Cover for No Agenda Show 626: Preemptive Prosecution
June 15th, 2014 • 3h 10m

626: Preemptive Prosecution


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

Happy Father's Day
Presidential Proclamation -- Father's Day, 2014
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:04
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 13, 2014
- - - - - - -
Fatherhood is among the most difficult and rewarding jobs a man can have. It demands constant attention, frequent sacrifice, and a healthy dose of patience. Even in a time when technology allows us to connect instantly with almost anyone on earth, there is no substitute for a father's presence, care, and support. On Father's Day, we show our gratitude to the men who show us how to learn, grow, and live.
With encouragement and unconditional love, fathers guide their children and help them envision brighter futures. They are teachers and coaches, friends and role models. They instill values like hard work and integrity, and teach their kids to take responsibility for themselves and those around them. This is a task for every father -- whether married or single, gay or straight, natural or adoptive -- and every child deserves someone who will step up and fill this role. My Administration proudly supports dads who are not only present but also involved, who meet their commitments to their sons and daughters, even if their own fathers did not.
Today, let us reflect on our fathers' essential contributions to our lives, our society, and our Nation. Let us thank the men who understand there is nothing more important than being the best fathers they can be.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress approved April 24, 1972, as amended (36 U.S.C. 109), do hereby proclaim June 15, 2014, as Father's Day. I direct the appropriate officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on this day, and I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of June, 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.
Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:57
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 12, 2014
June 12, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.
In furtherance of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the U.S. Central Command's and U.S. Africa Command's areas of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed U.S. combat-equipped forces to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities and support the counterterrorism operations of our friends and allies, including special operations and other forces for sensitive operations in various locations around the world. Specific information about counterterrorism deployments to select countries is provided below, and a classified annex to this report provides further information.
Military Operations Against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Associated Forces and in Support of Related U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
Since October 7, 2001, the United States has conducted combat operations in Afghanistan against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces. In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation. Such operations and deployments have been reported previously, consistent with Public Law 107-40 and the War Powers Resolution, and operations and deployments remain ongoing. These operations, which the United States has carried out with the assistance of numerous international partners, have been successful in seriously degrading al-Qa'ida's capabilities and brought an end to the Taliban's leadership of Afghanistan. As necessary, in response to this terrorist threat, I will direct additional measures to protect U.S. citizens and interests. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.
Afghanistan. United States Armed Forces have transitioned the lead for security to Afghan security forces while striking significant blows against al-Qa'ida's leadership and preventing Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland. On May 27, I announced my decision to end the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 and to maintain a limited number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, contingent on the next Afghan president signing and concluding the United States-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement shortly after he takes office. Maintaining these forces in Afghanistan would be for the purposes of training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qa'ida.
The U.N. Security Council most recently extended its authorization of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan until December 31, 2014, in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2120 (October 10, 2013). The mission of ISAF, under North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command and in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is to reduce the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF), and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development in order to provide a secure environment for sustainable stability. Forty-eight nations, including the United States and all 28 NATO members, contribute forces to ISAF. For the last few years, the ISAF campaign has focused on preparing the ANSF for full security transition in 2014.
Since June 2013, the ANSF have been in the lead for security nationwide and have been conducting the overwhelming majority of operations. ISAF is now in support of the ANSF, and the only unilateral operations that ISAF conducts are in support of its own security, sustainment, and redeployment. In the coming months, ISAF will focus on developing the sustainability of the ANSF at the corps and ministerial levels. The security transition process -- as agreed to at the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon and reaffirmed at the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago -- remains on track, and the ANSF are expected to assume full responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
There are approximately 32,800 U.S. forces in Afghanistan as part of ISAF and additional forces supporting the retrograde of U.S. equipment and other U.S. national missions. The U.S. Armed Forces are on track to draw down to a Force Management Level of 9,800 troops by January 1, 2015. By the end of 2016, U.S. forces would draw down to a small presence at our embassy in Kabul, focusing primarily on security assistance activities. In accordance with the mutual commitments agreed to by Afghanistan and the United States in the 2012 Strategic Partnership Agreement, this embassy presence would continue to support Afghan political and economic development that contributes to overall stability and to administer security assistance. The United States would continue to work with our Afghan partners to pursue the remnants of al-Qa'ida and more broadly to work with our partners in the region to continue to detect and disrupt extremist threats.
As I noted in my report of December 13, 2013, on March 25, 2013, the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Afghan government under which the United States transferred all Afghan nationals detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan to the custody and control of the Afghan government. Pursuant to the MOU, any new Afghan detainees are to be transferred to Afghan custody and control within 96 hours after capture. United States forces in Afghanistan continue to detain approximately 38 third-country nationals under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war.
Somalia. In Somalia, a small contingent of U.S. military personnel, including some special operations forces, has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab. On January 26, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces conducted a counterterrorism strike in Somalia.
Yemen. The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa'ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests.
Cuba. Combat-equipped forces, deployed since January 2002 to the Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continue to conduct humane and secure detention operations for the 149 detainees at Guantanamo Bay under the authority provided by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war.
Military Operations in ` in Support of U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
As indicated in my report of December 13, 2013, U.S. military personnel in Niger continue to provide support for intelligence collection and to facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali and with other partners in the region. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 200.
Military Operations in Chad in Support of Efforts to Locate Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria
As indicated in my report of May 21, 2014, U.S. military personnel are deployed to Chad to support U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations to locate and support the safe return of more than 200 schoolgirls reported to be kidnapped in Nigeria. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Chad for this purpose is approximately 80.
In October and November 2011, U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment initially deployed to Uganda to serve as advisors to regional forces of the African Union Regional Task Force (AU-RTF) that are working to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leaders from the battlefield, and to protect local populations. To enhance this support, as detailed in my report of March 25, 2014, approximately 150 additional U.S. forces deployed to central Africa principally to operate and maintain U.S. aircraft providing air mobility support to foreign partner forces. The aircraft and personnel providing the enhanced air mobility support will deploy to the LRA-affected areas of central Africa episodically, as they are available, consistent with other Department of Defense requirements. During these deployments, the number of U.S. military personnel deployed to the central Africa region, including advisors deployed for this mission and personnel providing logistical and support functions to this and other missions, will fluctuate at a level up to approximately 300.
United States forces are working with select partner nation forces of the AU-RTF to enhance cooperation, information-sharing and synchronization, operational planning, and overall effectiveness. These forces, however, will not engage LRA forces except in self-defense. It is in the U.S. national security interest to help our regional partners in Africa to develop their capability to address threats to regional peace and security, including the threat posed by the LRA. The United States is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to help the governments and people of this region in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and to address the impact of the LRA's atrocities.
Additional information about military operations related to the Lord's Resistance Army is provided in the classified annex.
Approximately 700 military personnel are assigned to the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981.
As detailed in my report of June 21, 2013, at the request of the Government of Jordan, U.S. Armed Forces elements, including Patriot missile systems, fighter aircraft, and related support, command, control, and communications personnel and systems, are deployed to Jordan to support the security of Jordan and promote regional stability. The total number of U.S. forces in Jordan is approximately 1,700 U.S. military personnel. These forces will remain in Jordan, in full coordination with the Government of Jordan, until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed.
The U.N. Security Council authorized Member States to establish a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Resolution 1244 on June 10, 1999. The original mission of KFOR was to monitor, verify, and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), while maintaining a safe and secure environment. Today, KFOR deters renewed hostilities in cooperation with local authorities, bilateral partners, and international institutions. The principal military tasks of KFOR forces are to help maintain a safe and secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo.
Currently, 23 NATO Allies contribute to KFOR. Seven non-NATO countries also participate. The U.S. contribution to KFOR is approximately 758 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately 5,600 personnel.
As stated in my report of December 13, 2013, U.S. Armed Forces remain in Libya and Yemen to support the security of U.S. personnel. These forces will remain deployed, in full coordination with the respective host governments, until the security situation no longer requires them.
As noted in my December 19 and 22, 2013, reports, U.S. Armed Forces deployed to South Sudan to support the security of U.S. personnel and our embassy, and to evacuate U.S. citizens and personnel. These operations are completed and the forces have subsequently redeployed after transitioning security support to a Marine Security Augmentation Unit.
I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in all of these operations pursuant to my constitutional and statutory authority as Commander in Chief (including the authority to carry out Public Law 107-40 and other statutes) and as Chief Executive, as well as my constitutional and statutory authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. Officials of my Administration and I communicate regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress with regard to these deployments, and we will continue to do so.
Feed Emails
A snarky note about the feed issue
From John's newsletter:
"It’s possible that we’ve lost some of our audience do to the fact that too many of the early listeners were not paying attention and remained on a Mevio RSS fee that we left two years ago. It continued to work until last week but suddenly shut down for good. Were they the only ones becoming executive producers?"
Yea. That's all fine and good, but it's you all that need to resubmit the working link to the services to reach your audience. We can't do that for you. It's your business model it affects.
Having to download or synch is, believe it or not, a pain for a lot of listeners. Just update your links with Stitcher, Tunin Radio, and other podcast apps, etc....
;-) Cheers!
Scott Olson
Slapdash Pro Cloud-Fiasco
I use your premium version of Slapdash Pro on windows 8.1. Trying to add the feed manually does not work as it gives no option but to match the wrong feed.
Please update your catalog for the No Agenda Show to:
Explanation here:
In addition, your “featured podcasts” haven’t changed for several years suggesting that you have abandoned maintenance of this app. Sad. Feature “No Agenda” please as it is commonly known as
“”The Best Podcast in the Universe”.
World Cup
Email from Bruno in Brazil
Mr. Curry,
It was a BRILLIANT performance of Netherlands against Spain, everyone here is a Netherlands fan now, wishing you get your first World Cup title. Besides that, Dutch people are friendly and nice, the team was roaming around their hotel with no security and had a Brazilian super warm reception and entertained their selves in our best paradises . Meanwhile, americans are in a ultra protected hotel in São Paulo, in the middle of a huge city, full of militar personnel protecting them. The choices you make, right?
Go, Netherlands!
Will match-fixers target World Cup in Brazil?
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:53
It was one of the biggest soccer matches on the planet: the third-place game of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. It took place at the end of a seemingly successful tournament played in the United States. The weather had been mostly hot and sunny; the stadiums largely full. The games exciting and broadcast to billions of people around the world. There were hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals.
Yet there was a gang of match-fixers at the tournament who targeted the third-place match between Bulgaria and Sweden, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to players to throw the game. Some of those players suspect they may have succeeded.
The World Cup in Brazil, which begins June 12, will be a $4-billion extravaganza of television rights, sponsorship deals, sold-out stadiums and exciting soccer. However, its credibility is under threat from Asian match-fixers linked to a sports gambling market worth hundreds of billions dollars.
The fixers linked to the people who targeted the 1994 tournament have returned many times and to almost every international soccer tournament in the last 20 years.
As an investigative journalist, I was able to go to Asia and infiltrate the gang of fixers and hear their stories of fixing top-level matches. Now in this Toronto Star investigation based on corroborating interviews with players, coaches, referees, gamblers and some of the highest officials in the soccer world, we report that the gang of match-fixers, who successfully fixed soccer leagues around the world, have been at the Under-17 World Cup, the Under-20 World Cup, the Olympic soccer tournament, and the women's and men's World Cups.
The fixers are helped by a largely unspoken dilemma at the heart of international soccer: some of the players at the big tournaments do not get paid.
Despite all the fans, all the sponsorship deals, all the television broadcasts '-- there will be players in Brazil who won't be paid a penny. Some of them may look around the sold-out ground and probably think something like, ''Someone around here is making an awful lot of money, and it ain't me!''
FIFA, the international football federation that organizes the tournament, pays each participating country's soccer federation $9 million (U.S.) to cover tournament expenses. Most deals are arranged so that $1 million covers hotels, airfares, etc.; the remaining $8 million is supposed to be divided between the players, coaches and the federations.
In many countries, agreements between the players and their federation are concluded in advance of the tournament. However, in some countries there are long rounds of haggling that do not always end well.
During the last World Cup in 2010, host nation South Africa agreed on players' salaries and bonuses just days before the opening game.
After the tournament, the Nigerian government was so disappointed in its team's performance, and over the allegations of corruption around it, that it launched an official inquiry into its soccer officials. The government discovered that the entourage of coaches and physiotherapists had swelled by dozens of unrelated hangers-on. As well, the team's hotel had been cancelled, flight plans disrupted and there had been an argument over players' bonuses.
Host nation South Africa agreed on players' salaries and bonuses just days before the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the entire Togo team threatened to strike in the middle of the tournament. The players refused to play their final game, claiming their officials were withholding their bonuses. High-ranking FIFA officials had to intervene and pay the players directly before Togo would take the field.
Throughout international soccer there are examples of badly organized financial scandals relating to player payments. Even players from the United States went on strike in 2005 to hammer out a pay deal. The Honduran team at the 2010 World Cup '-- which had qualified out of Canada's CONCAFF group '-- had a months-long argument over the nonpayment of a $1-million bonus scheme to their players and coach.
For years, match-fixers based in Malaysia and Singapore have been going to international soccer events in Africa, Australia, Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe. The fixers corrupted international games played in Singapore, including four players on the Canadian national team who were charged with taking money in a game against North Korea in 1986.
In the early 1990s, they gathered in the stadiums where illegal bookmakers would take bets on the joint Malaysian and Singaporean soccer league. The fixers destroyed the league. A Royal Malaysian Police Force investigation discovered there were cartels of players fixing on almost every team. One former player said the corruption was so bad that during one game there was a fight at halftime in the dressing room between players working for different fixers.
The fixers use associates '-- called ''runners'' '-- to approach players or referees to get them to fix. The fixers organize the game and then, like brokers, sell the fix to high-level gamblers. Above the fixers are influential businessmen who back the more expensive fixes and pay the muscle to make the network run smoothly.
These men are mostly Asian, however, a group of Russian criminals has joined the syndicate in the last few years. Little is known about this group as they generate such fear. One of the European fixers told a police officer who interrogated him, ''I will tell you everything, except the Russians (sic). If I talk about the Russians I will die.''
Yet in the early days of the match-fixers, there was one king. In interviews, fixers or their associates have spoken about ''Uncle Frankie,'' an Indonesian-Chinese businessman who figured out the global expansion of soccer meant lots of fixing opportunities.
At the 1994 World Cup, four Swedish players, days before the bronze medal match, were approached by a man who called himself ''Frankie Chung'' with a business proposition: lose the tournament's second most important game and get lots of cash.
Years later, four Swedish star players spoke out about the approach. Tomas Brolin, Lars Eriksson, Klas Ingesson and Anders Limpar say they were too frightened to say anything at the time. They told the Swedish magazine Offside that Chung, whose identity has never been confirmed, was staying at the same hotel. He was very confident and friendly. He gave them his business card and invited them to his room. There, Chung pulled out wads of $100 bills and got on a mobile phone to another fixer who was, allegedly, approaching some of the Bulgarian players.
The Swedes said they immediately refused and left. Yet, in the Offside article, the goalkeeper Eriksson said he had wondered about the game, saying some of the Bulgarian team appeared listless for long periods at the end of the first half when Sweden scored three unanswered goals.
Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted Singaporean fixer who has confessed in court to fixing games across the world, writes about ''Frankie Chung,'' whom he calls ''Uncle Frankie,'' in his recently self-published autobiography, Kelong Kings (Kelong is a slang Malay word for fixing).
''Guys like Uncle were the bigger crooks: what I do now, they were already doing back then. I grew up watching these big fish fix matches under everybody's noses. I learnt from them: they were my masters . . . I thought if they could do it, then so could I.''
Uncle Frankie used the same techniques the next year at the Under-20 World Cup in Qatar. Two Portuguese players were approached by a young woman from Thailand. She invited them to her room with ''an interesting proposition.'' There, they discovered a table covered with money, several Cameroonian players and Uncle Frankie. The Portuguese players immediately left and reported the incident. Top Asian soccer officials would later confirm that the fixers had approached players from Cameroon, Portugal, Honduras and Chile.
Years later, Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana football federation, was unsurprised when it was discovered there had been an attempt to fix an international match featuring his team. He said in an interview, ''In every competition, you find gamblers around. Yes, every competition, every competition, they are there. In all the major tournaments, World Cup, Cup of Nations. The gamblers are not Africans, they are Europeans and Asians. So, they have a lot of money to bet on these things.''
Ghana players, including their former international captains Stephen Appiah and Yussif Chibsah, said in interviews that match-fixers approached their team at the 1997 Under-17 World Cup in Malaysia, the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Ghanaian women's team at the World Cup in China in 2007 was also approached. The players said they turned down all offers but were never surprised to receive them.
FIFA knows about this problem. During an interview in February 2008, its president Sepp Blatter began by saying, ''You want to speak to me about the Asian match-fixers? I have known about this problem for years.''
Andre Penner/AP PHOTO
The World Cup in Brazil, which begins June 12, will be a $4-billion extravaganza of television rights, sponsorship deals and sold-out stadiums. However, its credibility is under threat from Asian match-fixers linked to a sports gambling market worth hundreds of billions dollars.
FIFA's attitude seemed to have been that these fixers were the unluckiest tourists in the world. The fixers went to all these tournaments around the world, where they approached players, coaches and officials '-- but, FIFA insisted, they never succeeded in bribing anyone. Yet they kept returning.
However, in January of this year, Ralf Mutschke, a former German police officer who is FIFA's head of security, told the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that fixers may attend the World Cup in Brazil and may approach players and teams. Certain key matches (third games in the opening round, for example) would be in serious jeopardy. He outlined measures FIFA will take to protect soccer's credibility. Guaranteeing players a minimum salary and bonuses, however, was not one of the FIFA measures.
The German Organized Crime Task Force, based in the small city of Bochum, has been investigating match-fixing gangs since 2008. The Bochum detectives now estimate that fixers succeeded in corrupting at least 150 games between 2009 and 2011 '-- about one international game a week.
''These games we have found are simply the tip of the iceberg,'' Friedhelm Althans, a Bochum police detective, told a Europol press conference in 2013.
Even top international matches in Europe have been fixed, according to the judge presiding at the trial of Croatian brothers Ante and Milan Sapina.
The trial was the first, real spotlight into the world of match-rigging. The investigation started in October 2008, when German police officers heard on a wiretap a mobster threatening the life of a daughter of a prominent prosecutor.
The police moved fast and the investigation eventually involved hundreds of police officers across Europe. They discovered an independent link to a global match-fixing network run out of a small Berlin caf(C) '-- Cafe King. At its heart were the Sapina brothers.
At the end of their trial, in a dramatic confession, Ante Sapina read a list of 47 games that he helped fix, including World Cup qualifying matches and European nations Championship games. Both Sapinas are serving lengthy prison terms in German jails.
20 years of match-fixing in soccer
International soccer tournaments with the confirmed presence of match-fixers:
1994 - World Cup (USA)
1995 - Under-20 World Cup (Qatar)
1996 - Olympics (Atlanta, USA)
1997 - Under-17 World Cup (Malaysia)
2004 - Olympics (Athens)
2006 - World Cup (Germany)
2007 - Women's World Cup (China)
2008 - African Nations Cup (Ghana)
2010 - World Cup (South Africa)
2011 - Gold Cup (Mexico)
The Sapinas would link up with Singaporean match-fixers who placed bets on the crooked games on the sports gambling market in Asia. This market is huge. Patrick Jay, a senior executive for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the most profitable sports gambling companies in the world, says, ''FIFA likes to talk about $4 billion at the World Cup. We have a word for the day when the Asian sports gambling market clears $4 billion. We call it '-- 'Thursday.' ''
For soccer fans it gets worse. Much worse. According to a confidential FIFA investigation report obtained by the Star, the Asian match-fixer who was so inspired by the man who approached the Swedish players '-- Wilson Raj Perumal '-- was fixing games in South Africa days before the start of the last World Cup.
He had help from some '-- as yet unknown '-- South African football official. According to the FIFA investigators, some of the same people who were helping organize the last World Cup were, ''complicit in a criminal conspiracy to manipulate these matches'' and ''Were the listed matches fixed? On the balance of probabilities, yes!''
In these circumstances, it is difficult to think that the match-fixers will not be in Brazil trying their luck.
Declan Hill, an investigative reporter based in Ottawa, is the authoritative voice in journalism about/on match-fixing in soccer. His book, ''The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime'' (2008), is a best seller in 21 languages, and his journalism on the fixing scandals can be found in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Toronto Star. He obtained his doctorate on the study of match-fixing from the University of Oxford and, following his infiltration of the Asian gangs he has testified before the Council of Europe and the International Olympic Committee. His latest book, ''The Insider's Guide to Match-Fixing in Football,'' was published in November.
England Is Suffering a World Cup Cocaine Shortage | VICE
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 07:34
Photo via the International Relations and Security Network ISN Flickr account
If there's one thing English people love more than cocaine, it's soccer. The problem is, fans up and down the country might have a tough time getting a buzz on during the World Cup thanks to an unprecedented coke drought. Traditionally, the tournament is a boomtime for dealers, and you'd expect a combination of sunny weather and games that potentially won't finish until 3 AM local time to fuel demand among all-day drinkers who don't want to fall asleep in public. But a string of international and domestic drug busts has led to a shortage just as the tournament gets underway. Though the North and the Midlands are the hardest-hit regions, prices are soaring and purity levels are plummeting all over the country.
Low-level drug-dealers are feeling the pinch. K, a twentysomething cocaine dealer who works up in Birmingham, told me, "I have not known a drought like this ever. There is just nothing about. We started shorting the amounts and cutting what we had left a couple of weeks back, but now we can't even get anything to do that. The World Cup and European Championships are usually mental for demand and as the games start late at night, I should be caning it for the next month.
"The England-Italy game is a 11 PM Saturday kickoff, so if it's a sunny day people will start early and I should be getting repeat sales throughout the evening into the morning'--and if we win, even more for the celebrating afterwards."
The dealer, who normally sells five to seven ounces of cocaine a week in grams costing £50 ($85), added, "My phone has been red-hot from punters and dealers wanting coke for the weekend, but I and every other dealer I know can't lay our hands on any. We keep on being told to wait, but it is not looking good for this weekend.
"Then when everyone gets paid at the end of the month there will be even more madder sessions that people will want coke for'--it is unthinkable the drought will still be going on then."
K reckons that the lack of cocaine on the streets will spell trouble for the police and pub owners. "People rely on coke to get them through all-dayers and -nighters; people use it every week'--so take that away and people are going to be plastered drunk. The amount of fights will be insane, and if England loses then I bet a few [pubs] will get smashed up'--it's standard."
Further up the food chain, a Staffordshire 40-something drug dealer, whom I'll call Danny, is also frantically trying to lay his lands on coke. Danny sells nothing below a kilo. He told me, "It's becoming like a crisis, man. The boat [that the police] caught coming in from Colombia last month has fucked everything up."
Danny began selling weed in the 90s and progressed to cocaine eight years ago after several other dealers were jailed. "I didn't think one shipment could cause such a shit storm, but that is the reason, we are being told," he fretted. "I've got contacts who I deal with and trust, from up north to down south, and everyone is saying the same thing."
The shipment Danny's talking about was a £30 million ($51 million) boatload of cocaine bound for the cisterns of England that was seized on May 9 from a ship anchored off the Scottish town of Largs. The Cape Maria had set out from Colombia the previous month carrying a cargo of coal, but also had 108 kilos (240 pounds) stashed away in the rudder area. The crew is believed to have been totally oblivious to their contraband cargo.In a joint operation the Scottish Police, Border Force agents, the National Crime Agency, and Dutch authorities arrested three Dutch nationals in the nearby Seamill Hydro Hotel in Ayrshire. Diving equipment, a rigid inflatable boat, and an underwater ''scooter'' were also recovered from the hotel. The three Dutch guys appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court the following week and were remanded in custody. They were believed to have arrived in Ayrshire posing as tourists.
The National Crime Agency estimate 25 to 30 tons of cocaine is smuggled into Britain every year. "The UK is one of Europe's largest and most profitable markets. Traditionally, most of the cocaine destined for Europe, including the UK, has crossed the Atlantic by ship and entered via Spain," a spokesman for the NCA told me. "The most significant method currently used to smuggle bulk amounts is in maritime container ships arriving in European hub ports, such as Antwerp and Rotterdam, before being moved into the UK."
The UK's coke supply is also dwindling because of a massive bust in April, one of the biggest cocaine seizures ever made by the Colombian authorities. Seven tons of cocaine, with a street value of more than $250 million, was bound for Rotterdam but discovered in 6,900 packages hidden among pineapple preserves. The bust took the amount of cocaine discovered by the Colombian authorities to more than 25 tons in this year alone'--already making 2014 one of the best years for busts ever.
In Staffordshire, Danny is counting the cost and is concerned about the ramifications of the drought. "This business is dangerous enough, and a drought like this is bad news for everyone, from the dealers to the users," he said. "There is a race against time to get coke in place for the World Cup, and shite synthetic stuff will end up being passed off as coke. The big winners will be the Albanians, who already have a big enough chunk of the market'--they will fill the gap with proper crap."
Danny also told me that the shortage would inevitably lead to violence. "Dealers will also have to deal with new contacts, which always brings rip-offs, robberies, violence, and feuds. The police might think they are winning because there is a temporary drought but they have no idea of the consequences on the street."
He added, "No one wants to see pissed-up idiots fighting everywhere. It's better for everyone if all these football fans can just have a beer and a line and enjoy the World Cup like they have been planning to all year."
Follow Steve Zacharanda on Twitter.
JCD Twitter feature??
Executive Order -- 2014 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States | The White House
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:33
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 13, 2014
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 801-946), and in order to prescribe amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States, prescribed by Executive Order 12473 of April 13, 1984, as amended, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Part II, the Discussion for Part II, and the Analysis for Part II of the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States, are amended as described in the Annex attached and made a part of this order.
Sec. 2. These amendments shall take effect as of the date of this order, subject to the following:
(a) Nothing in these amendments shall be construed to make punishable any act done or omitted prior to the effective date of this order that was not punishable when done or omitted.
(b) Nothing in these amendments shall be construed to invalidate any nonjudicial punishment proceedings, restraint, investigation, referral of charges, trial in which arraignment occurred, or other action begun prior to the effective date of this order, and any such nonjudicial punishment, restraint, investigation, referral of charges, trial, or other action may proceed in the same manner and with the same effect as if these amendments had not been prescribed.
Drive up 20 & 40m
Holiday Inn Express - Denny's (5 years away from the breakfast seniors special)
HAM's are Amatuer Radio Operaters who are professional Preppers
Physical disabilities
Many Vets - Lunches were fun
Emergency Service vs Civil Service per ARRL - Incident junkies
Always used to justify the 'hobby'
New young crowd - Hackers
Besides the obvious Japanese and Chinese manufacturers, Its all American ingenuity and manufacturing
Antennas, external gear
1st Day DSTAR
Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio
Pete Lowell - JavaAPRSserver fame
Data over RF - 128k
DV and simultaneous data
routing through the networks
very different audience - more civil, less 'old boy
Addressability regardless of location
Like twitter with DM's
2nd Day - Broadband Meshnet
Glenn Currie from Round Rock
Using old Linksys and now also Ubuquity devices with modified firmware to broadcast in Ham frequency spectrum
thousands of nodes worldwide
Also use interet to tunnel to other countries
1mb/s backbone
Drive-by email and other services
Guy who drives on 35 everyday with special antenna, loading up all the servers as he drives by
Gateway to Internet (dodgy on legality)
VOIP is currently main usage
Met a few NA Hams - Kept low profile
My experience with the Iraqi Force Training
My Analysis
Kagans (neocons) want Kurds to protect Pipelines into Turkish Port of Ceyhan, but destory pipelines from Russians into Syrian port
Also they have the Oil source and the refinery cities
Iraq: The Armed Conflict has Gone Wild | New Eastern Outlook
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:51
Armed clashes in the northern and central Iraq are getting more intense after the successful attack of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on June 10 that resulted in the occupation of the northern Nineveh province and its administrative center '' the city of Mosul (the second largest urban area in Iraq with total population of over one million people). More than five hundred thousand inhabitants of Mosul fled the city to seek refuge in the Kurdistan region, building tent camps around the city of Erbil and other settlements. This might be the first indication of the upcoming humanitarian catastrophe. In addition, radical Islamists now have a chance to infiltratrate those camps in order to destabilize the situation in the Kurdish Autonomous Region.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant armed groups on June 11 were moving rapidly south in Baghdad's direction. They've managed to capture the town of Baiji, that is known for its massive refinery capacities, while the chances of Tikrit and Kirkuk to repel the attackers are looking rather slim. The latest reports show that militants were seen some 200 kilometers from the Iraqi capital.
Peshmerga (armed Kurdish militants) out of fear that the Islamists would capture the country's largest oil field '' Kirkuk, which has been the subject of constant disputes between Kurds and Arabs, launched an assault against the Islamist troops.
If Islamists attacks continue, soon they would be able to reach the areas that had been revolting against the Iraqi government for the last seven months '-- the huge province of Anbar in western Iraq. This area is controlled by a Sunni coalition, that includes Sunni authorities, members of Al-Qaeda and the extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, secular Baathists along with the former officers of Saddam's army and police. Then all the Sunni provinces of the Iraq will be out control of the Shiite government in Baghdad, headed by the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The latter has recently failed in forming a coalition government after the parliamentary elections of April 30. Under these conditions, there's a grave risk that Baghdad would actually fall into the hands of the terrorists. After all, Nouri al-Maliki has little control over the capital itself, that is shaken daily by dozens of terrorist attacks. And his latest speech that he gave in parliament on June 11, that was designed to intimidate the Islamists, didn't make any impression on them either.
The analysts look really puzzled, they fail to understand how could the Sunni radicals have possibly captured almost half of Iraq that quickly, while being almost unopposed by government troops To make matters worse, three army brigades stationed in Ninewa just threw down their weapons and fled, opening the road to Baghdad for the the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant troops. Due to this fact militants have managed to seize weapons caches and armored vehicles.
This is the direct result of the politics carried out by the Iraqi Prime Minister who does not want to share power with anybody, even with the moderate Sunni opposition. The patience of the Sunni population has run dry therefore they did not resist the Islamic extremists. It's also clear that the US instructors that had been left behind in Iraq to train the new Iraqi army, didn't achieve any success in their endeavour, unlike the Soviet military advisers which transformed the Saddam's armed forces into one of the most powerful armies in the Arab world. The freshly trained troops in Baghdad are not even able to cope with terrorists and pro-Saddam resistance fighters, who have no access to tanks, aircraft or heavy artillery. Now the United States if they want to regain control over Iraq and save the Nouri al-Maliki regime have a single option '-- direct military intervention. Otherwise, there the whole region would be put in danger, especially the Gulf states.
Washington has clearly brought it upon itself, it deliberately incinerated the Arab spring movements, when in reality it was wave of Islamist revolutions. The American masterminds are responsible for Libya, Egypt and Yemen, and don't forget about Syria. But it all started with the US occupation of Iraq in 2003, that was designed to overthrow a legitimate government under the pretext of combating WMD.
So there's little surprise that today the information about the upcoming Washington urgent transfer of its troops from Afghanistan and Kuwait to help the crumbling regime of Nouri al-Maliki has become public. Iraqi Prime Minister has already pleaded Washington for military assistance. Otherwise two or three days from now there will be no force able of suppressing the Sunni rebellion. And this could mean only one thing '' the disintegration of the country into three parts: Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish. Still the White House authorities should remember that the the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been extensively used by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to fight the Syrian regime. Those two states cannon afford the formation of a Shiite arc comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon under the control of Hezbollah. Otherwise the collapse of Saudi Arabia would be inevitable.
In general, the ambitious political games of Washington has put the Middle East on the brink of disaster.
And it is not clear whether the US will be able sustain the second invasion of Iraq? After all, while Washington is drown in a political war against Russia in Ukraine and is making attempts to military blackmail Russia through the exercises of US Special Forces and NATO forces in Russia's neighboring Baltic States and Poland, along with the maneuvers of US Navy ships in the Black and Baltic Seas.
Washington will have to choose '' either to continue the confrontation with Moscow in Ukraine, or try to keep the richest oil and gas region under control, since the West won't last for long without the hydrocarbons supplies.
Hopefully, this time the US will make an accurate assessment of the situation, especially in the face of the growing military might of China in the Asia-Pacific and East Asia. So in this case the political conflict the US has started with Russia over Ukraine played into the hands of those who genuinely hate the policy of the US hegemony and its ''democratization''. But fairytales are hard to believe, on the other hand, it's easier to believe in American adventurism.
Suppose that at least the EU and its most influential members '' Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK '' will understand that following in the footsteps of Washington's policy is a risk, when you have everything to lose and nothing to gain. They would have to think carefully about what is more important '' to support the weak and hardly legitimate government in Kiev or try to retain control over the energy-rich Middle East? The answer would seem to be clear. But would the European leaders be able to see it?
In the meantime, the creation of a radical Islamic Sunni state in the heart of the Middle East region is looming on the horizon, which may be formed of a number of Sunni provinces of yet-to-be former Iraq, that would be joined by eastern Sunni provinces of Syria around the city of Rakka that is currently under the control of the same Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Al-Qaeda.
Viktor Titov, PhD in History, a political observer on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.
Is It ISIS Or ISIL? Jihadist Group Expanding In Iraq Has Two Names, One Goal
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:35
This week, the stunningly fast advance in northern Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni militant group, has taken the world by surprise. As it takes over cities, including Iraq's second-biggest, Mosul, in its quest to establish an Islamic caliphate, the group is threatening to draw regional powers into an armed confrontation.
But there's one confusing thing about the fighters who once pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and have now been deemed too extreme even for the international terrorist group: their name is cited in Western media in two different ways.
Is it ISIS or ISIL? Both are correct. ISIS and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are the same, the group which emerged during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was once led by the feared Abu Musab al-Zaraqwi, killed by the Americans in 2006.
The group changed its name in 2012 from the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), from the Arabic term for Levant, al-Sham. That is sometimes translated as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It wanted to change its name to include a broader swath of land, as its goal was to create an Islamic state based on Sharia, or Islamic law.
The group, now led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is advancing toward that goal as it has now occupied parts of both Syria and Iraq, and continues its campaign south to Baghdad.
Although the rapid advance in the north is a new development, ISIS has fought to take over Shiite territory for years, but has never had the capacity.
A 2011 report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said al-Zarqawi developed a four-pronged strategy to defeat the American-led coalition in Iraq. One of the strategies was to draw the U.S. military into a Sunni-Shiite civil war by targeting Shiites.
That strategy is alive today. Earlier this week ISIS leaders said they planned to attack sacred Shiite shrines south of Baghdad. Just a few days later, President Obama made a statement saying that although the U.S. was not going to send troops into the country, it was moving an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to possibly assist the Iraqi military.
Since the U.S. withdrew its troops from Iraq in late 2011, the Sunni-led extremist group has increased attacks on government targets, trying to reignite the fight against Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his Shiite-led government. 2013 was the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008.
But the group has yet to make any real gains in Shiite communities; it has so far only occupied Sunni regions in the north. According to most experts, ISIS will have a more difficult time taking over the closer it gets to the capital. It will have to gain the support of the locals, mostly Shiites, the further south it moves. However, the group recently took control of heavy weaponry the Iraqi military left behind in Mosul when it abandoned its posts on Tuesday. Those weapons, which include helicopters and tanks, could shift the balance of power in favor of ISIS in its fight with the Iraqi army.
Producer JB Tracks Kurdistan stories
The more I look over the past 9 months or so the more it looks like the ISIL
developments and the Obama (I'll do nothing this weekend) stance the more it
looks like a cover for the final establishment of Kurdistan.
I think this quick timeline kind of tells a story:
June 10th Golden oil of Iraqi Kurdistan raises tensions with Baghdad
Nov 6th Reuters Exclusive: Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan clinch major energy
pipeline deals
November 8th Ankara to host first-ever international Kurdish conference
December 2nd Oppressed Kurds defend their lands in Syria civil war
December 11th Iraq Warns Kurdistan against Oil Export
December 20th Syrian Kurds ask for own delegation at Geneva peace talks
March 9th the Sunday Times Iraq: the good news - come to sunny Kurdistan
(yay, we British are all in :-))
March 17th Iraq funding cuts spark salary crisis in Kurdistan, test limits
of their autonomy
March 23rd US Playing Unannounced Mediation Role between Erbil and Baghdad
March 25th Diaspora returns to build Iraqi Kurdistan into the 'next Dubai'
May 13 Reuters Kurds could opt out of next Iraqi government: president
May 23rd Iraq's Kurds start exporting oil unilaterally
May 23rd Iraqi Kurdistan makes first oil sale amid exports row
June 7th 50-Year Oil Export Deal Signed Between Kurdistan & Turkey
June 8th Reuters Bombing on Kurdish party HQ in Iraq kills 18
...and the clincher (whenever you are in trouble you need to wheel out the
Aaronovitch :-))
June 12th Forget the past. Iraqi Kurds need our help now
Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund
In his West Point speech, the President will announce that he would
ask Congress to support a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF),
which will provide the flexibility and resources required to respond to
emerging needs as terrorist threats around the world continue to
evolve. The CTPF will build on existing tools and authorities to allow
the Administration to respond to evolving terrorist threats. It will
allow us to pursue a more sustainable and effective approach to
combating terrorism that focuses on empowering and enabling our partners
around the globe. In support of these counterterrorism
capacity-building efforts, the Administration will also request funding
for expanded or enhanced DOD activities, such as Intelligence,
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Special Operations; and other
activities. To achieve these objectives, the Administration will seek
up to $5 billion in the FY 2015 OCO request.
In partnership with other government agencies, this fund will allow DOD to:
Conduct expanded train and equip activities;
More effectively facilitate and enable the counterterrorism efforts of our partners on the front lines; and,
Together with the State Department, provide security and stabilization
assistance, as well as support efforts to counter violent extremism and
terrorist ideology.
ISIS to Go to Bagdahd
will seek to target the seat of Iraq’s government in the Green Zone. This may be
a symbolic target rather than an operational target. Strategically, ISIS does
not need to overrun the Green Zone. They only need to demonstrate the ability
to maneuver ground forces into the city center, past the best that the ISF can
muster, and touch the flagpole. If ISIS is able to assault the Green Zone with
a ground attack force, they will realize the full defeat of the Iraqi Security
Forces. The command and control of Shi’a militias, police forces, and Iraqi
civilians in the wake of such an attack would overwhelm the Baghdad Operations
Command. The core functions of the Iraqi state would break down. Baghdad would
become a ward of the Iranian government to protect the Khadimiya shrine, and Baghdad
would become a buffer zone for low-level attacks across an Iranian-ISIS
demarcation line.
order to achieve this and eliminate competition to control the terrain north of
Baghdad, ISIS would first need to designate a primary avenue of advance into
downtown Baghdad. The points of entry for ISIS vehicle convoys from outside of
Baghdad might approach from Abu Ghraib, Taji, Tarmiyah, Udhaim, or Jisr Diyala.
To open these routes, ISIS would first need a plan to break the ISF controlled
access to Baghdad from these supply routes. ISIS might do this by seizing
control of these waypoint cities themselves, but this would be highly visible
and put the ISF in Baghdad on alert. ISIS might instead execute a tactical
deception in order to draw the ISF away from one or more of these access
points. ISIS might also target the ISF at local control points directly and
simply drive on to Baghdad afterwards.
ISIS Hollywood Style promo video
Full length pulled from youtube for "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content."
Facebook, Twitter Down In Iraq: Communications Ministry Blocks Social Media Sites.
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:30
Social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, were down in Iraq Friday as the country's Communications Ministry blocked access to them.
The Iraqi Ministry of Communications also notified citizens in a Facebook post Friday night local time that the Internet would be cut off on Sunday ''in all parts of Iraq'' to maintain optical cable along the Turkish border. It did not address reports that social media was inaccessible.
Baghdad-based BBC reporter Richard Galpin said Friday that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were blocked in the Iraqi capital.
A Communications Ministry source confirmed the shutdown to the Kuwait News Agency, but did not give a reason for the blockage. The KNA suggested the social media sites may have been blocked to stop militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from using them to communicate. The al Qaeda offshoot has used the Web to upload videos and pictures of their offensive in Iraq. The group took over Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, earlier this week, and threatens to march on Baghdad.
When Iraqi users log on to Twitter and Facebook, they get this message, according to Huffington Post blogger and political activist Ruwayda Mustafah:
ISIL issues '10 commandments' for Islamic rule - MIDEAST
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:05
Iraq refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region, as they walk past an area in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaida breakaway group, on Monday and Tuesday took over much of Mosul in Iraq and then swept into the city of Tikrit further south. An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, the economically important city. (AP Photo)
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who abducted 80 Turks in northern Iraq and who are approaching ever closer to the Iraqi capital Baghdad, have set rules for those living under their control in the province of Nineveh.The group, which has made clear that it intends to create a new Caliphate, published the document two days after taking the provincial capital Mosul.
Arabic-speaking reporter Jenan Moussa translated the document. A redacted version is as follows:
1) People, you tried secular rulings (Republic, Baathist, Safavid) and they gave you pain. Now is time for the Islamic state of Imam Abu Bakr El Qurashi.
2) For those asking ''Who are you?'': We are soldiers of Islam and have taken on our responsibility to bring back the glory of the Islamic Caliphate.
3) Money we took from the Safavid (Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) government is now public. Only Imam of Muslims can spend it. The hand of anyone who steals will be cut.
4) We ask all Muslims to be on time for prayers in the mosques.
5) We warn tribal leaders and sheikhs not to work with the government and be traitors.
6) No drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes are allowed.
7) For the police, soldiers and other infidel institutions: You can repent. We have opened special places that will allow you to repent.
8) Gatherings, carrying flags (other than that of the Islamic state) and carrying guns are not allowed. God ordered us to stay united.
9) Our position on shrines and graves is clear. Simply, all will be destroyed.
10) For women: Dress decently and wear wide clothes. Only go out if necessary.
US Experts Bank on $50B to $70B Overseas Contingency Ops Budget | Defense News |
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:39
WASHINGTON '-- Even though US President Barack Obama announced last week that the Defense Department would leave only 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan in 2015, experts expect the Pentagon to ask Congress to approve $50 billion to $70 billion for war-related efforts.
That range is lower than the $79 billion placeholder submitted to Congress in March, but higher than the $20 billion it will take to fund those troops in Afghanistan.
The high estimate, despite the removal of more than 22,000 troops in the coming months, these experts said, shows the Pentagon will continue using the overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding to soften the blow from defense spending caps in 2015 and beyond.
''If I had to guess where the [stock] market is pegging this, it's probably in the $50 [billion] to $70 billion range,'' said Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.
Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank, said he expects the Pentagon's OCO budget request will be in the $50 billion to $60 billion range.
Moreover, sources said the military services expect the OCO budget to remain in place for two years after the US military fully withdraws from Afghanistan, which Obama said would be by the end of 2016. Funding in those years would go toward repairing and replenishing equipment and weapons expended in the war.
The administration has never announced a final year for OCO funding.
The White House last week said it is finalizing its 2015 OCO request. An administration official told Defense News that the request would be less than the $79 billion DoD requested for Afghanistan in 2014.
''[T]his year's request will include costs incurred inside Afghanistan, certain expenses in the theater more broadly, and various related support costs,'' the official said. ''For example, these costs include returning personnel and equipment from theater to their home stations, repairing and replacing equipment and munitions, and resetting our military forces as they return from war.''
The 9,800 troops would cost about $20 billion, Tony Blinken, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said in a May 27 interview with CNN.
''We're looking at probably in the vicinity of about $20 billion, when you factor everything in,'' Blinken said.
Blinken's $20 billion figure was interpreted by some as possibly being the total DoD OCO request, but there was not much reaction on Wall Street.
''The market I don't think took that number and ran,'' Callan said.
If the entire OCO proposal was lower, in the $20 billion range, ''the market probably would have been taken aback by that,'' Callan said.
Still, the $20 billion estimate is consistent with Harrison's cost-per-troop calculations.
Historically, it has cost DoD about $1.3 million per year for each troop it has in Afghanistan, Harrison said.
''Twenty billion [dollars] is a reasonable estimate for what it will cost for 9,800 troops in Afghanistan next year,'' Harrison said. ''It's a legitimate number. In fact, it's a little above the trend line, but pretty close to it.''
That trend was bucked in 2014 when DoD submitted an OCO request that was nearly double what it should have needed, based on troop numbers.
This is because DoD has shifted billions of dollars from its base budget, which is subject to federal spending caps, to the unconstrained OCO budget, Harrison said.
Harrison estimates that about $30 billion of the DoD's $85 billion 2014 OCO budget is money that was moved out of the base budget. DoD shifted about $20 billion and Congress moved the additional $10 billion from the base to OCO accounts, he said.
Since 2008, Pentagon officials have said they would migrate billions of dollars in funding from the war budget to the base budget. However, in recent years, since the federal spending caps were put in place, DoD has moved money the other way '-- from the base budget to the war budget '-- to soften the blow of spending caps, analysts said.
In addition to troop costs, the OCO budget includes billions of dollars for the Afghan military, money to repair battle-worn equipment and to pay for transporting equipment back to the US.
This year's OCO request will also include up to $5 billion in a ''counterterrorism Partnerships Fund'' that would go toward US training and partner-building of foreign troops, Obama announced last week.
''[T]hese resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al-Qaida; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali,'' Obama said in his May 28 speech.
The new fund announced by Obama would become the fifth counterterrorism account in the DoD budget, said Gordon Adams, an analyst with the Stimson Center and a professor at American University, who oversaw defense budgeting in the Clinton administration.
The Pentagon submitted a $496 billion 2015 base budget request to Congress in March. That spending plan did not include an OCO request, as US troop levels in Afghanistan after this year had not been finalized. Instead, DoD sent Congress a $79 billion ''placeholder'' for the war budget.
Congress has been largely supportive of DoD's war budget requests, but has at times removed weapon purchase requests, which it said were not justified. For example, lawmakers rejected a 2008 Air Force request to replace an F-16 that crashed with a new, not-yet-operational F-35 joint strike fighter.
Still, some lawmakers have sought to curb the OCO funding stream, which they say amounts to nothing more than a slush fund. But at the same time, Congress last year approved an $85 billion OCO budget for 2014, adding $5 billion to DoD's request.
House lawmakers approved an amendment to the 2015 defense authorization bill that would place restrictions on the types of items the Pentagon could fund with OCO budget. Advocates say they are pushing for a similar amendment in the Senate version of the bill.
''The [House] amendment takes a major step toward ensuring that more military spending will take place above board, subject to stricter definitions of what is and isn't an overseas contingency,'' Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, said in a May 22 statement. ''The people who pay government's bills deserve more transparency and accountability for the dollars they send to Washington, including those that end up on the Pentagon's doorstep.'' '–
John T. Bennett contributed to this report.
IRAQ-CONTRACTS-CONSTELLIS-Contractors Go Back into Iraq to Give Al-Qaeda a "run for the money"
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 02:27
The rapidly developing Al-Qaeda incursion is forcing the Iraqi government not only to buy more American weapons and supplies, but also to payroll an army of mercenaries and private contractors, previously hired by the US Defense Department. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 5,000 specialists have been contracted by the Iraqi government. They are currently working in the country as analysts, military trainers, security guards, translators and even cooks. Some 2,000 of them are Americans.
''When the military had to leave, it made us even more dependent on contractors for security,'' Shays said, adding that ''The one thing that's a given: We can't go to war without contractors and we can't go to peace without contractors.''
''You have a situation where the government has become dependent on contractors,'' Allison Stanger, a political-science professor at Middlebury College, told WSJ. ''It's a real quantum shift.''
''The military task has, in fact, been outsourced in Iraq,'' confirmed analyst Steven Schooner, a professor at George Washington University Law School.
Washington's relationship with Baghdad has undergone a major transformation. Officially, the US has just several hundred troops in Iraq and the US Defense Department does not contract private security companies to operate in Iraq.
Yet the major shift in US-Iraq relations now is that Washington is no longer allocating budget money on operations in Iraq. It is Baghdad that spends money on American weaponry, vehicles and equipment, while American defense companies are earning money in Iraq by placing military contractors there.
Private defense companies, such as Triple Canopy and Dyncorp International, have multibillion contracts in Iraq for years to come.
Washington is actively assisting the Iraqi government in fighting terrorism, supplying Baghdad with drones and is considering training some of the country's elite military forces in neighboring Jordan.
An assault operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a faction of Al-Qaeda currently occupying Fallujah, is promising to be a serious undertaking implying the use of the utmost in firepower, so Baghdad is buying $6 billion worth of military equipment from the US, including 24 Apache attack helicopters and nearly 500 Hellfire missiles.
A group of top US lawmakers attempted to block the Apache deal, expressing concerns that providing Iraq with helicopters and other arms to help battle Al-Qaeda, would also mean that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might use them against his rivals. But the deal has nevertheless been finalized and the first batch of helicopters is expected in Iraq soon, along with the Hellfire missiles. This also means that 200 more contractors will come to Iraq to ensure the helicopters operate properly.
In the meantime violence in Iraq is at a record high. Al-Qaeda militants are advancing in the country's south and are staging regular terror acts. It seems the Iraqi government has little choice but to come down on the insurgency with deadly force.
History repeats itselfIt is probably no exaggeration to say that the war in Iraq is as far from being over as it was in 2003, with two major differences though. First: in the absence of Saddam Hussein his troops have been replaced with Al-Qaeda mujahedeen. Second: the US regular army has been supplanted by thousands of contractors, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The rest remains the same: English-speaking mercenaries are expected to choreograph the storming of Iraqi cities defended by Arab-speaking fighters of Al-Qaeda, exactly as it was back in 2004 during the Battle of Fallujah. Today Fallujah, occupied by Al-Qaeda, remains the primary target for the Iraqi government forces to assault backed by mercenaries.
US troops entered Iraq in 2003 and officially withdrew from the country in 2011. At the peak of war there were 157,800 American military personnel in Iraq.
Pentagon spokesman, Navy Commander Bill Speaks, reported that there are only 250 American troops in Iraq. These servicemen are either advisers assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation overseeing the US military interaction with Iraqi national forces, or Marine Corps security guards securing US diplomatic facilities.
After the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq, the duty of protecting US interests in the country was relegated to thousands of contractors from the US Defense Ministry and other security agencies.
According to the US State Department and Pentagon, it is estimated there were over 12,500 contractors in Iraq, working for the US government as of January 2013. By October, according to a quarterly report, their number had decreased to 6,624 specialists. Less than a quarter of them (1,626) were American citizens, the rest were Iraqis (2,191), with 2,807 civilian experts from foreign countries.
Bill Speaks said that the last major US Defense Department contract in Iraq ended on December 15 and now there are zero contractors in Iraq hired by the US Defense Department.
Where did all those contractors go? They are still in Iraq, maintains the Foreign Policy magazine.
The FP asked Triple Canopy, a huge private defense company and sanctuary for the US Special Forces veterans, for details and learnt that ''Recently all US government agencies have reduced their reliance on contractors due to budget cuts and have de-scoped contracts across the board, including in Iraq,'' the company said a statement.
''Contractors will continue to remain engaged in Iraq in the near future. However, the majority of these personnel will likely be working on commercial extractive and construction projects,'' the company said.
Contractors from America's biggest defense companies are providing maintenance for the equipment and vehicles previously bought by the Iraqi government from the US, such as helicopters, C-130 transport aircrafts, surveillance planes, drones, communication equipment and more.
Over the years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan there have been multiple cases of contracting fraud.
The US Congress' Independent Commission on Wartime Contracting determined that at least $31 billion in US funding had been wasted due to ''poor oversight, fraud, waste, and abuse,'' said FP's former US Representative, Christopher Shays, who used co-chair the Commission.
The US has allegedly spent over $200 billion on contractors in both Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade. Now that the US administration has transferred these expenditures to the Iraqi government, the American military industrial complex and private security companies are ready to make a fortune in Iraq.
Search jobs in Iraq'†'
Tags: Al-Qaeda, Defense Contractor, Iraq, Private Military Contractor
Academi, Triple Canopy and 5 other Companies Merge forming the Largest High Threat Security Group in the World
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:40
A press release from Constellis Holdings signals major news in the High Threat Security Industry. Academi, the company formerly known as Blackwater and Xe, will join Triple Canopy along with a handful of other high threat security companies under a new management structure named Constellis Holdings.
''This move allows us to create a suite of services to better provide critical support capabilities for government and commercial clients and will utilize ACADEMI's world-class training facility, the largest and most comprehensive private training center in the U.S.'' said Jason DeYonker, Managing Director of Constellis Holdings, Inc.
Constellis Holdings, Inc. has agreed to acquire Constellis Group, Inc., a leading provider of security, support and advisory services to government, multinational corporations and international organizations operating in challenging environments around the world. Constellis Holdings was formed by the founders of Triple Canopy and the private equity investors who formed ACADEMI.
The transaction brings together a global team of industry leaders, including: Triple Canopy, Constellis Ltd., Strategic Social, Tidewater Global Services, National Strategic Protective Services, ACADEMI Training Center and International Development Solutions.
Operating under the oversight of a distinguished Board and an experienced management team, the combination of these companies will enable a significant expansion of services within the global security market, delivering mission support, integrated security solutions, training and advisory services at home and abroad.
Constellis Holdings' Board of Directors includes: Red McCombs (Chairman), former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, former White House Chief Counsel Jack Quinn, Admiral Bobby Inman (Ret.), Russ Robinson, Jason DeYonker, Dean Bosacki and Triple Canopy co-founder Tom Katis.
''This combination of companies shares our core values of integrity and transparency, ensuring our clients of our ongoing dedication to oversight and good governance through our award-winning compliance practices,'' said former U.S. Attorney General and current Board member John Ashcroft.
Board member and Triple Canopy founder Tom Katis reinforces, ''This combination will provide our customers with the best possible service at the most competitive price. We share a commitment to flawless delivery of mission critical services. We share a bond with our employees, who are mostly decorated veterans who continue to serve their country in the private sector. We share a willingness to do the toughest jobs in support of the efforts to make our world a better place.''
The combined ownership group will employ more than 6,000 of the industry's most experienced and best-trained employees and will be led by CEO Craig Nixon.
Tags: Academi, Blackwater, company merger, Constellis Holdings, Triple Canopy, Xe
BOARD MEMBERS!-Constellis Holdings, Inc. Acquires Constellis Group, Inc. - Yahoo Finance
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:42
NEW YORK, June 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Constellis Holdings, Inc. has agreed to acquire Constellis Group, Inc., a leading provider of security, support and advisory services to government, multinational corporations and international organizations operating in challenging environments around the world. Constellis Holdings was formed by the founders of Triple Canopy and the private equity investors who formed ACADEMI.
The transaction brings together a global team of industry leaders, including: Triple Canopy, Constellis Ltd., Strategic Social, Tidewater Global Services, National Strategic Protective Services, ACADEMI Training Center and International Development Solutions.
Operating under the oversight of a distinguished Board and an experienced management team, the combination of these companies will enable a significant expansion of services within the global security market, delivering mission support, integrated security solutions, training and advisory services at home and abroad.
"This move allows us to create a suite of services to better provide critical support capabilities for government and commercial clients and will utilize ACADEMI's world-class training facility, the largest and most comprehensive private training center in the U.S.," said Jason DeYonker, Managing Director of Constellis Holdings, Inc.
Constellis Holdings' Board of Directors includes: Red McCombs (Chairman), former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, former White House Chief Counsel Jack Quinn, Admiral Bobby Inman (Ret.), Russ Robinson, Jason DeYonker, Dean Bosacki and Triple Canopy co-founder Tom Katis.
"This combination of companies shares our core values of integrity and transparency, ensuring our clients of our ongoing dedication to oversight and good governance through our award-winning compliance practices," said former U.S. Attorney General and current Board member John Ashcroft.
Board member and Triple Canopy founder Tom Katis reinforces, "This combination will provide our customers with the best possible service at the most competitive price. We share a commitment to flawless delivery of mission critical services. We share a bond with our employees, who are mostly decorated veterans who continue to serve their country in the private sector. We share a willingness to do the toughest jobs in support of the efforts to make our world a better place."
The combined ownership group will employ more than 6,000 of the industry's most experienced and best-trained employees and will be led by CEO Craig Nixon.
Investment & Company InformationFinanceTriple Canopy
Sahel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:33
The Sahel[p] is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara desert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the southernmost extent of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The Arabic word sāḥil (Ø"احÙ) literally means "shore, coast", describing the appearance of the vegetation found in the Sahel as being akin to that of a coastline delimiting the sand of the Sahara.
The Sahel covers parts of (from west to east) the Gambia, Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Algeria and Niger, northern Nigeria and Cameroon, central Chad, southern Sudan, and northern South Sudan.[1]
Geography[edit]The Sahel spans 5,400 km (3,360 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, in a belt that varies from several hundred to a thousand kilometers (620 miles) in width, covering an area of 3,053,200 square kilometers (1,178,850 sq mi). It is a transitional ecoregion of semi-arid grasslands, savannas, steppes, and thorn shrublands lying between the wooded Sudanian savanna to the south and the Sahara to the north.[2]
The topography of the Sahel is mainly flat, and the region mostly lies between 200 and 400 meters (660 and 1,310 ft) in elevation. Several isolated plateaus and mountain ranges rise from the Sahel, but are designated as separate ecoregions because their flora and fauna are distinct from the surrounding lowlands. Annual rainfall varies from around 100 mm (4 in)-200 mm (8 in), in the north of the Sahel, to around 600 mm (24 in) in the south.[2]
Over the history of Africa, the region has been home to some of the most advanced kingdoms, benefiting from trade across the desert. Collectively, these states are known as the Sahelian kingdoms.
Flora and fauna[edit]The Sahel is mostly covered in grassland and savanna, with areas of woodland and shrubland. Grass cover is fairly continuous across the region, dominated by annual grass species such as Cenchrus biflorus, Schoenefeldia gracilis, and Aristida stipoides. Species of acacia are the dominant trees, with Acacia tortilis the most common, along with Acacia senegal and Acacia laeta. Other tree species include Commiphora africana, Balanites aegyptiaca, Faidherbia albida, and Boscia senegalensis. In the northern part of the Sahel, areas of desert shrub, including Panicum turgidum and Aristida sieberana, alternate with areas of grassland and savanna. During the long dry season, many trees lose their leaves, and the predominantly annual grasses die.
The Sahel was formerly home to large populations of grazing mammals, including the scimitar-horned oryx(Oryx dammah), dama gazelle(Gazella dama), Dorcas gazelle(Gazella dorcas), red-fronted gazelle(Gazella rufifrons), the giant prehistoric buffalo (Pelorovis) and Bubal Hartebeest(Alcelaphus busephalus buselaphus), along with large predators like the African wild dog(Lycaon pictus), cheetah(Acinonyx jubatus), and lion(Panthera leo). The larger species have been greatly reduced in number by over-hunting and competition with livestock, and several species are vulnerable (Dorcas gazelle and red-fronted gazelle), endangered (Dama gazelle, African wild dog, cheetah, lion), or extinct (the Scimitar-horned oryx is probably extinct in the wild, and both Pelorovis and the Bubal Hartebeest are now extinct.
The seasonal wetlands of the Sahel are important for migratory birds moving within Africa and on the African-Eurasian flyways.[2]
Climate[edit]The Sahel is a tropicalhot steppe and certainly represents the best example of a semi-arid area. The Sahel has a tropical, hot steppe climate (K¶ppen climate classificationBSh). The climate is typically hot, sunny, dry and somewhat windy all year long. The Sahel has in fact the same climate as the Sahara desert, located just at the north but less extreme.
The Sahel mainly receives a low to a very low precipitation amount annually. The steppe has a very long, prevailing dry season and a short rainy season. The precipitation is also extremely irregular, and vary a lot from season to season and the major part of the rain can fall in only one, or two months while the others may remain absolutely dry. The entire Sahel region generally receives between 100 mm and 600 mm of rain yearly. Besides, a system of subdivisions based on annual rainfall is often adopted for the Sahelian climate is as follows: the Saharan-Sahelian climate, with a mean annual precipitation between around 100 and 200 mm (such as Khartoum, Sudan), the strict Sahelian climate, with a mean annual precipitation between around 200 and 400 mm (such as Kiffa, Mauritania) and the Sahelian-Sudanese climate, with a mean annual precipitation between around 400 and 600 mm (such as Niamey, Niger). The relative humidity in the steppe is low to very low, often being between 10% and 25% during the dry season and between 25% and 75% during the rainy season. The least humid places can have a relative humidity always lower 35%.
The Sahel is characterized by constant, intense heat and the temperatures don't really vary. The climate is very hot year-round and the Sahel doesn't normally know the cold. During the hottest period, the average high temperatures are generally between 36 °C (96.8 °F) and 42 °C (107.6 °F) (and even more in the hottest regions), often for more than 3 months, while the average low temperatures are easily around 25 °C (77 °F) and 31 °C (87.8 °F). During the "coldest period", the average high temperatures are between 27 °C (80.6 °F) and 33 °C (91.4 °F) and the average low temperature are between 15 °C (59 °F) and 21 °C (69.8 °F). Everywhere in the Sahel, the average mean temperature is over 18 °C (64.4 °F) because the climate is tropical.
The Sahel is a very sunny place, for a steppe and has a high to a very high sunshine duration year-round, between 2,700 hours (about 61% of the daylight hours) and 3,500 hours (more than 79% of the daylight hours). The sunshine duration in the Sahel approaches the desert levels, and is comparable to the Arabian Desert for example whereas the Sahel in only a steppe, not a desert. The cloud cover is low to very low in the sky. For examplen Niamey, Niger has 3,082 hours of bright sunshine; Gao, Mali has near 3,385 hours of sunshine; Tombouctou, Mali has 3,409 sunny hours, N'Djamena, Chad possesses 3,205 hours of sunlight.[3][4][5][6]
Culture[edit]Traditionally, most of the people in the Sahel have been semi-nomads, farming and raising livestock in a system of transhumance, which is probably the most sustainable way of utilizing the Sahel. The difference between the dry north with higher levels of soil-nutrients and the wetter south is utilized so that the herds graze on high quality feed in the North during the wet season, and trek several hundred kilometers down to the south, to graze on more abundant, but less nutritious feed during the dry period. Increased permanent settlement and pastoralism in fertile areas has been the source of conflicts with traditional nomadic herders.[citation needed]
History[edit]Early agriculture[edit]The first instances of domestication of plants for agricultural purposes in Africa occurred in the Sahel region circa 5000 BC, when sorghum and African rice began to be cultivated.[citation needed] Around this time, and in the same region, the small Guineafowl were domesticated.
Around 4000 BC the climate of the Sahara and the Sahel started to become drier at an exceedingly fast pace. This climate change caused lakes and rivers to shrink rather significantly and caused increasing desertification. This, in turn, decreased the amount of land conducive to settlements and helped to cause migrations of farming communities to the more humid climate of West Africa.[7]
Sahelian kingdoms[edit]The Sahelian kingdoms were a series of monarchies centered in the Sahel, between the 9th and 18th centuries. Their wealth of the states came from controlling the trans-Saharan trade routes across the desert, especially the slave trade with the Islamic world. Their power came from having large pack animals like camels and horses that were fast enough to keep a large empire under central control and were also useful in battle. All of these empires were also quite decentralized with member cities having a great deal of autonomy. The first large Sahelian kingdoms emerged after AD 750, and supported several large trading cities in the Niger Bend region, including Timbuktu, Gao, and Djenn(C).
The Sahel states were limited from expanding south into the forest zone of the Ashanti and Yoruba as mounted warriors were all but useless in the forests and the horses and camels could not survive the heat and diseases of the region.
Colonial period[edit]The Western Sahel fell to France in the late 19th century, as part of French West Africa. Chad was added in 1900 as part of French Equatorial Africa. The French territories were decolonialized in 1960.
The Eastern Sahel (the part in what is now Sudan) did not fall to the European powers but was annexed by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1820. It came under British administration as part of the Sultanate of Egypt in 1914. The Sudanese Sahel became part of independent Sudan in 1956 and entered a lasting period of political instability and warfare, still ongoing in the War in Darfur.
Recent droughts[edit]For hundreds of years, the Sahel region has experienced regular droughts and megadroughts. One megadrought, from 1450 to 1700, lasted 250 years.[8] There was a major drought in the Sahel in 1914, caused by annual rains far below average, that caused a large-scale famine. From 1951 to 2004, the Sahel experienced some of the most consistent and severe droughts in Africa.[9] The 1960s saw a large increase in rainfall in the region, making the northern drier region more accessible. There was a push, supported by governments, for people to move northwards. As the long drought-period from 1968 through 1974 began, the grazing quickly became unsustainable, and large-scale denuding of the terrain followed. Like the drought in 1914, this led to a large-scale famine, but this time it was somewhat tempered by international visibility and an outpouring of aid. This catastrophe led to the founding of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
In June to August 2010, famine struck the Sahel.[10] Niger's crops failed to mature in the heat, and famine occurred. 350,000 faced starvation, and 1,200,000 were at risk of famine.[11] In Chad, the temperature reached 47.6 °C (117.7 °F) on 22 June in Faya-Largeau, breaking a record set in 1961 at the same location. Niger tied its highest temperature record set in 1998, also on 22 June, at 47.1°C in Bilma. That record was broken the next day, when Bilma hit 48.2 °C (118.8 °F). The hottest temperature recorded in Sudan was reached on 25 June, at 49.6 °C (121.3 °F) in Dongola, breaking a record set in 1987.[12] Niger reported on 14 July that diarrhea, starvation, gastroenteritis, malnutrition, and respiratory diseases had sickened or killed many children. The new military junta appealed for international food aid and took serious steps to call on overseas help.[13] On 26 July, the heat reached near-record levels over Chad and Niger,[14] and about 20 had reportedly died in northern Niger of dehydration by 27 July.
Desertification and soil loss[edit]Over-farming, over-grazing, over-population of marginal lands, and natural soil erosion, have caused serious desertification of the region.[15][16]
Major dust storms are a frequent occurrence, as well. During November 2004, a number of major dust storms hit the Chad, originating in the Bod(C)l(C) Depression.[17] This is a common area for dust storms (occurring, on average, 100 days every year).
On 23 March 2010, a major sandstorm hit Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, and inland Sierra Leone. Another struck in southern Algeria, inland Mauritania, Mali, and northern C´te d'Ivoire[18] at the same time.
See also[edit][p]^ The word "Sahel" is pronounced as "suh-Hail" or "suh-Heel".[19]^"Sahel: $1.6 billion appeal to address widespread humanitarian crisis". United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Retrieved 24 June 2013.^ abc"Sahelian Acacia savanna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 2009-12-07. ^^^^^O'Brien, Patrick K., ed. (2005). Oxford Atlas of World History. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 22''23. ^Brahic, Catherine. "Africa trapped in mega-drought cycle". New Scientist. Retrieved 17 December 2012. ^Scholl, Adam. "Map Room: Hidden Waters". World Policy Journal. Retrieved 17 December 2012. ^"Drought threatens African humanitarian crisis - Channel 4 News". 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2010-07-28. ^Foy, Henry (2010-06-21). "Millions face starvation in west Africa, warn aid agencies". The Guardian (London). ^Masters, Jeff. "NOAA: June 2010 the globe's 4th consecutive warmest month on record". Weather Underground. Jeff Masters' WonderBlog. Retrieved 21 July 2010. ^"Niger: famine on the horizon?". France 24. 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2012-10-25. ^"wonder Blog: Weather Underground". Retrieved 2010-07-28. ^^Schmidt, Laurie J. (18 May 2001). "From the Dust Bowl to the Sahel". NASA.^"Dust Storm in the Bodele Depression". NASA. Retrieved 19 June 2010. ^^"Pronunciation of Sahel - Oxford Dictionaries",, March 2013; web: ODE.References[edit]Further reading[edit]Dai, A.; Lamb, P.J.; Trenberth, K.E.; Hulme, M.; Jones, P.D.; Xie, P. (2004). "The recent Sahel drought is real". International Journal of Climatology24 (11): 1323''1331. doi:10.1002/joc.1083 .The Growing Crisis in Africa's Sahel Region: Joint Hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade of the Committee in Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, May 21, 2013Moseley, W.G. 2008. ''Strengthening Livelihoods in Sahelian West Africa: The Geography of Development and Underdevelopment in a Peripheral Region.'' Geographische Rundschau International Edition, 4(4): 44-50., L., A. Mattelaer and A. Hadfield (2012) "A Coherent EU Strategy for the Sahel". Brussels: European Parliament (DG for External Policies).External links[edit]
Pipeline Repairs halted
The fighting in Mosul has halted repair work on the main oil pipeline to
Turkey, state-run North Oil Co. said. Shipments through the
Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, the target of frequent attacks, have been
stopped since March 2. Owned by BOTAS
New oil pipeline boosts Iraqi Kurdistan, the region made of three northern provinces - The Washington Post
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:18
By Brian SwintJune 13
Erbil, the regional capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has all the trappings of an oil boomtown. It bristles with construction cranes. Land Cruisers and Range Rovers with tinted windows ply the busy streets. Oil workers and briefcase-bearing foreigners crowd into the Divan Erbil Hotel's piano bar.
At the foot of the 8,000-year-old Citadel '-- which claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world '-- currency traders in the central market swap dollars, euros and Turkish liras for Iraqi dinars. Shoppers flock to Erbil's Family Mall, which features stores such as French hypermarket Carrefour and Spanish clothing chain Mango.
With the opening of a new oil pipeline, the boom is getting a boost. Crude that used to be transported by truck across the rugged, mountainous terrain of the three northern provinces known as Iraqi Kurdistan began flowing in stages through the pipeline in January.
The conduit, built by the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, runs about 250 miles from Khurmala, southwest of Erbil, to the Turkish border, where it connects with an existing link to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Oil that sells for about $70 a barrel domestically could fetch $100 or so in world markets.
The KRG said in October that the average output would be 400,000 barrels a day in 2014 and could jump to 1 million barrels by 2015 and twice that much by 2019. For 5.2 million Kurds in an area roughly the size of Switzerland, the influx of foreign investment and rising oil-related income promises an improving standard of living as the rest of the country remains mired in sectarian violence.
Since the KRG began selling oil contracts to foreign investors in 2007, per capita gross domestic product in Kurdistan has soared; it hit $5,600 in 2012, up from $800 10 years ago. The boom has also benefited oil exploration companies, especially those that placed early bets.
Risk and reward
Beginning with the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, the development of natural resources across all of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan in the north, was virtually on hold for more than two decades. That's because a series of full-blown conflicts and internecine clashes preoccupied first Saddam Hussein and then the fractious leadership in Baghdad that followed his ouster by U.S. and U.K. coalition forces in 2003.
Since then, almost daily clashes in the south have pitted the Shiite majority that dominates Iraq politically against the Sunni minority that held sway under Hussein. In the north, the population is overwhelmingly Sunni and relatively free of sectarian strife. In fact sheets for foreign investors, the KRG says no coalition soldiers have been killed and no foreigners kidnapped in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Todd Kozel, chief executive officer of Bermuda-based Gulf Keystone Petroleum, came to Iraqi Kurdistan three years after the 2003 invasion.
''If you were an oilman in 2006, with oil in your blood, you just had to be here,'' he says, sipping Johnnie Walker Black Label at the Divan.
Kozel, 47, says he saw opportunity in a land where high risk would be highly rewarded. And it was. Since Gulf Keystone discovered oil at Iraqi Kurdistan's Shaikan field in 2009, its market value has grown to about $1.66 billion from about $80 million.
The first foreign exploration firm to come to Kurdistan '-- in 2004 '-- was Oslo-based DNO International. Chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani says DNO plans to increase output from its Tawke field to about 200,000 barrels a day this year from about 125,000 in 2013, showing how companies will hike production when their oil can be sold at higher world-market prices.
Tony Hayward came to Kurdistan after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico cost him his job as BP's chief executive '-- in part because of a string of public-relations fiascoes that included his saying ''I would like my life back'' to a group of reporters while touring an oil-slicked beach in Louisiana.
In 2011, Hayward joined forces with British financier Nathaniel Rothschild to acquire a Turkish firm already operating in Kurdistan. The firm, renamed Genel Energy, says it's poised to raise production at Taq Taq and other fields to 70,000 barrels a day this year from 44,000 in 2013. On May 8, Hayward was named chairman of Glencore Xstratam, a mining company that is also one of the world's biggest crude traders.
Since 2011, four big oil companies '-- Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Hess and Total '-- have followed 30 or so smaller players into Iraqi Kurdistan and signed exploration deals. Hayward, whose career straddles oil majors and minors, says the pattern is a familiar one.
''There are lots of entrants early on, the real frontier types,'' Hayward says in his London office. ''Then the big guys arrive, and there's consolidation. If you're a little guy, you have to get there early.''
Transforming Iraq
The oil boom is transforming a part of Iraq that ethnic Kurds throughout the South Caucasus and Middle East consider their homeland. Unlike Kurdish enclaves in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Armenia, Iraqi Kurdistan is self-ruled, having gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the central government in Baghdad.
Though it defers to the government on most external affairs such as treaties and membership in international organizations, the KRG has its own parliament, issues its own visas and has its own army, the Peshmerga '-- meaning ''those who confront death'' in Kurdish.
Oil is also changing relations between Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government. They've been tense for decades '-- never more so than in the closing days of the war with Iran, when Hussein's forces launched a chemical attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja, killing as many as 5,000 people in retaliation for collusion between Kurdish and Iranian fighters.
In 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, the U.S. and its allies established a safe haven in Iraqi Kurdistan enforced by a no-fly zone. While the no-fly zone effectively created a buffer between the Kurds and their masters in Baghdad, accelerating economic development in the north, the north-south dispute over oil carried on.
Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization maintains that it has exclusive rights to the sale of Iraqi Kurdistan's oil, whether it flows through the new pipeline or through pipelines outside of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In December, the KRG agreed to work with the central government in Baghdad in determining how to distribute revenue from Kurdistan oil exports, though a lot of questions remain unanswered, according to Sanford C. Bernstein financial research firm.
''The resource base is too big for a solution not to be found,'' the Beveridge analysts wrote.
The new pipeline, fully in KRG territory, should make it easier for Kurdistan to overcome central government resistance and get its oil to market, says Gareth Stansfield, a senior associate at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based research organization.
''If the Kurds are able to pump the amounts of oil they're promising, then this is a fundamental geopolitical game changer,'' Stansfield says. ''It gives the Kurds economic independence from Baghdad.''
Many Iraqi Kurds want more than that: Almost 60 percent of those surveyed supported statehood in a 2012 poll by the Kurdistan Institute for Political Issues.
North vs. south
Iraq ranks fifth in the world in proven oil reserves '-- 150 billion barrels, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013. The KRG says Kurdistan alone '-- comprising less than a 10th of Iraqi territory '-- holds 45 billion barrels. If the autonomous region were a country, its reserves would rank it 10th in the world, after Libya, according to BP.
While oil production has soared in the north, slower output in the war-torn south has kept Iraq-wide production low: Only in recent months has output reached 1979 levels of 3.62 million barrels a day, according to OPEC.
The hassles of dealing with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Baghdad government compound sluggish production in the south, says Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Eni, Italy's biggest oil company. Eni is one of several large companies, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, operating in the south.
''We're suffering from a lot of complex bureaucracy,'' Scaroni says.
Eni had planned to invest $7 billion this year in developing its oil business in the south; it will end up spending only $3 billion, he says.
In the north, it's a different story. Genel has been shipping crude to Turkey by truck, with 700 tankers rolling out of its Taq Taq field every day. With the new pipeline expected to be fully up and running later this year, the company says it's poised to take advantage of the new transportation capability by increasing production.
The KRG's Ministry of Natural Resources says its goal is to transport 300,000 barrels a day by the end of the year via the pipeline, shifting a sizable portion of exports away from tanker transport, not to mention pipelines controlled by the government in Baghdad.
Hayward, who visited southern Iraq as the head of BP from 2007 to 2010, says he was impressed by the contrast between Erbil and Baghdad when he first traveled to the north in 2011.
''The thing that really struck me was the amount of development that was taking place,'' Hayward says of Erbil. ''It felt safe, secure and prosperous.''
Oil is also helping to change the relationship between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Beginning in the 1980s, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym, PKK, began an armed struggle against the Turkish government, seeking to establish an independent Kurdish nation in and around northern Iraq '-- including the Kurdish-dominated area of eastern Turkey. Turkey was wary of Iraqi Kurdistan as a staging area for PKK paramilitaries.
In 2003, Turkey, though a NATO member, refused to allow U.S. troops to invade Iraq from the north through Turkish territory partly out of concern the invasion would, in toppling the Hussein regime that had oppressed the Kurds, promote Kurdish independence movements. The PKK and the Turkish government agreed to a cease-fire in March 2013, easing tensions.
''Turkey's been a big help,'' Gulf Keystone's Kozel says. ''All our drilling rigs come through there.''
Iraqi Kurds '-- fearing their enemies, distrustful of neighboring governments, victims of Hussein's genocidal attacks '-- are used to doing whatever they can to determine their destiny, Hayward says.
''It's clear as the Kurds get more and more production and infrastructure, they're just going to do their own thing,'' he says. ''As they like to say, 'We have no friends but the mountains.' ''
The full version of this Bloomberg Markets article appears in the magazine's June issue.
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Baku''Tbilisi''Ceyhan pipeline - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:20
Baku''Tbilisi''Ceyhan pipelineLocation of Baku''Tbilisi''Ceyhan pipeline
LocationCountryAzerbaijan, Georgia, TurkeyGeneral directioneast''south-westFromBaku (Sangachal Terminal), AzerbaijanPasses throughTbilisi Georgia, Erzurum Turkey, Sarız TurkeyToCeyhan, TurkeyRuns alongsideSouth Caucasus PipelineGeneral informationTypeoilPartnersBP, SOCAR, Chevron, Statoil, TPAO, Eni, Total S.A., Itochu, Inpex, ConocoPhillips, Hess CorporationOperatorBPCommissioned2006Technical informationLength1,768 km (1,099 mi)Maximum discharge1 million barrels (160,000 m3) of oil per dayThe Baku''Tbilisi''Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is a 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) long crude oil pipeline from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshlioil field in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It connects Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and Ceyhan, a port on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, via Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. It is the second-longest oil pipeline in the former Soviet Union, after the Druzhba pipeline. The first oil that was pumped from the Baku end of the pipeline on 10 May 2005 reached Ceyhan on 28 May 2006.[1][2]
History[edit]Planning[edit]The Caspian Sea lies above one of the world's largest groups of oil and gas fields. As the sea is landlocked, transporting oil to Western markets is complicated. During Soviet times, all transportation routes from the Caspian region were through Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union inspired a search for new routes. Russia first insisted that the new pipeline should pass through its territory, then declined to participate.[3][4]
In the spring of 1992, the Turkish Prime Minister S¼leyman Demirel proposed to Central Asian countries including Azerbaijan that the pipeline run through Turkey. The first document on the construction of the Baku''Tbilisi''Ceyhan pipeline was signed between Azerbaijan and Turkey on 9 March 1993 in Ankara.[5] The Turkish route meant a pipeline from Azerbaijan would run through Georgia or Armenia, but the route through Armenia was politically impossible due to the unresolved war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. This left the circuitous Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route, longer and more expensive to build than the other option.[6]
The project gained momentum following the Ankara Declaration, adopted on 29 October 1998 by President of AzerbaijanHeydar Aliyev, President of GeorgiaEduard Shevardnadze, President of KazakhstanNursultan Nazarbayev, President of TurkeyS¼leyman Demirel, and President of UzbekistanIslam Karimov. The declaration was witnessed by the United States Secretary of EnergyBill Richardson, who expressed strong support for the pipeline. The intergovernmental agreement in support of the pipeline was signed by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey on 18 November 1999, during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul, Turkey.[6]
Construction[edit]The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC Co.) was established in London on 1 August 2002.[7] The ceremony launching construction of the pipeline was held on 18 September 2002.[8] Construction began in April 2003 and was completed in 2005. The Azerbaijan section was constructed by Consolidated Contractors International of Greece, and Georgia's section was constructed by a joint venture of France's Spie Capag and UK Petrofac International. The Turkish section was constructed by BOTAŞ Petroleum Pipeline Corporation. Bechtel was the main contractor for engineering, procurement and construction.[7]
Inauguration[edit]On 25 May 2005, the pipeline was inaugurated at the Sangachal Terminal by President Ilham Aliyev of the Azerbaijan Republic, President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia and President Ahmet Sezer of Turkey, joined by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and United States Secretary of EnergySamuel Bodman.[9] The inauguration of the Georgian section was hosted by President Mikheil Saakashvili at the pumping station near Gardabani on 12 October 2005.[10] The inauguration ceremony at Ceyhan terminal was held on 13 July 2006.[11]
Pumping began on 10 May 2005 and reached Ceyhan in 28 May 2006.[1] The first oil was loaded at the Ceyhan Marine Terminal (Haydar Aliyev Terminal) onto a tanker named British Hawthorn.[12] The tanker sailed on 4 June 2006 with about 600,000 barrels (95,000 m3) of crude oil.[13]
Description[edit]Route[edit]The 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) long pipeline starts at the Sangachal Terminal near Baku in Azerbaijan, crosses Georgia and terminates at the Ceyhan Marine Terminal (Haydar Aliyev Terminal) on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. 443 kilometres (275 mi) of the pipeline lie in Azerbaijan, 249 kilometres (155 mi) in Georgia and 1,076 kilometres (669 mi) in Turkey. It crosses several mountain ranges at altitudes to 2,830 metres (9,300 ft).[14] It also traverses 3,000 roads, railways, and utility lines'--both overground and underground'--and 1,500 watercourses up to 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide (in the case of the Ceyhan River in Turkey).[15] The pipeline occupies a corridor eight meters wide, and is buried to a depth of at least one meter.[16] The pipeline runs parallel to the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline, which transports natural gas from the Sangachal Terminal to Erzurum in Turkey.[14] From Sarız to Ceyhan, the Samsun''Ceyhan oil pipeline will be parallel to the BTC pipeline.[17]
Technical features[edit]The pipeline has a projected lifespan of 40 years, and at normal capacity it transports 1 million barrels per day (160—10^3 m3/d). It needs 10 million barrels (1.6—10^6 m3) of oil to fill the pipeline.[1] Oil flows at 2 metres (6.6 ft) per second.[15] There are eight pump stations, two in Azerbaijan, two in Georgia, four in Turkey. The project includes also the Ceyhan Marine Terminal (officially the Haydar Aliyev Terminal, named after the Azerbaijani late president Heydar Aliyev), three intermediate pigging stations, one pressure reduction station, and 101 small block valves.[14] It was constructed from 150,000 individual joints of line pipe, each measuring 12 metres (39 ft) in length.[15] This corresponds to a total weight of 655,000 short tons (594,000 t).[15] The pipeline is 1,070 millimetres (42 in) diameter for most of its length, narrowing to 865 millimetres (34.1 in) diameter as it nears Ceyhan.[18]
Cost and financing[edit]The pipeline cost US$3.9 billion.[19] The construction created 10,000 short-term jobs and the operation of the pipeline requires 1,000 long-term employees across a 40 year period.[16] 70% of the costs are funded by third parties, including the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, export credit agencies of seven countries and a syndicate of 15 commercial banks.[14]
Source of supply[edit]The pipeline is supplied by oil from Azerbaijan's Azeri-Chirag-Guneshlioil field in the Caspian Sea via the Sangachal Terminal. This pipeline may also transport oil from Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field and other oil fields in Central Asia.[3] The government of Kazakhstan announced that it would build a trans-Caspian oil pipeline from the Kazakhstani port of Aktau to Baku, but because of the opposition from both Russia and Iran it started to transport oil to the BTC pipeline by tankers across the Caspian Sea.[2]
Possible transhipment via Israel[edit]It has been proposed that oil from the pipeline be transported to eastern Asia via the Israeli oil terminals at Ashkelon and Eilat, the overland trans-Israel sector being bridged by the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline owned by the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC).[20][21]
Ownership[edit]The pipeline is owned and operated by BTC Co, a consortium of 11 energy companies. The consortium is managed by BP. Shareholders are:
On 7 September 2012, Hess announced sale of its stake to ONGC.[22]
Archaeology[edit]Azerbaijani, Georgian, Turkish, British, and American archaeologists began archaeological surveys 2000, sponsored by BP. Several cultural artifacts were uncovered during the construction, resulting in a coordinated research of the archaeological sites such as Dashbulaq, Hasansu, Zayamchai, and Tovuzchai in Azerbaijan; Klde, Orchosani, and Saphar-Kharaba in Georgia; and G¼ll¼dere, Y¼ce¶ren, and Ziyaretsuyu in Turkey.[23]
Controversial aspects[edit]Politics[edit]Even before its completion, the pipeline was having an effect on the world's petroleum politics. The South Caucasus, previously seen as Russia's backyard, is now a region of great strategic significance. The U.S. and other Western nations have become much more involved in the affairs of the three nations through which oil will flow. The countries have been trying to use the involvement as a counterbalance to Russian and Iranian economic and military dominance in the region.[16][24] Russian specialists claim that the pipeline will weaken the Russian influence in the Caucasus. The Russian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev stated that the United States and other Western countries are planning to station soldiers in the Caucasus on the pretext of instability in regions through which the pipeline passes.[25]
The project has been criticised due to bypassing and regional isolation of Armenia,[26][27] as well as for human rights and safety concerns.[28]Ilham Aliev, the president of Azerbaijan, which is in conflict with Armenia, was cited as saying, "if we succeed with this project, the Armenians will end in complete isolation, which would create an additional problem for their future, their already bleak future".[27]
The project also constitutes an important leg of the East''West energy corridor, gaining Turkey greater geopolitical importance. The pipeline supports Georgia's independence from Russian influence. Former President Eduard Shevardnadze, one of the architects and initiators of the project, saw construction through Georgia as a guarantee for the country's future economic and political security and stability. President Mikhail Saakashvili shares this view. "All strategic contracts in Georgia, especially the contract for the Caspian pipeline are a matter of survival for the Georgian state," he told reporters on 26 November 2003.[29]
Economics[edit]Although some have touted the pipeline as easing the dependence of the US and other Western nations on oil from the Middle East, it supplies only 1% of global demand during its first stage.[30]
The pipeline diversifies the global oil supply and so insures, to an extent, against a failure in supply elsewhere. Critics of the pipeline'--particularly Russia'--are skeptical about its economic prospects.[31]
Construction of the pipeline has contributed to the economies of the host countries. In the first half of 2007, a year after the launch of the pipeline as the main export route for Azerbaijani oil, the real GDP growth of Azerbaijan hit a record of 35%.[32] Substantial transit fees accrue to Georgia and Turkey. For Georgia, the transit fees are expected to produce an average of US$62.5 million per year.[24] Turkey is expected to receive approximately US$200 million in transit fees per year in the initial years of operation, with the possibility that the fees increase to US$290 million per year from year 17 to year 40. Turkey also benefits from an increase of commerce in the port of Ceyhan and other parts of eastern Anatolia, the region which had experienced significant decrease in economic activities since the Gulf War in 1991.[33] The reduction of oil tanker traffic on the Bosphorus will contribute to greater security for Istanbul.[34]
To counter concerns that oil money would be siphoned off by corrupt officials, Azerbaijan set up a state oil fund (SOFAZ), mandated with using revenue from natural resources to benefit future generations, bolster support from key international lenders, and improve transparency and accountability. Azerbaijan became the first oil-producing country to join EITI, the British-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.[16]
Security[edit]Concerns have been addressed about the security of the pipeline.[35][36] It bypasses Armenia, which has an unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, crosses through Georgia, which has two unresolved separatist conflicts, and goes through the edges of the Kurdish region of Turkey, which has seen a prolonged and bitter conflict with separatists.[37] It will require constant guarding to prevent sabotage, though the fact that almost all of the pipeline is buried will make it harder to attack.[16] Georgia formed a special purpose battalion that would guard the pipeline while the US watched over the area with Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs).
On 6 August 2008, a major explosion and fire in eastern Turkey Erzincan Province closed the pipeline. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed responsibility.[38] The pipeline was restarted on 25 August 2008.[39]
Environment[edit]Critics of the pipeline have pointed out it should be properly earthquake engineered because it travels through three active earthquake faults in Azerbaijan, four in Georgia and seven in Turkey. Environmental activists fiercely opposed the crossing of the watershed of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park in Georgia, an area known for mineral water springs and natural beauty, although the pipeline itself does not enter the park.[40] The construction of the pipeline left a highly visible scar across the landscape. The Oxford-based "Baku Ceyhan Campaign" stated that "public money should not be used to subsidize social and environmental problems, purely in the interests of the private sector, but must be conditional on a positive contribution to the economic and social development of people in the region."[41] As Borjomi mineral water is a major export commodity of Georgia, any oil spills there would have a catastrophic effect on the economy.
The field joint coating of the pipeline has been controversial over the claim that SPC 2888, the sealant used, was not properly tested.[42][43][44] BP and its contractors interrupted work until the problem was eliminated.[33]
The pipeline eliminates 350 tanker cargoes per year through the sensitive congested Bosphorus and Dardanelles.[45]
Human rights[edit]Human rights activists criticized Western governments for the pipeline, due to reported human and civil rights abuses by the Aliyev regime.[46] A Czech documentary film Zdroj (Source) underscores these human rights abuses, such as eminent domain violations in appropriating land for the pipeline's route, and criticism of the government leading to arrest.[47]
In fiction[edit]The pipeline was a central plot point in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough (1999). One of the central characters, Elektra King, is responsible for the construction of an oil pipeline through the Caucasus, from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Named the "King pipeline" in the film, it is a thinly disguised version of the BTC.[37]
See also[edit]^ abc"Operations of the BTC pipeline". BP. Retrieved 2007-03-01. ^ ab"Kazakhstan starts transporting oil by Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline". Itar-Tass. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2008-11-11. ^ ab"Revolutions in the Pipeline". Kommersant. 2005-05-25. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Moscow Negative About Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline". Pravda. 2004-01-13. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Timeline of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline". Turkish Daily News. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^ abZeyno Baran (2005). "The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Implications for Turkey" (PDF). The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West (The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program): 103''118. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^ ab"Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company founded". Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections. 2002-08-30. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Caspian pipeline dream becomes reality". BBC News. 2002-09-17. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Giant Caspian oil pipeline opens". BBC News. 2005-05-25. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^Jean-Christophe Peuch (2005-10-12). "Georgia: Regional Leaders Inaugurate Oil Pipeline Amid Environmental Concerns". RFERL. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^ ab"BTC Celebrates Full Commissioning" (Press release). BP. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Caspian Oil Reaches Turkey's Mediterranean Port Ceyhan". Turkish Weekly. 2006-05-29. Retrieved 2007-03-01. ^"BP: First Ship Loads Oil from New Caspian Pipeline". Downstream Today. 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2008-11-02. ^ abcd"Overview of the BTC pipeline". BP. Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-29. ^ abcd"Caspian Connection" (PDF). Frontiers Magazine (BP): 18''26. August 2003. Retrieved 2008-11-02. ^ abcdeSvante E. Cornell, Fariz Ismailzade (2005). "The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Implications for Azerbaijan" (PDF). The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West (The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program): 61''84. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project (PDF). International Energy Agency. October 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-26. ^"Dillinger plates for the BTC pipeline, the world's longest oil export pipeline". Dillinger H¼tte GTS. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"BTC costs hit $3.9bn". Upstream Online (NHST Media Group). 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2008-03-07. ^Avi Bar-Eli (2008-01-17). "Israel proposes crude pipeline from Georgia to Eastern Asia". Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-19. ^Rovshan Ibrahimov (2007-04-09). "Israeli Pipeline: Ashelon-Eilat-The Second Breath". Turkish Weekly. Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-19. ^Johnson, Luke (2012-09-07). "Hess sells off ACG stake for $1bn". Upstream Online (NHST Media Group). Retrieved 2012-09-08. ^Taylor, Paul Michael, Christopher R. Polglase, Najaf Museyibli, Jared M. Koller, and Troy A. Johnson (2010), AGT - Ancient Heritage in the BTC-SCP Pipelines Corridor: Azerbaijan '' Georgia '' Turkey. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Accessed July 22, 2012.^ abVladimer Papava (2005). "The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Implications for Georgia" (PDF). The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West (The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program): 85''102. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^Can Karpat (2005-09-15). "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan: Pipeline of Friendship or War?". Axis Information and Analysis. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^Boland, Vincent (2005-05-26). "BTC pipeline the 'new Silk Road', By Vincent Boland in Baku". Retrieved 2012-11-06. ^ ab"Sherman Joins Amendment to Block Funds For Railroad Route Bypassing Armenia". 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2012-11-06. ^"The Baku Ceyhan Pipeline: BP's Time Bomb". Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 5 June 2010. ^"Georgia's Saakashvili backs oil-pipeline plan". Seattle Times. 2003-11-27. Retrieved 2008-08-12. ^Skarbo, Svetlana; Petre, Jonathan (2008-08-10). "The Pipeline War: Russian bear goes for West's jugular". London: Daily Mail Online. Archived from the original on 24 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-24. ^"Russia skeptical about Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline". RIA Novosti. 2005-06-02. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Republic of Azerbaijan '-- Concluding Statement of the IMF Mission". International Monetary Fund. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^ abJonathan Elkind (2005). "Economic Implications of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline" (PDF). The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West (The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program): 39''60. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"Loading of Azeri Crude Oil from BTC Pipeline Begins". Today's Zaman. 2006-06-03. Retrieved 2007-03-01. ^Nick Paton Walsh (2003-12-01). "Russia accused of plot to sabotage Georgian oil pipeline". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^Gal Luft (2004-11-04). Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline: not yet finished and already threatened. Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^ abThe pipeline also gets a mention in "Aggressor", a novel by Andy Mcnab. Mark Tran (2005-05-26). "Q&A: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"PKK assumes responsibility for explosion of BTC". APA. 2008-08-06. Retrieved 2008-08-06. ^"Oil Falls for a Second Day as BP Restarts Caspian Sea Pipeline". Bloomberg. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2008-08-25. ^Michael Meacher (2005-06-15). "Casualties of the oil stampede". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^"About the Baku Ceyhan Campaign". Retrieved 2008-10-23. ^Michael Gillard; David Connett (2005-04-17). "BP 'covered up' pipeline flaw". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2007-12-29. ^"The full story: Pipeline corrosion threat covered up by BP". Baku Ceyhan Campaign. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28. ^"What's the problem? Field joint coatings - The basics". Baku Ceyhan Campaign. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28. ^"BTC pipeline a welcome relief for Turkish straits". Turkish Daily News. 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2008-11-02. ^"Human Rights Overview - Azerbaijan". Human Right Watch. Retrieved 2007-12-30. ^Eddie Cockrell (2005-07-18). "Source. A review". Variety. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-29. References[edit]Turab Gurbanov (2007). Le p(C)trole de la Caspienne et la politique ext(C)rieure de l'Azerba¯djan : tome 1- Questions (C)conomiques et juridiques. l'Harmattan. p. 304. ISBN 978-2-296-04019-9. Turab Gurbanov (2007). Le p(C)trole de la Caspienne et la politique ext(C)rieure de l'Azerba¯djan : tome 2- Questions g(C)opolitiques. l'Harmattan. p. 297. ISBN 978-2-296-04020-5. S. Frederick Starr, Svante E. Cornell (2005). The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West (PDF). The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program. p. 150. ISBN 91-85031-06-2. Retrieved 2007-12-30. External links[edit]
Ceyhan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:19
Ceyhan (pronounced [dÊ'eːËhan]) is a city in southern Turkey and with 105,000 (2010) inhabitants (150,000 in the metropolitan area) it is the second largest city of Adana Province after the capital Adana. Ceyhan is the transportation hub for Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Russian oil and natural gas. It is situated on the Ceyhan River, from which it takes its name, in central ‡ukurova, 43 km (27 mi) east of Adana. The Ceyhan River is dammed at Aslantas to provide flood control and irrigation for the lower river basin around Ceyhan.
The oil terminals[edit]Ceyhan's marine transport terminal is the Mediterranean terminus of the Baku''Tbilisi''Ceyhan pipeline (the "BTC") which brings crude oil from the landlocked Caspian Sea across Azerbaijan and Georgia, and entering Turkey in the northeast. The pipeline was completed in May 2005. The terminal contains seven storage tanks, a jetty capable of loading two tankers of up to 300,000 metric tons deadweight (DWT) simultaneously, metering facilities, a waste water treatment plant and vapor incineration ("burn-off") facilities.
Ceyhan Terminal is also the destination of Kirkuk-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline and planned Samsun-Ceyhan by-pass pipeline. In future Ceyhan will be also a natural gas hub for a planned pipeline constructed parallel to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, and for a planned extension of the Blue Stream Gas Pipeline to from Samsun to Ceyhan.
Set to become a crossroad in the near future, Ceyhan's significance in political terms is also expected to rise considerably, as stressed during an early 2006 symposium organized by the municipality.[3]
Modern city of Ceyhan[edit]Ceyhan is the second most developed and populated city of Adana Province after Adana. Like everywhere else on this coast it is roasting hot in summer. There are a number of restaurants serving the legendary Adana kebab. The river runs through the city center.
Places of interest[edit]International relations[edit]Twin towns '' Sister cities[edit]Ceyhan is twinned with:
See also[edit]
BOTAS - Petroleum Pipeline Corporation
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:23
(C) 2008, BOTAŞ - Boru Hatları İle Petrol Taşıma A.Ş. İletişim | Yasal Uyarı | Site Haritası | Ana Sayfa | Web Mail
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:22
A-BOTAS (CEYHAN) TERMINALOPERATED BY: Botas Petroleum Pipeline CorporationADDRESS: Botas Limani, P.O.Box 73, 01944 Ceyhan-Adana, TurkeyTELEPHONE: (326) 744 55 77 / 4 linesFAX: (326) 744 55 84LOCATION: 36° 53' N, 35° 56' EABOUT BOTAS: The Head Office of Bota¾ is located in Ankara. The Ankara District Management in Yaprac½k - Ankara and the Ceyhan District Management in Yumurtal½k - Ceyhan both directly report to the General Directorate. Besides, the D¶rtyol Operation Management is located in D¶rtyol - 'skenderun and the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Import Terminal Operation Management is located in Marmara Ere°lisi - Tekirda°. Bota¾'s original business of transportation of crude oil by pipelines has expanded to cover the natural gas transportation and trade activities since 1987. Hence, the company has gained a trade company identity. Currently, the company holds monopoly in import, distribution, pricing and sale of natural gas in Turkey. In 1995, the article of "to carry out all kinds of petroleum related activities such as exploration, drilling, production, transportation, storage and rafining, for the purpose of providing crude oil and natural gas from abroad" was added to the field of activities of Bota¾ which had been defined as: "to construct and have constructed all types of pipelines for petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas within and outside of Turkey; to take over, purchase or lease those pipelines that have already been built; to transport petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas through the pipelines and to purchase and sell the crude oil and natural gas transported in the pipelines."THE IRAQ - TURKEY CRUDE OIL PIPELINE: The Iraq - Turkey Crude Oil Pipeline System transports the oil produced in Kirkuk and other areas of Iraq to the Ceyhan (Yumurtal½k) Marine Terminal. The pipeline system with an annual transport capacity of 35 Million tons was commissioned in 1976. The capacity of the line was increased to 46.5 Million tons/year through the First Expansion Project, the construction of which was started in 1983 and completed in 1984. With the completion of the Second Pipeline, which is parallel to the first one, the annual capacity reached 70.9 Million tons as of 1987. It is served by two pipelines. Total length of the pipeline is 1.876 km. 1st Line 345 km in Iraq plus 641 km in Turkey and 2nd Line 234 km in Iraq plus 656 km in Turkey.The operation of the pipeline system was suspended on August 1990, in conjunction with the embargo imposed on Iraq by the United Nations. The suspension was ceased under the agreement of UN and Iraq on May 1996 and limited oil export was allowed. Crude oil loading activities was started on December 16, 1996 according to the UN Resolution. 285,715,626 barrels (38,747,770 tons) of oil was transported in 2000 by Iraq-Turkey Crude Oil Pipeline under the United Nations Resolutions. A total of 1.008.767.195 barrels (136.077.798 ton) of Iraqi oil have been transported between December 1996 and December 2000. 230.855 Thousand barrels of oil was transported by this line in 2001PORT DESCRIPTION: The Botas harbour is operated under the Authority of Boats harbour Master and the harbour area is the sea area North of a line between;a)36 52 12 N, 35 55 07 E b) 36 50 36 N, 35 56 06 E c) 36 51 30 N, 35 58 30 E d) 36 53 25 N, 35 56 41 Ee)36 49 48 N, 36 10 00 E f) 36 34 40 N, 35 45 00 E g) 36 40 30 N, 35 39 20 E.Botas Terminal, Toros Terminal, Delta terminal, Dortyol Terminal, Bayraktar Terminal and Aygaz Terminal are in Botas Port limits.ANCHORAGES: There are 2 areas for tankers near the terminals. Tanker Anchorage Areas;(I) a1) 36 53 02N, 36 00 00E b1) 36 49 30N, 35 57 04E c1) 36 49 00N, 35 59 40E d1) 36 52 36N, 36 02 05E(II) a2) 36 51 50N, 36 04 50E b2) 36 50 00N, 36 05 05E c2) 36 50 00N, 36 06 52E d2) 36 51 50N, 36 06 20ERESTRICTION: Berthing and unberthing possible at any time day or night, weather conditions permitting. However vessels over 100.000 dwt are not allowed to berth No.4 after sunset.PILOTAGE: compulsory for mooring and unmooring by day or night. Pilot will meet the ships 2 miles south from the end of the jetty in the anchorage area. After the ship has berthed the Pilot /Loading master stays on the ship and requires a separate cabin.TOWAGE: 5 tugboats available to assist in berthing and unberthing. Depending on weather and having regard for safety conditions, additional tugs may be assigned by Botas or port master's office or requested by vessel.WORKING HOURS: operates 24 hours a day year round.DENSITY: salt water 1027.FRESH WATER: available at jetty.Rate 25 tph.BUNKER: not available alongside. Available only by barges at anchorage.AIRPORT: At Adana distance 75 km from the port.BALLAST: Max. ballast discharge rate 5.000 cu.m.p.h.Shore ballast tanks capacity 65.000 cu.m.Vessels shall not discharge into the water of the port any part of the content of their cargo, slop or ballast tanks or bilges which is liable to pollute these waters. Ballast water must be declared and signed by the Master and delivered to the terminal to this effect. Ship must not be swept or washed overboard.GARBAGE DISPOSAL: daily service available to vessels alongside and at anchor.WASTE OIL DISPOSAL: collection service is available. A waste oil refining station has been installed near the fuel tanks of the steel works and trucks are used to transport waste oil from ship to the oil station.OTHER INFORMATION: All information about "Harbour Regulations" and "International Oil Tanker and Terminal Safety Guide" given to Master after berthing. The main engines of all vessels while at the berth shall be kept ready for immediate use. Fire Fighting Equipment must be adequately manned for fire-fighting and vacating the berth in case of an emergency.BERTHING: Four loading berths available.
BERTH NO:MAX. SIZE(dwt)DEPTH (m.)MAX. LOA (m.)MAX LOADING RATE Cu.m.p.h.LOADING ARMS1 (Outer East)300.00021.6035515.0004x 20 in2 (Outer West)300.00021.6035515.0004x 20 in3 (Inner East)150.00016.703008.5004x16 in4 (Inner West)150.00016.703008.5004x16 inLOADING: Two grades of oil are loaded in BOTAS;1-Kirkuk blend Crude Oil (API 36.95-35.98 and temp. 80F-105F)2-Basrah Light Crude Oil (API 34.97-33.05 and temp. 80F-150F)Loading rates requested by the vessel or quoted by the terminal will be the peak or max.rate at any time during the loading period.B-DORTYOL BOTAS TERMINALOPERATED BY: Botas Petroleum Pipeline CorporationADDRESS: Botas Limani, P.O.Box 73, 01944 Ceyhan-Adana, TurkeyTELEPHONE: (326) 744 55 77 / 4 linesFAX: (326) 744 55 84LOCATION: 36° 51' 42 N, 36° 08' 28" E (see Iskenderun Bay)PORT DESCRIPTION: in the Botas (Ceyhan) Terminal. All other items same as Botas Ceyhan Terminal.BERTHING: There is one berth for tankers. Vessels moor with anchors forward and lines aft.BALLAST: capacity max. 15.000 ton.
C- AYGAZ (CEYHAN) TERMINALOPERATED BY: AYGAZ A.S.TELEFONE: (326) 734 16 01 / 2 linesFAX: (326) 734 16 03LOCATION: 36° 45' 05" N, 36° 10' 10" E (see Iskenderun Bay)PORT DESCRIPTION: Aygaz terminal is operated under Authority Botas.BERTHING: There are 2 berths. Each berth consists of 2 buoys aft. Ships use both anchors from their bow.Outher Berth; max. 80.000 dwt. For LPG.Inner Berth; max.8.000 dwt. For LPG.
D- MILANGAZ (DORTYOL) TERMINALOPERATED BY: MILANGAZ TIC. VE SAN. A.S.TELEFONE: (326) 734 25 45FAX: (326) 734 25 53LOCATION: 36° 50' 04" N, 36° 09' 36" E (see Iskenderun Bay)PORT DESCRIPTION: MILANGAZ terminal is operated under Authority Botas.BERTHING: There are 1 berth. Ships use both anchors from their bow.
E- BP GAZ (DORTYOL) TERMINALOPERATED BY: BP GAZ A.S.TELEFONE: (326) 734 27 67FAX: (326) 734 27 81LOCATION: 36° 50' 04" N, 36° 09' 36" E (see Iskenderun Bay)PORT DESCRIPTION: BP Gaz terminal is operated under Authority Botas.BERTHING: Ships use both anchors from their bow.
F-BAYRAKTAR TERMINALOPERATED BY: Botas Petroleum Pipeline CorporationLOCATION: 36° 54' 24 N, 35° 58' 18" E (see Iskenderun Bay)PORT DESCRIPTION: in the Botas (Ceyhan) Terminal. The terminal is under construction.
DOCUMENTS AND GENERAL VIEWS: vessels are to call at Iskenderun for Saniatary, Custom and Imm½gration clearance after which they will sail to terminal; please see "A General View of Turkish Ports" in the ports of Turkey section.
EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Bashar Assad Win May Be Syria's 'Best Option' - Business Insider
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 14:10
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The sectarian bloodbath in Syria is such a threat to regional security that a victory for Bashar al-Assad's regime could be the best outcome to hope for, a former CIA chief said.Washington condemned Assad's conduct of the conflict, threatened air strikes after he was accused of targeting civilians with chemical weapons and has demanded he step down.
The United States is also supplying millions of dollars in "non-lethal" aid to some of the rebel groups fighting Assad's rule.
But Michael Hayden, the retired US Air Force general who until 2009 was head of the Central Intelligence Agency, said a rebel win was not one of the three possible outcomes he foresees for the conflict.
"Option three is Assad wins," Hayden told the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts.
"And I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I'm kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes," he said.
The first possible outcome he cited was for ongoing conflict between ever more extreme Sunni and Shiite factions.
The rebel groups are dominated by Sunni Muslims, while Assad is generally backed by Syria's Alawite, Shiite and Christian minorities.
And the second outcome, which Hayden deemed the most likely, was the "dissolution of Syria" and the end of a single state within the borders defined by a 1916 treaty between the French and British empires.
"It means the end of the Sykes-Picot (Agreement), it sets in motion the dissolution of all the artificial states created after World War I," he said.
The British diplomat Mark Sykes and a French counterpart Francois Georges Picot divided the Middle East into zones of influence that later served as the frontiers of independent Arab states.
A breakdown in the century-old settlement could spread chaos in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, Hayden warned.
"I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot," Hayden said.
"And now we have a new ungoverned space, at the crossroads of the civilization.
"The dominant story going on in Syria is a Sunni fundamentalist takeover of a significant part of the Middle East geography, the explosion of the Syrian state and of the Levant as we know it."
Fighting erupted in Syria in early 2011, when Assad launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests and has since evolved into a full-blown civil war that has claimed an estimated 126,000 lives.
Assad, backed by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, is locked in combat with a diverse group of Sunni rebel factions which are increasingly dominated by hardline jihadist groups.
Kurds seize disputed Kirkuk oil hub amid Iraq chaos
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:29
KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) -- After a decades-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds over the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, it took just an hour and a half for its fate to be decided.As al-Qaida-inspired militants advanced across northern Iraq and security forces melted away, Kurdish fighters who have long dominated Kirkuk ordered Iraqi troops out and seized full control of the regional oil hub and surrounding areas, according to a mid-ranking Army officer. He said he was told to surrender his weapons and leave his base.His account was corroborated by an Arab tribal sheik and a photographer who witnessed the looting of army bases after troops left and who related similar accounts of the takeover from relatives in the army. All three spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution from Kurdish forces."They said they would defend Kirkuk from the Islamic State," said the Arab officer, who oversaw a warehouse in the city's central military base. He asked that his rank not be made public.He insisted the Iraqi troops had not planned to retreat before the Islamic state. "We were ready to battle to death. We were completely ready," he said at a roadside rest house just inside the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.The Kurdish takeover of the long-disputed city came days after the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Sunni militants seized much of the country's second largest city of Mosul and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit before driving south toward Baghdad. Their lightning advance has plunged the country into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.A spokesman for Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, said they had only moved in after Iraqi troops retreated, assuming control of the "majority of the Kurdistan region" outside the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government."Peshmerga forces have helped Iraqi soldiers and military leaders when they abandoned their positions," including by helping three generals to fly back to Baghdad from the Kurdish regional capital Erbil, Lieutenant General Jabbar Yawar said in a statement on the regional government's website.A lawmaker from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led bloc condemned the peshmerga's move, calling it a "plot" carried out in coordination with the regional government that would "lead to problems.""The Kurds have taken advantage of the current situation. They seized Kirkuk and they have other plans to swallow other areas," Mohammed Sadoun told The Associated Press.Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area. Kurds have long wanted to incorporate it into their self-ruled region, but Arabs and Turkmen are opposed.In the 1970s and 1980s the Arab-dominated government in Baghdad drove hundreds of thousands of Kurds out of Kirkuk and surrounding regions, settling Arabs from the south in their place in an attempt to pacify a region that had seen repeated revolts.During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 the highly disciplined peshmerga swept down from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and established a strong presence in a belt of largely Kurdish towns and villages stretching south toward Baghdad.But the disintegration of Iraqi forces this week seems to have led the peshmerga to assume full control in areas they have long coveted, further enhancing their autonomy from Baghdad and undermining hard-fought U.S. efforts to bring about a stable, multiethnic Iraq."To a great extent Kurdish forces had been de facto in control of Kirkuk for some time, but now they're completely in control," said F. Gregory Gause, III, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.He said it was unlikely the Kurds would seek formal independence from Iraq, however, because such a move would be strongly opposed by neighboring Turkey and Iran -- both of which have sizable Kurdish minorities -- as well as Washington.Concerned about the rapid advance of the Islamic militants, the peshmerga in Kirkuk may have initially offered to conduct joint patrols and then changed their mind, doubting the reliability of their Arab counterparts."We greeted them and offered them our hospitality. They told us they wanted to do joint patrols," the Army officer said. "And then they said give us everything: the keys (to the warehouses), the weapons, and go home. It took them one and half hours."An Arab sheik whose relatives are in the military said they described the same scene to him."They said whoever resists the order will be dealt with," the officer said. He said he initially refused to hand over the keys to his warehouse and called his commander, who was elsewhere in Kirkuk, for instructions."He said: `Surrender. Your situation is the same as everybody else's situation.'"He and the tribal sheik said they then watched as peshmerga forces looted the base, seizing weapons and driving U.S.-supplied Humvees toward Erbil. At some point, either the peshmerga or other looters set fire to some of the base's buildings, they said."They did it without any shame, before everybody's eyes," said the tribal elder. He and the officer said they believed at least 50 vehicles were taken.Similar events transpired in the disputed town of Tuz Khormato, 55 miles (88 kilometers) to the south, said an Arab photographer who witnessed the events, and whose cousin was one of the men who surrendered. There, peshmerga forces set ablaze one police station, but left two standing, he said.The military official from Kirkuk allowed that the peshmerga would likely be more successful than the army at defending the city from the Islamic state, but worried that ethnic tensions would grow as thousands of soldiers found themselves without work.He said he also grieved the loss of the base, which had been rebuilt at a cost of "millions of dollars" under U.S. supervision in 2005 and "purchased with the blood of all Iraqis."He said the base had been looted and torched in previous bouts of chaos in Iraq, during the 1991 Gulf war, an uprising against Saddam Hussein and after the U.S.-led 2003 invasion."I guess this happens every 10 years or so. Come again in 2024 and you can watch it happen again."---Hadid reported from Erbil province, Iraq. Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Joseph Krauss in Cairo contributed to this report.
Iraqi Kurdish forces take oil city Kirkuk, repel Islamic militants.
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:18
Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk on Thursday.
Government troops had earlier fled the city after clashes with insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL.)
Peshmerga fighters, who are the security forces in the autonomous Kurdish north, fought off the insurgents who were trying to take control of the outskirts of the city.
A police source said 10 militants were killed and six policemen wounded by sniper fire.
Iraqi Kurds were driven out of Kirkuk under Saddam Hussein and replaced with settlers from the south under a programme of 'Arabisation.'
They view the city as their historic capital and have long wanted it to be part of their autonomous region in the north.
Orthodox Priests's Prophecies
All the happenings with Russia/Syria/etc fall in line with many Orthodox Saints' prophecies. They have said that prior to the 3rd world war, Turkey will occupy most of Greece. Russia will step in and defend Greece - this will result in defeat of Turkey. Turkey will be split into three with Greece gaining back not only its recently occupied parts, but also what was known as Asia Minor (now Turkey). Turkey will cease to exist.
Forum Thread
In the beginning Turkey will take 6 miles of land inside the Ellenic
territory. However, this won't last long cause Russia will engage the
war. Together Ellas and Russia will capture Constantinople (named
Istanbul in Turkish) and Turkey will be defeated.
But this will result, the descedants of the Catholics that captured
Constantinople on the 13th of April of 1204 to fight against Russia.
This will result the beginning of the WW3 (it will happen in 2014).
Ellas won't fight this war at all! Before the war begins Russia will
have conquer all the land until Israel including it. Then the west will
fight back and the war will happen in the territory of the Byzantine 's
Empire. Half of the US forces along with Germany, GB and more countries
will attack Russia from the west, while Japan and the other half of the
US forces will attack from the east. The war will be devastating and as a
saint mentions "The war will have seven hundred millions(700,000,000)
of dead man in three(3) days"! Apocalypse of John mentions about this
war and as it says that it will last 42 months.
Finally, we reach 2017 when the war will end having no winner, as the
prophecies say. At that time the only thing that prophecies say is that
Constantinople, Pontos and Ionia will be belong once again to Ellas.
Turkey will be split in three, one part will go to Ellas, one will go to
Armenia and one to Kourdistan. One third of the Turkish populace will
die on this war, the other one third (who has Ellenic roots) will become
Orthodox Christians and the other one third will go back to Mongolia.
Turkey replaces more than 2,500 judges and prosecutors in latest mass purge
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:29
The government has replaced more than 2,500 judges and prosecutors, in its latest mass purge in the police and judiciary.
The Turkish government has replaced more than 2,500 judges and prosecutors, in its latest mass purge in the police and judiciary.A decree replacing 2,224 judicial officers and 293 administrative officers employed in the judicial bodies was released by the 1st Chamber of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) late June 11. ''The 2014 Judicial Justice Summer Decree'' included hundreds of chief prosecutors, chiefs of heavy penal courts, judges and prosecutors. It assigned new deputy chief prosecutors to the capital Ankara and Turkey's largest city Istanbul, while replacing chief prosecutors in a number of provinces around the country, including Balıkesir, Bursa, ‡anakkale, Elazığ, Erzincan, Eskişehir, Hatay, Trabzon and Van.
Both in terms of quantity and quality, the decree is considered as the most serious blow by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against what it calls the ''parallel state.''
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan alleges that the ''parallel state'' orchestrated the Dec. 17 and the Dec. 25 of 2013 corruption investigations - which ensnared the sons of three former ministers and businesspeople known to be close to the government - in order to unseat him and his government. The AKP has responded with a series of huge counter-reaction of purges and replacements, particularly in the judiciary and the police, where G¼len's followers are believed to be prominent, as it aimed to contain the damage.
Hours before the release of the latest decree, Teoman G¶k§e, member of the 1st Chamber of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the highest judicial body of the country that has become the center of focus for the government's moves against the G¼len movement, announced his resignation from membership of the 1st Chamber.
Throughout a process that began after a meeting in January, during which members of the 1st Chamber were replaced upon an initiative by the justice minister, four separate decrees have been released, G¶k§e noted in a written statement.
These decrees included assignments that were in violation of the independence of the judiciary, he added.
''I have to express with sadness that with the 2014 Summer Decree, debates on which were finalized June 11, and which will go down in Turkish judicial history as 'The Decree of Injustice,' assignments similar to the ones in the decrees following Jan. 16 have been carried out. However, these [June 11] assignments are more unlawful, more unprincipled and more inconsistent [than the earlier ones],'' G¶k§e said.
''I have received no text concerning the resignation. I heard about it from reports and I don't know if they [the reports] are true or not,'' Bozdağ said on June 12, when asked about the resignation and G¶k§e's criticism of the replacements.
Turkey sides with Kurdish government in oil export case
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:54
ANKARA, Turkey, June 12 (UPI) --A Turkish energy official said Thursday any sale of oil from the semiautonomous Kurdish north of Iraq would get consent from international arbiters.United Emblem, the latest tanker to leave the Turkish port of Ceyhan loaded with Kurdish oil, was heading west Thursday toward Sicily. United Leadership, which left the Turkish port in May, is parked off the coast of Morocco.
The Iraqi government filed a case against the semiautonomous Kurdish government over the exports, arguing the Kurds had violated the national constitution.
A senior official in the Turkish Energy Ministry told Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah the Iraqi central government may lose the case. Ankara is "pretty sure" the courts would rule against Baghdad, he said.
The Kurdistan Regional Government last week issued a statement saying its oil policies were "fully in line with the federal constitution of Iraq."
Washington said it sided with the central government in Baghdad in the case. No sales, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said, can move forward without the federal government's consent.
(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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Ministry of Truth
IRS: Lois Lerner's Emails to Outside Agencies Are Gone
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 14:53
House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp revealed today that he has been informed by the IRS that Lois Lerner's emails between Jan. 2009 and April 2011 have been lost "due to a supposed computer crash." The IRS says the crash destroyed all of Lerner's emails to outside agencies such as, for instance, the White House. Emails sent within the IRS are unaffected.
Camp said of the revelation, "The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS's response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General."
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany questioned the timing of the news, "In the course of the Committee's investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. Only now - thirteen months into the investigation - the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost. And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon. In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"
Boustany is referring to an interview President Obama gave to Bill O'Reilly prior to the Superbowl in which the President claimed there was not even "a smidgen" of corruption at the IRS. According to the IG report issued last year, the IRS did improperly target conservative groups beginning in early 2010 and held up 501(c)(4) applications for the groups in question until May of 2012.
Lerner, who ran the IRS' exempt organizations division, asserted her 5th amendment right not to testify about the situation last year. The House committee decided she had effectively waived her right by giving a statement proclaiming her innocence and, after she once again refused to testify, voted in May to hold her in contempt. Lerner retired from her position at the IRS last year.
IRS lost two years of Lois Lerner's email in Tea Party Probe, blames computer crash
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:30
WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) --The Internal Revenue Service told Congress Friday that is has lost more than two years worth of emails, dating from 2009-2011, between former employee Lois G. Lerner--who resigned over her role in the recent scandal that found the IRS accused of targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups--and both other IRS employees and outside organizations.The agency is attributing the loss of the correspondence to a computer crash.
Ms. Lerner ran a division of the IRS accused of unfairly scrutinizing conservative groups' applications for tax exempt status. She retired last year as a result of the scandal.
Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said, "The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS's response to congressional inquiries."
"There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General," Camp added.
The House Ways and Means Committee had been heading up a Congressional Investigation of the IRS targeting scandal and recently voted to find Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify under oath.
For the IRS's part, the agency is claiming it's gone out of its way to retrieve the emails in question.
"The IRS has made unprecedented efforts in connection with this effort, producing more than 750,000 pages of documents to help complete the investigations. In total, the IRS's efforts to respond to Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million," reads a statement released by the agency.
But despite the tens of thousands emails the IRS has been able to collect, mostly by scouring the computers of 83 other employees according to the agency, Camp's office insists that there are thousands of emails still missing, mostly between Lerner and outside agencies, "such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices."
According to the IRS, the computer crash in question occurred in 2011, prior to the the targeting scandal coming to light, and though Lerner attempted to have the hard drive in questions salvaged, IT staff were unable to recover the data because sectors of the drive had gone bad.
"Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies," Mr. Camp said. "Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone."
Rep Steve Stockman asks NSA for Lois Lerner metadata after IRS claims 'glitch' erased all incriminating emails - Opinion - Houston Community Newspapers
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 14:48
Posted 17 hours ago
WASHINGTON, D.C. '' Congressman Steve Stockman Friday asked the National Security Agency to turn over all its metadata on the email accounts of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations division director Lois Lerner for the period between January 2009 and April 2011.
The request comes just hours after the IRS claimed it ''lost'' all of Lerner's emails to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups during that period, in which she allegedly coordinated with the White House, House Democrats and political groups to harass and deny tax-exempt status to groups critical of the President. The IRS blames a ''computer glitch'' for erasing the emails which could have implicated Agency employees in illegal activity.
''I have asked NSA Director Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner's email accounts for the period which the House sought records,'' said Stockman. ''The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.''
''The claim incriminating communications were erased by a glitch conjures memories of Rose Mary Woods,'' said Stockman. ''Barack Obama has brought us Jimmy Carter's economy and Richard Nixon's excuses.''
The text of the letter follows:
June 13, 2014
Admiral Michael S. Rogers
Director, National Security Agency
Fort Meade, MD 20755
Admiral Rogers:
First, thank you for your 33 years of, and continued service to, our country.
Second, as you probably read, the Internal Revenue Service informed the House Ways and Means Committee today they claim to ''lost'' all emails from former Exempt Organizations division director Lois Lerner for the period between January 2009 and April 2011.
According to chairman Camp, ''The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices'' due to a ''computer glitch.''
I am writing to request the Agency produce all metadata it has collected on all of Ms. Lerner's email accounts for the period between January 2009 and April 2011.
The data may be transmitted to our Communications Director at
Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment.
Warmest wishes,
Member of Congress
IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails | House Committee on Ways & Means
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 02:20
Washington, DC '' Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 '' April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.''The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS's response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.
''Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. It appears now that was an empty promise. Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone. This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.''
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) added, "In the course of the Committee's investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. Only now - thirteen months into the investigation - the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost. And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon. In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"
SarBox Extracts
Maintaining a full audit trail and complete logging with respect to activity, changes, access, and upload / downloadDeveloping and implementing password rotation and encryption key forwarding customized to SOX specific rules, ensuring only the appropriate customer personnel have access to backed up informationRecord Alteration or Destruction: Section 802(a)Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both
Q: What are the penalties for non-compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley?A: Besides lawsuits and negative publicity, a corporate officer who does not comply or submits an inaccurate certification is subject to a fine up to $1 million and ten years in prison, even if done mistakenly. If a wrong certification was submitted purposely, the fine can be up to $5 million and twenty years in prison.
Sarbanes Oxley Act PENALTIES
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 14:57
Sarbanes Oxley ActThe Sarbanes''Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub.L. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745, enacted July 30, 2002), also known as the 'Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act' (in the Senate) and 'Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act' (in the House) commonly called Sarbanes''Oxley or SOX, is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002, which set new and enhanced standards for all U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms.
The bill was enacted as a reaction to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems, and WorldCom. These scandals, which cost investors billions of dollars when the share prices of affected companies collapsed, shook public confidence in the nation's securities markets.
The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002 legislates the duration and method in which financial companies must store records. SOX safeguards against accounting errors and financial fraud. SOX specifically states that records, including email, instant messages, and other data files must be saved for at least "no less than seven years". This allows financial regulators to easily audit transactions and email communications.
Sarbanes Oxley on data retention and information security:The act contains 11 titles, or sections, ranging from additional corporate board responsibilities to criminal penalties, and requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement rulings on requirements to comply with the new law. The titles also describe specific mandates and requirements for financial reporting. Title 11, summarized below, pertains to data management, backup, and recovery:
Length of Record Retention:The Board shall (1) register public accounting firms; (2) establish, or adopt, by rule, "auditing, quality control, ethics, independence, and other standards relating to the preparation of audit reports for issuers;" "The Board requires registered public accounting firms to "prepare, and maintain for a period of not less than seven years, audit work papers, and other information related to any audit report, in sufficient detail to support the conclusions reached in such report."
Any accountant who conducts an audit of an issuer of securities to which section 10A(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C 78j-1(a)) applies, shall maintain all audit or review work papers for a period of 5 years from the end of the fiscal period in which the audit or review was concluded.
OffsiteDataSync Ensures Compliance By:
Providing full daily generations as well as weekly, monthly, and annual archive snapshotsEnabling 'legal hold' if and when necessaryType of Business Records and Electronic Communications Requiring Storage: Sec. 802(a)(2)The Securities and Exchange Commission shall promulgate, within 180 days, such rules and regulations are as reasonably necessary, relating to the retention of relevant records such as work papers, documents that form the basis of an audit or review, memoranda, correspondence, communications, other documents, and records (including electronic records) which are created, sent, or received in connection with an audit or review, and contain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data relating to such an audit or review.
OffsiteDataSync Ensures Compliance By:
Utilizing true Continuous Data Protection (CDP) to ensure ALL correspondence and communications as well as files and other records are captured instantlyEnabling 'legal hold' if and when necessary.Production of Records: Section 105(b)(2)(B)Requires the production of audit work papers and any other document or information in the possession of a registered public accounting firm, or any associated person thereof, wherever domiciled, that the Board considers relevant or material to the investigation, and may inspect the books and records of such firm or associated person to verify the accuracy of any documents, or information supplied.
OffsiteDataSync Ensures Compliance By:
Offering SOX-compliant retention policy; we retain legal counsel to ensure our retention policies for publicly traded financial institutions are SOX compliant. We employ the technical expertise to successfully apply these policies, and mitigate the risk of non-complianceEnabling dynamic search, download, and instant access to all generations of data to meet the needs of any and all requests by a Board of Directors as necessaryRetention of Complaints: Section 301(4) (A)The receipt, retention, and treatment of complaints received by the issuer regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters.
OffsiteDataSync Ensures Compliance By:
Providing full daily generations as well as weekly, monthly, and annual archive snapshotsInternal Controls: Section 404(a) (1)State the responsibility of management for establishing and maintaining an adequate internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting.
OffsiteDataSync Ensures Compliance By:
Maintaining a full audit trail and complete logging with respect to activity, changes, access, and upload / downloadDeveloping and implementing password rotation and encryption key forwarding customized to SOX specific rules, ensuring only the appropriate customer personnel have access to backed up informationRecord Alteration or Destruction: Section 802(a)Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both
OffsiteDataSync Ensures Compliance By:
Providing certified data destruction certificates with several overwrite methodsWriting and enforcing a SOX-compliant retention policy '' limiting liability for organizations to the timeframes outlined by the Sarbanes Oxley Act.Sarbanes Oxley Questions & Answers:Q: What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002?A: Effective in 2004, all public companies will be required (for the first time) to submit an annual assessment of the effectiveness of their internal financial auditing controls to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Additionally, each company's external auditors are required to audit, and report on the internal control reports of management, in addition to the company's financial statements.
Q: Why was the Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed?A: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known as SOX, was passed due to the accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Tyco and Arthur Andersen, that resulted in billions of dollars in corporate and investor losses. These huge losses negatively impacted the financial markets and general investor trust. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates a wide-sweeping accounting framework for all public companies doing business in the US.
Q: What companies need to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley?A: All publicly-traded companies in the United States, including all wholly-owned subsidiaries, and all publicly-traded non-US companies doing business in the US are affected. In addition, any private companies that are preparing for their initial public offering (IPO) may also need to comply with certain provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley.
Q: What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act comprised of?A: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act itself is organized into eleven sections, but sections 302, 404, 401, 409, 802, and 906 are the most important in terms of compliance. Section 404 seems to cause the most difficulties for compliance. More specifically, Sarbanes-Oxley established new accountability standards for corporate boards and auditors, established a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) under the Security and exchange Commission (SEC), and specified civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.
Q: What does Sarbanes-Oxley compliance require and what are the Sarbanes Oxley retention requirements?A: All applicable companies must establish a financial accounting framework that can generate financial reports that are readily verifiable with traceable source data. This source data must remain intact and cannot undergo undocumented revisions. In addition, any revisions to financial or accounting software must be fully documented as to what was changed, why, by whom, and when.
Q: Does our company have to store data offsite to be Sarbanes Oxley compliant?A: The Sarbanes Oxley Act states that companies must "...maintain all audit or review work papers for a period of 5 years." It does not indicate that this storage must reside offsite however most companies realize that compliance with article 404 of SOX is fully encompassed with the solution provided by OffsiteDataSync.
Q: Why use an offsite data storage company like OffsiteDataSyncIf your data retention solution is compromised or unable to meet "an unaltered 5-year archive period" you are non-compliant and corporate officers are open to litigation, and financial penalties as noted below. OffsiteDataSync offers simple, easy and affordable coverage for complete and automated Sarbanes Oxley Compliance.
Q: What are the penalties for non-compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley?A: Besides lawsuits and negative publicity, a corporate officer who does not comply or submits an inaccurate certification is subject to a fine up to $1 million and ten years in prison, even if done mistakenly. If a wrong certification was submitted purposely, the fine can be up to $5 million and twenty years in prison.
Q: How does OffsiteDataSync help your organization comply with Sarbanes Oxley as it pertains to the storage, traceability, and retrieval of digital information?A: Sarbanes Oxley requires organizations to have adequate internal control structures and procedures for financial reporting as well as maintaining all audit, or review work papers for a period of 5 years. Companies are prohibited from altering, destroying, mutilating, concealing, covering up, or falsifying records. Accordingly, OffsiteDataSync's data retention service provides an auditable and traceable process for managing digital records stored on tape media.
3 Point Email Overview of Sarbanes Oxley Act
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 14:55
3 Point Email Overview of Sarbanes Oxley ActThe Sarbanes Oxley Act became law in 2002 and irrevocably changed the way files should be stored by businesses. The act was seen as a direct response to the financial mismanagement of companies like Enron. It sets down strict rules for how important documents should be managed and put serious consequences in place for companies who fail to comply.
The act is designed to ensure that all important documents are handled with the appropriate care and that all decisions and documents are traceable within a companies file management structure. There are three sections that are particularly relevant to email retention and email archiving.
1. Section 802(a)(2)
This section is basically an overview of Sarbanes Oxley act relevant documents. The key point we're looking at is its reference to 'electronic records'. As email is such an important corporate record these days, email retention falls under this description and is therefore subject the other rules contained within the act.
2. Section 802(a)(1)
This section outlines the time period that documents need to be retained under Sarbanes Oxley. The retention period is set at 5 years from the end of the fiscal period. As email can falls within the acts definition of important documents, your email retention strategy should allow for email records to be held for 5 years. This makes an email archiving solution far more viable solution to standard email records, because it has so much more scope for long-term email retention.
3. Section 802 (a)
Whenever you read an overview of Sarbanes Oxley, there are two things that are always mentioned. One is Enron; the other is potential punishment. Section 802(a) states the punishment for knowingly altering, falsifying or destroying documents as 'fined, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.' The reason you always hear about the punishment is because it is so severe. To avoid it, you need to ensure you have a secure and reliable email retention policy, ideally involving an email archiving solution.
There isn't enough room here to go through a full overview of Sarbanes Oxley's other sections and how they relate to document retention. But these three rules do break down how important email is in Sarbanes Oxley and how important Sarbanes Oxley is when it comes to email retention.
Download our white paper "Email Archiving for the Financial Sector" now.
B1 vs F35
Email from Producer Oscar Z accompanies 3 clips
Dear Adam and John
Long time Bonner first time donor. What finally got me to donate was your discussion of the B1 friendly fire strike on US troops in Afghanistan and your analysis that this was connected to the retirement of the A-10. As a self proclaimed history and military buff since a young age I would like to point out the real reason for the retirement of the US only purpose built ground attack and support aircraft. To pay for the huge price is to pay for that piece of junk F35. I have included a link to a interview with PIERRE SPREY the designer of the A10 and F15. Two planes that are beloved by pilots and ground troops a like for there ground attack roles. In particular in the case of the A10 the last gun fighter with a 30mm anti tank vulcan cannon for ground attack. Both planes are universally loathed by the the Air force brass as the air force hates to run ground attack missions as it makes them feel subservient to the Army\Marines and would rather fight is own war using height altitude strategic bombing. I do wounder why the Pentagon made a point of blaming the friendly fire incident on such a air craft like the B1 strategic bomber. That is wholly inadequate for the ground attack roles.
In the interview PIERRE SPREY points out the F35 cant turn, can't climb, is totally useless as a ground attack plane and stealth tech in general is totally bogus tech as low frequency long wavelength radar from ww2 can easy detect it. To bad the Russians have been developing this since ww2 and have sold such radars to china and Iran. Case in point the shutdown of the F117 stealth fighter in Serbia in 1990.
Thank you for you media assassination.
PS more Al Sharpton clips as they prove that a dyslexic speed reader like my self could one day host their own show on MSNBC.
F-Russia / Ukraine / Syria
Gazprom threatens to stop gas deliveries to Ukraine
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:55
Russian gas exporter Gazprom will halt supplies to Ukraine if it fails to pay off part of its gas debts by Monday, chief executive Alexei Miller said yesterday (12 June), raising fears of gas flow disruptions to Europe.
Miller said that if Ukraine failed to pay $1.95 billion ('‚¬1.44 billion) to Gazprom it would start requiring Kyiv to pay in advance for further shipments, and that if it did not receive any money at all, it would cut off supplies.
A dispute over gas prices is central to Russia's crisis in relations with Ukraine, which has led to the worst standoff with the West since the end of the Cold War.
No agreement has been reached in several rounds of talks brokered by the European Commission. As the latest talks hit an impasse, Gazprom set 16 June as the deadline for Ukraine to pay off part of its debt.
>> Read: Ukraine energy minister: Russia blocks gas price talks to promote South Stream
"If Ukraine pays for no [gas] volumes at all, it means that [...] gas shipments to Ukraine will be zero," Miller said in televised comments.
Moscow says Ukraine has piled up more than $4 billion in debts to Gazprom, which also delivers gas to the EU, half of it through pipelines that cross Ukraine.
Russia almost doubled the gas price for Ukraine to $485 per 1,000 cubic metres from April 1 after Ukraine's Moscow-leaning president was toppled in February.
Ukraine wants Moscow to stick to the price of $268.5 agreed for Kyiv at the end of last year after ousted President Viktor Yanukovich ditched plans to forge closer ties with the EU.
Moscow has offered to cut the price to $385, by eliminating an export duty of $100 per 1,000 cubic metres. This would be in line with the last year's average price for Russian gas in Europe of $387.
Other routes
Russia supplied the EU and Turkey with 162 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas last year, a record high, meeting around a third of Europe's gas demand. Around half of that went through Ukraine.
Russia's gas supplies to Europe, through Ukraine, were interrupted during the winters of 2006 and 2009, because of pricing spats with Kyiv.
Miller said on Thursday that Gazprom might boost gas supplies to Europe via other routes, including the Nord Stream pipeline through the Baltic Sea.
"We will do everything to provide uninterrupted gas supplies to European consumers," he said.
However, Russia's ability to ship gas via Nord Stream is limited because of EU regulations, which require third-parties to also be given access to pipelines.
Russia built Nord Stream, with a capacity of 55 bcm a year, to bypass transit countries such as Ukraine. It plans to build a South Stream pipeline on the bed of the Black Sea, to Bulgaria, and further up to Austria.
The European Commission has asked Sofia to suspend work on South Stream pending a decision on whether the project complies with EU law. Separately, Washington has warned that Bulgarian companies working on the project could be hit by sanctions.
>> Read: Bulgaria's government to collapse over South Stream
Miller said Bulgaria had not notified Gazprom of any suspension of work on construction of the South Stream still under way.
On 8 June, Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said his cabinet was stopping construction until Brussels lifted its objections to the project. At the G7 summit, Commission President Jos(C) Manuel Barroso made it plain that the EU's executive had launched an infringement procedure against Bulgaria for non-compliance with European rules on energy competition public procurements.
But yesterday, Mihail Mikov, the speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, said that no decision to stop the construction of South Stream has been adopted. Mikov added that the earlier statements by Oresharski were ''misunderstood''.
EU energy ministers meet in Luxembourg today to discuss the energy strategy proposed by the Commission aimed at reducing energy dependence on Russia. The 26-27 June EU summit will decide on measures to reduce the bloc's energy dependence from Russia that may include freezing the South Stream project until it is brought in line with EU legislation and the new strategy.
Russian Bombers Fly Within 50 Miles of California Coast | Washington Free Beacon
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 07:15
U.S. F-22, F-15 jets intercept four Bear H bombers near Alaska, Northern California
Russian TU-95 Bear H / AP
BY:Bill GertzJune 11, 2014 7:15 pm
Four Russian strategic bombers triggered U.S. air defense systems while conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska this week, with two of the Tu-95 Bear H aircraft coming within 50 miles of the California coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) confirmed Wednesday.
''The last time we saw anything similar was two years ago on the Fourth of July,'' Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Norad spokesman, told the Free Beacon.
Davis said the latest Bear H incursions began Monday around 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when radar detected the four turbo-prop powered bombers approaching the U.S. air defense zone near the far western Aleutian Islands.
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians.
After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East. The bombers are believed to be based at the Russian strategic base near Anadyr, Russia.
The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 P.M. entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.
Two U.S. F-15 jets were deployed and intercepted the bombers as they eventually flew within 50 miles of the coast before turning around and heading west.
A defense official said the four bombers also were supported by two IL-78 aerial refueling tankers that were used for mid-air refueling during the operation this week.
The Tu-95 is a long-range strike aircraft capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles. Other versions are equipped with intelligence-gathering sensors and electronic warfare gear. It has a range of around 9,400 miles without refueling.
Davis said the aircraft ''acted professionally'' and the bombers appeared to be conducting a training mission.
''They typically do long range aviation training in the summer and it is not unusual for them to be more active during this time,'' he said. ''We assess this was part of training. And they did not enter territorial airspace.''
The bomber incursion is the latest Russian nuclear saber-rattling amid stepped up tensions over Moscow's military annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the Russian flights ''intentional provocations.''
''Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense,'' Conaway said in an interview. ''Truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals.''
''It's a provocation and it's unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin's] macho kind of saber-rattling,'' he said, adding that he expects Russia will carry out more of these kinds of incidents in the future.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said he does not remember a case of Russian strategic bombers coming that close to the U.S. coast.
''Again we see the Obama administration through their covert'--but overt to Mr. Putin'--unilateral disarmament, inviting adventurism by the Russians,'' McInerney said in an email.
''At the height of the Cold War I do not remember them getting this close. Mr. Putin had to approve this mission and he is just showing his personal contempt for President Obama right after meeting him in Normandy less than a week ago,'' McInerney said.
McInerney said no American president has been treated with such disrespect in U.S. history.
''A sad day indeed and at the same time Mosul and Tikrit [Iraq] fall to radical Islamists after the Obama administration's failed Iraq policy,'' he added. ''He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.''
The Alaska-California bombers flight also came a month after a Russian Su-27 interceptor jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.
In that incident on April 23, the Su-27 jet flew close to the RC-135, turned to reveal its air-to-air missiles to the crew, and then flew dangerously close to within 100 feet of the cockpit in a maneuver military officials called reckless.
Davis said in the past 10 years, 50 Bear H bombers were intercepted near U.S. air defense zone, although he acknowledged that Monday's flight near California was unusual.
In April, a telephone conversation between two Russian ambassadors was posted on YouTube and appeared to show the diplomats joking about the Ukraine crisis and discussing the possible incursions in the United States and Eastern Europe.
The leaked conversation between Igor Nilokaevich Chubarov and Sergey Viktorovich Bakharev, Russian ambassadors to the African nations Eritrea and Zimbabwe and Malawi, respectively, includes references to post-Crimea Russian imperialism to include Eastern Europe and ''Californialand'' and ''Miamiland.''
Russian Bear H flights elsewhere have increased in recent years.
In February 2013, two of the bombers were intercepted as they circled the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, in a rare long-range incursion.
Two Bear Hs also were intercepted near Alaska on April 28, 2013.
A Russian Bear H incursion in Asia took place in in July 2013 when two Tu-95s were intercepted by Japanese and South Korean jets near the Korean peninsula and Japan's northern Hokkaido Island.
The July 4, 2012, bomber flights near the West Coast were the first time since the Cold War that Russian jets has traveled so close to the U.S. coastline.
That action followed an earlier intrusion by Tu-95s near Alaska that were part of large-scale strategic nuclear exercises by the Russians aimed at practicing strikes on enemy air defenses.
Russia has stepped up provocative nuclear war games in recent years as part of propaganda efforts to display Moscow's dislike of U.S. missile defenses in Europe.
Filmmaker Admin Shill?
"In short, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the alleged ‘Coptic Christian’ who made the infamous Muhammad video that the Obama administration blamed the Benghazi attack on — well it turns out Nakoula is really a Muslim, not a Coptic Christian. And that’s been confirmed.
It also turns out that the official terms of Nakoula’s parole in 2009 was bogus, and that the administration used his parole as leverage to help him with their agenda: To create a climate for non-Muslim governments to enact laws that make criticism of Islam a criminal offense."
Walid Shoebat: Infamous 'Muhammad-video' filmmaker actually a Muslim agent for Obama admin >> The Right Scoop -
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 02:07
By The Right Scoop
I've been trying to get to this story for a couple of days now, but there are so many tentacles to it I've had trouble making the time to put it together.
In short, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the alleged 'Coptic Christian' who made the infamous Muhammad video that the Obama administration blamed the Benghazi attack on '-- well it turns out Nakoula is really a Muslim, not a Coptic Christian. And that's been confirmed.
It also turns out that the official terms of Nakoula's parole in 2009 was bogus, and that the administration used his parole as leverage to help him with their agenda: To create a climate for non-Muslim governments to enact laws that make criticism of Islam a criminal offense.
Sound far fetched? Well then I guess you haven't heard about the 'Istanbul Process' meetings Hillary went to in Turkey as Secretary of State that were designed to help facilitate the creation of a ''climate for non-Muslim governments to enact laws that make criticism of Islam a criminal offense.''
But before Nakoula could get the video finished, Benghazi happened and the administration quickly blamed it on that video.
One more compelling note: Nakoula called Walid on his private home number, a number he should have never been able to get through non-government channels, and asked Walid not to expose this. Seriously.
Walid Shoebat has done a lot of work to dig up the evidence for this article and, as always, he's quite thorough.
I encourage you to read Walid's full article on this before you discount the above as some conspiracy theory. Walid doesn't do conspiracy theories. He only goes where the evidence leads.
Click the image to read Walid's article:
About The Right ScoopBlogger extraordinaire since 2009 and the owner and Chief Blogging Officer of the most wonderful and super fantastic blog in the known and unknown universe: The Right Scoop
Bombshell: Benghazi Filmmaker CONFIRMED To Be An Agent Of Eric Holder Justice Department : Freedom Outpost
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:29
Editor's Note: Earlier this week, we brought you news about the producer of the film that was at the heart of the Obama administration talking points on Benghazi admitting to being a Muslim, not a Coptic Christian as he had been portrayed to America. Now Walid Shoebat, Ben Barrack and Keith Davies confirm he is an agent of Eric Holder's Justice Department.
The producer of the anti-Muhammad video the Obama administration blamed for the Benghazi attacks is actually a confirmed agent of Eric Holder's Justice Department.
The damning trail of evidence begins when a fictitious narrative was concocted by the FBI to lure the courts that Nakoula (the Filmmaker, aka Yousef) was supposed to help the FBI catch Eiad Salameh, his partner in crimes for many years. Yet, the deal was never fulfilled and Eiad was let go by the Feds in 2011 as revealed in a firsthand account never before reported, including a recorded conversation between Nakoula and in which the filmmaker defended Eiad, the very man he was supposed to help the FEDS catch!
Bolstering the case (aside from the Feds letting two criminals go) is how the filmmaker became an agent of Eric Holder. After Nakoula's arrest, there was a very curious development at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, which was handling his case through an Assistant U.S. Attorney who suddenly was pulled off the case and replaced by a full bird - Chief of the office's Criminal Division, Robert Dugdale.
Nakoula got high-profile attention.In an article that appeared in the Washington Times, Kerry Picket wrote:
What is curious, though, is the fact that the original Asst. U.S. Atty. Jennifer Williams, who helped prosecute Mr. Yousef's [Nakoula] bank fraud conviction, is not the attorney Mr. Yousef's lawyers would eventually deal with. Mr. Yousef's probation violation case, for no explained reason, was kicked up to Chief Criminal Division prosecutor Asst. U.S. Atty. Robert Dugdale. Dugdale is second in the chain of command below U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte of the Central District of California.
Picket was suspicious, she attempted to get answers from the office's spokesman, Thom Mrozek:
When I pointed out that AUSA Dugdale was not part of the team of attorneys who did prosecute Yousef's case and asked why the case was kicked up the chain to AUSA Dugdale, Mr. Mrozek responded, "I don't comment on staffing decisions."
The U.S. Attorney over Dugdale '' Andre Birotte, Jr. became the local caretaker of a very high profile and high stakes case the Obama administration wanted to control very closely and later was nominated by Obama to be U.S. District Judge for California's Central District.
Eiad Salameh, Nakoula's partner in crimes '' also beholden to the administration '' obtained special favors from doing the Justice Department's bidding. According to a report by The Smoking Gun just days after the Benghazi attacks, charges against Eiad (who has a proven rap sheet) were dropped in the same year that Canadian authorities picked him up:
It is unclear whether Salameh, whose whereabouts are unknown, has been charged in connection with the bank fraud. Salameh was named in a 2006 federal criminal complaint charging him with felony fraud. That complaint''filed under one of Salameh's many aliases''was dismissed last year by federal prosecutors. A court docket shows that no filings were made after the initial complaint, likely indicating that Salameh was never apprehended.
But the last sentence is incorrect; Salameh was apprehended.
Jeffrey Mason of the Canadian Peel Police picked Salameh up in January of 2011!
At that time, he should have been wanted in connection with both the 2006 and 2009 cases, assuming he was involved in the Nakoula bank fraud case. Yet, the 2006 case was dropped in either the same month Eiad was arrested or in the months that followed. has learned from one retired FBI agent that this doesn't just happen unless Eiad was providing the Feds with something in return for such treatment.
As has reported, a timeline provides further evidence that the Obama Administration was in cahoots with these figures in the summer of 2011, during the July-August time frame.
1.) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-chaired a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey with the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It was to be the first of several meetings that would become known as "The Istanbul Process". One of the objectives of the OIC has been and remains, to pressure non-Muslim countries to censor speech critical of Islam.
2.) Nakoula began casting for his video.
3.) Eiad Salameh was put on a plane back to Palestine by the Canadians after Eric Holder's FBI refused to have him extradited and charged.
Eiad was clearly on the hook with the U.S. Justice Department if his 2006 case was dismissed.
FBI's Benghazi InvestigationWhen UN Ambassador Susan Rice blamed Nakoula's video for the Benghazi attacks during her five Sunday talk show appearances on September 16, 2012, it served to anger the president of Libya, who shortly before Rice, had identified the attack as an act of terrorism. Last year, State Department whistle blower Gregory Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya at the time of the attacks, testified about this and said Rice's comments prevented the FBI from getting to the site of the attacks for weeks.
Here is Hicks giving his testimony while being questioned by the current chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC):
Based on the FBI's relationship with Nakoula and Eiad, the longer it took to get to the scene of the Benghazi attacks, the more compromised that scene would become. A compromised crime scene would have served to aid the perpetuation of the video narrative.
Hicks also testified that he was not interviewed by the FBI:
Silencing SkepticsIs it unusual for the U.S. Government to empower informants to engage in a massive scheme and criminal enterprise for the purpose of creating a political climate to help push an agenda? Hardly. In much the same way that the Obama State Department championed the "Istanbul Process" as a vehicle to assault the first amendment, a gunwalking operation was used to assault the second amendment.
In Operation Fast and Furious, multiple federal agencies worked together as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The stated purpose of the operation was to track guns that were being trafficked into Mexico, arrest the bad guys, and confiscate the guns. In reality, as has been clearly demonstrated, the actual purpose was to allow the guns to "walk" into Mexico and make their way into the hands of drug cartels after the ATF '' an arm of the Justice Department '' mandated U.S. gun store owners sell the guns to bad guys.
In 2011, ATF Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell was grilled by House Oversight Committee member, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) about the operation being an OCDETF case. Newell trapped himself in one of the most compelling moments of Fast and Furious hearings, beginning at the 3:00 mark:
The guns would be picked up at crime scenes and American gun store owners would be blamed in a blood libel (sound familiar?). The cover of that operation was blown after the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. An ATF whistle blower named John Dodson came forward and the scandal was exposed.
If blood libel and the collateral damage of innocent human lives in the interest of pushing an agenda like gun control was used to launch an assault on the second amendment, why would it be beyond plausibility to envision the same administration launching an assault on the first amendment using to create the climate for speech control?
Ironically '' and perhaps not so coincidentally '' the man in charge of the Criminal Division involved in both Fast and Furious and the post-Benghazi prosecution of Nakoula was Lanny Breuer.
Obama's Marxist RootsFrom Obama's Marxist Roots we can learn about the term agitprop which describes a tactic that is of Russian origin. It has three definitions one of which is "agitation and propaganda," promoted by "agitpropists," people who are trained or take part in such activities. Fast and Furious was clearly agitprop and it was also an OCDETF case, which meant it spread across an entire administration. Such was the anti-Muhammad video which also involved multiple administration agencies and departments. Barack Obama's Communist Party USA (CPUSA) mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, a man followed closely by a completely different FBI for 19 years. Davis wasn't just a CPUSA member; he was a Communist writer and propagandist; he was an'... "agitpropist."
In conclusion, cutting a deal with one criminal to help them catch another it didn't want brings legitimate questions about how Nakoula's case was handled by Holder's Criminal Division, where the possible monies obtained for the film, led at the time nationally by a figure whose claim to infamy is that he wound up as a central figure in the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal '' Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. Along with Holder, Breuer, Dugdale, Birotte should all be deposed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
So should Nakoula and Eiad.
The question should be: Why did the law enforcement bureau Holder led refuse to pick up Eiad when offered on a silver platter by Canadian authorities in 2011. What was the source of the monies spent on the movie? Why was Nakoula given a lesser prison sentence to help the FBI arrest someone it didn't want, thereby making the plea deal about something else?
In the days after the Benghazi attacks, Nakoula was arrested for violating the terms of his probation. Theoptics, coupled with the Obama administration's attempts to blame the video for the deaths, clearly communicated that he was being punished for producing a "crude and disgusting video" that was critical of Islam. Unfortunately, the outrage Nakoula's arrest generated in conservative circles actually played to the Obama administration's advantage creating a distraction from the devastating truth.
Based on this explosive development, enough probable cause exists to investigate whether or not Eiad was involved in financing Nakoula's video production. In this ABC News story filed just two days after the Benghazi attacks, it was revealed that the cost of the video was between $50,000 '' $60,000 financed by his family in Egypt.
Just two weeks after Benghazi, published a report about the claim by Nakoula that his "family" provided him with the funds to produce the video. As we wrote then, this "family" has not been located:
'...if an Egyptian by the name of Nakoula Bacile Nakoula is blamed for angering over a billion Muslims, it would not be that difficult to find the entire family in Egypt, to include brothers, cousins, aunts, siblings wife, wives, ex-wives, mistresses, and pets, et. al., especially since the riots that spanned across 30 nations were sparked in Egypt.
In the Middle East, you are known by your clan. Yet, Egypt cannot produce neither this man's family or his background?
Was Eiad the source of the $50,000 '' $60,000? The Feds clearly couldn't have their fingerprints on the money but two informants who were beholden to the Justice Department could. Is this why he wasn't taken into custody when the Canadians offered him up?
Providing even further evidence that Nakoula's video was about agitprop and blood libel are his initial claims about the source of his funding. According to the ABC News report above, Nakoula attempted to say the video cost $5 Million and was funded by a consortium of wealthy Jewish friends. This was clearly lie.
In a exclusive, we learned that Nakoula recently told one of the actresses in his video '' Cindy Lee Garcia '' that he is a Muslim after being confronted by Garcia. This claim is bolstered by the mere partnership of Nakoula and Eiad.
Eiad Salameh is a Muslim fundamentalist who hates Coptic Christians. If Nakoula was a Copt, why would Salameh partner with him? The answer is that Nakoula is a Muslim who used agitprop and blood libel as an agent of the Obama administration and its Justice Department.
*Ben Barrack and Keith Davies contributed to this article
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Space War$
Re: GPS Degradation During X Class Solar Flare
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:00
I was astounded at the flak I took for teaching myself basic celestial navigation when I was prepping for long range sailing. Coming from the defense industry, I know a bit about the vulnerabilities of the GPS system - excellent though it is. It's not not discussed much, and the controlled media have people believing that 'all is well', but more than once I've received a 'Notice to Mariners' of GPS problems, naval EW exercises off shore and etc. There are also unintentional jamming of GPS signals by cheep, commercial electronics, one case being approaches in Monterey Bay, California, eventually traced (by hams) to a TV antenna amplifier that have an SHF oscillation product blanketing the civilian GPS band. There are more, if you search them out.Fred Rebel - Sailed from Australia to the USA using a VERY fine - home made sextant, long before electronic navigation.
There is also the factor that GPS for civilians has the capability of dithering and 'selective availability' which -who knows- might be potentially accessible to hackers - especially with those GPS ground stations on foreign soil.
>>>>====> I was reading about a blue water, large 'gin palace' sailboat that had to be rescued because of 'failure of navigational equipment'. Oh? I can virtually guarantee that they did not have even a plastic sextant and basic set of tables aboard and the skills to use them for latitude sailing; add a $5.oo E-bay electric watch and you're getting longitude too - better than what Captain Cooke used to map much of the Pacific. Improvised celestial navigation, using what you can make, won't have you safely threading narrow approaches in shallows in the dark but you CAN find specific parts of a continent pretty easily. OTOH - I've read of more than one SKILLED navigator who, when improvised was the only option, used their skills and made a rough, 'sextant-like' sighting protractor. One Russian ROUTINELY used a children's protractor and soda straws to sight horizon and celestial object and he sailed from post-USSR Russia all around the med, Atlantic and Caribbean.
Master skills - once 'owned' skills travel lightly and the rest can often be found, scrounged or made outright.
73 de RadioRay ..._ ._
Ps. For fun and a quick intro, download a 'celestial navigation' app for your smart phone. It's a quick intro. If you can get within 10 miles, you're doing fine, 5 and you're a 'master' of iPhone-waza!
Military blamed after planes vanish from Europe air-traffic control screens
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:56
An air-traffic controller watches his screen at a German air-traffic control centre in Langen near Frankfurt. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Reuters
Dozens of aircraft briefly vanished from air-traffic control radars in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia over the last two weeks in incidents that Slovak authorities blamed on military electronic warfare exercises.
Air-traffic controllers in Austria and Germany said data about the planes' position, direction, height or speed went missing on 5 and 10 June, but the outages posed no serious danger to aircraft travelling at high altitude.
Their Czech and Slovak counterparts also encountered cases of vanishing aircraft on the same days.
"The disappearance of objects on radar screens was connected with a planned military exercise which took place in various parts of Europe '... whose goal was the interruption of radio communication frequencies," the Slovak air traffic services said.
"This activity also caused the temporary disappearance of several targets on the radar display, while in the meantime the planes were in radio contact with air traffic controllers and continued in their flight normally.
"Immediately after the identification of the problem with the displays, the side organising the exercises was contacted and the exercise was stopped."
It did not identify the military force, but Austrian media said it was Nato. Nato declined to comment.
A spokesman for German air-traffic control said: "Planes disappeared from screens for a matter of seconds, here and there. The outages were sporadic and not grave.
"It must have been an external source of disruption. We are trying to identify the cause."
There has been a growing focus on the tracking of passenger aircraft since the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in March.
The airline industry has pledged to come up with proposals by September for a better system of tracking aircraft over oceans and other remote areas. But incidents in controlled airspace are relatively rare.
Europe's air corridors are among the busiest in the world and there have been calls for better technology and co-ordination such asa unified control network. However, some air traffic controller unions oppose these measures.
In the recent incidents, extra Austrian air-traffic controllers were deployed, communicating with the affected aircraft by radio and increasing the safety distances between planes, a spokesman for Austro Control said.
He said that 10 planes passing through Austrian airspace were affected in the first incident and three in the second, and that he had heard that 50 aircraft in total were affected across Europe.
The incidents are being dealt with by European air navigation safety organisation Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (ESA), he said. Neither could immediately be reached for comment.
Richard Klima, a spokesman for the Czech air navigation service, said: "We saw random outages of aircraft detection within the system of the so-called secondary radar lasting several tens of seconds and up to several minutes. But thanks to the complete coverage of air space also through classic primary radars, we constantly had information about the positioning of aeroplanes and operational safety was not threatened."
A spokesman for Austria's defence ministry said it was investigating the incidents but could not immediately confirm how many planes were involved.
The spokesman said military radar - which actively track plane movements, unlike the passive radar used by civilian air-traffic control - had continued to work at all times.
Solar Storm Heading Toward Earth '' News Watch
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:09
This image from NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory captures the first of three giant flares erupting from the sun's surface on June 10, 2014. Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard/WiessingerA temper tantrum that the sun unleashed this week has led to a series of powerful flares and solar storms'--including one that will reach Earth on Friday the 13th.
Three X-class flares, the most powerful of solar blasts, have erupted off the sun's fiery surface in the past three days.
Such solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation generated on the sun's surface, each one many times wider than our planet. They can cause disturbances in Earth's atmosphere, disrupting GPS and radio signals. The disruptions can last for as long as the flares, anywhere from minutes to hours.
That is exactly what happened on Tuesday, June 10, resulting in short blackout periods in high-frequency communications that lasted for a few hours. Polar-route airline flights are typically lengthened by these disruptions.
The two back-to-back giant flares on Tuesday emerged from the southeastern region of the sun. Each one produced a billion-ton cloud of charged particles directed toward Earth. The flares were classified as X2, according to NASA. An X-class storm denotes the most intense flares, and an X2 is twice as intense as an X1.
However, the sun wasn't done yet, as a third powerful flare erupted from the same location on Wednesday, June 11. All of the flares were caught on camera in real time by a NASA spacecraft, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which monitors our home star 24 hours a day.
Ultraviolet snapshots from NASA's SDO satellite shows three X-class flares erupting from the sun June 10 and 11, 2014.Courtesy of NASA/SDOEruptions of solar materials that travel away from the sun are known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Blasts that accompanied the week's flares eventually merged into CMEs, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) computer models suggest that they will give a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field in coming days. They may produce a minor geomagnetic storm when they arrive midday on Friday the 13th.
Sky-watchers, particularly those in high-latitude regions, should be on the lookout for possible auroras visible in the northern skies.
Meanwhile, the sun's fury is not over yet. NOAA forecasters predict that more CMEs could be on the way, with predictions calling for a 30 percent chance of more X-flares erupting on June 12.
Also, two new sunspots on the surface of the sun are turning toward Earth now, and they are showing signs of possessing unstable magnetic fields. That means they may erupt with flares at any moment. This onslaught of solar tempests was not unexpected, since the sun is currently at the peak of its 11-year cycle in activity.
So, if forecasters are right, it looks like we may be in for more turbulent space weather in the coming days.
Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter, Facebook, and his website.
China US Energy Infrastructure Hacks
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 15:02
Jun. 13, 2014, 12:31 PM2,439REUTERS/Todd Korol
Bloomberg's Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson report U.S. officials believe Chinese hackers now already know the steps needed to blow up a U.S. pipeline or shut down an American power plant."They're practicing,'' retired Army General Keith Alexander told lawmakers in a classified briefing in 2012, an unnamed U.S. official told the reporters.
Bloomberg says the U.S. discovered dozens of successful remote infiltrations of natural gas pipelines and electric utilities by People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, the unit the Justice Department believes is carrying out the attacks, between 2012 and 2013:
Operatives vacuumed up caches of e-mails, engineering PDFs and other documents, but it was their focus on supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems in industrial computers that most concerned U.S. officials, according to people familiar with the incidents. Attackers could use SCADA systems to manipulate valves to build up pressure and burst pipes or shut down a power plant.
In many cases, by the time outside forces have breached a computer system, ''they've already done everything they need to attack you,'' said Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency. ''In addition to doing reconnaissance, and maybe being accepted intelligence practice, they've got a gun at your head.''
Click here to read the full story on Bloomberg >>
CYBER!-NOT-Birds, squirrels take toll on Juneau power lines
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:47
Published: YesterdayJUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Squirrels and birds are turning the lights out on customers in Alaska's capital.
Wildlife has knocked out power to Juneau customers seven times this year, the Juneau Empire ( reported.
The latest was Wednesday night when a bald eagle dropped trash from a city landfill onto a line. The fallen eagle fodder caused a loud bang and knocked out power to 10,020 customers, said Debbie Driscoll, spokeswoman for Alaska Electric Light and Power Co.
Wildlife disrupts power in communities around the country but Juneau, a commercial fishing community off the road system on Alaska's Panhandle, gets power interruptions from a large eagle population and sometimes even fish.
An eagle last summer was carrying a piece of halibut connected to line in its talons. The eagle dropped the fish and line onto a power line, caused an outage, and watched unhappily from a nearby tree as a crew took down the obstruction, Driscoll said.
"It never did get its lunch back," she said.
Both of those eagles survived.
An eagle in January died when it flew into wires. A raven died after it did the same thing in May.
A pigeon died June 4 when it flew into a line and knocked out service to one customer. A squirrel was zapped a day later knocking out service to 350 customers.
The company recorded six avian deaths last year: three eagles, one raven, one crow and one grouse. In 2012, five eagles, three ravens and two crows were electrocuted.
The decrease, Driscoll said, may be due to plastic yellow coils the company has placed on power lines as a bright, visual cue. The eagles that get into trouble are possibly chasing or sparring, she said.
"I think they're generally smart enough to avoid the lines unless they're distracted," she said.
CYBER!-EUROCONTROL-13 planes vanish from radars over Europe - Telegraph
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:58
In the June 5 incident, 10 aircraft disappeared from radar screens while on June 10, a further three went missing.
On each occasion, Austrian authorities brought in more controllers in order to talk with the aircraft and maintain order.
"Planes disappeared from screens for a matter of seconds, here and there. The outages were sporadic and not grave," said a spokesman for German air-traffic control. "It must have been an external source of disruption. We are trying to identify the causes."
Der Kurier, an Austrian newspaper, suggested that a targeted cyber attack may have caused the disappearances. The paper also claimed the aircrafts' transponders may have been interfered with, but that, it stresses, would have required the use of a satellite.
Eurocontrol, a European air-management agency, and the European Aviation Safety Agency have started an investigation into the two incidents.
"Given the potential impact of the incident on safety, capacity and radio frequencies the Eurocontrol Network Manager immediately started an investigation," Eurocontrol said in a statement.
But so far experts are at a loss to explain what caused the aircraft to disappear.
At first a Nato electronic warfare exercise in Hungary was suspected as the cause of interference as it coincided.
The exercise, apparently, used devices designed to interfere with enemy radar and there were suspicions it may have affected civilian flights.
But Hungary's defence ministry denied any Nato involvement, saying the technology used was weak and had a range of only 4,000 metres '' a height well below the altitude of the aircraft.
Deepening the mystery is the fact that the second incident occurred after the exercises had finished.
Common Core
From our CC K12 Insider
I work for the 3rd largest County Office of Education in CA where my job is to mine the student data (yeah...I'm that guy).
The amount of money spent on technology in the last few years because of common core is staggering. Most districts are buying one device per child. Usually iPads or Chromebooks. Not Microsoft as much Microsoft as Bill Gates was probably promised. I believe this is the reason for the push behind the Surface Tablets.
The main thing driving the purchases are the new computerized standardized tests.
This has also forced districts to upgrade their infrastructure with the purchase of new switches and wireless routers to support the internet bandwidth requirements.
There is also lots of money allocated for training and materials related to common core. It's a money making bonanza.
Your K-12 Insider
War on Ca$h
Sweden's ATMs all out of service - again
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:43
For the second time in as many weeks, Sweden's entire fleet of automatic cash machines broke down on Thursday.
The country's ATMs stopped working in the early afternoon and were down for an hour.
"It's a central fault," Johan Nilsson, spokesperson at Bankomat AB, told the TT news agency.
"It's deeply regrettable... we were only out of action for an hour or so but our goal, of course, it to always have cash available for our customers."
When the same thing happened late last month, Nilsson dismissed any notion of a hacker attack being behind the system's failure.
Thursday's incident likely went unnoticed among most Swedes, as only around a quarter of all retail transactions in Sweden involve cash.
READ ALSO: Swedes set for cashless future
In August last year, Swedish company Bankomat revealed that it would take over all 2,220 of the country's automatic teller machines run by the five biggest banks. Bankomat is jointly owned by all five banks, Danske Bank, Handelsbanken, Nordea, SEB, and Swedbank.
The company promised at the time that transactions would run more smoothly than before.
Anyone affected has been urged to get in contact with Bankomat.
Swedish music festivals opt to go cash free
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:45
Br¥valla festival. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
Dropped wallets, mile-long lines to buy a hotdog, and stolen cash are a thing of the past - at least at music festivals in Sweden.
Cash is no longer king. Many Swedish music festivals will soon be entirely cashless, organizers announced on Friday.
"All festival armbands will have chips," said Niklas Westergren, marketing director at FKP Scorpio, one of the largest organizers of music festivals in Sweden. "Before the festival begins, people can create a profile where they can add their bank details."
Instead of keeping track of cash, festival-goers can transfer money from their accounts and then just swipe their armbands to make purchases. If the money loaded on the armband runs out, there will be filling-stations on the festival grounds to make additional transfers. Any funds left over on the armband would be automatically transferred back to the user's bank account after the festival.
"It takes much less time to make purchases this way," Westergren said.
The concept is "well-established" at festivals abroad, and was tested in Sweden for the first time at the rock festival Sthlm Fields which took place in May. Br¥valla, an international music festival in Norrk¶ping at the end of June, will also use the system. Wireless festival payment systems were rolled out at several events in the UK in 2012, and the first multi-day cashless festival in the US took place in May at Mysterland.
Festivals may be the next stepping stone on Sweden's way to becoming a cashless society. Only 27 percent of retail sales are made in cash, and those numbers would be even lower if online sales were included.
Pope Francis ditches the Popemobile which has protected pontiffs since 1981 | Mail Online
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 14:17
Pope Francis claimed the bullet-proof Popemobile was a 'sardine can'The pontiff said he wants to use an open-topped car to meet the peopleHe said anything could happen to him 'but that was in the hands of god'By Darren Boyle
Published: 13:34 EST, 14 June 2014 | Updated: 08:22 EST, 15 June 2014
Pope Francis has announced he will no longer used a bullet-proof Popemobile as the glass 'sardine can' keeps him away from the people.
The armoured vehicles were introduced after the 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II in a bid to prevent further attacks on the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
During the interview with a Spanish newspaper which was reported by Vatican Radio, Pope Francis said: 'It is true that anything could happen, but let's face it, at my age I don't have much to lose.'
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Pope Francis said he no longer wants to use a bullet-proof Popemobile as it is a 'sardine can' which keeps him away from the people, claiming that 'at my age I don't have much to lose'
He continued: 'I know that something could happen to me, but it's in the hands of God.'
The Argentinian pontiff was more diplomatic when questioned on the World Cup claiming he will be neutral when it comes to who he will support during the competition.
When asked about his legacy, Pope Francis said: 'I have not thought about this. But I like it when you recall someone and say "he was a good guy, he did what he could, and he was not that bad." With that, I would be content.'
Pope Francis meets members of the public at weekly audience
Pope Francis has told his security officials he wants to be able to interact with crowds when he is out in public and cannot do so effectively behind a screen of bullet proof glass
Already during several high profile visits Pope Francis has rejected his custom-built high security vehicle and used ordinary cars.
On a visit to Brazil, Pope Francis used a small Fiat from the airport to the centre of Rio which caused problems for security officials.
While on his high profile trip to the Middle East, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to an Israeli security wall in the West Bank where he paused to prayer in a highly symbolic but controversial gesture.
The specially designed Popemobiles were introduced after Pope John Paul II was hit several times when Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca opened fire in St Peter's Square in May 1981.
The Pontiff has established a regular routine of hugging children as he arrives for his weekly general audience at the Vatican despite this being the location where Pope John Paul II was shot
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE POPEMOBILE SINCE 1909Pope Pius X refused to use the first car which arrived at the Vatican in 1909 which was a gift from the archbishop of New York.
Since the 1930s, many Popes have used various types of Mercedes with the special number plate SCV 1.
However, it wasn't until Pope John Paul II that the Popemobile became internationally recognised due to the level of international travel he took.
During his 1982 visit to Britain, Pope John Paul II had a highly modified Leyland truck to transport him. It weighed 24 tonnes and was able to survive small-arms fire.
Pope Benedict used a highly modified armoured Mercedes G Wagon capable of driving at speeds of up to 160mph.
However, after his election, Pope Francis refused to travel in the Popemobile and instead went on the bus with his cardinals.
Pope Francis was given a 40-year-old Renault 4 by a Fr Renzo Zocca from northern Italy as a gift last year.
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Angelina Jolie made dame in thousand-strong Queen's birthday honours list.
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:35
Hollywood actor and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie is accorded one of the highest accolades granted by the British establishment as she is made an honorary dame in the Queen's birthday honours.
The 39-year-old Oscar winner, who has spent much of this week co-chairing a London summit on war rape with foreign secretary William Hague, becomes a dame commander of the order of St Michael and St George courtesy of the foreign office in recognition of her work on conflict sexual crime.
Jolie, in London with actor husband Brad Pitt, is co-founder with Hague of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) and was nominated in the diplomatic service and overseas birthday 2014 honours for services to UK foreign policy and the campaign to end war zone sexual violence.
Hague has made no secret of his admiration for her, having described the film star as "a pleasure to work with" and saying "my admiration for her work has grown even greater over the last two years".
Jolie, who is UN special envoy for refugees, said of the award: "To receive an honour related to foreign policy means a great deal to me as it is what I wish to dedicate my working life to. Working on PSVI and with survivors of rape is an honour in itself. I know that succeeding in our goals will take a lifetime and I am dedicated to it for all of mine."
Teenage cancer victim Stephen Sutton, 19, who became a household name helping to raise £4m to fight cancer before his death on 14 May, has been honoured with an MBE.
The late teenage cancer campaigner Stephen Sutton has been honoured with posthumous MBE.Sutton, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 15, had accepted the honour before his death and thought it "awesome", his mother, Jane, said. "He thought it was an incredible honour to have been nominated and it definitely got the 'thumbs up'," she said, referring her son's famous photographic pose.
Dame Maggie Smith, 79, famous for her acting roles as both Downton Abbey's Countess of Grantham and Harry Potter's Professor McGonagal, upgrades to a companion of honour for services to drama.
Daniel Day Lewis, 55, the Oscar-winning Lincoln actor, said he was "entirely amazed and utterly delighted in equal measure" to be adding a knighthood to his three best actor statuettes.
Meanwhile Homeland and Band of Brothers star Damian Lewis, 43, receives an OBE. "I decided to do the very un-British thing of accepting the compliment," said Lewis, who did not expect Hollywood to be impressed. "I don't think our republican cousins quite understand our honours system or are that bothered about it.".
Lewis is currently filming the BBC's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell historical novels, so it is apt that the two-times Man Booker prize winner is also honoured. Mantel, 61, previously a CBE, is now a dame, and professed herself delighted.
She saw it, she said, "not so much as a reward for the past, more as encouragement for the future".
Author Hilary Mantel says she sees the honour 'not so much as a reward for the past, more as encouragement for the future'. Photograph: Colin McphersonAlso made dames are fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, and professor Jessica Corner, head of health sciences at Southampton university.
MBEs were awarded to the Torchwood and West End star John Barrowman, signer songwriter Cerys Matthews, 45, formerly of Catatonia and a radio and TV presenter, and Nicola Clarke, chair of the Military Wives Choirs Foundation.
Author Hunter Davies, 78, who wrote the only authorised biography of the Beatles in 1968, and who describes himself as "a hack who got lucky", is made an OBE. His wife, novelist Margaret Forster, was unimpressed, he said. "She said that if it had been a knighthood she would have divorced me."
Classical pianist Andrs Schiff is among those knighted. As are veteran eurosceptic MP Bill Cash, 74, and Tory grandee Nicholas Soames, 66. Meanwhile Dawn Primarolo, 60, Labour MP for Bristol South, becomes a dame.
In sport, golfer Laura Davies is given a damehood. Gold medal winners at the Sochi winter Olympics are rewarded. Skeleton gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold, visually-impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans are made MBEs. An OBE goes to Wales rugby head coach Warren Gatland, with England women's cricket captain Charlotte Edwards receiving a CBE and her deputy Jenny Gunn an MBE.
There is also a long-awaited knighthood for outspoken neuroscientist and animal activist target Professor Colin Blakemore, 70, who was "delighted and surprised". In December 2003 he threatened to resign as chief executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC) over his apparent deliberate exclusion from the forthcoming honours. Normally it is automatic for an MRC CEO to be knighted.
Leaked government documents suggested the snub was due to his high-profile association with animal experiments. Currently director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London's School of Advanced Study, he said: "This is the cream on the cake '' final evidence that things have changed right to the top of society.
A CBE goes to former Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Elizabeth Filkin, author of the controversial report on the relationship between the police and the media in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
In the diplomatic list, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet receives an OBE for services to British broadcast journalism.
A total of 1,149 people are included in the honours. Some 11% of the awards are for work in education, including knighthoods for national pupil-premium champion John Dunford and political historian and head of Wellington College Anthony Seldon. Health makes up 8% of the honours.
Women receive 49% of the honours, after the New Year honours earlier this year became the first in which there were more women on the list than men.
The British Empire Medal, resurrected in June 2012 for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, goes to 300 of the honours recipients, including 19-year-old George Fielding, chair, ambassador and Kidz Board member of disabled children's charity Whizz-Kidz, as well as 99-year-old Ethel Dobbins, who gets one for her service to the community in Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire.
French Politicians propose asylum for snowden
France - Le Monde
Centrist senators Catherine Morin-Desailly & Chantal Jouanno (UDI) and lower house centriste deputy Yves Jégo have submitted proposals to their respective houses calling for Edward Snowden to be made an Honorary Citizen and Offered asylum in France.
Federal judge allows US government to destroy evidence in suit against NSA
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:34
By Eric London13 June 2014In a ruling handed down June 6 in a civil suit challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, a federal judge granted the US government permission to destroy evidence.
The ruling came only one day after the same judge--Judge Jeffrey White of the US District Court for the Northern District of California--issued an order requiring the government to refrain from the destruction of evidence.
''In order to protect national security programs, I cannot issue a ruling at this time. The Court rescinds the June 5 order,'' Judge White said during Friday's hearing.
This is not the first time a federal judge has ruled that the need to ''protect national security'' justifies the abrogation of a basic democratic right, and it will not be the last. This, however, does not detract from the significance of Friday's ruling, which grants government lawyers and high-ranking intelligence and military officials the power to select which evidence should be admitted at trial and which should remain off-limits.
The evidence in question is the metadata and content obtained by government surveillance programs conducted illegally and behind the backs of the population under section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The destruction of five-year-old data will materially affect two pending cases that were filed before whistle-blower Edward Snowden's revelations. Judge White is presiding over both cases, though the official rescission was announced as part of the first suit, Jewel v. Obama .
The suit in Jewel was filed in 2008 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of several AT&T customers after former AT&T technician Mark Klein revealed that the company was re-routing Internet traffic to a secret NSA office in San Francisco.
The government destruction of evidence will also affect another EFF-led suit brought in 2013 by 23 California organizations against the NSA's bulk metadata collection program. In this second suit, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, the plaintiffs argue that the government's collection of the phone records of political groups violates the First Amendment right of association.
According to the EFF, the destruction of relevant evidence has already been taking place for years. A motion filed by the EFF on May 30 states that ''for the entire lifetime of this now six-year-old litigation the government has been routinely destroying the information it has illegally seized (emphasis in the original).''
These actions violate prior court orders proscribing the government from destroying evidence relating to the case. An initial preservation order was issued in 2009 and another temporary restraining order was issued in March.
The government continued illegally and secretly destroying evidence. The most recent dispute arose only after a Justice Department lawyer inadvertently referenced ongoing destruction of evidence in an email to an EFF attorney.
Although the plaintiffs' suit relies heavily on the content of government surveillance from before 2009, a motion filed by NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett asserts that preserving the evidence would have ''an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.''
This is the all-purpose ''national security'' claim that is routinely brought forward, generally without any substantiating evidence, to justify brazen violations of privacy rights spelled out in the US Constitution. At this stage in the decay of American democracy, the government need not rely on any serious arguments to trample on legal rights that had been in place for hundreds of years.
The government's ''national security'' rationale is supported by Orwellian legal theories. For example, the government has asserted in Jewel that the suit should be dismissed because it is ''highly unlikely'' that the plaintiffs' communications were acquired through section 702.
Another claim put forward by the NSA in its motion to reverse the ban on destroying evidence is that ''[a] requirement to preserve all data acquired under section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain section 702 information.''
This is not the first judicial barrier placed on the AT&T customers involved in the Jewel suit, which was dismissed in 2010 by Judge Vaughn Walker on the grounds that the plaintiffs asserted only a ''general grievance'' and did not have standing to bring suit. It was only on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the case was reinstated.
Once the case was reinstated before the district court, the NSA then sought dismissal by asserting the ''state secrets privilege,'' claiming in effect that government surveillance is too important to ''national security'' to face constitutional scrutiny. In July 2013, however, Judge White rejected this argument, allowing the case to be litigated under FISA.
In reality, the government opposes the preservation of evidence because its exposure at trial would serve as further proof of a massive surveillance campaign being carried out in violation of the First and Fourth amendments to the US Constitution.
Under the blanket pretext of ''national security,'' the judicial system is being transformed into a rubber-stamp authority for the build-up of a police-state apparatus.
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Hillary 2016
Chelsea Clinton paid $600K by NBC - Dylan Byers and Maggie Haberman -
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:44
Clinton joined NBC News as a special correspondent in 2011. | Getty
CloseChelsea Clinton earned an annual salary of $600,000 at NBC News before switching to a month-to-month contract earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the agreement told POLITICO.
Clinton, who joined NBC News as a special correspondent in November 2011, was up for renewal or nonrenewal this year. Instead, the sources said, the network decided to keep her on the payroll on a month-to-month basis so the two parties could sever ties if Clinton's mother, Hillary Clinton, runs for president.
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Kamyl Bazbaz, a spokesperson for the 34-year-old Clinton, referred POLITICO to NBC News, which declined to discuss Clinton's contract. ''We don't comment on details of existing contracts,'' a network spokesperson said. ''NBC News continues to enjoy a wonderful working relationship with Chelsea, and we are proud of her work.''
(WATCH: The Clintons on grandparenting)
As special correspondent, Clinton worked on service-related feature assignments for NBC's ''Rock Center with Brian Williams'' until the show's cancellation in June 2013. Clinton has since worked on packages for NBC Nightly News.
In that time, Clinton's principal occupation has been the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, where she has been a major force in steering her parents' charitable work in the final years of her mother's tenure at the State Department, and since. This April, she announced that she is pregnant. Clinton is due to deliver her first child in the fall, and it's unclear whether she will resume work with NBC after that.
When Clinton joined NBC, many media critics chafed at the network's decision to employ a former first daughter with no experience in journalism. The New York Post referred to Clinton as ''just another spoiled, aimless child of rich, successful parents chauffeured through adulthood by Mommy and Daddy's connections.''
(PHOTOS: Chelsea Clinton's life)
Yet Clinton's appointment did not mark the first time NBC Universal had hired children of high-ranking politicians. In 2009, it hired George W. Bush's daughter Jenna Bush Hager to serve as a correspondent on the ''Today'' show. In 2011, it hired Sen. John McCain's daughter Meghan McCain as a contributor on MSNBC.
The details of Clinton's deal with NBC have been closely held since she joined the network.
Agenda 21
IMF head says world must come to grips with climate change costs
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:56
While Stephen Harper was congratulating Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday for ending a carbon tax, the head of the IMF was in Montreal urging energy powerhouses like Canada to come to grips with the economics of climate change.
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde urged economists and central bankers from around the world not to wait for the next round of climate change talks to take action to protect the environment.
All countries need to put mechanisms in place '' whether a carbon tax or a cap and trade system '' to pay for the effects of pollution, she said at the conference of the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal. She urged countries not to wait for a new round of talks on global warming, but to start building these costs into their economic systems now.
Harper used his meeting with Abbott to say that Canada would not take action to limit emissions if it meant trading off economic growth or jobs.
In an interview with CBC's The Current on Tuesday, Lagarde said there are clear costs to development of any energy source that policymakers must factor into the price.
'I don't think lip service is going to pay back very much and I think coming generations will be the first ones to come back and remind us about it.'- Christine Lagarde
She said ''externalities such as wastage of water, congestion on the roads, additional risks to mortality and so on, need to be included in the thinking process that applies to policies encouraging the use of one or another form of energy.''
''It cannot be about setting prices without including those externalities '-- whether it takes the form of a good, solid intelligent carbon tax, whether it's a good, solid intelligent cap and trade system, or whether it is any other device that can be put in place in order to resist those externalities by including them in the price-setting,'' she added.
Lagarde told reporters Monday that most economists agree that some price has to be attached to carbon and she hopes that experiments such as the carbon tax system in British Columbia and carbon exchange system in California will continue.
''I don't think lip service is going to pay back very much and I think coming generations will be the first ones to come back and remind us about it,'' she told The Current.
She agreed that there is resistance to action to combat global warming, but said it is her role as head of the IMF to promote responsible policies.
''It's not going to stop me from raising my voice when I know that the facts are right and the analysis is correct,'' she said.
Lagarde applauded Canada's efforts to unleash its energy sector, supporting efforts to expand infrastructure that will boost exports to Asia and Europe.
She said she believes world economies are recovering from the long recession, but that trust in governments and institutions has been damaged by the economic pain.
''What we are saying at the IMF is that rising inequality is not conducive to sustainable growth and from that, policymakers have to draw their conclusion as to how they want to reduce those rising inequalities,'' Lagarde said.
She said the IMF has been very involved in reforming bank regulations.
''The fact that the financial sector was really at the origin of the overall crisis has had something to do with it. I'm not certain that it's a complete failure of capitalism as it is, but it is certainly a very strong incentive to capitalism as a system to reinvent itself in order to be much more inclusive and in order to make sure that growth is much more sustainable in the long term,'' Lagarde said.
''What does that mean in practical terms? It certainly means the financial sector which was at the root of the problem continues to be reformed, not only in appropriate ratios, but also in its culture,'' she said.
IMF Chief in favor of carbon tax and cap and trade systems
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:56
Date13 June 2014NEW YORK: Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has expressed her support for a carbon tax as a mechanism to combat further global warming at a conference in Montreal.
The IMF Managing Director was in Canada to address the International Economic Forum of the Americas, where she used the opportunity to stress that governments must address the costs climate inaction will incur.
The economist noted that efforts must be made to tackle atmospheric pollution, be they in the form of a carbon tax or a cap and trade system.
Expanding on this point in a radio interview with Canadian program, The Current, she argued that externalities such as water wastage and road congestion must be taken into account, stating ''it cannot be about setting prices without including those externalities '-- whether it takes the form of a good, solid intelligent carbon tax, whether it's a good, solid intelligent cap and trade system, or whether it is any other device that can be put in place in order to resist those externalities by including them in the price-setting."
When challenged with the accusatation that she was something of a ''lone voice'' amongst institutions and governments, Lagarde pledged her commitment to raising awareness, saying:''It's not going to stop me from raising my voice when I know that the facts are right and the analysis is correct.''
However, the Managing Director also noted that the atmosphere at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal was positive and that her calls to climate action didn't fall on deaf ears.
''I think everybody has an open mind and people are prepared to listen to others and to make progress, so let's hope that continues to be the case", the IMF chief asserted.
Image credit: MEDEF
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By Alana Ryan
More climate McCarthyism.
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:54
Climate Depot reports another sad case of climate McCarthyism, this time from the USA:
Dr. Caleb Rossiter was ''terminated'' via email as an ''Associate Fellow'' from the progressive group Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), following his May 4th, 2014 Wall Street Journal OpEd titled ''Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change,'' in which he called man-made global warming an ''unproved science.'' Rossiter also championed the expansion of carbon based energy in Africa. Dr. Rossiter is an adjunct professor at American University. Rossiter holds a PhD in policy analysis and a masters degree in mathematics.
In an exclusive interview with Climate Depot, Dr. Rossiter explained: ''If people ever say that fears of censorship for 'climate change' views are overblown, have them take a look at this: Just two days after I published a piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for Africa to be allowed the 'all of the above' energy strategy we have in the U.S., the Institute for Policy Studies terminated my 23-year relationship with them'...because my analysis and theirs 'diverge.'''
''I have tried to get [IPS] to discuss and explain their rejection of my analysis,' Rossiter told Climate Depot. ''When I countered a claim of 'rapidly accelerating' temperature change with the [UN] IPCC's own data', showing the nearly 20-year temperature pause '-- the best response I ever got was 'Caleb, I don't have time for this.'''
There are many issues swirling round here - the good intentions of the "progressives" and the evil that flows from it, their startling ability to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Africans, their inability to deal with dissent, their closed minds. What a depressing scene with which to start the day.
Great Storm of 1703 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:27
In London, approximately 2,000 massive chimney stacks were blown down. The lead roofing was blown off Westminster Abbey and Queen Anne had to shelter in a cellar at St James's Palace to avoid collapsing chimneys and part of the roof. On the Thames, around 700 ships were heaped together in the Pool of London, the section downstream from London Bridge. HMS Vanguard was wrecked at Chatham. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell's HMS Association was blown from Harwich to Gothenburg in Sweden before way could be made back to England.[2] Pinnacles were blown from the top of King's College Chapel, in Cambridge.[3]
There was extensive and prolonged flooding in the West Country, particularly around Bristol. Hundreds of people drowned in flooding on the Somerset Levels, along with thousands of sheep and cattle, and one ship was found 15 miles inland.[4] At Wells, Bishop Richard Kidder was killed when two chimneystacks in the palace fell on him and his wife, asleep in bed.[3] This same storm blew in part of the great west window in Wells Cathedral. Major damage occurred to the south-west tower of Llandaff Cathedral at Cardiff.
At sea, many ships (some of which were returning from helping Archduke Charles, the claimed King of Spain, fight the French in the War of the Spanish Succession) were wrecked, including on the Goodwin Sands, HMS Stirling Castle, HMS Northumberland, HMS Mary, and HMS Restoration, with about 1,500 seamen killed particularly on the Goodwins. Between 8,000 and 15,000 lives were lost overall. The first Eddystone Lighthouse off Plymouth was destroyed[3] on 27 November 1703 (Old Style), killing six occupants, including its builder Henry Winstanley (John Rudyard was later contracted to build the second lighthouse on the site). A ship torn from its moorings in the Helford River in Cornwall was blown for 200 miles before grounding eight hours later on the Isle of Wight.[3] The number of oak trees lost in the New Forest alone was 4,000.
The storm of 1703 caught a convoy of 130 merchant ships and their Man of War escorts, the Dolphin, the Cumberland, the Coventry, the Looe, the Hastings and the Hector sheltering at Milford Haven. By 3pm the next afternoon losses included 30 vessels.[5]
The storm, unprecedented in ferocity and duration, was generally reckoned by witnesses to represent the anger of God '' in recognition of the "crying sins of this nation." The government declared 19 January 1704 a day of fasting, saying it "loudly calls for the deepest and most solemn humiliation of our people." It remained a frequent topic of moralizing in sermons well into the nineteenth century.[6]
LiteraryEditThe Great Storm also coincided with the increase in English journalism, and was the first weather event to be a news story on a national scale. Special issue broadsheets were produced detailing damage to property and stories of people who had been killed.
Daniel Defoe produced his full-length book, The Storm, published in July 1704, in response to the calamity, calling it "the tempest that destroyed woods and forests all over England." He wrote: "No pen could describe it, nor tongue express it, nor thought conceive it unless by one in the extremity of it." Coastal towns such as Portsmouth "looked as if the enemy had sackt them and were most miserably torn to pieces." Winds of up to 80 mph destroyed more than 400 windmills.[7] Defoe reported in some the sails turned so fast that the friction caused the wooden wheels to overheat and catch fire.[8] He thought the destruction of the sovereign fleet was a punishment for their poor performance against the Catholic armies of France and Spain during the first year of the War of the Spanish Succession.[9]
Thirteen ships lost in the Royal NavyEditIn the English Channel, fierce winds and high seas swamped some vessels outright and drove others onto the Goodwin Sands, an extensive sand bank situated along the southeast coast of England and the traditional anchorage for ships waiting either for passage up the Thames estuary to London or for favourable winds to take them out into the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean.[10] The Royal Navy was badly affected, losing thirteen ships, including the entire Channel Squadron,[10] and upwards of fifteen hundred seamen drowned.[11]
The third rateRestoration was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands; of the ship's company of 387 not one was saved.The third rate Northumberland was lost on the Goodwin Sands; all 220 men, including 24 marines were killed.The third rate (battleship)[10]Stirling Castle was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands. Seventy men, including four marine officers, were saved, but 206 men were drowned.The fourth rateMary was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands. The captain and the purser were ashore, but Rear Admiral Beaumont and 268 other men were drowned. Only one man, Thomas Atkins, was saved. His escape was remarkable '' having first seen the rear admiral get onto a piece of her quarter-deck when the ship was breaking up, and then get washed off again, Atkins was tossed by a wave into the Stirling Castle, which sank soon after. From the Stirling Castle he was swept into a boat by a wave, and was rescued.[12]The fifth rateMortar-bomb was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands and her entire company of 65 were lost.The sixth rate advice boat Eagle was lost on the coast of Sussex, but her ship's company of 45 were all saved.The third rate Resolution was lost at Pevensey on the coast of Sussex; all her ship's company of 221 were saved.The fifth rate Litchfield Prize was wrecked on the coast of Sussex; all 108 on board were saved.The fourth rate Newcastle was lost at Spithead. The carpenter and 39 men were saved, and the other 193 were drowned.The fifth rate fire-ship Vesuvius was lost at Spithead; all 48 of her ship's company were saved.The fourth rate Reserve was lost by foundering off Yarmouth. The captain, the surgeon, the clerk, and 44 men were saved; the other 175 members of the crew were drowned.[13]The second rateVanguard was sunk in Chatham harbour. She was not manned and had no armament fitted; the following year she was raised for rebuilding.[14]The fourth rate York was lost at Harwich; all but four of her men were saved.Lamb (1991) claimed 10,000 seamen were lost in one night, a far higher figure, about 1/3 of all the seamen in the British Navy.[15]Shrewsbury narrowly escaped a similar fate. Over 40 merchant ships were lost.[16]
^Derham, William (1704''1705). "A Letter for the Reverend Mr William Derham, F. R. S. Containing His Observations concerning the Late Storm". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (The Royal Society) 24 (289): 1530''1534. Bibcode:1704RSPT...24.1530D. doi:10.1098/rstl.1704.0005. JSTOR 102921. ^"A history of great British storms", The Guardian, March 10, 2008^ abcdRennell, Tony. "Think this week's gales are bad? They're nothing compared to the storm that drowned Britain", Daily Mail, January 6, 2012^Stephen Moss. 'Wild Hares and Hummingbirds. Square Peg. p. 32. ISBN 978-0224086721. ^"Shipping Losses During Great Storm of 1703", Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales^In Plumptre, E. H. (1888) The Life of Bishop Ken '' quoted by Martin Brayne, The Greatest Storm, 2002 '' it is stated that a 'Storm' sermon endowed by a Mr Taylor was still being preached at Little Wild Street Congregational Church, London well into the nineteenth century.^"The Great Storm", Inside Out, BBC, October 13, 2003^Brown, Paul. "The Great Storm of 26 November 1703", The Guardian, November 21, 2010^McKay, J. (2007-09-01). "Defoe's The Storm as a Model for Contemporary Reporting". In Keeble, Richard; Sharon, Wheeler. The Journalistic Imagination: Literary Journalists from Defoe to Capote and Carter (1 ed.). Routledge. pp. 15''28. ISBN 0-415-41724-4. ^ abc"The Great Strom Project", Maritime Archaeological and Historical Society^Wheeler, Dennis (2003). "The Great Storm of November 1703: A new look at the seamen's records". Weather58 (11): 419''427. Bibcode:2003Wthr...58..419W. doi:10.1256/wea.83.03. ^Laker,J., "History of Deal", Deal, 1921, pp.252-3^Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p167.^Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. ^Lamb, Hubert (1991-06-13). Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37522-3. ^Jerrold, Walter (1907). Highways and Byways in Kent. London: Macmillan. pp. p142''43. ReferencesEditFurther readingEditLamb, H.H. and Frydendahl, Knud (1991). Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-37522-1Laughton, Leonard George Carr and Heddon, V. (1927). Great Storms. London: Phillip Allan & Co.External linksEdit
BBC News - Germany storms: Six dead in North Rhine-Westphalia
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:23
10 June 2014 Last updated at 22:28
Six people have been killed in violent storms which battered cities in western Germany overnight.
In the worst incident, three died when a tree fell on a garden shed in Duesseldorf where they had sought shelter, emergency services said.
Cyclists were also killed by falling trees in Cologne and Krefeld and a sixth person died while clearing a street in Essen.
The storms ended a heatwave that lasted throughout the Whitsun weekend holiday.
Some of the worst disruption was in Duesseldorf where transport was badly hit Police said two men and a woman were killed when a garden shed was destroyed by a tree Public transport was badly hit in much of North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday morning, and authorities urged people to avoid Duesseldorf, where trains, roads and the airport were all affected.
During the night, emergency services removed the bodies of three people from a garden shed in the city. Three other people who had taken refuge in the shed were injured, two of them seriously. Several others were hurt elsewhere in the city.
Two red pandas were reported missing from a zoo in Gelsenkirchen in the aftermath of the storm, with one since recovered and receiving medical assistance for shock, zoo officials said.
Local residents have been asked to notify the zoo if they spot the remaining missing panda.
Streets in Duesseldorf were blocked by fallen trees and there was damage to overhead power lines. The tram system was reportedly suspended.
There were traffic jams on 270km (165 miles) of the region's roads during the morning rush hour, local broadcasters reported.
Winds of up to 150km/h (93mph) were recorded at Duesseldorf airport on Tuesday night. Forecasters predict the storm will continue to move to the south and south-east of the country over the next two days, reports say.
"We must reckon that the total damage will run into double-digit millions," North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger told German media. "That was one of the worst storms to hit (the region) in the past 20 years."
Lower Saxony to the north has also suffered heavy damage.
Temperatures of up to 36C (97F) were recorded in Germany at the weekend, the highest ever recorded for the time of year.
The heatwave brought record temperatures in parts of Germany during the holiday weekend The storm was set to reach other areas of Germany later on Tuesday Five of the deaths were caused by falling trees Are you in Germany? Have you been affected by the storms? You can email Email link: using 'storms' in the subject.
Greece faces more austerity, while EU professes its reliance on the unions
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:32
By Robert Stevens14 June 2014The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued its fifth review of Greece's loan and austerity programme. As part of its '‚¬240 billion overall loans agreement, Greece is to receive about '‚¬173 billion over four years from the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). This was authorised in 2012 and made conditional on the imposition of ever more brutal cuts.
Greece has received around '‚¬200 billion from the loans organised by the IMF, European Central Bank and European Union ''troika''. Virtually all these funds go towards paying off Greece's debt to international financial institutions, amounting to a vast bailout of the banks and super-rich. The latest tranche was based on the completion of the fifth review and amounts to '‚¬3.41 billion.
At the outset of the austerity programme, the loans were portrayed as a ''bailout'', under which Greece would be able to pay off its debts and avoid an exit from the eurozone. The reality could not be further from the truth.
This month's review, a 226-page document, notes that public debt in Greece will reach about 174 percent of GDP this year and by 2022 will still stand at 117 percent of GDP. It states that although Greece has made ''significant progress ... towards rebalancing the economy'', it faces a budget shortfall of '‚¬2 billion (about 1 percent of GDP) and will have a funding gap of '‚¬12.6 billion in 2015.
The report demonstrates the extent to which the government of Greece exists merely to impose the dictates of big business, via the troika. Not a single decision can be made by the Greek parliament on any aspect of domestic policy without the troika's approval. Much of the report consists of timetables in which the demands of the troika must be enforced.
Fully 18 reports must be compiled on a monthly and even weekly basis by the finance and other ministries on every aspect of the government's spending and activity and sent to European Commission, ECB and IMF staff to be monitored. One report must include, ''Monthly data on staff: number of employees, entries, exits, transfers among Government entities; and from and into the mobility and exit scheme, per entity, average wage (including the relative shares of the base wage, allowances and bonuses)'...''
The IMF warns that even if the full austerity programme is imposed, the budget shortfall will increase to an estimated '‚¬7.7 billion from 2014 to 2017. It calls for further cuts, including legislative changes of a permanent character. Central to its prescriptions are further ''labour market reforms'', which include removing all obstacles to hiring and firing workers at will, deeper devastating cuts to living standards and the ''overhaul'' of a ''still exceptionally inefficient public sector.''
One would hardly know from reading the report that over the past four years millions of people in Greece have been reduced to conditions of penury. In a section bemoaning that ''Greece has lagged on productivity-enhancing reforms'', the IMF refers, as an afterthought, to the fact that ''Real output has declined by close to 25 percent since 2007. Unemployment has risen to around 26½ percent, of which over two-thirds are long-term unemployed. The share of the population at risk of poverty increased from 20 to 23 percent over 2009''12 ...''
The IMF warns that far more is required from the Greek political establishment, stating, ''Political support for the EFF-supported program is fragile. Adjustment fatigue has set in, and the coalition government has a reduced majority of just two seats in the 300-member parliament. This is making it difficult to move forward boldly and swiftly with needed reforms.''
The report notes that since 2010 there has been a 161,000 (19 percent) reduction in the public sector workforce. It lauds the labour mobility scheme in which thousands of public sector workers have been laid off for months on hugely reduced pay, before inevitable losing their jobs. But the IMF complains that the ''Exits were mostly from narrow groups, including the closure of the public broadcasting company, doctors in the public healthcare system ... But beyond these focused one-offs, exits have not been based on performance and constitutional restrictions against mandatory, performance-based dismissals remain animpediment'' (emphasis added).
The IMF notes its concern as to ''whether the taboo on dismissals'' in the public sector ''has fundamentally been broken.'' This is despite the fact that the government has undertaken to ''meet this year's target of 11,000 workers as well as an indicative estimate of 2,000 exits in Q1 of 2015.''
Cuts in pension have not been sufficient, despite ''The progressive cuts since 2010, which were targeted at the higher pensions'' and which ''have helped to contain the long-term increase in pension spending. But a number of concerns remain unaddressed: at around 17 percent of GDP, spending [on pensions] is among the highest in the EU, requiring very large state subsidies.''
Noting that privatisation ''Receipts for 2013 were just over '‚¬1 billion, short of the '‚¬1.6 billion indicative target,'' it states, ''We are redoubling our efforts to tackle the obstacles to privatization, as performance has continued to fall short of program objectives.''
Employment law must be re-written explicitly in favour of big business, with the report stressing, ''We are taking additional steps to address areas in the labor market where excessive restrictions remain. These include reviewing excessive mandatory requirements on wages, benefits and payments or other restrictions in hiring or dismissals by May 2014 and adopting necessary legislation to bring them in line with best practice in the EU by August 2014.''
Employers must have the right to sack workers en masse, the IMF declares: ''Disputed collective dismissals are de facto not allowed. They require the approval of the Minister of Labor, but no such approval has been granted since 1982, forcing companies to offer very high voluntary severance packages or resort to bankruptcy.
''It is critical in the context of the next review that restrictions on collective dismissals are eliminated'--no such dismissal has been approved for thirty years'--and that employers are afforded the right of defensive lockouts. These are areas where Greece remains an extreme outlier and where introduction of normal European practice could significantly improve the investment climate.''
It adds, ''The rules for strikes by unions have remained unchanged for over three decades, and Greece is an outlier in the EU in prohibiting lockouts, even as a defensive tool for employers during labor negotiations.''
The instruction that Greece must adopt ''normal European practise'' exposes the reactionary character of the European Union, which functions only to impose the requirements of the bankers and super-rich across the continent.
In imposing such measures, the troika is acutely aware of its reliance on the trade union bureaucracy. The unions are currently in talks with the government, as part of the IMF's review demands, aimed at directly involving them at the highest levels in imposing the necessary attacks.
Over the last four years the unions have organised nearly 40 token, mostly one-day general strikes, only to channel workers' anger into futile pleas to governments to limit the savage cuts. As a result, fewer and fewer workers now participate in these events.
One of the components of the current talks is a desperate operation to save the trade unions. According to the Greek Reporter web site, the talks will discuss ''The credibility issue involving Greece's unions,'' ''the problem of the unions' disintegration'' and the ''possibility of consolidating'' them. It notes, ''Over the years, the prestige of the unions has been lost, while ever fewer workers are actively participating in unions and industrial action.''
Among the proposals being discussed are ''financing of the union movement'' and whether ''unions should be funded by the state or solely rely on voluntary contributions by their members.''
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EP leaders tell Van Rompuy to nominate Juncker
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:55
BRUSSELS - Leaders of the main political groups in the European Parliament on Thursday (12 June) told EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy to nominate Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president or face an "institutional crisis".
Van Rompuy received the group leaders separately in his EU council office throughout the day.
All groups, except for the British Conservative-dominated ECR said EU leaders should nominate Juncker or the EP will veto any other candidate.
"Our core message is that there is a broad majority for Juncker in the EP and we expect Van Rompuy to propose him to EU leaders on 27 June," centre-right EPP group leader Manfred Weber said in a press conference after meeting Van Rompuy.
He said any other name coming out of the council would go against the promise made to voters that the top candidate (Spitzenkandidat) of the party who wins the elections becomes commission president.
"This is not just about filling posts, this is about democratisation, about bridging the gap between citizens and EU institutions. The European Parliament should be where the future of Europe is decided, not in rooms behind closed doors," Weber said.
He said it was important to show Europe is capable of getting its act together and sticking to the envisaged calendar - council nomination of Juncker on 27 June, vote in the EP on 15 July.
"We have no interest in a conflict, but certain members of the council should be aware of the risks," he said, in reference to Britain, Sweden, Hungary and the Netherlands who oppose the Spitzenkandidat system.
Grand coalitionThe EPP is set to start negotiations on a grand coalition-type of agreement with the Social-Democrats and share the EP president mandate as they have in the outgoing legislature, Weber added.
The Social-Democrats are not unconditionally supporting Juncker, but will vote for him if their policy demands are reflected in his policy programme.
"We reiterate that Jean-Claude Juncker '' as the candidate of the largest group in the European Parliament '' must have the right to be the first to seek a majority in the European Parliament, through proposing an adequate work programme," outgoing S&D chief Hannes Swoboda said in a press statement.
The reasoning behind the S&D support for Juncker is that if he is not nominated, it will be much harder to push for left-leaning priorities and to get posts within the EP and the EU commission.
"It is a basic principle of democracy that the European Commission must represent the balance of the European Parliament, where the EPP has a slight lead and the S&D Group is the second largest group," Swoboda said.
A spokeswoman for the S&D group said it will be member states' fault if the process gets delayed.
"It's the council who delayed everything by a month. We would have liked Juncker to start negotiations on his programme earlier, but he prefers to wait for a mandate from the council. If he comes forward with proposals we can agree to, there is no opposition in principle to Juncker," S&D spokeswoman Celine Bayer told this website.
Britain still opposesFor Juncker to be nominated for the commission job, a "qualified majority" of member states is needed in the council.
Britain remains staunchly opposed to the idea of Spitzenkandidaten and to Juncker in particular because his views are considered too federalist.
A spokesman for the British government denied media reports that Cameron could agree to Juncker if his country got a super-commissioner post pooling economics, trade and energy in a so-called cluster portfolio.
The reorganisation of commission portfolios into bigger clusters reflecting policy priorities is a German idea aimed at meeting some of the British demands for reform.
Summit on Heroin and Prescription Drugs: Federal, State, and Community Responses
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:58
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will host a ''Summit on Heroin and Prescription Drugs: Federal, State, and Community Responses'' highlighting the public health and safety issues surrounding prescription painkillers and heroin. The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, 2014 in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20500. While the summit is not open to the general public, it will be streamed live on-line for the general public to view on
The goal of the summit is to discuss trends and challenges in the epidemic of opioid abuse in the United States, identify innovative practices and models, and discuss how practitioners at every level can help reduce overdose deaths and public health consequences. Participants will include Attorney General Eric Holder, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow, and experts from across the country on education, treatment, and overdose and infectious disease prevention. Summit participants will not be deliberating or providing consensus advice or recommendations to ONDCP. Issues explored will include expanding drug treatment access to millions through the Affordable Care Act, encouraging people and medical professionals to learn the signs and symptoms of problematic drug use and to intervene before substance use becomes a chronic condition, and supporting the use of naloxone, an overdose reversal drug that's easy to administer and has already saved thousands of lives.
Dated: June 6, 2014.
Michael J. Passante,
Deputy General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2014-13912 Filed 6-13-14; 8:45 am]
War on Weed
Jamaica to decriminalise marijuana for personal use | Caribbean News Now
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:37
Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding (centre), outlines details of proposed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act to legislate the decriminalization of ganja for medicinal, religious and personal/private use, during Thursday's media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister. Listening are: Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator Sandrea Falconer (left), and Consultant to the Minister, Dr Eileen Boxhill. JIS PhotoBy Douglas McIntoshKINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Jamaica's Cabinet has approved a revision of the Dangerous Drugs Act for the decriminalisation of ganja (marijuana) for medicinal, religious, and private/personal use.
The proposed changes will facilitate ganja being used for therapeutic purposes, as prescribed by a registered practitioner, or for scientific research conducted by an accredited tertiary institution or otherwise approved by the Scientific Research Council (SRC).
The changes will also enable the use of ganja in religious engagements by stakeholders, such as Rastafarians.
Details on the latest development were outlined by Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, during a media briefing on Thursday.
Additionally, the changes will make the possession of small quantities, amounting to two ounces (0.057 kilogrammes) or less, a non-arrestable but ticketable infraction, attracting a fine payable outside of the court, but not resulting in the possessor attaining a criminal record.
Meanwhile, a Bill to amend the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act that will result in the expunging of existing criminal records for possession of small quantities of, or smoking of ganja, is to be tabled in Parliament shortly by the justice minister.
Golding indicated that the proposed changes have been under consideration for some time. However, he pointed out that the ''necessary internal consultations'' and ''consequential refinements'' had to be undertaken before the submission was made to Cabinet in April, for consideration.
He emphasized that proposed changes to the law are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purposes.
''The objective is to provide a more 'enlightened' approach to dealing with possession of small quantities and smoking'...The proposed changes represent an approach which will (redound) to the benefit of the persons concerned and the society as a whole, and reduce the burden on the court system,'' the minister said.
Golding noted that the ''current approach'' to ganja criminalisation places a ''significant burden'' on Jamaica's ''overstretched'' court system, and has contributed to current case backlogs in the Resident Magistrate's Courts. He contended that the treatment of minor offences as ticketable offences should ease the pressure on the court system.
The minister advised, however, that the existing provisions of the law, which make ganja possession an offence, remain unchanged until Parliament approves the proposed amendments
''Therefore, our citizens are obliged to abide by the rule of law, as it (currently) stands,'' he emphasized.
Whooping Cough Epidemic in California as Cases Surge.
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:57
California's whooping cough outbreak has reached epidemic levels, with 800 new cases in the last two weeks, according to the state's public health agency.
There have been 3,458 cases of the respiratory infection, formally known as pertussis, in California as of June 10, the state's Department of Public Health reported. That's more than were reported in all of 2013. Most at risk are newborns, and two have died in California so far this year.
''Our biggest concern is always infants,'' Stacey Martin, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division of bacterial diseases, said in a telephone interview. ''There's a gap in coverage between birth and the first vaccine.''
Whooping cough carries different symptoms at different ages. For children, a case can begin with a cough and runny nose before the cough worsens, characterized by a whooping sound that gives the disease its nickname. Infants don't always have a cough but their faces may turn red or purple.
More than 900 of California's cases occurred in April and May, a fivefold increase on the typical number seen in non-peak years, said Corey Egel, a spokesman for state health department.
The high number of cases isn't unexpected because of the cyclical nature of the disease. California last had a widespread outbreak, or ''peak,'' in 2010. Martin said the priority is to encourage pregnant women to get the vaccine for pertussis, which the CDC has recommended since 2013.
Vaccinating pregnant women and infants helps prevent the spread of the disease, Ron Chapman, the state's health department director, said yesterday in a statement.
The CDC recommends infants be vaccinated as early as six weeks after birth, because the effect of a vaccination given to their mother during pregnancy soon wears off, Martin said. The CDC also suggests shots for those spending time with newborns.
Nationwide, there have been three other deaths reported from whooping cough this year, Martin said. In total, 9,964 cases of whooping cough were reported in the U.S. through June 8, compared with 7,573 at the same time last year, the CDC said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Marie French in New York at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at Drew Armstrong, Andrew Pollack
Packet Inequality
The Internet Association Responds to FCC Chairman Wheeler's Announcement on Internet Interconnection
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:01
Washington, D.C. '' The Internet Association's President and CEO, Michael Beckerman issues the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) announced enhanced review of Internet interconnection issues:
''The Internet Association believes that broadband Internet access providers should aspire to 'settlement-free' peering, which ultimately benefits all stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem. 'Settlement-free' peering should be the industry norm. The Internet Association is focused on what's best for consumers and protecting an open Internet free from discriminatory or anticompetitive actions by broadband gatekeepers. It is vital that Internet users get what they pay for.''
Members | The Internet Association
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:00
Latest NewsWashington, D.C. '' The Internet Association's President and CEO, Michael Beckerman issues the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) announced enhanced review of Internet interconnection issues'...
Read more news >>
Gmail Bug Could Have Potentially Exposed Every Single Email Address
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:59
No software is perfect as there are bound to be bugs, whether it be a small one or one that is big enough to break it. There are also bugs that are so small and obscure that no one would have known, which is what happened recently with Google's Gmail email service. Apparently there has been a bug in Gmail for the past few years that went by unnoticed, at least until security research Oren Hafif stumbled across it.
According to Hafif, he found that by tweaking the URL of a webpage that is shown when a user to declined delegated access to another user's account, it will instead show him the email address of someone else. Through this exploit and a piece of software called DirBuster, Hafif managed to collect around 37,000 Gmail address in a matter of hours. Hafif claims that had he wanted to truly exploit this flaw, he could have had the email addresses of every single Gmail user in a matter of days/weeks.
Now before you start to freak out, you can rest easy knowing that Hafif has since worked with Google to fix the bug, although he did note that it took Google about a month after his report to fix the bug. He also claimed that Google was initially reluctant to pay him his bounty for discovering the bug, but later relented when they sent $500 his way, which is almost like a pittance considering that Google has paid out tens of thousands of dollars in the past.
However like we said, this bug has been in existence for a while now, so it is unclear if other hackers might have abused it and collected email addresses and other personal information in the past, but for now it appears that we are safe.
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Does the advertising business that built Google actually work?
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:51
What if the advertisers who pay Google most of the money it earns are getting a negative return on their investment, to the tune of -63%?
That's the question raised by a new paper that uses internal eBay data to assess whether the company's investment in search-engine marketing is actually paying off. When major brands spend to make sure their results are at the top of a Google search page for certain keywords, they like to think they're effectively targeting the customers looking for their products. But what if they are paying for something that they could be getting for free?
That's what the following chart implies. When eBay experimented by shutting off paid search traffic connected to the company's name, people found their way to the site anyway: ''Since users intend to ¬nd eBay, it is not surprising that shutting down the paid search path to their desired destination simply diverts traffic to the next easiest path, natural search, which is free to the advertiser.''
Tap to expand image
That's not what Google (or the people paying Google for targeted advertising) want to hear. Next, eBay wanted to look at keywords that don't mention the company's name; since it's possible that those do direct more traffic to their site. EBay purchases ads on an astonishing 100 million or more keywords (for example: ''used gibson les paul'') and was able to shut down advertising in randomly selected geographic areas to test their efficacy. This experiment showed some value in Google's product: Traffic to eBay declined by 2%. But clicks aren't sales, and the researchers think that most of those potential customers still would have found their way to eBay.
But there's a hope for search-engine marketing: eBay is a mature, well-known company, and much of its potential customer universe is aware of it already. The researchers found that Google's marketing was most effective at reaching customers who hadn't heard of the company or its products. That might suggest that search-engine marketing is in fact useful for younger companies seeking to make their names. It also plays into one theory of why eBay pays so much for search engine marketing: Its a prisoner's dilemma, where all competitors would be be better off not bidding on keyword ads'--but if one does, they all must seek an advantage.
But even if this advertising is devalued only for the biggest companies, that's still an issue for Google: The top-ten spenders on online advertising spent $2.36 billion out of a total of $31.6 billion in 2011. If they start cutting back, it will make a dent.
Of course, this is one piece of research, based on one company's data, and there may be better ways to value the kind of targeted marketing that Google provides. A Google spokesman told Quartz that Google's internal research shows that 89% of visits (pdf) to an advertiser's site would not have occurred absent their campaign, and even when an advertiser's website was featured as a top natural search result, 50% of traffic to their site from Google comes from their ad. ''Since outcomes differ so much among advertisers and are influenced by many different factors, we encourage advertisers to experiment with their own campaigns,'' the company said in a statement.
Still, this paper could offer some insight into why Google is spending so much money on satellite internet and driverless cars: The need for a back-up plan to its advertising business (which provides 95% of its revenue) is perhaps more pressing than the company might like to admit.
How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Browsing History
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:55
Earlier today, Facebook announced that it was going to start using all of that ever-so-illuminating app and website data it collects to serve us with more targeted ads. In other words, Facebook is getting ready to use your browsing history to benefit advertisers. Here's how to stop them.
Of course, just because you're getting some new (and highly necessary) controls over how Facebook shares your data doesn't mean it's going to stop collecting the data in the first place. So while we can at least somewhat limit how all of our salacious internet habits are being used, it doesn't mean the cache of data itself is going away.
What's more, the new feature is opt-out, so in order to keep your browsing history away from prying third-party eyes. You'll need to actively head over to the Digital Advertising Alliance here and let them know you're not willing to share.
Note: if you're using AdBlocker Plus or anything else that disables cookies, you're going to need to turn that off before you'll be able to opt out.
Once there, you'll see the above screen. Select the "Companies Customizing Ads for Your Browser" tab, and scroll down until you see Facebook.
Click the little check box next to Facebook, and as long as you're here, feel free to scroll through and check off any other sites you'd like to stop forking over your most private internet deeds. Once you've clicked to your heart's content, hit "Submit."
Now, considering how many of us also use the Facebook app, you're probably going to want to do the same for your mobile device(s). For iOS users, open settings and go to General>Restrictions>Advertising (under the "Privacy" section). Flip the switch for Limit Ad Tracking, and you're all set.
If you're using Android, go to Google Settings>Ads>Opt Out of Interest-Based Ads, and that's it'--you're free to browse in peace.
Facebook advertisers won't be able to cater to you quite so creepily, and your privacy is left just that much more intact. Of course, that's not to say that Facebook's advertisers would do anything malicious with the data, but considering all that we do out on the internet's wild frontiers, better safe than sorry.
All Our Patent Are Belong To You | Blog | Tesla Motors
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:10
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.
When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.
At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn't have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn't burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.
At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.
Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world's factories every day.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla's position in this regard.
Tesla handing over the keys to its technology | CNS News
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:08
FILE - In this Thursday, May 29, 2014, file photo, Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, introduces the SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship at the SpaceX headquarters on, in Hawthorne, Calif. Tesla Motors is opening access to its patents to accelerate electric vehicle development. Musk says the company will share several hundred patents and won't sue those who use them. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) '-- Electric car maker Tesla Motors is handing over the keys to its technology in an unusual effort to encourage other automakers to expand beyond gasoline-burning vehicles.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised Thursday to give away the company's entire patent portfolio to all comers, as long as they promised not to engage courtroom battles over intellectual property
"If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal," Musk wrote in a blog on the company's Web site.
The decision opens the door to more collaboration with Tesla, which is already making electric systems for Daimler and Toyota. Other automakers using Tesla's technology could potentially share the cost of Tesla's charging stations, for example. And more charging stations could entice skeptical buyers to try electric cars.
Seven years after Tesla introduced the Roadster electric sports car '-- which it no longer makes '-- electric cars still make up less than 1 percent of U.S. sales. Drivers remain concerned about their range and the lack of places to get a charge. Stable gasoline prices have also hurt sales.
Musk wants Tesla to help change that. The Palo Alto, California-based company currently makes one vehicle '-- the $70,000 Model S sedan '-- and is developing two others. Its Model X crossover is due out next year, and Tesla wants to start making a cheaper model by 2017. It's currently scouting locations for a $5 billion battery factory to increase supplies.
But Musk said Tesla can't make a dent in the market by itself, and thinks the patents could be a "modest" help to other companies developing electric cars. He says Tesla has gotten few requests for technology from rivals, but he thinks that's partly because patents were blocking access.
"If we can do things that don't hurt us and help the U.S. industry, than we should do that," he said.
Musk said Tesla discussed a potential Supercharger partnership with BMW this week. Currently, Tesla has about 100 Supercharger stations scattered across North America and Europe that give Model S drivers a free power source when traveling long distances, and it plans to open more in China and Japan this year. The technology is designed to replenish about half of the battery power within 20 minutes.
BMW spokesman Kenn Sparks confirmed the meeting.
Nissan, which makes the electric Leaf, had no comment on Tesla's action. The Leaf only goes 84 miles on a battery charge, compared with up to 265 miles with a Model S. But the Model S has a much larger battery and costs twice as much as a Leaf.
Prashand Kumta, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's school of engineering, said Tesla's lithium-ion battery technology isn't unique. But how the company packages that technology and designs its cars could be useful to other companies.
At the start of this year, Tesla had been issued 203 patents covering its batteries and other key features that distinguish its electric cars from gasoline-powered vehicles. Another 280 patent applications are still pending in the U.S. and other countries, according to Tesla's regulatory filings.
The earliest any of Tesla's current patents expires is in 2026, so the company is relinquishing a potentially valuable long-term advantage by giving away its intellectual property to its rivals.
But other companies have shown that technology giveaways can pay off. Even though it spent millions designing Android, Google made the software available to all comers at no charge. Google was more interested in expanding the market for mobile devices and ensuring its search engine and other digital services supported by advertising would be prominently featured on them.
The strategy has worked out well for Google so far. Android is now on more than 1 billion devices, surpassing Apple's iOS as the world's most widely used mobile operating system.
The open-source movement has long appealed to the egalitarian mindset of most technologists, so the patent decision could help recruit talent. Musk named his company for Nikola Tesla, a famous inventor who became so exasperated with the legal system that he finally stopped patenting his ideas.
"Technology leadership is determined by where the best engineers want to work," Musk said. "Putting in long hours for a corporation is hard. Putting in long hours for a cause is easy."
Analysts said the announcement has little downside for Tesla, and could solidify its leadership in the market.
"By opening its patents, Tesla rightly realizes it's better to be the best product in a large industry than the only product in a niche one," observed Silicon Valley entrepreneur Aaron Levie, the CEO of file-storing company Box Inc., in a Thursday post on his Twitter account.
Durbin reported from Detroit.
(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
Grow Light Ballast RFI Filter
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 02:50
Grow Light BallastGrow Light Ballast RFI Filter(Click on HiRes for a high resolution picture)Email: w0ivj@arrl.netWith the increase in leagalized medical and recreational marijuana comes an increase in RFI due to electronic grow light ballasts. These ballasts are usually switching power supplies capable of lighting 600 to 1000 watt high pressure sodium or metal halide lamps. The switching frequency is usually 50 to 70 kHz and is rich in harmonics. Several ballasts are shown in Figs. A, B, C, and D.
Typically the light fixture is removed from the ballast by about 25 to 30 feet. Since this length is about a 1/4 wavelength on 40 meters, it makes a good "antenna" for 40 meters so the RFI may be strongest on 40. I have heard radiations from these systems up to about 1/2 mile away. Also, since the "antenna" is so low to the ground, the RFI is mostly vertically polarized which is important when tracking it down. But that is another story. This site is about the filter development.
When the plants are young the lights are on 24/7. After about 2 weeks the lamps are on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. The systems are usually on a timer so you can easily predict when the RFI will ensue once you have determined the turn on time.
A...HiRes .. B...HiRes.. C...HiRes.. D...HiRes
A typical high pressure sodium bulb is shown in Figs. E and F. This is part of a test setup that I used to develop the RFI filter. One of the interfering growers was nice enough to loan me his ballast for the tests. I was able to get a used bulb that still worked for free from a local grow shop.
E..HiRes... F..HiRes
I built a Line Impedance Stabilizer Network (LISN) to check the conducted emissions from the ballasts. The LISN schematic is chown in Fig. G and the spectral plot is shown in Fig. H. The conducted emissions were about 40-dB above what they should be according to part 15 or part 18 specifications.Fig. I shows the signal strength and spectrum on the 40 meter band of a Quantum 1000 watt ballast running a high pressure sodium lamp 1000 feet away from my location. The receiver is a Flex-1000. Notice the spectrum and the S-meter reading of almost 10-dB over S-9 on AM in an 8-kHz bandwidth.
G..HiRes... H..HiRes...I..HiRes...
After many hours of testing, I was able to develop a Lamp Side common mode filter that reduced the RFI by 30-dB. I found that a Line Side filter, both common mode and differential, was not as effective as the Lamp Side filter. Fig. J shows the schematic of the filter. Figs. K and L show the filter itself. The special connectors to accomodate a Lamp Side connection were made by cutting a lamp extention cord into. The special ballast-to-amp extention cord with the special connectors was purchased at a local hydroponic shop.
J..HiRes... K..HiRes... L..HiRes...
Fig. M shows a spectrum analyzer plot of an A/B comparison with the filter in and out. The spectrum analyzer was connected to a 40 meter dipole about 40 feet away from the ballast/lamp setup in my basement. The peaks in the red plot are actual 40 meter signals that are completly blanketed in the green plot when the ballast is operating. You can easily see the 30-dB difference between the two plots.
I made a recording with and without the filter in place. The first part of the recording is the normal band noise on 40 meters. In the next part of the recording, the filter is NOT in. You can then hear the lamp turn on and the RFI subside a bit as the lamp warms up. Next you hear 40 meter band noise again. The third part of the recording is with the lamp on and the filter IN. You have to listen carefully for the RFI. Finally, the last part of the recording is with the lamp turned off and the filter IN. You can barely hear the difference between the filtered RFI and the normal band noise. Listen to the recording HERE.
Grow Light BallastGrow Light Ballast RFI Filter(Click on HiRes for a high resolution picture)Email: w0ivj@arrl.netWith the increase in leagalized medical and recreational marijuana comes an increase in RFI due to electronic grow light ballasts. These ballasts are usually switching power supplies capable of lighting 600 to 1000 watt high pressure sodium or metal halide lamps. The switching frequency is usually 50 to 70 kHz and is rich in harmonics. Several ballasts are shown in Figs. A, B, C, and D.
Typically the light fixture is removed from the ballast by about 25 to 30 feet. Since this length is about a 1/4 wavelength on 40 meters, it makes a good "antenna" for 40 meters so the RFI may be strongest on 40. I have heard radiations from these systems up to about 1/2 mile away. Also, since the "antenna" is so low to the ground, the RFI is mostly vertically polarized which is important when tracking it down. But that is another story. This site is about the filter development.
When the plants are young the lights are on 24/7. After about 2 weeks the lamps are on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. The systems are usually on a timer so you can easily predict when the RFI will ensue once you have determined the turn on time.
A...HiRes .. B...HiRes.. C...HiRes.. D...HiRes
A typical high pressure sodium bulb is shown in Figs. E and F. This is part of a test setup that I used to develop the RFI filter. One of the interfering growers was nice enough to loan me his ballast for the tests. I was able to get a used bulb that still worked for free from a local grow shop.
E..HiRes... F..HiRes
I built a Line Impedance Stabilizer Network (LISN) to check the conducted emissions from the ballasts. The LISN schematic is chown in Fig. G and the spectral plot is shown in Fig. H. The conducted emissions were about 40-dB above what they should be according to part 15 or part 18 specifications.Fig. I shows the signal strength and spectrum on the 40 meter band of a Quantum 1000 watt ballast running a high pressure sodium lamp 1000 feet away from my location. The receiver is a Flex-1000. Notice the spectrum and the S-meter reading of almost 10-dB over S-9 on AM in an 8-kHz bandwidth.
G..HiRes... H..HiRes...I..HiRes...
After many hours of testing, I was able to develop a Lamp Side common mode filter that reduced the RFI by 30-dB. I found that a Line Side filter, both common mode and differential, was not as effective as the Lamp Side filter. Fig. J shows the schematic of the filter. Figs. K and L show the filter itself. The special connectors to accomodate a Lamp Side connection were made by cutting a lamp extention cord into. The special ballast-to-amp extention cord with the special connectors was purchased at a local hydroponic shop.
J..HiRes... K..HiRes... L..HiRes...
Fig. M shows a spectrum analyzer plot of an A/B comparison with the filter in and out. The spectrum analyzer was connected to a 40 meter dipole about 40 feet away from the ballast/lamp setup in my basement. The peaks in the red plot are actual 40 meter signals that are completly blanketed in the green plot when the ballast is operating. You can easily see the 30-dB difference between the two plots.
I made a recording with and without the filter in place. The first part of the recording is the normal band noise on 40 meters. In the next part of the recording, the filter is NOT in. You can then hear the lamp turn on and the RFI subside a bit as the lamp warms up. Next you hear 40 meter band noise again. The third part of the recording is with the lamp on and the filter IN. You have to listen carefully for the RFI. Finally, the last part of the recording is with the lamp turned off and the filter IN. You can barely hear the difference between the filtered RFI and the normal band noise. Listen to the recording HERE.
BITCOIN AUCTION-USMS Asset Forfeiture Sale
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 03:59
FOR SALE29,656.51306529 bitcoins
PLEASE READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION FROM THIS ONLINE AUCTION.Phase I: Bidder RegistrationDeadline: 9:00 AM EDT on Monday, June 16, 2014Deadline: Noon EDT on Monday, June 23, 2014 All interested parties must first register with the USMS. You are not eligible to submit a bid or otherwise participate in this auction unless you have submitted all required documents and have received confirmation from the USMS that you are an eligible bidder. Any registration documents received after the deadline will not be considered.
Required Registration Items:
A manually signed pdf copy of the Bidder Registration FormA copy of a Government-issued photo ID for the Bidder (or Control Person(s) of Bidder)$200,000 USD deposit sent by wire transfer originating from a bank located within the United States (please provide receipt of transfer)You must deliver the Required Registration Items by email to The USMS will contact each individual who submits a registration form by 5:00 P.M. EDT, June 26, 2014. If the USMS determines that you are an eligible bidder, you will receive communication of that fact from the USMS and will be provided with additional information regarding how to place your bid. If the USMS determines that you are not an eligible bidder, you will receive communication of that fact from the USMS, the deposit funds will be returned, and you will not be eligible to participate in the online auction.The deposit of the winning bidder will be retained by USMS and credited towards the purchase price. If the winning bidder fails to close on the transaction through no fault of the USMS, the winning bidder will irrevocably forfeit his/her/its deposit to the USMS. The deposit of any bidder whose bid is not selected as a winning bid will be returned by wire transfer to the original account from which the deposit was received.
Phase II: Online Auction PeriodDate: Friday, June 27, 2014, from 6:00 AM EDT to 6:00 PM EDT
Only eligible registered bidders may participate in the online auction. In order for your bid to be considered by the USMS, you must send a signed pdf copy of the Bid Form to a separate email address that will be provided to eligible bidders only within the online auction period window, which extends from June 27, 2014 at 6:00 AM EDT until 6:00 PM EDT. Bids received before or after the online auction period will not be considered. Bids that do not conform to the following instructions will not be considered.This auction is for 9 blocks of 3,000 bitcoins (''Series A Blocks'') and 1 block of 2,656.51306529 bitcoins (''Series B Block'').
SeriesBitcoins per BlockBlocks AvailableTotal Bitcoins Available in SeriesA3,000.00000000927,000.00000000B2,656.5130652912,656.51306529Total
29,656.51306529You must use the Bid Form that will be provided to eligible registered bidders only. Your bid must reflect the number of Series A Blocks (up to a maximum of 9 blocks) and Series B Blocks (up to a maximum of 1 block) that you wish to purchase. A bid on more than one block from the Series A Blocks means that the bidder will accept any number of blocks up to the number of blocks for which he/she/it bid (e.g. a bid to purchase 5 blocks of Series A means that bidder will accept 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 Series A Blocks at the per block offer price).The prevailing bids will be determined by the following criteria:1. The eligible bidder who offers the highest price will be the prevailing bidder;2. If there are multiple bids at the highest price, the first bid received will prevail; and3. If fewer than all of the Series A blocks are sold to the highest bidder, the remaining blocks will be sold to the successive highest bidders until all blocks are sold.
Phase III: Award and Sale CloseOn Monday, June 30, 2014, by 5:00 PM EDT, the USMS will notify the winning bidder/bidders that their bid/bids has/have been selected. Any winning bidder must send the purchase price funds (less the $200,000 deposit amount) by a wire transfer originating from a bank located within the United States and provide a wire transmittal receipt to the USMS by 5:00 PM EDT, Tuesday, July 01, 2014. It is the responsibility of the winning bidder to understand their bank's deadline for initiating wire transfers in order to ensure that the domestic wire transfer is initiated and a wire transmittal receipt provided to the USMS by the deadline. Failure to provide the USMS with a copy of the wire transmittal receipt by the deadline will result in disqualification, forfeiture of the deposit, and award to another bidder.
Bitcoins will be transferred to winning bidders in the order that each winning bid was received. No bitcoin transfer will be made until the USMS has confirmed receipt of all purchase funds. The winning bidder(s) will be given private instructions related to the transferring of the bitcoins.
Cash. The bid must be an all cash offer. Bids that are contingent on financing terms of any kind will not be considered. All bids must be made in U.S. dollars.Receipt of Funds. The winning bidder should be prepared to wire purchase funds to the USMS by 5:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, July 01, 2014. If the winning bidder does not provide the USMS with a copy of the wire transmittal receipt by this date, the bidder will be disqualified and another winning bidder will be selected. FAILURE TO INITIATE A WIRE TRANSFER AND PROVIDE THE USMS WITH A COPY OF THE WIRE TRANSMITTAL RECEIPT BY TUESDAY, JULY 01, 2014, AT 5:00 PM EDT WILL RESULT IN FORFEITURE OF THE BIDDER'S DEPOSIT.Transfer Fees. Any transfer fees associated with the transfer of the bitcoins will be paid by the buyer.Block Transactions. The USMS will only sell the bitcoins in the Series A and B Blocks as described above. No bitcoin transfer will be made until the USMS has confirmed receipt of all purchase funds from the buyer. The USMS will not transfer bitcoins to an obscene public address, a public address apparently in a country restricted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a public address apparently associated with terrorism, other criminal activities, or otherwise hostile to the United States.Bidder Qualification. The USMS reserves the right to reject any bid for any reason whatsoever. The USMS reserves the right to sell all, some or none of the bitcoins at auction.Bill of Sale. The winning bidder will receive a signed Bill of Sale from the United States Marshals Service prior to the transfer of the bitcoins. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
The USMS does not make any representations or warranties regarding Bitcoin.The USMS will not answer any questions regarding (a) the associated criminal or civil cases that resulted in the seizure of the bitcoins being auctioned, (b) Bitcoin characteristics, uses or value, or (c) specifics of the auction process other than information provided in these documents.The USMS will not sell to any person who is acting on behalf of or in concert with the Silk Road and/or Ross William Ulbricht, and bidders will be required to so certify.June 2014
Phase I
Bidder registration and deposit due by Noon EDT
USMS notifies parties about eligibility to participate in the online auction
Phase II
Online auction period from
6:00 AM EDT to 6:00 PM EDT
Winning bidder notified by 5:00 PM EDT
July 2014
Phase III
Deadline for winning bidder to initiate wire transfer
Feds Auctioning Off Drug Dealer Bitcoins at Liquidation Prices
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:57
The FBI doesn't care much for the future of cryptocurrency: over $17 million worth of wacky internet money, seized from internet drug barons on the Silk Road, will be dumped via auction. Now's your chance to buy some bargain Bitcoins and feel like you're in a cool crime thriller.
The auction itself, which the Wall Street Journal smartly speculates could depress the value of Bitcoin worldwide, begins June 27th. So, you have until then to get the $200,000 deposit together (that's US dollars, not pixel dust) before the bidding begins. If that's too much, too soon, this is just the beginning: the Journal also reports that FBI auctioneers are preparing to offload another (roughly) $83 million worth of seized Silk Road coins sometime down the line.
This must represent some sort of turning point for the still-shady virtual currency. Bitcoin now it joins the company of tinted pink hummers, jet skis'--and of course, cold hard cash'--in the pantheon of seized drug dealer accoutrements.
Photo: Getty
BTC-It's Time For a Hard Bitcoin Fork
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 00:54
A Bitcoin mining pool, called GHash and operated by an anonymous entity called, just reached 51% of total network mining power today. Bitcoin is no longer decentralized. GHash can control Bitcoin transactions.
Is This Really Armageddon?Yes, it is. GHash is in a position to exercise complete control over which transactions appear on the blockchain and which miners reap mining rewards. They could keep 100% of the mining profits to themselves if they so chose. Bitcoin is currently an expensive distributed database under the control of a single entity, albeit one whose maintenance requires constantly burning energy -- worst of all worlds.
Some people might say that this is a sensational claim. It's not. The main pillar of the Bitcoin narrative was decentralized trust. That narrative has now collapsed. If you're going to trust GHash, you might as well store an account balance on a GHash server and do away with the rest of Bitcoin -- we'd all save a lot of energy. This is a big deal, and it would be a mistake to downplay it in the hope to buoy Bitcoin prices. It will be difficult to attract new people to Bitcoin when it's controlled or controlable by a single entity. If those people were willing to trust a single entity, they could have dodged inflation by putting their fiat into World of Warcraft or subway tokens. They came to Bitcoin because it was decentralized, and now it isn't. The first step is to admit that we have a problem. Luckily, there is life after Armageddon, and there are possible fixes to get back to normal from here.
Some pedants might point out that GHash reaching 51% over a 12-hour period doesn't mean they actually have 51% of the hashing power. GHash might just have gotten lucky. That's true, but they got lucky not just once, or twice, but over the span of 72 blocks. Laws of large numbers do apply. And even if they are really at 49.9% and "only" had a lucky long streak, their steady growth over the last year shows that they will soon have 51% if they don't already.
In a possibly unrelated, or possibly very related development, someone has been using spare mining capacity to attack Eligius. Essentially, someone has been pretending to be part of the Eligius mining pool and submitting near-solutions to cryptopuzzles in order to collect a share of any blocks discovered by Eligius. But these same people have simply been discarding any blocks they discover, so Eligius pays them for their effort, but they don't contribute anything to the pool. Note that the attacker doesn't gain anything from this behavior, either; it's purely destructive. This is not rational behavior in a simple game theoretic sense -- the only sensible explanation is that it is a competing miner that is using its spare capacity to dilute Eligius' profits to drive customers away from Eligius. It's a dog eat dog world among miners with very complex incentives.
What Happens At Armageddon?It's critical to note that there is a difference between having 51% of the mining power, and launching a 51% attack. An honest, benign 51%er (and we'd expect GHash to be on their best behavior in the next few weeks to not spook everyone) will continue to operate normally. But 51%er can turn dishonest at any moment, for there is a huge difference between someone who only holds 49% of the revenue, and someone who holds 51%. A 49%er can collect only 49% of the rewards if they are honest; if they engage in selfish mining, they can collect almost 100% of the rewards, but they cannot launch a full 51% attack. A 51%er can collect 100% of the mining rewards. In addition, they can reject every block found by competing miners and selectively drive them bankrupt. They can reject selected transactions. They cannot take away your Bitcoins but they can make certain addresses unspendable. And that allows them to extort any mining fee they like. They are a de facto monopoly.
Most religious texts claim that the devout and the righteous will disappear suddenly when the day of reckoning comes, while the remaining people are left to roam the earth. So there is life after armageddon, where the left-behinds can still inhabit Bitcoin talk forums and push their favorite cryptocurrency while badmouthing competing alt-coins. Religious texts tell us that sinners will continue to lie and cheat and steal, collect donations to improve the talk forums but spend them on extracurricular activities, or do Bitcoin IPOs and abscond with the cash or just gamble the cash away. Andreas, the confident messiah of the Bitcoin crowd who, as far as I can tell, has no technical qualifications and an abysmal track record where he did not see the impending Mt. Gox collapse and shilled for Neo & Bee, will probably make another appearance, trying to dispense holy KoolAid to the folks who bought at $1200.
But the fact is, this is a monumental event. The Bitcoin narrative, based on decentralization and distributed trust, is no more. True, the Bitcoin economy is about as healthy as it was yesterday, and the Bitcoin price will likely remain afloat for quite a while. But the Bitcoin economy and price are trailing indicators. The core pillar of the Bitcoin value equation has collapsed.
ImplicationsInterestingly, when we first discovered selfish mining and cautioned Bitcoiners about a resulting 51% attack, our blog got brigaded by the Bitcoin lunatic fringe. Their main argument was "No miner would do that, it'd be against their self-interests. Why, they would destroy their own investment!" We have preserved almost all of those comments intact (we did delete a few that had profanities). It's interesting to see how obnoxiously the lunatic fringe was pushing on this point, how strongly they claimed that every single miner would be devoted to the long-term well-being of the currency, how utterly convinced they were that no one would engage in any behavior that might take a pool past the 51% point.
The main ringleader of this brigade was a failed academic from Singapore, someone who had a superficial knowledge of game theory and sufficient familiarity with Latex to create the look & feel of research papers, but someone whose own academic work never went beyond repackaging well-known results in game theory. He kept claiming that a miner reaching 51% was equivalent to "mutual assured destruction." This was, of course, all just noise. We tried to point out that there are lots of different players in the Bitcoin universe, that not everyone will have the long-term best interests of the currency in mind, that someone could enroll the help of partially rational or short-term rational miners to their cause. But it's hard to argue rationally with people who have money at stake. Bitcoin was going to go to the moon, and we were bad people (the actual words used were far worse) for pointing out a part of objective, inescapable reality that interfered with their plans to get rich. By God, they were entitled to retire based on the fruits of their graphics cards, everyone was an early adopter no matter how late, and, they were heavily vested in Bitcoin, convinced of a hyperinflationary future to come. "Trust math" they said, but only when it served to advance their market position. Even though we provided a fix for the problem we identified, they tried to drown out our message, math be damned.
A secondary argument these people latched onto was that "the developers would never allow that to happen." I never understood how anyone could simultaneously claim that Bitcoin was the future of currencies, and yet could entrust that future to the diligence of a handful of developers. It's great to see that people believe that a dozen developers can actively respond to all events that threaten a $10B currency system, but what if Armageddon happened while they were at a conference in Barbados with us? In any case, the core developers seem to be nowhere to be found at this monumentous occasion, except Peter Todd wrote that he is liquidating half his Bitcoins and Luke-Jr posted earlier today that Bitcoin was just an experiment.
No one knows the ultimate aims of GHash. The people who join the GHash pool do so because GHash has zero fees -- these people are essentially optimizing for short term profits over the long term well-being of the currency. All of these are precisely the points we cautioned about.
So this is when we get to say "We told you so."
What Not To DoThe knee-jerk reaction from the Bitcoin lunatic fringe will be to try to minimize the issue. The folks who are vested upto their eyeballs in Bitcoin will now claim that, surely, GHash would be crazy to launch a 51% attack, even though they control 51%.
But that's exactly the same reasoning they used before GHash reached 51%. People were claiming that GHash or any other miner would be crazy to even reach 51%, and look where we are now.
Worse, GHash has a well-known track record of actually engaging in double-spend attacks even when they did not command a majority of the hashing power. GHash used its hashing power to attack a gambling site that accepted 0-confirmation transactions. In essence, they would make a bet, as in red-or-black in roulette, and if the virtual roulette wheel spin came out the wrong way, they would cancel their losing bet and place a new one. This is outright theft: GHash stole from a gambling operator.
Besides GHash, other miners have used 51% attacks to destroy alternative cryptocurrencies. In particular, Luke Jr apparently used the Eligius pool to attack CoiledCoin. 51%ers are dangerous under the best of circumstances, and even if one could trust a particular entity, their centralization makes them vulnerable to takeover by parties with different intentions.
Overall, there is absolutely no reason to trust GHash or any other miner. People in positions of power are known to abuse it. A group with a history of double-expenditures just blithely went past the 51% psychological barrier: this is not good for Bitcoin.
And why should any miner have Bitcoin's long-term future in mind? A common response to this question is "because of their investment in their mining equipment." This response is broken because it assumes a static world. Instead, the mining rigs have a fairly short useful lifetime. If a miner knows that they will be overtaken by the next generation of hardware about to be unleashed by a competing mining pool, it will have a definite time horizon for extracting every last bit of value, and that plan may not have room in it for a voyage to the moon.
What To Do Now?It's time for a hard fork. Such a hard fork needs to fix three outstanding, fundamental problems related to the broken incentives of the mining protocol:
It should disincentivize mining pools. Techniques for doing so are well-known. They rely on structuring the blocks in such a way that a pool member can steal the rewards for a block she finds.
It should fix selfish mining. It's only a matter of time before a selfish miner emerges in the Bitcoin scene; in fact, we suspect it was solely the presence of big mining pools, and their peering arrangements, that thankfully kept selfish mining at bay since we disclosed the idea last November.
It should incorporate changes to make what's happening among the miners easier to detect. At a minimum, the network should publish all blocks with difficulty close to the current difficulty. The default network behavior obliterates all traces of competing blocks inside the network, which enables selfish mining to take place undetected.
The hard fork need not respect the existing blockchain (in which case, it would be a new currency with new rules and a fresh blockchain) but it should. That would enable the system to retain the Bitcoin name, and keep everyone's existing investment in Bitcoin intact. The Bitcoin system weathered a hard fork just slightly over a year ago, and can pull off another one again.
Or we can carry on as if nothing of importance happened. GHash will be on their best behavior for the next few weeks, and Bitcoin will limp along. What will bring the actual demise of Bitcoin is the subject of a future blog post, but this is by no means the end. People can still use Bitcoin to buy drugs, trinkets from, and maybe even grilled cheese from a food truck. There is an afterworld. And for everything else, there is dirty fiat and Mastercard.
But the sensible thing to do is to implement the few simple fixes to align miners' incentives with those of the greater Bitcoin community. Once pools are eliminated, the constant pleas on Bitcoin forums to avoid the biggest mining pool will cease. Once selfish mining is fixed, there will be no fear that large (>33%) miners will unilaterally deviate from the honest protocol prescribed by Satoshi to mine selfishly and obtain rewards out of proportion with their mining power. And once the network propagates all orphans, it'll be easy to detect the small (
Expedia Now Accepts Bitcoin For Your Crypto-Vacations
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:33
Another day, another company accepting bitcoin in an attempt to cash in on the craze. This time it's Expedia the travel booking site that's accepting the virtual currency for hotel bookings. They're working directly with Coinbase to accept and then convert the BTC into dollars as soon as they hit the travel agent's coffers.
''While they haven't officially announced anything aside from hotels, Expedia does plan to eventually expand bitcoin payments to its other lines of business including flights, activities, car rentals, etc as well,'' wrote an Expedia spokesperson. ''The biggest question is really just around when '' and the timing all depends on how well it goes with hotels to start.''
Expedia chose to support hotels first because they saw the ''most demand'' in the space. It was good starting point because Expedia already allowed customers to pay for hotel rooms on the site rather than at the hotel, making it easier for the site to accept bitcoin and then pass the cash on to hotel owners.
Like PayPal before it, these bitcoin announcements are a way of showing that a company is hip and ''with it.'' Bitcoin fans, on the other hand, see this adoption as proof their coins are gaining traction. However, what's really happening is that the companies are using bitcoin as a lure for early adopters and folks who might not want to transmit their credit card numbers over the Internet.
The plan is to add flights later if the feature becomes popular. Expedia follows and Dish Network as the third major company to accept bitcoin.
Richard Rockefeller dies in plane crash in New York | Mail Online
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:29
Richard Rockefeller, 65, a doctor and father-of-two, was the only person on board the planeThe aircraft took off just after 8am on Friday and went down after hitting some trees west of the airfield in WestchesterDr Rockefeller had been in the area to have dinner with his father David Rockefeller to celebrate his 99th birthday on ThursdayMember of the powerful industrial and banking Rockefeller dynasty - his father David Rockefeller is worth an estimated $2.7billionBy Louise Boyle
Published: 11:03 EST, 13 June 2014 | Updated: 17:54 EST, 13 June 2014
Dr Richard Rockefeller, 65, (pictured in 2012) a father-of-two, pictured, was killed when his small plane went down on Friday morning in Westchester, New York
Richard Rockefeller, great grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, died today in a small plane crash outside New York City, a family spokesman confirmed today.
The aircraft took off just after 8am on Friday and went down after hitting some trees west of the airfield, according to Westchester County Airport.
Rockefeller, of Falmouth, Maine, was the only person on board the Portland, Maine-registered aircraft.
The 65-year-old was a doctor and leaves his wife Nancy and two children, Clayton and Rebecca.
The plane, a single-engine Piper Meridian, crashed on a road in the hamlet of Purchase, a community of about 10,000 residents that houses a State University of New York campus.
It wasn't immediately known whether the pilot reported any problems before going down.
He had taken off in foggy and rainy conditions this morning.
Dr Rockefeller had flown from Portland International Jetport in Maine on Thursday to Westchester Airport. The doctor lived in Falmouth, Maine.
The plane costs an estimated $2.2million and seats six people, including the pilot.
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The wreckage of Richard Rockefeller's small plane lies in the yard of a Purchase, New York home after crashing shortly after take-off on Friday
Police tape surrounds the scene of the small plane. Authorities said that the sole occupant Dr Rockefeller took off in rainy and foggy conditions on Friday and hit a line of trees
The 65-year-old doctor died this morning in a plane which he was flying home to Maine from New York
Dr Rockefeller had been in New York to have dinner with his father on Thursday night to celebrate David Rockefeller's 99th birthday, according to family spokesman Fraser Seitel.
Mr Seitel told the Portland Press Herald: 'The family is in shock. This was a terrible tragedy. Richard was a wonderful cherished son and brother, father, husband and grandfather.
'He was an experienced pilot and a respected medical doctor, who most recently was working on treating PTSD in veterans. And it's just horribly sad.'
At the time of the crash, the weather was foggy and visibility was about a quarter-mile, police and airport officials said at a news conference.
Richard Rockefeller poses next to a vehicle while working with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Peru during the 1990s in this image provided by MSF
Emergency vehicles and personnel stand near a command post set up for a small plane that crashed on a road just west of Westchester County Airport today
Police and firefighters stand near the site of a small plane crash in the town of Harrison, Westchester County, New York, today
Pilots of private planes make the decision about whether to fly in such conditions, officials said.
After narrowly missing the house, the plane hit some pine trees and crashed in a yard. The aircraft broke up into many pieces, which were strewn about the property, with some parts lodged in the trees.
Officials said there was no indication of a mayday or problem.
The airport was closed for a short time after the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive later on Friday.
(Left to right) Richard Rockefeller, Nancy Rockefeller, Susan Rockefeller and David Rockefeller Jr. pictured in New York City in 2012
Video Source YouTube
Dr Rockefeller was the chairman of charity, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He also sat on the United States advisory board of Doctors Without Borders.
He was a family doctor in Portland, Maine from 1982 until 2000. He graduated from Harvard Medical School.
His wife Nancy was formerly on the Maine Board of Environmental Protection in Augusta.
His son Clayton Rockefeller, 36, develops lofts in Providence, Rhode Island for artists to live and work in along with being the founder of the Steel Yard, a Providence nonprofit arts organization.
He was the son of David Rockefeller Sr., who was CEO of the Chase National Bank and the Museum of Modern Art until his retirement in 1981.
The Rockefeller estate in Falmouth, Maine. Dr Richard Rockefeller was returning home in his private plane when he crashed and died in Westchester, New York
Richard Rockefeller was in Westchester having dinner with his father David Rockefeller (pictured with Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, left in 2010) to celebrate his 99th birthday
David Rockefeller is the oldest living member of the Rockefeller family '' an industrial, political and banking dynasty. Forbes magazine ranked him as the 49th-richest person in the world, worth an estimated $2.7 billion.
Rockefeller was a nephew of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the 41st vice president of the United States and governor of New York from 1959 to 1973.
Dr Rockefeller's great-grandfather was John D. Rockefeller Jr., developed Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.
He is survived by his wife Nancy and their two children.
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller, head of the American industrial, political and banking dynasty. His great-grandson Richard Rockefeller died in a small plane crash today
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VIDEO-Ukraine and Russia fail to broker gas deal | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:14
Against the on-going backdrop of diplomatic tension, Ukraine and Russia failed to end their long-running gas pricing dispute on Saturday during last ditch talks in Kyiv.
Ukrainian and European negotiators have said they are ready to strike a deal with Moscow ahead of Monday's deadline which could see supplies cut off to Ukraine.
Brussels, which is trying to help broker a deal, remains concerned that a halt to deliveries could also disrupt its own gas supplies to the EU.
But both Moscow and Kyiv still appear far apart with Russia's Gazprom demanding Ukraine pay off a near 2 billion dollar gas bill.
Talks are expected to resume later in an effort to find a last minute deal.
VIDEO-Comcast turning your home into a public WiFi hotspot |
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 05:47
Starting today, WiFi access can be found all across the city of Houston, but some people are not too happy about it.What's wrong with free WIFI? The machines generating it are inside people's homes, and many say they did not know their WiFi routers would host other people too.
Michelle Eulene has been a Comcast customer for years, but she's not happy with her WiFi now that her router is playing host to other Xfinity customers who want an internet connection.
"It feels weird for Comcast to take my modem that I am already paying for and delivering it to other people," said Eulene.
Eulene adds she was surprised to learn Xfinity is allowing WiFi routers in Houston to be an access to the world wide web. It's got Eulene very worried about online privacy and that's not all.
"What if somebody downloads something illegal and then it traces back to me? I didn't do it. So how is that going to work out," asked Eulene.
"That was my concern as well," said Houston IT expert Colman Ryan.
Ryan tested the Wi-Fi routers himself and says the router design does not allow strangers access to a person's data. He adds if someone downloads illegal content it will be the person who logged into the public side of the Wi-Fi router who gets in trouble.
While this may look like the Matrix, Ryan says it shows two separate paths to the internet on the Xfinity WiFi.
"The pathing test that I did, I looked at them side by side and they took completely different networks which is what we want to see," said Ryan.
Comcast says the public feature on the WiFi router is turned on by default, but you can turn it off by calling 1-800-XFINITY or by visiting My Account, clicking on "Users & Preferences", and then selecting "Manage XFINITY WiFi.
Comcast says only 1% of customers have opted to turn off the Home Hotspot feature. The customers we spoke with say they don't like the idea, but not enough to cancel their subscriptions.
(Copyright (C)2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
VIDEO-West Wing Week 06/13/14 or, "I Am Hip To All These Things" | The White House
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:55
June 12, 2014 | 4:35 | Public Domain
This week, the President commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, hosted his first Tumblr event, and spoke to graduates of Worcester Technical High School.
VIDEO-Comedy Central's Liberal Comedians Mock Dave Brat's Christianity | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:44
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Sen. McCain: Obama's Entire National Security Team 'Ought to be Fired' | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:37
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Jiddy, Giddy, Whatever - YouTube
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:15
VIDEO-CBS This Morning Video - Kerry said President Obama will be announcing a new terrorism partnership fund of $5 billion. He talks to the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts about the remaining troops in Afghanistan and the role of U.S. leadership in the world
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:46
Secretary of State John Kerry on building alliance with other countries
Air Date: 05/28/14
Kerry said President Obama will be announcing a new terrorism partnership fund of $5 billion. He talks to the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts about the remaining troops in Afghanistan and the role of U.S. leadership in the world.
VIDEO-President Obama Speaks to West Point Graduates | The White House
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:31
U.S. Military Academy-West PointWest Point, New York
10:22 A.M. EDT THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. And thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction. To General Trainor, General Clarke, the faculty and staff at West Point -- you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution and outstanding mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army. I'd like to acknowledge the Army's leadership -- General McHugh -- Secretary McHugh, General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack Reed, who is here, and a proud graduate of West Point himself. To the class of 2014, I congratulate you on taking your place on the Long Gray Line. Among you is the first all-female command team -- Erin Mauldin and Austen Boroff. In Calla Glavin, you have a Rhodes Scholar. And Josh Herbeck proves that West Point accuracy extends beyond the three-point line. To the entire class, let me reassure you in these final hours at West Point: As Commander-in-Chief, I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses. (Laughter and applause.) Let me just say that nobody ever did that for me when I was in school. (Laughter.) I know you join me in extending a word of thanks to your families. Joe DeMoss, whose son James is graduating, spoke for a whole lot of parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices you've made. ''Deep inside,'' he wrote, ''we want to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our country.'' Like several graduates, James is a combat veteran. And I would ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute -- not only to the veterans among us, but to the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families. (Applause.) This is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, a few days after Memorial Day. You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. (Applause.) When I first spoke at West Point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. We were preparing to surge in Afghanistan. Our counterterrorism efforts were focused on al Qaeda's core leadership -- those who had carried out the 9/11 attacks. And our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda's leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more. (Applause.) And through it all, we've refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of American strength: a growing economy that can provide opportunity for everybody who's willing to work hard and take responsibility here at home. In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise -- who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away -- are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth; our businesses the most innovative. Each year, we grow more energy independent. From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations. America continues to attract striving immigrants. The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe. And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. (Applause.) So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. But the world is changing with accelerating speed. This presents opportunity, but also new dangers. We know all too well, after 9/11, just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. Russia's aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China's economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago. It will be your generation's task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead -- not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe. Now, this question isn't new. At least since George Washington served as Commander-in-Chief, there have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic wellbeing. Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve. And not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many Americans. A different view from interventionists from the left and right says that we ignore these conflicts at our own peril; that America's willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America's failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future. And each side can point to history to support its claims. But I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment. It is absolutely true that in the 21st century American isolationism is not an option. We don't have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders. If nuclear materials are not secure, that poses a danger to American cities. As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. Regional aggression that goes unchecked -- whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world -- will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military. We can't ignore what happens beyond our boundaries. And beyond these narrow rationales, I believe we have a real stake, an abiding self-interest, in making sure our children and our grandchildren grow up in a world where schoolgirls are not kidnapped and where individuals are not slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political belief. I believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative, it also helps to keep us safe. But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution. Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences -- without building international support and legitimacy for our action; without leveling with the American people about the sacrifices required. Tough talk often draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans. As General Eisenhower, someone with hard-earned knowledge on this subject, said at this ceremony in 1947: ''War is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.'' Like Eisenhower, this generation of men and women in uniform know all too well the wages of war, and that includes those of you here at West Point. Four of the servicemembers who stood in the audience when I announced the surge of our forces in Afghanistan gave their lives in that effort. A lot more were wounded. I believe America's security demanded those deployments. But I am haunted by those deaths. I am haunted by those wounds. And I would betray my duty to you and to the country we love if I ever sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak. Here's my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don't, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only -- or even primary -- component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader -- and especially your Commander-in-Chief -- to be clear about how that awesome power should be used. So let me spend the rest of my time describing my vision for how the United States of America and our military should lead in the years to come, for you will be part of that leadership. First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it -- when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake, when the security of our allies is in danger. In these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just. International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland, or our way of life. (Applause.) On the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake -- when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us -- then the threshold for military action must be higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law; and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action. In such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, less likely to lead to costly mistakes. This leads to my second point: For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is na¯ve and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy -- drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan -- to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold. And the need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today's principal threat no longer comes from a centralized al Qaeda leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in countries where they operate. And this lessens the possibility of large-scale 9/11-style attacks against the homeland, but it heightens the danger of U.S. personnel overseas being attacked, as we saw in Benghazi. It heightens the danger to less defensible targets, as we saw in a shopping mall in Nairobi. So we have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat -- one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments. We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us. And empowering partners is a large part of what we have done and what we are currently doing in Afghanistan. Together with our allies, America struck huge blows against al Qaeda core and pushed back against an insurgency that threatened to overrun the country. But sustaining this progress depends on the ability of Afghans to do the job. And that's why we trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police. Earlier this spring, those forces, those Afghan forces, secured an election in which Afghans voted for the first democratic transfer of power in their history. And at the end of this year, a new Afghan President will be in office and America's combat mission will be over. (Applause.) Now, that was an enormous achievement made because of America's armed forces. But as we move to a train-and-advise mission in Afghanistan, our reduced presence allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa. So, earlier this year, I asked my national security team to develop a plan for a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel. Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines. And these resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali. A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As President, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn't help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos. So with the additional resources I'm announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria's neighbors -- Jordan and Lebanon; Turkey and Iraq -- as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria's borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share to support the Syrian people. Let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. The partnerships I've described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that's what we do -- through capture operations like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our embassies in 1998 to face justice; or drone strikes like those we've carried out in Yemen and Somalia. There are times when those actions are necessary, and we cannot hesitate to protect our people. But as I said last year, in taking direct action we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is no certainty -- there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield. I also believe we must be more transparent about both the basis of our counterterrorism actions and the manner in which they are carried out. We have to be able to explain them publicly, whether it is drone strikes or training partners. I will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. Our intelligence community has done outstanding work, and we have to continue to protect sources and methods. But when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government. And this issue of transparency is directly relevant to a third aspect of American leadership, and that is our effort to strengthen and enforce international order. After World War II, America had the wisdom to shape institutions to keep the peace and support human progress -- from NATO and the United Nations, to the World Bank and IMF. These institutions are not perfect, but they have been a force multiplier. They reduce the need for unilateral American action and increase restraint among other nations. Now, just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well. At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon, ''a gradual evolution in human institutions.'' And evolving these international institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership. Now, there are a lot of folks, a lot of skeptics, who often downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action. For them, working through international institutions like the U.N. or respecting international law is a sign of weakness. I think they're wrong. Let me offer just two examples why. In Ukraine, Russia's recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn't the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine's economy; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine. And this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks. This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions. Yesterday, I spoke to their next President. We don't know how the situation will play out and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future without us firing a shot. Similarly, despite frequent warnings from the United States and Israel and others, the Iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years. But at the beginning of my presidency, we built a coalition that imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy, while extending the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian government. And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement -- one that is more effective and durable than what we could have achieved through the use of force. And throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side. The point is this is American leadership. This is American strength. In each case, we built coalitions to respond to a specific challenge. Now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent problems from spreading. For example, NATO is the strongest alliance the world has ever known. But we're now working with NATO allies to meet new missions, both within Europe where our Eastern allies must be reassured, but also beyond Europe's borders where our NATO allies must pull their weight to counterterrorism and respond to failed states and train a network of partners. Likewise, the U.N. provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict. Now we need to make sure that those nations who provide peacekeepers have the training and equipment to actually keep the peace, so that we can prevent the type of killing we've seen in Congo and Sudan. We are going to deepen our investment in countries that support these peacekeeping missions, because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm's way. It's a smart investment. It's the right way to lead. (Applause.) Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict. We have a serious problem with cyber-attacks, which is why we're working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and our citizens. In the Asia Pacific, we're supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea. And we're working to resolve these disputes through international law. That spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change -- a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet. You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can't exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else. We can't call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it's taking place. We can't try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. That's not leadership; that's retreat. That's not strength; that's weakness. It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions. (Applause.) And that's why I will continue to push to close Gitmo -- because American values and legal traditions do not permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders. (Applause.) That's why we're putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence -- because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we're conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens. (Applause.) America does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict, no matter what the cost. We stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere. Which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: Our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. America's support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism -- it is a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war. Economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror. A new century has brought no end to tyranny. In capitals around the globe -- including, unfortunately, some of America's partners -- there has been a crackdown on civil society. The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies, and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares. And watching these trends, or the violent upheavals in parts of the Arab World, it's easy to be cynical. But remember that because of America's efforts, because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history. Technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron fist can control. New breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And even the upheaval of the Arab World reflects the rejection of an authoritarian order that was anything but stable, and now offers the long-term prospect of more responsive and effective governance. In countries like Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests -- from peace treaties with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government, but we can and will persistently press for reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded. And meanwhile, look at a country like Burma, which only a few years ago was an intractable dictatorship and hostile to the United States -- 40 million people. Thanks to the enormous courage of the people in that country, and because we took the diplomatic initiative, American leadership, we have seen political reforms opening a once closed society; a movement by Burmese leadership away from partnership with North Korea in favor of engagement with America and our allies. We're now supporting reform and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment, through coaxing and, at times, public criticism. And progress there could be reversed, but if Burma succeeds we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot. American leadership. In each of these cases, we should not expect change to happen overnight. That's why we form alliances not just with governments, but also with ordinary people. For unlike other nations, America is not afraid of individual empowerment, we are strengthened by it. We're strengthened by civil society. We're strengthened by a free press. We're strengthened by striving entrepreneurs and small businesses. We're strengthened by educational exchange and opportunity for all people, and women and girls. That's who we are. That's what we represent. (Applause.) I saw that through a trip to Africa last year, where American assistance has made possible the prospect of an AIDS-free generation, while helping Africans care themselves for their sick. We're helping farmers get their products to market, to feed populations once endangered by famine. We aim to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa so people are connected to the promise of the global economy. And all this creates new partners and shrinks the space for terrorism and conflict. Now, tragically, no American security operation can eradicate the threat posed by an extremist group like Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped those girls. And that's why we have to focus not just on rescuing those girls right away, but also on supporting Nigerian efforts to educate its youth. This should be one of the hard-earned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military became the strongest advocate for diplomacy and development. They understood that foreign assistance is not an afterthought, something nice to do apart from our national defense, apart from our national security. It is part of what makes us strong. Ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is, with all its danger and uncertainty. We have to be prepared for the worst, prepared for every contingency. But American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be -- a place where the aspirations of individual human beings really matters; where hopes and not just fears govern; where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in a direction of justice. And we cannot do that without you. Class of 2014, you have taken this time to prepare on the quiet banks of the Hudson. You leave this place to carry forward a legacy that no other military in human history can claim. You do so as part of a team that extends beyond your units or even our Armed Forces, for in the course of your service you will work as a team with diplomats and development experts. You'll get to know allies and train partners. And you will embody what it means for America to lead the world. Next week, I will go to Normandy to honor the men who stormed the beaches there. And while it's hard for many Americans to comprehend the courage and sense of duty that guided those who boarded small ships, it's familiar to you. At West Point, you define what it means to be a patriot. Three years ago, Gavin White graduated from this academy. He then served in Afghanistan. Like the soldiers who came before him, Gavin was in a foreign land, helping people he'd never met, putting himself in harm's way for the sake of his community and his family, of the folks back home. Gavin lost one of his legs in an attack. I met him last year at Walter Reed. He was wounded, but just as determined as the day that he arrived here at West Point -- and he developed a simple goal. Today, his sister Morgan will graduate. And true to his promise, Gavin will be there to stand and exchange salutes with her. (Applause.) We have been through a long season of war. We have faced trials that were not foreseen, and we've seen divisions about how to move forward. But there is something in Gavin's character, there is something in the American character that will always triumph. Leaving here, you carry with you the respect of your fellow citizens. You will represent a nation with history and hope on our side. Your charge, now, is not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just. As your Commander-in-Chief, I know you will. May God bless you. May God bless our men and women in uniform. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) END11:08 A.M. EDT
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WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENTThe U.S. once had Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, it was revealed FridayAl Baghdadi was among the prisoners released in 2009 from the U.S.'s now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in IraqIt is unclear why the U.S. let the merciless al Qaeda leader slip awayAl Baghadadi and his troops took the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi earlier this year and conquered Tikrit and Mosul within the last several daysThey are now bearing down on Baghdad, burning down everything that stands in their way and carrying out executions on Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police officersISIS posted an image today of an officer's decapitated head tweeted with sickening message: 'This is our ball. It's made of skin #WorldCup'By Francesca Chambers
Published: 10:55 EST, 13 June 2014 | Updated: 14:20 EST, 13 June 2014
The United States once had Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, but president Barack Obama let him go, it was revealed on Friday.
Al Baghdadi was among the prisoners released in 2009 from the U.S.'s now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in Iraq.
But now five years later he is leading the army of ruthless extremists bearing down on Baghdad who want to turn the country into an Islamist state by blazing a bloody trail through towns and cities, executing Iraqi soldiers, beheading police officers and gunning down innocent civilians.
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These are the only two known photos of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He is seen here on the left as a prisoner half a decade ago and on the right more recently as the shadowy head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, also known as ISIS
This uundated handout picture of jihadi leader of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Du'a, was provided by the Department of State. The U.S. government has a $10 million bounty out for the al Qaeda leader
It is unclear why the U.S. let the merciless al Qaeda leader slip away, however, one theory proposed by The Telegraph is that al Baghadadi was granted amnesty along with thousands of other detainees because the U.S. was preparing to pull out of Iraq.
The United States began withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2010,and Camp Bucca closed in 2011 along with the United States' other military facilities as President Obama declared that the War in Iraq had come to an end.
Another possible explanation is that al Baghadadi did not become a jihadist until after his release from Camp Bucca.
The story of how Baghadadi ended up in U.S. custody in the first place and later came to be the leader of a violent terrorist group is the stuff of legend.
It is said by some that al Baghadadi was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was picked up by the U.S. military, a farmer who got caught up in a massive sweep. It was at Camp Bucca that he was radicalized and became a follower of Osama Bin Laden.
Another version of the story is that al Baghadadi, who also goes by the alias of Abu Duaa, was an Islamic fundamentalist before the U.S. invaded Iraq and he became a leader in al Qaeda's network before he was arrested and detained by American forces in 2005.
'Abu Duaa was connected to the intimidation, torture and murder of local civilians in Qaim,' according to a 2005 U.S. intelligence report.
'He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them.'
Crazed: Jihadists are carrying out summary executions on civilians, soldiers and police officers including this police major after taking control of large swathes of Iraq
Shock and awe: An ISIS propaganda video shows militants blindfolding a Sunni police major in his home before cutting off his head
Barbaric: This picture of the police officer's decapitated head resting on his legs was tweeted with the message: 'This is our ball. It is made of skin#WorldCup'
The U.S. now has a $10 million warrant out out of the brute, who is accused of bombing a mosque in Baghadad in 2011 and killing former Sunni lawmaker Khalid al-Fahdawl.
Al Baghadadi's use of aliases has made him a difficult man to pin down. The terrorist organizer rarely shows his face - even to his followers. There are only two known pictures of him in existence, and one is from before he was released from prison.
'We either arrested or killed a man of that name about half a dozen times, he is like a wraith who keeps reappearing, and I am not sure where fact and fiction meet,' Lieutenant-General Sir Graeme Lamb, a former British special forces commander, told The Telegraph.
'There are those who want to promote the idea that this man is invincible, when it may actually be several people using the same nom de guerre.'
Al Baghadadi and his troops had already taken key cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq earlier this year and have conquered the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Mosul within the last several days.
They are now on the war path to Iraq's capitol city Baghadad.
The terrorist group's sudden rise in Iraq has taken the United States mostly by surprise.
President Obama famously said in October of 2011 that the American soldiers leaving Iraq would come home 'with their heads held high, proud of their success.
'That is how America's military efforts in Iraq will end.'
Obama rules out sending troops back to Iraq
President Obama reiterated on Friday that, 'We will not be sending us troops back into combat in Iraq'
Faced with the real possibility that Iraq's capitol could fall into the hands of terrorists, President Obama is now rethinking America's military engagement in Iraq.
The president said on Thursday that he would consider launching air strikes on al Baghadadi and his followers.
'What we've seen over the last couple of days indicates Iraq's going to need more help' from the United States and other nations, Obama said yesterday from the Oval Office.
'I don't rule out anything,' he said, 'because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in Iraq '' or Syria, for that matter.'
In his daily briefing with reporters, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified that president Obama was specifically referring to airstrikes.
'We're not considering boots on the ground,' he said.
Thousands of Iraqi soldiers, men and boys captured by ISIS
On the warpath to Baghdad: A graphic showing the town and cities captured by ISIS over the last few days
Up in arms: Members of Iraqi security forces chant slogans in Baghdad Sunni Islamist militants pressed towards the capital
Sabre-rattling: An Islamic militant issues a call to arms, saying: 'Declare Allah the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest!' in a video released by ISIS
President Obama reiterated on Friday that, 'We will not be sending us troops back into combat in Iraq.'
Obama said the U.S. would not get involved at all militarily until Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki and other members of the government demonstrate that they can put aside their secretarian differences and work toward unifying the country.
'Ultimately it's up to Iraqis to solve their problems,' Obama said.
ISIS militants in Mosul stamp on Iraqi military uniforms
Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants, who have taken over Mosul and other Northern provinces, gesture from an army truck
Kurdish Peshmerga forces seize the control of Kirkuk where Iraqi army forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant clashed
The news that the U.S. may have played a role in the rise of the new Osama bin Laden comes just a week after President Obama released five Taliban commanders in exchange for a U.S. solider being held hostage by the terrorist network.
Lawmakers immediately questioned the logic of the president's decision, saying that the move could end up backfiring on the U.S. if the five fighters return to the battlefield in Afghanistan once their mandatory one-year stay in Qatar comes to a close.
They are especially concerned given the president's announcement just days before their release that he plans to withdraw the majority of America's troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year.
Already one, of the Taliban 5 have vowed to return to Afghanistan to fight American soldiers there once he is able.
'I wouldn't be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security,' the president said at the time.
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VIDEO-MH370 disappearance no accident, say writers who have investigated tragedy | Mail Online
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:54
A commercial pilot and a journalist have written Good Night Malaysian 370: The truth behind the loss of Flight 370Ewan Wilson and Geoff Taylor say they used a process of elimination to reveal 'the truth behind the tragedy' of the missing plane'It was deliberate and it was calculated and it should never have been allowed to happen,' Taylor saysIt comes as a Netherlands' survey ship and Chinese military vessel announce plan to begin mapping the Indian Ocean floor in mid-June for the next phase in the searchPublished: 01:44 EST, 14 June 2014 | Updated: 08:46 EST, 14 June 2014
The disappearance of MH370 has been described as 'deliberate' and 'calculated' in the latest book to be published on the tragedy.
New Zealand authors Ewan Wilson, a commercial pilot and Hamilton City Councillor, and Waikato Times journalist Geoff Taylor, said they used a process of elimination to lead readers to the revelation that the tragedy was no accident.
Wilson told that the conclusion of Good Night Malaysian 370: The truth behind the loss of Flight 370 will shock the travelling public.
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Ewan Wilson (left) and Geoff Taylor (right) claim their book about the missing MH370 plane will shock the public
'For the first time we present a detailed analysis of the flight, the incredible route it took, and who we believe was in charge of the aircraft as it plunged into the Indian Ocean,' Wilson said.
The book begins at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 and weaves in the lives of the 239 passengers and crew on board what was meant to be a short flight to Beijing.
Wilson, a former CEO of two airlines and with qualifications in transport safety investigations, said the men investigated each piece of evidence and eliminated all the possible scenarios until the reader is left with 'one shocking and unbelievable conclusion'.
'The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 captured the world's attention and shocked everyone - [the outcome] is gut-wrenching,' he said.
The authors travelled to Malaysia to interview authorities and family members of MH370's pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
Two New Zealand men are publishing a book claiming that the disappearance of the MH370 plane was not an accident and should never have happened
Taylor said authorities were not willing to admit the truth.
'For the sake of the relatives of those on the flight the truth needs to be out there,' he said. 'We visited the departure lounge where families sat full of excitement and anticipation waiting for their boarding call. Surely they deserve better than a cover up?'
During a late night visit to the departure lounge Taylor recalled the moment his conclusion swept over him.
'What happened to MH370 was no accident,' he said. 'It was deliberate and it was calculated and it should never have been allowed to happen.'
Wilson said the March 8 mystery could determine which airlines passengers choose in the future.
The authors also recommend immediate changes to the management of flight crews and the introduction of tamper-proof technical systems to ensure the aircraft can be tracked at all times.
Meanwhile, Australia has chosen a state-of-the-art Dutch vessel to help map the Indian Ocean floor as the search for missing flight MH370 heads deeper under water.
The MV Fugro Equator will make its way to Australia to work with the Chinese PLA-Navy ship Zhu Kezhena in mapping the Indian Ocean floor for the next phase of the MH370 search
Netherlands-based Fugro Survey will assist a Chinese military vessel in surveying the ocean bed as part of the next stage of the quest for the Malaysia Airlines plane which vanished three months ago.
The MV Fugro Equator, which is equipped with a deep water multi-beam echo sounder system, will work with Chinese PLA-Navy ship Zhu Kezhen to complete the mapping ahead of the underwater search by an as-yet undetermined contractor.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is now planning to comb a 60,000 square-kilometre (24,000 square-mile) search zone based on the plane's last satellite communication.
The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) stated that the survey would provide crucial information to help plan the deep water search for MH370 which is scheduled to begin in August.
'The bathymetric (ocean floor) survey will provide a map of the underwater search zone, charting the contours, depths and composition of the seafloor in water depths up to 6,000 metres,' the JACC said.
Fugro said in a statement that it expected its vessel to start mapping in mid-June which was expected to take about three months.
Australia has set aside $90 million to find MH370 - expected to be the most the country has spent in aviation history
The Malaysian government has revealed it has spent just a fraction of what Australia has paid in the search for missing flight MH370, as officials from both countries prepare to meet to discuss the next phase of the mission.
But Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said Australia will pay its fair share in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
'It is understood that the plane went down in waters that are our responsibility, and there is a cost to having responsibility and we don't shirk that,' he told reporters on Tuesday morning.
'We accept responsibility and will pay for it. We're not a country that begs others for money to do our job.'
The Australian government has set aside almost $90 million for the search - expected to be the most expensive in aviation history - but it's possible that figure could increase.
Searchers undecided who will pay for MH370 hunt
More than three months have passed since the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard - including six Australians.
The Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, but an extensive search has turned up no sign of wreckage.
The Australia Transport Safety Board last week issued a tender to continue the deep-water search for the ill-fated flight.
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VIDEO-Iraq crisis: army deserter speaks out - Telegraph
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:22
A group of military deserters have painted a devastating picture of the ability of the Iraqi army to stand and fight, telling The Telegraph how entire divisions surrendered Mosul, Iraq's second city, without firing a single shot.
Speaking from the Kurdish city of Erbil, the defectors accused their officers of cowardice and betrayal, saying generals in Mosul "handed over" the city over to Sunni insurgents, with whom they shared sectarian and historical ties.
With Sunni insurgents now threatening the capital Baghdad the eye-witness accounts from the deserters' reveal how sectarian enmity have, in the space of mere weeks, destroyed the Iraqi national army, which the US government spent billions of dollars to build.
Corporal Muammer Naser, 35, told The Telegraph that his superiors had sympathised with remnants of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and that the generals essentially passed control of the city to them. Organised militias of Saddam sympathisers are said to have participated in the takeover of Mosul and Saddam's birthplace Tikrit, this week.
Cpl Naser said: "The war now is definitely sectarian. In Mosul, the Sunni soldiers didn't want to fight against the Sunni insurgents."
The developments indicate that the Iraqi government no longer feels able to rely on its forces, amid the deteriorating security situation that every day more closely resembles a sectarian civil war.
The desertions by military commanders has caused Cpl Naser to pine for the days when American military commanders were in charge of Iraq's national army after the US invasion in 2004.
"In 2004 I was fighting and we saw that the lieutenants and the colonels in the US army were standing side by side with us and they were raising our morales," said Cpl Naser. "But when you see that the other officers are you weak and are afraid, who is going to raise the morale of the soldiers to fight?"
VIDEO- Chaffetz asks IRS Commissioner: "Are you going to comply with subpoena?" - YouTube
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 00:57
AUDIO-Fun, fun, fun: Hillary clashes with NPR host about why she opposed gay marriage for so long Hot Air
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:17
posted at 4:31 pm on June 12, 2014 by Allahpundit
America Rising has a transcript but I recommend listening to the clip. The last minute or two, when Hillary gets verrrrry defensive towards Terry Gross for exposing this vulnerability on her left flank, is pure pleasure. It's hard to keep track of when big-name Democrats ''evolved'' on gay marriage, and by ''evolved'' I of course mean ''decided it was politically safe to state their true opinions,'' so let me help you out. For Hillary, the evolution didn't come until March 2013, nearly a year after Obama dropped the pretense that he opposed SSM. Remember, too, that it was her would-be rival Joe Biden blabbing to the press about his own support for gay marriage in May 2012 that nudged Obama to step up, so Biden's got bragging rights over her among liberals on this point. (And don't think lefties have forgotten that it was Hillary's husband who signed DOMA into law.) Her excuse for the long delay is that she was Secretary of State and therefore loath to wade into domestic policy disputes, but c'mon: If she was asked in 2011 whether she supports ending the Bush tax cuts, no one would have blinked had she said, ''Of course.'' She's a Democrat. She's married to a former Democratic president. She ran for the Democratic nomination herself and likely will again. Her sympathies are not a secret. Nobody would have faulted her for politely signaling her support.
What's weird about her answer is how reluctant she is to commit to a clear explanation. She could have just said, ''Yep, changed my mind. Like lots of people, I grew up in an era when it was taken for granted that gays couldn't marry. I assumed bad things would happen if they did. But the more gay couples I met and the more arguments for it that I listened to, the more persuaded I was that it was the right thing. And then, when gay marriages started happening over the last few years with no ill effects, I was finally convinced. But I felt duty-bound to stay out of it so long as I was at State.'' I think she's trying to say something like that, but by emphasizing repeatedly how quickly American society changed, Gross takes her as meaning that she actually changed her mind earlier but didn't feel politically safe in announcing it until recently. Which is a cardinal sin in American politics: Better to maintain a bald-faced lie, even if everyone knows it's a lie, than admit to political cowardice. The left will tolerate the former, as we all saw when they pretended Obama was anti-SSM in 2008. They won't tolerate the latter, which is why Hillary gets so testy at Gross for badgering her near the end.
Exit quotation: ''One of my big problems right now is that too many people believe they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything.''
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