained power in 2000, with associates of the president tapping into the flow of funds from state coffers. In addition to breeding corruption, this system carries another cost: bungling and waste.
The project to create the string of hospitals wound up costing about $700 million more than Putin called for and delivered two fewer hospitals than planned. A state agency involved in steering the project went under, leaving behind debts of $300 million.
The hospital money would have been better spent on simple outpatient healthcare than on high-tech facilities, some Russian healthcare specialists said. Despite a large number of state-run hospitals and an army of doctors, many Russians only get access to the healthcare they need by paying private clinics or bribing state doctors.
Overall, Russians have seen only limited advances in the nation's medical care. Public-sector health spending in Russia remains low compared with the United Kingdom and other countries with government-financed healthcare: It equalled 3.7 percent of economic output in 2011, according to the World Bank. UK public spending on health was 7.7 percent of economic output that year.
In the case of Putin's hospital scheme, say some specialists, Russian taxpayers overpaid for trophy structures that don't address the underlying causes of the nation's health crisis.
''These projects are just about PR,'' said Kirill Danishevsky, a doctor and professor at Moscow's Higher School of Economics specialising in healthcare. ''Russia didn't need new hospitals, and we certainly didn't need the number of scanners they bought. What Russia needs is primary healthcare.''
It was in 2005 that Putin, then in his second term as president, initiated plans for Russia to spend $1 billion on 15 new medical centres for emergency, heart and prosthetic patients in cities spread across Russia, from Vladivostok in the east to Kaliningrad on the Baltic.
Russian officials hired Cadolto, a German company skilled in a modular building technology, to provide the building blocks for seven centres. Officials granted the company a contract worth $270 million.
AILING: A patient in a hospital in the town of Tver, some 170 km (106 miles) northwest of Moscow, in 2011. Russia's health indicators, and many of its facilities, lag behind those in Europe and elsewhere. REUTERS/Diana MarkosianBut Putin insisted that some modules be built in Russia, not Germany, according to a Cadolto manager and Russian sources. That's where Shamalov and Gorelov came in. They were associates of Putin and, as detailed in a previous article, they supplied scanners to the hospitals at what some medical professionals said were inflated prices.
Corporate records show the two men held stakes in two other companies that got involved in Putin's health project. These companies planned to build the next wave of medical centres, according to a former senior official overseeing the process and other sources familiar with the companies.
The first was Rosmodulstroi, set up to build and own a module factory. The second company was St. Petersburg-based UK Modul, set up to manage the factory and handle contracts for supplying the modules to Putin's hospital project. Rosinvest - which Kolesnikov alleges was controlled by Putin - was a major investor in both companies. (For more on the ownership trail, see related story.)
The German contractor Cadolto began to supply modules for local Russian contractors to put up the first seven hospitals. Meanwhile, the Russians set up a factory in Cherepovets, a city about 530 km (330 miles) north of Moscow, to produce their own modules.
UK Modul got an initial contract from a Russian state agency in July 2008 to supply half the modules for a hospital in the city of Chelyabinsk.
In September 2009, the Russian state designated $448 million for the construction of another five federal medical centres in addition to those being built with Cadolto's modules. Days later, DEZZ, the state agency then overseeing the health project, signed a further contract with UK Modul, according to court documents.
Details of that UK Modul contract are not publicly available, and the court records don't specify the projects involved or the value of the deal.
The company appears to have won a role in building half a dozen of the hospitals, however. Vadim Mozhaev, who was head of DEZZ at the time, told Reuters that UK Modul was given a contract for building ''five or six (medical) centres.'' A St. Petersburg company, moreover, said on its website that it prepared project estimates for UK Modul for the Perm hospital and five other federal hospitals.
DEZZ later updated its arrangements with UK Modul, specifying $97 million for the hospital at Perm, according to court documents. It also signed another contract with UK Modul for $15 million for supplying modules for a hospital at Smolensk.
UK Modul failed to complete either project. In fact, it fulfilled its assignment at just one of the half-dozen hospitals it was engaged to build.
The Perm job was a conspicuous flop. It took UK Modul more than a year to deliver all the modules, said Vladimir Sodomov, former deputy director of economics and procurement at Perm's Heart Institute, who helped oversee the building.
The prefabricated blocks were meant to be put together like Lego bricks, but didn't fit because UK Modul had used the wrong plans, said one former executive at the company.
''The holes weren't in the right place. The modules should fit together and onto the foundations perfectly, but they didn't,'' said the former executive, who declined to be named because he still works in the industry. ''They (UK Modul) had no expertise.''
The problems were eventually resolved by another company, and the Perm hospital was completed in February 2012, almost a year after UK Modul had been replaced.
GOOD HEALTH: Nikolai Shamalov was one of two wealthy Putin comrades to win contracts to build a series of hospitals. The undertaking saw a private firm the men co-owned go bust. Businessman Sergei Kolesnikov verified the person in this photograph, which appeared on a Russian website. Reuters is unable to independently verify the location, source or date of the photograph.
Shamalov did not respond to written requests for comment. Gorelov declined to be interviewed, but sent a written statement in which he said: ''I was a passive shareholder in the indicated companies. The business ideology and direct management of their activities was carried out by other shareholders, members of the board of directors and the directors of the companies. In connection with this I don't have information about the questions that interest you.''
Several former managers and employees at UK Modul said the Russian state was partly to blame for the Perm fiasco, because it did not pay bills on time.
In February 2011, Viktor Rusanov took over as head of DEZZ, the agency overseeing the hospital project. He told Reuters that UK Modul failed to deliver on agreed tasks and ''wanted yet more money.''
As problems mounted with UK Modul's work on the Perm hospital, DEZZ cut back UK Modul's state contracts. Eventually, in March 2011, it cancelled them altogether.
Workers who turned up at the Cherepovets factory in March 2011 were greeted with a curt notice informing them it was closed. A subsequent letter from management told them that UK Modul had lost its government financing, leaving the company unable to pay wages and forcing it out of business.
''Six hundred people worked in the factory, and they were simply chucked on the street,'' Gennady Smirnov, one of the workers, told Reuters.
Smirnov said he and many other workers were not sent vital labour documents enabling them to seek work elsewhere or claim unemployment benefits. He said he was left out of work for a year and had to borrow money from his mother-in-law to pay the mortgage on his apartment.
OPENING CEREMONY: Sergei Sukhanov, head of Perm Medical Centre, at its opening in February 2012. The hospital was a flagship of a grand project to improve the country's health care. REUTERS/Maxim KimerlingLATE AND EXPENSIVE
Given the chaotic end to the efforts of Rosmodulstroi and UK Modul, it is hard to tell whether their shareholders made a profit on Putin's hospitals. What is clear is that the state felt it received poor value for money - so much so that it sued UK Modul for damages.
The president's associates managed to complete just one of their half-dozen hospital projects, according to former UK Modul insiders - the deal to provide half the modules for the Chelyabinsk hospital.
In the end, Russia imported more modules and built 13 of the planned 15 hospitals in Putin's grand health project. It took around five years longer than envisaged. Cadolto, unlike UK Modul, met its contracts and there is no suggestion it was responsible for any delays.
The final cost to the Russian federal government for the project was about 70 percent more than first budgeted: $1.69 billion, according to official documents seen by Reuters.
UK Modul wasn't the only problem. Two hospitals in which UK Modul wasn't involved failed completely. The hospital at Krasnodar was knocked down because mould ruined the modules after they had been installed. Another at Vladivostok was cancelled after delays and cost overruns.
It was left to Russian taxpayers to clear up the mess.
Technointorg, a state organisation that oversaw the early phases of the hospital building programme and the supply of medical equipment, ended up going bankrupt in September 2013. It left debts of more than $300 million.
Its successor, DEZZ, sued UK Modul over its $97 million contract to build the Perm hospital.
Judges upheld that claim and ordered UK Modul to pay $22 million. More than half of the amount was for "unjust enrichment" for failing to meet its obligations in terms of deadlines and standards, according to documents from the Moscow commercial court.
IN FOCUS: A Siemens scanner in the new Perm medical centre. REUTERS/Maxim Kimerling
UK Modul never made good on that money. The company went bankrupt in May 2012. Its assets, worth $26 million on paper, fetched $40,000.
Russia's Ministry of Health did not answer questions about the financing and construction of the hospitals. But in a written statement it said: ''Realising the measures of the priority national project in the area of Healthcare actively encourages improvement of the demographic situation. The development of specialised, including high-technology, medical aid is one of the basic directions of the activity of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation.''
Dashinevsky, the professor at the Higher School of Economics, said Russia's health system has suffered chronic underfunding for the last 10 to 15 years and become increasingly riddled with corruption and inefficiency. The botched hospital programme, he said, helps explain why.
''Healthcare is just one typical sector of the Russian economy. There is no special disease of healthcare,'' he said. ''It's a general disease of the state.''
(Additional reporting by Brian Grow in Atlanta and Christian Hetzner in Nuremberg. Editing by Richard Woods and Simon Robinson.)
Unless otherwise indicated, currency conversions at $0.0304 per rouble, and $1.374 per euro, the rates at the end of 2013
Next, Part 3: Russian Railways paid billions of dollars to secretive private companies
By Jason Bush, Elizabeth Piper, and Stephen Grey
The two obscure companies that bungled Putin's hospital-building project were part-owned by two of the president's longtime associates, corporate records show.
One was Rosmodulstroi, set up to build and own a module factory. Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitry Gorelov, the Putin associates, each owned 10 percent of the business, according to the company's founding documents. Russian businessman Sergei Kolesnikov also had a 10 percent stake, according to the documents.
A company called Rosinvest held the biggest stake: 50 percent of shares, corporate records show. Kolesnikov alleges Putin was the ultimate beneficiary of Rosinvest, a claim the Kremlin has denied. (Rosinvest disposed of its holding in 2011. That same year, Gorelov and Shamalov raised their stakes to 25 percent each, according to corporate filings.)
Three other Russian businessmen owned the remaining 20 percent of Rosmodustroi when it was set up. Two of them were businessmen from St. Petersburg, Vladimir Vasiliev, head of a construction company, and Oleg Medoev, head of a real estate company. They each owned 5 percent of Rosmodulstroi, according to the company's founding documents. And a 10 percent stake was held by Vadim Mozhaev, a Russian executive at Siemens, the German company that supplied high-tech scanners and other equipment to hospitals in Putin's grand health project.
Mozhaev left Siemens in 2010 and became head of DEZZ, a Russian government agency overseeing Putin's hospital project. He said his appointment to DEZZ had no connection to his interests in Rosmodulstroi or UK Modul, another company involved in the hospital project. He said that when he joined DEZZ he disposed of all his shareholdings. ''Formally I had to transfer it (his shareholdings), so that there wouldn't be a conflict of interests,'' he said.
UK Modul was a company set up by the same owners as Rosmodulstroi to manage the module factory and handle contracts for supplying the modules to Putin's hospital project.
Both Rosmodulstroi and UK Modul were registered on Dec. 28, 2006, each listing the same people as shareholders. In corporate documents held by Kolesnikov and reviewed by Reuters, both companies gave the same address in St. Petersburg.
Also located at that address is a company called Petromed - the same firm that supplied scanners to Putin's new hospitals, as detailed in the first story in this series. Gorelov and Kolesnikov are among Petromed's investors, corporate documents show.
The two hospital-building companies eventually ran into financial difficulties. UK Modul went under in 2012. One reason it had so little money left was that it had lent $9 million to its sibling company, Rosmodulstroi. That sum was never repaid.
Rosmodulstroi's accounts show that as of the end of 2012, its debts exceeded assets by $27 million, and it recorded a loss of $16 million. A small debtor began bankruptcy proceedings against Rosmodulstroi in June 2011 that continue.
Russian taxpayers footed the bill left behind by Putin's associates. Rosmodulstroi was acquired in July 2013 by the state-owned conglomerate Russian Technologies - the parent organisation of one of the two state agencies that awarded the hospital contracts.
Russian Railways paid billions of dollars to secretive private companies LEADER: Vladimir Putin in Russia's first high speed train, December 2009. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin/PoolThe state-owned rail giant, run by an old friend of President Vladimir Putin, has awarded vast sums to contractors who disguise their ownership, a Reuters investigation finds
MOSCOW - In the world's biggest country, railways are still a route to riches. With nearly 1 billion passengers a year and $42 billion in annual sales, the state company Russian Railways is a giant commercial opportunity.
At its head is Vladimir Yakunin, an old friend and long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin. He oversees a company that strikes international deals, issues bonds to major investors and plans hugely expensive new high-speed lines. By many measures, Russian Railways is a standard corporate colossus.
But a Reuters investigation has uncovered another side to the state-owned company: Under Yakunin, it has paid billions of dollars to private contractors that disguise their ultimate owners and have little or no presence at their registered headquarters.
A Reuters study of tenders held by Russian Railways also identified contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars granted to companies that ostensibly bid as rivals but appear to be closely related.
In 43 tender competitions worth $340 million from 2010 to 2013, for instance, the same two companies were the only bidders each time. Those two firms, it turns out, were set up on the same day, by the same person acting on behalf of undisclosed owners. The firms opened accounts at the same bank on the same day, and declared an identical number of employees two years in a row. On one occasion, they filed bids for a Russian Railways tender within a minute of each other. And last October, after Reuters first inquired about the nature of the companies, both registered websites on the same day.
Russian investigator Sergei Lesnichiy said Reuters findings appeared to show an attempt to manipulate tenders for state contracts, potentially inflating costs to the detriment of Russian Railways. Lesnichiy, director of the Centre for Financial Investigations, an expert body set up by the Russian state, said such effects, if verified and if insiders at Russian Railways benefited, could amount to fraud under Russian law. But he also said that under Russian law it is not an offence for related companies to bid in state tenders.
A further Reuters analysis of banking transactions between 2007 and 2009 involving one large private contractor to Russian Railways showed patterns of activity that U.S. and Russian financial investigators said were typical warning signs of suspicious banking activity.
The analysis suggests that millions of dollars originating from Russian Railways ended up with companies that had nothing to do with railway work. Some of these companies have been judged by Russian authorities to be bogus companies with no genuine operations.
These transactions passed through a small bank part-owned from 2007 to 2009 by a businessman called Andrei Krapivin. Yakunin, the head of Russian Railways, once described Krapivin as an ''old acquaintance'' and an ''unpaid adviser who understands banking well,'' according to the Russian newspaper Vedomosti.
Krapivin and several of his business associates are or have been directors of large contractors working for Russian Railways.
A spokesman for Russian Railways said Krapivin ''is not an adviser'' to Yakunin, but did not comment on whether he had been in the past.
This investigation is part of a Reuters series examining how Russia does business in the Putin era. Even as the Russian president has denounced corruption, some members of the elite have used secretive companies, straw owners and other means to gain business worth hundreds of millions of dollars from some of his signature undertakings. Earlier stories examined how two of Putin's associates profited from an ambitious state healthcare project.
This article, which is based in part on a confidential database of Russian bank records, focuses on one of the country's largest businesses in state hands: the railways. The money at stake is huge: In 2012 Russian Railways handed contracts worth $22.5 billion to private contractors - more than the $19.7 billion it paid its staff.
In March, after Russia annexed Crimea, Yakunin was one of the senior Russian officials and members of Putin's inner circle sanctioned by the United States. The U.S. Treasury described him as a ''close confidant of Putin'' who ''regularly consults with Putin on issues regarding the Russian Railways company.''
RAIL MAN: Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways, during a visit to Omsk, August 2012. Yakunin has known Putin since they both lived in St. Petersburg in the 1990s. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Pool
He has known Putin since they were both in St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Putin appointed him as head of Russian Railways in 2005, early in Putin's second term as president.
Yakunin did not respond to Reuters inquiries regarding this story, but his spokesman at Russian Railways, which is also known by the abbreviation OAO RZhD, replied to written questions.
''The procurement activity of OAO RZhD is undertaken in strict accordance with the relevant laws,'' Alexander Pirkov wrote. Tenders were organised in ''the most transparent way'' and procurement activity ''has been repeatedly examined by the competent state organs, including the Audit Chamber of the Russian Federation,'' he said.
Russian Railways said the companies identified by Reuters were all legitimate, and that its contracts were awarded fairly and fulfilled properly.
Krapivin did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. Instead, his son called. Alexei Krapivin said his father had no involvement in the railway contractors and transactions examined in this report. He said any suggestion to the contrary was ''bullshit.'' He declined to comment in detail.
Russian Railways and the hunt for its mysterious contractors
ON THE TRAIL: Reuters reporter Douglas Busvine hits the streets of Moscow to search for private firms listed as rail contractors - and finds some of them strangely elusive.
ON THE LINE: In Kannelyarvi, some 80 km from St. Petersburg, workers inspect the high speed rail link to Finland. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the project was a private contractor called Setstroienergo. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
In a leafy suburb of east Moscow stands a red-roofed town house with a children's playground in the yard. One day last summer, a group of young men in T-shirts and jeans stood around smoking.
There was more to the town house than met the eye. It was the registered headquarters of a company that has won 9 billion roubles ($270 million) in contracts from Russian Railways and its subsidiaries since 2010, and says in corporate filings that it employs more than 100 staff.
When a reporter inquired at the property, a man in his 40s - head shaven, arms tattooed - came out. Asked whether the contractor, MPCenterZhat (MPC), was based there, he sent for a younger man, whose hair was cropped at the sides and hung in a ponytail at back.
''They sit here - they have an office on the second floor - but they only come here once a week,'' the ponytailed man said.
MPC is one of a sample of 10 rail contractors studied by Reuters; together they have received more than $2.5 billion from Russian Railways since 2007, according to tenders and other documents reviewed for this article.
Reuters chose the firms because they bid for the same type of work, mainly the upgrading of track signalling and train control systems. They were selected from a longer list of railway contractors provided by a Russian banker now living in Britain, German Gorbuntsov, who survived an attempt to assassinate him in London's Canary Wharf district, in 2012.
Before he left Russia, Gorbuntsov used to be co-owner with Krapivin of a bank called Capital Commercial Bank (known by its Russian initials STB). All the 10 rail contractors examined by Reuters had accounts at STB.
Russian Railways and the great money-go-round
SPEED: Millions of dollars from state-owned Russian Railways appear to have gone to private companies with little sign of doing work on Russia's rail system. REUTERS/Timo Jaakonaho/Lehtikuva
On the face of it, Russian Railways offers contracts to private companies in open tenders where market forces apply. But several people familiar with the process alleged some contractors work together to win tender competitions. This is done, they said, by companies either managing to be the only bidders, or working with other bidders to decide who should win or to inflate prices. Reuters was unable to verify those claims.
A Reuters analysis of tender competitions involving the 10 companies showed little attempt by bidders to compete for contracts on price. Out of 185 cases where the winning bid was listed, 79 were only 0.5 percent - down to the kopek - below the maximum price set by Russian Railways. A further 35 of the winning bids were 1 percent below the maximum allowed price.
The nature and activities of the 10 rail contractors were hard to pin down. The two biggest beneficiaries, by value of contracts won from Russian Railways, were MPC and a company called TransServisAvtomatika (TSA). From 2010 until the middle of 2013, these two firms were the only bidders in 43 tender competitions worth $340 million. MPC and TSA bid as rivals and at first sight appear to be separate entities.
To find out more about them, Reuters went in search of their head offices. The headquarters for MPC listed in Russia's corporate registry was the town house with the children's playground where no one from MPC was present when a reporter visited. TSA's legal headquarters was a 15-storey building just outside Moscow's ring-road. The structure contained a business centre, a car dealership, a fitness club, a beauty parlour, two bank branches, a florist and a grocery - but no sign of TSA. A security guard there found a mention of the firm on his computer, but said the company did not have an office there.
As well as their elusiveness, MPC and TSA have other striking similarities, including the fact they were set up on the same day in 2005 by the same individual and that they opened bank accounts on the same day at STB.
These overlaps were no mere coincidence, said a former manager who worked for both companies at different times in the mid 2000s. The two companies were in effect part of the same group and bid together on Russian Railways contracts to ensure the group owner had a ''guarantee of winning.''
MPC and TSA list two different people as managers in corporate filings; neither of them responded to repeated requests for comment.
Referring to the two companies, Yakunin's spokesman Pirkov wrote: ''They are suppliers acting in good faith and are fully functioning enterprises '... Deliveries under these contracts are made on time, (and) production was of reliable quality. No evidence has been found that they acted in bad faith.''
Of the 10 companies studied, only one, called Zheltransavtomatika, had a registered headquarters where Reuters found employees working. The company's manager did not respond to written questions.
Four of the 10 companies listed their offices at locations where nobody had heard of the businesses at all. These headquarters included a freight depot by a motorway, a car repair shop and an upmarket children's department store in central Moscow.
Who owns these companies? MPC is a type of entity that isn't obliged to declare its shareholders. The registered owners of the other nine contractors to Russian Railways are a motley bunch. An examination of official filings showed each firm was owned by one or two individuals - a total of 10 women and three men.
Those owners whom reporters were able to trace all lived in modest Moscow apartment complexes. In one run-down building, a person listed in official documents as sole owner of one of the contractors confirmed having been the formal owner until recently. In reality, though, this person said, they had never truly controlled the company, but had acted as a straw owner, hiding the real owners of the firm.
The straw owner knew the company's business involved contracts with Russian Railways but had no other knowledge of its operations. The straw owner alleged that the controlling influence behind that contractor was Andrei Krapivin, the man Yakunin, head of Russian Railways, once described as an unpaid adviser.
''I know Alexei Krapivin,'' said the straw owner, referring to Andrei Krapivin's son. The son, he said, organised business between Russian Railways and the company. The straw owner said Krapivin senior was the ''main man'' behind this arrangement, while his son handled the practicalities.
In his phone call, Krapivin's son, Alexei, said STB belonged to Gorbuntsov and not to his father, and said his father was not a hidden controlling influence behind rail contractors. He did not answer further questions. However, a written statement signed by Andrei Krapivin records that he was a shareholder in STB from 2007 to 2009. Public corporate records also show that he was a shareholder in 2008.
Yakunin's spokesman did not comment on whether Krapivin had any connection to any of the 10 contractors, but ruled out the possibility of any wrongdoing.
From the steam locomotives of ''Doctor Zhivago'' and the Russian Revolution to the double-decker express trains hurtling to the Winter Olympics, railways have helped make Russia, permeating the nation's geography and culture.
When Vladimir Lenin returned from exile to lead his revolution in April 1917, he travelled from Finland to Russia's old Tsarist capital of St. Petersburg by steam train. By the 21st century, Russian Railways was looking to upgrade the historic line to take electric trains running at 220 km per hour (140 miles per hour).
One of the biggest beneficiaries of that project was a private contractor called Setstroienergo. In total, Russian Railways awarded Setstroienergo nearly $1 billion between 2007 and 2013, according to public tender records and a database of bank transactions supplied by Gorbuntsov.
When Gorbuntsov left Russia after falling out with former business partners, including Krapivin, he brought with him a laptop. It contained, among other banking data, millions of transactions that took place through STB between the beginning of 2007 and late 2009. Money frequently moved through a whirl of accounts, making it hard for anyone such as outside auditors or tax officials to track, Gorbuntsov said.
To examine what happened to Russian Railways' funds, Reuters studied the flow of money into and out of Setstroienergo, as recorded by Gorbuntsov's database. Reuters established the authenticity of the database by verifying sample transactions with independent sources.
Between 2007 and 2009, Russian Railways paid $772 million into Setstroienergo's account at STB, according to the database. Those payments, and subsequent transactions, appear to follow the pattern described by Gorbuntsov.
EMIGRE: Former banker German Gorbunstov, in England, early 2014. Gorbuntsov left Russia with records that show millions of banking transactions. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
For example, Russian Railways made 98 payments to Setstroienergo, worth $211 million, where the money was moved on to other bank accounts almost immediately. In each of these transactions, Setstroienergo received a sum from Russian Railways and either that day or the next working day paid out exactly the same amount to a company called StroiMontazh.
The money went into StroiMontazh's account at a bank called Industrial Credit Bank (Incred). That bank was also run by Gorbuntsov; Krapivin was not a shareholder.
It is not clear who controlled StroiMontazh and its account at Incred, or why the company received payments from Setstroienergo. StroiMontazh was liquidated in 2010, and its previous shareholders and management could not be traced. Setstroienergo declined to comment.
Gorbuntsov's database contains transactions by both Incred and STB. The database indicates that StroiMontazh rapidly transferred most of the money it received to other entities. Some went to accounts outside STB and Incred, but most moved around numerous accounts within those two banks.
In one 30-month period, starting in 2007, StroiMontazh paid a little more than a third of the funds it received to accounts outside STB and Incred. This money appeared to go to railway contractors for work such as installing new track and signalling equipment, judged by an examination of public records and interviews with local railway officials and company executives.
But nearly two-thirds of the money StroiMontazh received moved on quickly to other companies with accounts at STB or Incred. A search of corporate filings, tender records, court judgments, business directories and media reports found no reference to these companies carrying out railway work. No officials from these firms could be traced for comment.
One recipient was a company named Legatta, which banked at STB. According to its published accounts, Legatta's revenue totalled only $3,800 in the year to the end of December 2007. Yet in the same period, the bank database records the company was paid $115 million by StroiMontazh. Reuters was unable to contact Legatta.
A company called Univolt was another recipient of funds from StroiMontazh. It received $67 million between May 2007 and October 2007, according to the database. Reuters could find no accounts for Univolt and was unable to trace it. In a 2010 Moscow court case unrelated to Russian Railways, tax authorities said they had ordered the suspension of Univolt's bank account at Incred because they suspected the company carried out no genuine business.
At some companies that received money from StroiMontazh, the people registered as owners said they knew nothing about the firms they purportedly owned.
One recipient was a company called Trastkom, which banked at STB. Its listed owner, Nadezhda Korostelyova, was registered at an address in a southern suburb of Moscow. Korostelyova's daughter Vasilisa answered the door and said her mother no longer lived there. She said that many people had come to ask about her mother's companies.
''Several years ago a friend of a friend asked her to set up a company,'' the daughter said. That person had taken a copy of her mother's passport and asked Korostelyova to sign some forms. ''Firms are still being set up in her name.''
WAITING: The fast line to Finland passed through Zelenogorsk, some 60 km from St. Petersburg. REUTERS/Alexander DemianchukIn addition to the $772 million that Setstroienergo received from Russian Railways between 2007 and 2009, the contractor also won Russian Railways' tenders worth $223 million between 2010 and 2013, according to public documents.
Setstroienergo declined to comment for this story. Public information about the company is limited. It is a ''closed joint stock company,'' which means it does not have to disclose its owners.
Its official headquarters is a single room in a run-down business centre in a block of flats in Moscow's northwestern suburb of Tushino. When a reporter visited the address during working hours, no one was there.
(Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov. Editing by Richard Woods and Simon Robinson.)
Currency conversion at 1 rouble to $0.0304, the rate at the end of 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is based in part on a database of banking transactions provided by German Gorbuntsov, a Russian former banker now living in exile. Reuters confirmed aspects of the database by showing samples of account numbers and the names of corporate account holders to people inside Russia's tax service. They said the records corresponded with tax office records. A former employee at one railway contractor - who has no connection to Gorbuntsov - also disclosed internal records of his firm's dealings with Russian Railways. Those details corresponded with banking transactions recorded in Gorbuntsov's database. Some money transfers from Russia to banks abroad shown in the database were also cross-checked against banking records disclosed in New York in an unrelated case. They, too, corroborated Gorbuntsov's database.
By Stephen Grey, and Douglas Busvine
MOSCOW - The patterns of bank transactions relating to Russian Railways described in a Reuters investigation show signs of so-called suspicious banking activity, according to Russian and U.S. financial investigators and consultants. But some cautioned that the unusual activities, while meriting further attention, don't necessarily constitute illegal behaviour.
MOSCOW: One of the offices of InterProgressBank. According to corporate filings late last year, the bank is part-owned by Andrei Krapivin. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva
Courtney Linn, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, said the payments to Russian Railways contractors and complex subsequent transactions contain signals of possible money laundering which, if they occurred in the United States, would likely trigger an investigation.
''If, as it appears here, the money is moving in a gigantic swirl, the purpose of the transactions is unclear and the beneficiaries are not obvious, and behind this is government money: These would together push all the buttons,'' Linn said. ''It would make for a really high priority for law enforcement.''
Sergei Lesnichiy, of Moscow's state-backed Centre for Financial Investigation, said the contract bidding identified by Reuters was unusual - but not necessarily illegal in Russia. ''It isn't a crime in Russia for two related companies to compete against each other in a tender,'' he said. ''It isn't a crime for them to have nominee owners. Nor is the lack of a real business a crime in itself - although it may be an indication of a crime.''
SNAPSHOT: Andrei Krapivin, seen here in a passport photograph, was once described by Russian Railways boss Yakunin as an ''old acquaintance.''
He added: ''If the cost of work is inflated to a level not justified under market conditions it would be an abuse of office by the railway officials involved. If those officials and those who benefited were affiliated, then it would meet the Russian legal definition of fraud.''
Adam Kaufman, former chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney and now a partner with the law firm Lewis Baach, cautioned that there was a large gap between identifying suspicious transactions and proving any illegality.
''I am wary of any allegation of money laundering based solely on bank records. With some countries, including Russia, you can never get the evidence you need, unless there is a political will to provide it,'' Kaufman said.
By Stephen Grey, and Douglas Busvine
Every year state-owned Russian Railways does business worth billions of dollars with private sector companies. They include a number of organisations where Andrei Krapivin - a banker once described by Yakunin, head of Russian Railways, as an ''old acquaintance'' - has held board positions or share stakes. Krapivin is a large shareholder in Interprogressbank (IPB), a Moscow private bank. He and other senior figures at the bank have connections to Russian Railways as detailed below.
Andrei Krapivin
Director of Rusagrotrans from 2008, according to corporate documents. The company was founded that year with the approval of Russian Railways, according to its website, and is now Russia's top grain shipper by rail, operating 30,000 rail cars.Director of Transmashholding, a locomotive and railway carriage manufacturer, from 2008 to 2012.Director of Freight One, which calls itself ''the leading freight operator in Russia,'' from 2007 to 2011.Owner of 28 percent of IPB, according to corporate filings in Dec., 2013.Valery Markelov
Director of Lengiprotrans, a design company that carried out 1.7 billion roubles ($52 million) of research and development work for Russian Railways in 2012, according to financial statements.Shareholder in oil trading company Moboil, which receives $500 million a year for supplying fuel to the railways.Owner of 85 percent of Moscow security firm Legion-2, which advertises that it provides security for Russian Railways.Director of IPB and owner of 28 percent of the bank, according to corporate filings in Dec., 2013.Boris Usherovich
Director of Lengiprotrans, design company that does work for Russian Railways.Director of IPB and owner of 15 percent of the bank, according to corporate filings in Dec., 2013.Alexei Krapivin
Director of Lengiprotrans, design company that does work for Russian Railways.Director of Roszheldorproject, design company part-owned by Russian Railways. It performed 26 billion roubles ($790 million) of work for the railways in 2012.Director of IPB, where his father, Andrei, is a shareholder.Reuters sent written requests for comment on this story to the main shareholders in IPB, both via IPB and their registered home addresses. They did not respond.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became a wild east in which communist central planning was supplanted by crude, free-wheeling capitalism. A small number of people - dubbed ''oligarchs'' by the press - became enormously wealthy by seizing control of state assets or buying them at knock-down prices. President Vladimir Putin, who came to power unexpectedly on the last day of 1999, re-imposed stability, while stronger oil prices fueled growth.
But critics of Putin's Russia, both inside the country and out, contend that a well-connected elite continues to enrich itself unfairly from the state.
Early last year Reuters journalists set out to investigate how that happens. The team, led by special correspondent Stephen Grey, found evidence that the key to making money now is not seizing control of firms but tapping into state spending.
The reporters examined some of the Russian state's biggest spenders - including the health system and publicly-owned Russian Railways. They found that large sums of public money were regularly paid to obscure private companies, and that substantial expenditure was captured by well-connected individuals.
Some information - billions of dollars of Russian Railways' tenders for outsourcing work, for instance - was publicly available. Reporters analysed that data and other information provided by sources, including two years' records of transactions through two Moscow banks. Further details were gathered from dozens of interviews and on the ground reporting in Russia and other countries.
Though each element of the inquiries was different, the end results showed a pattern: Significant sums of state money were passing either through intermediaries with links to Putin or into companies with secretive owners.
Comrade Capitalism: a Reuters investigation
Reporting team: Stephen Grey, Douglas Busvine, Jason Bush, Roman Anin, Elizabeth Piper, and Himanshu Ojha.
Additional reporting: Timothy Heritage, Brian Grow, Gleb Stolyarov, Jack Stubbs, Alexander Winning, Maria Golovnina, Jens Hack, Polina Devitt, Clare Kane, and Christian Hetzner
Data: Himanshu Ojha
Web programming: Charlie Szymanski
Graphics: Matthew Weber and Maryanne Murray
Design: Troy Dunkley
Picture editor: Simon Newman
Video: Julian Satterthwaite, Juris Abramenko and David Dormer
Series editors: Richard Woods and Simon Robinson
Contact: stephen.grey@thomsonreuters.com
Human Rights Watch Condemns the Detention of Journalists by Ukrainian Provisional Government #Saveourguys
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:09
Human Rights Watch has issued a statement on their website condemning the arbitrary detention of journalists in Ukraine and demanding the release of those currently being held. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has also urged Kiev authorities to release the Russian journalists. Their stance places the U.S. government in an awkward position.
On May 18, the Ukrainian National Guard detained two Life News reporters, Marat Saichenko and Oleg Sidyakin, near Kramotorsk. U.S. officials backed the Ukrainian government's decision, parroting the claim that those detained were assisting the rebels militarily. Kiev has accused the journalists of transporting anti-aircraft missiles in their trunk, and claimed that they were not journalists at all.
A far more plausible explanation for their arrest is the fact that these were the same journalists that exposed the fact that U.N. helicopters were being employed in the military crackdown against protesters in the east.
The U.N. has since issued a statement condemning the fact that the markings were left on the aircraft during the mission. Note that they didn't object to the use of their aircraft in military operations, just the markings (shooting political dissidents is fine, but don't tarnish our image).
Planting anti-aircraft missiles on the reporters was a clumsy move. After the provisional government's cover-up of the massacre in Odessa, and their involvement in the sniper shootings in Kiev nothing they claim can be taken seriously, and the idea that a pair of established journalists would go rouge, risking their lives and careers to transport two Polish missile launchers to rebels right after breaking a major story that damaged Kiev's image, is absurd. The fact that even the mainstream media isn't willing to risk their credibility by pushing that angle speaks for itself.
Come to think of it, the mainstream media isn't talking about this scandal at all. That's convenient.
Marat Saichenko has been working as photo correspondent and cameraman for almost 15 years, and has reported on the conflicts in Syria, and Libya.
A British journalist who was reporting for RT was also arrested this week, but was quickly released after Britain applied diplomatic pressure.
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People who live near Russian uranium mine sleep for up to 6 days at a time.
Tue, 20 May 2014 00:58
Dozens of residents regularly hit by 'sleeping epidemic' for days at a timeUranium mine near Russian town and Kazakhstan village considered causeScientists' tests have all come back inconclusive, doctors dispute the theoryBy Will Stewart
Published: 15:21 EST, 16 May 2014 | Updated: 02:42 EST, 17 May 2014
Scientists are struggling to understand the cause of a 'sleeping epidemic' among the few remaining residents of a Russian Soviet-era 'ghost town' and a nearby village in Kazakhstan.
Dozens of locals in Krasnogorsk, Russia, and Kalachi, Kazakhstan, have been hit by the mystery condition which causes them to doze off for up to six days.
There are even fears one sufferer - an elderly man - was buried alive before the epidemic was diagnosed.
This is one of the victims of the 'sleeping epidemic' that routinely hits areas near a disused Soviet mine
An abandoned uranium mine in Krasnogorsk and the village of Kalachi is thought to be drugging residents
The illness has come in a number of waves, for example May 2013, New Year 2014, and this month.
Some residents even keep bags packed in case they need to be whisked to hospital.
It is believed to be caused by a disused uranium mine nearby - but experts cannot find evidence to make the connection.
Almost 7,000 experiments have been conducted into the mystery slumbers, with everything tested from local vodka to radiation, and including analyses of soil, water, air, blood, hair, and nails.
So far, all have come back inconclusive.
Children affected by the illness suffered serious and frightening hallucinations while weakness, drowsiness, dizziness and memory loss are also symptoms.
Adults simply blacked out.
Mystery: Dozens of locals doze off for up to six days, but scientists' tests have proved inconclusive
People, including this 75-year-old from Kalachi, Kazakhstan, pack hospital bags in case they are struck down
'I was milking cows, as usual, early in the morning, and fell asleep,' Marina Felk, 50, a milkmaid in Kalachi, told The Siberian Times.
'I remember nothing at all, only that when I came round I was in a hospital ward, and the nurses smiled and me, and said: "Welcome back sleeping princess, you've finally woken up".
'What else do I remember? Nothing. I slept for two days and two nights.
Krasnogorsk, which was once home to 6,500 people, has now become a ghost town and the remaining residents are struggling to make ends meet
A woman picks up logs in the quiet village of Krasnogorsk. Locals speculate that the problem arises after a sudden rise in temperature, but this has not been corroborated.
'The women in my ward said that I several times tried to wake up saying I needed to urgently milk my cows.'
Alexey Gom, 30, was struck down with the sleep plague when he visited relatives in Kalachi.
'I came with my wife to visit my mother-in-law,' he explained.
'I switched on my laptop, opened the pages that I needed to finish reading - and that was it.
Inconclusive: Almost 7,000 experiments have been conducted into the mystery slumbers, with everything tested from local vodka to radiation, and including analyses of soil, water, air, blood, hair, and nails
In the Soviet era, Krasnogorsk was a secret and 'closed' uranium mining town run directly from Moscow
Once 6,500 people lived in Krasnogorsk. Now it is only home to 130 who struggle for resources
Radiation danger signs are used to warn people as they approach the uranium mines
'It felt like somebody pressed a button to switch me off. I woke up in hospital, with my wife and mother-in-law by my bedside. The doctor found nothing wrong with me after a series of tests he performed.
'I slept for more than 30 hours.'
In the USSR era, Krasnogorsk was a secret and 'closed' uranium mining town run directly from Moscow.
Marina Felk, a milkmaid from Kalachi village, is pictured in hospital after being struck down with the 'sleeping epidemic'
A man from the Kalachi village is treated by doctors. Some residents are said to keep bags packed incase they are whisked to hospital
The hospital in Krasnogorsk, where many of the sufferers area treated. Most victims of the epidemic remember nothing from the days when they are struck down by the illness
The town was once home to 6,500 - now a mere 130 people live here, struggling to make ends meet.
Local community council head Alexander Rats said: 'You could find everything in our shops: meat, condensed milk, boots made in Yugoslavia - a miner could buy three new cars every year. We had two children's nurseries, both with swimming pools.'
Locals speculate that the problem arises after a sudden rise in temperature, but again this has not been corroborated.
Alexey Gom, 30, was struck down with the sleep plague when he visited relatives in Kalachi
He said it felt like someone had 'pressed a button' to switch him off, but doctors found nothing wrong after a series of tests
Some sufferers sleep for up to 30 hours once hit with the epidemic
While some scientists claim uranium gas evaporates from the mine, others claim it has seeped into local rivers.
It could be similar to the 'Bin Laden itch' in the USA when people found rashes on their skin because they were scared of possible bacteriological attack.
'Something like this often happens in closed communities,' he claimed.
Doctors have carried out extensive tests on sufferers but they cannot find a connection to the uranium
A statue of Lenin in the village of Kalachi. Some scientists claim the problem is caused in the village when uranium gas evaporates from the mine - others claim it has seeped into local rivers
Doctor-in-chief in nearby Esil, Kabdrashit Almagambetov, said: 'When the patient wakes up, he will remember nothing. The story is one and the same each time - weakness, slow reactions, then fast asleep.
'Sadly, the nature of this condition is still not known. We have excluded infections, we checked blood and spine liquid, nothing is there. We categorised it as toxic encephalopathy, but 'toxic' is just a guess here, and encephalopathy is just the title of the set of brain diseases.'
Radon gas is seen as a possible cause, but he is sceptical.
'I am an anaesthesiologist myself and we use similar gases for anaesthesia but the patients wake up a maximum in one hour after surgery,' he said.
'These people sleep for two to six days, so what is the concentration of this gas then? And why does one person fall asleep and somebody who lives with him does not?'
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Russia, China veto UN move to refer Syria to ICC
Fri, 23 May 2014 18:00
UNITED NATIONS (AP) '-- Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes, prompting angry responses from the proposal's supporters who said the two countries should be ashamed.
This is the fourth time Russia and China have used their veto power as permanent council members to deflect action against the government of President Bashar Assad. The 13 other council members voted in favor of the resolution.
More than 60 countries signed on to support the French-drafted measure, in a dramatic demonstration of international backing for justice in the conflict which has sent millions fleeing and killed more than 160,000, according to activists.
The resolution would have referred Syria's crisis, now in its fourth year, to the world's permanent war crimes tribunal for investigation of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, without specifically targeting either the government or the opposition.
Before the vote, French Ambassador Gerard Araud warned, "A veto would cover up all crimes. It would be vetoing justice."
But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin walked into the council meeting with a smile, telling reporters, "I'm going to be boringly predictable."
Churkin, who had called the vote a French "publicity stunt" that would hurt efforts to find a political solution to a crisis, lashed out at France again on Thursday. He asked why France was damaging the unity of the five veto-wielding permanent members, who had agreed on earlier resolutions to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons and on improving delivery of humanitarian aid.
"Is it just to try once again to create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict?" Churkin asked.
China's deputy U.N. ambassador Wang Min added that a referral to the ICC won't lead to an early resumption of peace talks.
Frustration has soared as the international community struggles to find a solution to the war, deliver humanitarian aid to almost 3.5 million Syrians in need and end impunity for horrific crimes. Attempts at peace talks are at a standstill, leading the joint U.N.-Arab league envoy who tried to broker them to resign.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power had her speech ready for the promised veto. "Sadly, because of the decision by the Russian Federation to back the Syrian regime no matter what it does, the Syrian people will not see justice today," she said.
The resolution would have condemned the "widespread violation" of human rights and international humanitarian law by Syrian authorities and pro-government militias as well as abuses by "non-state armed groups" during the last three years. It would have authorized the ICC to investigate "the situation in Syria," without targeting either side.
"It is to Russia and China's shame that they have chosen to block efforts to achieve justice for the Syrian people," said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
The Security Council has been deeply divided over Syria, with Syrian allies Russia and China at odds with the U.S., its Western allies and other members who support the opposition.
"Russia and China's vote for continued impunity is a disgrace of historic proportion," said Richard Dicker, director of international justice at Human Rights Watch. The opposition Syrian Coalition also called the vetoes a "disgrace."
Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, so the only way it can be referred to The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal is by the Security Council.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari who lobbied countries not to support the resolution, told the council that it was based on "nothing but mendacious allegations and fabricated lies."
Power brought a Syrian activist who survived an August 2013 chemical weapons attack to the council. She told her fellow diplomats that because of the vetoes, Qusai Zakariya will not be able to testify before the ICC about his ordeal.
Zakariya he walked out before Churkin and Ja'afari addressed the council.
"I couldn't just stay there and hear all those lies," he told The Associated Press.
The U.S., Britain and France vowed to keep pursing justice despite Thursday's defeat.
France's Araud said Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan are working on a draft resolution that would "further" the Syria humanitarian resolution approved earlier this year, which has largely failed to get aid to millions in need.
Araud later told reporters in an admission of frustration: "There is a moment you feel powerless ... in front of barbarians and their supporters."
Syrian al Qaeda reach foothills of Israeli-held Golan.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:01
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMANThu May 22, 2014 2:21am EDT
Weapons are seen in the sand near Adra, east of Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA August 7, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout
AMMAN (Reuters) - Atop the hill of Tel Ahmar just a few kilometers from Israeli forces on the Golan Heights, Syrian Islamist fighters hoist the al Qaeda flag and praise their mentor Osama bin Laden.
One of the men, a leader of al Qaeda's Nusra Front, compares their battlefield - a lush agricultural region where dead soldiers lie on the ground near a charred Soviet-era tank - with the struggle their comrades waged years ago in Afghanistan.
"This view reminds us of the lion of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, on the mountains of Tora Bora," he can be heard saying in a video posted by the group, which shows the fighters in sight of Israeli jeeps patrolling the fortified frontier.
Last month's capture of the post was followed days later by the seizure of the Syrian army's 61 Infantry Brigade base near the town of Nawa, one of the biggest rebel gains in the south during the three years of Syria's war.
The advances are important not just because they expand rebel control close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the Jordanian border, but because President Bashar al-Assad's power base in Damascus lies just 40 miles to the north.
They have brought heavy retaliation from Assad's forces, including aerial bombardment. The army has also sent elite troop reinforcements to the south in recent days after rebels pulled out of Homs city, relieving pressure on the army there.
The reinforcements reflect Assad's determination, on the eve of a June 3 presidential election likely to extend his power for another seven years, not to lose control of the towns of Nawa and Quneitra in the Golan foothills.
Rebels last year briefly took the Quneitra border crossing with Israel and now control many rural villages in the area.
"The regime has rung alarm bells, fearing that the fall of Nawa and Quneitra could open an axis towards Damascus," said Brigadier General Assad Zoubi, who headed an air force academy before defecting in early 2012.
The southern front's potential as a launchpad for an offensive against the capital means it could ultimately pose the main challenge to Assad.
"It's a much shorter distance than that required for a push to Damascus from the rebels' northern strongholds. The southern front, contrary to all previous expectations, may ultimately be the crucial one," said Ehud Yaari, a fellow at the Washington Institute, a leading U.S. think-tank.
"Coalitions of rebels are proving effective against regime outposts," said Yaari, adding Syrian army units in the south were thinly spread and often isolated.
Recent rebel advances have been mainly achieved by the Nusra Front together with other Islamist brigades and rebels fighting under the broad umbrella of the Free Syrian Army.
In all, Western intelligence sources estimate around 60 insurgent groups are operating in southern Syria. In contrast to the deadly internecine rebel fighting further north, so far they have coordinated well in battle.
Echoing the trend in the north, however, radical groups such as Nusra, Muthana and Ahrar al-Sham have grown in influence, eroding the dominance of larger brigades backed by Saudi Arabia.
The weakness of those brigades was further exposed when they failed to respond to Nusra's abduction of Colonel Ahmad Neamah, a critic of radical Islamists who leads the Western- and Saudi-backed military council which has around 20,000 rebels under its nominal authority.
The trial earlier this month of Neamah in a Nusra court, where he was videoed confessing to holding back weapons from rebels to suit foreign powers who wanted to prolong the conflict, has further discredited the moderate rebels' cause.
Rebels in Deraa, the cradle of the 2011 uprising against Assad, have long complained that unlike their comrades in the north, they have been choked of significant arms, with both the West and Jordan wary of arming insurgents so close to Israel.
From a covert operations room in the Jordanian capital Amman, intelligence officers from countries including the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates assess arms requests by the rebels.
They have ensured some light arms and ammunition cross the border - enough only to make tactical gains every once in a while - rebels in contact with the operations room say.
They say Saudi Arabia, the main backer, is now focusing less on a military challenge to Assad and more on financing groups such as the Yarmouk Brigade, Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigades and al-Omari Brigade to counter the future spread of al Qaeda.
"They are supporting groups that will one day stand up to the extremist radical groups and now want to disrupt the road to Damascus so that the battle is prolonged," said one Islamist rebel leader, who asked not to be identified.
Riyadh's deeper concern stems from the impact an al Qaeda enclave so close to home could have on thousands of young disaffected Saudis, according to Jordanian security sources. At its closest point, Saudi Arabia is separated from southern Syria by just 100 km (60 miles) of Jordanian desert.
Moderate rebels say they are losing ground because of Western reluctance to provide anti-aircraft weapons that could curb Assad's devastating air strikes.
In contrast, financial support from private Salafi funders mainly in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar has enabled Nusra and hardline Islamist brigades to recruit more young men and tap into anger at perceived betrayal by the West and regional powers.
Now nearly 2,000 Nusra Front fighters operate in the area with organizational skills that far outweigh those of their more secular-minded rivals, whose splits and squabbles have lost them much popular support.
Nusra fighters man dozens of checkpoints across the Hauran Plain, from the Golan Heights frontier in the west to Deraa on the Jordan border and other towns 60 km (40 miles) to the east.
They pay their men well and even ensure their families have enough flour and basic items, said one moderate rebel commander in the town of Jasem who has ties with Nusra fighters.
Their popularity has come at the expense of other insurgents who earned a reputation for looting and feuding. Nusra courts now deal with a growing number of issues, from family disputes to allocating financial aid to the needy, residents say.
In the last six months the Nusra Front has also established offices in the old quarter of Deraa city, where an assortment of rebel brigades set up on tribal lines had long held sway.
The emergence of Nusra has chipped away at that tribal structure of small brigades and family associations that were long viewed by Jordan and Saudi Arabia as a bulwark against the radical Salafi ideology promoted by wealthy Gulf benefactors.
"These Islamist groups have become the main actors on the ground. The Free Syrian Army has disintegrated so the expansion of Nusra in rural Deraa is natural and expected - though it was delayed because of the force of tribalism," said former Jordanian army general and military analyst Fayez Dwairi.
(Editing by Dominic Evans and Giles Elgood)
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US 'losing patience' with Venezuela - John Kerry.
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:56
21 May 2014Last updated at 18:57 ET US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that impatience with the Venezuelan government is growing across the region over its failure to address the country's serious political crisis.
Mr Kerry called on President Nicolas Maduro to reopen negotiations with the opposition.
Talks collapsed over a dispute about the release of political prisoners.
At least 42 people, from both sides of the political divide, have been killed in street protests this year.
Speaking during a visit to Mexico, Mr Kerry said that the United States was still considering imposing sanctions against Venezuela, but he hoped such measures would not be necessary.
"The power is in the hands of the government, and the government has to exercise that power in a responsible way in order to make the choices to create stability and a way forward in Venezuela," he said.
Mr Kerry criticised the government's "total failure" to show good faith during the talks, which are being mediated by the Unasur regional bloc and a representative of the Vatican.
He said Venezuela's neighbours, "including the United States", are growing increasingly concerned about the instability generated by the crisis.
Unasur foreign ministers left Caracas on Tuesday, but issued a statement asking both sides to book a date for a new round of talks.
The main opposition group, the Democratic Unity Alliance (MUD), pulled out of the talks last week after the government refused to release more than 200 people detained when the police broke up protest camps in Caracas earlier this month.
The opposition blames the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, for the economic crisis in the in the oil-producing nation.
Mr Maduro says right-wing sectors across the region, backed up by the United States, have been stirring trouble in Venezuela as part of a plan to oust him and put an end to his programme of social reforms.
Princess Srirasmi G-string video reveals Thai royal couple's decadent lifestyle | Mail Online
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:47
A video of Princess Srirasmi has emerged in which she cavorts in a G-stringThe former waitress is the wife of Thailand's Crown Prince MahaThe footage shows the princess feeding her dog Foo Foo cakeIt was shot during an event at the Thai Royal Palace in BangkokThe video emerged as Thailand is rocked by a military coupBy Caroline Graham In Los Angeles
Published: 16:01 EST, 24 May 2014 | Updated: 06:52 EST, 25 May 2014
As the sounds of a George Michael song drifted over the tropical gardens, Thailand's Crown Prince and his fun-loving wife were in the mood to party.
But the guest of honour at the event was not a visiting head of state or local dignitary '' but the couple's pampered poodle, Foo Foo.
A video of the decadent event shot at the Thai Royal Palace in Bangkok shows Princess Srirasmi '' a former waitress '' cavorting in just a tiny G-string as she feeds the dog cake.
The offending video: Crown Prince Maha and his topless wife entertaining Foo Foo
Raunchy: The video is sure to intensify concerns about Prince Maha's fitness to succeed his father
Controversial: Princess Srirasmi cavorted in just a tiny G-string
Thailand's Crown Princess appears topless in birthday video
In one scene, the topless princess appears to bend over to eat out of a dog bowl, while in another a servant falls to his knees in front of her. Later the royal couple sing Happy Birthday to their dog.
The video emerged as Thailand is rocked by a military coup. Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was detained in Bangkok on Friday, and hundreds of people have taken to the streets to protest about the military's power-grab.
The Crown Prince and his wife yesterday left Tylney Hall, a five-star hotel in Hampshire, where they and a 30-strong entourage had been ensconced for almost a week.
The video is sure to intensify concerns about Prince Maha's fitness to succeed his father, 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The king, who is said to have Parkinson's disease, has not been seen in public since the military junta decreed martial law.
VIPs: The couple at Buckingham Palace in 2012
Last year leaked US diplomatic cables revealed many senior Thai officials expressed grave doubts about the Crown Prince.
In one, a former US ambassador in Bangkok told how Princess Srirasmi confided in him during a state dinner that Foo Foo 'holds the rank of Air Chief Marshal'.
Four sons of the Crown Prince from a former marriage have been exiled from Thailand by their father since 1996 and now live in the United States.
Luxury: The Crown Prince and his wife yesterday left Tylney Hall, a five-star hotel in Hampshire, where they and a 30-strong entourage had been ensconced for almost a week
Yesterday one of them, Juthavachara Vivacharawongse, 34, told The Mail on Sunday at his home near San Diego, California: 'I would prefer not to speak about this [the coup] or our father. It is a private, family matter.'
The Crown Prince married Princess Srirasmi in 2001. They have a nine-year-old son.
A source in Thailand, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said yesterday: 'There are many here who would prefer the Crown Prince not to come back.'
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Exxon announces first-ever shale oil and gas find in Argentina
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:32
BUENOS AIRES, May 22 (UPI) --U.S. energy company Exxon Mobil said its affiliate in Argentina discovered oil and natural gas in the Vaca Muerta shale play in the country's Neuquen province.ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina, alongside its regional partner, said it was carrying out additional analysis at the Bajo del Choique X-2 well after confirming an oil and gas discovery.
Appraisal wells will need to be drilled before Exxon makes a commercial decision on the area, but the company expressed optimism about the potential.
"Not all shales are alike, so our first Exxon Mobil-operated discovery in the Vaca Muerta play is a very positive sign that the shale in this area of Neuquen province holds great promise as a liquids-rich unconventional resource for Argentina," Stephen Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Co. said in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration estimates Argentina has 774 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources, the third most in the world. Oil reserves are estimated at 2.5 billion barrels. Its Vaca Muerta region is considered one of the best shale reserve areas in the world.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
AQ Inc
Tweeting at terrorists: inside America's social media battle with online jihad - Telegraph
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:45
But the Youtube video ends on an unexpected note. Cuspert is lying on the floor, soaked in blood, as others try desperately to resuscitate him. The final frame is of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty.
The video was not produced in some terrorist lair but instead at the US State Department in Washington, where filmmakers spliced together the militants' own footage with scenes of the bloody reality in Syria.
"His message was that jihad is basically a joy ride," says Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, as he plays the video in his office. "Our task is to show that it's not."
Mr Fernandez is the head of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), an experimental unit of the State Department intended as America's answer to the digital propaganda put out by al-Qaeda and other extremists.
The CSCC was created in 2011 and for the last three years its team of operators have worked in Arabic, Urdu and Somali as they trawl through the murky world of online jihad.
But its newer English language Twitter account has attracted the most attention, mainly for the spectacle of the US government arguing publicly on the internet with supporters of al-Qaeda.
Where most State Department Twitter feeds post only platitudes and rarely respond to other users, @ThinkAgain_DOS is caustic and high tempo and actively looks for places to start fights.
Here's one typical exchange:
"What we're doing is very different from anything else in US government public communications," says Mr Fernandez, a career diplomat and a fluent Arabic speaker. "Our goal is not to make people love the US. Our goal is to make al-Qaeda look bad."
The ambassador describes his target audience as people in the "antechamber of al-Qaeda," those sympathetic to jihad but who have not yet made the decision to turn to violence.
To reach that audience the State Department goes wherever the jihadist recruiters go, from Twitter to Facebook, Tumblr to Youtube. "The whole ethos is to contest the space. The extremists were there but no one was pushing back against them," Mr Fernandez says. His team has recently been looking at expanding into Ask.fm, a social networking site popular with British Islamists.
The CSCC makes its case by attacking al-Qaeda for killing Muslims, belittling Osama bin Laden as a coward who sent others to die while he hid in Pakistan, and warning of the violent end that awaits would-be jihadists like Denis Cuspert.
(For the record: Cuspert survived the injuries shown in the State Department's Youtube video but is reported to have been killed last month by a suicide bomber from a rival jihadist faction.)
The State Department, however, avoids getting into debates about whether the Quran can justify violence. "We don't feel its effective for the US government to be talking about religion," says Mr Fernandez.
But is there value to this strategy of aggressive public engagement? Can snarky tweets and Youtube clips actually stop real-world violence?
John Rosenthal, an Al-Monitor contributor who covers European jihadist networks and the Syrian war, doubts it. "If their goal is convincing people not to join jihad then I imagine their success rate is going to be zero," he says.
The CSCC's output is all proudly branded as official US government material, complete with American flags and the State Department seal. Critics argue this overt approach means its works will be dismissed out of hand by exactly the people it is trying to reach.
Even if potential jihadists take a serious look at the CSCC's messaging it is unlikely to resonate, says Mr Rosenthal. He points to the State Department's habit of illustrating al-Qaeda's brutality with gruesome images of beheadings and executions. "Jihadist online propaganda is itself full of such images. For the jihadists, these are selling points."
In an unscientific test, The Telegraph emailed several of the Islamist Twitter users who had crossed swords online with the State Department in recent weeks to ask whether the back and forth had changed their thinking.
Most refused to talk but one man, who had argued with the CSCC about Syria and identified himself as Herman Sholef, sent back a scornful reply.
"The [CSCC Twitter account] is just a joke comedian acting like a clown for the real jihadi," he said, suggesting that it was in fact raising the profile of the extremists it tangled with. "One mention and you get more followers. Who doesn't like free marketing?"
In purely numerical terms the jihadists also seem to have the upper hand. The CSCC's most popular Twitter account, which focuses on Pakistan, has fewer than 6,000 followers while many of its opponents boast tens of thousands.
The CSCC retains the support of both Rick Stengel, the former editor of Time who is now the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy, and Ed Royce, the Republican chair of the House foreign affairs committee, which oversees its $5 million budget.
In a statement, Mr Royce said that aggressively confronting al-Qaeda online "must be a fundamental part of overal US counterterrorism strategy".
We are in a battle of ideas with extremist ideologies. The CSCC is battling, though on a relatively small scale. Its successes are often challenging to measure and incremental, while its failures are visible. The Committee will keep pressing the Administration to make CSCC efforts a priority, because bottom line, extremism is growing.''
In his office in Washington, Ambassador Fernandez acknowledges that in a war of words it is difficult to give metrics of success. "The holy grail would be someone saying 'I was a terrorist but I changed my mind because of you.' I don't have a firm example of that," he says.
Instead, he offers a dozen examples of what he says are signs that the online jihadists are rattled by the CSCC's work.
In July 2013, a prominent al-Qaeda supporter, @Al_Bttaar, organised an unsuccessful spamming attack on the State Department's Arabic language account. Five months later, Syrian jihadists tried again, warning that the account was trying to instigate fitna, an Islamic word for strife, between its fighters.
Above all, Mr Fernandez argues that the CSCC is contesting a digital and ideological battlefield that would otherwise be ceded to the jihadists and their supporters.
"This is some of the most difficult, dangerous ungoverned space of all," he says. "We can't just leave it to the enemy."
Diplomats: No matter who wins EU elections, the favourite is Lagarde
Wed, 21 May 2014 11:57
IMF chief Christine Lagarde is being increasingly name checked, in the context of preparations for the 27 May EU summit, two days after the results of the European elections are known, diplomats told EurActiv.
EU leaders will meet for a special summit on 27 May, in order to discuss the aftermath of two elections. It was previously announced that the heads of state and government will gather in Brussels for a dinner to review the results of the European elections. But the news is that EU leaders will also take stock of the Presidential election held on 25 May in Ukraine, the role of Russia, and the eventuality of moving to the ''third level'' of sanctions, which will hit the Russian economy, and backfire on the Union.
Regarding the result of the European elections, the discussion is likely to be ''messy'' if the outcome doesn't show a clear winner, an EU diplomat said. Opinion polls held across the EU have shown that the results, between the centre-right European peoples' party (EPP) and the centre-left Party of European Socialists (PES), may be too close to call.
The political thinking is that EU leaders should not ''abide" by the results, but take the results ''into account''. The biggest challenge would be if PES candidate Martin Schulz wins the elections, diplomats say, implying that if the EPP candidate Jean-Claude Juncker gains the upper hand, Europe's political leadership would be happier.
In the case of a clear winner, a likely result would be for EU leaders to state that they would propose this candidate to Parliament, where he should be able to get a clear majority. In that case, current Council President Herman Van Rompuy would get a mandate to discuss the process with member states, and with the MEPs. The former Belgian Prime Minister is an advocate of appointing an ''outsider'' as Commission President, rather than one of the EU elections leading candidates, or ''Spitzenkandidaten''.
As the European Parliament is expected to elect its new president in July, EU leaders would prefer that the Commission President is elected before, in order to avoid deciding on a package of appointments at that stage. Member states are more in favour of discussing a package of positions, including determining the President of the European Council, EU foreign affairs chief and President of the Eurogroup, in September.
If Juncker wins the elections, he has reasonably good chances of getting the Commission President job. If Schulz wins, his chances are smaller, because it is less likely that he will get a qualified majority of the heads of state and government. Regarding liberal ALDE candidate Guy Verhofstadt, diplomats discarded his chances of winning such a majority.
But the most likely development would be that neither of the Spitzenkandidaten emerge in strong position, and that EU leaders will promote a candidate from outside. The name which has been frequently mentioned recently is that of Lagarde, EurActiv was told.
The current IMF chief is EPP-affiliated, but apparently this is not seen as an obstacle, despite the fact that France is governed by the Socialists.
Analysts have also predicted that none of the three Spitzenkandidaten is likely to become Commission President [read more].
Schulz, who continues to lead the parliament while he is campaigning, has made it clear that the next parliament would not vote in support of a candidate appointed behind closed doors. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has recently warned against proposing an outside candidate, saying that such move by EU leaders would ''destroy EU democracy'' [read more].
However, diplomats appear to suggest that the EU electorate would understand such a move, if it's properly explained.
Italy includes cocaine, prostitution and black market alcohol in it's GDP figures
Sat, 24 May 2014 15:40
The Italian government has announced it will include revenues from prostitution and illegal drug sales to its gross domestic product (GDP) figures.
The change in methodology complies with new EU rules requiring member states to record the value of all activities that produce income, including the "production and consumption of drugs", prostitution and black market alcohol and cigarette sales.
The move could boost the country's finances by as much as 2 per cent, according to the European statistics office, Eurostat, and help Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tackle the country's deficit.
Last week, official figures showed the Italian economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter. Italy's GDP fell by 0.1 per cent in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter and by 0.5 per cent from the same period a year earlier.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 0.2 per cent quarterly rise and a 0.1 per cent annual fall.
The Bank of Italy estimates that the value of the criminal economy accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the country's GDP. Italy also has a significant shadow economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 17 per cent of GDP.
EU elections: exit polls says D66 big winner, Wilders biggest loser.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:28
EU elections: exit polls says D66 big winner, Wilders biggest loserThursday 22 May 2014
The definitive exit poll from broadcaster Nos confirms that the Liberal democratic party D66 and the Christian Democrats are set to be the biggest Dutch parties in the European parliament.
The definitive Ipsos poll put the Christian Democrats on 15.2% and D66 on 15.6%, ahead of Geert Wilders' anti-EU PVV, which went down from 17% to 12.2%. The ruling VVD are up from 11.4% to 12.3% in the poll.
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said the results showed that the Netherlands had convincingly voted in favour of Europe. Geert Wilders had campaigned on a 'quit the EU' ticket and is hoping to form a European alliance with other populists and far-right parties.
Geert Wilders said his party had been hit by the low turnout. '65% of the PVV voters stayed at home,' he said in a speech to party supporters. 'So we cannot conclude the Netherlands has become more pro Europe.'
The PVV had been forecast to score similar results to D66 in opinion polls prior to the vote.
Official results
The official results will not be published until Sunday evening, ahead of the end of voting in most of the rest of the EU.
The European Commission wants the Netherlands to keep the results secret because of fears they could influence other EU voters. Britain, where anti-EU party UKip is forecast to do very well, also voted on Thursday.
The Netherlands is electing 26 Dutch members of the European parliament.
According to the definitive exit poll, which is based on anonymous repeat voting at 44 representative polling stations, the Dutch result will be as follows:
CDA (Christian Democrat): 4 (was 5)
PVV (anti-immigration): 3 (was 4, then 5 when NL was given an extra seat)
VVD (right-wing Liberal): 3 (was 3)
PvdA (Labour): 3 (was 3)
D66 (Liberal democrat): 4 (was 3)
GroenLinks (left-wing green): 2 (was 3)
SGP/CU (orthodox Christian): 2 (was 2)
SP (socialist): 3 (was 1)
PvdA (animal rights): 1 (new)
50+: 1 (new)
An exit poll published by the Maurice de Hond polling organisation came up with slightly different percentage votes but the same pattern of seats in Brussels.
(C) DutchNews.nl
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Hundreds of migrants heading for Europe rescued in Mediterranean.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:03
Nearly 500 illegal immigrants have been rescued from MediterraneanDesperate refugees were making crossing from Africa into Europe133 of them were children, many of whom were unaccompaniedMajority of children to make crossing this year were without parentsSave the Children warn there are not enough resources to care for themBy Chris Pleasance
Published: 15:12 EST, 21 May 2014 | Updated: 20:01 EST, 21 May 2014
The Italian navy rescued nearly 500 people, including more than 100 children, in an all-night operation yesterday as the immigrants tried to cross from Africa into Europe.
The operation began as 133 children along with 74 women were brought aboard two navy vessels Monday evening from two fishing boats tethered together off Sicily.
The rescue then had to be suspended due to rough waters, the navy said. The remaining migrants, 281 men, were thrown life preservers and rescued on Tuesday.
More than 100 children, including babies, were rescued from the boat. Save the Children have warned that an increasing number of youngster are being sent across unaccompanied
Nearly 500 migrants, more than 133 of them children, have been rescued from a boat in the Mediterranean
The illegal immigrants, most of whom were from Syria, Egypt and Bangladesh, were trying to cross from Africa into Europe along an an infamous route which has seen many killed
Most were from Syria, Egypt and Bangladesh, the navy said.
The Save the Children charity has expressed concern about the large number of unaccompanied minors arriving in this year's surge of migrants fleeing conflict and poverty, usually aboard dangerous boats.
While most children under 10 who arrive in Italy are with family, many adolescents are traveling alone. Save the Children says there is enough enough space or equipment to house and protect them.
There has been an enormous jump this year in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
The Italian Navy stepped in to help as part of operation Mare Nostrum which was set up to save migrants after the Lampedusa disaster which saw 366 people drown
Charity Save the Children expressed concern at the rising number of unaccompanied children on such boats
Of the 26,644 migrants who arrived in Italy through April 30 this year, 3,848 were children and 2,744 of those were unaccompanied.
That compares with 3,362 arrivals in the same period last year, including 522 unaccompanied minors and 58 children with families.
The U.N. estimates that over 170 people have died at sea trying to reach Europe so far this year.
Italy launched patrols of the Mediterranean after several hundred people drown in a single shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa last year.
The desperate refugees make the dangerous crossing as they flee famine and war in their home countries
The country has warned that it may allow migrants to travel into northern Europe unless it receives help dealing with an influx of people fleeing war and famine in their home countries.
'We'll just let them go,' he said. 'Since migrants do not want to stay in Italy, they should have the opportunity to exercise their right of political asylum in the rest of Europe.
'Otherwise we transform Italy into the prison of political refugees.'
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Federal Reserve a Jewish Institution
Wed, 21 May 2014 18:31
codex magica mysterious monuments conspiracy of six pointed starExclusive Intelligence Examiner Report
Head of Bank of Israel Slated to Become Vice Chairman
''Stanley Fischer, who led the Bank of Israel for nine years, has been asked to be the U.S. Federal Reserve's next Vice Chairman once Janet Yellen takes over as chief of the U.S. Central bank...'''--
The Globe and Mail (London)December 12, 2013
Noted author Eustace Mullins, in his classic book, Secrets of the Federal Reserve, shared with us his research that the Federal Reserve system is owned by Jewish bankers and operated solely for their benefit.
The Fed's recent selection of an Israeli citizen, Stanley Fischer, as its Vice Chairman simply confirms Mullins' research. Then there is Janice Yellen, the Jewish banker, who is the new Chairman of the Fed, and of course we should mention such Jewish luminaries as Ben Bernanke, a Jew, who was, until Yellen, the boss of the Fed, and his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, also a Jew.With Yellen at the top and Fischer taking the helm as the #2 at the Fed, all pretense that this is an ''American'' institution is set aside. Fischer was previously, for nine years, the head and Chairman of none other than the Bank of Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel. As such, he reported direct to Jewish billionaires. Now, at the Fed in Washington, D.C., Fischer continues to answer to the same financial bigwigs. What is good for Israel is good for America, even if it is bad.
Fischer, 70, who's also been a top level official at both the Jewish-run World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, guided Israel's economic success even as the U.S. was suffering under the Great Recession that began in 2008. Fischer, born in Zambia, Africa, to wealthy Jewish parents, became a naturalized American citizen, so now he is a dual citizen.Every major U.S. bank is run by Jews. So, Israel is in charge of our financial system. Remember Bernie Madoff, who stole over a hundred billion from investors he conned? Madoff, in prison now, was head of the American branch of Bronfman's World Zionist Congress. All his money was deposited in the Israel Discount Bank, in Tel Aviv.
Americans falsely believe that the Fed, which took over our banks and stock markets in 1913 under Zionist stooge Woodrow Wilson, looks out for the U.S.A. They are wrong. The Fed Reserve System is set up as a global concern for the benefit of rich Jews.
Recently, the first ever audit of the Fed, a partial one, was conducted. I was able to get hold of a copy of that audit, performed under the Dodd-Frank Act. This audit showed that the Fed was pumping up the whole world's flagging economies. Not only banks, but huge corporations got billions in no-interest ''loans'' and bailouts from the Fed.
Recipients included the Deutsche Bank and Volkswagen in Germany, HSBC Bank in China, Barclay's Bank in Great Britain, Nomura Securities in Japan, and Fiat in Italy. Big corporations in America which benefited included IBM, Ford, McDonald's, etc.
At this very moment, the Fed pumps an additional 70 billion each month into the U.S. economy and over 40 billion into the European Community. Ms. Yellen is keeping those printing presses busy, putting out loads of devalued dollars.
The Fed caused the Great Depression of the 1930s by withdrawing dollars from the economy. The Jewish elite did the same thing in 2007 and 2008 when Alan Greenspan cut the money supply, and they'll do it again in the future. Recessions occur to achieve political goals.
The last President to stand up to these plotting money terrorists was John F. Kennedy. He, like Abe Lincoln, printed Treasury greenbacks, bypassing the Fed with its bogus ''Federal Reserve Notes.'' Before their heroic acts there was brave President Andrew Jackson.
Jackson told the bankers in his inaugural speech, ''I will rout you out.'' And so he did. Once in office he killed the National Bank, the same as today's Fed. On a memorial near his gravesite marker in Tennessee is an epitaph for Jackson. It reads: ''I killed the bank.''
Today, we need to emulate ''Old Hickory'' by killing the Fed. With it should go every one of these lying, devilish big Jew banks'--JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiCorp, et al. Only then will America, and you and I, be free.
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Stanley Fischer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 21 May 2014 18:27
Stanley "Stan" Fischer (Hebrew: ××× ×'× ×¤××(C)ר'Ž; born October 15, 1943) is an economist. Born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), he holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States.[1] He served as governor of the Bank of Israel from 2005 to 2013. He previously served as chief economist at the World Bank.[2] On January 10, 2014, United States PresidentBarack Obama nominated Fischer to be Vice-Chairman of the US Federal Reserve System.[3]
Early life and education[edit]Fischer was born into a Jewish family in Mazabuka, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). When he was 13, his family moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where he became active in the Habonim Zionist youth movement. In 1960, he visited Israel as part of a winter program for youth leaders, and studied Hebrew at kibbutzMa'agan Michael. He had originally planned to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but went to the United Kingdom to study after receiving a scholarship from the London School of Economics, and obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in economics from 1962''1966. Fischer then moved to the United States to study at MIT, and earned a Ph.D. in economics in 1969 with a thesis titled Essays on assets and contingent commodities written under the supervision of Franklin M. Fisher.[4][5] He became an American citizen in 1976.
Academic career[edit]In the early 1970s, Fischer worked as an associate professor at the University of Chicago. He served as a professor at the MIT Department of Economics from 1977 to 1988.
In 1977, Fischer wrote the paper "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule"[6] where he combined the idea of rational expectations argued by New classical economists like Robert Lucas with the idea that price stickiness still led to some degree of market shortcomings that an active monetary policy could help mitigate in times of economic downturns. The paper made Fischer a central figure in New Keynesian economics.[7][8]
He authored three popular economics textbooks, Macroeconomics (with R¼diger Dornbusch and Richard Startz), Lectures on Macroeconomics (with Olivier Blanchard), and the introductory Economics, with David Begg and R¼diger Dornbusch. He was also Ben Bernanke's, Mario Draghi's and Greg Mankiw's Ph.D. thesis advisor.[9]
In 2012, Fischer served as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Economic Thought at the University of Oxford.[10]
Banking career[edit]From January 1988 to August 1990 he was Vice President, Development Economics and Chief Economist at the World Bank. He then became the First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), from September 1994 until the end of August 2001. By the end of 2001, Fischer had joined the influential Washington-based financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty. After leaving the IMF, he served as Vice Chairman of Citigroup, President of Citigroup International, and Head of the Public Sector Client Group. Fischer worked at Citigroup from February, 2002 to April, 2005.
Central Banks[edit]Bank of Israel[edit]Fischer was appointed Governor of the Bank of Israel in January 2005 by the Israeli cabinet, after being recommended by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He took the position on May 1, 2005, replacing David Klein, who ended his term on January 16, 2005. Fischer became an Israeli citizen but did not have to renounce his American citizenship, despite previous concerns that such a step was a prerequisite for the appointment. [11][12][13]
He had been involved in the past with the Bank of Israel, having served as an American government adviser to Israel's economic stabilization program in 1985. On May 2, 2010, Fischer was sworn in for a second term.[14]
Under his management, in 2010, the Bank of Israel was ranked first among central banks for its efficient functioning, according to IMD's World Competitiveness Yearbook.[15]
Fischer has earned plaudits across the board for his handling of the Israeli economy in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. In September 2009, the Bank of Israel was the first bank in the developed world to raise its interest rates.[16]
In 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Fischer received an "A" rating on the Central Banker Report Card published by Global Finance magazine.[17][18]
In June 2011, Fischer applied for the post of IMF managing director to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but was barred as the IMF stipulates that a new managing director must be no older than 65, and he was 67 at the time.[19]
Fischer stepped down as governor of the Bank of Israel on June 30, midway through his second term.[20]
U.S. Federal Reserve[edit]In nominating Fischer for Fed Vice-Chair, President Obama stated he brought "decades of leadership and expertise from various roles, including serving at the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Israel".[3] If confirmed, Fischer will replace Vice-Chair Janet Yellen who was appointed Chair in 2013.[21]
Recognition[edit]Fischer received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University in 2006.[22] In October 2010, Fischer was declared Central Bank Governor of the Year by Euromoney magazine. [23]
He is a member of the Bilderberg Group and attended the Swiss 2011 Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland.[24] He is also a Distinguished Fellow in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Personal life[edit]Fischer is married to Rhoda Fischer (n(C)e Keet), whom he met during his days in Habonim. The couple have three children. When they moved to Israel, Rhoda became honorary president of Aleh Negev, a rehabilitation village for the disabled.
References[edit]^Stanley Fischer firms as top choice to become US Fed vice, The Sydney Morning Herald, via Bloomberg News, December 12, 2013.^Ewing, Jack (12 June 2011). "Bank of Israel Chief Enters Race to Lead I.M.F". The New York Times. ^ abObama nominates former Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer as Fed vice chairman, Associated Press, Reuters and Haaretz, January 10, 2014.^Fischer, Stanley. "Essays on assets and contingent commodities". DSpace@MIT. Retrieved January 14, 2014. ^Stanley Fischer at the Mathematics Genealogy Project^(Stanley Fischer (1977) Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply RuleJournal of Political Economy.^Binyamim Appelbaum (December 12, 2013) Young Stanley Fischer and the Keynesian CounterrevolutionNew York Times. Retrieved 15 December 2014^Dylan Matthews (January 13, 2014) Stanley Fischer saved Israel from the Great Recession. Now Janet Yellen wants him to help save the U.S.Washington Post. Retrieved January 15, 2014^"Good News". Greg Mankiw's Blog. 18 May 2011. ^"Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Economic Thought", Institute for Strategic Thought, University of Oxford, 5''6 November 2012.^Mitnick, Joshua (13 June 2011). "Israel's Stanley Fischer Announces Bid to Head the IMF". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 December 2012. ^Odenheimer, Alisa (12 June 2011). "Fischer's Age, Nationality Are Hurdles in Bid for IMF Post". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 30 December 2012. ^Klein, Zeev (19 January 2005). "Bach c'tee approves Fischer". Globes. Retrieved 30 December 2012. ^Filut, Adrian (2 May 2010). "Stanley Fischer sworn in for second term". Globes. Retrieved 2 May 2010. ^Viniar, Olga (20 May 2010). "Israel's economy most durable in face of crises". ynetnews.com. Retrieved 23 October 2010. ^Levy, Tal; Bassok, Moti (25 August 2009). "Israel central bank first in developed world to raise interest". Haaretz. Retrieved 23 October 2010. ^"World's Top Central Bankers 2009". Global Finance. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010. ^"Global Finance Magazine names the World's Top Central Bankers 2010". Global Finance. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010. ^Wroughton, Lesley (13 June 2011). "Lagarde, Carstens shortlisted for IMF race-officials". Reuters. ^"Stanley Fischer to step down as BOI chief". Ynet News. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013. ^Mark Felsenthal and Ann Saphir, Barack Obama taps Stanley Fischer for Fed vice chair, Reuters, January 10, 2014.^"Stanley Fischer: The Israeli economy". bis.org. Retrieved 23 October 2010. ^"Central bank governor of the year 2010: Stanley Fischer's bold moves show the value of experience". Euromoney. October 2010. ^"Bilderberg 2011 list of participants". BilderbergMeetings.org. Retrieved August 24, 2011. External links[edit]Articles"Exchange Rate Regimes: Is the Bipolar View Correct?", International Monetary Fund, Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government, American Economic Association and the Society of Government Economists. Delivered at the Meetings of the American Economic Association, New Orleans, January 6, 2001Stanley Fischer: The Life of an Internationally Renowned Economist, Citigroup, August 13, 2004Why so gloomy on the global economy?, The Banker, 4 October 2004Citigroup's Fischer to Head Israel's Central Bank, Bloomberg, January 9, 2005Israel looks to US for bank chief, BBC News, 10 January 2005C. Peter McColough Series on International Economics: The Israeli Economy: Thriving in a Complicated Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, October 18, 2007PersondataNameFischer, StanleyAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican economistDate of birth15 October 1943Place of birthNorthern Rhodesia (Now Zambia)Date of deathPlace of death
Fischer Confirmed to Fed Board
Wed, 21 May 2014 18:26
by Victoria FinkleMAY 21, 2014 1:16pm ET
The Senate confirmed economist Stanley Fischer to the Federal Reserve Board Wednesday afternoon.
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The Bells Are Ringing'... Has the Fed Signaled the Market Top?
Wed, 21 May 2014 18:18
The bells are ringing for the markets, but few are noticing.
The primary driver of all stock prices for the last 5 years has been Fed intervention. The Fed is now actively tapering its QE programs. But more importantly, Fed officials are beginning to leak that the Fed is changing course with its policies.
To understand this, you first need to note that Fed officials are public officials as well as economists. What we mean by this is that when a Fed official speaks in public, their message is carefully crafted. Fed officials hedge their views and find ways of hinting at changes without ever outright saying anything too extreme.
In this sense, it's important to read ''between the lines'' when Fed officials speak. With that in mind, we need to note that the Fed is beginning to hint at a potential exit strategy to its policies.
First off, Janet Yellen hints at an interest rate hike during a press conference. Now Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser is criticizing the Fed's ''interventionist'' actions.
Over the past five years, the Fed and, dare I say, many other central banks have become much more interventionist. I do not think this is a particularly healthy state of affairs for central banks or our economies. The crisis in the U.S. has long passed. With a growing economy and the Fed's long-term asset purchases coming to an end, now is the time to contemplate restoring some semblance of normalcy to monetary policy.
Source: Philadelphia Fed.
The translation to this: the Philadelphia Fed is aware that the Fed is out of control and needs to back off.
Then we get Fed uber-dove Bill Dudley talking about ''eventual interest rate increases.''
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said the pace of eventual interest rate increases ''will probably be relatively slow,'' depending on the economy's progress and how financial markets react.
A ''mild'' response ''might encourage a somewhat faster pace,'' Dudley said today to the New York Association for Business Economics.''If bond yields were to move sharply higher,'' on the other hand, ''a more cautious approach might be warranted.''
Source: Businessweek.
This is Bill Dudley'... the man who has claimed that QE is fantastic and that inflation is too low'... now openly talking about when the Fed will begin hiking rates and how it will do so.
The writing is on the Wall. The Fed has reached Peak Intervention with its policies and is now shifting gears. This process will be gradual in nature, but the alleged ''exit strategy'' which the Fed has been avoiding for the last five years will begin looming on the horizon.
The question now is when the markets will take note of this.
This concludes this article. If you're looking for the means of protecting yourself from what's coming, you can pick up a FREE investment report titled Protect Your Portfolio at http://phoenixcapitalmarketing.com/special-reports.html.
This report outlines a number of strategies you can implement to prepare yourself and your loved ones from the coming market carnage.
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JPMorgan Chase, Credit Agricole, and HSBC accused of interest rate rigging by European regulators
Wed, 21 May 2014 11:34
BRUSSELS, May 20 (UPI) --European regulators sent letters of objection on Tuesday to JPMorgan Chase, Cr(C)dit Agricole and HSBC for having colluded to rig benchmark interest rates tied to the euro.Authorities at the European Commission said that this was the first formal step toward investigations into antitrust activities at the three banks. The three banks are accused of colluding to influence the pricing of interest rate derivatives tied to the Euro Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor.
The move is the second time the commission has pulled up banks for rigging interest rates. In December 2013, the commission fined eight financial institutions $2.3 billion on similar charges. Four banks -- Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Soci(C)t(C) G(C)n(C)rale -- were found to have participated in a cartel involved in financial products linked to the Euribor.
"Since that time, we have continued our investigation under the standard cartel procedure for the three parties that did not settle with the Commission -- namely Cr(C)dit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase," a statement from the commission read.
The European Commission said that after a preliminary investigation, it has determined that the three banks named Tuesday were also involved in the cartel breaching the EU's antitrust laws. The banks will be given adequate time to make their cases, after which a final decision will be made.
"JPMorgan Chase has cooperated fully with the European Commission throughout its investigation," a bank spokesman said. "The company believes that the statement of objections is without merit and intends to defend itself fully."
"The commission has only just now announced that it is sending the objections," said Louise Tingstrom, a Cr(C)dit Agricole spokeswoman. "We shall examine them as soon as we have received them."
Euribor and other benchmark interest rates help determine the borrowing costs for trillions of dollars in loans, credit cards and mortgages. A company found to have broken EU antitrust laws can face fines up to 10 percent of its global revenues.
Trains Good, Planes Bad (whoo hoo!)
Airlines Want to Hide Fees, Government Taxes from Sale Prices
Sun, 25 May 2014 04:54
The nation's largest airliners are urging Congress to overturn a Department of Transportation rule that requires passengers to be notified of taxes and fees in advertisements '-- and it looks like they may get their wish.
Two years ago, airliners were told that advertising low-cost airfare while hiding taxes and fees was misleading to passengers. The Department of Transportation put an end to the deceptive advertising by requiring airliners and travel websites disclose the total cost of airfare up front '-- which might be why you haven't seen any good deals on airfare lately.
Several companies have been handed stiff fines by the DoT for running afoul of the rule. Allegiant Airlines was hit with a $100,000 fine after it deceptively advertised ''free'' flights that didn't mention a $15 ticket fee up front. Southwest Airlines was fined $200,000 for not making enough seats available to passengers under various promotions. And the booking website TripAdvisor was fined $80,000 for violating the rule altogether by hiding taxes and fees from passengers.
Frustrated, the airline industry challenged the DoT rule in court '-- and lost. But they would not accept defeat in their crusade to confuse passengers with deceptive low-fare pricing.
The airliners, backed by unions representing pilots and flight attendants, are now working with Congress on a bill that, if passed, would allow the industry to revert to its old ways of hiding fees and taxes when customers shop around for airfare.
Amusingly, the House bill is called the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, though it actually offers airlines an out when it comes to transparency. From the bill's text:
''It shall not be an unfair or deceptive practice'...for a covered entity to state in an advertisement or solicitation for passenger air transportation the base airfare for the air transportation if the covered entity clearly and separately discloses the government-imposed taxes and fees associated with the air transportation and the total cost of the air transportation.''
As Consumerist points out, this would allow an airliner to advertise a $39 one-way fare that actually costs more than $50 after taxes and fees are factored in '-- something the airliners were doing prior to 2012. And the bill is written in such a way that the practice could be extended to ticket brokering websites like TripAdvisor should they choose.
Consumer interest groups are not happy.
''Those deceptive and infuriating ads that were banned years ago are sneaking back,'' the website FlyersRights.org wrote on its blog in April. ''This bill is completely anti-consumer while at the same time denigrating customers and constituents alike. It is all about making airfares less transparent. The name of the bill is just the start of the false advertising.''
But Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, who introduced the so-called ''transparency'' bill in March, says the rule enforced by the DoT two years ago doesn't solve what it set out to '-- the rule adds to consumer confusion, Shuster argues, because the regulation ''actually hide the cost of government from consumers.''
''Virtually all consumer products are advertised at a base price, with taxes added on at the point of purchase,'' Shuster, whose political campaign has been the recipient of thousands of dollars from airliners, said in a statement. ''Department of Transportation regulations have fundamentally and unfairly changed the advertising rules for airfares by requiring all government imposed taxes and fees to be embedded in the advertised price of a ticket.''
The bill, which has bipartisan support in the House, is moving through Congress at breakneck speed. According to the website Govtrack.us, it has a 70 percent chance of passing.
Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.
Write-down of two-thirds of US shale oil explodes fracking myth.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:28
An oil field over the Monterey shale formation in California: 96% reserve downgrade undermines claims that fracking is solution to the world's energy needs. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images
Next month, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) will publish a new estimate of US shale deposits set to deal a death-blow to industry hype about a new golden era of US energy independence by fracking unconventional oil and gas.
EIA officials told the Los Angeles Times that previous estimates of recoverable oil in the Monterey shale reserves in California of about 15.4 billion barrels were vastly overstated. The revised estimate, they said, will slash this amount by 96% to a puny 600 million barrels of oil.
The Monterey formation, previously believed to contain more than double the amount of oil estimated at the Bakken shale in North Dakota, and five times larger than the Eagle Ford shale in South Texas, was slated to add up to 2.8 million jobs by 2020 and boost government tax revenues by $24.6 billion a year.
Industry lobbyists have for long highlighted the Monterey shale reserves as the big game-changer for US oil and gas production. Nick Grealy, who runs the consultancy No Hot Air which is funded by "gas and associated companies", and includes the UK's most high-profile shale gas fracker Cuadrilla among its clients, predicted last year that:
"... the star of the North American show is barely on most people's radar screens. California shale will... reinvigorate the Golden State's economy over the next two to three years."
This sort of hype triggered "a speculation boom among oil companies" according to the LA Times. The EIA's original survey for the US Department of Energy published in 2011 had been contracted out to Intek Inc. That report found that the Monterey shale constituted "64 percent of the total shale oil resources" in the US.
The EIA's revised estimate was based partly on analysis of actual output from wells where new fracking techniques had been applied. According to EIA petroleum analyst John Staub:
"From the information we've been able to gather, we've not seen evidence that oil extraction in this area is very productive using techniques like fracking... Our oil production estimates combined with a dearth of knowledge about geological differences among the oil fields led to erroneous predictions and estimates."
The Intek Inc study for the EIA had relied largely on oil industry claims, rather than proper data. Hitesh Mohan, who authored the Intek study for the EIA, reportedly conceded that "his figures were derived from technical reports and presentations from oil companies, including Occidental Petroleum, which owns the lion's share of oil leases in the Monterey Shale, at 1.6 million acres." Mohan had even lifted his original estimate for the EIA to 17 billion barrels.
Geoscientist David Hughes, who worked for the Geological Survey of Canada for 32 years, said:
"The oil had always been a statistical fantasy. Left out of all the hoopla was the fact that the EIA's estimate was little more than a back-of-the-envelope calculation."
Last year, the Post Carbon Institute (PCI) published Hughes' study, Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale, which conducted an empirical analysis of oil production data using a widely used industry database also relied on by the EIA. The report concluded that the original EIA estimate was "highly overstated," and unlikely to lead to a "statewide economic boom.... California should consider its economic and energy future in the absence of an oil production boom."
A spokesman for the Institute, Tod Brilliant, told me:
"Given the incredible difference between initial projections of 15 billion barrels and revisions to 600 million, does this not call into account all such global projections for tight oil?"
As I'd reported earlier in June last year, a wider PCI study by Hughes had come to similar conclusions about bullish estimates of US shale oil and gas potential, concluding that "light tight oil production in the USA will peak between 2015 and 2017, followed by a steep decline", while shale gas production would likely peak next year. In that post, I'd pointed out previous well-documented, and alarmingly common, cases of industry over-estimates of reserve sizes which later had been questioned.
Analysts like Jeremy Leggett have said, citing exaggerated oil industry estimates, that if reserve and production reality are indeed significantly lower than industry forecasts, we could be at risk of an oil shock as early as within the next five years.
The latest revelations follow a spate of bad news for industry reassurances about the fracking boom. New research published this month has found that measured methane leaks from fracking operations were three times larger than forecasted. The US Environment Protection Agency therefore "significantly underestimates" methane emissions from fracking, by as much as a 100 to a 1,000 times according to a new Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study published in April.
The Associated Press also reported, citing a Government Accountability Office investigation, that the US Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management had failed to adequately inspect thousands of oil and gas wells that are potentially high risk for water and environmental damage.
Despite the mounting evidence that the shale gas boom is heading for a bust, both economically and environmentally, both governments and industry are together pouring their eggs into a rather flimsy basket.
According to a secret trade memo obtained by the Huffington Post, the Obama administration and the European Union are pushing ahead with efforts to "expand US fracking, offshore oil drilling and natural gas exploration", as well as exports to the EU, under the prospective Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, Zero Point. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @nafeezahmed.
Who Is The New Secret Buyer Of U.S. Debt?
Fri, 23 May 2014 11:18
On the surface, the economic atmosphere of the U.S. has appeared rather calm and uneventful. Stocks are up, employment isn't great but jobs aren't collapsing into the void (at least not openly), and the U.S. dollar seems to be going strong. Peel away the thin veneer, however, and a different financial horror show is revealed.
U.S. stocks have enjoyed unprecedented crash protection due to a steady infusion of fiat money from the Federal Reserve known as quantitative easing. With the advent of the ''taper'', QE is now swiftly coming to a close (as is evident in the overall reduction in treasury market purchases), and is slated to end by this fall, if not sooner.
Employment has been boosted only in statistical presentation, and not in reality. The Labor Department's creative accounting of job numbers omits numerous factors, the most important being the issue of long term unemployed. Millions of people who have been jobless for so long they no longer qualify for benefits are being removed from the rolls. This quiet catastrophe has the side bonus of making it appear as though unemployment is going down.
U.S. Treasury bonds, and by extension the dollar, have also stayed afloat due to the river of stimulus being introduced by the Federal Reserve. That same river, through QE, is now drying up.
In my article The Final Swindle Of Private American Wealth Has Begun, I outline the data which leads me to believe that the Fed taper is a deliberate action in preparation for an impending market collapse. The effectiveness of QE stimulus has a shelf-life, and that shelf life has come to an end. With debt monetization no longer a useful tool in propping up the ailing U.S. economy, central bankers are publicly stepping back. Why? If a collapse occurs while stimulus is in full swing, the Fed immediately takes full blame for the calamity, while being forced to admit that central banking as a concept serves absolutely no meaningful purpose.
My research over many years has led me to conclude that a collapse of the American system is not only expected by international financiers, but is in fact being engineered by them. The Fed is an entity created by globalists for globalists. These people have no loyalties to any one country or culture. Their only loyalties are to themselves and their private organizations.
While many people assume that the stimulus measures of the Fed are driven by a desire to save our economy and currency, I see instead a concerted program of destabilization which is meant to bring about the eventual demise of our nation's fiscal infrastructure. What some might call ''kicking the can down the road,'' I call deliberately stretching the country thin over time, so that any indirect crisis can be used as a trigger event to bring the ceiling crashing down.
In the past several months, the Fed taper of QE and subsequently U.S. bond buying has coincided with steep declines in purchases by China, a dump of one-fifth of holdings by Russia, and an overall decline in new purchases of U.S. dollars for FOREX reserves.
With the Ukraine crisis now escalating to fever pitch, BRIC nations are openly discussing the probability of ''de-dollarization'' in international summits, and the ultimate dumping of the dollar as the world reserve currency.
The U.S. is in desperate need of a benefactor to purchase its ever rising debt and keep the system running. Strangely, a buyer with apparently bottomless pockets has arrived to pick up the slack that the Fed and the BRICS are leaving behind. But, who is this buyer?
At first glance, it appears to be the tiny nation of Belgium.
While foreign investment in the U.S. has sharply declined since March, Belgium has quickly become the third largest buyer of Treasury bonds, just behind China and Japan, purchasing more than $200 billion in securities in the past five months, adding to a total stash of around $340 billion. This development is rather bewildering, primarily because Belgium's GDP as of 2012 was a miniscule $483 billion, meaning, Belgium has spent nearly the entirety of its yearly GDP on our debt.
Clearly, this is impossible, and someone, somewhere, is using Belgium as a proxy in order to prop up the U.S. But who?
Recently, a company based in Belgium called Euroclear has come forward claiming to be the culprit behind the massive purchases of American debt. Euroclear, though, is not a direct buyer. Instead, the bank is a facilitator, using what it calls a ''collateral highway'' to allow central banks and international banks to move vast amounts of securities around the world faster than ever before.
Euroclear claims to be an administrator for more than $24 trillion in worldwide assets and transactions, but these transactions are not initiated by the company itself. Euroclear is a middleman used by our secret buyer to quickly move U.S. Treasuries into various accounts without ever being identified. So the question remains, who is the true buyer?
My investigation into Euroclear found some interesting facts. Euroclear has financial relationships with more than 90 percent of the world's central banks and was once partly owned and run by 120 of the largest financial institutions back when it was called the ''Euroclear System''. The organization was consolidated and operated by none other than JP Morgan Bank in 1972. In 2000, Euroclear was officially incorporated and became its own entity. However, one must remember, once a JP Morgan bank, always a JP Morgan bank.
Another interesting fact '' Euroclear also has a strong relationship with the Russian government and is a primary broker for Russian debt to foreign investors. This once again proves my ongoing point that Russia is tied to the global banking cabal as much as the United States. The East vs. West paradigm is a sham of the highest order.
Euroclear's ties to the banking elite are obvious; however, we are still no closer to discovering the specific groups or institution responsible for buying up U.S. debt. I think that the use of Euroclear and Belgium may be a key in understanding this mystery.
Belgium is the political center of the EU, with more politicians, diplomats and lobbyists than Washington D.C. It is also, despite its size and economic weakness, a member of an exclusive economic club called the ''Group Of Ten'' (G10).
The G10 nations have all agreed to participate in a ''General Arrangement to Borrow'' (GAB) launched in 1962 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The GAB is designed as an ever cycling fund which members pay into. In times of emergency, members can ask the IMF's permission for a release of funds. If the IMF agrees, it then injects capital through Treasury purchases and SDR allocations. Essentially, the IMF takes our money, then gives it back to us in times of desperation (with strings attached). A similar program called 'New Arrangements To Borrow' (NAB) involves 38 member countries. This fund was boosted to approximately 370 billion SDR (or $575 billion dollars U.S.) as the derivatives crisis struck markets in 2008-2009. Without a full and independent audit of the IMF, however, it is impossible to know the exact funds it has at its disposal, or how many SDR's it has created.
It should be noted the Bank of International Settlements is also an overseer of the G10. If you want to learn more about the darker nature of globalist groups like the IMF and the BIS, read my articles, Russia Is Dominated By Global Banks, Too, and False East/West Paradigm Hides The Rise Of Global Currency.
The following article from Harpers titled ''Ruling The World Of Money,'' was published in 1983 and boasts about the secrecy and ''ingenuity'' of the Bank Of International Settlements, an unaccountable body of financiers that dominates the very course of economic life around the world.
It is my belief that Belgium, as a member of the G10 and the GAB/NAB agreements, is being used as a proxy by the BIS and the IMF to purchase U.S. debt, but at a high price. I believe that the banking elite are hiding behind their middleman, Euroclear, because they do not want their purchases of Treasuries revealed too soon. I believe that the IMF in particular is accumulating U.S. debt to be used later as leverage to absorb the dollar and finalize the rise of their SDR currency basket as the world reserve standard.
Imagine what would happen if all foreign creditors abandoned U.S. debt purchases because the dollar was no longer seen as viable as a world reserve currency. Imagine that the Fed's efforts to stimulate through fiat printing became useless in propping up Treasuries, serving only to devalue the domestic buying power of our currency. Imagine that the IMF swoops in as the lender of last resort; the only entity willing to service our debt and keep the system running. Imagine what kind of concessions America would have to make to a global loan shark like the IMF.
Keep in mind, the plan to replace the dollar is not mere "theory". In fact, IMF head Christine Lagarde has openly called for a "global financial system" to take over in the place of the current dollar based system.
The Bretton Woods System, established in 1944, was used by the United Nations and participating governments to form international rules of economic conduct, including fixed rates for currencies and establishing the dollar as the monetary backbone. The IMF was created during this shift towards globalization as the BIS slithered into the background after its business dealings with the Nazis were exposed. It was the G10, backed by the IMF, that then signed the Smithsonian Agreement in 1971 which ended the Bretton Woods system of fixed currencies, as well as any remnants of the gold standard. This led to the floated currency system we have today, as well as the slow poison of monetary inflation which has now destroyed more than 98 percent of the dollar's purchasing power.
I believe the next and final step in the banker program is to reestablish a new Bretton Woods style system in the wake of an engineered catastrophe. That is to say, we are about to go full circle. Perhaps Ukraine will be the cover event, or tensions in the South China Sea. Just as Bretton Woods was unveiled during World War II, Bretton Woods redux may be unveiled during World War III. In either case, the false East/West paradigm is the most useful ploy the elites have to bring about a controlled decline of the dollar.
The new system will reintroduce the concept of fixed currencies, but this time, all currencies will be fixed or ''pegged'' to the value of the SDR global basket. The IMF holds a global SDR summit every five years, and the next meeting is set for the beginning of 2015.
If the Chinese yuan is brought into the SDR basket next year, if the BRICS enter into a conjured economic war with the West, and if the dollar is toppled as the world reserve, there will be nothing left in terms of fiscal structure in the way of a global currency system. If the public does not remove the globalist edifice by force, the IMF and the BIS will then achieve their dream '' the complete dissolution of economic sovereignty, and the acceptance by the masses of global financial governance. The elites don't want to hide behind the curtain anymore. They want recognition. They want to be worshiped. And, it all begins with the secret buyout of America, the implosion of our debt markets, and the annihilation of our way of life.
You can contact Brandon Smith at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Karen Hudes: Japan is now demanding access to its gold from the World Bank.
Fri, 23 May 2014 11:22
Karen Hudes is in Japan which is the first country to demand access to it's gold collateral account.https://twitter.com/KarenHudes
Her twitter excerpts from yesterday May 20, 2014 include:
The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are in a coalition and they are now using offsets to finance the 25% of world trade among themselves, settling the difference in gold. At the spring meetings of the World Bank/IMF, it was agreed that the world's gold that is held in a trust account for the benefit of humanity (called the Global Debt Facility) would be minted into the world's currencies. https://s3.amazonaws.com/khudes/breakthrough.pdf
I am in Tokyo because Japan will be the first country to access its gold from the Global Debt Facility. The world's citizens and taxpayers are all watching us tell the Banking Cartel where to get off. Wolfgang Struck, the Authorized Signatory on the Global Debt Facility, has included documentation showing the authenticity of this matter, which I have uploaded to these links as well:
Hillary 2016
Exclusive: Confidential source reveals to me what really happened in Benghazi | Allen B. West - AllenBWest.com
Sun, 25 May 2014 03:04
Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods
Today as I returned from Detroit, I had a moment that I truly felt was God sent, as I don't believe in coincidences. It happened on one of my flights, and it was two hours I will never forget.
I was seated beside someone who personally knew one of the men who was there on the roof in Benghazi. This person was excited to share with me the ''ground truth'' of what happened September 11, 2012.
My seat mate drew schematics to orient me to the ''time and spacing'' and the direction of the attack. I learned about the repeated orders to the men at the CIA annex to stand down and do nothing '-- thank God two of them, Glenn Doherty and Ty Woods, lived up to their code of honor and ran to the sound of the guns, resulting in their loss of life '-- but the preservation of life for others, their fellow Americans.
I learned about the proximity of the staging area of the attack to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, and the attackers were indeed Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated with al-Qaida. I came to understand why Ambassador Chris Stevens was there in the first place and that he had in fact requested better security but was denied '' the question is, by whom? And I learned that the Martyrs of 17 February Brigade were in charge of security and were the ones who opened the gates, then fled.
I learned there are those who are being threatened with their pensions being cut off if they come forth to speak.
And I learned, as I presumed, that there was a covert weapons scheme going on in Libya, Benghazi. We had been supplying radical Islamists with weapons against Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi, effectively supplying the enemy and destabilizing that country. And it seems that there was a CIA weapons buy-back program, the aim of which was to ship the retrieved weapons out of Libya through Turkey, and to the Islamist forces in Syria.
Benghazi and the operations in Libya are shrouded in a fog of lies, deceit, manipulation, threats, intimidation, coercion, abandonment, and worst of all, potentially treason.
No, it was not about a kidnapping scheme, it was about something, as I've stated, that will make Iran-Contra look like Romper Room. The web of lies spun is coming apart, and all other committee hearings on this matter should be shut down.
The House has established a Select Committee '-- quite telling that the same has not been done in the Senate '-- and those involved, to include the President, MUST appear before Rep. Trey Gowdy.
And to those Democrats appointed to the committee: if you seek to obstruct the revelation of the truth, you are complicit and guilty as well.
Am I afraid because of what I now know? Heck no. I'm honored to have been entrusted, so I for one can be on the right side of history.
CNN Won't Be Shamed Into Covering Benghazi | The Daily Caller
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:46
CNN President Jeff Zucker declared his network would ''not going to be shamed'' into covering Benghazi and other stories without ''real news value'' at an awards dinner Monday.
Capital New York reports that Zucker explained CNN's post-plane plans during an interview at the Deadline Club's annual dinner on Monday night.
''I don't think there's any question about our commitment to breaking news, as evidenced by all the questions about the plane,'' Zucker told The New York Times' Bill Carter (RELATED: The five most ridiculous aspects of CNN's missing Malaysian flight coverage).
''So we're still there whenever that happens,'' he continued, ''but we're going to supplement that with some different kind of storytelling.''
What kind of stories? ''Climate change is one of those stories that deserves more attention, that we all talk about,'' he explained '-- though he lamented the fact that ''when we do do those stories, there does tend to be a tremendous amount of lack of interest on the audience's part.''
But there are some stories Zucker is loathe to touch, like the House select committee on Benghazi scandal.
''We're not going to be shamed into it by others who have political beliefs that want to try to have temper tantrums to shame other news organizations into covering something,'' he explained, taking a not-so-subtle shot at the Republican Party. ''If it's of real news value, we'll cover it.''
For all his talk of ''real news,'' Zucker felt compelled to explain why his network obsessively covered the missing airliner for two months despite possessing almost no new information.
''I'm incredibly comfortable with it,'' he declared. ''It was an enormously important story: an American-made Boeing jet liner, with Rolls Royce engines with 239 people, disappears into thin air . . . That's why we devoted the resources that we did to it.''
But Zucker did admit that CNN anchor Don Lemon's theory that the plane could have been swallowed by a black hole was over the top.
''He was being facetious, but it did not come off that way,'' he said. ''And he knows that if he could do it over again, he wouldn't quite present it that way.''
Zucker, who is famous for his inept tenure as president of NBC, moved to CNN in January 2013 and almost immediately drove its U.S. operation into the ground, with the original cable news network suffering its worst prim time ratings in twenty years.
On Tuesday it was revealed that NBC beat out all competitors in the 2013-14 September to May prime time season, increasing its audience by 13 percent while CNN continued to hemorrhage viewers.
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Drone Nation
White House to disclose secret memo that defends using drones to kill U.S. citizens
Wed, 21 May 2014 11:58
On the eve of a critical Senate vote, the Obama administration signaled it will publicly reveal a secret memo describing its legal justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism overseas.
Two administration officials told The Associated Press that the Justice Department has decided not to appeal a court order requiring disclosure of a redacted version of the memo under the Freedom of Information Act. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
The decision to release the documents comes a day before the Senate is to vote on advancing President Barack Obama's nomination of the memo's author, Harvard professor and former Justice Department official David Barron, to sit on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had vowed to attempt to block Barron's confirmation with a filibuster if the documents were not made public. Paul issued a statement Tuesday saying he still opposes Barron's nomination.
Wednesday's expected vote would allow the Senate to move ahead with a final vote on Barron on Thursday. ''I think we'll be OK,'' Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier Tuesday.
Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader born in the United States, was killed after being targeted by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Some legal scholars and human rights activists complained that it was illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial.
Some senators, including those in Obama's own party, have called for the public release of the memo before the final confirmation vote. The White House agreed under the pressure to show senators unredacted copies of all written legal advice written by Barron regarding the potential use of lethal force against U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations.
Until now, the administration has fought in court to keep the writings from public view. But administration officials said that Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. has decided not appeal an April 21 ruling requiring disclosure by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and that Attorney General Eric Holder concurred with his opinion.
The release could take some time, since the redactions are subject to court approval. And the administration also is insisting that a classified ruling on the case also be redacted to protect information classified for national security, but not the legal reasoning, one of the officials said.
The drone strike that killed al-Awlaki also killed another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, an al-Qaida propagandist. Al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed the following month in another drone attack.
The American Civil Liberties Union and two reporters for The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, filed a FOIA suit. In January 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that she had no authority to order the documents disclosed, although she chided the Obama administration for refusing to release them.
But a three-judge appeals court panel noted that after McMahon ruled, senior government officials spoke about the subject. The panel rejected the government's claim that the court could not consider official disclosures made after McMahon's ruling, including a 16-page Justice Department white paper on the subject and public comments by Obama in May in which he acknowledged his role in the al-Awlaki killing, saying he had ''authorized the strike that took him out.''
Senate Democrats confirm drone-memo author for second-highest US court
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:24
By Patrick Martin23 May 2014The United States Senate voted Thursday to confirm David Barron, the former Obama administration official who drafted the legal justification for assassination by drone-fired missile, to a lifetime seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. It was a near-party-line vote, 53-45, with every Republican voting against, joined by only two Democrats.
Every prominent liberal in the Senate voted to rubber-stamp the nomination. Those voting for Barron including the self-proclaimed ''socialist,'' independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont, as well as Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, promoted as a potential presidential candidate by the Nation magazine and other liberal groups.
Also supporting Barron were Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, hailed by the pseudo-left as the first openly lesbian senator, Al Franken of Minnesota, and the three supposed critics of NSA spying, Mark Udall of Colorado, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Ron Wyden of Oregon.
The unanimous liberal support for Barron was all the more revealing because the vote came only one day after Obama administration officials staggered a Senate subcommittee hearing by declaring the president had the constitutional authority to order drone missile assassinations, air strikes, detention of prisoners, even full-scale invasions, regardless of any congressional authorization. ( See ''Obama administration asserts unlimited war powers without congressional authorization .'')
Most of the Republicans who voted against Barron did so not do so because of his role in justifying drone killings, but because he is a liberal law professor from Harvard, and, at 46 years old and on the second-highest US court, is well positioned to become a Supreme Court nominee under a Democratic president.
Barron stepped down from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in 2012 to return to Harvard Law School. While at the OLC, he was responsible for drafting the legal memos that argued that President Obama had the constitutional authority to order the killing of an American citizen, without any judicial proceeding or review.
The memos have never been released, but the arguments in them were paraphrased by Attorney General Eric Holder, in his notorious public defense of the drone assassination program, including his claim that the constitutional requirement of due process does not require judicial process, but could be satisfied by an internal discussion at the White House'--in other words, a death sentence could be imposed by executive fiat.
Senate action on the Barron nomination was delayed for several weeks as a group of liberal and conservative senators demanded that the White House agree to release the actual texts of the memos justifying drone assassinations.
Last week, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler went to the Senate to push for the nomination and allowed senators to see the drone memos in a secure briefing room. Afterward, Mark Udall and Ron Wyden both declared themselves in agreement with the memos and with the targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen turned Islamic cleric in Yemen, who was killed by a drone-fired missile in September 2011.
On Wednesday, the Barron nomination cleared its final procedural hurdle, with a 52-43 vote to move to the final confirmation vote.
In his remarks on the Senate floor, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts spoke for all the liberal Democrats when he argued that Barron should not be held accountable for the drone program despite his drafting the legal rationale for a presidential ''right'' to assassinate an American citizen.
''Let's be clear: Barron is...certainly not responsible for the administration's drone policy or the decisions to authorize an attack,'' Markey said. ''He is a lawyer who was asked to do legal analysis for his client: the president of the United States.'' The same argument was made in defense of the German jurists who did the bidding of Adolf Hitler.
The lockstep support of the liberal Democrats allowed right-wing Republican Rand Paul to posture as the Senate's defender of the Bill of Rights and constitutional liberties. In a speech on the Senate floor, Paul declared, ''I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill an American citizen not involved in combat and without a trial.''
Paul pointed to the hypocrisy of the Democrats, noting, ''During the Bush years, most of President Obama's party, including the president himself, argued against the detention'--not the killing'--they argued against the detention of American citizens without a trial. Yet now, the president and the vast majority of his party will vote for a nominee that advocates the killing of American citizens without trial.''
Paul also revealed some details of the Barron memos, which have not been made public despite being shown to senators last week. He said the memos did not argue any legal precedent for killing an American citizen by drone missile, but rather ''create out of whole cloth a defense for executing American citizens.''
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did not oppose Barron's nomination, but urged senators not to bring it to a vote until they could review the drone memos. The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents, and the Justice Department signaled Tuesday that it would drop its appeal of a court order to release redacted versions of the memos. The full text will still remain classified.
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Obama Nation
Obama administration asserts unlimited war powers without Congressional authorization
Fri, 23 May 2014 18:00
By Joseph Kishore22 May 2014In testimony before the US Congress on Wednesday, top Obama administration officials asserted that the president has unlimited war powers without even the fig-leaf of Congressional authorization.
Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the administration officials'--State Department Deputy Legal Adviser Mary McLeod and Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston'--declared that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) was not required for any of the drone attacks, troop deployments and other war operations carried out by the Obama administration.
For more than a decade, the AUMF has been a catch-all justification for all the illegal and unconstitutional activities of the Bush and Obama administrations'--military invasions, indefinite detention (including at Guantanamo Bay), torture and drone assassination. Congress is currently considering revising or ending the AUMF as part of an effort to shift these operations onto a more permanent foundation.
In the course of questioning from senators on the future of AUMF, McLeod and Preston indicated that, in the administration's view, there are in fact no additional powers that the executive has as a result of the AUMF that it does not already have from Article II of the US Constitution'--an assertion of unlimited executive power.
Preston testified, ''I am not aware of any foreign terrorist group that presents a threat against this country that the president lacks authority to defend against simply because they are not covered by the AUMF. If the group presents a threat the president does have authority to take steps against that threat.''
When asked by Republican Senator Bob Corker whether the president could continue to ''carry out the counter-terrorism activities he is carrying out today'' if the AUMF were repealed, McLeod replied, ''Yes, I believe he could.''
''The US has the authority to target individuals, including Americans, who pose an imminent threat to attack our country,'' McLeod added (emphasis added).
In the language of administration lawyers, ''imminent'' has been redefined to render this condition meaningless. McLeod did not say whether the killing of Americans could take place within the United States.
A report in Rolling Stone on the hearings noted: ''When asked by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) 'what could [the president] not do without the AUMF,' Preston didn't have an immediate answer. Kaine then asked if the US could continue to hold detainees at Guantanamo Bay if the AUMF were repealed. Preston dodged; McLeod added that the US can continue to detain prisoners 'as long as we're in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda.'''
''I think it would be fair to say that with or without an AUMF, to the extent that it grants authority for use of military force against al Qaeda, and the Taliban, and associated forces in which we're in armed conflict '... the president does have constitutional authority to act,'' said Preston.
Asked whether the executive could unilaterally attack any country that it declares is ''harboring'' terrorists, without Congressional approval, McLeod replied, ''We would have to think about whether individuals in that state or in that government of that state actually posed an imminent threat.'' That is to say, the executive would have an internal deliberation and decide on whether to wage war based on its definition of ''imminent.''
McLeod added that in the administration's view it had the authority to wage war against Syria without Congressional authority based on the spurious allegations of chemical weapons use (in an internal civil conflict) last year. In the Syrian civil war, it was the United States, and not the Syrian government, that was directly allied with Al Qaeda and its ''associated forces.''
Wednesday's testimony is part of an internal debate within the political establishment over how to justify endless war. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee almost exactly one year ago, Assistant Defense Secretary Michael Sheehan argued that the AUMF gives the administration virtually unlimited war powers anywhere in the world, including within the United States. He added that the war authorization would go on indefinitely, ''at least 10 to 20 years.''
Thus, according to Sheehan at the time, further authorization from Congress was not required to launch drone strikes or wage war in the future, as long as these military operations could be connected in some way to Al Qaeda or its ''associated forces'''--a phrase that does not appear in the AUMF itself. Sheehan specially referred to the recent bombing of the Boston Marathon to extend the ''battlefield'' to the United States.
Later the same month, Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University, dedicated to a defense of drone assassination. For the first time, Obama publicly acknowledged that he ordered the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen. Stating that ''America is at a crossroads,'' Obama said his administration intended to ''engage Congress'' about the AUMF in order ''to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.''
The testimony of McLeod and Preston makes clear that the administration is in fact seeking a mechanism for rooting unending war, drone assassination and associated illegal activities in the Constitutional powers of the president.
This legal rationale for what amounts to presidential dictatorship has been an underlying theme in the memoranda drawn up by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush's Vice President Dick Cheney and his lawyers in particular sought to argue that the AUMF was essentially superfluous, a formality, and that the ability to torture and kill came from Article II.
These pseudo-legal arguments have been continued and extended under Obama, particularly as they relate to extrajudicial assassination. On Wednesday, the US Senate voted 52-43 to clear the way for a confirmation vote on Obama's appointee for the First US Circuit Court of Appeals, David Barron. Barron is the author of the still secret memoranda drawn up to justify the killing of al-Awlaki and other US citizens without due process.
The vote on Wednesday was almost entirely along party lines, with Democrats voting for and Republicans against. Because of changes to Senate rules made late last year, the procedural vote prior to confirmation required only a simple majority, not a supermajority of 60 votes.
In order to facilitate confirmation, the administration said on Tuesday that it would cease its efforts to block the court-ordered declassification of one of the several memos drawn up by Barron during his tenure in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2009 to 2010. This declassification, the White House announced, would take place at some indefinite point in the future.
The administration's promise was enough to satisfy critics within the Democratic Party. Their basic agreement with the White House's claims of unlimited executive power were summed up Senator Ron Wyden, who announced after voting for Barron's nomination to go forward: ''I believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it has the right to kill them.''
A full confirmation vote on Barron will likely take place today.
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Guantanamo: US Government forced to reveal that it recorded forcefeeding
Sat, 24 May 2014 21:51
By Gabriel Black24 May 2014Through court order, it has been revealed that the US military has been keeping videotapes of the force-feeding of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. On Wednesday, a civilian federal judge allowed videos taken of one prisoner, which also documents the prisoner being forced into the feeding chamber, to be viewed by his defense lawyer.
For this one detainee, Abu Wa'el Dhiab, there exist 136 videos of him being forced out of his cell and brought to a room where a feeding tube is pushed down his nose and into his stomach. Jon Eisenberg, one of Dhiab's attorneys, told the Guardian that for other detainees ''There are hundreds of force feedings on tape, maybe even thousands.'' Eisenberg added that the videos were kept secret ''to keep some really horrible abuse under wraps.''
In February 2013, a hunger strike began at Guantanamo Bay to protest the blatantly illegal and sadistic situation of the inmates. Detainees are being held indefinitely, without being charged or tried. Many have been held for 12 years or more, even after being cleared. They are continuously the subject of torture, abuse, and humiliation.
President Barack Obama has done nothing to carry out his promise to close the camp. According to the Center for Constitutional Justice's website, ''there is no excuse '... under current law, he has the power to make [the camp's closure] a reality.'' As a sign of the detainees' fate, in 2013, the diplomatic office in charge of resettling them and closing the camp was shut down and its staff reassigned.
The overwhelming majority of prisoners have taken part in the hunger strike, which continues to this day. In 2013, detainees' lawyers said 130 out of the then 166 remaining detainees joined the protest.
Faced with worldwide outrage over the conditions of the striking inmates, particularly as reports of force-feeding came in, the US Government attempted to create a media blackout in an effort to control, to the best of its ability, the flow of information in and out of the camp.
It is within this context that the Obama Administration denied the existence of video footage of inmates' force-feeding, despite detainee testimony describing the filming. If the Obama Administration acknowledged its existence, the government would have been caught between either being publicly exposed as deliberately withholding footage and hiding the truth, or being forced to expose the actual recorded horror of the practice. Either would have escalated the political crisis over Guantanamo.
Dhiab described the experience of force-feeding in court papers filed on Tuesday. ''Sometimes the way the MP [military policeman] holds the head chokes me, and with all the nerves in the nose the tube passing the nose is like torture.''
Dhiab also reported that while the authorities videotape much of the practice, they refuse to videotape the most torturous sessions. ''Then, especially when the MP is holding the neck, when they try to force the tube through the throat it often catches and they cannot push it through. At times like these, I ask them to videotape. And they refuse.''
The Guardian used five detainees' testimony to put together a chilling animation that tries to convey the experience of inmates.
One inmate described the force-feeding, ''I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. It was agony in my chest, throat, and stomach. They put you on a chair, reminds me of an execution chair. Your legs and shoulders are tied with belts. If the tube goes in the wrong way, the liquid might go into your lungs.''
Another, Samir Naji al-Hasan Moqbel, described his experience, ''I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A squad of eight military police officers in riot gear burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed, they forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state. Later they began feeding me by nasal catheter. The food rushed into my stomach too quickly. I asked him to reduce the speed. He not only refused but tried to turn it up. After he finished his work he roughly pulled the tube from my nose.'' The Guardian notes that Moqbel also had an IV inserted into his penis.
The Pentagon and the military command overseeing Guantanamo detention deny that force-feeding is punitive torture. According to the US Government, there is no hunger strike; it says instead that detainees are ''not eating on a regular basis.'' Prisoners report that there is a rotation of who is force-fed to keep the numbers at any given time low, obscuring the extent of the ongoing hunger strike. Currently, the US Government is imprisoning 154 detainees at Guantanamo.
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Mary O'Grady: Bill, Hillary and the Haiti Debacle - WSJ.com
Tue, 20 May 2014 01:11
May 18, 2014 5:36 p.m. ET
The news website Tout Haiti reported last month that two prominent lawyers have petitioned Haiti's Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes, demanding an audit of Bill Clinton's management of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). There are powerful interests that won't want to see the petition succeed and it may go nowhere. But the sentiment it expresses is spreading fast. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, Mr. Clinton has gone from hero to goat.
Four years after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake toppled the capital city of Port-au-Prince and heavily damaged other parts of the country, hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), allocated to the IHRC, are gone. Hundreds of millions more to the IHRC from international donors have also been spent. Left behind is a mishmash of low quality, poorly thought-out development experiments and half-finished projects.
Haitians are angry, frustrated and increasingly suspicious of the motives of the IHRC and of its top official, Mr. Clinton. Americans might feel the same way if they knew more about this colossal failure. One former Haitian official puts it this way: "I really cannot understand how you could raise so much money, put a former U.S. president in charge, and get this outcome."
Allow me to hazard a guess: While Mr. Clinton was running things for the IHRC, and the U.S. was leading the reconstruction effort, Hillary Clinton was the U.S. Secretary of State, which means that Mr. Clinton was reporting to his wife. Cheryl Mills, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff and counselor to the State Department (an adviser and consultant to the secretary), traveled to the country an estimated 30 times in four years. A State Department spokesman told me that "reflected the high priority the United State places on Haiti's recovery and development." Requests for comment from Mr. Clinton, through the Clinton Foundation, about the petition and his IHRC record went unanswered.
Former US President Bill Clinton and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend the grand opening ceremony of the new Caracol Industrial Park in Caracol, Haiti on October 22, 2012. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
The Clinton crowd has a lot of experience in Haiti. After President Clinton used the U.S. military to return Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994, assorted Friends of Bill went into business to milk Haiti's state-owned telephone monopoly. Telecom revenues were one of the few sources of hard currency for the country so the scheme hurt Haitians. (See Americas columns Oct. 27, 2008, and March 12, 2012.)
Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck sheds light on Mr. Clinton's most recent Haiti adventures in the 2013 documentary "Fatal Assistance." Mr. Peck uses footage from an IHRC meeting in December 2010, when 12 Haitian commissioners confronted co-chairmen Mr. Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, complaining that the commissioners had been marginalized.
The full letter they read from that day includes the charge that "the staffing and consultant selection" excluded Haitian board members. "No documentation on hiring criteria or candidate selection was sent to inform board members. The same is true for selected consultants; the Haitian board members don't even know the names of the consultants who work for the IHRC nor their respective tasks."
Obviously the Haitians didn't understand. That was the job of the Clinton machine, which controlled the bankroll and could award the lucrative contracts.
A June 2013 Government Accountability Office report gave a barely passing grade to USAID's Haiti reconstruction effort. It said $170 million was allocated to build a power plant and a port near the Caracol Industrial Park, not far from Cap-Ha¯tien. The two projects "are interdependent; each must be completed and remain viable for the other to succeed," the GAO explained. The first phase of the power plant was completed on time and under budget. But the port construction was delayed by two years "due in part to a lack of USAID expertise in port planning in Haiti." Projected costs, according to the report, say the estimated shortfall of $117 million to $189 million is larger than originally estimated. "It is unclear whether the Haitian government will be able to find a private sector company willing to finance the remainder of the project."
The "Fatal Assistance" film features shoddy housing projects plopped down where there is poor infrastructure and few job prospects. The GAO report cites other housing snafus. USAID underestimated funding requirements. Its budget went up by 65%, and the number of houses to be built came down by 80%. "Inappropriate cost comparisons were used"; and Haitians, it turns out, prefer flush toilets.
Foreign aid is notoriously wasteful and often counterproductive. Even when the money is not going directly to Swiss bank accounts it is rarely allocated to its highest use because the process is fundamentally political. Contractors with all the wrong training and incentives but the right connections have the best chance of winning jobs. No surprise, the GAO says that USAID's Haiti reports have been incomplete and not timely.
Haitians are bitterly disappointed. But with Mr. Clinton in charge, supervised by Mrs. Clinton and her State Department sidekick, the outcome was predictable.
Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
Caribbean News Now!: Nearly 190,000 rural producers and investors to benefit from better access to markets in Haiti
Thu, 22 May 2014 07:33
WASHINGTON, USA -- About 190 000 producers, investors and members of agricultural organizations in the Centre Artibonite region in the heart of Haiti will benefit from improved access to local markets and services as a result of a US$58 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) approved on Monday by the World Bank board of directors. This project aims to attract public and private investment, and build resilience to climate shocks."The development of the Central Artibonite region will help fight against extreme poverty that represents the socio-economic situation for more than half the population in the region. It is aligned with the government's efforts to diversify the sources of wealth in the region and develop its potential," said Marie-Carmelle Jean Marie, minister of economy and finance.
The Central Artibonite region is located between three important economic poles: the capital Port-au-Prince in the south, the city Cap-Haitien in the north, and the Dominican Republic in the east. Agriculture is a key sector for the region, which is highly vulnerable to natural hazards and where producers are isolated and lack of reliable roads to connect production to processing sites and local markets. This lack of road infrastructure also limits the economic transit to the capital, the north and the Dominican Republic.
''Nearly 80 percent of traffic is by land in Haiti. Enhancing connectivity for producers by allowing them to move and have access to other economic centers whatever the climatic conditions will have a decisive impact on the economic growth of the region. All-weather roads are also a key asset for investors," said Mary Barton-Dock, World Bank special envoy to Haiti.
Among concrete results to be achieved by the funding are:
' Nearly 190,000 producers and 30 percent of women will benefit from all-weather roads and improved connectivity and logistics for investment, production and trade
' 180km of rural and non- rural roads will be rehabilitated
' 300 local officials will be trained in market management, climate resilience measures in the transport sector and urban planning tools
' 10 rural and urban markets will be rehabilitated
This five year project will be implemented by the Technical Execution Unit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The funding includes a US$50 million IDA grant and a US$8 million grant from the Strategic Climate Fund.
Packet Inequality
The FCC's Important Step to Power Wireless Broadband
Tue, 20 May 2014 01:17
Posted by Aparna Sridhar, Google Policy CounselToday, the Federal Communications Commission took an important step toward powering tomorrow's wireless broadband. The FCC adopted new rules that will designate some spectrum--resources that, under the FCC's plan, would not in any event be auctioned for wireless carriers' broadband services--for unlicensed devices and applications on a shared basis. Unlicensed uses of spectrum are an important complement to carriers' mobile broadband services. For example, the Wi-Fi networks in homes, businesses, and coffee shops allow users to take data off the wireless carriers' licensed networks, which enables faster service and reduces congestion on cellular systems. For smartphones and tablets in particular, Cisco has found that daily data consumption over Wi-Fi is four times that of cellular. Offloading data from cellular networks to Wi-Fi has saved mobile network operators billions of dollars in network deployment costs. Faster and cheaper access to online services drives usage of those services and thus demand for all forms of network access, creating a virtuous cycle of investment. Access to new, lower-frequency TV band spectrum could accelerate this process and create more unlicensed service options, allowing better indoor coverage and service in rural and underserved areas. The FCC's plan allows television broadcasters to sell their spectrum rights voluntarily so they can be purchased by mobile operators. This will enable more efficient spectrum use and spur economic growth.The FCC had a challenge in designing its plan for an auction of TV broadcast spectrum, and we're pleased that it is supporting both licensed and unlicensed uses. While the plan doesn't provide as much unlicensed spectrum as we recommended, it should provide just enough unlicensed spectrum to attract investments in equipment and operations in the new band. Google will do its part to ensure that ourSpectrum Databasesupports sharing of the newly allocated spectrum.We're grateful that Congressional supporters of unlicensed spectrum use have continued to back the FCC's progress on this front. While there's still a lot of work ahead to get the final details of the auction right, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to build the next generation of wireless technologies and see them deployed across America.
Steve Wozniak to the FCC: Keep the Internet Free - Technology - The Atlantic
Wed, 21 May 2014 02:17
To whom it may concern:
I have always loved humor and laughter. As a young engineer I got an impulse to start a Dial-a-Joke in the San Jose/San Francisco area. I was aware of such humor services in other countries, such as Australia. This idea came from my belief in laughter. I could scarcely believe that I was the first person to create such a simple service in my region. Why was I the first? This was 1972 and it was illegal in the U.S. to use your own telephone. It was illegal in the U.S. to use your own answering machine. Hence it also virtually impossible to buy or own such devices. We had a monopoly phone system in our country then.
The major expense for a young engineer is the rent of an apartment. The only answering machine I could legally use, by leasing (not purchasing) it from our phone company, the Codaphone 700, was designed for businesses like theaters. It was out of the price range of creative individuals wanting to try something new like dial-a-joke. This machine leased for more than a typical car payment each month. Despite my great passion and success with Dial-a-Joke, I could not afford it and eventually had to stop after a couple of years. By then, a San Francisco radio station had also started such a service. I believe that my Dial-a-Joke was the most called single line (no extensions) number in the country at that time due to the shortness of my jokes and the high popularity of the service.
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threatsToo nobel to neglectDeceived me into thinkingI had something to protectGood and bad, I define these termsQuite clear, no doubt somehowAhh, but I was so much older thenI'm younger than that now
-- Bob DylanMoving ahead, I have owned four homes in my life. None of these had cable TV, even though one was a new development where the law required cable. None of these had DSL, including my current home, which is only .8 miles up a hill from the populous (constant-homes) town I live in. I pay for a T1 line, which costs many times what DSL runs for about 1/10 the bandwidth. That's as close as I can come to broadband where I live. The local phone providers don't have any obligation to serve all of their phone customers with DSL. They also have no requirement to service everyone living in the geographic area for which they have a monopoly. This is what has happened without regulatory control, despite every politician and president and CEO and PR person since the beginning of the Internet boon saying how important it was to ensure that everyone be provided broadband access.
As a side note, I once phoned the cable company in the town I lived in. I could look from my bedroom window at homes ¾ of a mile away which had cable. I told the cable company that I would be willing to pay the cost of laying cable to my home. The cable company looked into it and got back to me that they could not do this because there were not enough homes on my hill to pay for the monthly rental of running their cable on telephone poles.
In the earliest days of satellite TV to homes, you would buy a receiver and pay a fee to get all the common cable channels. I had a large family (two adults, six kids) and felt like making every room a lot easier to wire for TV. Rather than place a satellite receiver in each room, I'd provide all the common channels on a normal cable, like cable companies do. In my garage, I set up three racks of satellite receivers. I paid for one receiver to access CNN. I paid for another to access TNT. I paid for others to access HBO and other such networks. I had about 30 or 40 channels done this way. I had modulators to put each of these channels onto standard cable TV channels on one cable, which was distributed throughout my home. I could buy any TV I liked and plug it in anywhere in the home and it immediately watch everything without having to install another satellite receiver in that room. I literally had my own cable TV 'company' in the garage, which I called Woz TV, except that I even kept signals in stereo, a quality step that virtually every cable company skipped.
Then I got this idea that I could pretty easily run my signal through the wires in conduits up and down our 60-home neighborhood. The neighborhood had been partially wired for cable before the cable company went bankrupt as the neighborhood was being developed. I phoned HBO and asked how much they would charge me just to be a nice guy and share my signal with 60 neighbors. What came back was an answer that I couldn't do such a personal thing. I had to be a cable company charging my neighbors certain rates and then a percentage of what I was charging, with minimums, had to be paid for HBO. I instantly realized that you couldn't do something nice in your garage as a normal person and I gave up the idea.
The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away.
When young, I remember clearly how my father told me why our country was so great, mainly based on the constitution and Bill of Rights. Over my lifetime, I've seen those rights disregarded at every step. Loopholes abound. It's sad. For example, my (Eisenhower Republican) father explained the sanctity of your home and how it could not easily be entered. It was your own private abode. And you had a right to listen to any radio signals that came because the air was free and if it came into your home you had a right to listen to it. That principle went away with a ban on radios that could tune in cell phone frequencies in the days of analog cell phones. Nobody but myself seemed to treat this as a core principle that was too much to give up.
I was also taught that space, and the moon, were free and open. Nobody owned them. No country owned them. I loved this concept of the purest things in the universe being unowned.
The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense. The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away. Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP's should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don't destruct them. I don't want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today's Internet.
Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use. The personal computer revolution would have been delayed a decade or more. If I had to pay for each bit I used on my 6502 microprocessor, I would not have been able to build my own computers anyway. What if we paid for our roads per mile that we drove? It would be fair and understandable to charge more for someone who drives more. But one of the most wonderful things in our current life is getting in the car and driving anywhere we feel like at this moment, and with no accounting for cost. You just get in your car and go. This is one of the most popular themes of our life and even our popular music. It's a type of freedom from some concerns that makes us happy and not complain. The roads are already paid for. You rarely hear people complain that roads are "free." The government shines when it comes to having provided us pathways to drive around our country. We don't think of the roadways as being negative like telecommunication carriers. It's a rare breath of fresh air.
I frequently speak to different types of audiences all over the country. When I'm asked my feeling on Net Neutrality I tell the open truth. When I was first asked to "sign on" with some good people interested in Net Neutrality my initial thought was that the economic system works better with tiered pricing for various customers. On the other hand, I'm a founder of the EFF and I care a lot about individuals and their own importance. Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed. Every audience that I speak this statement and phrase to bursts into applause.
That's how the people think. They don't want this to encroach on their Internet freedom.
I was brought up being told that one of the main purposes of our government is to help people who need help. When I was very young, this made me prouder than anything else of my government. I felt that way until the year that the San Jose Draft board voted 5-3 to call me not a student because I'd submitted my grades instead of the proper form, and made me 1A for service in Vietnam. As soon as I got a safe draft lottery number, they sent me a letter saying that they would grant me a 2S student deferment, because then they could get a shot at me in a later year. What was this game? Why was the government doing this sort of thing to a citizen? They aren't always about helping the people.
We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it's probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself.
This article available online at:
The Not So Hidden Truth of Net Neutrality - Donovan Adkisson
Sun, 25 May 2014 00:27
ALL ISPs oversubscribe the bandwidth that they've purchased. In the late 90s, when cable broadband was just taking off, an ISP used statistical multiplexing models to determine the amount of bandwidth they needed to purchase knowing that they were oversubscribing what they had.
The idea behind statistical multiplexing was simple. If you had 25 customers, not all 25 were using the Internet AT THE SAME TIME. For the sake of this discussion, let's say that 10 of the 25 were actually using the Internet. By the ''bursty'' nature of web traffic, if those 10 customers were viewing web pages, they would not be pulling in a constant stream of bandwidth '' it would come in bursts. And those 10 may not all be viewing web pages. 5 of them could be checking email, which is also ''bursty''.
As bandwidth capabilities increased, so did the requirements of the content that was springing up on the Internet; the biggest being streaming video (audio came first, but it really didn't take that much bandwidth). When YouTube came on the scene in 2005, the load on the Internet started to escalate and the statistical multiplexing models started to fail. When Netflix streaming became popular, the statistical multiplexing model was all but destroyed.
With the model gone, ISPs could no longer oversubscribe like they did before (I'm not saying they still didn't, but in ratio terms they could no longer do a 10 to 1 bandwidth allocation '' more along the lines of a 5 to 1 or 3 to 1). This meant increased costs for the ISP because they had to purchase more bandwidth for the same amount of customers than was previously required. From the perspective of the ISP, their costs had increased without any significant increase in revenue. And the driving force behind this was the increased usage of the customer viewing streaming content, such as YouTube videos and Netflix.
This scenario wasn't really the driving force behind Net Neutrality '' at least not at first. My earliest recollections of hearing about Net Neutrality came from ISPs that were launching their own Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service and how they would throttle another company's ''nomadic'' VoIP service (the one case that comes to mind is Comcast versus Vonage) or provide a higher priority for their own. This was deemed anti-competitive and Comcast was ordered to stop.
The Netflix equation came in later and I personally think it shouldn't even be in the Net Neutrality discussion. Do I believe that an ISP should have the right to slow down certain types of traffic because they feel it's overwhelming their network because their customers are using said service a high percentage of the time? No '' just as they shouldn't do the same thing if they had a competing product to Netflix. In either case it's anti-competitive.
In the case of Netflix and Comcast, Netflix made a decision to provide a better quality product to a large customer base '' namely Comcast subscribers. They did so by peering or essentially connecting straight into Comcast's network instead of relying on the traffic flowing from Netflix over their backbone provider to Comcast's backbone provider to Comcast's customers (which also happen to be Netflix's customers). On the surface, this seems to fly in the face of Net Neutrality, but on further scrutiny, it's a good business decision that Netflix made. You could call it the ''cost of doing business''.
I don't believe that we need any type of government regulation or FCC ruling to ensure any type of fairness on the Internet. As real world examples have proven, market forces will make the necessary changes. At some point, when a company is no longer providing the level of service that its customers demand, they will make different choices. And when different choices aren't readily available, those same customers will make enough noise and provide enough bad press that some changes will eventually be made. Sometimes, competitors will even spring up to provide those customers with better service.
I believe that government regulation has stifled innovation in the telecom industry. Telephone companies have no real incentive to develop new services or take chances on rolling out newer technologies when they are required and bound by regulations on what they can charge. Hell, even if they lose money on providing a service connection for a customer, they have to do it because the regulations say they must.
Some pundits have argued that it's really not technically possible for ISPs to downgrade the traffic from a company such as a Netflix because the nature of the protocols allow for routing to determine the best paths and process traffic accordingly. This is only partially true. Take Comcast for instance. They probably have multiple entry points into their network that bring in and send out traffic to and from their customers. They CAN downgrade, lower the priority or slow the traffic down at those points for ANY incoming traffic and they can pinpoint the traffic coming from certain companies. If anyone tells you otherwise, then they truly do not understand networking and have probably never worked for an ISP or broadband cable company (I did for 13 years, first as Network Manager and eventually General Manager).
Internet traffic patterns have changed significantly over the last decade. The model of determining bandwidth needs no longer works as traffic has gone from bursty style traffic to almost constant streaming for a large majority of the day. Broadband providers are finding that they have increased bandwidth costs and those costs can be directly associated with a select number of companies that provide services to the broadband providers' customers. I agree that broadband providers should not tamper with the traffic coming into their network, but we also don't need government regulation to keep it from happening. At some point, the customer will provide enough pressure on the provider to stop actions such as those. We all vote with our dollars. The main issue is when we don't have an alternative to give our dollars to. That, to me, is where the real problem lies. We need more competition, not regulation.
Born and raised in South Central Georgia, Donovan Adkisson is father to three fantastically smart children and husband to an awesome wife. When he's not trying to save the world by focusing on distributing information he feels that everyone should know via blogs and podcasts, he writes books, reads a lot and tries to learn everything he can on just about every subject. He's a former cable television and broadband industry technologist and executive. What more could you want?
War on Sugar
EFSA - Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel: Safety of advantame as a food additive
Wed, 21 May 2014 17:36
EFSA Journal 2013;11(7):3301 [68 pp.].doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2013.3301
Type:Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific PanelOn request from:European CommissionQuestion number:EFSA-Q-2010-00943Adopted:03 July 2013Published:31 July 2013Affiliation: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
The Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) provides a scientific opinion on the safety of advantame as a sweetener for use in the food categories specified in the dossier. Advantame is stable under normal storage conditions. The Panel noted that there is an indication of advantame instability in acidic beverages and thermally treated foods. Metabolism and toxicokinetics of advantame and its main metabolite, ANS9801-acid, have been studied in mice, rats, rabbits, dogs and humans. Advantame is rapidly but poorly absorbed and the main excretion route is via faeces. The Panel concluded that advantame does not raised concern with regards to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. The critical effect observed in animal studies was maternal toxicity (gastrointestinal disturbances) in the prenatal developmental toxicity study in rabbits. The NOAEL for this effect was 500 mg advantame/kg bw/day. Advantame was well tolerated in single or repeated doses up to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day by normo-glycemic or diabetic subjects. The Panel established an ADI of 5 mg/kg bw/day based on the application of a 100-fold uncertainty factor to the NOAEL of 500 mg/kg bw/day for maternal toxicity from the prenatal developmental toxicity study in the rabbit. Conservative estimates of advantame exposure for high level adults and children consumers were below the ADI for the proposed use levels.
(C) European Food Safety Authority, 2013
Following a request from the European Commission, the Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) was asked to provide a scientific opinion on the safety of advantame as a high-intensity sweetener.
Advantame (ANS9801) is described by the applicant as a derivative of aspartame and it is reported to be approximately 37 000 times sweeter than sucrose.
The final advantame product is described as having a minimum purity of 97 % (on an anhydrous basis). The Panel noted that in several non-consecutive batches of the final product, the levels of platinum and palladium, residues from the catalysts used in the catalytic hydrogenation process, could amount to 1.7 and 5.3 mg/kg, respectively, and therefore, the Panel considered that a maximum limit for palladium and for platinum should be included in the specifications.
The advantame bulk material has been demonstrated to be stable following storage for up to five years under normal conditions and for up to six months under accelerated conditions. The stability of advantame has also been demonstrated under intended conditions of use in foods and beverages. In heat-treated beverages, it is reported that about 50 % of advantame is degraded. A similar result has been reported in yellow cake, where approximately 39 % of advantame is degraded during batter preparation and baking, and production of N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)propyl]-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine (ANS9801-acid) occurs. The Panel noted that there was an indication of advantame instability in acidic beverages and thermally treated foods.
The metabolism and toxicokinetics studies show that orally administered advantame is rapidly converted in the gastrointestinal tract to ANS9801-acid which can be rapidly absorbed. However, the bioavailability of the ANS9801-acid is limited. Following i.v. administration, advantame is rapidly converted to the ANS9801-acid. Following oral dosing of radiolabelled advantame, radioactivity is excreted mainly in the faeces, with urinary excretion representing a minor route. The ANS9801-acid metabolite has been detected in rat and human plasma. In contrast, in dogs there is little free ANS9801-acid in plasma. There was no evidence of accumulation of ANS9801-acid in healthy and type II diabetes subjects after 4 or 12 weeks of consumption. This is consistent with the short estimated half-lives of radioactivity of ANS9801-acid from the preclinical and clinical studies. ANS9801-acid can be hydrolysed to phenylalanine and an aspartic acid derivative, N-(3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl))propyl-L-aspartic acid (HF-1). HF-1 is a minor urinary metabolite in rats, dogs and humans. HF-1 can be further metabolised to 3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-1-propylamine (HU-1), which is also postulated to be formed directly from ANS9801-acid. HU-1 is a minor urinary metabolite in rats, dogs and humans, which has not been isolated from the faeces of any species. In human and dogs, HF-1 was the major faecal metabolite, however in rats the demethylated ANS9801-acid was the major faecal metabolite. Other minor urinary and faecal metabolites have been detected but not characterised. Studies were only carried out with advantame radiolabelled on the 3-hydroxy-4-methoxy-phenyl moiety of the molecule, and whilst the metabolic fate of the remainder of the molecule could not be investigated, it could be predicted. The applicant concluded that the rat is a suitable metabolic model for systemic metabolism of advantame in human. They further concluded that effects due to differences in faecal metabolites between rats and human would have been addressed by studies in dogs where faecal metabolites are similar to those in human. The Panel agreed that the experimental metabolic data supported the use of the available toxicological studies in rat and dogs for the safety assessment of advantame in humans.
In 13-week dietary studies in mice and rats, a chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity study in rats and a subchronic toxicity study in dogs, the rate and extent of systemic exposure of animals to advantame and ANS-9801 acid were highly variable and appeared to be characterised by non-linear kinetics and with no clear underlying mechanism over the dietary concentration range used in these experiments. By considering the changes in AUC24 data in the course of these subchronic or chronic studies, the Panel considered that advantame or ANS9801-acid do not accumulate even in case of high dietary doses given to these animal species for periods as long as 52 or 104 weeks.
Toxicokinetic data derived from a prenatal developmental toxicity study in rabbits demonstrated that when advantame administered by gavage at 2000 mg/kg bw/day, a dose similar to that achieved at advantame dietary concentration of 50 000 mg/kg diet in subchronic toxicity study in dogs and chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity study in rats, the systemic exposure to both advantame and ANS9801-acid is 5 to 25 times higher than in dietary administered animals. This would represent a worst case situation for a maximal systemic exposure of animals to advantame and ANS9801-acid. The Panel also noted that in this study, advantame and ANS-9801-acid were described to accumulate at the higher doses since increasing the dose of advantame resulted in a disproportionately higher systemic exposure to advantame than would be predicted from a linear relationship.
Overall, the Panel considered that the high variability and the lack of clear underlying mechanism did not permit such a clear conclusion on accumulation or non-linearity in kinetics
The safety of advantame has been examined in in vitro studies and in sub-acute, subchronic and long-term studies in mice, rats and dogs and in reproductive and developmental studies in rats and rabbits.
Since the LD50 for advantame in rats was shown to be higher than 5000 mg/kg bw in an oral rat study there is no concern with respect to the acute toxicity of advantame.
The Panel considered these changes as treatment related as food consumption in treated groups was comparable to controls but decreases in food efficiency were recorded and several haematological, blood chemistry and urinalysis parameters were also statistically significantly altered at high dietary concentrations of advantame. At lower dose levels the recorded changes
In all of the subchronic toxicity studies apart from the 13-week study in rats and 1-year study in dog decreases in body weight/body weight gain were seen at a dietary concentration of 50 000 mg advantame/kg diet. The Panel considered these changes as treatment related as food consumption in treated groups was comparable to controls but decreases in food efficiency were recorded and several haematological, blood chemistry and urinalysis parameters were also statistically significantly altered at high dietary concentrations of advantame. At lower dose levels the recorded changes, although statistically significant, were often slight and within the physiological ranges for the species, a dose-response was not apparent, they were not accompanied by morphological changes in any organs, and there was no consistency between the sexes in the recorded changes, or between the studies in the same species or between the species.
The Panel noted the changes in several parameters, indicative of an altered function of the immune system in the 13-week study in rats. The Panel noted that the repeated observation of effects on thymus and lymphocytes throughout the different subchronic studies in rats and dogs may be indicative of an effect on the immune system following exposure of laboratory animals to high dietary doses of advantame.
An additional study (TNO Triskelion report, 2013), investigating the potential immunotoxic effects of dietary administered advantame in young male and female Wistar rats, was submitted to EFSA. There were no treatment-related differences in total or differential white blood cell counts or in total protein concentration, albumin concentration and albumin/globulin ratio. There were no treatment-related differences in lymphocyte subsets. No treatment-related effects on proliferative response of splenocytes to mitogen stimulation by Con A were observed. There were no treatment-related differences in any cytokine production after mitogen stimulation. The weights of the adrenals, spleen and thymus at the end of treatment and the recovery period were not affected by treatment. Macroscopic examination and microscopic examination of lymphoid organs at the end of the treatment did not reveal any treatment related findings. The Panel considered that this study did not reveal any immunotoxic effects of advantame on the endpoints that were examined in the rat. The Panel noted that the data provided evidence for an absence of immunotoxic effects of advantame as were suggested by the previous rat 13-week study.
Advantame was found to be not genotoxic in the bacterial reverse mutation assay, the in vitro mouse lymphoma TK assay and the in vivo mouse micronucleus assay.
In the carcinogenicity study in mice, the malignant tumours with statistically significantly increased incidences were bronchio-alveolar adenocarcinoma and histiocytic sarcoma of the haematopoietic system. The pulmonary tumours are known to have a high background incidence in mice. For both tumours there was no dose-response relationship in either sex and their incidences were within historical control ranges for CD-1 mice, thus the Panel considered that these tumours were not treatment-related. Advantame was not considered by the Panel to be carcinogenic to mice at doses up to 50 000 mg/kg diet, the highest concentration tested, and equal to 5693 and 7351 mg/kg bw/day in males and females, respectively. The Panel noted that at the high dose the body weight gain of females was significantly lower than controls and a trend toward lower body weight was also observed for male mice, however the difference did not achieve statistical significance. With regard to the lower body weight gain in the high-dose group the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) was 10 000 mg advantame/kg diet, equal to 1057 and 1343 mg advantame/kg bw/day in males and females, respectively.
In the carcinogenicity study in rats a higher incidence of pancreatic islet-cell carcinoma or of pancreatic islet-cell carcinoma and adenoma combined was seen in high-dose males but the incidence was not statistically significantly different from that in controls and these pancreatic tumour incidences were within the historical control values. The incidence of mammary gland adenoma in high-dose females was statistically significantly higher than that of controls but it was within the range of the historical control values. In contrast, the incidence of mammary adenocarcinoma was not statistically significantly increased in any of the treated groups. Combining the incidence of mammary gland adenomas and adenocarcinomas no pairwise comparisons achieved statistical significance. When the authors of the study combined the incidence of mammary gland adenomas, adenocarcinomas and fibroadenomas a positive trend was noted with dose but no pairwise comparisons achieved statistical significance. The trend test was no longer statistically significant upon exclusion of the high-dose group. Similar results were described by the authors for combined incidences of adenomas and fibroadenomas. Since the incidence rates of all mammary tumour types and combinations were within the historical control range, and as mammary tumours are part of the background pathology of the ageing female rat, the Panel considered the increased incidences of mammary tumours in this study to be unrelated to treatment. Consequently, the Panel considered that the neoplastic findings in the carcinogenicity studies in rats do not provide evidence of carcinogenicity of advantame tested at dietary concentrations of 50 000 mg/kg diet, the highest dose tested. This dietary concentration was equal to 2621 or 3454 mg/kg bw/day in male and female rats respectively. The Panel noted that at the high dose body weight gains in the males and females treated for 104 weeks were reduced, attaining statistical significance in males only.
Reproductive and developmental toxicity studies on advantame included a 2-generation reproduction toxicity study in rats, and prenatal developmental studies in rats and rabbits. The NOAEL for reproductive toxicity in 2-generation reproduction toxicity study in rats was 50 000 mg advantame/kg diet, the highest dose tested. The NOAEL in rats for maternal toxicity from the prenatal developmental study was 15 000 mg advantame/kg diet (equal to 1419 mg/kg bw/day) and for prenatal developmental effects was 50 000 mg advantame/kg diet/day (equal to 4828 mg/kg bw/day) the highest dose tested. In rabbits the NOAEL for maternal toxicity was 500 mg advantame/kg bw/day based on disturbances of gastrointestinal tract causing morbidity that required killing the animals for welfare reasons at the next highest dose (1000 mg/kg bw/day) and the NOAEL for developmental toxicity was 1000 mg advantame/kg bw/day.
In other special studies conducted in rats, no behavioural or physiological alterations were observed and no mortality resulted from the administration of advantame. In addition, the locomotor activity of rats was unaffected by the administration of advantame compared with vehicle-treated animals. Although no significant effects were reported on the gastrointestinal motility of rats treated with 10 or 100 mg advantame/kg bw, a dose of 1000 mg/kg bw resulted in a moderate statistically significant decrease in gastrointestinal motility compared to rats administered the vehicle. Studies in dogs showed that the duodenal administration of advantame resulted in no significant effects on general respiratory status, resistance of the peripheral vasculature, and or on electrical status of the myocardium compared with the vehicle control group. Intra-duodenal administration of advantame produced no biologically meaningful effects on cardio-respiratory parameters.
The human tolerability of advantame has been tested in three clinical studies. Advantame was well tolerated in single doses up to 0.5 mg/kg bw or repeated doses up to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day, in healthy volunteers and in both normo-glycemic individuals and diabetics. Advantame did not affect the levels of various biochemical, haematological, or urinalysis endpoints and did not affect plasma levels of glucose or insulin in normo-glycemic individuals, or alter glucose tolerance or insulin resistance in the diabetic subjects provided advantame.
The degradation products of advantame β-ANS9801, β-ANS9801-acid, ANS9801-imide, and HF-1 have not been identified as impurities of the final advantame product. The safety of these degradation products was assessed individually in a series of in vitro genotoxicity assays and in an in vivo mouse micronucleus assay. Based on these data the Panel concluded that there is no concern with respect to genotoxicity of the degradation products of advantame. The Panel has previously reviewed data on phenylalanine and methanol concluding that they would not be of safety concern at levels greater than could be released from advantame.
Since advantame is a secondary amine, its potential to participate in the formation of N-nitroso compounds in foods and beverages and in the stomach was evaluated. No nitrosation of advantame was identified by the applicant and, therefore, the Panel considered that the potential formation of N-nitroso advantame does not raise a safety concern
After consideration of all the data on advantame and its metabolites and major and minor degradation products available for this evaluation, the Panel concluded that there were sufficient data with which to establish an acceptable daily intake (ADI).
Following specific studies the prior concern about possible immunological effects (as discussed above) other critical studies considered in setting the ADI were those indicating body weight effects in laboratory animals and those on developmental toxicity with regard to maternal toxicity and gastrointestinal symptoms in the rabbit.
The Panel considered the findings in the prematurely sacrificed rabbits from the prenatal developmental study to be related to advantame exposure. The Panel noted that although only one animal was affected in the mid-dose group (1000 mg advantame/kg bw/day), the effects observed in this animal were consistent with those found in sacrificed animals from the higher dose group (2000 mg advantame/kg bw/day). The Panel considered that the single incidence of adverse effects in the mid-dose group may be indicative of the proximity of the boundary dose for adverse effects of advantame, since incidence increased in the higher dose group. Taking into account that effects indicative of maternal toxicity in form of decreased feed intake were also observed in the developmental toxicity study in rats upon administration of advantame through the diet, the Panel considered that effects observed in the rabbits cannot be disregarded. Therefore the Panel identified a NOAEL of 500 mg advantame/kg bw/day for maternal toxicity in the prenatal developmental toxicity study in NZW rabbits by oral gavage.
This NOAEL was further supported by the difference in the toxicokinetics of high doses of advantame (around 2000 mg/kg bw/day) in the subchronic and chronic dietary administration studies in mice, rats and dogs and the oral gavage administration in reproductive and prenatal developmental toxicity studies in the rabbit. The internal doses of advantame and ANS9801-acid as estimated by AUC24 were markedly higher following oral gavage administration in the rabbit compared to dietary administration in rat, mouse and dog. There were no high dose kinetic studies by gavage available for rat, mouse and dog nor were high dose dietary kinetic data available for the rabbit. Therefore the Panel was unable to ascertain whether the observed differences in internal dose were due to the route of administration or were species specific. However given the similarity of kinetics at low bolus doses in all species studied, including humans, the Panel considered that it would not be appropriate, on the available information, to disregard the oral gavage study because of the apparent increase in internal dose. Therefore, the Panel considered that the NOAEL of 500 mg advantame/kg bw/day for maternal toxicity in the rabbit developmental toxicity study should be used as the point of departure for the derivation of the ADI.
The Panel noted that either a default uncertainty factor of 100 or lower uncertainty factor based on inter-species allometric scaling and inter-human variability could be applied to account for inter-species and inter-human variability in maternal toxicity. However, the Panel considered that the more conservative of these uncertainty factors would be appropriate in this case, due to the marked variability in the internal doses arising following dietary or bolus administration which was seen at both high and low dose levels, the absence of complete kinetic data set (high and low dose with both methods of administration) in any species studied and the corresponding difficulty in defining a clear kinetic model.
Anticipated exposures to advantame from its proposed use as a food additive and its metabolites (methanol and phenylalanine) have been calculated (mean and 95th percentile of consumers only) using the food consumption data at the individual level (e.g. raw data on food consumption by the individual consumer).
High-level consumption was only calculated for those foods and population groups where the sample size was sufficiently large to allow calculation of the 95th percentile. The Panel estimated chronic exposure for the following population groups: toddlers, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. Calculations were performed using individual body weights.
Thus, for the present assessment, food consumption data were available from 26 different dietary surveys carried out in 17 different European countries.
When considering the proposed maximum use levels, the mean dietary exposure to advantame in European children-adolescents (aged 1-17 years) ranged from 0.02 to 0.33 mg/kg bw/day, and from 0.05 to 0.74 mg/kg bw/day for high level consumers (95th percentile). Exposure estimates for the European adult population give a mean dietary exposure to advantame ranged from 0.01-0.12 mg/kg bw/day, and from 0.03-0.28 mg/kg bw/day for high level consumers (95th percentile).
The Panel noted that its estimates could be considered as being conservative as it was assumed that all processed foods and beverages contained the sweetener advantame added at the maximum proposed use levels. It has to be noted that the anticipated exposure to advantame did not include possible applications from its use as an excipient in pharmaceutical products, an application which might occur if advantame were an approved food additive.
The exposure to methanol, which may result from ingestion of advantame-containing foods and beverages, was considered negligible compared to that from other dietary sources and as such of no concern from the safety point of view.
The exposure to phenylalanine expected from ingestion of advantame as a general purpose sweetener was considered of no safety concern for healthy consumers (adults and children). For a phenylketonuric child, the additional phenylalanine intake expected from ingestion of advantame-containing foods and beverages would represent a relatively small increment in the exposure to phenylalanine.
After considering all the data available, the Panel concluded that advantame does not raise concern with regards to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. The critical effect observed in animal studies was maternal toxicity (gastrointestinal disturbances) in the prenatal developmental toxicity study in rabbits. The NOAEL for this effect was 500 mg advantame/kg bw/day.
The Panel established an ADI of 5 mg/kg bw/day based on the application of a 100-fold uncertainty factor to the NOAEL of 500 mg advantame/kg bw/day for maternal toxicity from the prenatal developmental toxicity study in the rabbit.
Conservative estimates of advantame exposure for high level adults and children consumers were below the ADI for the proposed use levels.
After considering all the data on stability, degradation products, toxicology and exposure, the Panel concluded that advantame would not be of safety concern at the proposed uses and use levels as a sweetener.
The Panel considered that a maximum limit for palladium and for platinum should be included in the specifications.
FDA approves new artificial sweetner, advantame - CBS News
Wed, 21 May 2014 17:33
A new sugar substitute called advantame was approved on Monday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The sixth artificial sweetener to receive the agency's blessing, advantame can be used in baked goods, soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, candies, frostings, frozen desserts, gelatins and puddings, jams and jellies, processed fruits and fruit juices, toppings and syrups.
Advantame is a white powder that dissolves in water and remains stable even at higher temperatures, the FDA said in a news release. It can be used as both a tabletop sweetener and as an ingredient in cooking.
Sugar substitutes add few or no calories to foods, and generally do not raise blood sugar levels, the agency noted.
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"Sugar substitutes are called 'high-intensity' because small amounts pack a large punch when it comes to sweetness," Captain Andrew Zajac, of the U.S. Public Health Service and director of the FDA's division of petition review, explained in the news release.
The agency's approval of advantame is based on the findings of 37 animal and human studies submitted by the maker of the new sugar substitute.
Advantame is chemically similar to aspartame (Equal), and certain people should avoid or limit their use of aspartame, the FDA noted. These people have a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU), which makes it difficult for them to metabolize phenylalanine, a component of both aspartame and advantame. Food with aspartame must include label information warning people with PKU about the presence of phenylalanine.
The FDA evaluated whether advantame should also carry alerts for people with PKU. Because advantame is much sweeter than aspartame, only a small amount is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. As a result, foods that contain advantame do not need to include alerts for people with PKU, the FDA said.
The last high-intensity sweetener approved by the FDA was Neotame (brand name Newtame) in 2002. The other four sweeteners used in the United States are saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (Equal), acesulfame potassium (Sweet One), and sucralose (Splenda). Advantame does not yet have a brand name.
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Food Additives Permitted for Direct Addition to Food for Human Consumption; Advantame
Wed, 21 May 2014 13:21
This rule is effective May 21, 2014. See section IX for further information on the filing of objections. Submit either electronic or written objections and requests for a hearing by June 20, 2014. The Director of the Office of the Federal Register approves the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule as of May 21, 2014.
You may submit either electronic or written objections and requests for a hearing identified by Docket No. FDA-2009-F-0303, by any of the following methods:
Submit electronic objections in the following way:
Submit written objections in the following way:
Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.Instructions: All submissions received must include the Agency name and Docket No. FDA-2009-F-0303 for this rulemaking. All objections received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting objections, see the ''Objections'' heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.
Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or objections received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the ''Search'' box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
Felicia M. Ellison, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-265), Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740-3835, 240-402-1264.
I. Background
II. Evaluation of Safety of Advantame
A. Chemistry and Intake Considerations of Advantame
B. Overview of Advantame Safety Studies
C. Toxicology/Safety Assessment of Advantame
D. Estimating an Acceptable Daily Intake of Advantame
III. Comments
IV. Conclusion
V. Public Disclosure
VI. Environmental Impact
VII. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
VIII. Section 301(ll) of the FD&C Act
IX. Objections
X. References
In a notice published in the Federal Register of July 21, 2009 (74 FR 35871), we announced that Ajinomoto Co., Inc., c/o Ajinomoto Corporate Services LLC, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW., Suite 1010, Washington DC, 20036, had filed a food additive petition (FAP 9A4778). The petition proposed to amend the food additive regulations in part 172 Food Additives Permitted for Direct Addition to Food for Human Consumption (21 CFR part 172), to provide for the safe use of advantame as a non-nutritive sweetener in tabletop applications and powdered beverage mixes.
In a letter dated August 24, 2012, the petitioner informed us that the care of FAP 9A4778 had been transferred from Ajinomoto Corporate Services LLC to Ajinomoto North America, Inc., One Parker Plaza, 400 Kelby St., Fort Lee, NJ 07024.
In an amended notice published in the Federal Register of October 26, 2012 (77 FR 65340), we announced that Ajinomoto Co., Inc., c/o Ajinomoto North America, Inc., One Parker Plaza, 400 Kelby St., Fort Lee, NJ 07024, had amended its food additive petition to also provide for the safe use of advantame as a non-nutritive sweetener and flavor enhancer in foods generally, except in meat and poultry.
Under section 409(c)(3)(A) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD Act) (21 U.S.C. 348(c)(3)(A)), a food additive cannot be approved for a particular use unless a fair evaluation of the data available to FDA establishes that the additive is safe for that use. ''Safe'' or ''safety'' in the context of food additives means that there is ''a reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use'' (21 CFR 170.3(i)). To establish with reasonable certainty that a food additive is not harmful under its intended conditions of use, we consider the projected human dietary exposure to the additive, the additive's toxicological data, and other relevant information (such as published literature) available to us. We compare an individual's estimated daily intake (EDI) of the additive from all food sources to an acceptable intake level established by toxicological data. The EDI is determined by projections based on the amount of the additive proposed for use in particular foods and on data regarding the amount consumed from all food sources of the additive. We commonly use the EDI for the 90th percentile consumer of a food additive as a measure of high chronic dietary intake.
A. Chemistry and Intake Considerations of AdvantameAdvantame is the common or usual name for the chemical N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4- methoxyphenyl)propyl]-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester, monohydrate (CAS Reg. No. 714229-20-6). The additive is a white to yellowish crystalline powder that is an N-substituted derivative of the sweetener aspartame (21 CFR 172.804), with the amino nitrogen of aspartame alkylated with a 3-hydroxy-4-methoxy phenyl moiety. Advantame also is similar to the sweetener neotame, another N-substituted derivative of aspartame that is approved as a sweetener in foods generally, except meat and poultry, in accordance with current good manufacturing practice, in an amount not to exceed that reasonably required to accomplish the intended technical effect, in foods for which standards of identity established under section 401 of the FD Act (21 U.S.C. 341) do not preclude such use (21 CFR 172.829). Data in the petition show that advantame has a sweetening potency that is approximately 20,000 times that of sucrose, depending on its food application (Ref. 1). The petitioner has proposed the use of advantame in food at levels not in excess of that reasonably required to produce its intended technical effect. We have reviewed results from taste panel studies that investigated the sweetness profile of advantame as a function of concentration in a variety of foods, and these data demonstrate that advantame can be used at self-limiting levels in food (Refs. 1 and 2).
Based upon data from stability studies on advantame, we concluded that advantame is stable under normal storage and use conditions. The stability studies show that degradation of advantame is pH-, time-, and temperature-dependent and is more likely to occur from its use in low pH foods (i.e., acidic foods) during extended storage conditions. Under such extreme conditions, the principal degradation product is N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)propyl]-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine (ANS-acid), which is the de-esterified form of advantame. As is the case with neotame, the N-alkyl substituent effectively prevents the common dipeptide cyclization reaction that results in the formation of a diketopiperazine derivative (Refs. 1 to 3).
Further, there is no concern from exposure to these degradation products under either normal or extended storage and use conditions (Refs. 2 and 4).
The petitioner determined the eaters-only EDI of advantame (i.e., the EDI for the population of study subjects that consumed one or more of the foods containing the additive) from its proposed use as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer at the 90th percentile of consumption to be 10 milligrams per person per day (mg/p/d) for the total U.S. population (all ages) and 8.1 mg/p/d for children (3 to 11 years old). The corresponding mean estimated intakes are 4.9 mg/p/d and 4.6 mg/p/d, respectively. We concur with the petitioner's exposure estimate for advantame (Ref. 2).
We also estimated the eaters-only EDI of the principal degradation product (ANS-acid), related impurities that may be formed during the manufacture of advantame, and related degradation products that may be formed under certain conditions in food. The eaters-only EDI of the principal degradation product, related impurities, and related degradation products at the 90th percentile of consumption is 0.10 mg/p/d, 0.15 mg/p/d, and 0.20 mg/p/d, respectively, for the total U.S. population (all ages); and 0.08 mg/p/d, 0.12 mg/p/d, and 0.16 mg/p/d, respectively for children (3 to 11 years old) (Ref. 2).
We also estimated the eaters-only dietary exposure to both advantame and its degradation products for other subpopulations, including various age groups of children, and have concluded that the exposure estimated for the U.S. population (all ages) represents the upper-bound cumulative dietary exposure to advantame and its degradation products from food (Ref. 2).
B. Overview of Advantame Safety StudiesIn support of the safety of advantame, the petitioner submitted 37 preclinical (animal), clinical (human subjects), and specialty toxicology studies, along with several additional exploratory or screening studies. All pivotal preclinical studies were conducted in accordance with our Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) regulations appearing in 21 CFR part 58, or in accordance with other internationally accepted GLP standards.
The preclinical studies included in vivo short-term, sub-chronic, and chronic studies in the rat, mouse, rabbit, and dog, including reproductive and developmental studies in the rat and rabbit. The safety data also included neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity studies in the rat; pharmacokinetic studies in the mouse, rat, and dog; carcinogenicity studies in the mouse and rat; and a series of in vitro mutagenicity and genotoxicity studies. The petitioner also submitted studies assessing tolerance in the rabbit and dog, and palatability in the mouse.
In addition, the petitioner submitted four clinical studies that examined tolerance, absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of advantame in human subjects. Subjects in the ADME studies included healthy adult males and females, as well as adult males and females with type 2 diabetes.
C. Toxicology/Safety Assessment of Advantame1. Pharmacokinetics and Metabolism of AdvantameThe petitioner conducted pharmacokinetic and metabolism studies in the rat, dog, and humans to support the safety of advantame for human use. The studies were designed to address the metabolic fate (i.e., absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) of advantame.
a. Absorption of advantame. Pharmacokinetic parameters estimated from advantame study data show that absorption of advantame and its metabolites occurs almost entirely in the small intestine, and that the amount absorbed can approach 15 percent in humans. Advantame absorption rates varied 2- to 4-fold between individuals. The rat and dog appeared to absorb less advantame than humans (8 to 15 percent as compared to humans). Absorption of advantame was limited by rapid intestinal hydrolysis of the methyl ester in all species.
b. Distribution of advantame. The petitioner conducted studies with radiolabelled advantame to identify which organs might accumulate advantame or its metabolites if absorbed. In the rat, the radiolabelled advantame was found primarily in the organs of absorption (gastrointestinal (GI) tract), metabolism (liver), and excretion (GI tract, kidneys, and urinary bladder). Low levels of radioactivity were observed in all other tissues. Distribution of radiolabelled advantame in the dog was studied after oral dosing and was dominated by high concentrations of radioactivity in the organs of absorption, followed by excretory organs, such as the liver and kidneys. There was very little radioactivity detected in other tissues. In a study using radiolabelled advantame in pregnant rats, low levels of radioactivity were observed in the placenta, with no radioactivity observed in the fetuses. Based on these findings, we conclude there is no concern for possible accumulation of advantame or its metabolites at expected human intake levels.
c. Metabolism of advantame. Data from metabolism studies using radiolabelled advantame in the rat, dog, and human volunteers showed five metabolites: (1) The methyl ester hydrolysis product (ANS9801-acid); (2) a sulfate conjugate of ANS9801-acid (ANS-a-SO4), N-[N-[3-(3-sulfoxy-4-methoxyphenyl)propyl]-L-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine; (3) de-methyoxylated metabolite of ANS9801-acid (RF-1), N-[N-[3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)propyl]-L-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine; (4) the phenylalanine cleavage product of ANS9801-acid (HF-1), N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)propyl]-L-α-aspartic acid; and (5) 3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) propylamine (HU-1).
ANS9801-acid represented 40 percent or more of the excreted metabolic products in all species tested. HF-1 and HU-1 were other minor metabolites. These metabolites likely are derived from ANS9801-acid in the intestines. In humans, HF-1 and ANS9801-acid were the only metabolites identified in feces, at 30 ± 12 percent and 52 ± 13 percent of the dose, respectively. Other (uncharacterized) metabolites accounted for 0 to 3 percent of the dose in feces. ANS9801-acid represented 43 percent of urinary radioactivity, with HU-1 and HF-1 representing 35 percent and 19 percent of the urinary radioactivity, respectively. The remaining 2 to 3 percent of urinary radioactivity consisted of uncharacterized metabolites. Overall, 82 to 100 percent of the radioactivity was accounted for in these studies, which is within the acceptable range of recoveries for pharmacokinetic studies.
Methanol and phenylalanine both are released during the metabolism of advantame. The metabolism studies provided by the petitioner indicated that most advantame residues excreted in the feces and urine are in the form of the metabolite ANS9801-acid. At the EDI for advantame, it is unlikely that even 100 percent conversion of advantame to methanol or phenylalanine would affect physiological levels of methanol or phenylalanine. Therefore, we conclude that the amounts of methanol and phenylalanine released from metabolism of advantame do not represent a safety concern (Ref. 5).
d. Excretion of advantame. Advantame and its metabolites were rapidly eliminated from the rat and human. The findings were similar in dogs, with the exception of the excretion of the metabolite ANS-a-SO4, which was eliminated more slowly. Advantame has an approximate half-life (the amount of time required for a quantity of a substance to fall to half its initial value) of less than 60 minutes after absorption in humans. The metabolite ANS9801-acid has a half-life of 3 to 5 hours in humans. Ultimately, 90 to 95 percent of absorbed advantame is excreted in the feces and urine within 24 hours of absorption. Based on the review findings from the metabolism and pharmacokinetic studies on advantame, there is no indication that advantame or its metabolites will accumulate in humans. In addition, given the rapid rates of excretion, there is no indication that advantame or its metabolites will accumulate in the body from the proposed uses of advantame (Ref. 3). The potential intake of the primary metabolite, the ANS9801-acid, as well as other minor metabolites is of no toxicological consequence. Therefore, we conclude that the metabolism and pharmacokinetic studies of advantame do not raise any safety concerns (Ref. 5).
2. Neurotoxicity and Immunotoxicity Assessment of AdvantameThe petitioner investigated the potential neurotoxicity of advantame in rats. Within each of the standard toxicology studies submitted, the petitioner also reported physical, behavioral, and clinical observations for each animal, followed by extensive histological evaluations of brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Data on critical prenatal neurological development were examined in the in utero phase of the carcinogenicity/chronic toxicity studies in rats. No treatment-related neurotoxicological effects or abnormal behaviors were seen in animals that were exposed to advantame in these studies.
In addition to examining various general endpoints related to neurological systems within standard toxicology studies, the petitioner conducted a neurobehavioral study in which rats were fed diets containing 10, 100, or 1,000 milligrams per kilogram body weight (mg/kg bw) of advantame. One group of rats was fed a diet containing 3 mg/kg bw of amphetamine sulfate as a positive control. Locomotor activity of the rats was measured for 10 minutes at each dose interval beginning with the pre-dose period followed by measurements performed at 30, 60, 180, and 300 minutes post-dose. The study authors concluded that there were no significant effects of advantame on spontaneous locomotor activity at any dose level under the conditions of the study.
Based on the lack of effect on rat locomotor activity of advantame given at the highest dose, we concluded that the No Observed Effect Level (NOEL) under the conditions of this study was 1,000 mg/kg bw (Ref. 6). Given the lack of signs of neurotoxicity, as well as an absence of histopathological change in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nerves in any of the treated animals, we conclude that the neurotoxicity studies of advantame do not raise safety concerns (Ref. 4).
The petitioner presented data for two general, repeat-dose toxicology studies, a 4-week and a 13-week rat study, that evaluated the immunotoxicity potential of advantame. Findings related to various immune responses in these rat studies initially appeared to represent potential immunotoxicity responses (Ref. 7). After further evaluation, we determined that the lymphocyte reduction observed in the studies was due to individual animal variations and not to treatment with advantame. We also evaluated the reported low thymic weights in the high-dose groups of both sexes for the 4-week study and concluded that this change was consistent with a non-specific high-dose stress response because it was limited to the high-dose groups and affected only a few animals. We reviewed the seemingly dose-related degenerative changes in the thymuses of the 13-week female groups and determined that this change likely was incidental because it was not reported in either the 4-week or 2-year rat studies. Overall, we concluded that the immunological findings observed in the two rat studies did not have any toxicological significance as there was no evidence of a treatment-related immunotoxic response (Ref. 8). Based on these evaluations, we concluded that advantame did not cause immunotoxicological effects within the context of these rat studies (Ref. 4).
The petitioner conducted an additional immunotoxicity study in the same rat strain used in the 4-week and 13-week rat studies. In this study, rats were fed diets containing 0 mg/kg bw (control); 1,500 mg/kw bw; 5,000 mg/kg bw; and 15,000 mg/kg bw of advantame for 4 weeks. Groups of 10 rats of each sex were examined at the end of treatment, as well as after a 30-day recovery period. No treatment-related effects were detected in the various immunological parameters examined, including lymphocyte counts, thymus weights, immunophenotyping of lymphocytes, and lymphocyte proliferation assay, in the study. Based on these data, we concluded that advantame did not produce any immunotoxic effects under the conditions of this study (Ref. 9).
3. Human Clinical StudiesThe petitioner submitted four human clinical studies as part of the safety data for advantame to demonstrate tolerance of the sweetener in humans. The first clinical study was conducted to investigate the tolerability of advantame when administered orally to healthy adult males at dose levels of 0.1 mg/kg bw, 0.25 mg/kg bw, and 0.35 mg/kg bw. The study also investigated the pharmacokinetic profile of advantame in the same volunteers. We concluded that the oral administration of advantame was tolerable in healthy adult male subjects when administered as a single dose at each dose level without the occurrence of any treatment-related adverse events during a subsequent 7-day observation period (Ref. 10). Based on this study, we concluded that advantame is well tolerated in healthy human males.
The second clinical study was conducted to characterize the metabolic profile of advantame in urine and feces in human subjects. This study investigated the absorption, metabolism, and excretion of radiolabelled advantame after a single oral dose at 0.25 mg/kg bw in six healthy adult male volunteers. In this study, systemic absorption of advantame was reported to be in the range of 9 to 30 percent (Ref. 10). We concluded that data on the pharmacokinetic profile of advantame from this study, although limited, was useful in our evaluation of the safety of advantame. Based on this study, we have no safety concerns with the absorption, metabolism, or excretion of advantame as it was well tolerated in human subjects.
The third clinical study was conducted to investigate the tolerability of repeated daily consumption of a 30 mg dose of advantame (equivalent to 0.375 mg/kg bw/day to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day) over a period of 4 weeks using six healthy subjects of each sex. The study also included a placebo control group consisting of six healthy subjects of each sex that received diets without advantame. Based on results of the study, we concluded that, although there were apparent small differences in blood plasma values of the main metabolite of advantame, ANS9801-acid, the differences were not due to randomization procedures of the study and, instead, were reflective of within-subject variability inherent in the subjects of the study (Ref. 10). We concluded advantame was well tolerated in these subjects and that there were no safety concerns.
The fourth clinical study was conducted as a double blind, placebo-controlled study in diabetic subjects designed to investigate the tolerability of repeated daily consumption of a 30 mg dose (equivalent to 0.375 mg/kg bw/day to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day) of advantame fed daily for 12 weeks, using 18 diabetic subjects of each sex per group. Diabetic subjects in the placebo-controlled group received diets without advantame. Based on the results of this study, we noted that there were no clinically significant changes identified. We concluded that advantame was tolerated at daily doses up to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day in people with type 2 diabetes.
We raised concerns about the experimental design (e.g., sample size and the randomization procedures) in some of the clinical studies (Ref. 10). However, overall, we ultimately concluded that advantame was well-tolerated in healthy males when fed a single dose of advantame at dose levels of 0.1 mg/kg bw/day to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day. The third and fourth clinical studies showed that advantame was tolerated in healthy males and females and type 2 diabetic males and females when repeatedly fed a dose of 0.375mg/kg bw/day to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day for 4 weeks. The doses administered in the third and fourth studies were approximately 3-fold higher than the EDI for consumers of all ages at the 90th percentile of consumption (Ref. 10).
Pharmacokinetic evaluations of advantame were conducted on blood plasma samples from the human subjects that received single and repeat dose administrations of advantame. Data from these analyses showed that advantame was undetectable in plasma samples 4 hours after its administration. The repeat dosing studies showed variation in the plasma levels of ANS9801-acid for some subjects. The significance of this variability could not be determined because of the small number of subjects examined. However, the variable ANS9801-acid levels were not associated with any clinically significant, treatment-related toxicity in these subjects.
Clinically significant treatment-related toxicities or adverse events were not noted in the advantame-treated groups in any of these clinical studies. Overall, the clinical studies showed that oral administration of advantame was tolerated in humans fed up to 30 mg per day (Ref. 10).
4. Critical Toxicology StudiesWe reviewed all studies and supplemental information submitted by the petitioner. During our review, we determined that certain studies were more pivotal in supporting a regulatory decision on the petitioned uses of advantame. We based our determination on the experimental design of the studies as well as the types of the studies' endpoints. We gave greater weight to the studies that examined the reproductive and developmental effects, long-term exposure, chronic toxicity, carcinogenicity potential, and investigations of specific toxicological issues presented by these studies. The critical studies were: (1) A two-generation reproduction study in rats; (2) a chronic (52-week) dog study; (3) a 104-week mouse carcinogenicity study, and (4) a combined 104-week rat carcinogenicity feeding study with in utero and chronic (52-week) phases.
a. Two-generation reproduction study in the rat. Reproductive performance and fertility were assessed over two generations in rats fed diets containing advantame at levels of 2,000 ppm, 10,000 ppm, or 50,000 ppm. The parental rats received the advantame diet for 10 weeks before pairing and during mating. Parental and first generation female rats continued to receive the advantame treatment throughout gestation, lactation, and until death. A control group of rats received the untreated basal diet for the same period of time. The first generation contained 25 male and 25 females from each of the parent groups and received advantame at the same dietary concentrations as their parents throughout the study until termination. Direct treatment of the first generation rats began at 4 weeks of age for 10 weeks before pairing and mating for the second generation litters. The first generation continued treatment until termination after the second generation litters were weaned.
Under the conditions of this study, advantame administration to rats did not produce any effects on mortality, body weight, estrous cycle, sperm motility, mating, fertility, duration of gestation, outcome of parturition, litter size, sex ratio, pup birth weights, survivability of pups, motor activity of pups, organ weights, or histopathology in either generation. However, at the 50,000 ppm dose level, statistically significant increased feed consumption in the advantame treated rats compared to the control rats during the maturation phases (before pairing) of parental males and first generation males and females was reported. This increased feed consumption, in the absence of any effect on feed conversion efficiency and body weight gain, was not considered toxicologically significant (Refs. 4 and 11). Based upon the findings, we established a No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) at the 50,000 ppm dose for advantame-treated rats in this study.
b. Chronic (52-week) study in dogs. Chronic toxicity of advantame was evaluated in beagle dogs that were fed diets containing advantame at levels of 0 ppm, 2,000 ppm, 10,000 ppm, and 50,000 ppm over a 52-week period using four dogs/per sex/per group. Two additional dogs per sex were assigned to each dose group as part of a 6-week recovery phase without advantame. This study was performed to evaluate systemic toxicity of advantame in non-rodent species. The only clinical sign related to advantame treatment was the observation of pale feces in all high-dose and some mid-dose dogs of both sexes. We established a NOAEL for this study at the 50,000 ppm dose of advantame, the highest dose tested, equivalent to 2,058 mg/kg bw/day in male dogs and 2,139 mg/kg bw/day in female dogs (Refs. 4 and 12). We also concluded that systemic toxicity in the test animals associated with advantame administration was not apparent.
c. The 104-week mouse carcinogenicity study. The carcinogenicity potential of advantame was evaluated in mice (64/sex/group). The mice were fed diets containing advantame at levels of 0 ppm, 2,000 ppm, 10,000 ppm, or 50,000 ppm for 104 weeks beginning when they were approximately 6 weeks old. One hundred seventy-three male and 177 female mice died or were euthanized at the point of near death over the study period. A statistically significant effect of treatment on the distribution of deaths in the various dosing groups compared to the controls was not reported. The study's authors noted that the high death rate was not altered by the administration of advantame and that no specific factors that contributed to this rate were greater in number in the experimental groups compared to the control groups.
We noted a low survival rate of the test animals, a common finding in 2-year bioassays using the CD-1 mouse, and a number of various clinical signs in both the control and treated mice (Ref. 13). Our evaluation of the mouse survival data revealed no evidence of premature deaths that were due to treatment and none of the findings indicated a proliferative response as the cause of early death in these mice. We considered the data available up to the 92-week observation period and determined that 25 or more surviving animals per group was adequate to evaluate the carcinogenic potential for advantame. We concluded that none of the clinical signs observed correlated consistently with a histomorphological diagnosis or were an indication of treatment-related toxicity (Ref. 14).
The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition's Cancer Assessment Committee (CAC) evaluated data from the 104-week mouse study for the carcinogenic potential of advantame. The CAC concluded that oral administration of advantame at doses up to 50,000 ppm for 104 weeks did not produce any treatment-related tumors or any evidence of increased incidences of tumors in mice (Ref. 15). We established a NOEL for female mice of 10,000 ppm advantame in the diet (based on decreased weight gain at 50,000 ppm) and a NOEL of 50,000 ppm advantame in the diet for male mice, equivalent to 5,693 mg/kg bw/day (Ref. 16).
d. Combined 104-week rat carcinogenicity study with in utero phase and toxicity phase. This study included three phases: (1) An in utero reproduction phase; (2) a 52-week chronic toxicity phase; and (3) a 104-week oral carcinogenicity phase. In each of the study phases, rats were fed diets containing advantame at levels of 2,000 ppm, 10,000 ppm, or 50,000 ppm. The control groups of rats received a similar diet without advantame for the same period of time. The in utero reproduction phase of this study was designed to generate and assess populations of rats that had been exposed to advantame prior to mating, during mating, and throughout gestation and lactation up to weaning and the start of the main chronic and carcinogenicity studies. Four-week-old offspring produced during the parent mating were used to populate the first generation that was subsequently used in the 104-week carcinogenicity study and in the 52-week chronic toxicity rat study. Offspring that did not meet the survival criteria or had abnormal bodyweights were not used, and where possible, the numbers of surviving offspring per litter were reduced by random selection to four males and four females per litter. Adult parent males were killed after mating; adult parent females were killed after litters were weaned. Body weights, feed consumption, and survival rates were evaluated in the parent rats. The abilities to mate and give birth also were evaluated in the parent rats. The numbers of offspring, sex ratios, and litter weights were recorded for the first generation offspring.
Results from the in utero phase of the rat study showed that: (1) Fertility, growth, and survival in the parent rats was unaffected by advantame treatment; (2) body weights and feed consumption in the treated parent groups were similar to that seen in the control rats; and (3) initial body weights of the first generation rats that were selected for either the carcinogenicity study or the 52-week toxicity study were not affected by exposure to advantame during preconception, in utero, or during weaning.
The chronic toxicity phase of this study consisted of three advantame treatment groups of first generation rats selected from the in utero study, with 20 of each sex per group. The rats were fed diets containing advantame at levels of 2,000 ppm, 10,000 ppm, and 50,000 ppm. A group of untreated first generation rats not exposed to advantame was selected to serve as controls for this 52-week phase of the study. An additional 10 rats of each sex were added to the control group and the 10,000 ppm and 50,000 ppm treatment groups to provide animals for a 6-week recovery phase without advantame following their initial advantame exposure period (week 0 to week 52).
The study's authors reported no effect of the administration of advantame on mortality, maternal body weight gain and feed consumption, fertility, or on the growth and survival of offspring during the in utero phase. (''In utero,'' in this context, refers to the exposure of the developing embryo-fetus within the womb (uterus) of the mother (Parental F0 females).) Two animals died during the course of the treatment phase. These deaths, however, were not dose related. One male in the high-dose group died during the recovery phase.
The CAC evaluated data from the 104-week rat carcinogenicity study for the carcinogenic potential of advantame. The CAC concluded that oral administration of advantame at doses up to 50,000 ppm for 104 weeks did not produce any treatment-related tumors or any evidence of increased incidences of tumors in rats (Ref. 15). We established a NOAEL for this study of 50,000 ppm advantame in the diet, equivalent to an achieved dose of 3,279 and 4,025 mg/kg bw/day in males and females, respectively (Ref. 16). We also concluded that advantame treatment did not result in an increased incidence of tumors in rats.
Based on our review of the previously mentioned critical studies, we concluded that there is no cause for concern regarding the carcinogenicity potential of advantame as proposed for its use as a non-nutritive sweetener and flavor enhancer in foods.
D. Estimating an Acceptable Daily Intake of AdvantameIn determining an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for a new ingredient, we rely on a comprehensive evaluation of all relevant studies and information submitted by the petitioner. Four studies had the greatest impact in our reaching a safety decision. These studies are highlighted in table 1.
Table 1'--Summary of Study Data Pertinent to Establishing an Acceptable Daily Intake Value for Advantame Back to TopStudyDose range (ppm)Pivotal1EndpointNOEL2 (ppm)NOAEL3 (ppm)1ND = None Detected.2NOEL = No Observed Effect Level.3NOAEL = No Observed Adverse Effect Level.Rat two-generation reproductive study0, 2,000, 10,000, 50,000ND10,00050,000Dog 52-week study0, 2,000, 10,000, 50,000ND10,00050,000Mouse 2-year bioassay0, 2,000, 10,000, 50,000ND10,00050,000Rat 2-year bioassay with in utero and 1-year chronic phase0, 2,000, 10,000, 50,000ND10,00050,000Based on our review of the studies summarized in table 1, we determined the most appropriate study for establishing an ADI for advantame was the combined 104-week rat carcinogenicity study with in utero and chronic (52-week) phases. This study was of sufficient length and overall complexity to produce information on chronic exposure, potential toxicity, and potential carcinogenicity of advantame. Therefore, the data from the 1-year chronic phase of this study was chosen to determine the ADI. The primary reasons for selecting it were its length (52-weeks) and the inclusion of a 6-week recovery phase (control, 10,000 ppm, and 50,000 ppm dose groups), the total number of animals in each dose group (20 animals of each sex per group for the chronic phase with 10 additional animals of each sex for groups in the recovery phase), and the high overall animal survival rate. In addition, the results from the 2-year phase showed no indication that advantame is carcinogenic.
Based on the NOAEL for the 1-year chronic toxicity study, we concluded that the appropriate ADI for advantame is 1,970 mg/p/d (Ref. 4). This level is significantly higher than the EDI for advantame of 10 mg/p/d for humans of all ages at the 90th percentile.
Fluoride in My Cup
Childhood fluoride exposure has no effect on IQ | Ars Technica
Wed, 21 May 2014 17:13
About a year ago, the city of Portland, Oregon, was in the news because of its water supply'--and not because a teenager decided to relieve himself into a reservoir. Instead, the issue was fluoridation, the addition of trace amounts of fluorine to municipal drinking water. Fluoridation is widespread in the US, as copious evidence indicates it improves oral hygiene.
That evidence prompted the Portland City Council to approve fluoridation'--only to see voters reject that plan by a wide margin. While some of the opposition focused on the finances of the deal for the fluoridation process, concerns about the safety of fluoridation also played a major role in organizing the opposition.
Further ReadingPublic health measure goes down amid vague concerns about safety and purity.
It turns out that a similar drama had been playing out in New Zealand, where the city of Hamilton reversed course on water fluoridation several times over the past two years. Now, in response to the kerfuffle, some New Zealand researchers (combined with a ringer from Duke) have looked into one of the supposed health threats posed by fluoridation: it stunts the mental development of children. Their new report finds no evidence of this, however. In fact, children who grew up with fluoridated water had slightly higher IQs than their peers, though the difference wasn't statistically significant.
The fears about fluorine's impact on intellectual development appear to derive from a meta-analysis of natural exposure to fluorine in China, where levels in the water can reach several times those generated by intentional fluoridation. Although the study found a link between high fluorine and reduced IQ, the relevance of the study to the levels used in the US and elsewhere wasn't clear.
That, however, hasn't stopped anti-fluoridation activists from latching on to the paper as an indication that fluorine represents a threat. Not surprisingly, the paper makes appearances at the Fluorine Free Hamilton website. That group helped convince the city council of Hamilton to stop fluoridating its waters. After a public outcry, a referendum showed that this measure had the support of only 30 percent of Hamilton's citizens. After a national court ruled in favor of fluoridation in a different city (suggesting opposition may be widespread in New Zealand), the city council restored fluoridation.
In the mean time, however, public health experts were motivated to look into the health impact of fluoridation. Conveniently, they had a study population on hand: the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study has been tracking more than 1,000 children born in that city on New Zealand's South Island since their births in the early 1970s. Conveniently, fluoridation was not uniform in Dunedin, creating experimental and control populations. The cohort also had its IQ tested at ages from seven to 13 years old, and the study tracked whether the children had used fluoride-containing toothpaste or tablets.
Overall, nothing made any difference to IQ. "No statistically significant difference in IQ existed between participants who had or had not resided in areas with [fluoridation], used fluoride toothpaste, or used fluoride tablets, both before and after adjusting for potential confounding variables," the authors conclude. In fact, the children in areas with fluoridation had slightly higher IQs (although, again, this difference was not statistically significant).
Given that New Zealand uses fluoride levels that are similar to those in the US and Australia, the study appears to indicate that the high levels seen in some water in China are not relevant to controlled administration of fluoride in water. The authors also raise the prospect that any effects on IQ were the result of something other than fluorine, given that the Chinese studies didn't always take confounding variables into account.
Will this end public resistance to fluoridation? Certainly not; people who are convinced of something aren't often swayed by evidence that runs contrary to their beliefs. But it will provide some assistance to public health authorities who have to deal with anxious legislators when this issue comes up.
American Journal of Public Health, 2014. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301857 (About DOIs).
Shut Up Slave!
North Carolina law would make discussing fracking chemicals illegal
Wed, 21 May 2014 05:59
Published time: May 20, 2014 00:17AFP Photo / David Mcnew
North Carolina legislators are considering a bill that would make it a crime to publicly disclose toxic chemicals that energy companies use in the hydraulic fracturing process, with offenders on the hook for fines or even jail time.
Known as the Energy Modernization Act, the bill would make any unauthorized disclosure of fracking trade secrets '' including the chemicals used '' punishable with a Class I Felony, according to an Energywire report.
Fracking, a gas and oil mining technique which involves injecting a mixture of sand and chemicals deep into the earth, has been blamed for contaminated drinking water, infertility, birth defects, cancer, air pollution, and other serious concerns. Americans opposed to fracking have not only struggled with obstacles put in place by gas and oil companies, but also with the high profits and employment that come to struggling communities along with the process.
Environmentalists have called for more transparency in the conversation over the chemicals used, although gas companies have fought back by saying that their chemicals are a trade secret and thus should be protected. Now, under the parameters of the North Carolina bill, even firefighters and individual healthcare workers could be in trouble if they openly discuss the chemicals that are injected into the ground near their home.
''The felony provision is far stricter than most states' provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets,'' Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking laws, told Mother Jones.
If the bill, which has the backing of the state's top Republicans, is signed into law, major corporations could be given the power to force emergency officials to sign confidentiality agreements, although the penalty for breaking that agreement is unclear.
''I think the only penalties to fire chiefs and doctors, if they talked about it at their annual conference, would be the penalties contained in the confidentiality agreement,'' Wiseman went on. ''But [the bill] is so poorly worded, I cannot confirm that if an emergency responder or fire chief discloses that confidential information, they too would not be subject to a felony.''
Fracking is currently prohibited in North Carolina until the state legislature is able to agree on which regulations to impose on gas companies. Early proposals have already earned praise for creating some of the strictest regulations in the US, although critics have worried that the draft is being used as a distraction until state Republicans are able to devise a strategy that is more beneficial to corporations. The introduction of the Energy Modernization Act is already being portrayed as a step in that direction.
''Environmental groups say they favor some of the provisions [in the bill],'' Energywire reported. ''It would put the state geologist in charge of maintaining the chemical information and would allow the state's emergency management office to use it for planning. It also would allow the state to turn over the information immediately to medical providers and fire chiefs.''
Public health advocates warned that such perks could turn the Energy Modernization Act into a Trojan Horse that makes testing chemicals impossible. The US Environmental Protection Agency has waded into the debate as well, announcing earlier this month that it is considering forcing major companies to disclose which chemicals are used in the fracking process.
Deborah Goldberg, a lawyer at Earthjustice, which is dedicated to protecting natural resources, told Salon that the EPA's involvement, and thus the possibility of more transparency, is essential.
''We want to be sure that there is some agency that actually is collecting the information about what is being used in these shale plays across the country,'' she said. ''The disclosure we are getting right now is pretty spotty.''
NDAA - Congress Votes Down Amendment to Eliminate Indefinite Detention
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:36
Here's a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" question for you: Does Congress have a 13% approval rating because of blatant abuses like the NDAA's indefinite detention provisions, and the NSA's out of control domestic spying program, or has the U.S. government been building up these powers because they know that they are unpopular, and fear that the American people may turn on them one day?
One thing we know for sure, the indefinite detention provisions which shipped in the 2012, 2013, and now the 2014 versions of the NDAA didn't slip in by accident. It was bad enough that Congress pushed the law through in the face of widespread uproar, and that Obama signed it each time when he could have easily vetoed it with a single stroke of his pen, but yesterday when they voted down an amendment proposed by Adam Smith (D-Washington), which would have done nothing but eliminate indefinite detention in the U.S. and its territories, that demonstrates that America's ruling class really, really wants this power.
Now of course, those who support the elimination of habeas corpus will tell you that this law is only for "terrorists", but that's precisely where the issue lies. Who determines if someone is a terrorist? Under the NDAA, faceless bureaucrats can make someone disappear based on a mere accusation. If you don't get your day in court, you don't get a chance to prove your innocence. Such an arrangement subjects the people to the whims of those in power.
These are the powers of a monarchy, only instead of a single throne, we have a board of directors and a CEO.
It's worth noting that the way that the bill is worded, every single member of Congress and the Senate could be indefinitely detained. After all, they've been funding and arming Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
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Amid Pentagon Spending Frenzy, House Passes a Few Sensible Amendments to NDAA
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:15
Amid Pentagon Spending Frenzy, House Passes a Few Sensible Amendments to NDAAMay 22, 2014
Today, the House of Representatives set aside partisan politics and adopted 10 sensible amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 that will enhance the national security of the United States.
The Project On Government Oversight and several partner organizations from across the ideological spectrum joined together to support seven of these successful amendments. In a letter to the House, the groups said that they ''. . . may not agree on many things, but we all agree on this: The United States must curb wasteful and ineffective spending at the Pentagon. Doing so will save billions of valuable tax dollars as well as help to make America safer with the hard decisions our nation's security requires.''
Here are the successful amendments supported by the coalition, the majority of which are bipartisan:
Amendment 138. (filed as #307)'--Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Murphy (D-Fla.): This bipartisan amendment puts the brakes on the Pentagon's slush fund'--the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, also known as the war funding account. The Pentagon and Congress have gotten into the regrettable habit of funding items through the OCO that are completely unrelated to the war in Afghanistan. The Mulvaney-Murphy amendment will make clear how the OCO funds can be used. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 37. (filed as #131)'--Griffith (R-Va.), Ellison (D-Minn.): This bipartisan amendment tackles the problem of star-creep in the top-heavy military. It implements former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' efficiency initiative with respect to the top-heaviness of the military. It would eliminate three 4-star billets and five three-star billets. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 147. (filed as #278)'--Polis (D-Colo.), Nadler (D-N.Y.): The U.S. wastes billions of dollars developing missile defense platforms that are unproven and cannot perform reliably. Over the past five years, the U.S. has not conducted a single successful test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile system, yet the Pentagon continues to request additional funding for the program. This amendment encourages the Secretary of Defense to conduct successful operationally realistic tests before purchasing additional GMD interceptors. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 120. (filed as #301)'--Nolan (D-Minn.): Another area of concern in the defense budget is spending on infrastructure projects in Afghanistan that have little oversight or accountability. Indeed, by the end of 2014, many U.S.-funded projects under construction in Afghanistan will be outside of the ability of the United States to provide direct civilian oversight. This commonsense amendment would require a review of any reconstruction project over $500,000 in Afghanistan that cannot be physically inspected by the United States. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 139. (filed as #284)'--Walberg (R-Mich.), Cohen (D-Tenn.): While Congress continues to appropriate funds each year for construction projects in Afghanistan, shockingly, these programs have billions of dollars in unspent funds. This bipartisan amendment that would prohibit additional funding of the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund until previously unobligated funds have been spent. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 87. (filed as #72)'--Burgess (R-Texas), Lee (D-Calif.): Keeping track of how money being spent by the Department of Defense can be a tricky task given that it is the only federal agency or department that is unable to pass a clean audit. This bipartisan amendment requires the Pentagon to provide a progress update ranking all military departments and agencies in order of how close they are to achieving audit-readiness. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 24. (filed as #221)'--Blumenauer (D-Ore.): In last year's NDAA, Congress requested that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) publish a report on the long-term estimated cost of the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal. This report found that the United States is expected to spend $355 billion over the next decade on nuclear weapons and associated personnel'--previously underestimated by $150 billion. This amendment requires CBO to provide these cost estimates annually. (adopted 224-199)It is really encouraging to see some sanity in what is otherwise an unaccountable spending frenzy, seemingly untethered from a sound national security strategy. Our coalition of unlikely allies has worked hard to support members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who call for more sensible spending to make us safer'--especially those with the courage and conviction to set aside partisan politics. And we plan to continue to do so.
Read the letter the groups sent to the House of Representative here.
In addition, POGO supported the following amendments independent of our coalition partners:
Amendment 84. (filed as #317)'--Fortenberry (R-Neb.): In this year's budget request, the White House proposed shifting funding from nuclear nonproliferation programs and accounts into modernization programs. This amendment requires the Pentagon to outline how it will manage its mission relating to nuclear forces, deterrence, nonproliferation and terrorism. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 86. (filed as #182)'--Speier (D-Calif.): Oftentimes, the only way for journalists and analysts to obtain Inspector General (IG) reports on misconduct at the Department of Defense is to obtain leaks from within the department or file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This amendment requires the IG to publicly release misconduct reports for senior executive service officials, political appointees, and general and flag officers. (adopted by voice vote)Amendment 77. (filed as #56)'--Graves, (R-Mo.), Duckworth (D-Ill.): This bipartisan amendment increases small business competition in federal contracting. (adopted by voice vote)We thank and commend all of the champions of all of these sensible amendments and pledge to do all we can to support these measures in the final bill.
Ethan Rosenkranz is the National Security Policy Analyst for the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics:National Security
Related Content:Budget, Star Creep, Iraq & Afghanistan Reconstruction Contracts, NDAA
Authors:Ethan Rosenkranz
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Latest PodcastPodcast: Exploring Transparency for Oil and Gas ExtractionMia Steinle talks about POGO's involvement in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the hurdles to increased transparency for oil, gas and hard rock minerals here in the U.S.
Twitter Censors "Blasphemous" Tweets to Oblige a Pakistani Bureaucrat
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:30
Twitter is still receiving accolades for its role in the Arab Spring years later, but the corporation's decision block tweets in Pakistan for the first time ever is tarnishing its reputation as a free speech advocate.
At least five times in May, Twitter has acquiesced to requests from a Pakistani official to censor tweets he deemed "blasphemous" and "unethical." The New York Times reports:
All five of those requests were honored by the company, meaning that Twitter users in Pakistan can no longer see the content that so disturbed the bureaucrat, Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority: crude drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, photographs of burning Qurans, and messages from a handful of anti-Islam bloggers and an American porn star who now attends Duke University.
The decision to block those tweets adheres to Twitter's country-specific censorship policy released in 2012. But the decision to give in to government censorship comes during a particularly volatile time for political opposition in Pakistan, notes theTimes:
A number of the accounts seemed to have been blocked in anticipation of the fourth annual "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" on May 20.
This censorship comes as challenges to Pakistan's draconian blasphemy law have become increasingly deadly, amid a flurry of arrests, killings and assassination attempts on secularists.
Twitter defends its action by arguing that block tweets that break local laws is a greater good (or "lesser evil," as the Times puts it) than getting the service block in Pakistan for everyone.
Google famously came to a different conclusion in China in 2010, shutting down the service because of censorship (and hacking threats) and redirecting users to Hong Kong.
Although this is Twitter's first time kowtowing to authorities in Pakistan, the country censored other tweets before, including a neo-Nazi group in Germany. Just this week, the company blocked Russian users from an account run by an ultranationalist group of Ukrainians. In that case, Twitter was complying with a court order. Eva Galperin, a global policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the decision "disappointing," notes the Times:
"First, Twitter has no employees or assets in Russia, so it should not have to comply with a Russian court order at all," Ms. Galperin argued. "And the order isn't even about a Russian account '-- it's a Ukrainian one. Worse yet, Pravy Sektor's account is plainly political. If Twitter won't stand up for political speech in a country where independent media is increasingly under attack, what will it stand for?"
Twitter, the fastest-growing social platform around the world in 2013, faced a decline in the growth of monthly active users around the globe earlier in this year, but re-accelerated this past quarter.
To contact the author of this post, please email nitasha@gawker.com.
[Image via@TarekFatah]
Cradle to Incrceration
Invasive airport body scanners have found a new home at US prisons | The Verge
Wed, 21 May 2014 00:00
Backscatter X-ray screening machines proved too invasive and controversial for airports, but apparently they're getting a new lease on life at US prisons. According to Federal Times, 154 of the full-body scanners have already been distributed to prisons in states including Iowa, Louisiana, and Virginia. Five others have found new homes at sheriffs' offices across Arkansas. The TSA pulled backscatter machines from airports last year in response to criticism from travelers and lawmakers over the revealing output they produce. Rapiscan, the vendor of those scanners, failed to meet a Congressionally-mandated deadline that called for nude, full-body images to be replaced with a more generic representation of passengers being screened. The devices also raised health questions over radiation exposure.
96 of the scanners remain at Rapiscan's warehouse, though the TSA says it will continue trying to find new destinations for them. "TSA and the vendor are working with other government agencies interested in receiving the units for their security mission needs and for use in a different environment," a spokesperson told Federal Times. Still, history has a way of repeating itself. Like airline travelers, prison employees aren't thrilled by the backscatter machines infringing on their privacy. Mississippi has debated legislation that would only require workers to pass through the scanners if they're suspected of carrying in contraband for prisoners.
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White House says CIA will stop using vaccination programs as cover for operations | Fox News
Tue, 20 May 2014 15:32
In this Dec. 28, 2010 file photo, a Pakistani health worker, left, visits families to inform them on polio in Peshawar, Pakistan. In his 2009 speech to the Muslim world, President Obama announced a new effort to eradicate polio, which persists in three Muslim countries.AP2011
President Obama's top counterterrorism advisor has vowed that the CIA will no longer be able to use vaccination programs as cover for intelligence operations like those the agency carried out prior to the killing of Usama bin Laden in 2011.
Lisa Monaco announced the policy change last week in a letter to the deans of 13 schools of public health. Monaco's letter said that the CIA has agreed to stop using vaccination programs and workers for intelligence purposes. The agency has also agreed not to use genetic material obtained through such programs.
The educators had written to Obama last year protesting the use of immunization programs as a front for espionage. The most prominent program was run by Dr. Shakil Afridi, who offered hepatitis vaccinations in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad as cover for his CIA-backed effort to obtain DNA samples from children at a compound where bin Laden was later killed during a 2011 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs. Afridi was convicted and sentenced by a Pakistani court to 33 years in prison for treason. The sentence was later overturned and Afridi faces a retrial.
In 2012, the United Nations suspended a polio vaccination effort in Pakistan after gunmen killed several health workers. Taliban militants accused health workers of acting as spies for the U.S.
In the May 16 letter, Monaco said the U.S. "strongly supports the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and efforts to end the spread of the polio virus forever."
She added that CIA Director John Brennan said in August 2013 that the agency would "make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers." Also saying no DNA or genetic material from such programs would be used, Monaco said the CIA policy "applied worldwide and to U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike."
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said Brennan "took seriously the concerns raised by the public health community, examined them closely and took decisive action."
Monaco's letter and the CIA statement did not acknowledge any error in the decision to use the Pakistan vaccine program as a spying cover. The letter was first disclosed in a report by Yahoo News.
The White House statement came three days after Pakistan acted to quell a growing polio crisis within its borders. The public health deans had warned last year that the CIA's use of a vaccination program had played a role in the shootings of several health workers in Pakistan and could hamper anti-polio efforts.
"Public health programs should not be used as cover for covert operations," they said.
Last week, Pakistan's Health Ministry announced that it would require that all travelers leaving the country first get a polio vaccination. That move followed the World Health Organization's declaration earlier this month that polio's spread was an international public health emergency. The WHO identified Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon as nations that had allowed polio to spread beyond their borders.
Pakistan was the only country with reported endemic polio that saw a rise in new cases in 2012, the health organization reported. Pakistan accounted for more than a fifth of all polio cases identified across the world in 2013.
The CIA's use of a vaccine program to spy on bin Laden's compound undercut Obama's own high-profile speech to the Muslim world in 2009, in which he touted U.S. efforts to slash the growth of polio in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. With Obama administration assurances, Muslim scholars in two international groups issued religious decrees urging parents to vaccinate their children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
CIA: No More Using Vaccination Programs for Spying. Doctor who used the ruse 3 years ago to aid bin Laden raid sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Wed, 21 May 2014 06:49
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The New Internet Gods Have No Mercy - The Awl
Sun, 25 May 2014 12:27
The internet is vast and wild and unknowable and full of potential, unless you are a website. If you are a website, you depend on traffic. And if you depend on traffic, you know that it comes from just a few different places. Facebook is a big one, and for many sites the biggest. Pinterest is enormous, staggeringly so, for sites that overlap with Pinterest's audience. LinkedIn sends a lot of people if you write about business or self-help; Twitter sends a very modest and modestly valuable stream of people to stories about the news. In other words, in 2014, normal people read the internet mostly on their phones, usually through apps. The only honest way to assess your website is to imagine it with fat blue bars above and below your words.
From the captive publisher's perspective, Google was the Facebook of five to ten years ago. Some publishers learned how to game it and reaped great rewards. Others simply kept on doing what they were doing and were rewarded anyway: Google, in its attempt to "organize the world's information," deemed their information worth organizing. This is what happened to MetaFilter, one of the great online communities of the 2000s. Over the years, the site's "Ask MetaFilter" section accumulated a lot of questions and answers that happened to be similar to questions Google users were asking. This became a major contributor to Metafilter's traffic, and remained so for years. Until recently:
While MetaFilter approaches 15 years of being alive and kicking, the overall website saw steady growth for the first 13 of those years. A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.
Google updates its index all the time, ostensibly in an effort to kill off spammy how-to sites and content farms. MetaFilter isn't perfect but it's neither of those things, and now it has to lay off some of its staff. MetaFilter enjoyed Google's traffic but didn't ask for it, and now that traffic is gone.
Metafilter came from two or three internets ago, when a website's core audience'--people showing up there every day or every week, directly'--was its main source of visitors. Google might bless a site with new visitors or take them away. Either way, it was still possible for a site's fundamentals to be strong, independent of extremely large outside referrers. What's so disconcerting now is that the new sources of readership, the apps and sites people check every day and which lead people to new posts and stories, make up a majority of total readership, and they're utterly unpredictable (they're also bigger, always bigger, every new internet is bigger). People still visit sites directly, but less. Sites still link to one another, but with diminishing results. A site that doesn't care about Facebook will nonetheless come to depend on Facebook, and if Facebook changes how Newsfeed works, or how its app works, a large fraction of total traffic could appear or disappear very quickly.
Of course a website's fortunes can change overnight. That these fortunes are tied to the whims of a very small group of very large companies, whose interests are only somewhat aligned with those of publishers, however, is sort of new. The publishing opportunity may be bigger today than it's ever been but the publisher's role is less glamorous: When did the best sites on the internet, giant and small alike, become anonymous subcontractors to tech companies that operate on entirely different scales? This is new psychological territory, working for publishers within publishers within publishers. The ones at the top barely know you exist! Anyway, internet people, remember this day in five years: It could happen to you, whether you asked for it or not.
Encrypting Your Email & Key Signing - MacRumors Forums
Sat, 24 May 2014 18:37
In light of all the computer security news of late and my own ongoing pursuit of securing my computer and Internet habits for my own protection against hackers and identity theft, I've now started encrypting my emails, or rather installed the ability to.I installed the open-source GPG (PGP) GPGTools add-on for Apple Mail and generated a 4096-bit public and private key each for two of my email accounts. The whole process took less than five minutes and is very easy to accomplish.
Once installed, sending either a digitally signed and/or encrypted email is as simple as clicking on a button in the new mail window. The catch is that the recipient must also have encryption enabled on their account and have uploaded their public key to a key server so you can download it and use it to decrypt an email. If the person you're sending an email to isn't set up for encryption, that's not a problem, you can still send them an email as you would normally, it just won't be encrypted.
What encrypting your email does is ensure that no one, a hacker, Apple, Google, Microsoft, et al or even the NSA, can snoop on your messages if they happen to intercept it. All they would get would be a huge string of random characters that they wouldn't be able to decrypt.
One part of the setup process is generating your keys. The installer (above) installs the GPG Keychain Access app, which is different from Apple's Keychain app. With the GPG Keychain access you generate a public and private key and during the generation process you're supposed to move the mouse around a lot or type a lot to get the CPU or disk to create a lot of activity which helps mix up the bits of the key for maximum entropy. With the speed of today's CPU's, key generation is accomplished in mere seconds.
What I did to ensure there was plenty of disk activity during the key generation was start up and run Blackmagic, the disk speed test app, which is free from the Mac App Store. I figure with that running while you're generating the keys, the excessive disk activity will help create the most entropy possible making for a very secure key. Once the key is generated, you can cancel Blackmagic's speed test - if you want.
Another part of the key generation process is creating a passphrase. This is similar to a password in that its typically a sentence with upper/lower case words and numbers, even characters, that only you know and can remember. This is used to decrypt your private key and send/read encrypted emails or verify a digitally signed email. If you lose or forget your passphrase, there is no way to ever recover it and you would have to make a new key. Any email you received sent to you based on your lost passphrase will forever be unreadable to you. Its very important to remember your passphrase and never give it out to anyone.
Lastly, you will want to upload your public key to a key server so others can download and use it to decrypt your emails. You will also want to get as many people as you can to sign your key so that it helps bring validity and credit to your key letting people know that its actually you and your key. Doing this is usually called a key signing party where you get people, typically that you know to sign your key, or actually meet up somewhere so people can actually meet you and be comfortable signing your key.
This method is very secure, open-source, and endorsed by the podcast Security Now with Leo Laporte (twit.tv) and Steve Gibson (grc.com).
Additionally, this can be set up on Windows computers and Mozilla Thunderbird (OS X & Windows). Here is the addon for Thunderbird: Enigmail. I don't have the method worked out for applying this on Windows yet, but will work on it.
I have two email accounts set up, one in Apple Mail and the other in Thunderbird. I set them both up and have easily sent encrypted emails to each account.
If anyone is willing to try this, I am willing to help and provide my MacRumors email account as a test for sending encrypted emails back and forth. I don't mind doing this since that email account is also listed under the View Forum Leaders page.
Note: This thread is not intended to discuss or debate the political and social issues regarding encryption and whether or not one has anything to hide from the government or not. We have a PRSI thread where that stuff is already being discussed.
Apple Releases Statement on Customer Privacy and Law Enforcement Requests for Customer Data
What this thread is intended for is the technical aspect of email encryption and for members to come together and sign each other's key's.
Last edited by SandboxGeneral; Jul 22, 2013 at 11:48 AM.
A New, Optional Way to Share and Discover Music, TV and Movies | Facebook Newsroom
Fri, 23 May 2014 09:42
By Aryeh Selekman, Product ManagerYou may have seen a friend post a photo after a tough workout with a ''feeling proud'' icon. Or you've seen your friend check in at a coffee shop ''drinking an iced coffee.''
In the last year, people shared more than 5 billion status updates that included these kinds of feelings and activities, sparking conversations with friends in a more visual way.
Today, we're making those conversations quicker and easier by introducing a new way to share and discover music, TV and movies.
When writing a status update '' if you choose to turn the feature on '' you'll have the option to use your phone's microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV.
That means if you want to share that you're listening to your favorite Beyonc(C) track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing.
Here's how it works: If you've turned the feature on, you'll see an audio icon moving on the screen when you write a status update. If the feature finds a match, you can then choose to add the song, TV show or movie to your post.
Like with any post, you choose who can see it. You can also turn the feature off at any time by clicking the audio icon in the top right of the screen.
If you leave the feature on, you will see the audio icon move and attempt to detect a match when you're writing a status update. No sound is stored and you'll always get to choose whether you post to your friends.
If you share music, your friends can see a 30-second preview of the song. For TV shows, the story in News Feed will highlight the specific season and episode you're watching, so you can avoid any spoilers and join in conversations with your friends after you've caught up.
This feature will be available on Android and iOS in the US in the coming weeks. To learn more, visit our Help Center.
Facebook Wants To Listen In On What You're Doing - Forbes
Fri, 23 May 2014 09:41
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NASA spacecraft from 1978 gets crowdfunded civilian reboot.
Sat, 24 May 2014 04:00
A crowdfunded group of citizen scientists will attempt to reboot and take control of a 36-year-old space probe that is flying back past Earth long after the end of its original mission to study comets and the solar wind.
Launched in 1978, the International Sun/Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft studied how the stream of charged particles flowing from the sun, the so-called solar wind, interacts with Earth's magnetic field.
After completing its primary mission the probe was given a new name, the International Comet Explorer, and new targets to study, including the famed comet Halley as it passed by Earth in March 1986.
A third assignment to investigate powerful solar storms, known as coronal mass ejections, followed until 1997, when Nasa deactivated the spacecraft. But the probe's radio transmitters were left switched on, apparently by mistake, and it has continued to send a carrier signal.
In August the dormant probe's orbit around the sun will bring it back past Earth, an event that caught the eye of the ad hoc group of citizen scientists. In April the team undertook a successful crowdfunding project to raise $125,000 to reboot the probe under the banner of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project.
The group has successfully picked up the probe's carrier signal and is assembling equipment to communicate with it from Earth '' necessary because Nasa scrapped its own 1970s equipment long ago.
A Nasa animation shows the ISEE-3 probe catching up with Earth over several years.On Wednesday the project received Nasa's blessings and access to technical data to help engineers make contact.
"We have a chance to engage a new generation of citizen scientists through this creative effort to recapture the ISEE-3 spacecraft as it zips by the Earth this summer," said John Grunsfeld, Nasa's associate administrator for science.
The Nasa agreement gives Skycorp Inc, a California company working with the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, permission to attempt to contact and possibly command and control the satellite, which is believed to still have fuel and working scientific instruments.
"Our plan is simple: we intend to contact the ISEE-3 spacecraft, command it to fire its engines and enter an orbit near Earth, and then resume its original mission," said Keith Cowing, a former Nasa engineer who runs the Nasa Watch website.
"If we are successful it may also still be able to chase yet another comet," Cowing said.
If the effort proved unsuccessful the ISEE-3 would swing by the moon and continue to circle the sun, he said.
Nasa has never before signed an agreement to turn over a decommissioned spacecraft for private use. "New data resulting from the project will be shared with the science community and the public, providing a unique tool for teaching students and the public about spacecraft operations and data-gathering," Nasa said in a press release.
The ISEE-3 must be contacted within a month or so and change its orbit no later than mid-June if it is to have a shot a new mission, according to Skycorp.
The manoeuvres may include a flyby of the moon at an altitude of less than 31 miles (50km), Cowing said.
Reuters contributed to this report
Adobe's 'Creative Cloud' Goes Offline'--and Takes a Million Designers With It - The Daily Beast
Mon, 19 May 2014 00:46
Tech + Health05.15.14
The design world is utterly dependent on a single software cloud. What happens when it suddenly goes down?
Imagine you're working in an office building and the lights on every floor suddenly go out and stay out. Hours pass, then an entire day, and the office is still dark. When the power company bothers to acknowledge that there's a problem, they don't say when the juice might come back. So they wait frantically in the gloom.
That despair is not unlike what over a million designers, graphic artists, and developers who rely daily on Adobe's Creative Cloud Suite felt on Wednesday and Thursday as the service went down for over 24 hours.
Launched in 2013, the Creative Cloud Suite (CCS) is a web-based package of design and development tools including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Typekit. Users pay an annual subscription ($600 for individuals or $840 per user for teams) rather than a one-time price, and in turn they get services like online backup and file-sharing'--especially useful for company-wide collaboration.
Adobe claims that their cloud apps will work offline as well. But many paying subscribers are finding themselves locked out.
Starting on Wednesday at around 5 PM EST, Adobe displayed a maintenance message for the service. Other non-design services, like Adobe Business Catalyst, which hosts email fundraising campaigns and e-commerce, also went down. This sudden unavailability'--like the lights flicking off'--highlights the problems of cloud computing even as we're coming to depend on it more heavily. In a time of hackers, surveillance concerns, and corporate collusion with the government, just how much can we trust the online services that are supposed to replace the software on our desktops? And how much are we supposed to trust a single company'--Adobe'--that has so much control over our creative class?
''The outage has created a huge amount of heartache,'' says James Kelleher, creative director of the Dublin-based app studio Pilcrow. Kelleher's client projects rely on Typekit, the CCS application used to design with custom typefaces. ''Either I wait it out for Adobe to fix the problem and risk the ire of clients on deadline, or I'll have to fork out for expensive stand-alone font licenses to use fonts that I've already paid Adobe a subscription fee for,'' he explains.
''The amount of productivity that has been lost across the world in the last day is mind-boggling'... This is screwing anybody who uses Adobe InDesign to create interactive digital editions. It's a nightmare in an industry that is runs on tight deadlines, whether they be internal or external.''
''The amount of productivity that has been lost across the world in the last day is mind-boggling,'' says one designer who uses Adobe while working with major mainstream media publishers. Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite, a tool for creating iPad publications that is now almost entirely cloud-based, is also offline. ''With the meltdown, the process of moving from cloud to iPad cannot be done,'' the designer says, nor can new material be pushed to the Apple Newsstand. ''This is screwing anybody who uses Adobe InDesign to create interactive digital editions. It's a nightmare in an industry that is runs on tight deadlines, whether they be internal or external.''
(Representatives for Adobe did not respond to requests to comment.)
Others are smug that they stayed off the cloud altogether. Robert Lawrence runs a digital media consultancy in Michigan. He decided to stick with Adobe's earlier, offline Creative Suite 6 rather than upgrade'--a feasible strategy for a small business. CCS's subscription model ''locks you into a single financial option and it leaves you vulnerable to systemic risk, as we are currently witnessing,'' he writes in an email. ''What good is that enhanced functionality if you can't use the program?''
Should the CCS outage continues, designers will be faced with another choice: to stick with the platform or try to cobble together another solution, though there may not be another as holistic as Adobe. If it stays down, ''I'll start by slamming my hand in the desk drawer for a minute or so,'' Kelleher says. ''And then it's time to reconsider how much I rely on Adobe software.''
CCS eventually went back up late Thursday night. But the concerns about the major cloud services linger.
According to Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide, Microsoft may have willingly allowed the NSA's PRISM program to access its SkyDrive cloud service starting in March 2013. The company seemed to collaborate with the agency in giving away user information: ''This success is the result of the FBI working for many months with Microsoft to get this tasking and collection solution established,'' one leaked document reads. ''This means that analysts will no longer have to make a special request to SSO [the U.S. Special Security Office] for this.'' In other words, the cloud only serves to speed up the NSA's access to your data.
And while Adobe isn't directly linked to NSA surveillance, many of its competitors are. The NSA has boasted that it can collect data from Yahoo and Google with equal ease (don't even ask about the pushover Snapchat). But in August 2013, Google Drive, the company's cloud-based storage service that provides for over 120 million users, began rolling out server-side encryption for its Drive clients. If Google encodes the data before storing it online and only decodes it when the user accesses it, the process will make things more difficult for the NSA, though by no means impossible.
Fear of the cloud'--whether it's privacy concerns or outage issues'--has motivated a small boom in boutique cloud services that trumpet their encryption and 100 percent uptime. These range from iDrive and the Kickstarter-backed Transporter to the geek-friendly Least Authority and Kim Dotcom's Mega. Perhaps those alternatives seem more appealing than Google or Adobe because they're small start-ups rather than the entrenched tech giants we've come to distrust.
But if the outrage incited by the Adobe outage is any clue, cloud-induced paranoia seems to be more a result of shock that our software doesn't do exactly what we tell it to do all the time. To protect their own interests, consumers will need to be more proactive in understanding what the tools they use actually do and how dependable they are. Whether Adobe's CCS survives or not largely depends on how well it avoids annoying its users.
Adobe Creative Cloud Login Outage Takes Users' Productivity With It '' Consumerist
Mon, 19 May 2014 00:43
When Adobe announced that future releases of its Creative Suite software would only be released using a subscription-based model, it was completely unsurprising that 61.2% of Consumerist readers told us in a poll that they'll switch to Creative Cloud when Adobe pulls CS6 out of their cold, dead hard drives. This week, Creative Cloud's login outage validated our readers' point of view. Users were unable to switch computers, log in, start new subscriptions, or add services. Some weren't able to use their programs at all.This raised an important question for many people who have digital creative jobs: is it really such a good idea to leave so much of their workflow and their destiny in the hands of a single company? ''First, and most importantly, we want to apologize for this outage because we know how critical our services are to you and how disruptive it's been to those of you who felt the impact,'' Adobe said in their statement apologizing for the outage. Calling Adobe programs ''critical'' to many users is a gross understatement.
''Either I wait it out for Adobe to fix the problem and risk the ire of clients on deadline, or I'll have to fork out for expensive stand-alone font licenses to use fonts that I've already paid Adobe a subscription fee for,'' one user complained to The Daily Beast while the outage was ongoing.
Adobe claims that the outage wasn't related to a hack or other security issue, which is good news after the company suffered from a massive data breach less than a year ago.
Adobe restores Creative Cloud login service after day-long outage [CNET]Adobe's 'Creative Cloud' Goes Offline'--and Takes a Million Designers With It [Daily Beast]
Ministry of Truth
The President Takes a Surprise Walk - YouTube
Sun, 25 May 2014 04:04
Television moguls jostle to take control of the global audience | Media | The Guardian
Tue, 20 May 2014 00:56
A chance to Shine '... MasterChef maker Shine owns 26 companies in 11 countries.
Rupert Murdoch's bold attempt to create one of the world's largest TV production businesses is the latest offensive in an increasingly frenetic battle of the media giants to control the hearts, and pockets, of viewers. Murdoch's Shine Group, maker of shows including MasterChef, will become part of a $2bn-plus joint venture that includes equity group Apollo Global's Endemol and American Idol maker Core Media.
Endemol, responsible for hits including Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal, is by far the largest of the three with revenues just over £1bn. Shine makes about £510m. This would indicate Fox will have to make a significant investment to take a 50% stake. However according to one person familiar with the talks, which have been going on for well over a year, this is not the case due to the huge debt pile Apollo is carrying into the deal.
For Murdoch, such a large-scale business will have more clout in deals with broadcasters, as well as being able to afford to take risks on new shows and fund the wave of new high-end dramas that cost more than £1m per episode. "The phrase 'content is king' is very much alive and kicking," says Johnathan Barrett, senior media research analyst at N+1 Singer. "There is more competition on the distribution side than ever before, such as from Netflix, which has meant there is more value in TV content across the board than there has been historically."
The agreement comes amid a flurry of activity in the TV industry, as the big players look to increase their scale amid rapid consolidation. Earlier this month John Malone's Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media in the UK, and Discovery Communications paid £550m to buy Skins and Midsomer Murders maker All3Media. In the same week ITV displayed its insatiable appetite for gobbling up production companies again by taking control of Leftfield, maker of shows including Pawn Stars and Real Housewives of New Jersey, in a deal worth potentially as much as $800m.
The revitalisation of ITV's production business has been a key element in the broadcaster's turnaround. Last year ITV Studios saw revenues grow 20% to £857m, profits surged 24% to £133m. "It is increasingly difficult to make money in television and the bigger you are the safer you are," says one senior industry executive. "It is inevitable and it is as much defensive as offensive. Hollywood studios are doing it, ITV is doing it, Discovery is in there with All3Media, Sony is doing it. Now Fox has joined in."
The latest wave of consolidation has left some players with takeover aspirations '' such as RTL's FremantleMedia, maker of shows such as The X Factor '' suddenly short of prime targets to pursue. "RTL missed All3Media, and I think following Murdoch's deal they are vulnerable," says a second TV industry executive. "They have always been talked about as getting bigger and having m ore scale, but now the juicy assets in the UK have gone."
Murdoch's current focus is not just on content, as last week he also revived his pan-European pay-TV ambitions with a $14bn plan to create Sky Europe.BSkyB, in which Fox owns a 39% stake, is seeking to buy out Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, which Fox controls. Barrett says that Sky may be able to strike more cost-effective deals for big sports and movie rights. "European regulators have indicated they don't like geographic boundaries and country-by-country rights sales," he adds. "Even if regulators never move to act on those indications Sky will get more leverage with rights holders as a pan-European player anyway."
Murdoch is not the only media giant intent on deals involving production companies or broadcasters. Sky's strategy mimics that of Malone's Liberty Global, which has spent billions buying cable TV companies including Virgin Media for £15bn last year.
The wave of consolidation in the TV market has primarily been led by the big American pay-TV giants. This month Viacom became the first US owner of a UK public service broadcaster, after it paid Richard Desmond £450m to buy Channel 5. Discovery, which recently bought Eurosport and Scandanavian TV company SBS, was also a leading contender in the race for 5.
John McVay, chief executive of independent producers' trade body Pact, says the rush of activity from big players like Murdoch is not necessarily the bad thing some observers assume. "What people are doing '' Viacom, Discovery, Murdoch '' is about positioning in a global TV market and how the UK fits into that," he says. "It doesn't necessarily mean any less competition in the market, in many ways it could mean more. I certainly don't think any of it means the end of the world for the British TV industry."
Endemol Revenue: more than £1bn. Owns 90 companies in 30 countries. Key shows include Big Brother, Deal Or No Deal and Peaky Blinders.
Shine Group Revenue: £510m. Owns 26 companies in 11 countries. Key shows include MasterChef and The Biggest Loser.
Core Media Group Revenue: unknown. Key shows include American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
Out There
Massive Underwater Entrance Discovered Off The California Coast
Sun, 25 May 2014 04:45
May 23, 2014 - A massive underwater entrance has been discovered off the Malibu, CA coast at Point Dume which appears to be the Holy Grail of UFO/USO researchers that have been looking for it over the last 40 years. The plateau structure is 1.35 miles x 2.45 miles wide, 6.66 miles from land and the entrance between the support pillars is 2745 feet wide and 630 feet tall. It also has what looks like a total nuclear bomb proof ceiling that is 500 feet thick. The discovery was made by Maxwell, Dale Romero and Jimmy Church, host of FADE to BLACK on the Dark Matter Radio Network on Monday, May 12th 2014 and announced on Facebook, Twitter and Church's radio program the following day.The underwater base has been a mystery for many years with hundreds of UFO/USO sightings'...many with photographs'...but the entrance of the base has remained elusive'...until now. The entrance can support nuclear sized submarines and massive UFO/USO activity and allow access to different military installations that are inside the US such as the China Lake Naval Base that is in the middle of the Mojave desert and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Hawthorne, NV between Las Vegas and Reno. In the photographs you can see its relation to the coastline, Los Angeles and its natural surroundings which to not match up with the structure itself'...which is massive in scale. The support pillars to the entrance are over 600 feet tall. Malibu, California, is known the world over for its scenic beauty and as the playground of the rich and famous. Few people know that it is also the land of UFOs.
In the late 1950s, as my neighbor and some of his friends were watching the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean, they witnessed three bright UFOs fly across the water at great speed then hover for a few minutes over the Santa Monica Mountains before flying off out of sight. My family moved in around 1962. We had a perfect view of Zuma Beach in our front yard with the mountains for our backyard, and the star-filled sky above us at night. During the 1960s, people were frequently seeing UFOs flying around Malibu, but a lot of people were taking hallucinogenic substances in those days too. However, by the early 1970s, whole families were going down to the beach at Point Dume at night to watch the multicolored UFOs that would sink under the water at times. NOTE: The above image is from Google earth.
Scientist: Massive Floods in Serbia and Bosnia caused by HAARP
Fri, 23 May 2014 17:49
Scientist: Massive Floods in Serbia and Bosnia caused by HAARPWednesday, 21 May 2014
"Today the HAARP system was turned off, expect eartquakes in the next several days", stated Serbian professor and scientist Velimir Abramovic during a radio broadcast on May 19th.
Abramovic said while the rain lasted in Serbia, there was not a single thunder, which according to him is highly unusual. The rain that fell, he says, didn't appear like normal rain, rather it fell as if someone was unleashing an entire swimming pool each second. This, according to professor Abramovic are characteristics of an artificially created weather pattern designed by the HAARP systems.
"It seemes as if the sky opened, and sea of water fell from it. These were not rain droplets that you would typically expect to see. This was a designed weather pattern which I might add is not the first, nor will it be the last by HAARP." says Abramovic.
Interesting to note, during the same interview for Radio "Snaga Naroda" Abramovic predicted that once the HAARP system is turned off, there would be earthquakes. Two days after his prediction, Albania was rattled by a strong 5.2 earthquake which sent the local population in panic. Many homes were damaged, while Abramovic predicted more quakes to come.
Real News
Dutch radio dj breaks world record for disc spinning
Wed, 21 May 2014 03:34
Dutch radio dj breaks world record for disc spinningTuesday 20 May 2014
Dutch dj Giel Beelen broke the world record for running a radio show in the early hours of Tuesday morning to go into the Guinness Book of Records.
At 05.00 hours Beelen had been broadcasting his radio show on 3FM for 191 hours, one hour longer than previous record holder, the Belgian Lennart Crel.
The 36-year-old dj will continue broadcasting until the end of his morning show at 10.00, clocking up a total of 196 hours.
(C) DutchNews.nl
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Kim Jong-un's playboy half brother enjoys spaghetti in Jakarta amid concerns of assassination attempt by North Koreans.
Sun, 25 May 2014 13:23
Kim Jong-nam posed for photos with chef at Italian restaurant in JakartaHe has been moving around South East Asia amid assassination concernsKim 'disappeared' after his uncle Jang Song-taek was executed last year By Richard Shears
Published: 02:02 EST, 25 May 2014 | Updated: 02:03 EST, 25 May 2014
He has been moving from city to city in South East Asia keeping his eyes and ears open for any attempt by North Korean agents to assassinate him.
But Kim Jong-nam, the elder half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, has daringly stepped out into the public gaze in Indonesia - and tucked into a dish of 'spag-bol' in an Italian restaurant in Jakarta.
He even wrapped a burly arm around the chef's shoulders as they posed for a photo, but the chef was so concerned about his own safety that he asked for his face to be obscured.
Kim Jong-nam, the elder half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, poses for a photo with the chef of an Italian restaurant in Jakarta earlier this month
Kim looked every part the aging playboy he is reputed to be as he brazenly grinned into the camera with his dangling sunglasses and straw hat.
Happy to shake off memories of bibimbap - a common North Korean dish of rice, vegetables and occasionally eggs and meat - Kim is said to have consumed his Italian meal with great relish in the upmarket restaurant.
The photo was acquired by South Korea's YTN television network from a friend of Kim's.
'Despite reports that Kim Jong-nam's safety was in question following the execution of his uncle, Jang Song-taek, he is still alive and well,' said a source close to the family.
'He's living the same lavish lifestyle, moving around between Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France.'
He has been seen in the casinos of Macau and slipping into fine-dining restaurants throughout South East Asia.
But he is said to be aware that his life remains in constant danger because he criticised the King Jong-un regime and he made sure he 'disappeared' following the execution of Jang last December.
Another source claims that a North Korean agent had tried to assassinate Kim Jong-nam in Macau in 2011, but failed after a bloody shootout with his bodyguards. He fled to another city.
Since then, he has lived the life of a wandering playboy and when he visited the Italian restaurant - which is owned by a Japanese businessman - he was accompanied by an attractive woman aged in her early 30s.
Kim Jong-Nam has been moving from city to city in South East Asia amid concerns of an assassination attempt by North Korean agents
Until late 2011, when his father - former leader Kim Jong-il, who is also Kim Jong-un's father by a different mother - was still alive, Jong-nam shuffled back and forth between Beijing and Macau, where his first and second wives lived.
He is also known to have travelled to Thailand, Austria and Russia, stopping in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, from time to time.
But following the death of his father he disappeared from view, fearing the purges being carried out by his younger half-brother.
He has been able to live well, say North Korea watchers, thanks to benefits from building projects and trading companies set up by his executed uncle Jang Song-taek.
'It is possible that he believes he is not on the list of those to be purged by the current North Korean regime,' a source said.
'This is why he has happily posed for a photo in an Indonesian restaurant. But he would not have gone back there a second time - just in case.'
In fact, it is believed he has moved on from Jakarta since the picture was taken earlier this month.
He is said to be still on his guard, worried that his playboy lifestyle might have infuriated his younger half-brother, who had been angered by the 'worldliness and womanising' of Kim Jang-taek.
There is speculation that Beijing is watching Kim Jong-nam's back for him, with a pencilled-in plan to install him as leader of North Korea should the regime of Kim Jong-un collapse.
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VIDEO-Lock up the deniers!
Thu, 22 May 2014 04:37
Canadian geneticist David Suzuki urged Western governments to lock up politicians who question man-made climate change, telling PBS' Bill Moyers ''our politicians should be thrown in the slammer for willful blindness!''
Suzuki appeared on ''Moyers and Company'' earlier this month to express his abject frustration over politicians, in both Canada and the United States, who refuse to accept the ''settled science'' on man-made global warming.
''Our politicians should be thrown in the slammer for willful blindness!'' he asserted. ''If we are in a position of being able to act, and we see something going on and we refuse to acknowledge the threat or act on it, we can be taken to court for willful blindness.''
''I think that we are being willfully blind to the consequences to our children and grandchildren,'' Suzuki continued. ''It's an intergenerational crime.''
Moyers, a well-known climate alarmist, didn't push back a bit '-- instead gently tabling the idea as impractical.
''The problem is, if that should happen '-- if politicians were to be convicted to willful blindness to the fate of the Earth and future generations '-- there would have to be mass arrests, and lots more funding for new prisons,'' he noted. ''We're not talking about a mere handful of culprits. It's hard to know where to start.''
Willful blindness is a legitimate legal reference in the United States (and, presumably, Canada) used to describe the intentional failure of an individual to become aware of facts pointing to criminal liability.
But arresting politicians for ''being willfully blind'' to facts on climate change would mean criminalizing not only those industries and individuals that emit carbon, but also anyone who dares take an opinion contrary to the ''settled science.''
Perhaps that would fly in Suzuki's home country, which prosecuted conservative writer Mark Steyn a few years ago for his views on Islam. But the good scientist may want to brush up on the U.S. Constitution before making such claims south of the border.
In April, Rochester Institute of Technology professor Lawrence Torcello argued that those who deny global warming are ''criminally negligent'' and that ''the funding of climate denial'' should be an imprisonable offense.
[h/t Huffington Post]
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VIDEO_O'Keefe Strikes AGAIN! Hollywood Progressives Duped in Anti-Fracking Sting Operation (Video) | Progressives Today
Wed, 21 May 2014 02:50
James O'Keefe strikes again!
The conservative journalist duped progressives Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemmingway to get involved in an anti-fracking film that was funded by Middle Eastern oil interests.O'Keefe will unveil the movie at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday!Via The Hollywood Reporter:
James O'Keefe says he duped Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemmingway into agreeing to get involved with an anti-fracking movie while hiding that its funding comes from Middle Eastern oil interests.
Journalist James O'Keefe, known for his controversial undercover sting operations aimed usually at liberals '-- is set to unveil at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday the first of a group of videos that he says will reveal hypocrisy among Hollywood environmentalists.
In the video, obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter and embedded below, actors Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemmingway are duped by a man named ''Muhammad,'' who is looking to make an anti-fracking movie while hiding that its funding is coming from Middle Eastern oil interests.
Muhammad, accompanied by a man pretending to be an ad executive, seemingly has the two actors agreeing to participate in the scheme, even after he acknowledges that his goal is to keep America from becoming energy independent. The meeting, which appears to have been secretly recorded, took place a few months ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And, he's going to release this Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival!Brilliant!
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VIDEO-Valerie Jarrett: ''We Have Ways Of Finding Out Everything You've Been Doing Online'' | Weasel Zippers
Tue, 20 May 2014 22:16
At ~17:26:
It's not funny, ValJar.
Via The Blaze:
During her commencement speech at Pomona College, a leading liberal arts institution located in Claremont, California, President Obama's senior advisor Valerie Jarrett made remarks about the president's focus on the so-called ''pay gap'' between men and women (repeating the dubious claim that women make 77% of what men make), Obamacare and other administration agenda items.
But it was when Jarrett deviated to talking more generally about political service that she let loose a joke that some might find a bit unsettling (though the audience seemed to think nothing of it).
Judge for yourself Ms. Jarrett's comments on the government's ability to find information about prospective job hires via the internet.
VIDEO-NBC Promotes Snowden Interview: Is He A 'Traitor' or 'Patriot'? | MRCTV
Sun, 25 May 2014 03:19
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Putin on Obama: 'Who is He to Judge?' | MRCTV
Sun, 25 May 2014 03:01
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Climate Change Crusader Brian Williams Admits 'Inexact Business of Any Forecast Beyond Five Days' | MRCTV
Sun, 25 May 2014 02:57
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who routinely hypes forecasts declaring climate change an imminent threat to humanity, made a rather stunning admission on Thursday night's broadcast while touting the 2014 predictions from the National Hurricane Center: "Overall, they're predicting eight to thirteen so-called named storms....One or two hurricanes, they predict, will be major, meaning category three or above. But, as you know, it is always the case in the inexact business of any forecast beyond five days, we shall see."
VIDEO-Re-Elect Sheriff Bill Brown - YouTube
Sun, 25 May 2014 02:48
VIDEO-Father Whose Son Was Killed By Santa Barbara Shooter Blames The NRA In Press Conference - YouTube
Sun, 25 May 2014 02:32
VIDEO- Santa Barbara Shooter Sent "140 Page Manifesto" To CNN Affiliate - YouTube
Sun, 25 May 2014 02:14
VIDEO-Elliot Rodger MK ULTRA Mind Controlled Slave Gunman - YouTube
Sat, 24 May 2014 22:23
VIDEO-BBC News - California gunman 'was filmmaker Peter Rodger's son'
Sat, 24 May 2014 20:34
24 May 2014Last updated at 15:45 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Lawyer Alan Shifman: "The world has got to spend more on its mental health system"
A Hollywood filmmaker believes his son carried out drive-by shootings that killed six people in California late on Friday, a family lawyer says.
Peter Rodger, who was assistant director on The Hunger Games, thinks the attacker was his 22-year-old son Elliot, the statement said.
The gunman died of bullet wounds after going on a rampage near Santa Barbara.
Police are investigating a video in which a man complains of rejection by women, threatening revenge.
Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the gunman, or that of the young man seen in the YouTube video.
But Peter Rodger's lawyer, Alan Shifman, said on Saturday that the "family believes the child was the perpetrator".
He said the son had Asperger's syndrome, had trouble making friends and had been receiving professional help.
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A video has emerged online of Elliot Rodger threatening revenge
Mr Shifman added that the family had contacted police about "recent posts on YouTube" by Elliot "regarding suicide and the killing of people".
The family is "devastated" and co-operating with police, he said.
Bullet woundsSanta Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters on Friday that police were treating the incident as "premeditated mass murder".
It occurred in the area of Isla Vista, near the University of California-Santa Barbara campus.
Witnesses described seeing a black BMW speeding through the streets, with shots being fired at people.
Police say they were alerted around 21:30 on Friday (04:30 GMT on Saturday). Six minutes later, the suspect and responding officers exchanged gunfire.
The suspect fled. But after a second exchange of fire with police, he eventually crashed into a parked vehicle.
He was found dead in his car with a bullet wound to the head. although police say it is not yet clear whether the wound was self-inflicted.
A semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the vehicle.
Seven other people are in hospital, and being treated for bullet wounds.
Santa Barbara shootings timeline, 23 May
21:27 local time: Shootings begin
21:33: Police exchange fire with gunman, who flees in his vehicle
Seconds later: More police exchange fire. Car crashes in Del Playa Drive, alleged gunman found dead
VIDEO-Here's Disturbing Video of the Alleged UCSB Shooter's Confession
Sat, 24 May 2014 20:25
Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who is linked to a drive-by shooting near UC Santa Barbara's campus yesterday, had uploaded a video last night that revealed his motives, claiming "I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you," after a long monologue against women.
Elliot Rodger's YouTube page is full of video diaries that express his deep loneliness, and a few Facebook pages have popped up that reveal his participation on a body building forum called BodySpace.
The Santa Barbara Independentis reporting that Elliot Rodger's BMW was found on the scene:
Photographs taken by The Santa Barbara Independent of the suspect's crashed vehicle on Del Playa Drive show a license plate number that matches the one on the car featured on Rodger's Facebook page.