627: Scam Celebrities

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 23m
June 19th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Pap Smear, Ian Larsen, Sir Steven Pelsmaekers Grand Duke of Belgium, Sir Scott Spencer, Oscar Zamora, Dame Astrid Viscountess of Tokyo, Sir Arthur Gobets of Kittens, Thomas Wiehe, Sir Craig Jones

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Tom Dary, Nick Johannes, Kelli Sandlin, Thomas Imbreckx, Regime Books, Neil Liston

Cover Artist: kevlar

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TODAY
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Presidential Proclamation -- National Day of Making, 2014
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 00:31
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 17, 2014
NATIONAL DAY OF MAKING, 2014 - - - - - - - BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
Our Nation is home to a long line of innovators who have fueled our economy and transformed our world. Through the generations, American inventors have lit our homes, propelled humanity into the skies, and helped people across the planet connect at the click of a button. American manufacturers have never stopped chasing the next big breakthrough. As a country, we respond to challenge with discovery, determined to meet our great tests while seeking out new frontiers. During the National Day of Making, we celebrate and carry forward this proud tradition. Today, more and more Americans are gaining access to 21st century tools, from 3D printers and scanners to design software and laser cutters. Thanks to the democratization of technology, it is easier than ever for inventors to create just about anything. Across our Nation, entrepreneurs, students, and families are getting involved in the Maker Movement. My Administration is increasing their access to advanced design and research tools while organizations, businesses, public servants, and academic institutions are doing their part by investing in makerspaces and mentoring aspiring inventors.
I am committed to helping Americans of all ages bring their ideas to life. Alongside our partners, my Administration is getting tens of thousands of young people involved in making. We are supporting an apprenticeship program for modern manufacturing and encouraging startups to build their products here at home. Because science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are essential to invention, we launched a decade-long national effort to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers. And we are expanding STEM AmeriCorps so that this summer, 18,000 low-income students will have learning opportunities in these vital fields. As we observe this day, I am proud to host the first-ever White House Maker Faire. This event celebrates every maker -- from students learning STEM skills to entrepreneurs launching new businesses to innovators powering the renaissance in American manufacturing. I am calling on people across the country to join us in sparking creativity and encouraging invention in their communities. Today, let us continue on the path of discovery, experimentation, and innovation that has been the hallmark not only of human progress, but also of our Nation's progress.
Together, let us unleash the imagination of our people, affirm that we are a Nation of makers, and ensure that the next great technological revolution happens right here in America.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 18, 2014, as National Day of Making. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth 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.
BARACK OBAMA
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New Hams
KK6NDX
KK6NDX !
http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/license.jsp?licKey=3605535
Very interested in this DSTAR you described yesterday. Are the USB dongles ~$200?
All I have now is a cheap Chinese Baofeng 5w handheld, sounds like I will need at least a better antenna. Not going to mount anything on my car yet. Ill have to research repeaters to be able to raise you from the West Coast.
Just like the Gitmo Lowlanders cant get enough of Caps Lock's pronunciation, I cant get enough of his phonetic alphabet shenanigans!
TYFYC!
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Mind BLOWN by the Synergy-Project monitor/mouse sharing software thanks to Mike deCock
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World Cup
Qatar World Cup 2022 scandal: Bill Clinton's fury at vote triggered global search for truth - Telegraph
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:51
As Qatar's bid team celebrated and the Fifa president Sepp Blatter declared football was going to ''new lands'', questions were already being asked about the decision-making process. Why would Fifa award the World Cup to a small Gulf state with no footballing history, let alone stadia, where summer temperatures can reach 50C (122F)?
Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa (Tsafrir Abayov/ AP)
The answer could lie in a series of payments made by a senior Qatari official to various Fifa members. The Qatar 2022 bid committee is adamant that there is no link.
In the wake of Qatar's victory, the US and Australian governing bodies, or sources close to them, each hired teams of private detectives who have worked behind the scenes since, interviewing witnesses and obtaining documents in the search for what they were certain was the hidden truth about the motives of Fifa members in voting for Qatar.
Whether there is any connection between these investigations and the leak of documents to The Sunday Times is unclear, but Australia and the US have most to gain if Qatar is stripped of the World Cup.
Meanwhile, newspapers have been making their own inquiries into the controversy.
In March this year, The Telegraph disclosed that Jack Warner, the former vice-president of Fifa, and his family were paid almost £1.2million by a Qatari firm linked to the World Cup bid. This newspaper also revealed that the 10-year-old daughter of a Brazilian Fifa executive who participated in the 2010 decision had more than £2'‰million put into a savings account set up in her name.
The Sunday Times has been given millions of leaked documents that appear to show a further £2'‰million in bribes that were paid to Fifa members in a plot allegedly organised by Mohamed Bin Hammam, Qatar's most senior football official at the time.
Mr Bin Hammam is alleged to have used ten secret slush funds to make dozens of payments, many of them to accounts controlled by the heads of 30 African football associations who could lobby the continent's four executive members over how to vote.
Mohamed Bin Hammam (Shirley Bahadur/ AP)
Mr Bin Hammam was banned from world football in 2011 after he was caught bribing voters in his bid to be elected Fifa president.
Now The Telegraph has discovered that Michel Platini, the president of Europe's soccer governing body UEFA, held secret meetings with Mr Bin Hammam, and that Thailand was offered a gas deal in return for its support of the Qatar bid.
Michel Platini (Pics United)
The clamour for Qatar to be punished has now built such momentum that Australia is said to be ready to re-run its bid if the 2022 tournament is up for grabs again, with the US likely to follow suit.
Where that leaves England's World Cup ambitions is less easy to predict. England bid for the 2018 World Cup, given to Russia on the same day as Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.
David Cameron and the Duke of Cambridge were among those lobbying Fifa in the run-up to the vote in Switzerland, yet the bid got just two votes and was eliminated in the first round of voting.
Andy Anson, the chief executive of England's bid, said some executive committee members had told lies. He had been confident that England could secure seven votes in the first round, a base that would have provided a platform for victory.
''I do feel people let us down, I'd be lying if I said they didn't,'' he said. ''People who promised us our vote obviously went the other way.''
Even before Russia annexed Crimea, concerns had been raised about the country's human rights and safety record, and there is speculation that if the 2022 vote has to be re-run, the 2018 vote would have to be re-run also.
Fifa is already looking at the possibility of moving the 2022 tournament to the winter months, and speculation is growing that Mr Blatter is looking for an excuse to reverse the decision altogether, with health concerns being a potential excuse.
A spokesman for the Qatar 2022 bid said Mr Bin Hammam had never worked for the bid and they knew nothing about his activities.
Qatar sets pace with $160bn (£94.3bn) World Cup spending
UN calls on gay World Cup players to declare sexuality.
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 03:32
By Tom Miles
GENEVAMon Jun 16, 2014 2:58pm BST
GENEVA (Reuters) - Gay soccer players at the World Cup in Brazil should declare their sexuality to help make gays and lesbians accepted around the world, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Monday.
"I encourage players, sports people to declare their sexual orientation without fear," she told reporters in Geneva.
"That's the only way they will find the right to sexual orientation accepted. They are role models, it's important to send this message to their fans as well," Pillay said, adding that it was "a shame, in this day and age", that people "had to hide who they really are".
She was speaking after addressing a meeting on equality in sports on the sidelines of the U.N. Human Rights Council, where she also spoke out against discrimination on the grounds of race or disability.
"There's an increasing realisation that combatting discrimination requires more than superficial measures that do not change attitudes or address the root causes of inequality," she told the meeting.
Pillay also warned governments that bid for major sporting competitions that they needed to give far more thought to how their bid would affect human rights.
This year's World Cup hosts Brazil and the 2022 hosts Qatar have both drawn criticism - Brazil for the $11 billion cost in a country where schools and hospitals are poor, and Qatar for suspicions of corruption and the welfare of migrant labourers.
"They risk becoming hubs of human rights violations, including misuse of public funds, child labour, forced evictions, and demolition and the sexual exploitation of human beings including children in the surge of tourism," Pillay said, without naming any particular city.
"Sporting events should celebrate the joy of human potential, not generate pain and abuse," she said.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Justin Palmer)
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Explosion rocks Nigeria World Cup viewing - Al Jazeera English
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:30
An explosion has struck a venue in the town of Damaturu in northeast Nigeria where fans had gathered to watch a World Cup football match, police say.
There were reports that a suicide bomber detonated a tricycle packed with explosives at the venue.
There was no official word on casualties from Tuesday night's blast at the Crossfire venue in the Nayi-Nawa area of the town.
Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja, said hospital sources had confirmed that several people had died.
"Emergency workers are telling us that people are avoiding the scene of the accident for fear of a secondary explosive device," he said.
A witness near the scene told Reuters news agency they heard a loud boom. Some residents said they also heard a second explosion.
Sanusi Ruf'ai, police commissioner for Yobe state, told AFP: "There was an explosion outside a soccer viewing centre here in Damaturu at around 8.15pm. "Our men have deployed to the scene but it's too early for us to give details."
Damaturu is the capital of Yobe state, an area that has been devastated by attacks from rebel group Boko Haram which in April abducted more than 200 girls from a school in neighbouring Borno state.
Viewing centres closed
The Nigerian government had advised residents to avoid gathering in public to watch the World Cup, concerned about possible attacks, even issuing a direct warning two days ago to close down all viewing centres.
Authorities in Adamawa, in northeast Nigeria, last week closed viewing centres, where large crowds gather to watch matches on the big screen, while the central state of Plateau followed suit days later.
Earlier this month, at least 40 people were killed when a bomb went off after a football match in the town of Mubi in Adamawa. The apparent target was fans trying to leave after the final whistle.
In May, three people were killed in a blast outside a viewing centre showing the European Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in Jos, the capital of Plateau state.
In April, suspected Boko Haram members stormed a packed venue in Potiskum, in northeast Yobe state, shooting dead two people as they watched Champions League quarter-final matches.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Idris said authorities would be likely to blame Boko Haram.
"Definitely the finger of blame will point to that particular group," Idris said.
Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009 in its push to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria's north.
Argentina's Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner denounces US Supreme Court ruling as 'extortion' in debt row
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:55
She described their demands as ''extortion'' and dismissed yesterday's US Supreme Court ruling in their favour as ''absurd''.
She was speaking after the US Supreme Court refused even to hear Argentina's appeal against rulings that the country should pay the likes of hedge fund Aurelius, run by a trader known on Wall Street as Mark ''The Terminator'' Brodsky, 10 cents in the dollar on their debt.
Other private bondholders '' most of whom unlike Aurelius lent money to Argentina before its 2001 default, have agreed to take a ''haircut'' on their loans of about 70 per cent. But Aurelius and NML have pursued their case relentlessly, claiming the country must pay its dues in full.
Ms De Kirchner told her country in a national television broadcast that she was willing to negotiate but that Argentina simply could not pay, in cash, all the vulture funds' $1.5bn demands on top of its repayments to those lenders who have accepted haircuts.
''What I cannot do as president is submit the country to such extortion,'' she said, repeatedly adding that Argentina would continue making repayments to those lenders who have agreed renegotiated settlements.
She added that, if she were to comply, the lenders who had agreed a haircut ''will find a judge who will tell them that they, too, have the same rights.'' That would be an outcome that would crash the Argentinian economy.
Argentina's stock market tumbled 11 percent yesterday after the court's decision.
As well as rejecting Argentina's case, the Supreme Court also declared the hedge funds should be able to force the country to reveal the whereabouts of its assets around the world, making it easier for them to collect on their debts.
A spokesman for the Jubilee Debt Campaign said: ''We are shocked the Supreme Court did not even agree to hear this case. It is so important in terms of setting a precedent. The vulture funds never lent any money to Argentina yet they could now force the country to default to those who did over the next couple of weeks.''
Debt campaign groups argue that much of Argentina's debt crisis was started by the military junta and exacerbated by irresponsible lending.
The case famously saw NML obtain an order from Ghana to seize the Argentine navy ship The Libertad in 2012. Ghana held the ship for several months until a UN maritime court ruled against the seizure and ordered Ghana to let the ship go.
Mark Brodsky, known as ''The Terminator'' for his relentless approach to achieving his business objectives, has reportedly sold most of Aurelius's stake in the Coop Bank's debt. He and other vulture funds bought in when the debt was cheap in the hope of forcing the company to give them a stake worth much more in the long run.
Mr Brodsky has said throughout the years-long fight that countries around the world should not be allowed to run up debts irresponsibly and get away with it. Last year he said: ''Argentina is the world's leading exemplar of how a sovereign should not treat its creditors.''
Argentina flirts with debt swap as fear of default rises | Reuters
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:14
By Sarah Marsh and Alexandra Ulmer
BUENOS AIRESWed Jun 18, 2014 8:05am BST
Argentina's Economy Minister Axel Kicillof announces what the government will do following a major setback in its long-running legal battle against ''holdout'' investors in Buenos Aires June 17, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina is taking steps to place its restructured debt under local law so it can continue making payments despite a string of adverse U.S. court rulings, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said on Tuesday as fears of default increased.
Under the move, Argentina would swap bonds that are governed by U.S. law for those governed by Argentine law, meaning they would no longer be subject to the U.S. courts.
"We cannot allow (holdouts) to prevent us from honouring our commitments to creditors," Kicillof told a news conference. "For this reason we are starting the steps to start a debt swap to pay them in Argentina under Argentine law."
The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal by Argentina in its decade-long battle against hedge funds who refused to take part in its debt restructuring after its catastrophic 2001-02 default.
This left a lower court ruling intact ordering it to pay them $1.33 billion (784 million pounds), something Argentina has vowed not to do.
It also set the clock ticking ahead of June 30, when the government is due to service restructured bonds. If a resolution is not found before then, Argentina would be barred by the U.S. court decision from making the payment, pushing the country into technical default 12 years after its devastating debt crisis.
Analysts said a new swap into locally governed bonds was a risky move that could also result in a technical default if Argentina did not manage to implement it before the end of the month or in the likely event that some investors refuse it.
"Essentially he's saying Argentina is going to ignore the ruling," said Ignacio Labaqui, analyst for consultancy Medley Global. "This is a fairly risky move ... Still, they haven't closed the door to negotiations."
Kicillof said Argentina would also get its lawyers to speak with U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, in a last-ditch attempt to negotiate a solution to its dispute with hedge funds.
If Argentina complied with his ruling, this would open the door to claims from other holdout bondholders worth $15 billion that the country could not afford, Kicillof said,
"We are going to take the measures needed to be able to pay," Kicillof told a news conference. "But we will also send our lawyers to talk to Judge Griesa to see what he is referring to when he says he isn't pushing Argentina into a default with this ruling."
Kicillof said Argentina had shown it wanted to normalize relations with foreign creditors and investors but would not accept "just any conditions." "Some say you have to negotiate with the vultures. But... vultures are vultures because they do not negotiate, because they go to the courts to obtain the total of their claims."
Last month, Argentina's lawyers sought to assure Griesa it would not evade his orders if the U.S. top court declined to hear its case. Kicillof's comments on Tuesday suggested a tougher stance.
(Additional reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Eliana Raszewski; Editing by James Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman)
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BBC News - IMF in warning over Argentina ruling at US Supreme Court
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:16
18 June 2014Last updated at 02:59 ET The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Argentina's legal defeat in its fight against hedge fund investors may have wider implications.
On Monday, a US Supreme Court ruling sided with bondholders demanding Argentina pay them $1.3bn (£766m).
The IMF said it was concerned about "broader systemic implications".
Meanwhile the ratings agency S&P cut Argentina's credit rating, warning the ruling made it more likely that the country would default.
"The Argentine government has limited capacity to pay the plaintiff creditors while servicing its current debt", S&P said.
S&P reduced the credit rating by two notches from "CCC+" to "CCC-".
The move theoretically makes it more expensive for Argentina to borrow money. However, the country has been unable to raise funds on the international market since its 2001-02 debt default.
Argentina's Economy Minister, Axel Kicillof, said the government was "starting to take steps" to restructure the debt under Argentine law - as a way of avoiding complying with the US order.
In a press conference Mr Kicillof said this would allow the country to honour its commitments with those creditors who had accepted the initial agreement.
Argentina has agreed a restructuring with the bulk of investors holding its defaulted debt, but the so-called "hold-outs" have been fighting for 100% of the value.
Mr Kicillof added that he would be sending lawyers to speak to the US judge behind the ruling, Thomas Griesa.
On Monday President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said her country would not bow to "extortion", in a reference to the court's ruling. She urged people to "remain tranquil" in the days ahead.
'Hold-outs'Continue reading the main storyThis realistically is the end of the road for Argentina's decade-long fight''
End QuoteThe Supreme Court rejected Argentina's appeal against an order to pay the full value of bonds that some hedge funds bought after the country defaulted more than a decade ago.
Also, the bondholders won the right to use the US courts to force Argentina to reveal where it owns assets around the world. The court's decision means that bondholders should find it easier to collect their debts.
Some analysts believe it is possible that the Supreme Court's ruling could encourage investors to hold out in other restructurings of sovereign debt.
"The Fund is considering very carefully this decision and, as we have said before, we are concerned about possible broader systemic implications," the IMF said. The Fund is usually closely involved in the financial restructuring of countries in trouble.
'End of the road'Ms Fernandez went on national television to say her country could not afford to honour the ruling.
She said her government was willing to discuss the issue further, but added: "What I cannot do as president is submit the country to such extortion."
However, Anna Gelpern, an expert in sovereign finance at the US-based Georgetown Law School said: "This realistically is the end of the road for Argentina's decade-long fight."
The South American country defaulted in 2001 following its economic crisis, and has been in a legal battle with bondholders led by hedge funds NML and Aurelius Capital Management.
Argentina argues that the funds bought most of the debt at a deep discount after the default, and has since tried to impede the country's efforts to restructure.
Investors holding more than 92% of the defaulted debt agreed in 2005 and 2010 to write off two-thirds of their pre-crisis value, providing Argentina with time to re-build its economy.
But the hedge funds owning the remaining 8% held out against the restructuring.
The women behind Germany's football stars
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:10
Behind the talent of Germany's football World Cup squad are many beautiful and successful women. Who is the striking beauty that lights Bastian Schweinsteiger's fire, or the wife that prefers horses to Hermes?
German model and actress Sarah Brandner, 26, will be supporting Bastian Schweinsteiger from the sides. The stunning blonde is a successful model, and has been modeling since she was 14-years-old.
In 2011, she was the model in the men's deodorant Christmas commercial for Axe and was voted by FHM as Germany's fourth sexiest woman in 2010.
And then there is Lisa M¼ller, 25, married to Bayern Munich star Thomas M¼ller, who does not fit the mould of a stereotypical footballer's wife.
Preferring horses to glitz and glamour, the pretty brunette is more at home in Bavaria riding her horses than walking down the red carpet. Down-to-earth like her husband, she is happy to drive her horse transporter and is seldom seen in the tabloids.
And the woman who serenades Mesut –zil, is German singer Mandy Capristo, 24. The long-legged singer has been voted as one of the sexiest women in the world by Germany's FHM.
CLICK HERE to see German football's sexiest women
A diver hangs from a Sikorsky S-76 rescue helicopter over the lake of V¤ttern following the plane crash on June 14th 2014. Picture Alliance/DPA
Emergency services have resumed their search for a missing German pilot after a plane crash in Lake V¤ttern, Sweden, with authorities fearing for the man's life. READ
Germans go for 'logical' solution to address World Cup security fears | Mail Online
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 21:20
German FA develop purpose built resort for their base during the tournamentPrivate industry helped cover some of the £25 million cost for their hotelAfter the World Cup, the hotel will open to the public to recoup the investmentBy Caroline Graham In Rio De Janeiro
Published: 18:03 EST, 3 May 2014 | Updated: 10:51 EST, 4 May 2014
They have a better squad, a better record and '' in keeping with the German reputation for meticulous preparation '' they appear to have bagged the best accommodation, too.
While England have plumped for an ageing Rio hotel close to a gang-infested slum as their base, the Germans will luxuriate in a secluded, specially-built £25million resort within easy reach of all their games.
Funded jointly by the German FA and private enterprise, the Campo Bahia resort offers beach-facing villas, hot tubs, a 2,000'‰'‰sq'‰'‰ft pool area and its own restaurant.
The German FA has invested in a purpose built beach-front resort for their team at a cost of £25 million - which will open to the public after the World Cup
The training pitches and media centre are just one mile away.
Crucially, the complex '' which lies 700 miles north of Rio on the Atlantic coast '' offers easy security and is a short ride away from the airport, ensuring that the German players can be delivered to all their games in less than two hours by private jet. The base will become a commercial resort when the World Cup is over.
By contrast, the England team face a journey of between one and two hours to their training ground '' an army base '' and up to three hours to the international airport from their hotel, the four-star Royal Tulip in Rio.
Inside, there is cracked paint, a failing internet service and stained carpets. The £200-a-night hotel was criticised on TripAdvisor by one guest who said: 'It makes a North Korean prison seem like a dream destination.'
England's hotel is located within view of the Rocinha favela in Rio where armed gangs are being targeted by police
The hotel was named the InterContinental until 2010 when a group of gunmen from a drug gang stormed the lobby, taking 30 guests and staff hostage and killing one woman.
A worker said: 'The hotel was sold and renamed because as you can imagine that incident wasn't very good for business.'
A staff member at the Tulip said rooms were 'being renovated' but added: 'We have another year and a half to go before the building work is complete.'
When asked if the hotel would be ready in five weeks when the England team are due to arrive he shrugged and said: 'Look around you, what do you think? We are working very hard to get it ready.'
Inside a room, large brown stains dotted the blue carpet. The bath water took five minutes to run warm and emerged from the tap a dull yellow colour.
One note of consolation for the England squad is that the German resort isn't yet ready, either.
While is Arsenal colleagues are stuck in the centre of Rio, Per Mertesacker will be able to enjoy the beach in the German FA's £25 million base 700 miles north of Rio
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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.
Read more on thestar.com:
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.
Clive Mason / GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
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.
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
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENTTO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESAND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
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.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM OBJECTIVES
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.
MILITARY OPERATIONS RELATED TO THE LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY
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.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT
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.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN JORDAN
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.
U.S./NATO OPERATIONS IN KOSOVO
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.
REGIONAL SECURITY OPERATIONS
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.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA
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President Obama to Host First-Ever White House Maker Faire
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 23:36
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 13, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC '' On Wednesday, June 18, President Obama will host the first ever White House Maker Faire and meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch new businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and fuel the renaissance in American manufacturing. The President will also announce new steps the Administration and its partners are taking to support the ability of more Americans, young and old, to have to access to these tools and techniques and brings their ideas to life.
America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machine tools. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and build almost anything.
The rise of the Maker Movement represents a huge opportunity for the United States. Nationwide, new tools for democratized production are boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in manufacturing, in the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups, creating the foundation for new products and processes that can help to revitalize American manufacturing.
In addition to the Makers at the White House event, June 18 will be a nationwide Day of Making for communities across America to share and celebrate their involvement in the Maker Movement.
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JCD Twitter feature??
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Iraq
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Pooper in Bagdahd!
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KAGAN-IFSIW
Sponsors
General Dynamics
Dyn Corp
Palantir
Northup Gruman
CACI - Abu Graib
Arlington-based CACI International
secured a long-fought victory Wednesday when a federal judge dismissed a
lawsuit alleging its employees directed mistreatment of detainees at
Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The judge did not explicitly rule on
CACI’s role in the alleged abuse, instead deciding that because the
incidents happened overseas, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria does
not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
CACI Profile
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:18
CACI Headquarters - Arlington, VA
CACI provides information solutions and services in support of national security missions and government transformation for Intelligence, Defense, and Federal Civilian customers. A Fortune magazine World's Most Admired Company in the IT Services industry, CACI is a member of the Fortune 1000 Largest Companies, the Russell 2000 Index, and the S&P SmallCap 600 Index. CACI provides dynamic careers for over 15,500 employees in 120 offices worldwide. Visit www.caci.com.
Our information solutions and services help our customers:
Safeguard our national securitySupport critical decision-making to counter global threatsKeep our Armed Forces informed, equipped, and mission-readyTransform government to enhance the quality of services to our citizensModernize government to more efficiently meet national challengesQuick Facts
Specialists in information solutions and servicesFounded in 1962, pioneering in simulation softwarePublicly owned since 1968$3.7B in FY 2013 revenueMore than 120 offices throughout North America and Western EuropeSEI CMMI® Level 5 appraisal, ISO® 9001, ISO® 20000, and ISO® 27001 certificationsHeadquartered in Arlington, Virginia '' DirectionsCACI's Missions
Our Principal Service Areas
Terms and Acronyms '' specific to CACI
CACI's History
CACI at a Glance '' An overview of CACI
CACI in Iraq - Frequently Asked Questions and Special Information
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:17
"The Truth Will Out"CACI is a successful and thriving company with approximately 15,800 committed employees and a business that focuses on helping the U.S. government serve our national needs. We are ever vigilant in meeting the needs of our customers, our employees and our shareholders. We deliver record-setting revenue year after year and enjoy an excellent reputation for quality, service and integrity.
CACI was founded on the principles of integrity, honesty and a steadfast commitment to serving customers. These qualities have been our formula for success throughout our proud more than 50-year history and remain the cornerstones of our corporate culture. Their value has been confirmed by numerous industry awards, thousands of customer kudos and an outstanding record of support to the government.
In the spring of 2004 CACI was caught up in the controversy surrounding Abu Ghraib and abuses that took place there. At the request of the U.S. Army CACI identified and hired qualified individuals to serve as intelligence analysts and interrogators at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq. Unfortunately, many of the news reports about events in Iraq included serious errors and misleading information about CACI. Two years later some of the original errors and some new inaccuracies continue to crop up in reporting about Iraq.
From the first reports about prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and for the entire time since, CACI has made the truth its top priority. We have cooperated fully with every government investigation, and we made clear that we would not condone or tolerate illegal or inappropriate behavior by any employee when engaged in CACI business. We have communicated openly and fully with our employees, our shareholders and the public about our performance in Iraq. And, as necessary, we have endeavored to set the record straight whenever and wherever we have learned of misstatements about CACI or our employees. As part of our commitment to the truth, in the spring of 2004 we established this website to publicly address issues related to Iraq.
In welcoming you to this site it is worth noting a few critical facts
No CACI employee or former employee has ever been indicted for any misconduct in connection with CACI's work in Iraq. While three former employees have been cited in various reports in connection with disputed incidents in Iraq, no CACI employee took part or appears in any of the horrific photos released from Abu Ghraib.We remain proud of our work in Iraq and our other efforts to help in the war against terrorism. We believe that our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the hundreds of CACI employees who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission in Iraq. And we are eternally grateful to the men and women in uniform who sacrifice every day to protect our freedomDr. J.P. (Jack) LondonChairman, CACI International Inc
Our Good NameThe Book That Sets the Record Straight About CACI's Work at Abu Ghraib
Truth and Error in the Media Portrayal of CACI in Iraq
See Frequently Asked Questions
See CACI Corporate Facts
For information contact
Jody BrownExecutive Vice President, Public Relations703-841-7801jbrown@caci.com
1/26/10 - CACI Receives Favorable Court Decision
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Slaughter, A.: A New World Order (eBook and Paperback).
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 04:12
Global governance is here--but not where most people think. This book presents the far-reaching argument that not only should we have a new world order but that we already do. Anne-Marie Slaughter asks us to completely rethink how we view the political world. It's not a collection of nation states that communicate through presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and the United Nations. Nor is it a clique of NGOs. It is governance through a complex global web of "government networks."
Slaughter provides the most compelling and authoritative description to date of a world in which government officials--police investigators, financial regulators, even judges and legislators--exchange information and coordinate activity across national borders to tackle crime, terrorism, and the routine daily grind of international interactions. National and international judges and regulators can also work closely together to enforce international agreements more effectively than ever before. These networks, which can range from a group of constitutional judges exchanging opinions across borders to more established organizations such as the G8 or the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, make things happen--and they frequently make good things happen. But they are underappreciated and, worse, underused to address the challenges facing the world today.
The modern political world, then, consists of states whose component parts are fast becoming as important as their central leadership. Slaughter not only describes these networks but also sets forth a blueprint for how they can better the world. Despite questions of democratic accountability, this new world order is not one in which some "world government" enforces global dictates. The governments we already have at home are our best hope for tackling the problems we face abroad, in a networked world order.
Review:
"[An] important [book]. By showing how today's world--of what she calls 'disaggregated states'--actually works, Slaughter cuts the ground away from nationalists and internationalists alike. This, she says, is how it is, for America and everyone else. She also, quite clearly, believes that this how it should be . . . because nothing else will work. . . . I have absolutely no doubt that Slaughter is on to something."--Tony Judt, New York Review of Books
"Breaking new ground in international relations theory, Slaughter . . . offers genuinely original thinking. . . . [A New World Order] generates much discussion about foreign policy."--Publishers Weekly
"[A] major new statement about modern global governance. . . . Particularly revealing is Slaughter's remarkable account of the cooperation between national judicial authorities and international and regional courts."--Foreign Affairs
"[A] groundbreaking book, a striking combination of both pragmatism and vision. . . . Slaughter represents the cutting intellectual edge of this decade's new way of thinking about global governance."--Kenneth Anderson, Harvard Law Review
"This excellent, thought-provoking analysis covers a widespread but little studied shift in the way the world works."--Financial Times/getAbstract
"The new world order of network governance will be a better place, especially if the reforms proposed by Slaughter are adopted and networks open up, enabling broader participation and increased accountability."--Andras Sajo, International Journal of Constitutional Law
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The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth O'Bagy | TIME.com
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 22:25
What the fall of the Free Syrian Army's front woman in Washington tells us about America's love affair with rebel groups and its ignorance of the Middle East
Updated om Sept. 19 to add comment from Kim Kagan.
It was, in Washington terms, great PR. Questioning Secretary of State John Kerry during a Sept. 3 hearing on Syria, Senator John McCain read extensively from a Wall Street Journal op-ed by ''Dr. Elizabeth O'Bagy'' about the growing moderate Syrian opposition. The next day, testifying before the House Kerry himself cited O'Bagy's work in explaining how only 15% to 20% of the 70,000 to 100,000 fighters on the ground Syria were ''bad guys.''
It would be easy to imagine that Elizabeth O'Bagy was a venerated Syria expert with decades of experience. In fact, O'Bagy turned out to be a 26-year-old who had first begun to research Syria 20 months ago as an intern at the Institute for the Study of War, a hawkish Washington non-profit. Over the summer, O'Bagy had become the celebre of the Syrian rebel cause. Cable television bookers were ecstatic: an attractive young woman who could talk eloquently about Syria. She was everywhere, doing multiple appearances a day on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, to name just a few outlets. Washington has a long history of love affairs with motley rebels who look like a better bet for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than whatever autocrat is in U.S. disfavor at the time.
Born into one of the few non-Mormon families in Holiday, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, O'Bagy's interest in Islam was cemented when her classmates ostracized the one Arab boy in her high school after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. O'Bagy graduated from Georgetown with a bachelors degree in Arabic and went to live in Cairo for two years before returning to Washington to seek her masters and PhD from her alma mater in Arabic Studies. At the end of 2011 she began an internship with the Institute. She was hired a year later as a Syria analyst, making half a dozen trips into rebel-held parts of Syria. By May, weeks after completing her masters degree, she was acting as McCain's Sherpa for his surprise trip into Syria to meet with rebel groups.
Part of what facilitated the trips was O'Bagy's side job, approved by the Institute, working for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, which both lobbies in Washington for the moderate Syrian opposition and does humanitarian work inside Syria. Through the non-profit, she traveled to Syria to evaluate if the money it was receiving for that work from the State Department was being effectively spent. She met many of the leaders of the more than 1,000 brigades that make up Syria's opposition. O'Bagy became the de facto expert on Syria because she was virtually the only person with first hand knowledge of what has become one of the murkiest of modern wars, seen by the West mostly in a collection of YouTube videos and frontline tweets. ''People say, how can a young woman alone go into these places where reporters are getting kidnapped,'' O'Bagy told TIME in an exclusive interview. ''I think it was easier because I was a woman. I could wear a Hijab or a Niqab. And you say to men, 'Please help me,' and they do.''
By midsummer, O'Bagy had become Washington's go-to expert on Syria. She gave speeches at universities and think tanks. She briefed 14 Senate and 20 House offices. She was often the first call for everyone from Fox News to MSNBC. She became the face of the moderate Syrian opposition, batting down dovish anxieties that the rebels were riddled with al Qaeda and arming them would ultimately harm U.S. interests. Her rise reached its apex with her Aug. 30 Wall Street Journal op-ed referenced by McCain and Kerry. ''The conventional wisdom holds that the extremist elements are completely mixed in with the more moderate rebel groups,'' she wrote. ''This isn't the case.''
It was also the beginning of the end. The Journal at first identified her as just an analyst for the Institute for the Study of War. In other op-eds, O'Bagy herself had disclosed the dual association, but for the Journal, at the insistence of Kim Kagan, the Institute's head, she says, she did not. Kagan disputes this account. Critics were quick to point out the Journal's omission of O'Bagy's task force work, charging that she was lobbying the same politicians she was meant to be briefing. O'Bagy and the task force both say she was never involved in the group's lobbying activities. But that first opening led others to look more closely. Within days, it was revealed that Dr. O'Bagy didn't have a PhD.
On Sept. 10, Kagan fired her. ''I should have immediately told them when I didn't get into the PhD program,'' O'Bagy says, saying she let the Institute think she was enrolled in a dual masters and PhD program, which had been her goal. ''I was really ashamed, really embarrassed. I'd always been top of my class, in high school, at Georgetown [undergraduate]. I'd never failed before.''
O'Bagy, a registered Democrat who voted twice for Obama, admits now that she was na¯ve about the Institute and Kim and her husband Fred Kagan. Both were well known advocates for the war in Iraq and for both surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as the Iraq War has haunted U.S. engagement in Syria, the association with the Kagans made it easier to dismiss O'Bagy as an interventionist. Andrew Sullivan, a blogger, wrote in a post entitled, ''The Neocon Fantasy Machine Rolls On'': ''It sickens me to see the same propaganda machine wheeled into action again, and to see Washington take it seriously.'' The accusation deeply upsets O'Bagy. ''I've seen the war in Syria, I wouldn't dream of sending Americans to fight over there,'' she says, adding that she opposed the Iraq War. Instead, O'Bagy advocates increased U.S. assistance, including heavy weapons.
Kim Kagan stands by O'Bagy's research. ''Her work is solid,'' says Kagan, who has gone back and rechecked much of it. ''I do find it tragic. I think that she's an incredibly talented person with extraordinary potential who made a terrible error of judgment.'' Likewise, McCain told The Arizona Republic on Sept. 14 that, ''The points [O'Bagy] made have been corroborated by many others to me.''
As O'Bagy picks up the pieces'--she is looking to move to Turkey and continue work with the rebels, though she resigned from the Task Force on Sept. 16'--she says her biggest regret is that her downfall has potentially harmed the Syrian rebels. ''The worst part for me,'' she says, tearing up for the first time in our three-hour interview, ''is that because I messed up, because I made this mistake, really good people doing really good things in Syria are being ignored.''
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The vehicles will help "Iraq's ability to defend its oil infrastructure against terrorist attacks," the agency said.
U.S. Plans Nearly $1 Billion Arms Deal with Iraq '-- Naharnet
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 07:02
إقرأ هذا اÙخبر باÙعربيØ(C)by Naharnet Newsdesk15 May 2014, 06:49The United States plans to sell nearly $1 billion worth of warplanes, armored vehicles and surveillance aerostats to Iraq.
The deal includes 24 AT-6C Texan II light-attack aircraft, a turboprop plane manufactured by Beechcraft that has .50 caliber machine guns, advanced avionics and can carry precision-guided bombs, the Pentagon said.
The aircraft and related equipment and services are valued at $790 million.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress on Tuesday of the planned sale, which will go ahead unless lawmakers block the deal.
"The proposed sale of these aircraft, equipment and support will enhance the ability of the Iraqi forces to sustain themselves in their efforts to bring stability to Iraq and to prevent overflow of unrest into neighboring countries," the agency said in a notice.
The sale is the latest in a series of U.S. weapons deals with Iraq as Baghdad seeks to bolster its armed forces amid rising violence linked to al-Qaida militants and sectarian divisions between the Shiite-led government and disgruntled Sunnis.
Iraq has previously agreed to purchase 36 U.S. F-16 fighter jets.
This week's deal also included 200 "up-armored" Humvee vehicles with machine gun mounts, worth $101 million.
The vehicles will help "Iraq's ability to defend its oil infrastructure against terrorist attacks," the agency said.
And Iraq purchased seven aerostats, airships or tethered balloons that rely on a buoyant gas, to provide surveillance for military installations and key infrastructure, it said.
The aerostats and deployment towers were worth about $90 million.
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When hawks collide: McCain splits with Lindsey Graham on whether U.S. should coordinate with Iran to help Iraq Hot Air
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 03:58
posted at 3:21 pm on June 16, 2014 by Allahpundit
As you might expect for any foreign-policy ''dispute'' between Maverick and Grahamnesty, the point of contention here is whether we should intervene aggressively or really aggressively. Graham wants the U.S. in ASAP to help save Baghdad, and since that means fighting a Sunni jihadist threat that Iran's also busy fighting right now, it also means de facto coordination. If you're going to coordinate tactically de facto, why not just suck it up and talk to them about formal coordination? The better the cooperation is, in theory the quicker the task at hand can be accomplished. McCain, meanwhile, thinks it's insane to be working with a country that's spent more than 10 years aggravating the sort of sectarian resentment in Iraq that helped make ISIS possible. The only solution, he thinks, is to reduce that tension, and step one in that process is reducing Iran's footprint in the country. In other words, the U.S. should take a larger role in the fight against ISIS so that the Iranians can withdraw.
Basically, they're arguing over whether the U.S. should be a global cop or a global Robocop,
But the South Carolina Republican said in order to blunt Iran's rise in the region, the U.S. must take the uncomfortable step of working with Tehran.
''The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn't fall. We need to coordinate with the Iranians,'' Graham said on CNN. ''To ignore Iran and not tell them,'Don't take advantage of this situation,' would be a mistake.''
CNN's Dana Bash seemed to be in disbelief: ''It's sort of hard for me to believe that I'm hearing a Republican saying, sit down and talk with '... Iran.''
Seems like a shrewder strategy to ''blunt Iran's rise in the region'' would be to force them to fight a two-front war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq without western help, not to start bombing their enemies while sternly warning them not to capitalize once we're gone. McCain's retort:
''The reality is, U.S. and Iranian interests and goals do not align in Iraq, and greater Iranian intervention would only make the situation dramatically worse. It would inflame sectarian tensions, strengthen the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), drive more Sunnis into ISIS's ranks, empower the most radical Shia militants, deepen the Iraqi government's dependence on Iran, alienate U.S. allies and partners in the region, and set back the prospects of national reconciliation.
''For all of these reasons, and more, the United States should be seeking to minimize greater Iranian involvement in Iraq right now, not encouraging it. That means rapid, decisive U.S. action to degrade ISIS and halt their offensive in Iraq. And it means dramatically increasing U.S. military assistance and support to moderate opposition forces in Syria that are fighting both ISIS and the Assad regime. The longer we wait to act, the more our Iraqi partners grow dependent on the Iranian regime. That is neither in our interest nor consistent with the values for which we stand.''
The X factor is Iran's nukes, needless to say. If we make a deal with them to defend Baghdad together, the odds that Obama ends up bombing their enrichment facilities when, not if, our nuclear ''deal'' with them falls apart drop even further. That's one of the reasons why Kerry supports direct talks with Iran on Iraq, I assume. The more cooperative Iran is with us on this, the more cover Obama will have later to defend his decision not to attack their program. (''They've showed they can be responsible actors. Relations between us have improved, reducing the threat they pose.'' Etc.) Either Graham's blind to the way the White House will use Iran's help politically or he perceives no reason why teaming up to save Iraq would or should give the U.S. second thoughts later about bombing Natanz or Fordow. Essentially, he's prepared to bomb Iran's enemies this week and bomb Iran itself next.
Another way to approach this is to ask which is the bigger threat to U.S. national security '-- Iranian nukes or ISIS building a terrorist Disneyland in the Sunni parts of what used to be Syria and Iraq. The best outcome for America from the standpoint of cold realpolitik is a long war of attrition between them that weakens both sides, but there's no guarantee that that happens. In fact, there's a chance we'll end up with the worst of both worlds: If Iran can drive ISIS out of Syria and away from Baghdad and southern Iraq, maybe they'd tolerate leaving them alone with their own little caliphate in Anbar province. Iran's never had a problem with Sunni fanatics harassing Sunni regimes or targeting U.S. interests with terror attacks, as Al Qaeda could tell you. On the other hand, maybe ISIS is now so committed to sectarian war, if only in the name of rallying Sunnis in the region to the cause of jihad, that they won't reach an accommodation with Iran, which means a long war. The question for U.S. strategists is how to avoid the Iran/ISIS ''accommodation'' scenario while also not increasing either one's power much in the process. Is there a way to do that?
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Tony Blair Iraq comments: Senior Labour figures distance themselves from former PM after he refuses to accept blame for new crisis
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:56
He defended his Government's backing for the US-led invasion of Iraq, insisting it had been right to oust Saddam Hussein and urging military intervention to halt the advance of extremist Isis forces across the north of the country.
The former Prime Minister's comments, in a blogpost on his website and a series of television interviews, opened fresh wounds within the party over the 11-year-old Iraq war.
Sources close to Ed Miliband refused to endorse Mr Blair's analysis. One told the Independent: ''What matters now is making the judgements rather than seeking to make points about what happened in the past.''
Shiite fighters have taken up arms in a fight for survival against Sunni militants who control large swathes of territory north of Baghdad (AP)
The shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, echoed the Coalition Government's view that military action is not contemplated. He said: ''The truth is that it is the Iraqis themselves who hold the key to resolving this crisis.''
Interviewed on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Blair made clear he was not advocating the deployment of ground troops, but said western nations should ''actively try and shape this situation with our allies in the region''.
It would be wrong to believe that ''if we just wash our hands of it and walk away then the problems will be solved'', he said.
Read more: Robert Fisk: How does Blair get away with his liesMr Blair, now a Middle East peace envoy, said the West should consider a range of options, including air strikes and the use of remote-controlled drones as happened in Libya.
In the article on his website, the former Labour leader insisted the latest bloodshed in Iraq was not linked to the invasion.
He blamed the re-emergence of extremist fighters on the weakness and sectarianism of the Iraqi government, as well as the failure to intervene in neighbouring Syria, which has been embroiled in civil war for more than three years.
His comments were condemned by his former deputy, Lord Prescott, who spelt out his opposition to Britain's involvement in Iraq in 2003 and accused him of wanting to launch a ''crusade'' in the region.
Tony Blair meeting troops in the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq in May, 2003 (PA)
Lord Prescott told Sky News: ''I said to him at the time, your great danger, when you want to go and do these regime changes, you're back to what Bush called a crusade'...Put on a white sheet and a red cross, and we're back to the crusades. It's all about religion '' in these countries it's gone on for a thousand years.''
He dismissed the use of drones as ''not a way for Britain to go in the name of open society'', adding: ''Hardly democratic either. So I don't agree with Tony as I didn't then.''
Clare Short, who resigned from the Blair Cabinet over Iraq, said: ''More bombing will not solve it, it will just exacerbate it.''
She called him a ''complete American neocon'' who had been ''absolutely consistently wrong, wrong, wrong" on the issue.
Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2003, said the handling of the campaign to remove Saddam was ''perhaps the most significant reason'' for the sectarian violence now convulsing Iraq.
''We are reaping what we sowed in 2003. This is not hindsight. We knew in the run-up to war that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would seriously destabilise Iraq after 24 years of his iron rule,'' he wrote in the Mail on Sunday.
The former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown said: ''I'm having a bit of a difficulty getting my mind round the idea that a problem that has been caused or made worse by killing many, many Arab Muslims in the Middle East is going to be made better by killing more with western weapons.''
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Al Bagdahdi
Senior Qaeda figure in Iraq a myth: U.S. military | Reuters
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:15
By Dean Yates
BAGHDADWed Jul 18, 2007 1:15pm EDT
1 of 2. A briefing slide released by the Multi-National Force - Iraq on July 18, 2007. The organizational chart includes a white box representing the position of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, which was purportedly set up last year.
Credit: Reuters/Handout
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior operative for al Qaeda in Iraq who was caught this month has told his U.S. military interrogators a prominent al Qaeda-led group is just a front and its leader fictitious, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.
Brigadier-General Kevin Bergner told a news conference that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, which was purportedly set up last year, did not exist.
The Islamic State of Iraq was established to try to put an Iraqi face on what is a foreign-driven network, Bergner said. The name Baghdadi means the person hails from the Iraqi capital.
Bergner said the information came from an operative called Khalid al-Mashadani who was caught on July 4 and who he said was an intermediary to Osama bin Laden.
He said Mashadani was believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda in Iraq network.
"In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al Qaeda in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq," Bergner said.
U.S. military officials in recent weeks have been pressed to explain the link between al Qaeda in Iraq and bin Laden's global network given the military's heightened focus on al Qaeda in Iraq as the biggest threat to the country.
The military blames al Qaeda in Iraq for most of the major bombings in Iraq, saying the group is trying to spark all-out civil war between majority Shi'tes and minority Sunni Arabs.
Bergner said Mashadani served as an intermediary between the al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Egyptian Abu Ayyab al-Masri and bin Laden and also the Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahri, who is the global network's No. 2 commander.
The Islamic State of Iraq was set up in October, comprising a group of Sunni militant affiliates and tribal leaders led by Baghdadi. In April, it named a 10-man "cabinet".
The Islamic State of Iraq has claimed many high-profile acts of violence.
But Bergner said Mashadani and Masri had co-founded a "virtual organization in cyberspace called the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006 as a new Iraqi pseudonym for AQI".
"To further this myth, Masri created a fictional head of the Islamic State of Iraq known as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi," he said.
"To make al-Baghdadi appear credible, al-Masri swore allegiance to al-Baghdadi and pledged to obey him, which is essentially pledging allegiance to himself since he knew Baghdadi was fictitious and a creation of his own," he said.
"The rank and file Iraqis in AQI believe they are following the Iraqi al-Baghdadi. But all the while they have been following the orders of the Egyptian Abu Ayyab al-Masri."
Voice recordings purporting to be from Baghdadi have appeared on the Internet, although Bergner said he had been played by an actor. He did not refer to any video clips.
Bergner said Mashadani was al Qaeda's "media emir" for Iraq.
He said the operative was "providing significant insights into the nature and circumstances of al Qaeda in Iraq".
The U.S. military has always said al Qaeda in Iraq was run by foreigners.
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ISIS TWITTER APP-Jihadists on the move in Iraq with weapons, hashtags - CBS News
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:34
This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014, which has been verified, appears to show militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. AP Photo via militant website
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's on-the-ground offensive in northern Iraq this month has been aided, analysts say, by an unprecedented social media blitz.
Jihadi groups using Twitter and other social platforms is nothing new. During its 2013 attack on Kenya's Westgate mall, the Somali militant group al-Shabab mixed tweets with gunshots. Observers have long warned about the growth of social media as powerful recruitment tools for terrorists.
What makes the ISIS social campaign stand out, analysts say, is its scale and sophistication.
"I think it was obvious very early on that they launched their offensive with a social media campaign well planned in advance. This wasn't an afterthought. This wasn't something that they made up as they went along," said John Little, who monitors national security, conflicts and technology at Blogs of War.
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CBS Evening NewsISIS posts photos claiming mass killing of Iraqi soldiersPhotos revealing the brutal tactics of ISIS have emerged. ISIS says it has executed more than 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. Militants managed to set off ...
The coordinated campaign has featured what appears to be disciplined, from-the-top-down message control designed to simulate organic grass-roots activity. Complete with an app and highly orchestrated hashtag pushes, the group's social media strategy mirrors that of a marketing company building buzz around a new product.
"Big corporations wish they were as good at this as ISIS is," said J.M. Berger, an author and analyst who specializes in social media and extremism, and has been closely monitoring the al Qaeda splinter group's online activity.
"This is a combination of an extremely ambitious military campaign with an extremely ambitious PR campaign. Social media is most of that PR campaign."
ISIS has developed a Twitter app for Android phones called The Dawn of Glad Tidings, Berger said. It offers users news and information about ISIS. When users sign up, they give ISIS permission to send tweets through their own personal accounts.
"Your account functions normally most of the time, but it will periodically broadcast tweets from ISIS that are also sent around at the same time to hundreds or even thousands of other accounts," Berger told CBS News. He said the app helps ISIS get pre-approved hashtags trending on Twitter in certain areas, which then amplifies its message.
This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014, which has been verified, appears to show militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
AP Photo via militant website
"It's one of many tools that ISIS uses to manipulate the perception on social media that their content is bigger and more popular than it might actually be if you were looking at just their organic supporters."
Berger reports that ISIS posted almost 40,000 tweets in one day last week as it took Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. Its messages are then parroted by Internet users unaffiliated with the group and far away from the fight, sometimes called "E-hadis" or "Jihobbyists."
"They have at least hundreds and probably more like thousands of fighters who are on social media, and then in addition to that they have many thousands of people who are casually or intensely interested in them as supporters online," Berger said.
The social offensive -- with its gruesome photos purportedly showing mass executions of Iraqi soldiers -- serves to boost recruitment, aid ISIS fundraising, bolster its credibility in its competition with al Qaeda for leadership of the global jihadi movement, and Little said, "strike fear into the hearts of their enemies."
Online intimidation doesn't always lead to enemy surrender, but it doesn't hurt.
Image reportedly released by ISIS and spread on Twitter shows a jihadi fighter looking at the ISIS flag flying over Baghdad.
Along these lines, Berger cited the example of the group's use of its app Sunday night to blast out an image of a jihadi looking at the ISIS flag flying over Baghdad. The push was so effective, Berger said, that the image temporarily appeared as a top result on Twitter when users searched the Arabic word for Baghdad.
"So if you're in Baghdad, trying to figure out what's going on with this conflict, and you put in a search and what comes up is a picture of an ISIS jihadi with the caption 'We are coming,' I would say that that probably has some intimidation effect," Berger said.
The graphic images disseminated by ISIS on social media are also an attempt to inflame sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, analysts believe. The Sunni extremist group has used social platforms to publicize what it claims to be mass executions of mostly Shiite government and militia soldiers it has captured.
"They're an organization that does not shy away from extreme brutality and violence and they're quite proud of it. It's a tactic for them and social media is a way for them to broadcast that," said Little. "It's a multiplier just like a conventional terrorist attack being broadcast on global media is a multiplier."
The validity of some of the group's photos and claims is still in question but, analysts say, even the spread of false reports serves a purpose for ISIS.
"Either way they're broadening their reach," said Little. "They're not looking for accuracy, they're looking for intimidation and reach."
This image posted on a militant website June 14, 2014, which has been verified, appears to show militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
AP Photo via militant website
Analysts are bearish on effective tactics to combat the group's social media assault.
"At this stage, with the addicted usage of Twitter by the jihadists, I'm not sure how it can be stopped," said Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, a private terrorism monitoring service. Katz and her group, along with other terrorism watchers, have long voiced concerns about the rise of extremism on social networks. Katz says that activity reached new heights during the Syrian conflict.
"For the last three years we have been warning that social media is becoming a hydra, an uncontrollable source for jihad, due to its easy use, rapid updates with easy connection and unlimited viewers," Katz told CBS News. "Each fighter with a Twitter account is his own media organization."
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CBS Evening NewsU.N.: ISIS committing war crimes in IraqISIS fighters are using new equipment abandoned by the fleeing Iraq army as the militants captured another city in northern Iraq. The terror grou...
Twitter shut down multiple accounts affiliated with ISIS last week. The company would not comment on ISIS, but pointed to its rules regarding violence, threats and unlawful use, which state: "You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others. You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content."
According to reports, the Iraqi government also appears to have blocked access in the country to Twitter, Facebook and other social media. ISIS has means to circumvent these restrictions, analysts say, including getting out its message through operatives stationed in areas outside the government's control, where they can still get online.
While analysts agree that information warfare in the social media space is here to stay, they warn against overstating its effectiveness as an actual combat tool.
"It depends on the battlefield. And it depends on who's on the battlefield," said Little. "If the full attention of the United States or a power at that level is focused on you, I would not want to be pointing to Twitter as my battlefield advantage."
(C) 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Isis' annual report details reign of terror across Middle East | Mail Online
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:26
The annual publication is called al-Naba, which is Arabic for 'The News'Reports for 2012 and 2013 were analysed by Institute for the Study of WarISIS claims to have carried out 10,000 operations in Iraq last year aloneThese included assassinations, bombings and the freeing of prisonersIsis compiles it to attract donors and present themselves as organisedDetails emerged as new information about group's funding came to lightBy Leon Watson
Published: 23:50 EST, 17 June 2014 | Updated: 18:25 EST, 18 June 2014
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With its carefully collated facts and figures, it reads like a set of company accounts.
But closer inspection of the 400-page document reveals it is a chilling breakdown of the murderous activities of the fanatics battling for control of Iraq.
For this is the 'annual report' of the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), designed to demonstrate its power and attract funds from potential donors.
Like any corporate document, it uses computer-generated graphics, details a management strategy, lists performance and targets.
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But the jihadists' statistics chart in numerical and geographical detail its lethal operations '' bombings, assassinations, suicide missions and cities taken over.
In the latest edition of 'al-Naba' '' the News '' covering the 12 months up to last November, ISIS claims to have carried out nearly 10,000 operations in Iraq. That includes 1,000 assassinations, planting more than 4,000 roadside bombs and freeing hundreds of prisoners.
ISIS even records the number of people who renounced Islam then repented '' and contains one sickening category headed 'apostates run over'.
The report, written in Arabic with a photograph of an ISIS gunman on its cover, has been analysed by the US think-tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which has corroborated much of the information. John Lawrence, of the Washington-based institute said: 'These numbers are not just purely propaganda figures.'
Taking no prisoners: A man is executed by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as the Al Qaeda-inspired militants continue their march towards Baghdad
Details: The Isis report uses computer-generated graphics to detail the group's reign of terror in the Middle East. This chart shows the number of explosive devices the group detonated in 2012 and 2013
ISIS's aim appears to be to demonstrate its record to potential donors, and ISW says the annual report, the second published in as many years, destroys the myth that the insurgents are a rag-tag band of Islamist militants.
The ISW analysis portrays an organisation 'functioning as a military rather than a terrorist network' with a clear political strategy aimed to eventually set up a Sunni sectarian state run under harsh Sharia laws.
Jessica Lewis, director of research at the institute, told the Financial Times: 'The reports provide measures of performance in the way you roll out details for donors.
Numbers: Another set of graphics in the report shows the weaponry Isis now has in its possession
Isis claims in the 2013 report to have 15,000 fighters who have carried out 1,000 assassinations
'They affirm that the organisation operates like an army and that it has state-building ambitions.' The ISW study concludes: 'This is a military enemy that requires a considered strategy, military as well as involving anti-ISIS Sunni populations, to defeat it, or it will become a permanent fixture in the Middle East.'
The latest annual report does not include the ISIS fanatics' major gains in recent weeks, where they have swept through northern Iraq, carrying out summary executions. They are now battling government forces close to Baghdad.
This year has also been successful in financial terms for the terror group. Its fighters looted hundreds of millions of pounds from banks in Mosul, Iraq's second city which was over-run by ISIS last week.
Shocking footage of militants beating prisoners in Iraq
Social media like this Twitter feed has played a huge role in recruiting members of Isis especially from overseas
The road to Baghdad: Fierce fighting is currently taking place at Baqubah, the last major city before the capital, as ISIS militants seize control of vast swathes of northern Iraq
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, ISIS was already extorting taxes from Mosul businesses before its takeover '' to the tune of £4million a month.
In its 2013 document, ISIS says it took over eight cities, compared to one the previous year. The ISW warns that the number of attacks reported by ISIS may be exaggerated but month by month, area by area, the document reveals soaring levels of violence.
In 2013, ISIS claims to have executed 1,083 people '' almost double the 585 in 2012. Mortar attacks jumped from 359 in 2012 to 607 last year and the number of houses burned or bombed rose from 648 to 1,015.
ISIS massively increased the use of suicide bombers '' either wearing bomb vests or driving bomb-laden vehicles '' to terrorise Iraqis, with a six-fold increase in the number of attacks to 238. Baghdad bore the brunt of suicide bombers, with an increase from seven to 81 murderous attacks in the capital.
Targeted killings jumped from 16 to 1,047 and are evidence of a disciplined shift in tactics and techniques by ISIS to wrest control of Iraq, says the ISW.
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ISIL or ISIS? Why the world can't decide '' Quartz
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:53
When a bunch of extremists seem about to take control of one of the Middle East's largest countries, you'd think we'd have better things to do then argue about what they're called. But the world's media seem stubbornly divided about what name to give the jihadist movement currently overwhelming Iraq.
To some news outlets'--including the big news agencies Reuters, the Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse, as well as al-Jazeera'--it's the ''Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,'' or ISIL. To others'--among them the New York Times'--it's the ''Islamic State in Iraq and Syria'' (or in some cases ''Greater Syria''), or ISIS. Quite a few places write '''...the Levant,'' but then bizarrely abbreviate it to ISIS (we're looking at you, Financial Times and Guardian).
Nor is the confusion restricted to English-language media. In French the reigning phrase appears to be l'Etat Islamique en Irak et au Levant (EIIL). But in Spain, El Pais has chosen El Estado Islmico en Irak y el Levante (EIIL), while its rival newspaper El Mundo has gone with Estado Islmico de Irak y Siria, and uses the English acronym ISIS. In Germany, Deutsche Welle uses ISIS in both its English and German versions, but writes out '''...the Levant'' on its English site and '''...und Syrien'' on its German one; meanwhile, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit and the Frankfurter Allgemeine have gone with ISIS while Die Welt plumps for ISIL. The BBC Russian service, like much of the Russian media, uses the Russian equivalent of ISIL'--whereas the BBC in English spells out ''Levant'' but then uses ISIS.
The group's name in Arabic is al dawla al islamiyye f'il iraq w'al sham. The last word, sham, is the problematic one. It is used, in the phrase bilad al sham, to refer variously to: the contemporary Levant, a somewhat amorphous region sometimes understood to include Iraq, and sometimes not; to the historical region called al sham in classical Arabic but known to the ancient Greeks and other civilizations as ''Syria'' or a variant thereof, which is roughly contiguous with the Levant; and to a Syrian nationalist dream of a ''Greater Syria,'' a region of similar extent that includes Iraq. Sham is also a contemporary nickname for Damascus, the Syrian capital; but modern-day Syria is called suriya.
No wonder people are confused. So how to resolve the issue?
Some outlets (the New Yorker among them) have skirted it by calling the group the ''Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham,'' which conveniently abbreviates to ISIS. That might be the most honest approach. But it's also the least informative. DAIISH (or DIISH or DAISH), an acronym of the Arabic name, might be better (media do sometimes use foreign-language acronyms like KGB), but it seems unlikely to become popular.
At Quartz we've chosen to render sham as ''Levant'' over ''Syria,'' on the grounds that while scholars of Middle Eastern history might recognize ''Syria'' to have a broader meaning, most of our readers will take it to mean modern-day Syria, i.e., suriya, not sham. And then, if you're using ''Levant,'' you might as well as abbreviate it logically'--so, ISIL.
There's another, more practical reason. If you search Google for ISIS, you'll also find a mobile-payments system; a pharmaceutical company; a zoological database used for species conservation; a respected history-of-science journal; a couple of university student information systems; a nuclear non-proliferation think-tank; the shadowy spy agency in a bawdy animated comedy series; and, needless to say, the Egyptian goddess of nature and magic. And that's just on the first page of results. But there is only one ISIL.
ISIS Inc.: Fanatical group attracts investors and members with glossy PR campaign and annual reports '-- RT News
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:46
Published time: June 19, 2014 02:45The notorious ISIS, which has been slicing through Iraq moving closer to Baghdad, behaves like a big corporation, issuing press releases to create an image of a well-structured, disciplined and effective organization to attract investors and new members.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), which has made lightning advances against government forces seizing key cities, is determined to sweep towards Baghdad, prompting the Iraqi government to request US air support.
The United States however is reportedly ill-prepared to wage such attacks due to lack of intelligence on ISIL operations following its lightning advance. US military's Joint Chief of Staff, Dempsey, says that although ''it is in our national security interest to counter ISIS'' the results of US involvement would be unknown ''until we can clarify this intelligence picture'' in Iraq.
Follow RT's LIVE UPDATES on ISIS offensive in Iraq
In just a few days ISIS fighters have almost reached the Iraqi capital, killing scores of people along the way. During the US-led invasion of the country it took the allied forces 22 days to reach Baghdad.
ISIS emerged back in 2004 following the chaos of invasion from radical Sunni jihadists, whose main objective is to establish an Islamic caliphate based on Sharia law. Manipulating religions tensions in the country between Shias and Sunnis, they were able to unite followers of Saddam Hussein Ba'ath party, a Sunni dominant force. By 2011, ISIS militants regrouped after Nouri al-Maliki's government released high-profile members of the militant movement.
Today ISIS claims to have over 15,000 fighters most of who are thought to be from neighboring middle eastern countries, but around 2,000 are believed to have come from Europe, including Britain.
In the militant's own assessment, found in an annual report called al-Naba, or ''the news'', ISIS boasts of its destructive force. A regurgitated version of the report, covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013, is offered by the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Originally in Arabic the 400 page long document was initially published by the I'tisaam Media Foundation. It is also the second known ISIS release advertising their bloody rampage in Iraq.
ISIS claims to be responsible for 9,540 operations in Iraq, 1,083 assassinations and freeing hundreds of radicals from prisons in Iraq. Having a force of at least 15,000 fighters under its command, ISIS also planted 4,000 improvised explosion devices and freed hundreds of radical prisoners. In comparison to the previous report, the figures in each category have almost doubled. The category of ''Apostates repented'' was also added, underlining ISIS's perceived religious conquest.
The US-NGO notes that the operating areas listed in 2012 and 2013 report are consistent, suggesting that ''from its resurgence through to 2014, ISIS has possessed a reporting structure for subordinate units in the full range of operating areas.''
The Institute for the Study of War summary also claims that ''From the period of April 2013 through to the present, ISIS has been operating in Syria as well, though the distinctions between their military operations in Iraq and Syria is the subject of ongoing study at ISW.''
In its conclusion, the institute believed the organization is making several nation-wide changes to its tactics. ''This is a strong indication of a unified, coherent leadership structure that commands from the top down.''
The report has been described as ''almost like a company with details of martyrdom operations and targets,'' by Nigel Inkster, former assistant chief of UK intelligence service MI6, in an interview to the Financial Times. ''You have a clear overlay of structure, planning and strategy to the organisation.''
The US which officially left Iraq in December 2011, now has a strong internal political force which views ISIS in Iraq and Syria as danger not only to the stability of the Middle East, but also to US national security.
Congressman Michael McCaul, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, said sources familiar with the situation have described the success of ISIS as the ''greatest national security threat since 9/11.''
''Al-Qaeda owns more territory, more resources, and what's happening in Iraq now is really chaotic,'' he told ABC news earlier this week.
As the militant offensive towards Baghdad continues, extremists are already in control of Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul, as well as the city of Tikrit.
''Although it is possible that ISIS will take an operational pause in Syria to solidify its control and absorb its gains in Iraq, it is likely to move swiftly in a renewed offensive... to establish the lines of control and oil reserves within its state,'' ISW said in its Wednesday assessment.
ISIS with reputation for brutality including beheadings, is continuing its rampage across the war-torn state, targeting minorities.
''ISIS is an extension of Al-Qaeda. With American funds, now ISIS is killing Iraqis and planning to go for Baghdad and Iraqi Shiite shrines to settle an old score," Elijah Abraham, an Iraqi Christian evangelist told Baptist Press. ''Since 2009 with President Obama's policies in the Middle East, there has also been a systematic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East."
Earlier this week ISIS published photos on jihadist internet sites allegedly showing mass executions of captured Iraqi forces. A caption on several photos read ''Apostates heading to their hole of doom.''
Washington which spent $25 billion to train Iraq's security forces over the years, according to a report by the special inspector general on Iraq, now finds itself at ground zero '' Islamists are taking over Iraq.
''This is a nightmare that has come back to haunt it [USA]. Practically any movement it makes, it will be wrong, in a sense that it angers somebody. And US has more interests in the Sunni world than it does in the Shia world. Behind the scenes, the Saudis, the major Sunni power are very unhappy with the thought of US intervention,'' award winning journalist Eric Margolis told RT.
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Sykes''Picot Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 07:00
The Sykes''Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.[2] The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.[3]
The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.[4] The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat Fran§ois Georges-Picot and British Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes''Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, 'the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted.'[5]
Territorial allocations[edit]Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean.[6] France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.[citation needed]Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenianvilayets.[6] The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas.[6] Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.[6]
British''Zionist discussions during the negotiations[edit]Following the outbreak of World War I, Zionism was first discussed at a British Cabinet level on 9 November 1914, four days after Britain's declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire. At a Cabinet meeting David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, "referred to the ultimate destiny of Palestine."[7][8] Lloyd George's law firm Lloyd George, Roberts and Co had been engaged a decade before by the Zionists to work on the British Uganda Programme.[9] In a discussion after the meeting with fellow ZionistHerbert Samuel, who had a seat in the Cabinet as President of the Local Government Board, Lloyd George assured him that "he was very keen to see a Jewish state established in Palestine."[7][10] Samuel then outlined the Zionist position more fully in a conversation with Foreign Secretary Edward Grey. He spoke of Zionist aspirations for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state, and of the importance of its geographical position to the British Empire. Samuel's memoirs state: "I mentioned that two things would be essential'--that the state should be neutralized, since it could not be large enough to defend itself, and that the free access of Christian pilgrims should be guaranteed. ... I also said it would be a great advantage if the remainder of Syria were annexed by France, as it would be far better for the state to have a European power as neighbour than the Turk"[7][11] The same evening, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith announced that the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire had become a war aim in a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet.[12]
In January 1915 Samuel submitted a Zionist memorandum entitled The Future of Palestine to the Cabinet after discussions with Weizmann and Lloyd George. On 5 February 1915, Samuel had another discussion with Grey: "When I asked him what his solution was he said it might be possible to neutralize the country under international guarantee ... and to vest the government of the country in some kind of Council to be established by the Jews"[13][14] After further conversations with Lloyd George and Grey, Samuel circulated a revised text to the Cabinet in the middle of March 1915.
Zionism or the Jewish question were not considered by the report of the de Bunsen Committee, prepared to determine British wartime policy toward the Ottoman Empire, submitted in June 1915.[10]
Prior to the departure of Sykes to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov in Petrograd on 27 February 1916, Sykes was approached with a plan by Samuel. The plan put forward by Samuel was in the form of a memorandum which Sykes thought prudent to commit to memory and destroy.[citation needed] Commenting on it, Sykes wrote to Samuel suggesting that if Belgium should assume the administration of Palestine it might be more acceptable to France as an alternative to the international administration which she wanted and the Zionists did not. Of the boundaries marked on a map attached to the memorandum he wrote:[7]
"By excluding Hebron and the East of the Jordan there is less to discuss with the Moslems, as the Mosque of Omar then becomes the only matter of vital importance to discuss with them and further does away with any contact with the bedouins, who never cross the river except on business. I imagine that the principal object of Zionism is the realization of the ideal of an existing center of nationality rather than boundaries or extent of territory. The moment I return I will let you know how things stand at Pd."[15]
Conflicting promises[edit]Lord Curzon said the Great Powers were still committed to the Reglement Organique Agreement regarding the Lebanon Vilayet of June 1861 and September 1864, and that the rights granted to France in the blue area under the Sykes''Picot Agreement were not compatible with that agreement.[16] The Reglement Organique was an international agreement regarding governance and non-intervention in the affairs of the Maronite, Orthodox Christian, Druze, and Muslim communities.
In May 1917 W. Ormsby-Gore wrote "French intentions in Syria are surely incompatible with the war aims of the Allies as defined to the Russian Government. If the self-determination of nationalities is to be the principle, the interference of France in the selection of advisers by the Arab Government and the suggestion by France of the Emirs to be selected by the Arabs in Mosul, Aleppo, and Damascus would seem utterly incompatible with our ideas of liberating the Arab nation and of establishing a free and independent Arab State. The British Government, in authorising the letters despatched to King Hussein [Sharif of Mecca] before the outbreak of the revolt by Sir Henry McMahon, would seem to raise a doubt as to whether our pledges to King Hussein as head of the Arab nation are consistent with French intentions to make not only Syria but Upper Mesopotamia another Tunis. If our support of King Hussein and the other Arabian leaders of less distinguished origin and prestige means anything it means that we are prepared to recognise the full sovereign independence of the Arabs of Arabia and Syria. It would seem time to acquaint the French Government with our detailed pledges to King Hussein, and to make it clear to the latter whether he or someone else is to be the ruler of Damascus, which is the one possible capital for an Arab State, which could command the obedience of the other Arabian Emirs."[17]
Many sources report that this agreement conflicted with the Hussein''McMahon Correspondence of 1915''1916. It has also been reported that the publication of the Sykes''Picot Agreement caused the resignation of Sir Henry McMahon.[18] However, the Sykes''Picot plan itself stated that France and Great Britain were prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab State, or Confederation of Arab States, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief within the zones marked A. and B. on the map.[19] Nothing in the plan precluded rule through an Arab suzerainty in the remaining areas. The conflicts resulted from the private, post-war, Anglo-French Settlement of 1''4 December 1918. It was negotiated between British Prime Minister Lloyd George and French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and rendered many of the guarantees in the Hussein''McMahon agreement invalid. That settlement was not part of the Sykes''Picot Agreement.[20] Sykes was not affiliated with the Cairo office that had been corresponding with Sherif Hussein bin Ali, but he and Picot visited the Hedjaz in 1917 to discuss the agreement with Hussein.[21] That same year he and a representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a public address to the Central Syrian Congress in Paris on the non-Turkish elements of the Ottoman Empire, including liberated Jerusalem. He stated that the accomplished fact of the independence of the Hedjaz rendered it almost impossible that an effective and real autonomy should be refused to Syria.[22]
The greatest source of conflict was the Balfour Declaration, 1917. Lord Balfour wrote a memorandum from the Paris Peace Conference which stated that the other allies had implicitly rejected the Sykes''Picot agreement by adopting the system of mandates. It allowed for no annexations, trade preferences, or other advantages. He also stated that the Allies were committed to Zionism and had no intention of honoring their promises to the Arabs.[23]
Eighty-five years later, in a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw observed "A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past. ... The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis'--again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one."[24]
Events after public disclosure of the plan[edit]Russian claims in the Ottoman Empire were denied following the Bolshevik Revolution and the Bolsheviks released a copy of the Sykes''Picot Agreement (as well as other treaties). They revealed full texts in Izvestia and Pravda on 23 November 1917, subsequently the Manchester Guardian printed the texts on November 26, 1917.[25] This caused great embarrassment between the allies and growing distrust between them and the Arabs. The Zionists were similarly upset,[citation needed] with the Sykes''Picot Agreement becoming public only three weeks after the Balfour Declaration.
The Anglo-French Declaration of November 1918 pledged that Great Britain and France would "assist in the establishment of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia by "setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations". The French had reluctantly agreed to issue the declaration at the insistence of the British. Minutes of a British War Cabinet meeting reveal that the British had cited the laws of conquest and military occupation to avoid sharing the administration with the French under a civilian regime. The British stressed that the terms of the Anglo-French declaration had superseded the Sykes''Picot Agreement in order to justify fresh negotiations over the allocation of the territories of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine.[26]
On 30 September 1918 supporters of the Arab Revolt in Damascus declared a government loyal to the Sharif of Mecca. He had been declared 'King of the Arabs' by a handful of religious leaders and other notables in Mecca.[27] On 6 January 1920 Faisal initialed an agreement with Clemenceau which acknowledged 'the right of Syrians to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation'.[28] A Pan-Syrian Congress meeting in Damascus had declared an independent state of Syria on the 8th of March 1920. The new state included portions of Syria, Palestine, and northern Mesopotamia. King Faisal was declared the head of State. At the same time Prince Zeid, Faisal's brother, was declared Regent of Mesopotamia.
The San Remo conference was hastily convened. Great Britain and France and Belgium all agreed to recognize the provisional independence of Syria and Mesopotamia, while claiming mandates for their administration. Palestine was composed of the Ottoman administrative districts of southern Syria. Under customary international law, premature recognition of its independence would be a gross affront to the government of the newly declared parent state. It could have been construed as a belligerent act of intervention due to the lack of any League of Nations sanction for the mandates.[29] In any event, its provisional independence was not mentioned, although it continued to be designated as a Class A Mandate.
France had decided to govern Syria directly, and took action to enforce the French Mandate of Syria before the terms had been accepted by the Council of the League of Nations. The French issued an ultimatum and intervened militarily at the Battle of Maysalun in June 1920. They deposed the indigenous Arab government, and removed King Faisal from Damascus in August 1920. Great Britain also appointed a High Commissioner and established their own mandatory regime in Palestine, without first obtaining approval from the Council of the League of Nations, or obtaining the formal cession of the territory from the former sovereign, Turkey.
Attempts to explain the conduct of the Allies were made at the San Remo conference and in the Churchill White Paper of 1922. The White Paper stated the British position that Palestine was part of the excluded areas of "Syria lying to the west of the District of Damascus".
Release of classified records[edit]Lord Grey had been the Foreign Secretary during the McMahon''Hussein negotiations. Speaking in the House of Lords on 27 March 1923, he made it clear that, for his part, he entertained serious doubts as to the validity of the British Government's (Churchill's) interpretation of the pledges which he, as Foreign Secretary, had caused to be given to the Sharif Hussein in 1915. He called for all of the secret engagements regarding Palestine to be made public.[30]
Many of the relevant documents in the National Archives were later declassified and published. Among them were various assurances of Arab independence provided by Secretary of War, Lord Kitchener, the Viceroy of India, and others in the War Cabinet. The minutes of a Cabinet Eastern Committee meeting, chaired by Lord Curzon, held on 5 December 1918 to discuss the various Palestine undertakings makes it clear that Palestine had not been excluded from the agreement with Hussein. General Jan Smuts, Lord Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and representatives of the Foreign Office, the India Office, the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Treasury were present. T. E. Lawrence also attended. According to the minutes Lord Curzon explained:
"The Palestine position is this. If we deal with our commitments, there is first the general pledge to Hussein in October 1915, under which Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future ... Great Britain and France '' Italy subsequently agreeing'--committed themselves to an international administration of Palestine in consultation with Russia, who was an ally at that time ... A new feature was brought into the case in November 1917, when Mr Balfour, with the authority of the War Cabinet, issued his famous declaration to the Zionists that Palestine 'should be the national home of the Jewish people, but that nothing should be done'--and this, of course, was a most important proviso'--to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Those, as far as I know, are the only actual engagements into which we entered with regard to Palestine."[31]
On 17 April 1964, The Times of London published excerpts from a secret memorandum that had been prepared by the Political Intelligence Department of the British Foreign Office for the British delegation to the Paris peace conference. The reference to Palestine said:
"With regard to Palestine, H.M.G. are committed by Sir Henry McMahon's letter to the Sherif on October 24, 1915, to its inclusion in the boundaries of Arab independence ... but they have stated their policy regarding the Palestine Holy Place and Zionist colonization in their message to him of January 4, 1918."
Another document, which was a draft statement for submission to the peace conference, but never submitted, noted:
"The whole of Palestine ... lies within the limits which H.M.G. have pledged themselves to Sherif Husain that they will recognize and uphold the independence of the Arabs."[32][33]
Lloyd George's explanation[edit]The British Notes taken during a 'Council of Four Conference Held in the Prime Minister's Flat at 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Thursday, March 20, 1919, at 3 p.m.'[35] shed further light on the matter. Lord Balfour was in attendance, when Lloyd George explained the history behind the agreements. The notes revealed that:
'[T]he blue area in which France was "allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they may desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of Arab States" did not include Damascus, Homs, Hama, or Aleppo. In area A. France was "prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States'.[36]Since the Sykes''Picot Agreement of 1916, the whole mandatory system had been adopted. If a mandate were granted by the League of Nations over these territories, all that France asked was that France should have that part put aside for her.Lloyd George said that he could not do that. The League of Nations could not be used for putting aside our bargain with King Hussein. He asked if M. Pichon intended to occupy Damascus with French troops. If he did, it would clearly be a violation of the Treaty with the Arabs. M. Pichon said that France had no convention with King Hussein. Lloyd George said that the whole of the agreement of 1916 (Sykes''Picot), was based on a letter from Sir Henry McMahon' to King Hussein.[37]Lloyd George, continuing, said that it was on the basis of the above quoted letter that King Hussein had put all his resources into the field which had helped us most materially to win the victory. France had for practical purposes accepted our undertaking to King Hussein in signing the 1916 agreement. This had not been M. Pichon, but his predecessors. He was bound to say that if the British Government now agreed that Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo should be included in the sphere of direct French influence, they would be breaking faith with the Arabs, and they could not face this.Lloyd George was particularly anxious for M. Clemenceau to follow this. The agreement of 1916 had been signed subsequent to the letter to King Hussein. In the following extract from the agreement of 1916 France recognised Arab independence: "It is accordingly understood between the French and British Governments.-(1) That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States in the areas A. and B. marked on the annexed map under the suzerainty of an Arab Chief." Hence France, by this act, practically recognised our agreement with King Hussein by excluding Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo from the blue zone of direct administration, for the map attached to the agreement showed that Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo were included, not in the zone of direct administration, but in the independent Arab State. M. Pichon said that this had never been contested, but how could France be bound by an agreement the very existence of which was unknown to her at the time when the 1916 agreement was signed? In the 1916 agreement France had not in any way recognised the Hedjaz. She had undertaken to uphold "an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States", but not the King of the Hedjaz. If France was promised a mandate for Syria, she would undertake to do nothing except in agreement with the Arab State or Confederation of States. This is the role which France demanded in Syria. If Great Britain would only promise her good offices, he believed that France could reach an understanding with Feisal.'[38]
Consequences of the agreement[edit]The agreement is seen by many as a turning point in Western''Arab relations. It did negate the promises made to Arabs[39] through Colonel T. E. Lawrence for a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria, in exchange for their siding with British forces against the Ottoman Empire. Almost 100 years later (2014), the jihadist organization ISIS uses Sykes-Picot as their rallying cry and have conquered Mosul and parts of northern Syria to form an Arab Caliphate along sectarian lines rather than definitions of European diplomats.[40]
The agreement's principal terms were reaffirmed by the inter-Allied San Remo conference of 19''26 April 1920 and the ratification of the resulting League of Nations mandates by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922.
See also[edit]References[edit]^Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Owl. pp. 286, 288. ISBN 0-8050-6884-8. ^The Middle East in the twentieth century, Martin Sicker^http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p. 8.^Peter Mansfield, British Empire magazine, Time-Life Books, no 75, p. 2078^Peter Mansfield, The British Empire magazine, no. 75, Time-Life Books, 1973^ abcdText of the Sykes''Picot Agreement at the WWI Document Archive^ abcdGrooves Of Change: A Book Of Memoirs,Herbert Samuel^Britain's Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956, Elizabeth Monroe, p26^Conservative Party attitudes to Jews, 1900''1950, Harry Defries^ abA Broken Trust: Sir Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians, Sarah Huneidi, p261^Samuel, Grooves of Change, p174^Asquith stated "It is the Ottoman Government, and not we who have rung the death knell of Ottoman dominion not only in Europe but in Asia."^Samuel, Grooves of Change, p176^In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth, Elie Kedourie^The high walls of Jerusalem: a history of the Balfour Declaration and the birth of the British mandate for Palestine, 1984, p346^CAB 27/24, E.C. 41 War Cabinet Eastern Committee Minutes, December 5, 1918^See UK National Archives CAB/24/143, Eastern Report, No. XVIII, May 31, 1917^See CAB 24/271, Cabinet Paper 203(37)^see paragraph 1 of The Sykes''Picot Agreement^Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917''1919, Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, pages 122''124^Palestine, a Twice-promised Land?: The British, the Arabs & Zionism, 1915''1920, By Isaiah Friedman, Transaction Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-56000-391-X, page 166^Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918. Supplement 1, The World War Volume I, Part I: The continuation and conclusion of the war'--participation of the United States, Page 243^see document 242, Memorandum by Mr. Balfour (Paris) respecting Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, 11 August 1919, in EL Woodward and Rohan Butler, Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919''1939. (London: HM Stationery Office, 1952), ISBN 0-11-591554-0, pages 340''348, [1]^New Statesman Interview '' Jack Straw^http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p. 9.^See Allenby and General Strategy in the Middle East, 1917''1919, By Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, 113-118^Jordan: Living in the Crossfire, Alan George, Zed Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84277-471-9, page 6^Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920''1925, by Timothy J. Paris, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-7146-5451-5, page 69^see for example International Law, Papers of Hersch Lauterpacht, edited by Elihu Lauterpacht, CUP Archive, 1970, ISBN 0-521-21207-3, page 116 and Statehood and the Law of Self-determination, D. Raič, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2002, ISBN 90-411-1890-X, page 95^Report of a Committee Set Up To Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir Henry McMahon and The Sharif of Mecca^cited in "Palestine Papers, 1917''1922", Doreen Ingrams, page 48 from the UK Archive files PRO CAB 27/24.^"Light on Britain's Palestine Promise". The Times. April 17, 1964. pp. 15''16. ^Elie Kedourie (April 23, 1964). "Promises on Palestine (letter)". The Times. p. 13. ^A Line in the Sand, James Barr, p.12^'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 1'^'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 6'^The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 7^The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 8^Lawrence of Arabia: The Battle for the Arab World. Director James Hawes. PBS Home Video, 21 October 2003. Interview with Kamal Abu Jaber, former Foreign Minister of Jordan.^Stratfor, "The Intrigue Lying Behind Iraq's Jihadist Uprising" [2]Further reading[edit]
There Is No al-Sham
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:56
Over the past few years, as Syria has dissolved into warring fiefdoms and Iraq has struggled to emerge from its disastrous civil war, American commentators have listed the many failings of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, upon which the Middle East's state system was based. The 1916 arrangement divided the Ottoman Empire's dominions in the Arab world into British and French "zones of influence," laying the foundation for the region's modern borders. The intense criticism of Sykes-Picot has provoked a backlash of sorts, as some analysts have suggested that piling blame on the agreement has distracted from what has really ailed the Middle East in the post-colonial period.
After capturing Mosul, Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) announced "the beginning of the end of the Sykes Picot agreement," as the Guardian put it. The arrival of better-armed critics of the agreement seemed to herald a fundamental transformation of the Middle East's borders -- but behind ISIS's recent success lie a number of ironies inherent in both the group's rhetoric and our own assumptions about the Middle East.
For all the imagination with which we've mentally remapped the region, we remain strangely wedded to the notion that political upheaval could reveal a new, more authentic set of Middle Eastern borders -- based on ethnic and sectarian divisions, perhaps, or the re-emergence of some pre-imperialist geography. But recent developments suggest that if things do change dramatically, force and chance will play a greater role in determining what happens next than demography, geography, or history.
Consider the moniker "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham." Both Iraq and al-Sham are place names with their own historical and political cachet, but it's telling that ISIS's leadership couldn't come up with a single geographical term to describe its current area of operations. Al-Sham -- which has sometimes been translated as Syria, though perhaps "Greater Syria" or "the Levant" gives a clearer sense of the geography -- was most recently the name of an Ottoman province based in Damascus. Iraq, by contrast, was a geographical term that came into its own with the arrival of the British in the 1920s.
Operating on the sound logic of opportunism, ISIS is claiming to unite two regions that even the first opponents of the European mandate system were content to treat as separate. In the immediate aftermath of World War I, some of the earliest Arab nationalists came together in defense of a state covering the entire Levant. When Faisal, champion of the Arab revolt and later king of Iraq, proclaimed in 1920 a short-lived Arab Kingdom based in Damascus, he imagined its territory stretching from the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey to the Sinai Peninsula, but not east into Iraq.
The fate of subsequent plans to bring together Iraq and Syria is also telling. After World War II, the Hashemite rulers of Jordan and Iraq expressed interest in various schemes for uniting the region. Syria's leaders, unsurprisingly, thought that they would lose out in this arrangement, which came to naught anyway when Iraq's army ousted its Hashemite king, alleging among other things that he was a British puppet.
Subsequently, the rise of secular-socialist Baath parties in both Iraq and Syria seemed to offer grounds for unification -- but power politics and the intricacies of Baathist ideology almost immediately created a newfound hostility between Damascus and Baghdad.
Syria's attempt to unite with Egypt under the banner of Arab nationalism was no more successful.
ISIS, which now finds itself allied with Sunni Baathists in Iraq while fighting to the death against Alawite Baathists in Syria, is no more likely to triumph over regional particularism than the regimes that came before it. Instead, the most enduring link between Iraq and Syria today might be the millions of refugees who, over the past decade, have crossed and recrossed the border fleeing violence in both directions.
Dreams of transnational unification aside, one of the most striking historical precedents for the area ISIS controlled before last week was the far older division between the settled and nomadic parts of the Middle East. A fascinating Ottoman map from World War I describes as "Syrian" the inhabitants of the western agricultural region that includes all of Syria's major cities, while those living farther east in the desert are "Arabs." British geography texts from the same period show the same division, in this case between settled "Ottomans" and wandering Arabs who lived in the empty space between Iraq and Syria.
As a result, the territory separating Iraq and Syria was never of much importance to the creators of the Sykes-Picot system. At its southern end, this border crosses a stretch of desert that Ottoman and Western cartographers often left blank. The relatively more populous stretch of the border that ISIS's new pseudo-state straddles made up the Ottoman province of Deir ez-Zor, best known today as the place Ottoman Armenians were sent to die of thirst in 1915.
Subsequently, when the British and French carved up the region, it was at least a decade before they bothered to properly demarcate this border. The matter was seemingly of so little consequence that the European powers left it up to a League of Nations commission. The result, complete with thalwegs, trigonometric points, and boundary stones, must have seemed particularly arbitrary to the tribes whose territory spread across it -- but it also might not have mattered that much. Throughout the colonial period, the tribes' transborder grazing and watering practices continued unchanged. In short, ISIS has so far succeeded not by remaking the state system but by operating, like many guerrilla groups before it, from the ungoverned areas between existing states.
The backlash provoked by ISIS's brutal tactics and rapid success also reveals the limits of conceiving of the Middle East along ethnic and sectarian lines. The group's religious extremism has alienated even its most radical Sunni allies in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has driven half a million Iraqis out of Mosul. Syrians and Iraqis alike have deployed the language of nationalism to denounce ISIS fighters as foreign interlopers in their territory, while Iraqi Shiites are now all the more likely to see Iranian troops on their soil as coreligionists instead of Persian invaders.
Indeed, ISIS has inspired an unprecedented degree of consensus between Turks, Kurds, Iraqis, and Iranians on the need to defeat the jihadi group. With ISIS taking 49 people hostage after overrunning Turkey's consulate in Mosul, Turkish commentators reminded readers that their prime minister's piety would not keep Turkey on the group's good side. Violent chaos on Turkey's southern border has also been an added factor behind the Turkish government's ongoing effort to make peace with the country's Kurdish minority. Although agonizingly slow and beset with false steps, this initiative has nonetheless brought Turkey closer than ever before to ending decades of internal violence and securing its territorial integrity.
At the same time, ISIS's rise has strengthened the hand of Iraq's Kurds. The Kurdish Peshmerga has taken control of Kirkuk, but rather than trigger a civil war with Iraq's central government -- as it likely would have in the past -- Baghdad remains at least temporarily dependent on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s cooperation. Of all the region's actors, the KRG now stands perhaps the best chance of having its independence recognized.
Yes, this is a tribute to the power of Kurdish nationalism in overcoming intra-Kurdish political differences. But it's also a tribute to the KRG's pragmatism. For over a decade, it has built a functioning state by, among other things, cooperating with Turkey instead of making any effort to liberate what, in the Kurdish post-Sykes-Picot fantasy, would be Northern Kurdistan.
The KRG's coming challenges, however, offer one more testament to why redrawing borders along ethnic lines remains an ugly, impractical business. If Kurdish forces hope to maintain a firm hold on Kirkuk, they will have to show they can provide security for all the city's inhabitants -- not just ethnic Kurds. Once again, the prevailing approach to drawing the borders of modern states -- basing them on ethnic identity or historical claims - will be shown to make little sense. It's an old story: Try to figure out how to adjudicate between proponents of Kurdistan and Greater Armenia, say, with reference to these maximalist maps of Armenian- and Kurdish-inhabited territory in Anatolia. (Too easy? Try it with Assyrian claims as well.)
Of course, the alternative of simply deferring to precedent and affirming existing borders is often just as illogical. There are plenty of excellent reasons for defending Ukraine's territorial integrity against Russian aggression -- but it's still awkward that the country took on its present shape when Joseph Stalin gave it a large chunk of what was once Poland. Or consider Saddam Hussein's selectivity when he justified his invasion of Kuwait by accusing the British of stealing it from Iraq -- without ever thanking them for putting together the rest of his country. More recently, efforts to determine the exact frontier between Sudan and South Sudan stumbled when, after searching libraries in Khartoum, Cairo, and London, no one could find any maps showing in detail the provincial borders that the British drew a century ago.
Ironically, the most successful effort yet at eliminating outdated borders drawn by 19th-century Europeans remains the European Union. And that consensus only emerged from the belated realization that a century of fighting over the continent's true borders hadn't done anyone any good.
Sadly, the EU's gilded dysfunction remains more than the Middle East can hope for in the near future. But the EU's fundamental insight remains sound: If we are going to discuss the end of Sykes-Picot, let's first recognize that -- no matter how little sense those borders make -- none of the alternatives are intrinsically more sensible.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
What We're About To Lose In The Middle East
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 07:07
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that at a recent security conference in Israel the head of the military showed the portraits of Englishman Mark Sykes and Frenchman Fran§ois Georges-Picot. These are the diplomats whose secret Sykes-Picot Agreement during World War I guided the partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and established the boundaries for what would become Iraq, Syria, and the modern Middle East.
All of that is now coming apart. The fall of Mosul and the advance of ISIS'--the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida offshoot'--toward Baghdad last week prompted headlines warning that Islamist militants aim to redraw the map of the Middle East and establish a new state: a modern-day Islamic Caliphate spanning parts of Syria and Iraq.
They are well on their way. According to reports coming out of Iraq, the 300-mile Iraq-Syria border has all but ceased to exist, erased by a network of sanctuaries and ISIS-controlled territory that has enabled the militants to charge across the Sunni heartland of northern and western Iraq from their strongholds in Syria. Iran is reportedly sending in thousands of troops to support the Iraqi regime in Baghdad, and a full-blown civil war between Sunni and Shiite factions appears to be imminent.
The idea of redrawing the Mideast map is nothing new'--after all, that's what the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement was all about. A more recent effort came in 2006, when then-Senator Joe Biden proposed to split Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions'--Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite'--with a central government in Baghdad. Biden hoped partition would prevent Iraq from falling into a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, reasoning that because it was originally an ''artificial'' creation of Western European powers, Iraq could never become a stable nation without a Saddam-like dictatorship to hold it together'--hence, it could never be a democracy. (Biden's partition plan didn't get far, and by 2010 he was boasting to Larry King that a unified, democratic Iraq would be ''one of the great achievements of this administration.'')
The same might be said of Syria, whose protracted civil war has now undermined the country's territorial integrity and enabled the rise of ISIS, thrusting the question of the Middle East map back into the limelight. But is this analysis correct? Are Iraq and Syria impossible to maintain as nation-states simply because they were created by European powers after WWI? The last hundred years suggests the answer is no'--but also that major powers must simultaneously stabilize them and push their leaders toward democracy if the region is to avoid large-scale sectarian conflict.
Are Iraq and Syria impossible to maintain as nation-states simply because they were created by European powers after World War I?
Nevertheless, it now seems the Middle East created by Sykes-Picot is going to collapse because of what National Review Online's Mario Loyola last week called the Obama administration's ''criminal negligence'' in Iraq. If so, then we should at least pause to consider what it is that we're allowing to slip away, and why it has held together for so long.
Sykes-Picot was partly about the imperial ambitions of a victorious France and Britain, but it was also a serious attempt to solve a very old problem. At least since the mid-19th century, the Ottoman Empire had been understood to be the ''sick man of Europe,'' a ramshackle power that was fatally weak; it was only a matter of time before it collapsed. What should replace the Ottoman system'--which in earlier centuries had been an elaborate and fastidiously administered empire stretching from Budapest to Baghdad'--was a serious concern for Britain and France in particular, not least because neither power wanted the other to seize the entire Middle East as an imperial possession. If nothing else, competition made them take the matter seriously.
When the Ottomans allied with Germany and Austria after the outbreak of the First World War, and especially after they lost, the question took on a new urgency. But unlike previous wars for empire, Allied territorial gains in WWI were held as ''mandates'' from the League of Nations rather than being annexed outright. In some ways, this was a mere formality that paid lip service to the idea the Allies were holding territories in trust for native inhabitants when in fact they were effectively ruling through client regimes.
It represented the ideal of an international system of sovereign nations, the weakest and most insecure of which would be protected by the strongest and most stable.
On the other hand, Britain and France were stretched thin after WWI and looking for ways to pull back from imperial commitments they could no longer afford. The mandate system gave them a way to maintain their interests without expending treasure and blood on actual empire, while recognizing that in the long term, former Ottoman provinces would have to be governed by former Ottoman subjects in the form of modern nation-states.
From our perch in the 21st century, it's easy to dismiss the Allies' scheme to carve up the Ottoman Empire as nothing more than rank imperialist ambition'--Europeans imposing their hegemony on a vanquished enemy they considered fundamentally inferior and incapable of self-government. And it's true that the modern Middle East is a creation of the European victors of WWI. Iraq itself was the melding of three Ottoman provinces'--Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul'--which the British gave to Feisal Hussein as a consolation prize for the loss of Syria to the French (the Brits gave Jordan to Hussein's brother, Abdullah, in an attempt to reconcile Britain's conflicting promises to the Arabs and the Jews regarding the fate of Palestine).
So, yes, the Allies assumed responsibility for the fate of former Ottoman provinces after WWI, and at the time this served their imperial interests'--to some extent. What Britain and France could not accept, however, was chaos in the Middle East or domination of the region by their rival, even if that meant assuming responsibilities they could ill-afford after the bloodletting of WWI. The Allies accepted, in other words, that if the Ottoman system were going to disappear then it would have to be replaced by something. The prevailing dominance of Wilsonian rhetoric at the Paris Peace Conference obliged the creation of nation-states'--if at the time only nominal'--whose integrity and stability were to be safeguarded by the Allied European powers. For France and Britain, this represented both a benefit of winning the war and also a burdensome and costly responsibility.
The underlying idea of post-WWI mandates in the Middle East'--including the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1922, which replaced the formal British Mandate for Mesopotamia under the Covenant of the League of Nations'--was that established powers would ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nascent powers until those regimes could stand on their own. In practice, it was imperfect; it was, in fact, badly abused. But it nevertheless represented the ideal of an international system of sovereign nations, the weakest and most insecure of which would be protected by the strongest and most stable.
That system, based on the Sykes-Picot Agreement, has more or less held the Middle East together for nearly a century, preventing the region from cracking up and descending into widespread civil and ethnic war. Last week, the system rapidly began to dissolve. In time, history may well judge that its dissolution was the direct result of negligence and inaction by the United States'--whose de facto mandate over Iraq began with the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and whose erstwhile leaders simply threw it away.
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ISIL Takes over Baiji Refinery
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:16
Global Energy Markets And The Iraq Factor
FNArena News - June 18 2014- Iraq oil production not under threat for now- Longer term growth aspirations compromised- Upside risk to prices through instability
By Greg Peel
Iraq controls the fifth largest oil reserves in the world, is currently producing oil at a rate of around 3 million barrels per day and has aspirations to increase its production materially over the next five to fifteen years, to add just under a further 3mmbbl per day, notes Morgan Stanley.
The world is currently consuming oil at the rate of just over 90mmbbls per day which is forecast to increase to just under 104mmbbls per day by 2030, driven by growth in economies outside of the OECD. The supply-side response is to be met primarily by ''tight oil'' (mainly US shale), Canadian oil sands and conventional supplies from the Middle East, including Iraq, and Brazil. Iraq's production growth ambitions are expected to meet some 20% of global demand growth.
It is thus of no surprise the rapid incursion into Iraq by what we now appear to be calling ISIL '' the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant '' has caused some alarm within global energy markets.
At this stage ISIL has taken control of the west and north of Iraq, in which oil infrastructure is relatively sparse. The bulk of infrastructure lies in the east and south. ISIL has taken the Baji refinery near Mosul but that appears to be operating normally for now. The oil resources of Kurdistan in the north are well protected and indeed the Kurds have taken the opportunity in the confusion to seize the key oil region of Kirkuk.
The Iraqi army appears to have fractured along sectarian lines, forcing the retreat of Shiite soldiers to regroup and protect Baghdad while Sunnis have abandoned their posts in the face of the Sunni ISIL onslaught. Iran is predominantly Shiite and is thus sending its Revolutionary Guards to assist, underscoring the growing irrelevance of the British-drawn borders of Syria, Iraq and Iran and the growing division of the region along Sunni-Shia lines. The US will likely offer some assistance short of ''boots on the ground''.
Global oil markets have not responded in an overly panicked fashion. A geopolitical premium had already been built into the prices of oil before now given the Ukraine-Russia stand-off and disruptions in Libya due, again, to sectarian hostilities. To date the prices of Brent and West Texas Intermediate crudes have seen only around another US$3/bbl premium added to represent the Iraq problem. This implies markets have faith at this time that ISIL will not successfully push further into the country and secure vital oil infrastructure.
Morgan Stanley does not expect a material disruption to Iraqi oil exports. Without such disruption, MS believes market fatigue will lower that geopolitical premium in coming months. Deutsche Bank agrees that ''this sanguine approach to oil price spike risk reflects the fact that major oil infrastructure in Iraq has not (yet) fallen into the hands of the militant extremists''.
That said, the Iraq-Turkey pipeline travels through the north of Iraq and has the capacity to export 600,000bbls per day. The pipeline had been exporting 200-300,000bbls per day until it was shut down for repairs in early March, due to persistent damage. With the pipeline closed, Baghdad is losing around US$20m per day in export revenues, notes Citi, at a time when funds are needed for imported military equipment to deal with the Sunni insurgency. Either way, ISIL now controls the pipeline.
The question for analysts is not so much one of short term impact, but of longer term impact.
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Baiji Refinery pipelines
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:22
Source : http://www.iags.org/iraqpipelinewatch.htmSurveillance du syst¨me d'acheminement p(C)trolier en Irak.
Attaques contre les pipelines, les installations p(C)troli¨res et le personnel :
20031. 12 Juin '-- Attaque le long du pipeline de 960 km qui achemine le p(C)trole du nord de l'Irak vers le port turc de Ceyhan, sur la c´te m(C)diterrann(C)enne2. 19 Juin '-- Explosion dans le complexe de raffinage de Bayji, 200 km au nord de Bagdad3. 22 Juin '-- Sabotage d'une conduite de gaz naturel pr¨s de Hit, 152 km au nord ouest de Bagdad4. 23 Juin - Explosion d'un pipeline au voisinage de la ville de Abidiyah Gaarbiga, pr¨s de la fronti¨re Syrienne.5. 24 Juin '-- Explosion pr¨s du pipeline de Barwanah, qui achemine le brut la raffinerie de al-Dawrah Bagdad6. 26 Juin'-- Explosion pr¨s Al-Fatha, pr¨s du Tigre, sur un pipeline acheminant le p(C)trole la raffinerie de Bayji7. 29 juin'-- Attaque d'un pipeline pr¨s de Basra8. July 31 - Des saboteurs d(C)truisent une partie du pipeline pr¨s de Bayji9. 1° Ao>>t- Deux roquettes touchent un robinet de p(C)trole pr¨s de Karbala et provoquent un incendie.10. 1° Ao>>t- Explosion sur le pipeline allant de Kirkouk Bayji.11. 12 Ao>>t '-- Attaque sur al-Taji, pr¨s de Bagdad12. 15 Ao>>t - Explosion pr¨s de Bayji13. 16 Ao>>t - Le lendemain, nouvelle explosion pr¨s de Bayji14. 8 Septembre '-- Attaque du pipeline du champ de Jabour, 32 km au sud de Kirkuk, sur le pipeline qui part de l .15. 18 Septembre - Attaque visant le pipeline allant de Kirkuk Ceyhan16. 11 Octobre - Attaque du pipeline allant de Zab Kirkuk.17. 16 Octobre - Explosion du pipeline pr¨s de la cit(C) de Hadeetha, 200 km au Nord Ouest de Bagdad18. 23 Octobre - Explosion pr¨s de la conduite de gaz naturel 48 km au sud de Mosoul.19. 23 Octobre - Attaque la bombe sur un pipeline 240 km au nord de Bagdad20. 1° Novembre - Explosion d'un pipeline 15 km au nord de Tikrtit21. 4 Novembre - Attaque du pipeline de Zumar, 60 km au nord ouest de Mosoul.22. 10 Novembre - Mohammed al-Zibari, responsable de la compagnie de distribution du p(C)trole irakien, bless(C) par balles dans ce qui peut ªtre consid(C)r(C) comme la premi¨re tentative d'assassinat visant un responsable d'une firme irakienne. Zibari meurt de ses blessures. Selon l'agence Reuters, avant de mourir, Zibari a d(C)clar(C) : " Trois hommes ont ouvert le feu avec des armes AK-47. Mon chauffeur et mon garde du corps les ont vus. Des gens inf(C)od(C)s des r(C)gimes (C)trangers sont les auteurs de cet attentat. Je n'ai ici aucun ennemi personnel, aucun probl¨me tribal ou familial. Je ne suis membre d'aucun parti politique".23. 17 Novembre - Une explosion souffle une conduite acheminant le fuel de la raffinerie de Daura, 250 km au nord de Bagdad, entra®nant une coupure d'(C)lectricit(C) de deux jours.24. 18 Novembre - Explosion d'un pipeline dans la r(C)gion de Mashruh al-Therthar, au sud ouest de la ville de Samarra, conduite qui alimente la raffinerie de Daura, Bagdad.25. 22 Novembre - Abdel Salam Qanbar, un policier irakien, charg(C) de la s(C)curit(C) des installations p(C)troli¨res au nord de la ville de Mosoul, attaqu(C) et tu(C) par des inconnus op(C)rant partir d'un v(C)hicule.26. 22 Novembre - Un club situ(C) l'int(C)rieur du complexe de la Northern Oil Company, Kirkuk, 240 km au nord de Baghdad, touch(C) pendant la nuit par des tirs de mortier, blessant trois irakiens.27. 23 Novembre - Une explosion touchant une conduite acheminant du gaz du champ de Jambur la Raffinerie de Bayji provoque une lueur si vive qu'elle a pu ªtre aper§ue de Kirkuk, 30 km de l .28. 26 Novembre - Une conduite reliant deux champs p(C)trolif¨res en Irak du Nord la raffinerie de Bayji en feu, pr¨s du village de Sarkhat, 38 km au nord de Bayji.29. 9 D(C)cembre- Explosion d'une conduite reliant Kirkuk une usine produisant des bouteilles de gas, au nord de Bagdad.30. 10 D(C)cembre - Explosion 135 km l'ouest de Kirkuk, sur un pipeline reliant les raffineries de Nayji et de Daura. Enregistrement vid(C)o.31. December 19 - Un pipeline souffl(C) au sud de Bagdad.32. 20 D(C)cembre - Des roquettes touchent des r(C)servoirs au sud de bagdad, entra®nant la perte de deux million et demi de gallons d'essence.33. 20 D(C)cembre - Un pipeline touch(C) par des roquettes dans la r(C)gion de al-Mashahda 24 km au nord de Bagdad.34. 21 D(C)cembre - Un pipeline touch(C) dans la r(C)gion de al-Mashahda region, 50 km de Bagdad cette fois.35. 22 D(C)cembre- La station de pompage situ(C)e pr¨s de la raffinerie de Bayji, attaqu(C)e au mortier.36. 22 D(C)cembre - Explosion 12 h 30 GMT ( 3 h 30 de l'apr¨s-midi ) Riad, 45 km l'ouest de Kirkouk, frappant la conduite reliant les champs p(C)trolif¨res de Kirkuk et la principale raffinerie irakienne, situ(C)e Bayji, dispos(C)e parall¨lement celle reliant Kirkuk et le port turc de Ceyhan, ouvrant sur la M(C)diterrann(C)e.37. 22 D(C)cembre - Les pipeline alimentant Bayji en brut partir des champs de Kirkuf, en feu 50 km au nord est de la raffinerie.
200438. January 7 - explosion holes pipeline connecting oil fields to a pumping station in the area around Hassiba, 85 miles (135 km) west of Kirkuk, Northern Oil Company director general Adel Kazzaz said "The fuel line was used for domestic market needs and filling up tankers that export crude."39. January 30 - explosion on pipeline carrying crude oil from Kirkuk to Bayji refinery.40. February 22 - explosion and fire on the Kirkuk-Baghdad-Basra pipeline near Al-Hare, a small town west of Karbala, about 70 miles (110 km) south of Baghdad. This is reported to be the first attack against a pipeline in southern Iraq since the ousting of Saddam Hussein.41. February 26 - explosion apparently caused by homemade bomb thrown under oil and gas pipes damaged part of an oil pipeline about 60 miles (96 km) north of Baghdad.42. March 2 - large explosion on oil pipeline near the northern city of Kirkuk causing a huge fire but no casualties. The blast hit the main oil line leading to the Bayji refinery 125 miles (200 km) north of Baghdad igniting a huge fire police chief Turhan Yussef said. "The explosion happened at 11.15am (0615 AEDT). An explosive device was placed under the pipeline at Al-Riad, 21 miles (35 km) west of Kirkuk," he said.43. March 10 - fire on an oil pipeline south of Baghdad, leading from southern fields to the Daura refinery outside Baghdad. Firefighter Saleh Jabbar said it appeared to be the result of sabotage.44. March 12 - oil pipeline blown up west of Tikrit on Friday, resulting in a fire on the line. The pipeline links northern oil fields in Kirkuk with the Daura refinery on the edge of Baghdad.45. March 24 - Northern Oil Company oil well in the Khabaz area, about 55 miles (88 km) west of Kirkuk, was bombed at night. The resulting fire was extinguished late the following day. Gen. Mohammed Amin, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps chief in Kirkuk said the well was not being tapped at the time of the blast nor was it closely guarded. "This is a terrorist act. This is the first time an oil well has come under attack in Kirkuk." Amin said.46. March 25 - blast on a main oil well in northern Iraq that feeds exports through Turkey. Adel Qazzaz, director-general of the Northern Iraqi Company (NOC) said, "The explosion occurred at 3:30 pm (1230 GMT) because of an explosive charge planted by unknown individuals inside the well, located 47 miles (75 km) west of Kirkuk." He added, "It inflicted massive damage in the well, and firefighters are having a hard time extinguishing it because the explosion occurred inside the well and not in the pipelines." Qazzaz said firemen would need two days to put out the fire, and noted "the well is a principal producer for oil exports through the Iraqi-Turkish pipeline and for covering local market demands."47. March 26 - pipeline in the southern Basra oil facilities on fire, said an official from Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization. Iraqi guards on duty at Shuaiba, near the southern city of Basra, said saboteurs ignited crude oil that leaked from the pipeline. A British military spokesman disagreed with the report, saying "It was not the result of an explosion. We understand that a pipeline valve failed and fire broke out from the resultant spillage."48. April 4 - attack on oil pipeline in southern Iraq which links Basra with Faw port on the Persian Gulf. ruptured it and set the oil ablaze.49. April 8 - mortar round hit natural gas tank and another hit a pipeline at a plant north of Kirkuk operated by the Northern Iraqi Company (NOC) Jumaa Ahmad, head of the fire fighting brigade, said.50. April 21 - bombing on pipeline north of Baghdad.51. April 24 - suicide bombers in three boats blew themselves up in and around the Basra terminal zone, one of the most heavily guarded facilities of its kind in the world.52. May 8 - bomb 35 miles (56 km) south of Basra damaged an 18-foot section of one of two pipelines running from Basra to the Faw peninsula on the Gulf. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Steve Wright said oil exports from the Basra and Khor al-Amaya offshore southern terminals, through which about 90% of Iraq's oil exports flow, were stopped as a result: "Pumping has stopped. They attacked in the vicinity where the manifold goes into the sea." According to Iraqi officials exports were still flowing from Basra albeit at a reduced rate of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with 1.6 million bpd prior to the attack as oil from the damaged pipeline is flowing through the parallel pipeline. Ali Nasr al-Rubaie, director of the main port terminal said exports had been halved following the attack: "We have dropped from an average of 80,000 barrels per hour to 40,000 barrels per hour."53. May 8 - attack on oil pipeline taking crude northwards from the country's southern oilfields at point 25 miles (40 km) south of Baghdad, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said on Saturday, noting it would take several days to start pumping oil again.54. May 9 - blast near a strategic oil pipeline network linking north and south Iraq, by the town of Musayyib, about 56 miles (90 km) south of Baghdad. Unclear what caused the explosion or whether the pipeline itself was damaged.55. May 13 - rocket landed in a gas plant at the Daura oil refinery in Baghdad, injured a worker and caused a fire.56. May 24 - explosion badly damaged the Northern pipeline at around 7pm local time on a section between the Kirkuk oilfields and the Dibis pumping installations. A security official of Iraq's Northern Oil Company, Juma Ahmad, said pumping had to be stopped to fight the fire. Another security official for Northern Oil, Issam Muhammad, said while the fire had been put out it would take 12 days to repair the damage.57. May 26 - explosion on Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline near Kirkuk.58. May 26 - explosion on southern pipeline through which oil flows to the Persian Gulf.59. June 6 - attack on Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. Iraq's Northern Oil Company (NOC) chief Ghazi Talabani said "Assailants detonated sound grenades on the pipeline Sunday at dawn (local time), 120 km (75 miles) east of Kirkuk, causing damage, and a loss of a huge quantity of oil." He said "The oil loss has been stopped and a group of technical experts are repairing the pipeline and the damage could be repaired by Tuesday night. Restarting production depends on the decision of the coalition and the oil ministry." NOC project manager Abdullah al-Rubai had earlier denied the attack.60. June 6 - explosion on oil pipeline that feeds the Basra terminal near Basra on the Faw Peninsula's southern end. The blast slowed oil flow from 80,000 barrels per hour to 40,000.61. June 9 - blast on oil pipeline near Bayji 155 miles (250 km) north of Baghdad cut supplies to the Bayji electric power station and according to Iraq Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad forced a reduction of 400 megawatts, amounting to a 10% output cut on the national power grid.62. June 9 - blast on Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Anwar Hamed Amin, chief of Iraqi Civil Defence Corps, said "A bomb placed 80 km (50 miles) west of Kirkuk exploded at 8:20am [local time] on the main pipeline to the Ceyhan terminal."63. June 15 - Explosion in the morning on a pipeline through which oil flows from the Zubeir 1 pumping station to a depot in Faw, 40 miles southeast of Basra.64. June 15 - Another explosion, during the evening, on a southern pipeline. Together with the attack on the pipeline to Basra, the attack on this 48-inch pipeline through which oil flows to Khor al-Amaya port cut oil exports from the south by over half according to the Iraqi Southern Oil Company.65. June 15 - ``An oil pipeline connecting the fields in Kirkuk and a processing station in Bajwan, 20 km (12 miles) north of the city, was sabotaged and a fire broke out,'' said Adel Kazaz, a North Oil Company director. The pipeline supplied oil to domestic refineries.66. June 16 - 42-inch Pipeline to Basra terminal, the key terminal from which most of Iraq's 1.6 million bpd of Basra Light were exported, attacked again. Iraqi Southern Oil Company's spokesman said: "Due to the damage inflicted on the two pipelines, the pumping of oil to the Basra oil terminal has completely stopped," adding that southern exports have "come to halt." A Iraqi oil official reported "There are no exports from Basra oil terminal or Khor al-Amaya and it is unclear when they will restart," adding, "Both pipelines feeding the terminals have been destroyed."67. June 16 - Chief of security for Iraq's Northern Oil Company, Ghazi Talabani, 70, was shot and killed in Kirkuk as he was being driven to work. His driver was badly wounded. The assassins escaped.68. June 21 - blast on pipeline transporting crude oil from the northern town of Bayji to Daura refinery at point near al-Mashahidah, 20 miles (32 km) north of Baghdad. The explosion interrupted supplies to the refinery, that provides the domestic Iraqi market with gasoline, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas.69. June 26 - explosion near Latifiyah, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Baghdad, on small pipeline that feeds crude oil to storage tanks in Latifiyah.70. June 29 - another blast on pipeline near Latifiyah.71. July 3 - Fire in Al-Maqalai, southeast of the Az-Zubayr oil fields, on one of the two pipelines that feed the southern terminals resulted in a drop by half of Iraqi oil exports to 960,000 barrels per day. Exports in the South fell from 84,000 barrels per hour to 40,000. While one Iraqi oil official said, "Fire is raging in the 42-inch pipeline on the Faw Peninsula. It was sabotage," an official from the Southern Iraqi Oil Company said "News that one of the key oil export pipeline in the Faw peninsula was attacked by saboteurs are baseless."72. July 3 - bomb blast during changing of the guard at an oil storage facility south of Baghdad in Al Latifiyah killed six Iraqi National Guard soldiers and wounded five more.73. July 4 - attack on pipeline that carries oil from the northern oil fields to the south at point near Musayyib, about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Baghdad.74. July 6 - blast on gas pipeline that feeds multiple power plants in the center and north of Iraq and a gas canister factory in Taji, north of Baghdad, that provides gas for many homes. Head of the Northern Gas Company, Huner Hassan, said "A device exploded along the pipeline about 90 km (56 miles) south of Kirkuk, sparking a fire." He noted "This is going to affect electricity production for the country and the production of gas for domestic use."75. July 10 - explosion at approximately 6:30am local time about 55 miles (88 km) west of Kirkuk in the Safra area on a gas pipeline that runs from the gas fields in Kirkuk to a power station in Bayji sparked a fire on, according to the Northern Gas Co. head of security, Ahmed al-Hassan, less than a meter of the pipeline.76. July 14 - Northern Oil Company police officer was shot to death while manning a checkpoint near a pipeline in Riyad, approximately 80 km southwest of Kirkuk.77. July 15 - explosion on pipeline running from the northern oil fields to the Beiji refinery.78. July 15 - holes were drilled on a major southern pipeline that runs to offshore export terminals. The damage occured in the al-Askari district, 20 km south-west of Basra, according to head of the Iraqi Border Police, Staff Brigadier General Ali al-Mousawi. It appears this may be the work of looters.79. July 15 - explosion near Fatha, some 55 miles (90 km) west Kirkuk, at about 8:40 a.m. (0440 GMT) on oil pipeline that runs from the major oil fields in Kirkuk and the Turkish port Ceyhan. The resulting fire has been extinguished and repairs on the pipeline are expected to begin July 17.80. July 16 - attempted mortar attack on northern oil pipeline that runs from Kirkuk to Ceyhan failed. According to a security official at the Northern Oil Company, Ahmad Hassan Afif, "A mortar round was thrown at about 8:10 am (0410 GMT) on the pipeline near to Riad, 35 kilometres west of Kirkuk, causing a fire in a pool of oil created by leaks, but failing to cause any other damage."81. July 17 - attempt to blow up natural gas pipeline failed as saboteur's bomb exploded prematurely, killing him but not damaging the pipeline.82. July 19 - explosion on oil pipeline that runs through al-Debis region northwest of Kirkuk, supplying oil for domestic use in refineries and power plants.83-84. July 23 - two blasts on 125 mile (200 km) long oil pipeline that runs from al-Daura refinery in Baghdad to Beiji, at point about 12 miles (20 km) south of Samarra.85. July 24 - explosion southwest of the town of Samarra, 60 miles (100 km) north of Baghdad, sparked a fire on pipeline that carries oil from Beiji refinery to Baghdad.86. July 24 - blast in the vicinity of Tharthar Lake, 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Kirkuk, on oil pipeline that runs from the oil fields around Kirkuk to Al-Dura power station, south of Baghdad.87. July 28 - premature explodulation killed two saboteurs who tried to place a bomb on an oil pipeline near Kirkuk. The pipeline was not damaged.88. August 3 - explosion about 75 miles (120 km) west of Kirkuk at Al-Fateha on critical pipeline juncture caused a huge fire and road closure between the Beiji refineries and Kirkuk and halted exports through the northern pipeline to Ceyhan.89. August 5 - bomb on oil pipeline in Kirkuk area found by Northern Oil Company security personnel exploded as Task Force Danger troops were investigating it. No injuries.90. August 5 - blast on the Kirkuk to Ceyhan oil pipeline sparked a fire that was swiftly contained since oil flow was halted on the pipeline as a result of the Aug. 3 attack.91. August 5 - attack sparked fire on gas pipeline that feeds both the Bayji power station and a propane factory in Taji 12 miles (20 km) north of Baghdad. Northern Oil Company's gas division director, Honer Najib, said "Firefighters are trying to contain the blaze but the sabotage is going to effect the production of electricity in Iraq."92. August 9 - attack halted oil flow on the major pipeline that feeds the southern terminals, reducing exports from 1.9 mbd to the about 1 mbd, fed through the smaller 42-inch pipeline.93. August 14 - attack on domestic oil pipeline near the town of Mussayyib south of Baghdad sparked fire, and has caused shortages in the domestic supply of gasoline.94. August 15 - rocket-propelled grenades were fired on an oil well 25 miles (40 km) east of the southern town of Amarah setting it ablaze.95. August 18 - Northern Iraqi oil company security officer was killed and 2 others wounded 6 miles (10 km) from Kirkuk.96. August 19 - attackers inflitrated the Basra headquarters of the Iraqi Southern Oil Company setting a fire that obliterated warehouses containing drilling equipment, among other items, spread to the firm's offices, and cut electricity. "They came in droves, surrounded the building and looted it before setting it on fire," said a company official. Firefighters arriving at the compound were shot at and fled.97. August 20 - attack apparently perpetuated by al-Sadr loyalists sparked fire on pipeline through which oil flows from the Bezergan oil field in the south to a refinery in Amarah, 180 miles (290 km) southeast of Baghdad.98. August 20 - explosion at 8:30am on domestic pipeline through which oil flows from Kirkuk to Baiji refinery at point 19 miles (30 km) west of Kirkuk.99. August 21 - blast near pipeline valve at Berjisiya, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Basra, sparks fire on oil pipeline connecting the Rumeila oilfields with export storage tanks in the Faw peninsula. Another bomb was found nearby and defused. The pipeline was shut for a week due to sabotage threats. Lt. Mohammed al-Mousawi of the Iraqi National Guard explained "The aim behind attack is to damage the pipeline in case it is turned on again."100. August 25 - attack on the reversible Strategic Pipeline linking oil fields in the north and south of Iraq sparked fire 19 miles (30 km) west of Babylon.101. August 25 - explosion at 7:00 am near Al Madhatiya in Aawazel area, about 18 miles (30 km) south of Hilla, on gas pipeline which transports gas from Basra to other southern towns set the pipeline ablaze.102. August 25 - eight parallel pipelines that link the Rumaila oilfields to the Zubayr 1 pumping station were hit in Berjasiya, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Basra, when a bomb exploded under a bridge at 9:00pm and caused it to collapse, reducing exports from the south.103. August 27 - attack on the 36 inch in diameter oil pipeline that connects the South Rumaila oilfield to storage tanks at the Zubayr 1 station near Basra.104. August 27 - attack on the 48 inch oil pipeline that connects the North Rumaila field to storage tanks in the West Qorna oilfield.105. August 27 - blast on oil pipeline that feeds the Daura refinery; section on fire 19 miles (30 km) north of Baghdad.106. August 27 - attack on oil pipeline in the West Qurna oilfield, 90 miles (144 km) north of Basra.107. August 29 - blast on oil pipeline that links the Rumaila oilfields with export storage tanks in the Faw peninsula in al-Radgha, 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Basra.108. August 30 - blast on internal oil pipeline in the southeast New Baghdad district.109. September 1 - explosion on Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline on section between Kirkuk and Bayji at 6:30 pm near Riyadah 30 miles (50 km) south of Kirkuk sparked a huge fire halting exports on the line.110. September 4 - blast on 14-inch line carrying crude from the Al-Khabaz field to the Bayji refinery.111-112. September 4 - attack at 8:30am at Hartha, 19 miles (33 km) north of Basra, on southern pipeline that supplies oil to the Hartha electrical plant. Simultaneous attack on parallel pipeline that pumps 15,000 barrels of crude oil a day from oil fields near Nahr Omar to the storage tanks at Zubayr 1.113. September 6 - attack at point 12 miles (20 km) south of Kirkuk on natural gas pipeline connecting the Janbur fields to the Bayji power plant, which produces 400 megawatts a day and provides electricity to northern Iraq, sparked fire.114. September 6 - at 9:30am, a day after the fire on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline was extinguished, attackers set fire to the leaking oil and re-ignited it.115. September 11 - at 3:15pm attackers damaged the 14 inch oil pipeline that links a Kirkuk oilfield to the Havana refinery located 37 miles (60 km) from Kirkuk with fire from automatic weapons.116. September 11 - gunfire attack at 3:30am near Hatin, 18 miles (30 km) north of Kirkuk, injured three Northern Oil Company security guards, one of them seriously.117. September 12 - gunfire attack at 1am 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Kirkuk on security forces guarding the Dibis oil fields wounded three of them.118. September 12 - driveby gunfire injured two security officers on patrol near the Jambouz oilfields 30 miles (42 km) west of Kirkuk.119. September 13 - attack on oil pipeline in the Rumaila oilfield.120. September 14 - 2am blast on junction where pipelines cross the Tigris River, at point near the 676-MW Beiji power plant set ablaze three oil pipelines, stopping the flow of oil from the Kirkuk oilfields to Beiji refinery and to Ceyhan. The heat melted a 400-KV transmission line that ran almost 300 ft above the area, causing a power loss of 750 MW within a second, which caused the country's 5,000 MW grid to short circuit stopping electricity supply to all of Iraq. Just two days prior Northern Oil Company engineers finished replacing critical valves destroyed by an earlier attack.121. September 16 - attack on oil pipeline near Baqouba that runs from the Khanaqin oilfields to the Al Daura refinery.122. September 18 - attempt to assassinate director of oil products for the Northern Oil Company, Muhammad Zibari, by attackers with machine guns and grenades who ambushed his convoy in Mosul missed him but resulted in the death of eight people and injury of four.123. September 23 - assassins shot and killed the deputy director of the Northern Oil Company's oil product department, Sana Toma Sulaiman, riding in a taxi in Mosul on his way to work.124. September 23 - explosion on oil pipeline near al-Fahhama village, 15 miles (25 km) north of Baghdad, causing extensive damage.125. September 23 - saboteurs blew up part of the East Baghdad oil field. The well, capacity 5,000 barrels a day, supplies refineries in nearby Taji and Baghdad's Daura refinery.126. September 23 - blast on oil pipeline at Angour, 50 miles (80 km) east of Fallujah.127. September 23 - explosion on oil pipeline in Najaf stopped flow from oil fields near the city to a refinery in Basra.128. September 24 - private pipeline security company found explosive device along a major oil pipeline west of Balad. Oil flow remained uninterrupted.129. October 3 - saboteurs blew up a section of the pipeline near the city of Karbala in central Iraq.129. October 5 - rocket fired at the Oil Ministry in Baghdad.130. October 5 - blast on oil pipeline west of Baghdad.131. October 18 - blast on oil pipeline 8 miles (12 km) from Bayji.132. October 19 - blast on oil pipeline 6 miles (10 km) north of the Bayji refinery.133. October 19 - explosion at 2:10pm on oil pipeline 87 miles (140 km) south of Kirkuk.134. October 21 - saboteurs hit a section of the northern oil export network.135. October 22 - blast in the Mashahdeh area, some 30 miles (48 km) north of Baghdad, on an oil pipeline that feeds the Daura refinery.136. October 23 - blast on the Khana oil pipeline northeast of Baghdad sparked fire which damaged 150 meters of the pipeline. Another bomb was found along the same line and safely defused.137. October 25 - saboteurs blew up a section of a pipeline about 15 miles (25 km) southwest of Kirkuk feeding the Bayji refinery. A fire later broke out in another pipeline and witnesses said it was caused by a blast.138. October 29 - explosion at about 6:00am on oil pipeline near the Havice district of Kirkuk.139. November 1 - explosion on Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline in Riyad, southwest of Kirkuk.140. November 1 - attack on a oil pipeline that feeds the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline and is connected to the Bai Hassan oilfield in Qoshqaya.141-142. November 2 - two bombs exploded against oil pipeline connecting oil fields in Kirkuk to the refinery in Bayji, one at 10am, 44 miles (70 km) southwest of Kirkuk.143. November 2 - blast on refined products pipeline in Hatin north of Kirkuk.144. November 2 - attack at 7:20pm near Sheikh Mizher al-As on a pipeline network connecting the Khubbaz oil wells, 24 miles (40 km) west of Kirkuk with refineries in Bayji and Baghdad.145. November 3 - assassins shot to death the director general of the Iraqi oil ministry's oil byproducts distribution company, Hussein Ali al-Fattal, as he left his home in the Yarmouk area of Baghdad to go to work.146. November 5 - explosion damaged a gas pipeline which connects the Baba Gurgur fields near Kirkuk with the Northern Gas Company.147. November 9 - explosion on oil pipeline near the Safa, 44 miles (70 km) southwest of Kirkuk.148. November 10 - attack on gas pipeline connecting the Khubbaz fields to the Northern Gas Company.149. November 13 - attack at Taji, 12 miles (19km) north of Baghdad on oil pipeline that runs to the Daura refinery in Baghdad.150-153. November 14 - four oil wells set afire in the Khubbaz oilfield west of Kirkuk. The wells had been pumping 10-15,000 bpd of oil a piece.154. November 15 - blast on oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan in Safra 37 miles (50 km) west of Kirkuk.155. November 15 - gunmen set ablaze a storage depot and pumping station along the oil pipeline to Ceyhan near Ain al Jahish, 60 miles (96 km) south of Mosul.156. November 15 - explosion at 11pm near Sarai, 47 miles (75 km) west of Kirkuk, on oil pipeline that feeds the Bayji refinery.157. November 15 - explosion at 11pm near Riyadh, 25 miles (40 km) west of Kirkuk, on gas pipeline that feeds the power station in Bayji.158. November 17 - blast at 1am on oil pipeline from the Bai Hassan field, 30 miles (42 km) west of Kirkuk, to storage facilities in Dibis, 20 miles (32 km) west of Kirkuk.159. November 17 - bomb on oil well in Barajwan, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Kirkuk.160. November 17 - blast at 8am 2.5 miles (4 km) west of Samarrah on pipeline from Bayji to the Daura refinery in Baghdad.161. November 21 - an oil well was set afire in the Khubbaz oilfield.162. November 21 - sabotage attempt on a well in the Khubbaz oilfield thwarted by Iraqi security guards. One would-be saboteur was killed and another wounded.163. November 22 - blast at 9am on the 42 inch pipeline to Basra terminal stopped flow of oil through the pipeline.164. November 25 - attack on two oil wells near the Himreen Mountains, 75 miles (120 km) south of Kirkuk.165. November 25 - an early morning explosion in the Fatha area, 9 miles (15 km) north of Bayji, on the oil pipeline that runs from Kirkuk to Bayji. A 2,000 person Iraqi security force was assigned to guard oil infrastructure two days prior.166-167. November 29 - two blasts, one at 8:40 am and the other at 8:50am, on the oil pipeline that runs from Bayji to Daura refinery.168. November 30 - blast on the oil pipeline that connects Daura refinery and the Musayyib power station south of Baghdad, cutting power to the Babil area.169. December 1 - gunmen opened fire on a pipeline repair team working in the Safrah area, 50 miles (80km) southwest of Kirkuk. One man was injured.170. December 6 - attack 10 miles (16 km) south of Samarra on oil pipeline that runs from Bayji to Daura refinery.171. December 6 - attack on a pipeline that runs inside an underground oil storage tank 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Kirkuk.172. December 7 - attack on pipeline supplying oil from northern Iraq to Baghdad.173. December 10 - late night attack on the 48 inch oil export pipeline in the Riyad area southwest of Kirkuk.174. December 11 - ten armed men kidnapped the Northern Oil Company's head of security for the Bayji region while he was in the Samarra area examining damage to a pipeline that had been attacked.175. December 13 - arsonists set on fire oil, which had leaked and pooled due to prior pipeline attacks, 43 miles (27 km) southwest of Kirkuk, raising concern that the blaze could damage nearby pipelines.176. December 17 - attack on pipeline supplying oil from Basra to Baghdad's Daura refinery, halted the flow of refined products which, oil ministry spokesman Jihad Assem said, had just resumed following a 17 day stoppage after the previous sabotage.177. December 17 - attack on pipeline supplying refined products from Bayji refinery to Baghdad. A statement circulated in Bayji said that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had blown up a pipeline, following orders from ''supreme commander Osama bin Laden''.178. December 17 - attack on the northern pipeline near Fatha, 53 miles (85 km) west of Kirkuk.179. December 18 - 7:30am attack on pipeline supplying oil from Kirkuk to the IT-1A storage tanks near Bayji.180. December 18 - 8:30am blast on oil pipeline between Bayji and Daura refinery at Dilja, 12 miles (20 km) north of Samarra.181. December 21 - 10:25 pm attack on a pipeline hub in Fatha.182. December 23 - attack on pipeline from Bayji to a storage facility in Baghdad.183. December 26 - attack on the northern pipeline near Fatha.184. December 28 - 0:30am attack on a gas pipeline in Barjisiyah, southwest of Basra. The pipeline, which links Iraq's second largest refinery in Shueiba to the storage units of South Oil Company, was blown up by a single attacker using a gas cylinder.185. December 30 - mortar attack set fire in the Daura refinery, which provides fuel for Baghdad's main power plant.
2005186. January 1 - attack on a pipeline from Kirkuk to Bayji.187. January 1 - attack on a pipeline linking the southern cities of Karbala and Hillah, 46 miles south of Baghdad near the Musabayb power station.188. January 7 - attack on gas pipeline 9 miles north of Tikrit.189. January 8 - attack on an oil pipeline running from northern fields to Bayji in the Safra area, 43 miles southwest of Kirkuk. Two guard posts for an oil protection force were also blown up around the area and one guard was wounded.190. January 8 - attack on a gas pipeline in the Fatha area near Bayji.191. January 11 - 2:00am rocket attack on a gas pipeline that runs to Bayji near the Fatha production station.192. January 11 - 6:30am attack on an oil pipeline that runs to Bayji in the Zegheitoun area, 35 miles southwest of Kirkuk. The pipeline had just been brought online on January 9th.193. January 13 - 10:30pm attack on oil pipeline near Fatha.194. January 14 - improvised explosive device detonated after midnight damaging an oil pipeline near Bayji and sparking a large fire.195. January 14 - attack on a pipeline linking Kirkuk and the Daura refinery, near Samarra.196. January 14 - rocket attack on pipeline complex near Fatha sparked large blaze.197. January 17 - a bomb blew off a section of a pipeline in Fatha.198. January 21 - 07:00am attack on pipeline in the al-Tharthar region 12 miles south of Samarra interrupted the flow of oil to the Bayji refinery.199. February 2 - attack on oil pipeline connecting Bayji refinery to Daura refinery. The attack took place near Samarra.200. Fabruary 5 - attack on a cluster of eight pipelines west of Samarra connecting the Bayji and Daura refineries.201. February 6 - attack on pipeline carrying crude oil from Kirkuk to Bayji.202. February 9 - attack on a gas pipeline before dawn in Fatha, about 15 miles north of Bayji.203. February 9 - rocket attack on a pipeline linking Kirkuk to Bayji.204. February 13 - 10:00pm attack on oil pipeline at the al-Dibbis oil field 31 miles north of Kirkuk.205. February 14 - another attack on oil pipeline at al-Dibbis.206. February 16 - attack on pipeline carrying crude from Kirkuk to Bayji near Fatha.207. February 16 - attack on pipeline carrying crude from Kirkuk to Daura refinery.208. February 16 - another attack on pipeline near Fatha.209. February 16 - attack on pipeline in the Bajwan area, northwest of Kirkuk.210. February 16 - gunmen killed Colonel Ibrahim Ahmed in charge of pipeline security. The killing took place at Ajeel west of Kirkuk.211. February 25 - late night attack on a pipeline connecting the Dibbis oil fields with Kirkuk.212. March 2 - 10pm attack on gas pipeline to Bayji near Al-Safra 30 miles west of Kirkuk caused the shutdown of two of the Bayji power station's four turbines.213. March 3 - attack on a gas pipeline that links Kirkuk to Dibbis.214. March 7 - attack on pipeline near Samarra, 60 miles northwest of Baghdad.215. March 8 - 1pm attack on oil pipeline feeding Al-Daura refinery near Jorf al-Sakhr, 35 miles south of Baghdad.216. March 9 - attack on oil pipeline feeding the Daura refinery in Jorf al-Sakhr, 46 miles south of Baghdad.217. March 12 - attack on oil pipeline connecting Bayji and Daura in Al-Tharthar, near Samarra.218. March 12 - Rocket-propelled grenades were launched at a pipeline running from Kirkuk to Daura.219. March 15 - attack on oil pipeline in Fatha which carries crude from Kirkuk to Bayji.220. March 25 - attack on oil pipeline which connects Iraq northern oilfields with the Daura refinery.221. March 27 - 9:00am attack on oil pipeline which carries crude from Kirkuk to Bayji. Repairs on the line had just been completed the day before.222. April 4 - attack on pipeline running through the Riyad area near Bayji.223. April 13 - bomb on oil pipeline near Kirkuk killed an Iraqi oil security chief and eight of his men, who were in the process of defusing another explosive device, and sparked a fire on the pipeline.224. April 17 - attack near Fatha on oil pipeline from Kirkuk to the Bayji refinery.225. April 18 - twin blasts at an internal oil pipeline near Kirkuk.226. April 25 - insurgents blew up pumps used for domestic supplies near Bay Hassam, 19 miles west of Kirkuk.227. May 4 - attack on an oil pipeline that links northern Kirkuk oil fields to Baghdad. The attack took place near Balad.228. May 10 - attack on an oil pipeline complex near Kirkuk.229. May 11 - a mortar round struck the Iraqi Oil Ministry complex in Baghdad.230. May 11 - three bombs were planted on different parts of the oil pipeline in Kirkuk's Dibiz district. Two of the three exploded, heavily damaging the pipeline.231. May 11 - attack on an oil pipeline near Bayji.232. May 11 - a bomb exploded at Iraq's largest fertilizer plant in Basra, killing one person and wounding 23. The blast set fire to a gas pipeline.233. May 11 - a bomb was planted near the oil ministry in central Baghdad.234. May 12 - an insurgent blew himself up as he tried to sabotage an oil pipeline near Kirkuk.235. May 13 - attack on the Athana pumping station that feeds the northern pipeline.236. May 27 - attack on pipeline in the western outskirts of Baghdad.237. June 3 - 8 a.m. attack on pipeline between Kirkuk and the Dibis refinery, about 30 miles west.238. June 8 - saboteurs blew up a main oil pipeline near Kirkuk.239. June 8 - saboteurs opened connections between two pipelines near the Bayji refinery causing oil spill.240. June 9 - 8:00 p.m. saboteurs blew up a major oil pipeline five miles east of the Bayji refinery.241. June 15 - insurgents blew up a pipeline near Baghdad that transports crude oil between Bayji and Daura.242. June 23 - attack on pipeline carrying crude from Kirkuk to Bayji, near al-Fathah.243. June 25 - attack on oil pipleline leading from Kirkuk to Ceyhan.244. June 24 - pipeline linking the southern fields around Basra to Daura. The attack took place near Yusifiyah.245. June 28 - attack on pipeline in southwestern Baghdad.246. June 29 - attack on a natural gas pipeline linking storage facilities in Yousfiyah, south of Baghdad, to a plant in Baghdad.247. July 3 - attack on a key feeder pipeline that leads to the Daura refinery.248. July 8 - mortar attack on the Daura oil refinery hit a pipeline attached to one of the reservoirs.249. July 20 - attack on an oil pipeline that connects Bayji and Baghdad.250. July 20 - 6:00 a.m. a roadside bomb exploded under the pipeline that goes from Kirkuk to the Daura refinery.251. July 20 - late night attack on oil pipeline between Mahmoudiyeh and Latifiyehin in southern Iraq.252. July 21 - insurgents incinerated an oil pipeline west of Samarra.253. July 26 - two Iraqi security personnel were killed and three wounded by mortar fire near Bayji while guarding an oil pipeline.254. July 28 - a bomb hit an oil pipeline conecting Bayji and Kirkuk. A gas pipeline that supplies Bayji power station was also damaged during the attack.255. July 28 - a bomb on a railway line hit a train carrying oil products near Baghdad, causing a huge fire.256. August 3 - an explosion damaged a pipeline used for shipping fuel to a Baghdad power plant north of the capital.257. August 4 - 5:00a.m. three explosions set ablaze a pipeline near Kirkuk.
Source: United Nations
Bomb disables Iraq fuel oil pipeline | Reuters
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:20
BAGHDADSun Feb 17, 2013 9:58am EST
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Attackers bombed and disabled a pipeline carrying fuel oil from Iraq's largest refinery to a province north of Baghdad, the oil ministry said on Sunday.
"A bomb attack led to an explosion in the 16-inch pipeline transporting fuel oil from Baji refinery to Nineveh province," said ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.
He said the ministry expected repairs from the blast - which occurred early on Saturday some 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad - to take several days.
Fleets of trucks were transporting oil to Nineveh, which gets all its domestic fuel via the damaged pipeline.
The attack coincides with growing political unrest, with Sunni Muslims in the western provinces accusing Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of marginalizing their minority sect.
At least eight car bombs exploded in Shi'ite neighborhoods across Iraq's capital on Sunday morning, killing at least 26 people.
Attacks against Iraqi energy installations and oil pipelines have declined in recent years as security has gradually improved since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.
Iraq, OPEC's second largest crude producer, has signed oil contracts with a number of foreign firms to develop its long neglected energy sector.
Iraqi Kurds link Kirkuk to own oil pipeline, plan more exports
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:57
LONDON - Reuters
Members of the Kurdish security forces take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Kirkuk, June 12. REUTERS Photo
Iraqi Kurdistan has built a link connecting Kirkuk to its newly-built pipeline to Turkey, its minister of natural resources said, potentially cementing Kurdish control over the northern oil hub and reducing its reliance on Baghdad.The link could allow the Kurds to start exports of Kirkuk crude oil through their own network, giving them a major source of independent revenue and boosting any ambitions of sovereign statehood as Iraq falls into increasing disarray.
The new link connects Kirkuk's Avana dome to the Khurmala dome out of which the Kurdish pipeline runs.
"That blue line was finished," Ashti Hawrami, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) minister for natural resources, told a conference in London, pointing to a map of the pipelines.
Baghdad's military retreat from the north under a lightning assault led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last week allowed the KRG's Peshmerga forces to seize control of long-disputed Kirkuk and its oil reserves - the potential economic lynchpin of a sovereign Kurdish entity.
But the main 600,000 bpd Kirkuk pipeline, which accounted for the bulk of Iraq's northern crude oil exports, has been offline since March following insurgent attacks.
Attempts to repair it have been thwarted by Islamic militants in the region, who have targeted engineers trying to fix sections of the line that pass through territory outside KRG control.
Push ahead with exports
Adnan al-Janabi, a senior Sunni politician and head of Iraq's oil and gas committee, said that Kirkuk's production would likely be out for the time being along with some fields in the Salahuddin area but that oil production inside KRG areas would continue uninterrupted.
Janabi, a critic of the Baghdad government, told the conference that the Kurds had effectively realised their "dream of a greater Kurdistan" and the Iraqi army lacked the capability to take the oil city back easily.
"Kurdistan of Iraq is already on its national desired border and I don't think it will be easy to push back," he said. "It includes parts of Kirkuk, Diala, Salahuddin... They are already there, already running the place and I don't think anyone will challenge them."
With Baghdad busy fighting ISIL, the Kurds are pushing ahead with oil exports that could help bolster their autonomy. Hawrami said the Kurds expected to load two more tankers of crude from their newly built pipeline this week at the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
The KRG began independent exports in May from its pipeline to Turkey, which by-passes Baghdad's system. So far, two tankers have loaded that oil.
For years, the KRG and Baghdad have been locked in a struggle over how to divide the country's oil revenue and budget. Baghdad opposes independent Kurdish oil exports and says all marketing must go through the state entity SOMO.
The divisions have significantly eroded trust and Hawrami said that the central government had withheld budget payments to the region so far this year and before that was giving only around 10 percent instead of an agreed 17 percent.
Oil exports will increase to 200,000-250,000 barrels per day in July, and then to 400,000 bpd by the year-end, Hawrami said, allowing the KRG to catch up with the entitlement that Baghdad never paid.
Speaking at the same conference, Thamir Ghadban, an oil official and advisor to the Iraqi prime minister, declined to get into the numbers but said the Kurds could not pick and choose from the country's constitution and should work through the central government.
Baghdad's warnings have not deterred the Kurds so far. "They pushed us to do this," Hawrami said. "We're going to create facts on the ground... Don't ask me to surrender my rights into your hands."
June/18/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
Third cargo of contested Kurdish oil 'set to leave' Turkey amid Iraqi crisis
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:07
ANKARA - Reuters
File photo, daily H¼rriyet
Iraq's Kurdistan region is ramping up independent oil exports, with a third tanker set to load a cargo of crude from its disputed pipeline as Iraq struggles to stop an insurgency by Islamist militants, its autonomous region.The third tanker is scheduled to depart Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan on June 22 carrying oil pumped through Kurdistan's new pipeline, which by-passes Baghdad, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said June 16.
Iraqi Kurdistan began independent pipeline exports via Turkey in May, despite protests from Baghdad which claims it has the sole authority to sell Iraqi oil via state-marketer SOMO.
Oil flows through the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) pipeline to Turkey have continued uninterrupted despite a lighting advance by Sunni militants in northern Iraq that threatens to dismember the OPEC country.
''A third tanker is scheduled for June 22 to export the oil coming from northern Iraq,'' Yıldız told reporters. Energy officials said the tanker will be carrying 1 million barrels of crude.
But Yıldız declined to elaborate on the buyer. ''Iraq is carrying out the tender and the sale for this oil... That's why we don't go into the 'which country did it sell, when did it sell' types of issues.''
The oil is loading despite previous setbacks to the KRG's attempts to sell this controversial oil. Its first exports have still not discharged for a refinery.
Baghdad's threats of legal action and the black-listing of buyers has dissuaded most from touching Kurdistan's new crude stream.
The KRG's exports of smaller quantities of trucked oil has found many buyers but the central government is focussed on catching those who touch the larger pipeline exports.
The first tanker, the United Leadership, is still lingering off the Moroccan coast after it attempted to deliver oil to the North African country's Mohammedia refinery at the start of this month. The government told the vessel, laden with 1 million barrels of oil, to vacate its waters pending a final decision.
The second tanker, the United Emblem, sailed from Ceyhan to Malta last week, but the buyer of this cargo remained unclear.
After the first tanker loaded, the central government in Baghdad filed a case for arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) against Turkey and its state-run pipeline operator BOTAS, saying the obligations under the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline Agreement were breached.
Iraq and Kurdistan have been trying to reach a political agreement over oil sales, but five months after the startup of KRG pipeline, there still had been no final decision, prompting the regional government to go it alone.
June/16/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
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Despite political turmoil Israel-Turkey pipeline project probable | Politics | Daily Sabah
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:49
ROTTERDAM '-- Israeli-Turkish relations have been in crisis since the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010 and for months both countries have been taking part in negotiations to mend ties. But a Turkish court's decision to issue an international arrest warrant for four former Israeli military commanders involved the flotilla attack may delay these efforts. However, despite the political turmoil, the probability of an Israel-Turkey pipeline project has been given a boost following an announcement in recent days by Australian energy giant Woodside.Last week Australian hydrocarbon firm Woodside Energy officially announced it had withdrawn from a $2.75 billion (TL 5.76 billion) deal to acquire a 25 percent share of the Leviathan natural gas field. The Australian company first started negotiating to participate in the joint venture with Noble Energy Mediterranean, Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration in late 2012. Woodside has offshore development expertise and championed the idea of floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) export from the Leviathan basin. The main reason for Woodside's decision was that gas prices in China and the Far East are currently 50 percent higher than the price would be for gas obtained via a pipeline to Turkey. Also, constructing an FLNG facility would have cost at least $10 billion and as much gas as possible needs to be exported to justify such costs.
Considering an undersea gas pipeline to Turkey is a relatively cheaper project compared to constructing an FLNG facility, Leviathan partners Noble Energy and Delek are reportedly in talks over constructing a pipeline running from the giant Israeli field to the Turkish coast. Moreover, Turkish energy companies Turcas Petrol and Zorlu Holding have recently announced that they are considering building a pipeline which may cost $2-$2.5 billion and could supply 7-10 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Turkey via a 500-kilometer undersea route. Therefore, the undersea pipeline from Israel's Leviathan to southern Turkey would be a less costly option.
Additionally Cyprus is another prospective partner in the undersea pipeline project. An Israel-Turkey pipeline would have to traverse Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot's Exclusive Economic Zone and therefore Israel and Turkey may have to secure Cyprus' assent by adding their gas to the pipeline.
Drilling in the Leviathan reservoir is expected to begin sometime in 2017 and the Turkish market alone could absorb the quantities of gas that Israel and Cyprus can supply. Moreover, using Turkey as a gateway to Europe would be the best option to sell this gas to world markets.
After the withdrawal of the Woodside company, an Israel-Turkish undersea pipeline project would most likely become the best option for the Leviathan consortium. But under these political conditions this project does not seem possible to implement. Therefore the restoration of Turkey-Israel relations and solving the Cyprus problem could happen in the near future and hydrocarbon riches in the eastern Mediterranean basin could play an important role in altering the historical equation.
Leviathan gas deal may be catalyst for Israel-Turkey reset - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:47
Gabi Ashkenaz sits before testifying at a state-appointed inquiry in Jerusalem, Aug. 11, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Gali Tibbon)
Author: Arad Nir Posted May 27, 2014
The basic distrust that Israel's diplomatic and security leadership feels toward Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was further exacerbated May 26 when a court in Istanbul issued international arrest warrants against senior officers who served as members of the Israeli army's General Staff when Israel took control of the Mavi Marmara flotilla.
Summary'Ž Print Is the Turkish court's decision to indict former Israeli army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi for the Mavi Marmara flotilla raid part of the reconciliatory diplomatic ballet by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eyeing the ''Leviathan'' gas field?AuthorArad NirPosted May 27, 2014Translator(s)Danny Wool
Israeli experts in international law downplayed the significance of this legal procedure; the political leadership called it ''a mere political move, one which it is doubtful any respectable country will abide by.''
Turkish diplomatic sources explained that this is part of a long legal process, which will stop the moment Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approves the reconciliation agreement waiting on his desk. Besides the reparations agreement and the approval of facilitating Turkish civilian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip, the agreement also includes a mechanism to rescind all legal claims against the Israel Defense Forces officers and the State of Israel. Jerusalem is now waiting to see how things develop, but sources nevertheless stress that there is room for a significant Turkish gesture to prove that the Turkish government is committed to ending the crisis.
Gabby Levy, Israel's last ambassador to Ankara, was expelled from Turkey following the Mavi Marmara incident. In a conversation with Al-Monitor, he shares his assessment that the Turkish government will ignore the decree issued by the court in Istanbul, and possibly even take steps to ensure that it is not implemented. This would be part of a process of rebuilding trust, which Ankara now is hard at work to promote while it waits for a dawdling Netanyahu to approve the normalization agreement between the two countries.
The feeling that a historic reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is right around the corner has even reached the corridors of the Knesset in Jerusalem. Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz Party), who heads the Knesset lobby to promote regional cooperation, called for a rare and special meeting in the Knesset titled ''Israel and Turkey: Heading toward a New Chapter in Their Relationship'' together with Mitvim think tank. The session took place May 20. The guest of honor: Yasar Yakis, one of the founders of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and foreign minister of the first government formed by the Islamist party in 2002.
The last time that an official Turkish representative paid a visit to the Knesset was well before the Mavi Marmara incident, in January 2010. Then-Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Cellikol to his Knesset office to chastise him for the anti-Israel discourse in Turkey, in what came to be known as the ''Low Chair Incident.'' The fact that no official Turkish representative has visited the Israeli legislature for such a long time eclipsed the fact that Yakis now has no official position or status in Turkey. He has spent the past few years heading a research institute (STRATIM) that supports the normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey.
On the other hand, the fact that he has no official commitments allowed him a free hand to analyze Erdogan's personality and the impact that this has on any disputes between the two countries. Yakis did not spare Israel or Turkey from criticism over their conduct, which led to the killings on the Mavi Marmara. In attempting to explain Erdogan's behavior, he relied on the saying by French philosopher Blaise Pascal, ''The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.''
According to Yakis, Erdogan acts impulsively. He is driven by his gut, without any complex strategic thinking behind him. This kind of analysis will not make matters easy for Netanyahu, who is already worried about signing a reconciliation agreement with Turkey without first receiving guarantees that Erdogan will not go back to slamming Israel. In response to my question whether Netanyahu's demands can really be applicable, the guest responded that it is the kind of thing that cannot be fixed by an agreement. Rather, it requires reciprocal trust, which must be built up over time. At the same time, he added that Erdogan's political power among the Turkish public enables him to make any move and pass any decision he wants without first having to put together some coalition or other. Since Turkey is now interested in reconciliation with Israel, once normalization is implemented Erdogan will be able to meet all of his obligations and commitments.
While the discussion was taking place in the Knesset, Erdogan continued his ''charm attack'' on Israel. In a speech delivered to the members of his party in the parliament in Ankara, he thanked Israel for the understanding and sympathy it expressed following the mining disaster in Soma. He was referring to the fact that the Israeli Embassy chose to cancel a reception scheduled to take place in Istanbul to celebrate Israel's Independence Day. Even if the comments came straight from Erdogan's heart, there can be no doubt that they contained a calculated message, intended to advance a new dialogue with Israel. Israeli officials who follow the contacts between the two countries from up close hoped that this gesture would be enough to diminish the impression left by Erdogan's outburst in the mining town. The prime minister seemingly used a despicable anti-Semitic slur against one of the people demonstrating against him, following which the Turkish media began to insinuate about ''an Israeli and Jewish conspiracy'' related to the Soma mining disaster.
Rasim Ozan Kutahyali commented in an Al-Monitor article on May 16 on the role that Israeli natural gas in the Mediterranean Leviathan gas field is having in causing Erdogan's dramatic turnaround.
Israeli and Turkish business leaders travel back and forth between Tel Aviv and Istanbul and between Ankara and Jerusalem, hoping to participate in the project to lay an underwater gas pipeline that would carry unprocessed natural gas from the Leviathan gas field to the Turkish coast. Experts have long viewed this as the proper, most profitable and most appropriate way to exploit the gas resource. Ever since the Australian firm Woodside scrapped its plans to purchase some of the gas and transport it to the east, transporting the gas to Turkey has become the only option that is economically sound.
However, to move ahead with this deal, valued at more than $2 billion, it will first be necessary to reach a diplomatic arrangement between the two countries. A senior diplomatic and security figure in Israel said lately that it would be impossible for Israel to allow the transfer of gas to Turkey. ''Erdogan can't be trusted,'' he said. ''It will be impossible for us to give him the ability to control the transfer of Israeli gas.''
The importance of rebuilding trust between the two sides to advance the gas route was also raised in the discussion that took place in the Knesset. The former Turkish foreign minister said, ''Energy needs politics.'' He emphasized that to fund the energy project, mutual trust between the political partners is essential. He went on to say that the Turkish partner is already convinced of the political need to move the deal ahead. All that is left to do is to convince Israel.
The discussion took place in the conference room used by the Knesset's Immigration and Absorption Committee. The hall was filled to capacity with everyone from active and retired diplomats, researchers and businessmen operating in Israel and Turkey. Among the prominent Knesset members who attended was Knesset member Reuven Rivlin (Likud Party), who is currently running for president, but because of past grudges is not receiving the support of the head of his party, Netanyahu. Rivlin expressed confidence that the relationship between Israel and Turkey can overcome past differences, and surprised everyone when he called on Turkey to help bridge the differences in the century-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, a task we have failed at, he stressed.
Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/recep-tayyip-erdogan-israel-normalization-natural-gas.html
Royal Dutch Shell offloading $5.32 billion in Woodside shares - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:43
By Elysse Morgan
Updated June 17, 2014 12:26:35
Global oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is selling almost all of its stake in Australia's biggest oil and gas producer, Woodside.
Shell announced the sale of about 157 million shares in Woodside, netting Shell about $5.32 billion after tax.
Shell is Woodside's biggest shareholder, currently holding 23 per cent or 190 million shares in the company. The sale will reduce it to a shareholding of 4.5 per cent.
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden says the decision does not reflect the confidence the company has in Australia as a key energy producer.
"Today's announcement is part of our drive to improve Shell's capital efficiency and to focus our Australian growth in directly owned assets," Mr van Beurden said.
"It doesn't change our view of Australia as an important player on the global energy stage, or Shell's central role in the country's energy industry."
Woodside is spending $2.85 billion on buying back about half of the shares, representing about 9.5 per cent of the company's issued share capital, funded through a combination of existing cash and debt facilities.
The price equates to $39.49 a share which is a 14 per cent discount to the average price in the five days leading up to June 16.
The remainder of the shares are to be sold via an underwritten sell-down to institutional investors at $41.35 a share.
The buy back is subject to shareholder approval and an independent report finding the deal in shareholders' interests.
Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman says the combined transaction will deliver real value to shareholders, with better earnings per share, cash flow and dividends.
"This combined transaction is an efficient and disciplined use of capital and created value to all our shareholders," he said.
He believes the deal will enable the company to continue to develop existing projects and fund new "growth opportunities".
In a statement to shareholders, Woodside says it will continue to work with Shell on its current joint venture projects North West Shelf, Browse and Sunrise.
Last month, Woodside pulled out of Israel joint venture, Leviathan, which was going to cost it about $2.5 billion and was a key part of its growth strategy.
Topics:oil-and-gas, business-economics-and-finance, industry, markets, australia
First posted June 17, 2014 10:55:03
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Blowback! U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:53
Army trainers
JERUSALEM '' Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.
The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.
The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.
In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country's northern desert region.
That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts.
Last March, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Americans were training Syrian rebels in Jordan.
Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the U.S. Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms. The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.
The German magazine reported some 200 men received the training over the previous three months amid U.S. plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.
Britain's Guardian newspaper also reported last March that U.S. trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors.
Reuters reported a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department declined immediate comment on the German magazine's report. The French foreign ministry and Britain's foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.
The Jordanian officials spoke to WND amid concern the sectarian violence in Iraq will spill over into their own country as well as into Syria.
ISIS previously posted a video on YouTube threatening to move on Jordan and ''slaughter'' King Abdullah, whom they view as an enemy of Islam.
WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.
WND further reported that, according to a Shiite source in contact with a high official in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Obama administration has been aware for two months that the al-Qaida-inspired group that has taken over two Iraqi cities and now is threatening Baghdad also was training fighters in Turkey.
The source told WND that at least one of the training camps of the group Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, the ISIS, is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where American personnel and equipment are located.
He called Obama ''an accomplice'' in the attacks that are threatening the Maliki government the U.S. helped establish through the Iraq war.
The source said that after training in Turkey, thousands of ISIS fighters went to Iraq by way of Syria to join the effort to establish an Islamic caliphate subject to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.
Obama's Favorite Think Tank: We Should Prepare to Bomb Iraq - The Daily Beast
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 02:02
Politics06.17.14
As the White House debates whether to strike ISIS inside Iraq, a Washington think tank deeply connected to the Obama administration is recommending that the United States start getting ready now for U.S. airstrikes.
A new report by the Center for American Progress, the left-leaning policy organization that maintains close ties to the White House, says the U.S. should ''prepare for limited counterterrorism operations against ISIS, including possible air strikes.'' That is just one of the steps CAP is recommending to help keep Iraq from crumbling and fight the scourge of ISIS and other extremist groups festering in Iraq and Syria.
Several sources at Washington policy organizations told The Daily Beast that top administration officials have been calling around Washington think tanks for days to solicit advice and consultation on the substantive options for responding to the ever-deepening crisis in Iraq.
Few think tanks are more closely aligned with the Obama administration than CAP. The think tank was founded by John Podesta, a top advisor to President Obama. Several former Obama administration officials'--including Neera Tanden, a former top White House and campaign advisor, Vikram Singh, a former State Department and Pentagon official, and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers'--are now affiliated with CAP.
The CAP report presents elaborate arguments regarding the justifications for potential U.S. military action in Iraq, the conditions under which it should be considered, and the limits of such a mission. Such arguments could later be adopted by the Obama administration for defending a policy of using American military power inside Iraq, if that is the decision they ultimately make.
''Quite clearly this blitzkrieg by ISIS should be a wake up call for the Iraqi government, for the region, and for U.S. policy,'' CAP Senior Fellow Brian Katulis, one of the report's authors, told The Daily Beast. ''The administration is very judiciously weighing a range of options in a dynamic situation. This is largely our own analysis. We tried to strike the right balance.''
The Obama administration wants to provide military aid to the Iraqi government, but only if they make progress towards Shia-Sunni reconciliation. Meanwhile, Iran is offering Iraq everything and anything they need to fight ISIS with no strings attached.
''Quite clearly this blitzkrieg by ISIS should be a wake up call for the Iraqi government, for the region, and for U.S. policy.''
The White House announced Monday the U.S. had moved 270 military personnel into Iraq, for missions focused on the protection of the U.S. embassy and personnel. Any future airstrikes would require reliable intelligence on the ground, therefore some prepositioning of forces is needed in advance, according to CAP.
But airstrikes would not be a complete solution to the ISIS problem, CAP warns. They would only be useful for degrading the extremist group while other political and diplomatic measures were taken to fix Iraq's sectarian schism. The CAP report compares such a mission to the U.S. no fly zones over Iraq during the Clinton and Bush administrations, known as Operation Northern Watch. Katulis said that the administration must set strict limits on the American use of force inside Iraq, if they are deemed necessary.
''The nature of the strikes shouldn't be broad and open ended, it should be targeted, precise, and principled,'' he said. ''There is no win or lose in this type of conflict. The focus should be to degrade the capacity of ISIS and other groups that threaten the Iraqi state and U.S. national security.''
CAP's recommendation is also significant also because CAP advocated for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as far back as 2005. Back then, the U.S. needed to incentivize the Iraqi government to take responsibility for its own affairs, CAP argues, but now Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed in that task.
''The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops was necessary [then] to create an incentive for Iraqis to take control of their own affairs: Iraq had become dependent on an endless supply of American ground troops for its security,'' the report states. ''The failure of Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to build an inclusive political system has enabled the current startling advances of militants across Iraq led by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.''
Even after potential airstrikes in Iraq, ISIS would still be untouchable in Syria, so CAP recommends increasing the training and equipping of the moderate Syrian armed rebels, something the administration has resisted for three years. Money for that should come from the new $5 billion counterterrorism fund Obama announced in his West Point speech this month, the report states. Congress may not give Obama those funds any time soon.
''The United States should not undertake military action lightly and should be wary of unintended consequences. But not all military action is the same,'' the report states. ''Ground troops or invasions to control a country are very different from limited air strikes or targeted assistance to help push back terrorist extremists. Extremist terrorist groups controlling large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria from which they could ultimately attack American interests or allies are worthy of a limited, effective response, including limited air strikes.''
Iraq crisis: In Baghdad, the fear index is the price of a bullet and it has tripled
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 14:02
Iraq could soon see sectarian slaughter similar to that which took place at the time of the partition of India in 1947. Pictures and evidence from eye witnesses confirm that Isis massacred some 1,700 Shia captives, many of them air force cadets, at the air force academy outside Tikrit, which proves that Isis intends to cleanse its new conquests of Shia. Sunni cadets were told to go home. If the battle moves to Baghdad, then the Shia majority in the capital might see the Sunni enclaves, particularly those in west Baghdad, such as Amiriya and Khadra, as weak points in their defences, and drive out the inhabitants.
In a misguided effort to sustain the morale of people in the capital, the government closed down the internet at 9am. It had already closed YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The excuse is that Isis uses them to communicate, but this is extremely unlikely since Isis has a more professional communications system of its own. Since there is little confidence in the news on government-run television stations, or provided by official spokesmen, the internet shutdown is creating a vacuum of information filled by frightening rumours that are difficult to check.
The result is an atmosphere of growing panic in Baghdad with volunteers from the Shia militias being trucked to Samarra, north of the capital, to stop the Isis advance. The cost of a bullet for an AK47 assault rifle has tripled to 3,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $2. Kalashnikovs are almost impossible to buy from arms dealers though pistols can still be obtained at three times the price of a week ago. In the Shia holy city of Kerbala, south-east of Baghdad, the governor has asked volunteers to bring their own weapons to recruitment centres.
Warning: This video contains footage some viewers may find distressing
Read more: The footage that shows Isis militants 'taunting and killing' Shia soldiersIran and the West: The great rapprochementThe rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the LevantRobert Fisk: How does Blair get away with his lies?Labour figures distance themselves from BlairMany civilians are leaving Baghdad and the better-off have already gone abroad. The head of an Iraqi security company told me: ''I am off to Dubai on an unscheduled holiday to see my daughters because all the foreigners I was protecting have already left.'' The price of a cylinder of propane gas, used by Iraqis for cooking, has doubled to 6,000 Iraqi dinars, because it normally comes from Kirkuk, the road to which is now cut off by Isis fighters.
Sunni demonstrators wave al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in the city of Mosul, captured by Isis last week (AP)
Rumours swirl through Baghdad. There was a report this morning that the whole of Anbar, the giant Sunni province, which normally has a population of 1.5 million, had fallen. But a call to a friend in its capital Ramadi revealed that fighting is still going on. A former minister last night told me that Isis, unable to take Samarra, had switched its assault to Baquba in Diyala province, one of the gateways to Baghdad, but a resident denied there was fighting.
It was a different story in Tal Afar, supposedly defended by 1,000 Kurdish peshmerga but they were either overwhelmed or forced to retreat. There are reports the commander of the Iraqi army division fighting there had been captured. The Turkoman Shia inhabitants have fled to Kurdish-held zones and the town is largely deserted. A source in Mosul said yesterday that the Iraqi air force had carried out bombing raids there, and electricity supplies had been cut.
What is not in doubt is that the Sunni revolt, in which Isis fighters act as shock troops, is still gathering strength though there has been no serious attack on the capital. If it does begin, Isis will be faced by hundreds of thousands of Shia militia and, if it makes progress, by Iranian military forces probably in the shape of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iraqi media has been reporting that two Iranian divisions are already in Iraq, but as of Monday afternoon I had not met anybody who had seen them.
With regular Iraqi army commanders discredited or distrusted, Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force of the IRGC is in Baghdad and is reported to have taken over planning and strategy. Iraqi officials say the Iranians plan to secure the road north to Samarra, a mostly Sunni city, but with a revered Shia shrine, and then use that as a rallying point for forces to re-take Tikrit and Mosul.
An important factor is how far President Masoud Barzani, head of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, who has just made historic gains for his people by taking over Kirkuk and other territories in dispute with Baghdad, will want to join a government counter-attack. The extent to which the entire 350,000 strong Iraqi army forces are demoralised is also unclear. Officers returning from Mosul say that their senior commanders fled or told them not to resist.
Asked about the cause of defeat, one recently retired Iraqi general said: ''Corruption! Corruption! Corruption!'' He said it started when the Americans told the Iraqi army to outsource food and other supplies in about 2005. A battalion commander was paid for a unit of 600 soldiers, but had only 200 men under arms and pocketed the difference which meant enormous profits. The army became a money-making machine for senior officers and often an extortion racket for ordinary soldiers who manned the checkpoints. On top of this, well-trained Sunni officers were side-lined. ''Iraq did not really have a national army,'' the general concluded.
Iraq crisis: US embassy workers evacuated as Republicans slam Obama.
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:55
The State Department on Sunday said the US would remain ''fully equipped to carry out its national security mission'' in Iraq despite the evacuation of some embassy workers, as Republicans slammed the Obama administration over the growing Middle East crisis.
Responding to reports that embassy workers will be evacuated in the face of the continuing Islamic insurgency, the Pentagon confirmed some staff were being relocated.
But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "Overall, a substantial majority of the US embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.''
The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, issued a statement which said: ''At the request of the State Department, the US military is providing security assistance for our diplomatic facilities in Baghdad.
''The temporary relocation of some embassy personnel is being facilitated aboard commercial, charter and State Department aircraft as appropriate. The US military has airlift assets at the ready.''
The statements came as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) fighters threatened Baghdad, the State Department warned US citizens in the country to ''maintain security awareness at all times'' and reports of the murder of captured government troops caused widespread anger among Shias.
Pictures posted on a militant website appeared to show masked Isis fighters forcing captives, with arms tied behind their backs, to lie in a ditch; subsequent images appeared to show bloodied bodies. Captions said the shootings were carried out to avenge the death of an Isis commander earlier this week. Before its lightning offensive, Isis had secured massive wealth and resources, the Guardian learned.
In Baghdad later on Sunday, a series of explosions killed at least 15 people and injured more than 30, police and hospital officials said.
Insurgents also seized Tal Afar, a mainly ethnic Turkmen city in the north west of the country, after heavy fighting. Residents reached by telephone said it had fallen.
"The city was overrun by militants. Severe fighting took place, and many people were killed. Shi'ite families have fled to the west and Sunni families have fled to the east," a city official who asked not to be identified told Reuters.
In Washington, Senator Lindsey Graham, a leading foreign policy hawk, said the US should ''sit down and talk'' with Iran over the crisis and attacked President Barack Obama for what he said was his ''delusional and detached'' response.
On Saturday, defence secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an aircraft carrier and two missile-carrying ships to the Persian Gulf, raising the possibility of imminent US air strikes. Obama, who on Friday said any strike would have to be coordinated with a political plan from Iraq's political leaders, was in California to attend a Democratic party function and deliver a commencement speech.
Mike McCaul, the Republican chair of the House homeland security committee, told ABC's This Week: ''Well, this is a crisis. It does call for a response, not going to Palm Springs for a fundraiser.''
Later on Sunday, Psaki released a statement on security at US embassies. The Obama administration faces ongoing congressional scrutiny of its response to an attack on a US facility in Benghazi in September 2012, in which four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, were killed.
Psaki said the US embassy in Baghdad remained open, and that staff would ''continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders '' supporting them as they strengthen Iraq's constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats''.
She said the embassy was reviewing staffing and security requirements and US citizens in Iraq should ''exercise caution'' and ''make their own contingency emergency plans; and maintain security awareness at all times''.
On Saturday, secretary of state John Kerry spoke to the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, by phone. The State Department said Kerry ''stressed '... that the president is examining a range of options that could help the Iraqi security forces push back [Isis] advances.''
Graham's demand for talks with Iran, made on CNN's State of the Nation, represented a volte face from previous calls for the authorisation to declare war on the country.
On Friday, Obama ruled out sending ground forces back into Iraq.''If Baghdad falls, if the central government falls, a disaster awaits us of monumental proportions,'' he said.
The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, on Saturday signalled an alignment of interests ''if we see that the United States takes action against terrorist groups in Iraq''.
On Saturday, Iraqi officials told the Guardian Iran had sent 2,000 advance troops across the border. General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran's Qods Force, is coordinating the defence of Baghdad. The US suspects the Qods Force of attacks on US troops during the Iraq war.
''Why did we deal with Stalin?'' Graham asked. ''Because he's not as bad as Hitler. The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure that Baghdad doesn't fall. We need to co-ordinate with the Iranians and the Turks need to get into the game.
''We should have discussions with Iran to make sure they don't use this as an opportunity to seize control of parts of Iraq. They're in this, we need to put a red line with Iran.''
''To ignore Iran and not tell them 'Don't take advantaged of this situation' would be a mistake,'' he said.
The senator also blasted the White House, arguing that the president's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq had led to the current crisis.
The last US troops left Iraq in 2011 after the failure of talks between prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and Obama over a longer-term presence.
Graham said ''this stubborn-headed president we have who thinks he knows better than anybody else, who withdrew troops and exposed this country to the inevitable, needs to change his policies quickly''.
He added that Obama was ''delusional'' and ''detached''. ''The number of people who could die in this country from getting this wrong is going to be far greater than 4,000 [a reference to the number of US troops killed so far in Iraq, actually 4,424] because they are getting hold of weapons they did not have before,'' he said.
Shia volunteers have left Basra for Baghdad to confront Isis.''The economic chaos to the world is going to be far greater than anything we spend on saving Iraq. This is another 9/11 in the making.''
Graham's comments echo those of House Speaker John Boehner, who earlier this week accused Obama of "taking a nap" as Isis marched on Baghdad.
On ABC, McCaul said: ''This al-Qaida faction, Isis in Syria and now in Iraq, is so extreme, that Ayman al-Zawahiri and core al-Qaida have denounced them. That's how dangerous they are.
''This is not some 'down the road' prospect. I would argue that not only is the threat great in Iraq and Syria but so [is it] to the homeland, because we have a lot of individuals over there with legal travel documents that are trained '' and these are the vicious, the worst of the worst.
''If they get back into the United States or in western Europe against western targets, I see that as a biggest threat today.''
Graham said that if Isis took Baghdad, Syria and Iraq would become the ''new staging area for an attack on America''.
''My biggest fear is that they will march for Jordan,'' he said, a move that he said would leave ''the whole Middle East in turmoil''.
Al-Maliki should resign, Graham said. The senator added that the US's priorities should be: ''Stop the march on Baghdad, form a new government.''
He suggested the US should send former general and CIA director David Petraeus and former ambassador Crocker to form that new government.
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F-Russia / Ukraine / Syria
Wikileak Cables: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Washington's Pocket Since 2006 | SCG News
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:18
There's not much point in staging a coup if you don't influence who is placed in power in the aftermath. Of course in order for a puppet government to be effective, they can't be perceived as such. You wouldn't want the natives to get restless would you?
The evidence that the U.S. was behind the toppling of the Ukrainian government early this year is so overwhelming at this point that the subject really isn't up for debate, however initially it was unclear how the election of Petro Poroshenko fit in. The ecstatic response by Washington when he was declared the winner, and their unbending support in spite of his ongoing military assault against civilians in the east, made it clear that he was the chosen one, but the paper trail wasn't immediately obvious.
As it turns out, the evidence that Poroshenko is in the pocket of the U.S. State Department has been available all this time, you just had to know where to find it. In a classified diplomatic cable from 2006 released by Wikileaks.org, U.S. officials refer to Poroshenko as "Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko".
A separate cable also released by Wikileaks makes it clear that the U.S. government was considered Poroshenko corrupt."Poroshenko was tainted by credible corruption allegations, but wielded significant influence within OU; Poroshenko's price had to be paid."
The U.S. government knew Poroshenko was dirty, but he was influential, and arguably their most dependable mole.
Perhaps the most interesting revelation comes from a 2009 cable where Poroshenko told then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton he supported "the opening of a U.S. diplomatic presence in Crimea" and "He emphasized the importance of Crimea, and said that having U.S. representation there would be useful for Ukraine." Poroshenko's role as an informant for the U.S. government continued in cables in 2010 as well.
Reading through the cables, I have to wonder if Poroshenko was actually breaking Ukrainian law by sharing the kind of strategic information that he did. Considering that this information was certainly used when planning the coup against Yanukovich, one could argue that he committed treason.
Poroshenko, however, isn't the only Ukrainian politician mentioned. For example, the cables mention the scandal surrounding Oleksandr Turchynov's destruction of SBU documents tying Julia Tymoshenko to organized crime, and note that the accusation that Tymoshenko wanted Turchynov get the Interior Minister position so that she could gather damaging information on her enemies. The cable refers to this accusation as "not farfetched". Turchynov went on to be installed as the acting president of Ukraine in the provisional government.
In order to grasp the extent of the U.S. government's tinkering in Ukraine it is worth reading the documents for yourself.
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Cable: 06KIEV1706_a
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:19
Show Headers
B. KIEV 1663 Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). Summary ------- 1. (C) During an April 28 meeting with Ambassador, Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko emphatically denied he was using his influence with the Prosecutor General to put pressure on Tymoshenko lieutenant Oleksandr Turchynov (refs A and B). Coalition talks with the Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) were continuing, but there was no progress to report; President Yushchenko still seemed unwilling to accept Tymoshenko as prime minister and was "listening" to influential advocates of cooperation with the Party of Regions. Poroshenko claimed that he was personally opposed to an "Orange-Blue" pairing. Poroshenko related that he had spoken at length with Tymoshenko on April 27; she had sought, and then spurned, his assistance in forming a BYuT-OU coalition in the Kiev city council. Poroshenko confided that he had spoken with Tymoshenko during the Orthodox Easter weekend (April 22-23); she had called him to ask "what he wanted" in return for his support for her serving again as PM. Poroshenko said he had replied that he wanted her to be more flexible and less high-handed in the coalition talks. Poroshenko groused that Tymoshenko could not be trusted, stressing that she was not candid and not "principled." It was very possible, Poroshenko warned, that there could be a crisis scenario in which Tymoshenko and Yushchenko simply could not get a coalition deal done. End summary. Poroshenko: Denies Pressuring Turchynov... ------------------------------------------ 2. (C) During an April 28 meeting with Ambassador, Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko denied that he was behind Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko's recent decision to issue an arrest warrant for Tymoshenko lieutenant Oleksandr Turchynov (ref A). Poroshenko claimed he had not spoken with Medvedko "for three or four months"; informally, Poroshenko had heard that the PG's office did not want to actually arrest Turchynov, but simply question him about the alleged destruction of SBU files on organized crime figure Seymon Mogilievich. Poroshenko added that he thought Turchynov was innocent; the files had been destroyed by Turchynov's then-deputy at the SBU/now Tymoshenko Bloc MP-elect, Andriy Kozhemyakin. Poroshenko protested that he had "no motivation" to put pressure on Turchynov (ref B). ...Offers Version of Latest Coalition Talks... --------------------------------------------- - 3. (C) Poroshenko said that the new Rada would likely convene after May 20. He noted that coalition talks with Bloc Tymoshenko (BYuT) were continuing, but there was no progress to report. Poroshenko had spoken briefly with President Yushchenko following an Orthodox Easter (April 23) church service, and Yushchenko "still did not seem ready" to accept Tymoshenko as an Orange coalition prime minister. As for the prospect of an Orange-Blue pairing between OU and the Party of Regions, Poroshenko claimed that he was "90 percent certain" he would vote against such a deal; however, Yushchenko, listening to the whispers of advisers like Prime Minister Yekhanurov, seemed "more ready than I am" to form a coalition with Regions. Poroshenko added that he had spoken on April 27 with Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych about the possibility of OU cooperation with Regions at the local level. ...Provides Details on Phone Conversations with Tymoshenko... --------------------------------------------- ---------------- 4. (C) Poroshenko also related that he had spoken at length on April 27 with Tymoshenko, who sought his help in building an OU-BYuT coalition in the Kiev city council. Poroshenko said he had met with Tymoshenko's emissaries and agreed to support BYuT's preferences for positions on the council and in Kiev's district governments. Following those discussions, Tymoshenko had called Poroshenko to abruptly declare that BYuT no longer needed to work with OU; BYuT candidates did not need OU's help to secure their positions -- a prediction that Poroshenko said turned out to be wrong. ...And (Again) Emphasizes that Tymoshenko Cannot be Trusted --------------------------------------------- -------------- 5. (C) Confiding to Ambassador that he had also spoken with Tymoshenko during Orthodox Easter weekend (April 22-23), Poroshenko complained that Tymoshenko was getting KIEV 00001706 002 OF 002 increasingly difficult to deal with. She had called him to ask "what he wanted" in return for supporting an Orange coalition with her as prime minister. Poroshenko had replied that "what he wanted" was for her to be more flexible and "not issue ultimatums" during the coalition talks, as her high-handedness was senselessly antagonizing key OU players. Repeating a familiar refrain, Poroshenko stressed that Tymoshenko could not be trusted; she was not candid and was not a "principled" person. It was "very possible," Poroshenko warned, that there would be a crisis scenario in which Tymoshenko and Yushchenko could not get a coalition deal done. After speaking with Tymoshenko, it was clear that she "did not trust" OU, Poroshenko said. And when there is no trust, he added, "it is hard to get things done." Comment ------- 6. (C) As with much of what we are hearing about the motivations, goals, characters, etc. of the various "other sides" in the majority coalition talks, Poroshenko's claims about his arch-nemesis Tymoshenko and his protestations of innocence re PG moves against Tymoshenko lieutenant Turchynov have to be taken with a large grain of salt. But this grain may be larger than most of the others. While we have no proof in hand, too many interlocutors point to Poroshenko as one of OU's leading proponents of a coalition with Regions to simply believe he would be at most a reluctant follower were Yushchenko and Yekhanurov to take the party that direction. 7. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. Herbst
BROTHERHOOD PIPELINE-Ukraine-Russia Near "Serious Conflict" Following Explosion In Largest European Gas Transit Pipeline | Zero Hedge
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:40
With 2 Russian TV journalists killed in recent days and on the heels of Russia's cutting off Ukraine's gas supply for non-payment, Interfax is reporting that:
*EXPLOSION ON UKRAINE GAS TRANSIT PIPELINE REPORTED: IFX*INTERFAX CITES UKRAINE INTERIOR MINISTRY ON GAS PIPELINE BLASTWitnesses say flames are reaching 200 metres high. Gazprom shares are tumbling on the news (as should European stocks) and Russia's Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Aleksei Pushkov warned relations between Ukraine and Russia have entered a new stage and are "moving closer towards a serious conflict."
As RT reports,
An explosion has struck a pipeline in the eastern Ukrainian Poltava region. Witnesses say flames from the blast are up to 200 meter high, RIA Novosti reports.
The ''Brotherhood'' natural gas pipeline (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod) is about one kilometer away from the nearest settlement. No injuries have been reported from the blast. Fire fighting crews have been deployed to the scene.
Operating since 1967, the ''Brotherhood'' is the largest consumer gas pipeline in Europe, clocking in at 4,451 km. It cuts through Ukraine and runs into Slovakia, where it diverges in two directions; with one part supplying gas to the Czech Republic, Germany, France and Switzerland, and the other to Austria, Italy, Hungary and several countries in the Balkans.
Pipeline faucets are being tuned off as fire fighters still can't put out the flame.
As Bloomberg reports,
Relations between Russia and Ukraine have entered a new stage and are "moving closer towards a serious conflict", said State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chief Aleksei Pushkov.
Russia did not recognise unilateral border demarcation by Ukraine which was "contrary to all norms of international law", Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Pushkov as saying Tuesday.
"An attack on the Russian embassy, an attempted attack on the consulate-general in Odessa, insults to the Russian president, regular arrests of Russian journalists -- I think this is a deliberate decision co-ordinated with the U.S -- all these are links of one chain," he said.
We are sure the explosion/fire on the pipeline will further this sentiment.
Update:
*UKRAINE MINISTRY: FIRE BROKE OUT ON GAS PIPLINE, NO EXPLOSION*UKRAINE MINISTRY SAYS INVESTIGATING CAUSE OF GAS PIPELINE FIRECoincidental "fire"?
And the purported video of the pipeline..
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Russia eyes gas pipeline deal with India
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:08
After it warmed up to China with a $400-billion gas deal, Russia is likely to have India as the next stop for expansion of its hydrocarbon market. During his scheduled India visit towards the end of the year, Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to discuss plans to build a gas pipeline to the country via China.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Russian counterpart Alexander Novak met this week on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Conference in Moscow. The pipeline, either through Pakistan or China, came up for discussions between the two countries' delegations. India and Russia also have long-term liquefied natural gas supply and gas-swap deals on the table if the pipeline does not work out.
If the $30-billion pipeline from Russia via China's Xinjiang province materialises, it will be among the world's most expensive gas pipelines. The proposed $9-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline is struggling to find a consortium leader. Road shows in Singapore, New York and London did not convince global energy firms to take on the role due to Turkmenistan's decision not to give them stakes in its oil & gas fields.
"Exxon, which the TAPI consortium wanted to rope in, is not keen because of terrorism in the region. With Russia, we are planning to take forward the pipeline project. The route might either be through Afghanistan and Pakistan or China. There will be more clarity during Putin's India visit likely by the year-end," hinted a person privy to the development who did not wish to be named.
There might well be a 'Plan B' for long-term LNG imports or gas-swap deals between the two countries, as Russia is keen on diversifying its energy supplies to China and India. During former prime minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow last October, India and Russia had agreed to set up a joint group to look into the possibility of overland transportation of hydrocarbons.
India's crude oil imports from Russia stand at around half a million tonnes a year. State-owned ONGC, which has an interest in the Sakhalin oilfields, has shown interest in the project. Recently, Russia and China signed a 30-year deal for Gazprom to deliver Russian gas to China. "It is going to be a physical challenge to bring a pipeline from China to India through the Himalayas, so a route via China is impractical. On the other hand, any pipeline through Central Asia is a challenge because it has to cross Afghanistan and Pakistan. The possibility of LNG imports or swap deals would be more viable for India," said Debasish Mishra, senior director, Deloitte India.
WARMING UPNew markets: Improving of relations with India and China might top President Vladimir Putin's agenda, as Russia looks for new markets for its hydrocarbon products Piping plans: India and Russia have discussed taking forward the plans for a pipeline either via Pakistan or China, following the chances of a cost escalation in the proposed TAPI project Pricey deals: According to reports, if the $30-billion pipeline from Russia through China's Xinjiang province works out, it will be among the world's most expensive pipeline projects Wider possibilities: Both countries are also looking at possibilities for long-term LNG import and gas-swap deals
Putin's South Stream Pipeline Could Face a New Obstacle, in Serbia
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:52
The newest front in the Russia-Ukraine gas war is in the Balkans. On June 16, hours after Gazprom (GAZP:RM) shut off gas supplies to Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Serbia for talks about the planned South Stream pipeline, which would carry Russian gas to Europe without crossing Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin's push for South Stream, which would pass under the Black Sea and then westward through Bulgaria and Serbia toward Western Europe, has taken on new urgency as its relations with Kiev have worsened. Speaking to reporters today at the end of his visit, Lavrov said he expected Serbia to begin construction of its section of the pipeline in July, as scheduled. Gazprom issued a statement that the project was proceeding ''strictly on schedule.''
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, though, was vague about construction plans, saying only that the pipeline would ''be continued,'' and that the project is in Serbia's ''national interest.''
Serbia has good reason to choose its words carefully. Its new center-right government, which took office earlier this year, is strongly pro-Europe and has promised to chart a path toward European Union membership. For the moment, the EU doesn't want any of its members, or prospective members, working on South Stream.
Bulgaria earlier this month agreed to suspend work on its portion of the pipeline, under pressure from officials in Brussels who said several aspects of the project violated EU regulations. The EU and the U.S. have made clear, though, that they want to slow progress on South Stream mainly for political reasons, to gain leverage with Moscow in the Ukraine crisis.
Serbia, as an EU candidate country, will be required to bring its national energy laws into line with EU regulations by the end of this year. That would rule out proceeding with construction of South Stream, ''unless there is a dramatic, and at present highly unlikely, political reorientation in Serbia, away from the EU,'' says Tomas Maltby, a researcher at the University of Manchester who studies EU-Russian energy relations.
What happens in Serbia doesn't matter much in practical terms so long as construction in Bulgaria remains on hold because gas coming to Serbia from Russia must first pass through Bulgaria. Still, Maltby says, the longer South Stream is delayed, the more Gazprom's European customers will look for alternatives to Russian gas, including shale gas development in Europe and liquefied natural-gas shipments from Qatar, Algeria, and the U.S.
On the other hand, some EU member countries are eager to get the pipeline built. Countries as far away as Italy and France have suffered gas shortages during past disputes between Russia and Ukraine, and Europe is nowhere near ready to wean itself from Gazprom, which supplies almost one-third of the EU's gas. If Brussels were to prevent construction of South Stream, Maltby says, ''the question is what the EU would bring to the table in terms of energy security.''
Europe could face gas shortages in winter.
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:58
Europe could face gas shortages in winter, the EU's top energy official has said, after talks between Ukraine and Russia over unpaid bills broke down.It means some parts of the continent could face a re-run of the 2009 energy crisis when supplies were cut off over a similar dispute. Speaking in Vienna, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger told reporters: ''In the next weeks, there will be no problems. We will receive our gas volumes. Ukraine will have to decide whether they pay the gas in advance, which will be very expensive or if they use the amounts of gas they have in their storage. But that's exactly our problem because we (Europe) need full reserves for the winter.''The EU executive wants Ukraine to boost its stored gas reserves to as much as 20 billion cubic metres, from around 13.5 bln at present. Heads of state and government will meet in Belgium next Thursday and Friday to consider their next move. One key topic will be how Europe can wean itself off Russian gas and how the EU could help Kiev.
Euronews asked Arno Behrens, the head of energy and a research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, what options are on the table:''In the short-term, we really need to focus on reverse flows; on integrating the market; on critical infrastructure; we need to focus on demand side management, so reducing demand'...especially in times of reduced supplies like a potential crisis that could evolve now also with Ukraine.''
However, Gazprom board members have expressed doubts in the past over whether reserve flows would be legal under contracts agreed with the EU.About one third of Europe's gas comes from Russia, of which half is transferred through Ukraine.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Yatsenyuk: We will commemorate the heroes by cleaning our land from the evil - News - Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 22:47
''We bow our heads to the heroes who lost their lives for the sake of their country, to prevent the war from coming into the house of each of us'', - said the Prime-Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk while expressing condolences to the families and friends of those military men killed last night near Luhansk.
''They lost their lives because they defended men and women, children and the elderly who found themselves in a situation facing a threat to be killed by invaders and sponsored by them subhumans. First, we will commemorate the heroes by wiping out those who killed them and then by cleaning our land from the evil'', - he said.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk reassured that the Government of Ukraine will take care of the families and loved ones of those killed.
On the situation with Ukrainian orphans taken illegally to Russia| 13 June, 14:16On June 12, 2014, in the city of Snizhne of Donetsk region, armed persons representing the so-called Donetsk People's Republic abducted a group of 28 citizens of Ukraine, including 25 orphan children and tutors of family-type children's homes who were headed for rehabilitation in Dnipropetrovsk region.
US-backed rightists attack Russian embassy in Kiev
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:57
By Alex Lantier16 June 2014Hundreds of right-wing demonstrators attacked the Russian embassy in Kiev on Saturday, hurling petrol bombs, eggs and paint, smashing windows, tearing down Russian flags and overturning cars attached to the embassy. Police stood by as the mob laid siege to the building.
Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia joined the attack, telling the protesters: ''I am for you protesting. I am ready to be here with you and say 'Russia get out of Ukraine''... Putin is a khuilo [fucker].''
The violent provocation followed the shooting down by anti-regime protesters in eastern Ukraine of a Ukrainian military transport flying troops into Luhansk. All 40 soldiers and 9 crewmembers aboard the transport died.
The dispatch of the transport was part of an escalation of government violence, utilizing tanks and military planes, against protesters and pro-Russian militias hostile to the US- and German-orchestrated putsch, spearheaded by fascist forces, which installed the current pro-Western regime in Kiev.
The United States and its European allies issued perfunctory statements denouncing the attack on the embassy, a blatant violation of international law. However, they signaled their support for the anti-Russian provocation by blocking a resolution submitted by Moscow to the United Nations Security Council condemning the assault and the Kiev regime's support for it.
US Secretary of State John Kerry called Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk Saturday not to reprimand him for the right-wing attack on the Russian embassy, but to express his condolences for the 49 Ukrainian forces lost in the shoot-down of the plane and reiterate ''the commitment of the United States and G7 partners to raise the costs for Russia if it does not end the flow of weapons across the border and break with separatists.''
Kerry also called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to voice his ''concern'' over the downing of the plane and demand that Russia end ''the flow of weapons and support to separatists.''
The attack on the embassy was designed to inflame international tensions and move the Ukrainian crisis towards war between Russia and the major Western powers. By tacitly backing the attack, the NATO powers are essentially giving a blank check to the Kiev regime for action against Russia.
Russian officials have responded by warning that the Western powers risk dragging Russia, a nuclear-armed country, into a war.
Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov said the attackers included two groups of ''well equipped'' youth who were ''ready to storm'' the embassy. ''They had baseball bats, metal rods, axes. Had they entered the territory of the embassy, I think we would not have avoided victims,'' he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told journalists, ''From our diplomats' point of view, the aim of the attackers was to physically seize the embassy building. There are also grounds to believe that they wanted bloodshed.'' Lavrov went on to say that the main forces involved in the attack were ''fighters from Azov Battalion, created and financed by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky,'' whom Kiev appointed as governor of Dnepropetrovsk in the south-central part of the country.
Two months ago, the leader of the fascist Right Sector, which supplied the bulk of the armed personnel who led the February 22 overthrow of the elected president, Victor Yanukovych, and installation of the anti-Russian coup regime, moved his headquarters to Dnepropetrovsk.
Russian legislator Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee, called on acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov to fire acting Foreign Minister Deshchytsia, saying, ''I can't really imagine how anyone, especially a Russian representative, can sit down at the negotiating table with him after such an outburst.''
In a post on Twitter, Pushkov wrote that Ukrainian officials in Kiev ''are trying to pull us into a war.''
US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt provocatively responded by calling Deshchytsia ''a skilled diplomat and credit to Ukraine.''
Over the weekend, NATO and Russia traded accusations that Russian and Ukrainian tanks were violating the Ukrainian-Russian border. While NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russian tanks of crossing the border in ''a serious escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine,'' Russian officials blamed Ukrainian tanks for invading Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that if Ukrainian incursions continued, Moscow would ''take all necessary measures to suppress them.''
Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukrainian cities attacked or besieged by Kiev regime forces continues to mount. Tens of thousands of people are leaving the rebel-held city of Slavyansk, which Kiev regime forces have shelled almost daily. The city no longer has water, utilities or food.
Valentina Vasiliyevna, a pensioner in Slavyansk whose apartment was hit by a shell last week, compared the fighting in her city to that during World War II in an interview with the British Guardian. ''I lived through the Great War, and now we're living through another one,'' she said.
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European Commission Ready to Compromise, Backs Russian Offers on Gas
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:05
MOSCOW, June 16 (RIA Novosti) '-- The European Commission's approach to trilateral talks in Kiev points to its willingness to compromise on the gas issue taking into account Moscow's offers, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Monday.
''The European Commission supported our offer and showed its readiness, including in finding a compromise on the basis of the offers voiced by the Russian side. In regard to that, we noticed the readiness to find solutions that would have settled the given situation,'' Novak said during a press conference.
''The Russian side has definitely done all necessary actions in the framework of the talks, and has taken all essential steps in order to reach a compromise and solutions able to settle the situation [in Ukraine]. The Russian side has made enough constructive proposals to the Ukrainian side,'' the minister added, stressing that the proposals concerned the price as well as the payment deadlines.
''Our proposals, and the package of agreements that we have suggested, were entirely rejected by the Ukrainian side. In our point of view, Kiev has behaved non-constructively,'' Novak concluded.
Earlier in the day Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller voiced a similar opinion, bashing Kiev for ''retaliatory blackmail'' as it is Ukraine's persistent debt for the supplies of Russian gas that is at the core of the dispute, rather than the price.
The non-constructive approach of Kiev resulted in Gazprom switching to a prepayment regime for gas deliveries. Starting Monday, Ukraine will only receive the amount of Russian gas it will have paid for in advance. No payments for June have been received, yet, according to Gazprom.
Kiev's Blackmail Pushes Gazprom to Switch to Prepayment Scheme
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:05
GORKI (Moscow Region), June 16 (RIA Novosti) '' Russian gas giant Gazprom was forced to implement a prepayment regime for gas deliveries because of Ukraine's blackmailing during negotiations, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Monday.
''It needs to be said that thanks to the non-constructive position of the Ukrainian government, that today a prepayment regime was implemented. In reality, the Ukrainian party changes, and changed the object of our negotiations,'' Miller said during a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev outside Moscow.
''The Ukrainian side took a position that one could call retaliatory blackmail, changing the understanding and object of the negotiations,'' Miller said, stressing that it is Kiev's persistent debt for the supplies of Russian gas that is at the core of the dispute, rather than the price.
Miller said that to date the debt amounts to $4.5 billion, with 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas in unpaid supplies.
The gas negotiations between Moscow and Kiev have largely been dominated by Ukraine trying to leverage on its disagreement with the price changes for the imported Russian gas, effective April 1, when Moscow cancelled two major discounts, raising the price to $485 per thousand cubic meters.
Kiev used the price spike to stall repayment, although Ukraine's debt for Russian natural gas began to accumulate as early as November 2013.Up until recently, the only full payment that Gazprom received was for January deliveries, which means a substantial share of debt remains uncovered even at the price that Kiev seems to be happy with.
EU Energy Commission approves of South Stream gas pipeline: commissioner - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 04:02
VIENNA, June 16 (Xinhua) -- The European Energy Commission approves of the planned South Stream gas pipeline project that would bypass Ukraine, the EU Energy Commissioner said in Vienna Monday.
Talking to journalists, Guenther Oettinger said talks are currently underway to ensure that European law, as well as public procurement, environmental and competition laws are complied with.
The project would see a pipeline run from Russia across the Black Sea to Bulgaria, then on to Greece, Italy, and Austria.
Oettinger said the EU and Russia had a "functioning gas partnership," and that there was a "mutual dependence."
He also reiterated the need for diversification of gas sources along with new routes and a better network, saying "to reduce import dependency is now more important than ever."
In five years Azerbaijan should be producing gas, he added, which should hopefully open up the Southern Gas Corridor, the next major step.
Russian $8.2 Trillion Oil Trove Locked Without U.S. Tech: Energy - Bloomberg
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 03:38
Even as the decision to stop gas supplies to Ukraine aggravates tensions with the U.S. and Europe, Russia faces a dilemma: it still needs Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Halliburton Co. (HAL) and BP Plc to maintain output from Soviet-era oil fields and develop Arctic and shale reserves.
Russia will require Western companies to provide the modern drilling and production gear -- and techniques such as hydraulic fracturing -- that are essential to unlocking its $8.2 trillion worth of barrels still underground.
The cutoff to Ukraine's gas supply adds another layer of complexity for energy companies navigating a shifting geopolitical landscape in the search for new oil and gas supplies. Decision-makers from some of the West's biggest oil explorers are gathering in Moscow this week at the World Petroleum Congress to pave the way to new deals.
''There's certainly a prize there,'' said Alexander Robart, a principal at PacWest Consulting Partners LLC, a Houston-based consultant that tracks fracking service providers. ''For the big guys, it's certainly one of the top priority future growth markets they're looking towards, without a doubt.''
Russia's latest aggression toward Ukraine can only heighten the political tensions companies already feel as they seek to justify broadening business ties to the country, said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.
''It will move the scale a tad against Russia,'' Gheit said, raising the chance the U.S. and Europe will push for additional sanctions.
No ImpactSanctions have had no impact on working in Russia yet, BP's Dudley said in Moscow yesterday. The London-based company signed a preliminary agreement last month to evaluate shale oil reserves in the Volgo-Urals region.
''We continue to work and do business as usual,'' Dudley said. ''It has not affected are activities.''
Russia already is the second-largest market outside North America for fracking, measured by about 1.1 million horsepower of pumps used to blast water, sand and chemicals underground to free trapped hydrocarbons. China ranks first with 3.1 million horsepower. North America is still the world's fracking king with 19.7 million horsepower.
Through its existing oilfields, Russia is the world's largest producer of crude, with daily output of 10 million barrels a day last year, according to the EIA. To maintain that, Russia will have to use the latest technology to squeeze oil out of shale rocks in Western Siberia, Bey said.
Market DoublingAs a result, Russia's supply of rock-crushing gear is forecast to double to 2.3 million horsepower by the end of 2018, according to PacWest. That's assuming that engineers can ''crack the code'' on the Bazhenov Shale, a massive, hard-to-drain rock formation that lies under Western Siberia's decades-old conventional oilfields, Robart said.
In May, Total SA (FP) partnered up with OAO Lukoil (LKOD), Russia's second-largest crude producer, to seek oil in the so called tight-rock oil of the Bazhenov area of Siberia. The deal followed Exxon and Statoil ASA, which already have tight oil ventures with OAO Rosneft (ROSN) in Western Siberia, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which partnered with OAO Gazprom Neft. (GAZ)
Without Western expertise and technology, it's unlikely Russia could sustain its current production levels, much less grow them, David Pursell, an analyst at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., said in a phone interview. The country has ''zero chance'' of exploiting deep-water reserves without Western help, he said.
Resuscitation WorkHalliburton, Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) and Weatherford Ltd. are some of the energy service companies working to resuscitate aging fields and unlock shale formations in Siberia. They're counting on exploration and production companies to spend about $30 billion a year in Russia, James West, an analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York, said in an e-mail message.
Joao Felix, a spokesman for Schlumberger, declined to comment. Susie McMichael, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, and Wuen Fung Hor, a spokeswoman for Weatherford, were not immediately able to comment.
Schlumberger, based in Houston and Paris, said in April it recently helped a major Russian oil company in western Siberia reduce uncertainty in drilling and field-development by using its down-hole sensors to map exactly where underground fractures were spreading in a horizontal well. Four frack stages were used in the well and monitored from a second well using equipment that hears subtle seismic events underground.
Sales in Russia this year are expected to be ''somewhat lower'' than initially expected due to a weaker ruble, while activity remains as projected, Schlumberger Chief Executive Officer Paal Kibsgaard told analysts and investors in April.
Oil UniversityWeatherford, the world's fourth-largest oil services provider, has the most at stake among peers with about 5 percent of its sales coming from Russia, Scott Gruber, a New York-based analyst at Sanford Bernstein & Co., wrote March 3 in a note to clients.
In the Russian town of Bugulma, Geneva-based Weatherford announced a partnership last year with an electric-pump plant to make artificial lift systems, which are used to boost pressure and increase output from flagging wells.
Halliburton announced a partnership in February with Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas to provide ''state-of-the-art'' support, including staff for technical boards and educational material for the school's unconventional program.
''Halliburton is certainly trying to make a bigger play'' in Russia, PacWest's Robart said.
Natural GasRussia has gotten more political attention for its natural gas production because it's the main supplier of gas to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines. But most of the nation's hydrocarbon revenue is derived from oil, Robart and Bey said.
Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chief executive officer; Robert Dudley, CEO at BP; and Maria das Gracas Foster, head of Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR) are among the many energy chiefs expected to speak at this week's conference in Russia.
After the uncertainty created by its conflict with Ukraine, Russia will have done all it could to make sure all the big players come to its conference, ''in order to make a show that, 'Hey, we're serious about working with you guys,''' Robart said.
To contact the reporter on this story: David Wethe in Houston at dwethe@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.netWill Kennedy, Andrew Hobbs
Ottomania
Naftali Frankel-Kerry points at Hamas in Israel kidnappings that include teen with US citizenship | Fox News
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:20
June 15, 2014. Israeli soldiers patrol during a military operation to search for three missing teenagers outside the West Bank city of Hebron.AP
The Obama administration on Sunday joined Israel in implicating the militant group Hamas in connection with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and called the move a ''despicable terrorist act.''
The teens, including one who holds US citizenship, disappeared late Thursday apparently while hitchhiking in the country's West Bank region.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already accused Hamas of being responsible for the kidnappings.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that officials are still investigating the abduction, but that ''many indications point to Hamas' involvement.''
He spoke the same day Israeli troops searching for the teens arrested roughly 80 Palestinians, including dozens of members of Hamas, in an overnight raid in the West Bank.
The crisis escalated already heightened tensions between Israel and the new Palestinian government, which is headed by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas but backed by Hamas.
Netanyahu has condemned Abbas' agreement with Hamas and said he would hold him responsible for the safety of the youths.
Palestinian officials condemned the overnight crackdown and rejected Netanyahu's contention that they are responsible.
However, both sides appear to be working together to find the missing teens.
''The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release,'' Kerry said. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. '...We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.''
Hamas has praised the apparent kidnappings, but stopped short of accepting responsibility.
Speaking to his Cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said there was no doubt who was responsible.
The Washington Post identified the missing youth with dual Israeli-American citizenship as 16-year-old Naftali Frankel.
Palestinian militants have repeatedly threatened to kidnap Israelis, hoping to use them as bargaining chips to win the release of prisoners held by Israel.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said Israel "will extract a heavy price from the Palestinian leadership" and will "do everything necessary to return the boys to their families."
The overnight raid was concentrated in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, in the area where the youths disappeared.
A Hamas website said more than 60 of those arrested were members, including senior figures in the movement. The Israeli military also detained supporters of Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group.
The Palestinians' self-rule government, which administers 38 percent of the West Bank, has insisted it is not to blame, saying the teens disappeared in territory under full Israeli control.
In its first statement on the issue, Hamas praised the kidnappings but did not claim responsibility. In a message sent to journalists, it referred to "the success of the kidnapping" and said that "the movement pays tribute to the heroes who are behind the kidnapping."
However, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza dismissed Netanyahu's claims as "silly."
Hamas governed Gaza for seven years before striking the unity deal with Abbas. It remains in de facto control of the coastal territory, which is separated from the West Bank by Israel.
Hamas, branded a terrorist group by the West for its long history of attacks on Israeli civilians, has been involved in past abductions.
But this time around, there are other potential suspects. In recent months, there have been growing signs of the emergence in the West Bank of small groups of militants who identify with Al Qaeda.
One of several claims of responsibility for the kidnapping came from a group that said it was linked to an Al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, which controls parts of Syria and overran parts of northern Iraq last week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
FBI 'raids 19 schools associated with G¼len'
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:07
ISTANBUL
Pennsylvania-based Islamic scholar Fethullah G¼len
U.S. federal agents have raided 19 charter schools, including three in Ohio, where an FBI criminal investigation in Cleveland has led to search warrants in Indiana and Illinois over the past week, Ohio-based Beacon Journal has reported. Concept Schools, a charter school operator headquartered near Chicago, manages 19 charter schools in Ohio, second only to Texas with 44 such schools. There are nearly 140 charter schools, spread across 26 states, reportedly associated with Turkish cleric Fethullah G¼len, an Islamic cleric exiled from Turkey, living in Pennsylvania.
Concept Schools, which emphasizes math and science, has been investigated previously by the U.S. Department of Labor for its use of foreign workers. Ohio audits found that public money for the schools had been used improperly for visas, according to the report.
The Turkish government has recently started an international campaign against the global network of schools affiliated with G¼len, the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) ally-turned-nemesis.
Click here to read the rest of the story
June/14/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
FBI 'raids 19 schools associated with Gulen'
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 22:14
ISTANBUL
Pennsylvania-based Islamic scholar Fethullah G¼len
U.S. federal agents have raided 19 charter schools, including three in Ohio, where an FBI criminal investigation in Cleveland has led to search warrants in Indiana and Illinois over the past week, Ohio-based Beacon Journal has reported. Concept Schools, a charter school operator headquartered near Chicago, manages 19 charter schools in Ohio, second only to Texas with 44 such schools. There are nearly 140 charter schools, spread across 26 states, reportedly associated with Turkish cleric Fethullah G¼len, an Islamic cleric exiled from Turkey, living in Pennsylvania.
Concept Schools, which emphasizes math and science, has been investigated previously by the U.S. Department of Labor for its use of foreign workers. Ohio audits found that public money for the schools had been used improperly for visas, according to the report.
The Turkish government has recently started an international campaign against the global network of schools affiliated with G¼len, the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) ally-turned-nemesis.
Click here to read the rest of the story
June/14/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
Senior DHS Adviser: 'Inevitable that 'Caliphate' Returns' | Washington Free Beacon
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 23:12
Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt / AP
BY:Adam KredoJune 16, 2014 2:23 pm
A controversial senior adviser to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is receiving criticism for tweeting that the recent takeover of Iraqi cities by a violent terror group is proof that a Muslim ''caliphate'' is making an ''inevitable'' return.
Mohamed Elibiary, a controversial figure and member of DHS's Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), discussed what he described as the ''inevitable'' return of a Muslim caliphate Friday on Twitter.
''As I've said b4 inevitable that 'Caliphate' returns,'' Elibiary tweeted in response to a question about the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), which is currently seeking to overthrow the Iraqi government and instate strict Sharia law in the country.
''Choice only whether we support [European Union] like Muslim Union vision or not,'' wrote Elibiary, who has ''advised numerous federal, state and local law enforcement organizations on homeland security-related matter,'' according to his biography on DHS's website.
Elibiary has come under heavy criticism in the past for claiming that America is ''an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution.'' Critics have said that such rhetoric makes him unfit to serve as an adviser for DHS, which is tasked with defending the U.S. border from terrorism.
Elibiary, in his more recent comments, went on to claims that conservatives ''misread'' the 9/11 terror attacks and ''should reassess'' their ''belligerence.''
The discussion began with Elibiary mocking CNN for reporting on ISIL's implementation of strict Islamic guidelines in the Iraqi territories it has seized.
''CNN just broadcast list of ISIL hudod [restrictions] rules,'' Elibiary tweeted. ''Reminds me of how we were outraged pre 9/11 by Taliban banning white socks 4 women.''
The remark prompted Twitter user David Reaboi, a former official with the national security group Center for Security Policy (CSP), to ask Elibiary if ISIL's actions should prompt outrage in the United States.
That led Elibiary to claim that it is ''inevitable'' that a caliphate return.
''So you're in favor of supporting that 'inevitable' Caliphate or not?'' Reaboi asked.
Elibiary responded that the United States is moving to engage with radical Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and others.
''As I've stated b4. Y'all in the [national security] ubber hawks camp misread 9/11 & should reassess ur belligerence,'' wrote Elibiary, who claims that his tweets reflect on his personal opinion.
Elibiary has a history of making controversial remarks on Twitter.
In November of last year he faced a fierce backlash from critics for saying that he considers America to be ''an Islamic country.''
Elibiary also stated at the time that ''sociologically speaking'' the Christian right is ''similar'' to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that he has described as ''pragmatic'' and ''non-violent.''
Elibiary also has argued in the past that the Muslim Brotherhood poses no threat to the United States and once referred to former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as ''Egypt's Mandela,'' a reference to the recently deceased South African leader.
Elibiary's controversial rhetoric and support for the Muslim Brotherhood has drawn criticism on Capitol Hill from lawmakers such as Reps. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) and Louie Gohmert (R., Texas).
Elibiary also has experienced financial difficulties with his non-profit group, the Freedom and Justice Foundation, which had its non-profit status revoked by the IRS due to the organization's refusal to file transparency forms revealing the sources of its funding.
Elibiary did not respond to an email request for comment and explanation of his tweets. A DHS spokesman also did not respond to a request for comment on the comments.
CYBER!
Who's Responsible For The Latest Attack on America's Power Grid?
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:30
Last Wednesday, a small power station in Nogales, Arizona was the site of a mysterious bomb attack that left no injuries, nor any witnesses. The assailant(s) broke into the facility sometime between 4pm Tuesday and 8 am Wednesday, and planted a small incendiary device on the valve of a 50,000 gallon diesel tank. The device managed to burn the surface of the steel, but failed to ignite the fuel inside the container. If they had succeeded it could have disrupted power for 30,000 people.
The FBI is currently investigating the attack, but have no leads as far as we know. There were no signs of vandalism that are often left behind by environmental terrorists, who would normally be suspected in an electrical grid attack. The FBI is currently looking into several other incidents that were reported earlier this year:
''On Thursday, law-enforcement officials said the FBI was looking at past suspicious incidents in the area, citing one near Sahuarita, north of Nogales. In that incident, someone was reported to be trying to cut power lines, law-enforcement officials said.
On Feb. 9, target shooters near a substation in that area were seen on security cameras, causing alarm. Police and the utility's security officers traveled to the site to ask the shooters to move along, but they were gone when police arrived, Salkowski said.''
This incendiary attack has officials worried after a similar incident was reported at a power substation in San Jose earlier this year. The attack was initially considered to be a case of vandalism until more details were exposed to the public, nearly 10 months after the fact.
Rather than a bomb, the San Jose attack turned out to be a frighteningly coordinated shooting. It's estimated that 6 individuals approached the facility late at night armed with AK-47'²s, and opened fire, but not before sneaking onto the property and disabling the alarm system. The attackers managed to disrupt a total of 10 transformers, and escaped just before police arrived. Investigators would later find more evidence of just how professional the attack was:
''After walking the site with PG&E officials and FBI agents, Mr. Wellinghoff said, the military experts told him it looked like a professional job. In addition to fingerprint-free shell casings, they pointed out small piles of rocks, which they said could have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.''
On the surface, this recent attack doesn't appear to have as much in common with the shooting in San Jose. The suspects didn't use firearms and they failed to disrupt the facility as much as the San Jose incident. The facility they attacked was merely a backup power producer for peak hours, not a major substation. What they do have in common is a little more startling though.
Both attacks reveal the possibility of scouting and probing the property before the attack, in this case armed individuals were seen in the area several months before, and it was reported that someone was trying to cut power lines nearby in a separate case. Both attacks involved assailants infiltrating the facility after hours and despite the coordination of the attacks, neither succeeded in disrupting the power supply in any meaningful way. And of course both incidents involved cheap and relatively low tech weapons to destroy this expensive equipment. Neither incident left the traditional calling signs of a terrorist group.
Let's play devils advocate for a moment, and assume the possibility that both attacks were perpetrated by the same organization (and given the multiple individuals involved in the San Jose attacks, it is definitely an organization of some kind). The coordination and lack publicity from any terrorist groups seems to imply, at least in my mind, that this is state sponsored. If they were sponsored by some foreign state, they certainly had the means to do way more damage and disrupt the power supply in a big way. So Why didn't they?
I suspect these attacks are probing missions. While the American power grid is incredibly vulnerable, it is still massively complicated. If someone were attempting to bring it down, they need to know its ins and outs, and they need know where it is most vulnerable. They need to know how difficult it is to bypass the security of these facilities. They need to develop a map of all of our power plants, substations, power lines etc. Heck, they may even pull off minor attacks of little consequence, just so the news may give them more information on the facility.
Since this organization appears to be fairly low budget, they have to figure out how they can destroy the grid with the fewest number of attacks. There certainly exists a handful of locations that if disrupted, could eliminate the power supply for millions of Americans, if not everyone in the country. These perpetrators are not yet ready to pull off such an operation. They need to see what happens, on the small scale at first, when certain parts of the grid are damaged or disabled.
I'll admit, I could be making a few leaps with these conclusions, and I'm no stranger to paranoia. There isn't nearly enough evidence to prove these attacks are related. But if I'm wrong, that means there may be several unrelated groups interested in destroying our power supply. If you ask me, that might be even more worrisome.
I'd love to hear from anyone with more expertise than myself, such as power company employees, military, police etc. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua's reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua's website is Strange Danger .
'Inventing terrorists': New study reveals FBI set up terrorism-related prosecutions
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:50
Published time: June 15, 2014 16:36Edited time: June 16, 2014 11:43AFP Photo / Anne-Christine Poujoulat
Nearly 95 per cent of terrorist arrests have been the result of FBI foiling its own entrapment plots as a part of the so-called post-9/11 War on Terror, a new study revealed.
According to thereportentitled 'Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution', the majority of arrests involved the unjust prosecution of targeted Muslim Americans.
The 175-page study by Muslim advocacy group SALAM analyzes 399 individuals in cases included on the list of the US Department of Justice from 2001 to 2010.
''According to this study's classification, the number of preemptive prosecution cases is 289 out of 399, or 72.4 percent. The number of elements of preemptive prosecution cases is 87 out of 399, or 21.8 percent. Combining preemptive prosecution cases and elements of preemptive prosecution cases, the total number of such cases on the DOJ list is 376, or 94.2 percent,'' the report concluded.
The authors define 'preemptive prosecution' as ''a law enforcement strategy adopted after 9/11, to target and prosecute individuals or organizations whose beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations raise security concerns for the government.''
Nearly 25 percent of cases (99 of 399) contained material support charges. Another almost 30 per cent of cases consisted of conspiracy charges. More than 17 per cent of the analyzed cases (71 of 399 cases) involved sting operations. Over 16 percent of cases (65 of 399 cases) included false statement or perjury charges, and around six percent of cases involved immigration-related charges.
According to the report, since 9/11 only 11 cases posed ''potentially significant'' threat to the United States.
''Only three were successful (the [Tamerlan and Dzhokhar] Tsarnaev brothers and Major Nidal Hasan), accounting for 17 deaths and several hundred injuries,'' the paper says.
One of the FBI's strategies involved ''using agents provocateur to actively entrap targets in criminal plots manufactured and controlled by the government.''
''The government uses agents provocateur to target individuals who express dissident ideologies and then provides those provocateurs 25 with fake (harmless) missiles, bombs, guns, money, encouragement, friendship, and the technical and strategic planning necessary to see if the targeted individual can be manipulated into planning violent or criminal action,'' the report concluded.
The government could also choose to use ''minor 'technical' crimes,'' such as errors on immigration forms, an alleged false statement to a government official, gun possession, tax or financial issues, etc., to go after someone for their ''ideology.''
''What they were trying to do is to convince the American public that there is this large army of potential terrorists that they should all be very-very scared about. They are very much engaged in world-wide surveillance and this surveillance is very valuable to them. They can learn a lot about all sorts of things and in a sense control issues to their advantage,'' Steven Downs, an attorney for Project SALAM, which issued the report, told RT. ''And the entire legal justification for that depends on there being a war on terror. Without a war on terror they have no right to do this. So they have to keep this war on terror going, they have to keep finding people and arresting them and locking them up and scarring everybody.''
In the conclusion, authors of the report offered the US government several recommendations that the DOJ "should employ" to change the present unfair terrorism laws. A total seven recommendations call on the US government to accurately identify people who offer material support for terrorism, strengthening the ''entrapment'' defense in the courts; abolish ''terror-enhanced sentencing'' that triples or quadruples jail time in cases linked to terrorist acts; disallow secret court proceedings, and immediately notifying defendants if any evidence in their case is derived from secret surveillance.
Packet Inequality
PACKET INEQUALITY-T-Mobile unveils 'UnRadio' service, offers data-free music - CNET
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 03:12
The UnRadio service is a premium steaming music service developed in collaboration with Rhapsody.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere unveils music streaming plan at T-Mobile's Uncarrier 5.0 event Wednesday in Seattle.James Martin/CNET
SEATTLE--T-Mobile wants to set your streaming music free.
The wireless carrier on Wednesday unveiled "Rhapsody UnRadio," a premium streaming music app available on iOS, Android, and on a browser developed with Rhapsody that is free for unlimited data customers and $4 a month for all other T-Mobile subscribers.
For those uninterested in UnRadio, T-Mobile said it would no longer count streaming music data from the most popular services against its customers' cellular data limits.
The music announcements represent Uncarrier 6.0, following up on T-Mobile's Test Drive news from earlier at the conference. The moves are part of the carrier's broader campaign to shake up the wireless industry and win over new customers. T-Mobile is just the latest to embrace streaming music in a big way, and it hopes its unique take on the service will help it stand out.
UnRadio follows a wave of music-related announcements by the carriers over the last few months. Sprint hosted a music-themed event last month, in which the carrier partnered with Harman Kardon to introduce the audio-optimized HTC One M8 Harman Kardon edition. It also teamed up with Spotify to offer a discounted music service to new customers, with the discounts rising as more subscribers join its Framily plan, with a price range between $5 and $8 a month.
AT&T, meanwhile, has an exclusive deal to offer Beats' fledgling streaming music service, which costs $10 a month for individuals or $15 a month for families. The music service is one of the reasons that Apple agreed to pay $3 billion for Beats.
T-Mobile believes it is one-upping its competitors with the data offer. Customers listening to Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker, iTunes, Spotify, and Rhapsody won't see the data counted against its plan.
While T-Mobile doesn't employ data caps, it will throttle, or slow, the connection speed once customers hit a predetermined level. The data-free music is a boon to music lovers who subscribe to a plan with limited high-speed data.
When looking at annoyances in the industry, one concern customers expressed was the fear that streaming music would eat into their data caps, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in an interview.
T-Mobile will also ask what other music services should be included in this program, and will post a poll on Facebook. Other services under consideration include Google Play, Beats, and Rdio.
For Rhapsody, the deal marks a coup for the pioneer in subscription streaming music. While it has been around since 2001 and owns famed file-sharing service Napster after it transformed itself into a copyright-kosher -- and struggling -- operation, Rhapsody has been overshadowed in recent years by tech giants and hot startups as streaming quickly becomes the music industry's segment of strongest growth.
Rapidly growing startup Spotify; marketing powerhouse Beats Music, in a deal to be acquired by iTunes-download giant Apple; and streaming services from Google and Amazon all tend to outshine Rhapsody in the public eye, while Rhapsody has focused recently on growing overseas through telecom partnerships like the latest with T-Mobile.
"We set out to create the world's best Internet radio service, and with UnRadio, we've succeeded," Paul Springer, chief product officer of Rhapsody, said in a statement.
UnRadio Rhapsody customers on T-Mobile will be billed through the carrier. But the service will be available to any users. The price of the service for everyone else is $5 a month.
The service allows customers to listen to any song they choose, and are able to skip as much as they want without any commercials. They can also mark songs as a favorite and save for listening later, or download them for offline listening. Subscribers can choose from a catalog of 32 million songs through Rhapsody.
There's also a radio option that allows customers to choose from a number of local radio stations.
UnRadio boasts one more feature, TrackMatch, which allows customers to use the service to identify songs played at a bar or on TV and create a station around that song or save it for later listening, taking the Shazam audio-recognition app to the next level.
CNET's Joan E. Solsman contributed to this report.
Measuring Broadband America - 2014 | FCC.gov
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:47
A Report on Consumer Wireline BroadbandPerformance in the U.S.FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology andConsumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Table of ContentsBackground and Overview Major Findings of the StudyOnline ResourcesDescription of TestsTest Results IntroductionVariation by ISP and Service Tier in Delivery of Advertised Speed IntroductionChart 1: Average Peak Period and 24-Hour Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test DataChart 2: Average Peak Period and 24-Hour Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test DataChart 3: Average Peak Period Sustained Download and Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test DataConsistency of Speeds IntroductionChart 4: Percent of Advertised to Actual Download Performance of Seventy Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013Chart 5: Percent of Advertised to Actual Upload Performance of Seventy Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013Chart 6: Percent of Advertised to Actual Download Performance of Eighty Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013Chart 7: Percent of Advertised to Actual Upload Performance of Eighty Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013Variations by Access Technology in Delivery of Advertised Speed IntroductionChart 8: Average Peak Period Sustained Download and Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Technology'--September 2013 Test DataVariation by Service Tier in Delivery of Advertised Speed Download Peak Period Throughput IntroductionChart 9.1: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (1-5 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 9.2: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (6-10 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 9.3: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (12-15 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 9.4: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (18-25 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 9.5: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (30-75 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataUpload Peak Period Throughput IntroductionChart 10.1: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (0.256-0.64 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 10.2: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (0.768-1.5 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 10.3: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (2-5 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 10.4: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (10-35 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataBurst Versus Sustained Download throughput Chart 11: Average Peak Period Burst Download Speeds as a Percentage Increase over Sustained Download Speeds, by Provider Where Tiers Showed a Greater than 10 Increase'--September 2013 Test DataChart 12: Average Peak Period Burst Upload Speeds as a Percentage Increase over Sustained Download Speeds, by Provider (All Tiers)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 13: Average Peak Period Burst Download and Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Sustained Speed, by Provider'--September 2013 Test DataLatency IntroductionChart 14: Average Peak Period Latency in Milliseconds, by Technology'--September 2013 Test DataChart 15.1: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (1-3 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 15.2: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (6-10 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 15.3: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (12-15 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 15.4: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (18-25 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 15.5: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (30-75 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 16: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed (1-75 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test DataVariation by Time of Day IntroductionChart 17: Hourly Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test Data24 Hour Peak Performance Variation by Technology IntroductionChart 18: Average sustained download speeds as a percentage of advertised over a 24-hour period, by technology--September 2012 Test DataCumulative Distribution for Download Speeds IntroductionChart 19: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Technology'--September 2013 Test DataChart 20.1: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (9 Providers)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 20.2: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (7 providers)'--September 2013 Test DataFigure 1: Cumulative Distribution Percentiles for Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by ProviderCumulative Distribution for Upload Speeds IntroductionChart 21: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Technology'--September 2013 Test DataChart 22.1: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (9 Providers)'--September 2013 Test DataChart 22.2: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (7 Providers)'--September 2013 Test DataComparison to Last Reporting Period IntroductionFigure 2: Comparison of Sustained Actual Download Speed as a Percentage of Advertised Speed (September 2012/September 2013)Actual Versus Advertised Speeds IntroductionFigure 3: Peak Period Sustained Download Performance, by Provider'--September 2013 Test DataData Consumption IntroductionChart 23: Normalized Average User Traffic--September 2013 Test DataChart 24: Cumulative Distribution of User Traffic, by Technology'--September 2013 Test DataPanelist Migration IntroductionFigure 4: Comparison of Panelist Population by Speed Tier'--September 2012 and September 2013 Test DataChart 25: Percent Change of September 2012 Panelists Subscribed to Higher Tier in September 2013Chart 26: Percent Change of September 2012 Panelists Subscribed to Higher Tier in September 2013Conclusion and Next Steps AcknowledgementsAPPENDIX A: Cable Providers DOCSIS Modem Disclosures End NotesBackground and OverviewThis 2014 Measuring Broadband America Report on Fixed Broadband ("Report") contains the most recent data collected from fixed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as part of the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Measuring Broadband America program. This program is an ongoing, rigorous, nationwide study of consumer broadband performance in the United States. We measure the network performance delivered to a representative sample set of the population and service tier demographics across the United States. The sample population is drawn from subscribers of ISPs serving over 80% of the residential marketplace, and consists of thousands of volunteers.
The initial Measuring Broadband America Report on Fixed Broadband was published in August 2011, and presented the first broad-scale study of directly measured consumer broadband performance throughout the United States. This effort was followed approximately one year later by a second Report, released in July 2012, a third Report released in February 2013, and now this Report. We intend to provide these reports going forward on an annual basis to serve as consistent benchmarks on the health of broadband Internet access services in the United States, and to better chart progress towards the FCC goal of continuing to evolve the speeds and quality of service at which broadband access is commonly available to the American public.
As explained in the accompanying Technical Appendix, each Report in this series is based on measurements taken during a single reference month that has been chosen to represent a typical usage period for the average consumer. The reference months for the first and second Reports were March 2011 and April 2012, respectively. The collection period for subsequent annual Reports was shifted to September1 to standardize on an annual baseline reporting month. The reference month for this Report is September 2013, twelve months after the previous testing period. We will attempt to maintain this as our reporting month for future Reports when practical.
The methodologies and assumptions underlying the measurements described in this Report are reviewed at meetings that are open to all interested parties, and a public record of these meetings is maintained by the FCC. The techniques used as part of this study to gather data, and the data generated thereby, have the specific aim of profiling broadband Internet access services. That is, they are aimed at highlighting averages and trends in service characteristics within the scope of control of individual service providers.2 The resulting view necessarily focuses only on the network properties being measured.
In this Report, we are pleased to again include results on satellite technology, based on test results collected from ViaSat/Exede, a major satellite services provider.3 In our February 2013 Report we highlighted significant changes in satellite performance resulting from the satellite industry launching a new generation of satellites, beginning in 2011 with ViaSat's launch of their first Ka4 band satellite, offering performance as much as 100 times5 superior to previous generations. We include comparisons between satellite and wireline technologies in this Report and look forward to expanding the number of participating satellite providers in future Reports.
This Report, like the Reports that preceded it, could not have been produced without the counsel of a broad array of individuals and entities, collectively and informally referred to as "the broadband collaborative," which includes the participating ISPs, equipment manufacturers, M-Lab,6 Level 3 Communications, and academics. Participation in this group is open and voluntary.
Production of the ReportAs with previous Reports, this Report relied on measurement hardware and software deployed in the homes of thousands of volunteer consumers. Although the "Whitebox" devices and software conduct automated, direct measurements of broadband performance throughout the year,7 all testing represented in this Report was conducted in September 2013.8 The Report focuses on four ISP delivery technologies'--DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite '' and examines offerings from 14 of the largest broadband providers,9 which collectively account for well over 80 percent of U.S. residential broadband connections. The Technical Appendix for the Report provides specific information regarding the process by which these measurements were made and describes each test that was performed. The structure of this Report and the measurements represented herein largely track the February 2013 Report, which provides a useful baseline for comparison.
These Reports focus on performance during peak usage period, which is defined as weeknights between 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm local time. Focusing on peak usage period provides the most useful information because it demonstrates the kind of performance users can expect when the delivery of Internet service is under highest demand.
Throughout this Report, we use the term "advertised speed" to refer to the speed ISPs use in marketing their broadband service. We also use the term "sustained speed," which is speed averaged over a period of several seconds.10 On a short time scale, broadband speeds may vary widely, at times approaching or even exceeding advertised speeds and at other times'--due to network congestion'--slowing to rates that may be well below advertised speeds. The "sustained speed" metric is designed to describe long-term average broadband performance.
It is important to note some limitations on the results contained in this Report. Generally, only the most popular service tiers among an ISP's offerings were tested, even though some service providers may offer other tiers not represented by volunteers contributing data to the program.11 In addition, the data are analyzed at the national level, and are not collected in a way that permits meaningful conclusions about broadband performance at the local level.12
The basic objective of the Measuring Broadband America program is to measure broadband service performance as delivered by an ISP to the consumer. Although many factors contribute to end-to-end consumer broadband performance, this Report focuses on those elements under the direct or indirect control of a consumer's ISP, from the consumer gateway'--the modem or router used by the consumer to access the Internet'--to a nearby major Internet gateway point. Thus, any bandwidth limitations or delays incurred in the consumer's home, or in segments of the Internet outside an ISP's network, are not reflected in the results. Similarly, the results do not attempt to capture variations in how well an ISP is interconnected with Internet transit or content distribution network (CDN) providers. This focus aligns with key attributes of broadband service that are advertised to consumers, and allows a direct comparison across broadband providers of actual performance delivered to the household.
This program has given rise to benefits beyond the publication of this and previous Reports. We have worked with participants of this program to jointly propose broadband performance measurement standards will benefit consumers.13 In addition, metrics based upon the work of this program are being incorporated into other programs of the Commission.14 We are encouraged that many stakeholders have found this ongoing measurement study valuable, and that certain ISPs have adopted our methodology, developed their own internal broadband performance testing programs, and made improvements to their ongoing disclosures to consumers.
Changes to Test MethodologyExpansion of Testing NetworkThe Commission reached agreement with Level 3 Communications to include elements of its research network into the test architecture employed by the Commission for purposes of this study. Level 3 Communications is a major provider of IP-based services to other ISPs and businesses. The Commission began integrating Level 3 resources into its testing architecture in 2012.15 After extensive testing, we have confidence in utilizing those resources as part of our testing process, and this is the first Report based on test results from both M-Lab and Level 3 Communications resources.16 These additional resources increase the measurement network's resilience to localized degradation, and give us more flexibility in dealing with network faults which can hinder our test program. With this Report, we include measurements using the Level 3 Communications network in our reported results. A white paper describing the features of the Level 3 Communications research network is incorporated in the 2014 Technical Appendix.
Test Infrastructure and Measurement CalibrationPrior to initiating data collection for use in our Reports, we perform a variety of comparative tests across the multiple test servers in our data collection network to ensure that the testing infrastructure that supports the collection of test results is performing optimally. During preparation for the data collection for this Report, we identified a performance issue associated with elements in our measurement network connected to some of the ISPs under study. Discussions with participants in open meetings suggested that network degradations were likely on the inter-domain path between these measurement servers and the ISPs to be measured.
Further, it was widely reported in the press that business disputes between some of the participating providers and Cogent Communications (Cogent), a company providing connectivity between some measurement servers and the providers, were resulting in congestion at interconnection points and network paths between the parties.17 Since our test traffic is carried over these same interconnecting paths, this congestion would also affect our tests. Regardless of the cause, these performance degradations presented several challenges for our study.
First, our existing policy is to exclude measurements from our Report known to have been collected from a degraded measurements infrastructure affecting our testing. Our prior experience had been that such degradations were the result of network faults which were soon corrected and outside the scope of an ISP's control. Second, we attempt to provide a perspective on the average performance across an access provider's network which can consist of thousands of interconnecting paths. Our testing in this case had demonstrated that only certain paths were impacted, not all paths.
Based on our examination of the issue and its path specific nature, the impact of this degradation on any given consumer's performance is variable, and will differ for some customers as compared to others. The majority of consumers accessing services through the many interconnection points within a service provider's network would likely not be severely impacted by this situation. We also recognize, however, that those consumers accessing services and content over the affected paths would likely see a significant degradation in their service. As our Report focuses on average network performance and based on our analysis of this situation, we have chosen to rely upon data from unaffected servers for results in this Report. This decision is consistent with our existing policies. We have also collected test results from impacted servers and are releasing this data as part of our reporting process for use by academics and others in examination of this issue. We are continuing to gather data related to this issue and will make adjustments to our policy as necessary in the future to continue to provide reliable data on ISP performance.
Legacy ModemsIn previous Reports, we discussed the challenges ISPs face in improving network performance where equipment under the control of the subscriber limits the end-to-end performance achievable by the subscriber.18 In this Report, we review the capabilities of cable modems within the homes of consumer volunteers participating in this study. This information is important because measured end-to-end service performance of cable broadband service is a function both of the capabilities of the service provider's network and of the capabilities of the cable modem which terminates the service within a subscriber's home. In other words, a consumer's ability to actually receive the provider's advertised speeds depends upon the capabilities of the cable modems within their home.
Cable ISPs have described two scenarios where these issues may affect the results of this study. First, some consumers own their modems and have not yet upgraded to take advantage of the higher speeds enabled by DOCSIS 3, the latest standard cable technology. Second, some consumers who lease cable modems and have been provided with free upgrades nonetheless may have failed to install these new modems at the time of data collection. Cable ISPs requested that we review our sample of volunteers and identify panelists using legacy equipment that would not achieve the provisioned capacity available to the consumer and thus would introduce a possible inaccuracy in measured performance of the network under actual control of the ISP.
In response, we developed a proposal that included several conditions on participating ISPs. First, proposed changes in consumer panelists would only be considered where an ISP was offering free upgrades for modems they owned and leased to the consumer. Second, each ISP needed to disclose its policy regarding the treatment of legacy modems and its efforts to inform consumers regarding the impact such modems may have on their service. (These statements are included as an appendix to this Report.) Finally, we would continue to collect data from our existing panelists, and report on aggregated results across all ISPs by technology. These charts would help assess any changes resulting from this policy change and help quantify the overall impact of legacy modems on consumer performance.
These issues were discussed in open meetings among a range of participants. Participants generally were supportive of our proposal. We also noted that while the issue of DOCSIS 3 modems and network upgrades affect the cable industry today, this is a general issue concerning network investment and evolution and the impact on equipment that the provider places within the consumer's household and is under their direct control.
Consistent with our proposal, this Report includes data collected from additional panelists using modems compatible with the provisioned speed tier. Panelists with non-conforming modems are not included in ISPs' reported results, but are tracked separately in charts displaying any difference between the two sets of panelists.
We further note that, based on the analysis of data collected for this Report and information made available by service providers, the Commission believes that the issues associated with the use of legacy equipment likely would affect subscribers with services tiers of 15Mbps or higher. And for subscribers in tiers above 20 Mbps, any effects will likely be more pronounced. In particular, as reflected in the following charts, the impact of this proposed change appears to be slight at this time. However, as ISPs evolve to higher and higher speeds, we believe this might change. As such, we will continue to track this metric.
We also note that these charts depict the impact on the overall market of legacy modems and not the impact on a specific consumer, which may be greater than the aggregate impact. We will continue to monitor this issue as network speeds continue to evolve. We are now at a tipping point for broadband technology where available network speeds are beginning to challenge the capabilities of the consumer's home broadband environment. For those consumers moving to speed tiers of 15 Mbps or higher, the impact of a legacy modem can be extremely significant.
ViaSat/Exede Data ConsumptionIn our last Report, we included charts describing customers' data consumption (i.e., bytes downloaded or uploaded per month) for each ISP in our study. Our ability to calculate this metric depends upon how the Whitebox is installed and configured in the household. As our program has evolved, we have moved to a Whitebox configuration which has eased consumer installation, but this is not without some drawbacks. In particular, ViaSat has noted that this newer configuration complicates our ability to produce a reliable data consumption metric for satellite broadband. Consequently, for this Report, we have removed ViaSat/Exede from the data consumption charts, though this information is included in our bulk data releases.
New Metrics and ChartsIn this Report, we introduce two new charts to better inform the public regarding overall performance of surveyed service providers.
First, based on suggestions made by the Institute for Advanced Analytics - North Carolina State University, we are introducing a chart describing service consistency.19 This chart attempts to show the percentage of time that a specific percentage of users will experience a given (or higher) service speed.Second, we have started to track the maximum upload/download speeds offered by an ISP in a given year. Our survey methodology focuses on the most popular service tiers for the reported years. Generally, this will translate to an ISP's three to six most popular tiers. A speed tier might be excluded in our Report if it was not among the most popular speed tiers offered by a company. As such, we are not necessarily tracking the maximum speed tier made available by an ISP, but the maximum speed as reported across the most popular speed tiers within a company. Overview of Reported ResultsBased on the results of this Report, we make five primary observations regarding the current state of residential broadband service in the United States.
1. Many ISPs now closely meet or exceed the speeds they advertise, but there continues to be room for improvement.
This chart compares upload and download performance during peak usage periods across all ISPs. All ISPs, except for Verizon DSL, CenturyLink, Frontier DSL and Windstream, meet 90 percent of performance or better, on average, during peak periods. Notably, these four ISPs use DSL technology.
2. New metric this year '' consistency of speeds '' also shows significant room for improvement.
Implementing a suggestion made by researchers at North Carolina State University, this latest report includes a metric designed to convey how likely any given consumer is to experience broadband speeds of a particular level. Cablevision, for example, delivered 100 percent or better of advertised speed to 80 percent of our panelists 80 percent of the time during peak periods, and about half the ISPs delivered less than about 90 percent or better of the advertised speed for 80/80. However about one-third of the ISPs delivered only 60 percent or better of advertised speeds 80 percent of the time to 80 percent of the consumers. This is a metric that we expect ISPs to improve upon over the course of the next year.
3. Consumers are continuing to migrate to faster speed tiers.
This chart shows that consumers are moving to faster speed tiers, continuing the trend that we highlighted both in the February 2013 Report and the July 2012 Report. Specifically, the bars represent the percentage of volunteers from each of the September 2012 tested speed tiers that moved to a higher speed tier by the September 2013 testing period. Movement to a higher speed tier can occur in two ways: 1) a consumer can subscribe to a higher tier from the same or competing ISP or 2) an ISP can upgrade service for all consumers within a specific service tier. In our tests of download speed, we added five new tiers above 30 Mbps from the last testing period,20 and our tests of upload performance included one additional offering above 8 Mbps.21 In this Report, we find the average subscribed speed is now 21.2 Mbps, representing an average annualized speed increase of about 36 percent from the 15.6 Mbps average of 2012.
4. Improvements in speed are not uniform across speed tiers Tested
Our report focuses on the most popular speed tiers offered by an ISP - that is, the maximum speed used by a major percentage of an ISP's consumers. We note that a particular ISP may offer faster speed tiers either throughout their territory or in specific portions of their territory that are not as popular as the speed tiers we tested. However, as the Commission's goal is to advance high speed Internet access to all Americans, we believe highlighting the maximum speed among the popular speed tiers, is the most effective way to demonstrate the spread of high speed Internet access.
While the average increase in network speed tier was about 36 percent, the results are not uniform over ISP and technology types. Most notably, those ISPs using DSL technology show little or no improvement in maximum speeds, with the sole exception of Qwest/Centurylink, which this past year doubled its highest download speed within specific market areas. The reason for this may be that DSL, unlike cable and fiber technologies, is strongly dependent upon the length of the copper wire (or "loop") from the residence to the service provider's terminating electronic equipment, such that obtaining higher data speeds would require companies to make significant capital investments across a market area to shorten the copper loops. On the other hand, both fiber and cable technologies intrinsically support higher bandwidths, and can support even higher speeds with more incremental investments.
5. Sharp Differences in Upload Speeds
Many studies have shown that consumer Internet traffic today is asymmetric '' consumers typically download far more data than they upload. Consistent with that behavior, most service offerings typically have far higher download than upload rates.
With this in mind, we note that one ISP (Verizon) offers upload rates as high as 35 Mbps and one (Frontier) offers upload rates of 25 Mbps, more than twice that of the next ISP. Verizon and Frontier use fiber based services and have offered these high upload speeds during the course of our program. With the exception of these two service providers, no other provider in the study offers rates that are higher than 10 Mbps.
Several cable companies (Comcast and Cox) doubled their maximum upload rates this year from approximately 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. We would expect that as the download speeds continue to increase, upload speeds will also follow this trend at some point. We applaud those service providers who continue to extend the boundaries of broadband performance.
Major Findings of the StudyActual versus advertised speeds. The February 2013 Report showed that the ISPs included in the Report were, on average,22 delivering 97 percent of advertised download speeds during the peak usage hours. This Report finds that ISPs now provide 101 percent of advertised speeds.23 One service provider, Qwest/Centurylink, experienced a 16 percent performance improvement.Sustained download speeds as a percentage of advertised speeds. The average actual sustained download speed during peak periods was calculated as a percentage of the ISP's advertised speed. This calculation was done for each speed tier offered by each ISP.Results by technology:On average, during peak periods DSL-based services delivered download speeds that were 91 percent of advertised speeds, cable-based services delivered 102 percent of advertised speeds, fiber-to-the-home services delivered 113 percent of advertised speeds, and satellite delivered 138 percent of advertised speeds. These results suggest that many ISPs are meeting established engineering goals for their respective technologies.Peak period speeds decreased from 24-hour average speeds24 by 2.7 percent for fiber-to-the-home services, 3.8 percent for DSL-based services, 4.2 percent for cable-based services and 6.8 percent for satellite services. The differences are largely in line with results observed in the February 2013 Report, though the 6.8 percent decrease in peak over 24 hour performance for satellite services was an increase over the 4.4 percent change in performance observed for satellite service in 2013.Results by ISP:Average peak period download speeds per ISP varied from a high of 139 percent of advertised speed (ViaSat/Exede) to a low of 83 percent of advertised speed (Verizon DSL). These results are largely consistent with the February 2013 Reports25.In this Report, there was a 3.9 percent decrease in performance between 24 hour and peak averages.26 This would be consistent with higher demands on network usage across consumer participants.Sustained upload speeds as a percentage of advertised speeds. On average, across all ISPs, upload speed was 107 percent of advertised speed, closely matching results in last year's February 2013 Report of 108 percent.27 Across almost all carriers, upload speeds showed little evidence of congestion with small variance between 24 hour averages and peak period averages.28 The sole exception was satellite, which showed a 5 percent drop in performance from 24 hour average to peak period, though it still remained above 100 percent.Results by technology: On average, satellite services delivered 138 percent, fiber-to-the-home 114 and cable-based services delivered 111 percent, and DSL-based services delivered 98 percent of advertised upload speeds. Results by ISP: Average upload speeds among ISPs ranged from a low of 85 percent of advertised speed to a high of 138 percent of advertised speed. Latency. Latency is the time it takes for a data packet to travel from one point to another in a network, and is commonly expressed in terms of milliseconds (ms). Latency can be a major factor in overall performance of Internet services. Latency can be expressed as a one-way or round-trip time. In all our tests and results, latency is defined as the round-trip time from the consumer's home to the closest speed measurement server within the provider's network and back.29Across all terrestrial technologies during peak periods, latency averaged 34. 9 ms. This is an increase over the February 2013 Report figure of 29.6 ms.30 (This increase in latency is likely at least partly the result of the changes in using test servers discussed earlier. By excluding certain servers whose paths were found to be congested, we would invariably be forcing some traffic over longer paths to alternate servers, increasing latency.) Satellite systems involve the transmission of information over long distances and have correspondingly higher latencies than for terrestrial technologies. ViaSat had a measured latency of 671.1 ms, approximately 19 times the terrestrial average.During peak periods, latency increased across all terrestrial technologies by between 12% and 19%.31 In last year's Report, this figure was 10 percent. Since the transmission distances involved dominate satellite latency, it shows no perceptible (less than 1 percent) variance between peak and 24 hour periods.Results by technology:Latency was lowest in fiber-to-the-home services. Fiber-to-the-home services provided 24 ms round-trip latency on average, while cable-based services averaged 32 ms, and DSL-based services averaged 49 ms. Results by ISP: The highest average round-trip latency for an individual terrestrial service tier, i.e. excluding satellite, was 57.91 ms (Qwest/Centurylink), while the lowest average latency within a single service tier was 17.83 ms (Cablevision). Effect of burst speed techniques. As discussed in prior Reports, some cable operators offer burst speed techniques, marketed under names such as "PowerBoost," which temporarily allocate more bandwidth to a consumer's service. The effect is temporary'--it typically lasts less than 15 to 20 seconds'--and may be reduced by other broadband activities occurring within the consumer household.32 Burst speed is not equivalent to sustained speed. Sustained speed is a better measure of how well certain activities may be supported by a particular service. For example, large file transfers, video streaming, and video chat, require the transfer of large amounts of information over sustained periods of time. However, other activities '' such as web browsing or gaming '' often require the transfer of moderate amounts of information in a short interval of time. Such services may benefit from burst speed techniques, though the actual effect depends on a number of factors.Burst speed techniques increased short-term download performance by as much as 29.3 percent over sustained speeds during peak periods for Mediacom, and by more than 10 percent for five other providers. The benefits of burst techniques are most evident at intermediate speeds of around 8 to 15 Mbps and appear to tail off at much higher speeds. Web Browsing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and Streaming Video.Web browsing. In specific tests designed to mimic basic web browsing'--accessing a series of web pages, but not streaming video or using video chat sites or applications'--the total time needed to load a page decreased with higher speeds. However, the performance increase diminishes beyond about 10 Mbps, as latency and other factors begin to dominate. For these high speed tiers, consumers are unlikely to experience much if any improvement in basic web browsing from increased speed '' i.e., moving from a 10 Mbps broadband offering to a 25 Mbps offering. To be sure, this is from the perspective of a single user employing a web browser. Higher speeds may provide significant advantages in a multi-user household, or where a consumer is using a specific application that may be able to benefit from a higher speed tier.VoIP. VoIP services were adequately supported by all of the service tiers discussed in this Report.33 However, VoIP quality may suffer during times when household bandwidth is shared by other services. The VoIP measurements utilized for this Report were not designed to detect such effects.Streaming Video. The results published in this Report suggest that video streaming will work across all technologies tested, though the quality of the video that can be streamed will depend upon the speed. For example, standard definition video is currently commonly transmitted at speeds from 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps. High quality video can demand faster speeds, with full HD (1080p) demanding 5 Mbps34 or more for a single stream. Consumers should understand the requirements of the streaming video they want to use and ensure that their chosen broadband service tier will meet those requirements, including when multiple members of a household simultaneously want to watch streaming video on separate devices.35Variability of Performance. In the last Report, we added a new category of charts to track variability of performance of a service provider. We provide that data again, in this Report. We have calculated the percentage of users across a range of advertised speeds that experience, on average, performance levels at that speed or better. This information, commonly called a cumulative distribution function, shows how speed is distributed across the population of consumers included in this survey. As in the previous Report, the results reported herein demonstrate that consumers should be reasonably confident that the performance they receive from their ISP will be consistent with the results reflected in this Report. Also, as discussed earlier, in this Report we have expanded our measurements on variability by including charts suggested by the Institute of Advanced Analytics emphasizing the consistency of services delivered to consumers.Satellite Broadband. In this Report we include results for ViaSat, a satellite-based broadband service provider. Satellite-based broadband Internet services differ from terrestrial-based services in several key ways. First, because satellites broadcast wirelessly directly to the consumer, no actual terrestrial infrastructure has to be deployed. As a result, satellite technologies have a more uniform cost structure, which is unique among the technologies under study in our Report. Satellite facilities have historically had impairments which have limited their competitiveness with other broadband services. For example, limited bandwidth reduced the service speeds that could be offered to consumers. In addition, latency has been an order of magnitude greater than with terrestrial broadband technologies. Communicating with a geosynchronous satellite orbiting the earth at a distance of greater than 36,000 km results in a round trip latency of about 500 ms.36 The necessary signaling between the set-top box and the satellite controller, to request assignment of a communication channel, can double this to over 1000 ms, which would precluded use of many latency-sensitive services. In contrast, the maximum average latency found in our surveys for terrestrial technologies is less than 70 ms.
These differences in technology, including the effects that latency can have on some services,37 make direct comparisons between satellite services and terrestrial-based broadband services difficult. Nevertheless, beginning in 2011, the consumer broadband satellite industry began launching a new generation of satellites designed to improve overall performance significantly. The launch of a new generation of Ka band satellites represents an important advance in consumer based satellite service which will benefit those consumers under-served by terrestrial alternatives. For example, in October of 2011, ViaSat launched itsViaSat-1 satellite, which has an overall capacity of 140 Gb/s.38 In addition, ViaSat and other satellite industry operators have reduced overall latency by making improvements to other elements of their architecture.
Differences in service offerings compound the difficulty of direct comparisons between satellite and terrestrial offerings. Terrestrial-based service providers typically price by service speed, with some ISPs imposing data caps or some other form of consumption-based pricing. In contrast, ViaSat offers a single service speed, but provides service tiers in the form of different data caps: 10 gigabytes (GB), 15 GB, or 25 GB per month,39 with unmetered downloads permitted between midnight and 5:00 a.m. local time.
Online ResourcesIn conjunction with this study, the Commission will make the following resources available to the public and research community.40 The Commission is releasing this material in the hope that independent study of this data set will provide additional insights into consumer broadband services.
Description of TestsThe information reflected in this Report is based on 13 separate measurements that can be used to characterize various aspects of broadband performance to the consumer. Participants agreed to base the Report on one month's worth of data, and to use September 2013 as the test month. September 2013 data were verified and are analyzed in this Report. Active data collection continued after September, and while this subsequent data set has not been verified or analyzed, it is included in the Raw Bulk Data Set that will be released to the public.41
As in previous Reports, this Report emphasizes two metrics that are of particular relevance to consumers: speed and latency. Broadband throughput or speed is the primary performance characteristic advertised by ISPs. Broadband speed is the average rate at which information "packets" are delivered successfully over the communications channel. A higher speed indicates a higher information delivery rate. For example, a 10 Mbps service should deliver ten times as much information as a 1 Mbps service in a given period of time.42
The use of transient performance enhancements, such as burst speed techniques, present a technical challenge when measuring speed. Services featuring such enhancements will deliver a far higher throughput for short periods. For example, a user who has purchased a 6 Mbps service tier might receive 18 Mbps for the first 10 megabytes (MB) of a particular download. This is of significant benefit to applications such as web browsing, which use relatively short-lived connections to transfer short bursts of data. But once the burst window lapses, throughput will return to the base rate, making the burst rate an inaccurate measure of performance for longer, sustained data transfers. In addition, other household broadband activities may reduce or even eliminate the benefit of the speed burst. The tests employed in this study isolated the effects of transient performance-enhancing features, and the Report presents sustained and "burst" speed results separately, as both metrics could be relevant to users with different needs and usage patterns.
Latency is another key factor in broadband performance.43 The impact of latency is felt in a number of ways. For example, high round-trip latency may compromise the quality of voice services in ways that are perceptible to consumers44 and may interfere with playing interactive games.45 Latency also affects the rate of information transmission for the transmission control protocol ("TCP"), which is commonly used to support Internet applications, and can therefore limit the maximum actual speed achievable for a broadband service. Some operations consist of a sequence of network tasks, and thus the effect of network latencies may add up. Thus, latency can have a significant effect on the performance of applications running across a computer network. As service speeds increase, the impact of network latency becomes more noticeable and has a more significant impact on overall performance.
One of the key factors affecting all aspects of broadband performance is the time of day. Specifically, at peak hours more people are attempting to use broadband connections, giving rise to a greater potential for congestion and degraded user performance.
This Report highlights the results of the following tests of broadband speed and latency, as measured on a national basis, across DSL, cable, fiber-to-the-home, and satellite technologies:
Sustained download speed: throughput in Mbps utilizing three concurrent TCP connections measured at the 25-30 second interval of a sustained data transfer;Sustained upload speed: throughput in Mbps utilizing three concurrent TCP connections measured at the 25-30 second interval of a sustained data transfer;Burst download speed: throughput in Mbps utilizing three concurrent TCP connections measured at the 0-5 second interval of a sustained data transferBurst upload speed: throughput in Mbps utilizing three concurrent TCP connections measured at the 0-5 second interval of a sustained data transferUDP latency: average round trip time for a series of randomly transmitted user datagram protocol (UDP) packets distributed over a long timeframeOverall, a total of 8 billion measurements were taken across 177 million unique tests.Data derived from all tests performed is available on our website at http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america.
Test ResultsWe present the summary of our findings below.46 The Commission is separately releasing a Validated Data Set47 on which this Report was based, and will also release a Raw Bulk Data Set of non-validated data collected outside the reference month. The results below are reported by performance variation, by ISP, and by technology (DSL, cable, fiber-to-the-home, and satellite) for the most popular service tiers offered by each ISP. As noted above, we focus on periods of consumption during peak periods. The results presented below represent average measured performance across a range of consumers, and while these results are useful for comparison purposes, they should not be taken as an indicator of performance for any specific consumer.
All charts below use data from September 2013 unless otherwise noted. We also include a chart comparing data from September 2013 and September 2012.
Variation by ISP and Service Tier in Delivery of Advertised Speed
Chart 1 shows actual speed as a percentage of advertised speed both over a 24-hour period and during peak periods across all ISPs. In the September 2013 testing period, the majority of ISPs delivered actual download speeds during peak periods within 80 to 140 percent of advertised speeds or better, with modest performance declines during peak periods. 48Chart 1: Average Peak Period and 24-Hour Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test Data
As shown in Chart 2, upload performance in the September 2013 test data is much less affected than download performance during peak periods. This is consistent with our findings in previous Reports.
Chart 2: Average Peak Period and 24-Hour Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 3 compares upload and download performance during peak periods across all ISPs.
Chart 3: Average Peak Period Sustained Download and Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test Data
Consistency of SpeedsImplementing a suggestion made by researchers at the Institute for Advanced Analytics '' North Carolina State University, this Report includes information on the percent of users consistently receiving a specific level of broadband performance. To do this, the charts below show a specified percentage of users that receive an indicated percent of the advertised speed a specified percent of time. For example, for a specification of 70/70 (70 percent of people/70 percent of the time), consistent speed would indicate the minimum percent of advertised speed received by 70 percent of the consumers surveyed 70 percent of the time. In that chart, AT&T's consistent speed is 84 percent of advertised speed, indicating that 70 percent of our panelists received 84 percent or better of advertised speed 70 percent of the time. The metric shows what a given percentage of users receive, and may be helpful to consumers in understanding how consistently they may experience a particular level of performance. To be sure, the results are not a guarantee of a particular level of performance, though they do convey how likely any given consumer is to experience performance at the indicated level.
Chart 4: Percent of Advertised to Actual Download Performance of Seventy Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013
Chart 5: Percent of Advertised to Actual Upload Performance of Seventy Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013
Chart 6: Percent of Advertised to Actual Download Performance of Eighty Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013
It can be seen from the above chart that, for example, 80 percent of Cablevision and Verizon Fiber customers receive over 100 percent of advertised download speeds 80 percent of the time. The "% Advertised" values are presented for comparison and reflect the values in Chart 3.
Chart 7: Percent of Advertised to Actual Upload Performance of Eighty Percent of Panelists' Experience by Provider in September 2013
While only two ISPs achieved 100 percent or better of advertised download speeds at the 80%/80% level, 8 out of 15 ISPs achieved this for upload speeds. In our reporting we have consistently found that the ratio of actual to advertised speeds is consistently higher for upload than download speeds, possibly because the upload links see a lower utilization and congestion than download links.
Variations by Access Technology in Delivery of Advertised SpeedThe delivery of advertised speeds also varied by technology. As shown in Chart 8, there is some variation by technology in actual versus advertised performance during peak periods. DSL on average meets 91 percent of advertised download speeds during peak periods; cable meets 102 percent; fiber-to-the-home meets 113 percent of advertised speeds; and satellite meets 139 percent of advertised download speed. During peak usage, ISPs are generally better at delivering advertised upload performance than download performance.49
Chart 8: Average Peak Period Sustained Download and Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Technology'--September 2013 Test Data
Variation by Service Tier In Delivery of Advertised SpeedDownload Peak Period Throughput
As shown in Charts 9.1-9.5, peak usage period performance varies by service tier among ISPs included in this study during the September 2013 test period. On average, during peak periods, all ISPs deliver 80 percent or better with a majority of ISPs delivering performance 90 percent or better of advertised speeds. However, performance varies among service tiers. For example, Windstream's 1.5 Mbps tier delivers 78 percent of advertised speed, a low across all ISPs and speed tiers. In contrast, Windstream's best performing service tier of 6 Mbps tier delivers 90 percent of advertised speed. Other ISPs provide service that is either close to or exceeds advertised rates. In the 5-10 Mbps tier, all ISPs returned results that were significantly better than those from the previous year, with four providers showing similar improvements in the 12-15 Mbps speed tier.
Chart 9.1: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (1-5 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 9.2: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (6-10 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 9.3: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (12-15 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 9.4: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (18-25 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 9.5: Average Peak Period Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (30-75 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Upload Peak Period Throughput
Consumer broadband services are typically offered with asymmetric download and upload rates, with the download rate many times faster than the upload rate. The ratio of actual to advertised speed for upload performance is generally superior to the ratio measured for download performance. On average across all speed tiers, ISPs deliver 107 percent of the advertised upload rate. In this Report (see Chart 8) we found that cable services delivered, on average, 111 percent of advertised upload speed; fiber delivered 114 percent of upload speed; DSL delivered 98 percent upload speed; and satellite technology delivered 138 percent of advertised upload speed. The upload speeds showed little evidence of congestion, with an average drop in performance between 24-hour week day and peak period weekday results of only 0.7 percent amongst terrestrial-based ISPs.
Charts 10.1-10.4 depict average upload speeds for each ISP by service tier.50
Chart 10.1: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (0.256-0.64 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 10.2: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (0.768-1.5 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 10.3: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (2-5 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 10.4: Average Peak Period Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider (10-35 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Burst Versus Sustained Download Throughput
Comparing burst download speeds versus advertised speeds demonstrates the effect that burst services can have on data throughput. To test for the possible effect of burst technology, we compare the average speed performance in the first five seconds of a speed test to the average speed performance in the last five seconds of a total 30 second test. Large differences may indicate the use of burst technology, while smaller differences are likely the effect of variable packet performance. Not all ISPs use burst technology and inclusion of an ISP in Chart 11 does not necessarily indicate that burst technology is employed, merely that that variability in performance from the beginning to the end of a speed test exceeded a filter threshold of ten percent.51 We note that in comparison with last year's report, the overall impact of burst technology has markedly declined.
Chart 11 below shows the results of our burst test.52 Results that showed a less than 10 percent improvement were discarded to make the chart easier to read. Unlike previous years where burst technology was seen to temporarily increase performance by as much as 79 percent, this year fewer providers employed burst technology and those carriers who did employ it saw gains that were relatively smaller than in previous years, particularly at the higher speed tiers. This may be a consequence of the migration of consumers to higher speeds where burst technology seems to have less effect.
Chart 11: Average Peak Period Burst Download Speeds as a Percentage Increase over Sustained Download Speeds, by Provider Where Tiers Showed a Greater than 10 Percent Increase'--September 2013 Test Data
The use of transient performance boosting features is even less prevalent for upstream connections, with only three carriers using it at extremely low speeds (0.25 Mbps to 2 Mbps).
Chart 12: Average Peak Period Burst Upload Speeds as a Percentage Increase over Sustained Download Speeds, by Provider (All Tiers)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 13 provides an overview of the average burst download and upload speed per ISP as a percent of advertised performance. Most ISPs do not employ a burst feature, so the results for many ISPs will not differ markedly from their sustained speed performance.
Chart 13: verage Peak Period Burst Download and Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Sustained Speed, by Provider'--September 2013 Test Data
In comparing results to the previous years we see a significant decrease in the use of burst technology. For example, last year Comcast demonstrated the highest burst upload speed, reaching on average across all speed tiers 168 percent of advertised upload speed, while for download speed Comcast, Mediacom and TWC showed increases of over 140 percent of advertised speed. This year Comcast showed only 113 percent of advertised download speed based on the burst speed measurement methodology.) Only Mediacom retained its burst speed increase of 140 percent this year.
Latency
Latency test results in the September 2013 testing period showed an increase from the February 2013 Report. This is likely due, in part, to the changes to our measurement architecture discussed earlier. As can be seen from Chart 14, latency varies by technology and by service tier.53 However, this relationship is complex. For example, average latency within a technology class is largely invariant within a range of speed tiers, although in general higher speed tiers have lower latency than lower tiers. The largest influences affecting latency are technology driven. We continue to believe that for properly engineered networks the primary causes of latency are intrinsic to the service architecture and are primarily determined by load independent effects.
Fiber-to-the-home, on average, had the best performance in terms of latency, with 24 ms average during the peak period. Cable had 30 ms latency, and DSL had 48 ms latency. The highest average latency in a speed tier for a terrestrial technology was for DSL with 54 ms measured latency. The highest latency recorded for a single ISP using terrestrial technology was 63 ms. Satellite technology, due to the distances between the satellite and terrestrial points, recorded the highest overall latency of 671 ms.54 While the test results found variance in latencies among technologies, the latencies measured here for all of the terrestrial-based technologies should be adequate for common latency-sensitive Internet applications, such as VoIP.55 As noted, the situation is more complex for satellite, and dependent on a number of factors, including application sensitivity to latency and user perception of latency's effects.
Chart 14: Average Peak Period Latency in Milliseconds, by Technology'--September 2013 Test Data
Charts 15.1-15.5 display average web page loading56 time by speed tier. Web pages load much faster as broadband speed increases, but beyond 15 Mbps, performance increases for basic web browsing diminish dramatically. The data indicate that a consumer subscribing to a 10 Mbps speed tier is unlikely to experience a significant performance increase in basic web browsing'--e.g., accessing web pages, but not streaming video or using other high-bandwidth applications such as video chat'--by moving to a higher speed tier. These results are largely consistent with, and show no significant improvement over, previous results.
Chart 15.1: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (1-3 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 15.2: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (6-10 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 15.3: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (12-15 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 15.4: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (18-25 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 15.5: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed, by Technology (30-75 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 16 shows in a consistent scale across all speed tiers the effect of increasing speed on web loading time. As can be seen in this chart, as speed first increases, there is a steep drop in web loading times, which levels off at about 15 Mbps. Beyond that speed, web page loading time decreases only slightly.
Chart 16: Web Loading Time by Advertised Speed (1-75 Mbps Tier)'--September 2013 Test Data
Variation by Time of Day
Chart 17 shows that day-time performance varied for most technologies. During idle periods there was more capacity available for the consumer, while at peak usage periods available capacity per consumer diminished. As noted above, since the initiation of this program the participating ISPs, on average, have both improved performance and have provided more reliable estimates of actual speeds to consumers. As a result, overall ISP performance has become increasingly consistent.
Chart 17: Hourly Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised, by Provider'--September 2013 Test Data
24-Hour Versus Peak Performance Variation by TechnologyChart 18 compares the average hour-by-hour download speed performance for fiber, cable, DSL, and satellite technologies to the 24-hour average speed for each technology. Performance of all technologies fluctuates slightly during the day. For example, while cable technology has a daily 24-hour average speed of slightly over 100 percent of advertised rates, it achieves this by delivering slightly higher than average performance during non-peak hours and slightly lower performance during peak periods.
Chart 18: Average Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Over a 24-Hour Period, by Technology'--September 2013 Test Data
Cumulative Distribution for Download SpeedsThe cumulative distribution charts provide some illustration of how broadband performance varies within the sample population. In theory, test results for a particular ISP could return an average performance level that was achieved while performance varied greatly across subscribers. For example, an ISP that delivered well over 100 percent of advertised speed to some subscribers might deliver well under 100 percent of advertised speed to other subscribers and still deliver, on average, 100 percent of advertised speed. The cumulative distribution accounts for this by showing the percent of subscribers to a particular speed tier whose average speed is equal to or greater than the indicated value for that percentage. For example, if the 90th percentile of the chart intersected with 80 percent of advertised speed, it would indicate that 90 percent of the population is receiving, on average, performance of 80 percent or better of advertised speed and that the remaining 10 percent of the population is receiving an average speed less than 80 percent of advertised speed. (This differs from our consistent speed measure, which shows the minimum speed a percentage of all consumers receive for an indicated fraction of time.) We believe that the cumulative distribution charts below provide some reassurance that large variations across subscribers are not resulting in misleading averages. Chart 19 shows that, at the 80th percentile, fiber consumers are receiving 102 percent or better of advertised rates, cable consumers are receiving 102 percent or better, satellite consumers 147 percent of advertised rates, and DSL consumers are receiving 84 percent or better of advertised rates. At the 90th percentile, fiber consumers are receiving 99 percent or better of advertised rates, cable consumers are receiving 98 percent, satellite 141 percent, and DSL consumers 72 percent of advertised rates.
Chart 19: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Technology'--September 2013 Test Data
Charts 20.1-20.2 show the cumulative distribution of sustained download speeds by provider. To clarify the data, we have divided the performance of the sixteen ISPs technology categories into two charts, with the providers divided by alphabet.
Chart 20.1: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (9 Providers)'--September 2013 Test Data
Chart 20.2: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (7 providers)'--September 2013 Test Data
For easier readability, we have also included the CDF data illustrated in Charts 20.1-20.2 as Figure 1.
Figure 1: Cumulative Distribution Percentiles for Sustained Download Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider
Cumulative Distribution for Upload SpeedsAs with the cumulative distribution charts for download speeds, Chart 21 shows the percent of subscribers to a particular speed tier who experienced an average or greater level of upload performance, while Charts 22.1-22.2 show the same results by provider, with the results again split into two charts alphabetically for legibility. These results suggest that DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite return even higher performance, with fewer outliers, for upload than for download speeds.
Chart 21: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Technology '-- September 2013 Test Data
Chart 22.1: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (9 Providers) '-- September 2013 Test Data
Chart 22.2: Cumulative Distribution of Sustained Upload Speeds as a Percentage of Advertised Speed, by Provider (7 Providers) '-- September 2013 Test Data
Comparison to Last Reporting PeroidFigure 2 shows a comparison between September 2012 and September 2013 test data for peak period average download speeds as a percentage of advertised speed. Results closely match the last Report.
Figure 2: Comparison of Sustained Actual Download Speed as a Percentage of Advertised Speed (September 2012/September 2013)
*Last year's Report did not split Frontier subscribers into Frontier Fiber and Frontier DSL groups. The 87 percent value was an average that accounted for both fiber and DSL technologies; most subscribers used DSL.
Actual Versus Advertised SpeedsFigure 3 below lists the advertised speed tiers included in this study, and compares this with the actual average peak performance results from September 2013. As before, we note that the actual sustained download speeds here were based on national averages, and should not be taken to represent the performance experienced by any one consumer in any specific market for these ISPs.
Figure 3: Peak Period Sustained Download Performance, by Provider '-- September 2013 Test Data
Data ConsumptionTest traffic data use is tracked and subtracted from each consumer panelist's personal data usage, which allows us to include a chart demonstrating consumer data consumption. The data was taken from a subset of 5760 measurement devices that were active during the measurement period,57 which reported a total of 301 terabytes58 of data consumed, which represents the amount of data uploaded and downloaded through all measurement devices across the panel, minus traffic associated with the program. Chart 23 shows the average amount of data traffic consumed by users in each speed tier, normalized as a percentage of total traffic generated by all consumers.59 This normalized view of user traffic shows a correlation between data consumption and speed tiers. In general, we found a correlation between higher speed tiers and greater data consumption by the average user. This could mean that, as higher speeds are made available to consumers, consumers increase the amount of data they consume through some combination of greater use of the Internet and adoption of more data-intensive applications and services, or that consumers who use more data-intensive applications on the Internet tend to subscribe to faster speed tiers.
Chart 23: Normalized Average User Traffic '-- September 2013 Test Data
Chart 24 shows the cumulative distribution of traffic by technology. One important note about the data consumption information presented in this Report: the panel methodology specifically attempted to exclude both users with high consumption profiles and very fast tiers that had relatively low subscription rates. For these and other reasons, while the data do show a correlation between speed tier and data consumption, no conclusions can be drawn about total data consumption by broadband subscribers. In other words, while Chart 24 does not show data consumption above roughly 160 GB, that does not mean that typical broadband subscribers do not consume more than that amount each month, just that such subscribers would be excluded by the methodology of the Report. In addition, data consumption within the sample population has increased from the previous study.60
Chart 24: Cumulative Distribution of User Traffic, by Technology '-- September 2013 Test Data
Panelist MigrationOf the 7,040 panelists who participated in the September 2012 study, 4,980 panelists continued to participate in the September 2013 study.61 Figure 4 provides a percentage comparison of the 1,171 panelists who were part of the September 2012 study and migrated to a different speed tier between the September 2012 and September 2013 data collection periods. This table only includes panelists who were in both the September 2012 and September 2013 study. The highlighted boxes show the percentage of panelists who stayed in each tier from September 2012 to September 2013; the boxes to the left and right of those highlighted represent panelists who decreased or increased their speed, respectively, during this period.
Figure 4
As indicated earlier, panelists in September 2013 were, on average, subscribing to higher speed tiers than were panelists in September 2012. Chart 25 shows the percent of September 2012 panelists that were subscribed to a higher tier in September 2013. For example, the chart shows that 55.5 percent of the panelists subscribed to a 10-15 Mpbs service tier in September 2012 migrated to a 15-20 Mbps speed tier by September 2013, while 5.2% had migrated to a 20-25 Mbps speed tier. The largest increases can be observed in the 0-1 Mbps, 1-3 Mbps, 7-10 Mbps, and 25-30 Mbps tiers, where providers have made company-wide upgrades to subscriber tiers.62 The tiers that panelists in the September 2012 study moved to in September 2013 are shown in Chart 26, and demonstrate that many subscribers moved to a tier in the next higher band.
Chart 25: Percent Change of September 2012 Panelists Subscribed to Higher Tier in September 2013
Chart 26: Percent Change of September 2012 Panelists Subscribed to Higher Tier in September 2013
Conclusion and Next StepsConsistent with recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, the FCC remains committed to working with stakeholders to develop awareness of broadband performance in an open and transparent environment. As described herein, this includes both moving forward with our existing program, as well as expanding to test and deliver information about additional broadband delivery technologies, including mobile broadband, to more comprehensively detail the consumer broadband experience. We plan to continue working with stakeholders to ensure that this program provides useful information.
Broadband Testing Program
The next testing period for this program is scheduled for September 2014, one year from the testing period analyzed in this Report. We anticipate that providers will continue to innovate and improve their offerings. We know based on stakeholder discussions that the major expansion in high speed service tiers first noted in the February 2013 Report was enabled by the cable industry's deployment of DOCSIS 3 technology which permitted service rates of 100 Mbps and above. The cable industry also has announced that it intends in the near future to extend its services to rates beyond 100 Mbps. Verizon fiber is now offering rates up to 500 Mbps in select parts of their market footprint, while Google offers 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) service in Kansas City, MO and other areas. We recognize that the transition to higher speeds will not be without challenges. But our test results have consistently illustrated that subscribers to higher speed tiers generally use more data than other consumers and, thus, are immediately benefitting from these higher rates.
Launch of Measuring Broadband America: Mobile
After extensive discussions with the mobile broadband industry, we have committed to undertaking the first comprehensive public study of mobile broadband performance in the United States. Due to the dynamic nature of mobile network performance, this is a more complex undertaking than our fixed broadband measurement efforts. We expect the mobile efforts to evolve over time as we learn more about how these networks perform. We are grateful for the support we have received from industry in undertaking this effort. As with our efforts in the fixed broadband program, we believe working in partnership with stakeholders provides a better understanding of the challenges and results in a better product.
Measuring mobile broadband performance presents different technical challenges than fixed, and we are adapting our technology to these challenges. Consumers who volunteer for the program download an application onto their smartphones, which serves the same function that the Whitebox had in the fixed effort. We were pleased in November of 2013 to release our first app for Google Android based smartphones and in February of 2014 to release an app for the iPhone. We began collecting data based on these apps in November of 2013. We expect to release data associated with this program by no later than 3Q 2014.
Expanding Program to Include Targeted Studies of Specific Performance Metrics
As discussed in this Report, this program was initially focused on measuring broadband performance from the consumer to the end of the service provider's network. This simplified our initial task, and aligned with the service offerings provided by ISPs to consumers. However, Internet services and applications are supported by an end-to-end connection linking the application or service provider to the consumer in a complex and variable arrangement of interconnected networks. A consumer may virtually travel the globe in browsing the website of a company, news service, search engine, or government. Working with our partners, we continue to explore ways to leverage our measurement system to provide better information to consumers and more insights into the evolving performance of the Internet.
Commitment to Transparency
Both the Commission and SamKnows, the Commission's contractor for this program, recognize that, while the methodology descriptions included in this document provide an overview of the project as a whole, there will be a number of interested parties '' ranging from recognized experts to members of the general public '' who would be willing and to contribute to the project by reviewing the actual software used in the testing. SamKnows welcomes review of its software and technical platform, consistent with the Commission's goals of openness and transparency for this program.
All Data Released into the Public Domain
In the interest of transparency and to support additional research, the full Raw Bulk Data Set acquired during this study will be made available to the public.63
This Report, like the Reports that preceded it, could not have been produced without the ongoing discussions held with a broad array of individuals and entities, including the participating ISPs, equipment manufacturers, M-Lab, Level 3 Communications, and academics.
AcknowledgementsThis Report benefited from the voluntary participation of a number of parties. The contribution of their expertise to this Report materially increased its quality. We would like to extend our thanks to the following entities:
AdtranAT&TCablevision Systems CorporationCenturyLinkCharter CommunicationsComcastCorningCox CommunicationsFiber to the Home CouncilFrontier Communications CompanyGeorgia Institute of TechnologyGenbandInsight CommunicationsIntelInternet SocietyJDSULevel 3 CommunicationsMediacom Communications CorporationMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyM-LabMotorolaNational Cable & Telecommunications AssociationNew America FoundationPracticum Team, NCSU, Institute for Advanced AnalyticsQwest CommunicationsTime Warner CableUS Telecom AssociationVerizonViaSatWindstream CommunicationsFinally, we again thank SamKnows for their performance during this endeavor, as they remain critical to this study's success.
Appendix A: Cable Providers DOCSIS Modem DisclosuresThe following statements and disclosures were provided by various cable service providers to consumers to highlight the cable modem issue described above and raise consumer awareness of their upgrade policy:
Cablevision Policy Process regarding DOCSIS 1.1 and 2.0 modems
Over time Cablevision has increased speeds to enhance and improve its services. New equipment will sometimes be required to take full advantage of the increased speeds being delivered.
Details of the policies and procedures outlined below may change over time, but Cablevision will always take measures to keep customers aware of changes that may impact their service.
DOCSIS 1.1. Modems
To provide for a better customer experience, we have proactively notified and shipped a 3.0 modem to all customers with a 1.1 modem. Notification was sent via an email communication and an answering machine message. Modems are shipped via Federal Express and include detailed instructions on the proper installation of the modem. We continue to follow up with the small set of customers that have not yet swapped their 1.1 modem with the 3.0 modem.
DOCSIS 2.0 Modems
When a customer upgrades to Optimum Online Ultra 50 or Ultra 101, a check is performed to confirm the type of DOCSIS modem the customer currently has. Customers that have a 2.0 DOCSIS modem will be advised that a 3.0 DOCSIS modem is needed to enjoy the Ultra 50 or Ultra 101 speeds. Modems are shipped via Federal Express and include detailed instructions on the proper installation of the modem. We continue to follow up with the small set of customers that have not yet swapped their 2.0 modem with the 3.0 modem.
Charter Communications Legacy Modem Response
Charter Communications provides high speed Internet to its customers in twenty-nine states. Over time we have continued to upgrade the Internet speeds we provide to our customers. As we have upgraded our network and provided faster speeds to our customers, Charter, like other high-speed broadband providers, has encountered existing modems that are not capable of utilizing the new, full speeds that Charter is making available and therefore need to be upgraded.
The use and presence of these legacy modems is likely to continue for the foreseeable future as there continue to be advances in the DOCSIS protocol that are allowing modems and cable networks to reach faster speeds. As Charter continues to deploy faster Internet speeds for the benefit of our customers, additional older modems will be limited by their embedded technology and unable of utilizing the capability of the new speed.
When an upgrade results in certain subscriber modems not being able to receive the faster speeds, Charter notifies those subscribers that they should upgrade, for free, to the latest generation modems so that they can take advantage of the superior broadband connection that we offer and have the best possible online experience. The type of notice has varied from emails to outbound telephone calls to messages in their monthly bills to a combination of these tactics. We explain to customers that at no charge to them, we will mail a new modem to their home or they can pick up a new device from one of our conveniently located retail stores. Each modem kit comes with easy to follow instructions on how to disconnect the old modem and start using the new modem. If customers prefer to have a new modem professionally installed by one of Charter's trained technicians, we will do so for a small fee.
While the details of exactly how we contact the customer and exactly what we say may change over time, it will always be our goal that our customers are aware of how to take advantage of the services we offer.
Finally, a current generation modem is included at no-cost in all of our service packages for new customers.
Comcast Modem Upgrade Process
At Comcast, providing great service for a great value is important. That is why we routinely increase the speeds we provide to our existing and new XFINITY Internet customers.In order to enjoy the benefits of those speed increases customers occasionally will need new equipment. So Comcast has developed the Comcast Device Upgrade Portal '' a place where customers who lease their cable modem from Comcast can easily request a replacement for their modem. Customers who own their modem may want to upgrade to a DOCSIS 3modem to receive the full range of speeds available with XFINITY Internet.
The Process
XFINITY ® customers who have leased modems and are identified as eligible for a modem replacement are notified in the following ways:
Messages are included in the customer bill mailings, over multiple cycles, to ensure all affected customers are contactedSubsequently, letters are mailed to customers after a speed increase in the customer's region.Telephone calls are used to message customers after the above letter is mailed.A second round of telephone calls is used as a follow up.XFINITY ® customers who own their modems receive the same notifications with an explanation of their modem replacement options.
XFINITY ® customers who lease their modem and receive the message are directed to visit the Comcast Device Upgrade Portal at:
www.comcast.com/deviceupgrade
Self-Service
XFINITY ® customers also have the ability to check the capability and compatibility of their modem online anytime at:
http://mydeviceinfo.comcast.net/
Cox Communications Modem Outreach Efforts
Continuous network improvements allow Cox to enhance the speeds and reliability of our Internet service as well as offer additional value added features such as cloud storage, WiFi hotspots and security software. Cox increased speeds in all of its markets during 2013, with speeds increasing from 39% to as much as 200% in some markets.
Cox uses a variety of methods to communicate with its customers regarding the need for a modem capable of consistently delivering the broadband speeds associated with their particular package. Initially, at the time of Internet service subscription, the customer is advised which type of modem they will need for their package.
As package speeds are increased, customers receive notifications if their current modem is no longer sufficient for their new speeds. Cox uses multiple notification strategies, including emails to customers, bill messages and browser alerts. Cox also posts modem information on its support site located at http://ww2.cox.com/residential/support/internet/article.cox?articleId=d0168860-e4eb-11e0-dee8-000000000000.
Time Warner Cable Modem Upgrade Communications Process
Time Warner Cable strives to offer customers fast and reliable Internet service, every step of the way. Customers have the option of leasing a modem from TWC, or buying their own modem. Leasing a modem from TWC is designed to ensure that customers have access to the right equipment for their Internet service level and speed. If a customer chooses to buy their own modem, TWC provides them with information about which modem is best for their TWC Internet service level and speed, and how to activate the modem once purchased, at www.twc.com/approvedmodems.
From time-to-time, Time Warner Cable initiates free speed upgrades to Internet service levels to thank its customers for their business. At times, these "customer appreciation" speed increases require the customer to upgrade their existing cable modem to take full advantage of the new Internet speed available to them. When this occurs, TWC provides targeted communications, in English and in Spanish where applicable, to inform the impacted customers that replacing their existing modem is recommended. These communications have typically involved:
An email notifying the customer of the upcoming speed upgrade, and recommending an upgraded modem. Customers that lease their modems are directed to visit www.twc.com/modemswap, visit the closest Time Warner Cable store, or call us at 1-800-TWC-HELP (1-800-892-4357) to obtain an upgraded TWC-provided modem at no additional charge.Customers that own their own modem are directed to TWC's list of approved modems located at www.twc.com/approvedmodems to learn which type of modem is best for their Internet service level and speed. A reminder email within a short period of time to encourage customers to upgrade their modem and take advantage of the new speeds available to them, if they have not done so already.In conjunction with the email communications described above, TWC has used a variety of other communication methods to encourage its customers to upgrade their modems, including postal letters, bill inserts, phone calls, voice blasts, and even print advertisements in local publications. TWC will continue to use these, and other, methods of communication to notify customers about speed increases and to encourage modem upgrades when needed.
ENDNOTES1 Our methodology permits either dropping up to five days during a test month or extending the test month into the following month to overcome network failures.
2 ISP and provider are used interchangeably in this Report.
3 Throughout this Report, observations on satellite technology are based on test results from ViaSat, which retails consumer broadband under the brand name Exede Internet.
4 Satellites are commonly designated by the frequency band they use for communications. Ka band satellites operate in the frequency range of 26.5 GHz to 40 GHz. This frequency range is significantly higher than the older generation of satellites which operate at 12 GHz to 18 GHz and can more easily support higher capacities and speeds.
5 See "Next Generation Satellite Broadband Passes Important Test," December 8, 2011, at http://www.telecompetitor.com/next-generation-satellite-broadband-passes-important-test (last accessed February 3, 2013).
6 Measurement Lab (M-Lab) is an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools, http://www.measurementlab.net.
7 As described more fully in the Technical Appendix, this study initially allowed for a target deployment in up to 10,000 homes across the United States, and the final volunteer pool was created from over 75,000 initial volunteer broadband subscribers.
8 Testing for September 2013 started on September 16, 2013, and concluded on October 16, 2013.
9 Participating ISPs were: AT&T (DSL); Cablevision (cable); CenturyLink (DSL); Charter (cable); Comcast (cable); Cox (cable); Frontier (DSL/fiber); Insight (cable); Mediacom (cable); Qwest (DSL); TimeWarner Cable (TWC) (cable); Verizon (DSL and fiber-to-the-home); Windstream (DSL); and ViaSat (satellite).
10 Sustained speeds are described in the Technical Appendix and are averaged over five second intervals across the high and low rates that might dynamically occur in very short time interval measurements.
11 ISPs typically advertise a small number of speed tiers but may also support legacy tiers that are no longer offered to new customers. As a result, a service provider may be required to support as many as ten service tiers at a given time.
12 This limitation was a result of the finite number of measurement devices that could be deployed over the course of the project. Region-specific data would have required an order of magnitude or greater deployment of equipment, at a corresponding increase in cost.
13 In 2012 the FCC and industry representatives jointly submitted proposals on broadband measurement technology to two standards organizations, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Broadband Forum, and also supported related work by the IEEE Computer Society. The goal of these proposals is to standardize broadband measurements as well as methods that would allow the more efficient collection of such data.
14 See for example, http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-12-90A1.pdf last access on 3/7/2014.
15 Ex Parte, September 14, 2012, available at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022016723
16 Ex Parte, August 19, 2013, available at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7520939594
17 See for example "Verizon blames Cogent for unbalanced peering in Netflix dispute", Fierce Telecom, http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/verizon-blames-cogent-unbalanced-peering-netflix-dispute/2013-06-20
18 See pg. 8 of the 2013 Report as well as endnote 14. http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america/2012/july
19 The Institute for Advanced Analytics had undertaken, at our invitation, an analysis of our test methodology and as part of their Report had suggested using this chart to better inform the consumer regarding the quality of their service, http://analytics.ncsu.edu.
20 Qwest 40 Mbps; Comcast 50 Mbps; Time Warner Cable 50 Mbps; Verizon 50 Mbps; and Verizon Fiber 75 Mbps.
21 Verizon Fiber 25 Mbps.
22 The term "average" applied to results in this Report always means the arithmetic mean of the sample set under consideration. There is no weighting of samples.
23 These are unweighted averages based on individual white boxes. However, white boxes are distributed across companies based on market share data provided to the FCC by each company on FCC Form 477 and based on direct communication between the FCC and individual companies. As a result, there is a close correlation between these unweighted averages and results that would be weighted by market share.
24 A 24-hour average was computed each day and then averaged over Monday through Sunday.
25 We made one change in presentation this year. In this Report, we decided to split Frontier into two categories, similar to what we have done for Verizon, i.e., Frontier-DSL and Frontier-fiber.
26 When ViaSat is excluded from this calculation, this decrease becomes 3.6%.
27 This is an unweighted average across all ISPs.
28 With the exception of two providers, upload speeds during peak periods were 96 percent or better of advertised speeds.
29 In this context, the closest server is the measurement server providing minimum round-trip time.
30 This was calculated by taking an unweighted average of latency for cable, DSL, and fiber from the Latency sheet in the statistical averages test results.
31 This was calculated by taking the percentage change of the unweighted average cable, DSL, and fiber 24 hour test results and the peak results for the same technologies in the statistical averages test results.
32 For example, downloading a large file while browsing the web would limit the effectiveness of burst technology.
33 As discussed later in the Report, due to latency concerns, the situation is more complex for satellite.
34 See, e.g., guidelines from Netflix support at http://support.netflix.com/en/node/87#gsc.tab=0 (last accessed on January 1, 2013).
35 Video content delivery companies are currently researching ultra-high definition video services (e.g., 4K technology, which has a resolution of 12 Megapixels per frame, versus present day 1080p High Definition television with a 2 Megapixel resolution), which would require even higher transmission speeds.
36 Daniel R. Glover, Hans Kruse, TCP Performance in a Geostationary Satellite Environment, Annual Rev. of Comm. 1998, Int'l Eng. Consortium.
37 With regard to latency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has suggested that one-way latency of less than 150 ms may affect some applications, while latency greater than 400 ms is unacceptable for most uses of a broadband network. See http://www.itu.int/rec/T-REC-G.114/en. While we found ViaSat to have a measured one-way latency of 314 ms, this was for comparative purposes only and represented latency only within the portion of the network that we test for all ISPs. We would expect end-to-end latency to be somewhat higher due to a variety of factors.
38 At the time of launch, this surpassed the total capacity of all satellites serving North America. See "Viasat broadband 'super-satellite' launches" at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15358121(last accessed January 30, 2013).
39 For Viasat/Exede's service plans see: http://www.exede.com/internet-packages-pricing/service-availability. One popular consumer activity, watching video over the Internet, can consume as much as 1-2.8 GB/hour. See guidelines from Netflix support at https://help.netflix.com/en/node/87. Thus, a single 2 hour movie could comprise 25 to 50 percent of a monthly data cap.
40 In addition to the various data sets, the actual software code that was used for the testing will be made available for academic and other researchers for non-commercial purposes. To apply for non-commercial review of the code, interested parties may contact SamKnows directly at team@samknows.com, with the subject heading "Academic Code Review."
41 This data will be available when released through the FCC website at http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america.
42 Actual information throughputs depend upon many factors, including transmission speed, transport protocol characteristics, network status, and the capabilities of equipment sending or receiving information across the network. At higher speeds, the interplay of these factors becomes more evident.
43 Latency is often colloquially called the "ping time," named after a network tool used to measure the latency. The measurement methodology used in this Report differs slightly from that tool, but measures the same round trip transit time between two points.
44 See International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Series G: Transmission Systems and Media, Digital Systems and Networks; International Telephone Connections and Circuits '-- General Recommendations on the Transmission Quality for an Entire International Telephone Connection, G.114 (May 2003).
45 See, for example, Mark Claypool and Kajal Claypool, "Latency and player actions in online games", Communications of the ACM, vol. 49 (11), November 2006.
46 As noted earlier, the full results of all 13 tests that were run in September 2013 are available at http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america/2014.
47 The September 2013 data set was validated to remove anomalies that would have produced errors in the Report. This data validation process is described in the Technical Appendix.
48 Results from a particular company may include different technology platforms (e.g., results for Cox include both their DOCSIS 2 and DOCSIS 3 cable technologies; results for Verizon include both DSL and fiber). Throughout this Report, results are recorded separately for CenturyLink and Qwest. These two entities completed a merger on April 1, 2011; however, they continue to integrate operations through our 2013 testing and are identified separately as CenturyLink and Qwest/Centurylink. References to Qwest/Centurylink in our charts are shortened to Qwest (CTL). Similarly, Insight Communications was acquired by Time Warner Cable on August 13, 2011. To ensure continuity of testing in September 2013, we continued to measure subscribers of the formerly distinct ISPs separately. We may revise this policy as these companies continue integration.
49 All averages used in this Report are unweighted arithmetic averages of the relevant data sets. However, the sample plan was based on market share data for all ISPs. Comparison of unweighted averages with averages weighted by market share showed close agreement.
50 A comparison of AT&T upload performance between this Report and the previous Reports identified a discrepancy in the February 2013 Report which showed an upload speed for AT&T at the 3 Mbps service tier of nearly 150 percent. The current Report shows an upload speed of 98 percent, which we believe to be correct and more accurate than the figure included in the previous Report. During the preparation of the February 2013 Report, we had failed to identify several consumers who had changed service providers and speed tiers.
51 For example, AT&T has confirmed that they do not use this technology but their results exceeded the threshold set for this test.
52 The FCC does not have detailed information on which speed tiers employ burst speed technology. This chart shows the percent difference between the sustained speed and bursts speed tests. Large differences in these speeds can be inferred as the result of burst speed technology being employed.
53 We provide latency figures for peak periods. Latencies measured for other periods can be found in http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america/2014/validated-data-2014#statisticalaverages.
54 Due to the order of magnitude difference between terrestrial and satellite latencies, for clarity sake we choose not to include satellite latency in Chart 14.
55 With the exception of ViaSat/Exede, all recorded latencies fall well under the maximum one-way latency of 150 ms recommended by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
56 For a definition of web loading time, see Technical Appendix at pg. 23 at http://data.fcc.gov/download/measuring-broadband-america/2013/Technical-Appendix-feb-2013.pdf.
57 For a discussion of the measurement devices used in this study, see Technical Appendix at 15-18. Although in throughout the Report we draw from test results from 6,493 panelists reporting in September 2013, some of the Whiteboxes were unable to collect byte count data, and consequently only results for Whiteboxes reporting these data are included in this measure.
58 1 terabyte is 1000000000000 bytes or 1000 gigabytes.
59 The drop off for the 24 Mbps tier reflects the small number of volunteers participating in this study that were subscribed to this tier.
60 In 2013 a total of 8,121,173,922 measurements were taken across 177,076,038 unique tests whereas in 2012 a total of 3,015,160,117 measurements were taken across 170,312,285 unique tests.
61 Prior to the September 2013 testing period, 6,635 panelists from the February 2013 sample continued to supply data via their measurement devices. In addition, 405 subscribers were recruited after the February 2013 testing period, which brought the total subscribers reporting data in September 2013 to 7,040. After the data were processed, as discussed in more detail below, test results from a total of 6,733 panelists were used in the September 2013 Report.
62 The speed tiers measured in the 2013 study are described in detail in the Technical Appendix at 28-29 at http://data.fcc.gov/download/measuring-broadband-america/2013/Technical-Appendix-feb-2013.pdf.
63 Available at http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america/2014/raw-data-fixed-2013.
Internet ''fast lanes'' would be banned by newly proposed legislation | Ars Technica
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:08
Congressional Democrats today introduced legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to ban Internet "fast lanes," paid prioritization deals in which Web services could pay for priority access to Internet users.
The "Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act" would require the commission to issue regulations that "prohibit a broadband provider from entering into an agreement with an edge provider under which the broadband provider agrees, for consideration, in transmitting network traffic over the broadband Internet access service of an end user, to give preferential treatment or priority to the traffic of such edge provider over the traffic of other edge providers."
Further ReadingWhat the FCC chair really means when he says he isn't legalizing paid fast lanes.
It would also prohibit Internet service providers from giving priority to their own "content, applications, services, or devices," or those offered by affiliates. The bill has an exception "to address the needs of emergency communications or law enforcement, public safety, or national security authorities." The bill only targets last-mile Internet traffic, so it would not affect paid peering agreements such as the ones Netflix signed with Comcast and Verizon.
The Democrats' bill is basically the opposite of Republican-sponsored legislation that tries to limit the FCC's authority to regulate Internet service providers.
The bill "would help prevent the creation of a two-tiered Internet system, ensuring start-ups and entrepreneurs have access to the marketplace and ensuring consumers can access all content equally," supporters said in an announcement. The bill was submitted in the House by US Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Bill co-sponsors are Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
When asked why lawmakers didn't draft a law directly banning paid prioritization instead of directing the FCC to issue rules, a spokesperson for Matsui told Ars, "banning paid prioritization falls under the FCC's jurisdiction. We believe they have the authority to do so, and so this legislation would direct them to use that authority to ban paid prioritization, ensuring the Internet stays free and open to all." There is no word on when Senate or House committees might take up the bill.
The bill did not say what authority the FCC should use to issue these new rules. The FCC previously tried to prevent paid prioritization deals in its 2010 Open Internet Order, but it was overturned by a federal appeals court. The court ruled that the FCC improperly imposed utility-style common carrier rules on ISPs without first classifying broadband as a telecommunications service.
Thus, the FCC could be forced to reclassify broadband providers if it was required to ban paid prioritization. The FCC's latest proposal would allow fast lanes while requiring ISPs to offer a minimum level of service for all applications, without reclassifying broadband as a utility.
There could be other complications. Even the FCC's 2010 rules contained exceptions for "specialized services," such as the VoIP phones offered by Internet providers and for "reasonable network management." AT&T has claimed that even reclassification of broadband wouldn't allow the FCC to ban all paid prioritization.
Another question is whether anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules should apply to both fixed Internet service and cellular service. The 2010 rules and the FCC's latest proposal largely exempt mobile, but a group representing a few dozen Web companies, including Google, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, eBay, reddit, Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay argues that net neutrality rules should apply both to home broadband and mobile, Reuters reported.
The Internet Association Hires New Communications Director
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 23:36
Washington, D.C. '' The Internet Association, the trade association representing the leading global Internet companies, announced today that Noah Theran has joined the organization as Communications Director.
''As the unified voice of the internet economy, impactful communications is one of our most important functions,'' said Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman. ''We are pleased to have Noah on The Internet Association team to head up our communications program. He is a seasoned communicator with a proven track record of navigating challenging public policy issues, and his skills will be put to good use, as Internet companies look to engage the public and policymakers on issues important to our industry.''
Most recently, Theran was Communications Director at the Private Equity Growth Capital Council in Washington, D.C., where he helped the private equity industry rebut attacks from the 2012 presidential election and managed communications around comprehensive tax reform and regulatory issues. Prior to the PEGCC, Theran worked for Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications in Washington, where he developed and executed communications strategy for a diverse set of clients with broad reputation, image, and crisis management challenges. Theran moved to Washington from Boston, where he worked in real estate development.
Theran holds a bachelors degree from Cornell University.
###
Nigeria
Explosion rocks Nigeria World Cup viewing - Al Jazeera English
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:30
An explosion has struck a venue in the town of Damaturu in northeast Nigeria where fans had gathered to watch a World Cup football match, police say.
There were reports that a suicide bomber detonated a tricycle packed with explosives at the venue.
There was no official word on casualties from Tuesday night's blast at the Crossfire venue in the Nayi-Nawa area of the town.
Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja, said hospital sources had confirmed that several people had died.
"Emergency workers are telling us that people are avoiding the scene of the accident for fear of a secondary explosive device," he said.
A witness near the scene told Reuters news agency they heard a loud boom. Some residents said they also heard a second explosion.
Sanusi Ruf'ai, police commissioner for Yobe state, told AFP: "There was an explosion outside a soccer viewing centre here in Damaturu at around 8.15pm. "Our men have deployed to the scene but it's too early for us to give details."
Damaturu is the capital of Yobe state, an area that has been devastated by attacks from rebel group Boko Haram which in April abducted more than 200 girls from a school in neighbouring Borno state.
Viewing centres closed
The Nigerian government had advised residents to avoid gathering in public to watch the World Cup, concerned about possible attacks, even issuing a direct warning two days ago to close down all viewing centres.
Authorities in Adamawa, in northeast Nigeria, last week closed viewing centres, where large crowds gather to watch matches on the big screen, while the central state of Plateau followed suit days later.
Earlier this month, at least 40 people were killed when a bomb went off after a football match in the town of Mubi in Adamawa. The apparent target was fans trying to leave after the final whistle.
In May, three people were killed in a blast outside a viewing centre showing the European Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in Jos, the capital of Plateau state.
In April, suspected Boko Haram members stormed a packed venue in Potiskum, in northeast Yobe state, shooting dead two people as they watched Champions League quarter-final matches.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Idris said authorities would be likely to blame Boko Haram.
"Definitely the finger of blame will point to that particular group," Idris said.
Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009 in its push to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria's north.
GEESKA AFRIKA ONLINE The Horn of Africa Intelligence News Group >> Kenya: A white man with ''fluent British English'' led Al-Shabaab commandos
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:49
Nairobi (HAN) 18 June, 2014 - Read this opinion article now by Geeska Afrika Online, with Mike Pflanz (The Daily and Sunday Telegraphs). A Kenyan Associates of Samantha Lewthwaite, the British Muslim convert and widow of a July 7 bomber, who Kenya is seeking in connection to terror charge related issues, were known to Kenya and Britain that he worships at the Musa mosque in Mombasa, Kenya.
It is known within Intelligence communities that, a British terror suspect known as 'White Widow' had child with former Kenyan navy officer turned terrorist. Wahid, a former Navy officer, defected to Somalia terror group of Al-Shabaab network and has been named by a former Kenyan soldier as an associate of a man who helped a Somali terrorist attack the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month.
Kenya al-Shabaab attack 'was led by white man speaking fluent British English'. White man speaking 'fluent British English' led al-Shabaab attack in Kenya that left 60 dead, witnesses claim
The new threats has created Concerns about increasingly regular terror attacks, coupled with a surge in crime, Britain's government warned its citizens to avoid parts of Kenya
There are a good reason for anger in Kenyan Muslim communities. They are being poorly treated by the police. But there is still no reason to attack towns and stop general businesses.
Kenyan Muslim human rights groups have repeatedly accused the Kenyan Police of heavy-handed tactics in their pursuit of alleged terror suspects or sympathisers of al-Shabaab.
''It also shows that the British authorities missed some very important pieces of information '' intelligence that would have shown she had become involved in terrorist activities, that she was joining with known terrorists in East Africa.''
A Note from: Mike Pflanz covers East, West and Central Africa for The Daily and Sunday Telegraphs from his base in Nairobi. Born in Kenya, he grew up in Britain and returned to work in Africa in 2004. Since then, he has reported from 22 countries across the continent, focused mainly on politics, economics, environment and international development. You can reach him at mike.pflanz@telegraph.co.uk
A white man speaking ''fluent British English'' led suspected al-Shabaab commandos who ransacked towns in northern Kenya leaving 60 people dead, witnesses have said. Several people in Mpeketoni, which was attacked by as many as 40 Islamist gunmen on Sunday, told The Telegraph that the gang's leader was pale-skinned and spoke English and Arabic. One of the witnesses is a primary schoolteacher who speaks good English, unlike many people in the remote corner of Kenya near the Lamu archipelago that earlier this week became the country's latest terror target. The accounts strengthened suggestions that the attackers were part of a well-trained team sent by al-Shabaab under the co-ordination of an experienced foreign jihadi now working with the Somali Islamists.
''I saw a white man who was speaking in fluent British English commanding the rest of the attackers,'' said Mary Gachoki, who lives in Mpeketoni.
Another woman, who did not want to be named for fear of al-Shabaab reprisals, said: ''There was a white man among them, he was commanding them and was shouting now and then.''I saw him ordering them to carry out the attacks, he could be heard speaking frequently and at one point he spoke in Arabic but most of the time in English,'' she said.James Mwangi, another witness, was talking with a friend when he heard the first gunshots.
''I saw a group of armed man standing then dividing themselves into groups, one went to the police station, one towards the town centre to attack the banks and businesses,'' he said.''All were commanded by someone who was white or an Arab,'' he said.
The claims echoed similar allegations made during the Westgate terror massacre in a Nairobi shopping centre last September, when witnesses said they saw a white woman among the attackers.This prompted suggestions that Samantha Lewthwaite, the world's most wanted woman who is said to be living in al-Shabaab territory in Somalia, was involved.CCTV footage has since shown these reports were false.
The larger of the two most recent raids happened on Sunday night, when gunmen took control of Mpeketoni town and went door-to-door asking people if they were Muslims. They executed those who were not. Sixty people died.There were further clashes on Monday night, when as many as 15 more people were killed. So far, no one has been arrested.Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, shocked many when he claimed the raids were the work of local politicians trying to stir up ethnic hatred against his Kikuyu tribe, and not al-Shabaab.This was despite the fact that the Somalia-based al-Qaeda army had already claimed responsibility.Benson Maisori, the region's deputy commissioner, denied that a white man had led the raid and said a German man who lives with his Kenyan wife in Mpeketoni may have been mistaken as one of the attackers.
The latest updates Follow twitter.com/GeskaAfrika
Geeska Afrika Online (1985 -2014) '' The International Gateway news and views about the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda), the best IGAD news and information Online Site for the last 20 Years.-HAN & Geeska Afrika Online (1985-2014), the oldest free independent Free Press in the region, brings together top journalists from across the Horn of Africa. Including Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Oromo, Amhara, Somali, Afar and Harari. Plus, we have daily translations from 150 major news organizations in the Middle East and East African regions. Contact at news@geeskaafrika.com
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AFRIKA
EU force in the CAR becomes operational - IHS Jane's 360
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:07
The European Union Force in the Central African Republic (EUFOR RCA) reached full operational status on 15 June, the EU announced the following day.
The peacekeeping mission will carry out its tasks for the next four-to-six months in close co-ordination with the African-led International Support Mission (MISCA) now operating there.
EUFOR RCA's initial deployment in April was to protect refugee camps huddled around Bangui's airport. Currently numbering 700, the mission it is now charged with guaranteeing the security of the capital's 3rd and 5th districts where sectarian tension between the country's Christian and Muslim communities has been chronic.
The EU said the mission will be reinforced with around 100 more troops in the coming days.
(115 of 156 words)
Spread of cholera puts strain on South Sudan
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:58
South Sudan's cholera epidemic is still spreading, with 37 deaths and more than 1,700 reported cases since the outbreak in May.
Its capital Juba is growing so fast, but its primary drinking water supply remains what it's always been - the River Nile - which provides cleaning water, industrial water and waste disposal.
With no proper water treatment facilities or sewage systems, many are vulnerable to the disease.
Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reports from Juba.
75
Police: 48 killed in terror attack on Kenya town
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:56
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Dozens of extremists attacked a Kenyan coastal town for hours, killing those who weren't Muslim and those who didn't know the Somali language, officials and witnesses said Monday. At least 48 people were killed and two hotels were set on fire.The assault in Mpeketoni began Sunday night as residents watched World Cup matches on TV and lasted until early Monday, with little resistance put up by Kenya's security forces. Cars and buildings still smoldered at daybreak.Authorities blamed al-Shabab, Somalia's al-Qaida-linked terror group, who have vowed to carry out terror attacks to avenge the Kenyan military presence in Somali. Along with its Somali fighters, the group also has many Kenyan adherents. By midday Monday the group had not claimed responsibility.Like the gunmen who attacked Nairobi's Westgate Mall last year, the Mpeketoni attackers gave life-or-death religious assessment, a witness said, killing those who were not Muslim."They came to our house at around 8 p.m. and asked us in Swahili whether we were Muslims. My husband told them we were Christians and they shot him in the head and chest," said Anne Gathigi.Another resident, John Waweru, said his two brothers were killed because the attackers did not like that the brothers did not speak Somali."My brothers who stay next door to me were killed as I watched. I was peeping from my window and I clearly heard them speak to my brothers in Somali and it seems since my brothers did not meet their expectations, they sprayed them with bullets and moved on," said Waweru.At the Breeze View Hotel, the gunmen pulled the men aside and ordered the women to watch as they killed them, saying it was what Kenyan troops are doing to Somali men inside Somalia, a police commander said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to share such details of the attack.Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the attackers fled into the nearby wilds, known as the Boni Forest after a "fierce exchange of fire" with security forces. He said 20 vehicles had been set on fire.At a news conference, Ole Lenku was forced to defend the government's security record after a string of attacks. He also warned opposition politicians against inciting violence, saying it was possible the attack was linked to politics. The claim was immediately dismissed by security experts who are now a staple of Kenyan news shows.Kenya's top police commander, David Kimaiyo, said the death toll was 48. A police spokeswoman said authorities believe that several dozen attackers took part.Mpeketoni is about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of the tourist center of Lamu. Any tourism in Mpeketoni is mostly local, with few foreigners visiting the area. The town is 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Somali border and 360 miles (600 kilometers) from the capital, Nairobi.Kenya has experienced a wave of gunfire and explosive attacks in recent months. The U.S., U.K., France, Australia, and Canada have all recently upgraded their terror threat warnings for the country. U.S. Marines behind sandbag bunkers are now stationed on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.The Interior Ministry said that at about 8 p.m. Sunday, two minivans entered the town. Militants disembarked and began shooting. Kenya's National Disaster Operations Center said military surveillance planes were launched shortly afterward.Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the country's oldest continually inhabited town. The region saw a spate of kidnappings of foreign tourists in 2011 that Kenya said was part of its motivation for attacking al-Shabab in Somalia. Since those attacks and subsequent terror warnings, tourism has dropped off sharply around Lamu.At least 67 people were killed in September when four al-Shabab gunmen attacked an upscale mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Kenya sent its troops to Somalia in October 2011.
IRS
IRS tells GOP committee: We've lost e-mails from six more employees involved in scandal Hot Air
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 04:06
posted at 1:21 pm on June 17, 2014 by Allahpundit
And all of them, apparently, were lost in computer crashes. That's novel. Normally, when an agency doesn't want to comply with a document request, it simply lies by claiming that no such document exists.
I'll spare you a click and Voxsplain this one right here: Clearly the answer is to increase the IRS's budget, so that they can afford more reliable PCs.
Seriously, though, who's getting fired?
It's not just Lois Lerner's e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can't produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.
The IRS told Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.
The revelation about Lerner's e-mails rekindled the scandal and today's news has further inflamed Republicans. Camp and Boustany are now demanding a special prosecutor to investigate ''every angle'' of the targeting. They expressed particular outrage that the agency has known since February that it would not be able to produce the e-mails requested by the committee yet did not apprise the committee of that fact, and they charged in a statement that the IRS is attempting to ''cover up the fact that it convenient lost key documents in the investigation.''
Show of hands: When was the last time your computer crashed so hard that important data '-- e-mails, specifically '-- were lost and couldn't be retrieved? I've used PCs and Macs every day for the past eight years, for 12 hours a day or more during weekdays, and I can't remember experiencing something like that. It's an ''Internet 2001'" problem, not ''Internet 2011,'' especially given how cheap and ubiquitous back-up drives are today '-- and yet it happened to the IRS, apparently, no fewer than seven times, as recently as three years ago. And by the way, why are IRS e-mails being saved locally to employees' hard drives instead of to a central server, a la e-mail programs like Gmail? The agency is required by statute to preserve records; the easiest way to do that for e-mail would be to store everything in a central cloud. Why doesn't the IRS do that?
Or '... do they? Here's what Bryan Preston found out when he spoke to a former IRS IT specialist about the agency's protocols:
''These environments were required by federal regulations to be redundant and recoverable,'' the former IRS IT worker says. ''The recoverability requirements were put into place for exactly the reasons we see today.'' Disposal of records outside the statutory standards requires permission in writing.
He says that the IRS uses Microsoft Outlook/Exchange systems, which are backed up using Symantec NetBackup'...
The former IRS IT worker adds that in his time on the prime contract, ''I have worked for many federal agencies and the IRS had some of the best people.''
''This reason is why I scoff at the story being put out. Those folks would not have had such a short retention period for email unless they had it in writing from the highest levels. It would have made the local IT water cooler gossip if the IRS had screwed up and lost tons of email by accident.''
Is there any contemporaneous evidence that corroborates the computer-crash explanation? There is in Lois Lerner's case: The IRS produced an e-mail exchange from 2011 in which Lerner and an IT person discussed the damage to her hard drive. If they were dealing with a plague of crashes, though, in which seven people or more lost data due to computer failures, there should also be contemporaneous evidence of the IT department noticing that the problem was systemic. Is there any? Hard to believe people at the IRS, of all places, would have shrugged at seeing potentially important data on multiple hard drives going up in smoke.
Either the IRS's IT department is miserably incompetent, in which case lots of people should be fired, or the data destruction is deliberate, in which case lots of people should go to jail. Over to you, Ron Fournier. Exit question: Did anyone not connected to the targeting of conservative nonprofits lose any e-mails or is this curious string of bad luck confined to the principal players?
Related Posts:
IRS required by law to print out emails for record-keeping | The Daily Caller
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 04:50
The Internal Revenue Service is required by federal law to keep records of all agency emails and to print out hard copies of the emails to make sure they get saved in the event of a computer glitch.
The IRS recently claimed that it lost 24,000 of 67,000 emails that ex-official Lois Lerner sent between 2009 and 2011, due to a computer crash. The IRS, which agreed to turn over all of Lerner's emails to the House Committee on Ways and Means, specifically lost emails Lerner sent to other Obama administration agencies and the White House. Lerner is a major figure in the targeting scandal that has hit the IRS.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's press secretary, Josh Earnest, backed up the IRS's claim of a computer crash. The IRS claimed that it is currently working to retrieve the emails by working with the other agencies, which are not obligated by the IRS's agreement with the Ways and Means Committee to cooperate.
''The [Federal Records Act] requires agencies to make and preserve records of agency decisions, policies, and essential transactions, and to take steps to safeguard against the loss of agency records,'' said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, who subpoenaed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Monday.
The IRS's own definition of the Federal Records Act makes clear that emails must be saved and documented, according to an instructional page for employees on the IRS website.
''The Federal Records Act applies to email records just as it does to records you create using other media,'' according to the IRS. ''Emails are records when they are: Created or received in the transaction of agency business; Appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government's function and activities; or Valuable because of the information they contain.''
''If you create or receive email messages during the course of your daily work, you are responsible for ensuring that you manage them properly,'' according to the IRS. ''The Treasury Department's current email policy requires emails and attachments that meet the definition of a federal record be added to the organization's files by printing them (including the essential transmission data) and filing them with related paper records. If transmission and receipt data are not printed by the email system, annotate the paper copy.''
''Please note that maintaining a copy of an email or its attachments within the IRS email MS Outlook application does not meet the requirements of maintaining an official record,'' the IRS stated. ''Therefore, print and file email and its attachments if they are either permanent records or if they relate to a specific case.''
Losing all evidence of agency emails, therefore, is a violation of federal law.
Even without the required printed-out copies, it appears that the IRS has Lerner's emails saved.
''They're all stored somewhere,'' Koskinen told lawmakers at a March hearing, referring to Lerner's emails.
''They get taken off and stored in servers,'' he added.
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Sources: Lois Lerner's emails likely gone forever - Rachael Bade - POLITICO.com
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:42
It may be standard government procedure, but the revelation is significant. | Getty
CloseEx-IRS official Lois Lerner's crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources.
''We've been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,'' Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview.
Continue Reading
Two additional sources told POLITICO the same late Wednesday, citing IRS officials.
(Also on POLITICO: White House hits back in IRS flap)
It may just be standard government procedure, but the revelation is significant because some lawmakers and observers thought there was a way that tech experts could revive Lerner's emails after they were washed away in a computer crash in the summer of 2011. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), for example, subpoenaed her damaged hard drive earlier this week, when he asked for ''all hard drives, external drives, thumb drives and computers'' and ''all electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner.''
''IT experts have weighed in and said yes '-- we can get those'' emails, said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) earlier Wednesday.
The latest news suggests such professionals may never get the chance to try again '-- and the IRS has even said its criminal investigators who specialize in rebuilding hard drives to recover hidden information from criminals were unable to restore the data back in 2011. But this is only likely to further enrage Republicans, who are fuming over the matter and suspect Washington officials drove the selective scrutiny.
(Also on POLITICO: Boehner: Come clean on IRS emails)
The IRS told congressional investigators on Friday that the emails of Lerner, the former head of the tax exempt division that was found to have singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny, were lost from 2009 to 2011 in a computer hard drive crash in early summer 2011. IRS chief John Koskinen will face angry Republicans at a hearing on Friday.
The time frame is significant because the tea party targeting began in spring of 2010, and Republicans think if there was a smoking gun connecting the Obama administration to the IRS treatment of conservative groups, it could be found during that period.
''We believe the standard IRS protocol was followed in 2011 for disposing of the broken hard drive. A bad hard drive, like other broken Information Technology equipment, is sent to a recycler as part of our regular process,'' an IRS spokesman said in response to a query from POLITICO.
(Also on POLITICO: Issa: IRS has some 'splaining' to do)
On Wednesday, the White House retorted that for the time frame in which Lerner's emails are missing, there are no direct communications between 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and the now-retired Lerner.
Earlier this week, Ways and Means Republicans said as many as six IRS employees involved in the scandal also lost email in computer crashes, including the former chief of staff for the acting IRS commissioner.
That's because before May 2013, the IRS backed up emails only for six months on a tape, then recycled the tapes, so they essentially threw out the data. Many agencies do the same, transparency experts say.
(Also on POLITICO: The new oil crisis: Exploding trains)
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which wrote the May 2013 report that uncovered the practice of IRS workers singling out some applicants for tax breaks with the words ''tea party'' for added scrutiny, is currently in possession of Lerner's laptop and her new hard drive, according to an IRS letter.
The IRS has been able to retrieve about 24,000 of Lerner's emails sent to other IRS employees by recovering them from other agents who received, sent or were copied on the emails.
However, Koskinen has acknowledged that the IRS wouldn't be able to find emails Lerner sent outside the agency.
Brian Faler contributed to this report.
White House on Missing Lerner Emails: 'You've Never Heard of a Computer Crashing Before?' | TheBlaze.com
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:22
The White House on Monday sought to dismiss skepticism about the IRS' losing a multitude of emails relating to the congressional investigation into the targeting of conservative groups, with a spokesman asking whether a reporter had ever ''heard of a computer crashing before.''
In this May 22, 2013, file photo, then-IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
The IRS said it could not recover an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations unit, because of a hard drive crash. That time period '-- from January 2009 to April 2011 '' included a critical time in the IRS' extra scrutinizing of Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Asked by a reporter aboard Air Force One whether he thought the technical glitch was in fact a ''reasonable explanation,'' Earnest, the incoming press secretary, was at first dismissive.
''You've never heard of a computer crashing before?'' Earnest asked.
When pressed that emails are stored on servers and not hard drives, Earnest gave a more detailed response, including attacking Republicans in Congress.
''I think it's entirely reasonable because it's the truth and it's a fact,'' Earnest said. ''And speculation otherwise I think is indicative of conspiracies that are propagated in a way that left people with a disinformation about exactly what occurred.''
Earnest said the IRS provided 67,000 emails to and from Lerner to congressional committees. He said this included emails during the period of time that the IRS said the crash included.
''So a good-faith effort has been made by the IRS to cooperate with congressional oversight,'' Earnest continued. ''The far-fetched skepticism expressed by some Republican members of Congress is not at all surprising and not particularly believable.''
The IRS notified Congress late Friday afternoon that because of a computer crash in 2011, it would not be able to recover some of Lerner's emails from January 2009 to April 2011.
An IT expert told TheBlaze Friday it would be nearly impossible for the IRS not to have backup for such emails.
Norman Cillo, an Army veteran who worked in intelligence and a former program manager at Microsoft, argued it is very difficult to lose emails for good and believes Congress is ''being lied to.''
IRS-COMPUTER CRASHING-Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest en route JBA, 6/16/2014 | The White House
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2014
Aboard Air Force OneEn Route Joint Base Andrews
2:00 P.M. EDT
MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. Can we assume the position here? I'll do a quick thing at the top and then we'll get to your questions.
As part of the President's economic agenda to expand opportunity for all Americans, this week he'll focus on additional ways we can create good jobs by continuing to spur innovation, entrepreneurship and manufacturing.
Tomorrow, the President will travel to Pittsburgh, where he'll meet with workers at TechShop, a company that helps American investors make affordable prototypes.
Then, on Wednesday, the President will host the first-ever White House Maker Faire, where he will meet Americans who are taking the challenge of innovation into their own hands. I'm told there will be 3-D printed pancakes at the event.
Q Pancakes?
MR. EARNEST: Yes. So there are a lot of reasons to eagerly anticipate Wednesday's event.
Nationwide, the maker movement opens access to new tools for democratized production, and is boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in manufacturing in the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups and assisted in the revitalization of American manufacturing. In advance of these events, I expect we'll have some new announcements to make about additional steps the public and private sectors will take to further expand this kind of manufacturing innovation.
So with that, I'll get to your questions.
Q Is the President considering President Rouhani's offer to help in Iraq?
MR. EARNEST: Well, let me say a couple of things about this. The first is there are ongoing conversations in Vienna -- or conversations in Vienna that are about to start among the P5-plus-1 members and senior Iranian officials about their nuclear program.
Those conversations and resolving the international community's concerns about the Iranian nuclear program remains a top priority of this administration's foreign policy. You've heard some State Department officials acknowledge today that it's possible that there could be some conversations on the margins of that meeting among the P5-plus-1 members. But I want to make very clear that any of those conversations that may occur on the margins are entirely separate from the conversations about Iran's nuclear program. So it's important to understand that.
The second thing that's important for you to understand is that any conversations with the Iranian regime will not include military coordination. We will not be -- we're not interested in any effort to coordinate military activities with Iran.
The third thing I'd say about this also relates to something we will not discuss, and that specifically is the future of Iraq. So Iraq is an independent, sovereign country and decisions about the future of Iraq should be made by an Iraqi political leadership that reflects the best interests of Iraq's diverse population. Decisions about Iraqis' futures should be made solely in that venue and not by outside actors.
Q So what might be coordinated with Iran, given what will not be coordinated with Iran?
MR. EARNEST: I think what's been made clear -- and I think even according to published reports, it's clear that the Iranians feel a stake in resolving the deteriorating security situation that we've seen in Iraq. Frankly, it's in the interest of all of the countries in the region that the kind of violence at the hands of extremists that we've seen in Iraq come to an end. It's also in the interest of countries throughout the region to see the Iraq leadership pursue the governing of that country in a non-sectarian way; that there's a way for countries in the region to support the efforts of the Iraqi political leadership to invest in a political agenda and in security forces that are not sort of riven by sectarian differences.
Q Does President Obama want the U.S. and Iran to both apply pressure on Maliki to behave a certain way? Does President Obama want the U.S. and Iran to work together to find regional efforts with other countries? Can you tell me affirmatively what he is comfortable with partnering with Iran to do? And would he speak with Rouhani himself, or is it not going to happen at that level?
MR. EARNEST: I don't want to make any predictions about what kinds of conversations may occur other than to say that conversations may occur on the margins of the P5-plus-1 meeting in the context of conversations that are entirely separate from ongoing nuclear talks.
Here's what I think the administration would like to see: We would like to see the Iranian regime and the leaders of other countries in the region play a constructive role in encouraging Iraq's political leadership to pursue an inclusive diplomatic agenda. That means that -- it's the view of the United States that it's in the interest of all of these countries, including Iran, to see an Iraq that's governed in a non-sectarian way, and that investments in building up an inclusive political agenda and strengthening security forces, which are obviously in need of strengthening, that all of that is done in the context of a non-sectarian, inclusive effort.
Q Josh, you keep mentioning that both talks would be separate from the P5-plus-1. Is the United States concerned that Iran might use this as leverage in the P5-plus-1? Clearly, they have something right now that the United States wants.
MR. EARNEST: No, we're not concerned about that because, as I mentioned, the conversations that are ongoing with the P5-plus-1 members and Iran about their nuclear security program -- about their nuclear program is something that continues to be a high priority of this administration's foreign policy. And we're going to continue to pursue the opportunity for a resolution to those differences that exist between the Iranian regime and the international community. There is a deadline, a July 20th deadline that's been set for resolving those differences of opinion.
It's our view that significant gaps remain between the international community's position for resolving these differences and what the Iranians have stated a willingness to do. So we're going to spend some time over the course of the next month in advance of the July 20th deadline trying to bridge the significant gaps that still remain.
But all of that is very important work and entirely separate from the common interest that is shared by countries in the region who would like to see the peaceful resolution of the security situation in Iraq.
Q Do you see any ironies in the fact that Washington is asking for Tehran's assistance on this?
MR. EARNEST: I think those are your words. I didn't quite say that. I think it is merely an observation by many people in the international community that there is a shared interest among the variety of countries in the region around Iraq to see this kind of extremism, violent extremism stopped in its tracks. And it is not in anybody's interest for the nation of Iraq to be torn apart along sectarian lines in a way that's driven by extremists.
Q Josh, there's nothing in Iran's track record on Iraq that suggests that it's really interested in a multi-sectarian government. In previous episodes where the sectarian stuff has blown up, the Iranians have typically sent in their own agents, sent in Quds force, played a disruptive role. So what I'm wondering is whether, if this conversation were to happen this week, you'd be laying down some pretty strong markers to the Iranians saying, look, we know what you've done before in cases like this; don't plan on doing it this time. Would that be a fair characterization?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I don't want to get ahead of characterizing those conversations before they occur. But you can --
Q What about Iran's record on this?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I think you can assume that the message that we are sending publicly about the need for all of Iraq's political leadership to pursue an inclusive political agenda is a position that will be conveyed candidly to the Iranian leadership if those kinds of conversations actually occur. But there is no -- I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Our position on this is really, really clear. We do think that there is some common ground, because we do think it's in the interest of Iran and other countries that neighbor Iraq for this kind of violent sectarian strife to come to an end because it's in everybody's interest.
The kind of violence and sectarian strife that we've seen in Syria has spilled over into Iraq, and it has had a destabilizing impact on that regime and on that country. So, presumably, the leaders of other countries wouldn't want to see that destabilizing activity continue to occur and propagate.
Q One more question on this. There's a reasonable concern on Iran's part that if the United States is contemplating military action that's potentially destabilizing on its own border, would there be any thought to also offering the Iranians assurances that were the U.S. to consider military action it would be strictly limited, it would only be aimed at sort of fending off this insurgency as opposed to something bigger, which obviously Iran has had occasion to see in the past from the United States.
MR. EARNEST: Well, even outside the context of Iran, we've been pretty clear about what kind of -- what the goals of any contemplated military action would be. Specifically, they would be to bolster efforts by the Iraqi leadership to pursue a more inclusive political agenda. And that's true whether Iran is involved or not.
And I guess the other thing that I want to do here is reiterate something that the President said on Friday, which is that any of the military options that the President might consider, they would not include an open-ended military commitment. They would not include combat boots on the grounds. And they would be predicated on commitments from the Iraqi political leadership to pursue an inclusive political agenda that takes into account the legitimate grievances of the Kurdish, Shia and Sunni populations in that country.
Q Can I ask about the executive order? A couple things. Has he signed it yet? And do you have any fact sheet, or are you releasing anything about how many people are affected, any economic impact?
MR. EARNEST: At this point, Steve, the only thing I can confirm is that the President, following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, has directed his staff to prepare for his signature, an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The specific details of that order have not been finalized, so I can't give you the kinds of details that you're seeking.
Q Electronically or by --
MR. EARNEST: He has not signed it yet.
Q When he lands today?
MR. EARNEST: No -- I don't. The details are still being formalized. What the President has asked is for his staff to put together an executive order like this. So it's not something that's ready to be signed yet. He's asked them to put together an executive order that can be signed in the future.
Q No numbers on how many people would be affected?
MR. EARNEST: That's something that we may have more information on once we have the details of what this executive order says.
Q Also, the community has been asking for this since 2008. Why did it take so long?
MR. EARNEST: Well, as we've said, Steve, what we have sought is congressional legislation on this. The action that the -- an executive order along these lines would not be a substitute for robust congressional action. Last year we did see the Senate pass the so-called ENDA legislation. We have for several months now been encouraging the House to take up and pass that legislation. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of Republicans blocking progress on the kind of issue that has pretty strong support all across the country.
So we're disappointed that the House hasn't taken action. The President was really clear at the beginning of the year that once we want to work with Congress in bipartisan fashion to make progress on behalf of the American people. But the President is not going to give up his ability to act unilaterally in pursuit of that kind of agenda. And I think an executive order like this is a pretty good example of that strategy on the President's part, which is to work with Congress where we can but also act unilaterally where necessary to advance expanded opportunity for the American people.
Q Can I ask one more on Iraq? On Friday, the president said he would have a better sense by the end of the weekend what international partners might be willing to do to aid in any U.S. action in Iraq. I'm wondering if you could describe the outreach that happened over the weekend and the reception that you might be getting from other foreign leaders.
MR. EARNEST: I do have some information about it. Secretary Kerry placed a number of calls over the weekend to some of his counterparts in the region. He called the foreign ministers of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
You recall that on Friday the President directed his national security team to spend some time working over the weekend assembling a range of options for him. You received emails from me over the weekend a couple of times a day letting you know that the President was in pretty close touch with his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, who regularly updated him on a few things.
The first -- she obviously updated him on the security situation in Iraq. She also updated him on the diplomatic discussions that have been ongoing at a variety of levels, both with the Iraqi political leadership, the political leadership of other countries in the region, and countries around the world that have a legitimate concern similar to the concern we've expressed about the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
She also kept him updated on the conversations that were ongoing among members of his national security team. She provided the President another update along these lines this morning before we left Palm Springs. The President said that he wanted to meet with his national security team when he returns to Washington this evening. And the purpose of that meeting would be to hear from members of his national security team directly about their ongoing efforts to present him with a range of options.
So that's a process that's still ongoing, and this will be an opportunity for him to talk directly with members of his national security team about those ongoing efforts.
Q Do you have any updates about what that thinking is? And do you have any sense of what a timetable might be for an announcement of U.S. action?
MR. EARNEST: I don't have any update on those conversations other than to say that they're ongoing. This obviously is serious work, and it's something that the President's national security team takes very seriously. It's a collaborative effort among the diplomatic members of his team. There's also an important role here for the military and the intelligence teams to present the President with a range of options, and that's something that they're still working on.
Q -- happens tonight, it will be military, plus the NSC formally presenting the -- is it right to say that he will be presented with the range of options tonight?
MR. EARNEST: I don't want to get ahead of that meeting. I think what I can say confidently now is the President will be updated on their ongoing efforts. I'm not in a position right now to say whether or not he'll be presented with a range of options in the context of that meeting. But the goal of this meeting is for the President to get an update on the thinking of individual members of his team as they've been working over the weekend to prepare --
Q Dempsey, as well?
MR. EARNEST: I will see if we can get you a manifest of those who participate in the meeting. I don't have it with me right now, though.
Q Can we expect a readout as well, afterwards?
MR. EARNEST: We'll see if we can get you something.
Q What do we think of you moving people out of the embassy in Baghdad? Do you expect Baghdad to be under great threat or do you expect some recriminations if you take military action?
MR. EARNEST: I think the actions right now are precipitated on doing everything we can to protect the security of Americans who are representing our interests in Iraq. So there have been some movements that you've heard about of relocating some staff members to some consulates in Iraq.
But the embassy is open and is conducting official business. But it's something that we, the President always is concerned about is doing everything that we can to preserve the safety and security of Americans who are serving abroad.
Q Josh, back to the ENDA question. White House officials have been saying for ages that the President did not want to do this executive order because you wanted to leave open room for the legislative solution to happen. What led to you deciding to do it this week? And do you have any sense of a timetable as to when that order will be ready for him to sign?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I do want to be crystal clear about something, which is that the door for legislative action remains open. There is nothing in an executive order that they're still working to put together that would preclude Congress from taking an important but commonsense step to pass legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
As you know, an executive order that the President would sign along these lines would apply to federal contractors. And Congress would have the power to pass legislation, and it's passed the Senate already, to ensure -- to ban this discrimination across the country. So there's something much more widespread that Congress can do. It has passed through the Senate; it should pass through the House.
Q But the question was, why are you doing it now?
MR. EARNEST: I mean, quite simply, we've been waiting for quite a few months now for the House to take action, and unfortunately there aren't particularly strong indications that Congress is prepared to act on this. So like I said, we stand ready to continue to work with Congress to advance the cause of expanding opportunity for all Americans all across the country. This is one way in which Congress could act to do that, and we stand ready to work with them to get that done. But the President is not just going to sit around and wait for Congress to take action. This has not been a particularly prolific Congress when it comes to passing legislation, even legislation that has strong support all across the country like this.
So the President is going to do what he can -- in this case, consider an executive order that would ban discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Q When do you think that will be ready for him to sign?
MR. EARNEST: I don't have a timetable at this point, but we'll keep you updated. If I can get you better guidance about that timetable, we'll do that. But there's still some work that needs to be done to prepare an executive order for his signature.
Q Can I ask you a quick Russia question? Some indications that Russia has been limiting through Gazprom the supplies to Ukraine, and that is affecting Ukrainians and also prices in Europe. Do you think that -- is it the White House's concern that Russia is taking advantage of the situation with Iraq to kind of make a move? Or maybe completely disconnected from that, do you have concerns about what's happening now with Russia and oil supplies to Ukraine?
MR. EARNEST: Well, you've heard us say before that access to energy supplies should not be used to inappropriately influence the government of another country. It shouldn't be used to coerce another nation's political leadership. So that's something that we're concerned about and we're following very closely. There is an opportunity for us to act with our partners around the world to protect the interests of a sovereign Ukraine.
The EU has been actively engaged in trying to negotiate a settlement to this dispute between the Russians and the Ukrainians, and we're supportive of that effort and we're hopeful it will continue.
Q Can I ask about the situation on the border? The Vice President is heading down to Guatemala, and part of the reason officials said he was going was to dispel a misperception there that the President's delayed deportation -- deferred deportation policy would affect them and that they would be able to take advantage of it. And I'm wondering what led the White House to believe that's become an issue -- because just last week you were sort of writing that off as a political talking point for Republicans.
MR. EARNEST: Well, I think the suggestion from Republicans was a little bit less honest than the assessment that you presented. Let me just leave it at that.
The efforts of the Vice President are to go and cooperate with our partners in Central America because we have a shared interest in the safety of children, and that what we have seen is an influx of unaccompanied minors at the border between the United States and Mexico, and that's something that we're concerned about. And there have been a number of steps that have been ramped up to try to meet the humanitarian needs of children who show up on the border and are apprehended by theBorder Patrol. So there's a whole effort that's been stood up by FEMA, including good work from HHS to try to meet this growing need.
But what the Vice President will be engaged in is talking to the leaders of these other countries, because the leaders of these other countries are obviously concerned about the safety and security of kids in their country, and the United States remains concerned too.
So went to -- if there are steps that these countries can take to ensure the safety of their children and to dissuade parents from entrusting them in the hands of strangers to try to deliver them to the United States, we'd like to shut that off as quickly as we can. And some of that is making sure that those parents understand exactly what the law is, and the law says that these unaccompanied minors when they show up at the border would not qualify for deferred action, like the administration announced a couple years ago.
Q Just to clarify -- you do believe the misperceptions of the deferred action is part of what's leading to this wave of immigrant kids on the border? The White House now is certain that that's part of what is leading to all of these kids coming over here?
MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I don't think I want to put myself in a position of being able to understand exactly what's happening, but to the extent that we can clarify what the law is, we're going to do that. And that will be part of the Vice President's mission.
Q Just as we were taking off I saw a report that Malia Obama is working as a production assistant on a Steven Spielberg film. Can you say anything about that, and confirm whether that's true? And she's not on this flight. Is she living in California temporarily to do that? Or what is the situation there?
MR. EARNEST: I've seen those reports as well, Nedra. As you know, what we have done to protect the privacy of the President and First Lady's two daughters is to talk about the daughters' activities when they're appearing in public with their parents, and conversely to not talk about their activities when they're not appearing in public with their parents. So I'm going to try and live up to that principle in the context of this gaggle and not comment on those reports.
Q -- it rises to the level of like a public official and sort of a public event? It's not like an internship with no one you've ever heard of. It's Steven Spielberg.
Q -- photos of her going in and off the job site, too, right? So --
MR. EARNEST: Like I said, I've seen the reports. And, again, the line that we draw is related to the two daughters being involved in public activities with their parents; that when they are traveling with them -- that's one of the reasons that I try to -- that we worked over the weekend to provide you some greater clarity about whether or not they were in California with the President and First Lady.
Again, this was a public trip of the President and First Lady to California, and so there are potential -- the involvement of the First Daughters in that trip was a legitimate question, and that's why we were able to determine for you that Malia did spend the weekend with her parents and Sasha did not.
But in terms of what Malia and Sasha are up to when their parents aren't around is not something I'm just going to be in a position to get into.
Q I would just add that I think we've been pretty respectful of that as well, but if she is living in another state, that's significant, I would say. And maybe she's not, I don't know, but I just want to put it -- make that on the record.
MR. EARNEST: Look, I will stipulate to the fact that the President and First Lady are genuinely appreciative of the respect that the White House Press Corps has shown to their daughters and the privacy that's been afforded to them, even in a pretty competitive media environment. So I am appreciative of that. I'm not suggesting that questions along these lines, based on public reports, are somehow illegitimate or unfair. I'm just saying that I'm not going to talk about them.
Q Just one thing about the IRS. The IRS said that a computer crash led to an untold number of Lois Lerner's emails being -- they just disappeared apparently. Do you think that's a reasonable explanation? I think a lot of technical experts say, well, you know, e-mails aren't stored on a computer, they're stored on a cloud somewhere. Does that seem like a reasonable thing for the IRS to be telling congressional investigators who are outraged that these e-mails have gone missing?
MR. EARNEST: You've never heard of a computer crashing before?
Q I think e-mails generally are not stored on a computer; they're stored on a server somewhere. And the IRS's explanation for these e-mails going missing was that her computer crashed. So a lot of people are skeptical of, one, that that's a truthful answer, and two, that they're not trying to mislead Congress or trying to hide something in these e-mails. So I'm wondering if you think that's reasonable.
MR. EARNEST: I think it's entirely reasonable, because it's the truth and it's a fact, and speculation otherwise I think is indicative of the kinds of conspiracies that are propagated around this story. And they're propagated in a way that has left people with a very mistaken impression about what exactly occurred.
The fact of the matter is, 67,000 e-mails either sent by or received by Lois Lerner have been provided to Congress. So if we are trying to hide Lois Lerner's e-mails from congressional oversight, there's a pretty large loophole. Thousands of those e-mails actually relate to the time period covered by the hard drive crash that you referred to. So we have -- or IRS, I should say, has been engaged in an effort to track down e-mails that she may have sent or may have received. And tens of thousands of those have also been provided to Congress.
So there is ample evidence to indicate that a good-faith effort has been made by the IRS to cooperate with congressional oversight. And the far-fetched skepticism expressed by some Republican members of Congress I think is not at all surprising and not particularly believable.
Thanks, guys.
END2:31 P.M. EDT
IRS-COMPUTER CRASHING-Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest en route JBA, 6/16/2014 | The White House
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2014
Aboard Air Force OneEn Route Joint Base Andrews
2:00 P.M. EDT
MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. Can we assume the position here? I'll do a quick thing at the top and then we'll get to your questions.
As part of the President's economic agenda to expand opportunity for all Americans, this week he'll focus on additional ways we can create good jobs by continuing to spur innovation, entrepreneurship and manufacturing.
Tomorrow, the President will travel to Pittsburgh, where he'll meet with workers at TechShop, a company that helps American investors make affordable prototypes.
Then, on Wednesday, the President will host the first-ever White House Maker Faire, where he will meet Americans who are taking the challenge of innovation into their own hands. I'm told there will be 3-D printed pancakes at the event.
Q Pancakes?
MR. EARNEST: Yes. So there are a lot of reasons to eagerly anticipate Wednesday's event.
Nationwide, the maker movement opens access to new tools for democratized production, and is boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in manufacturing in the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups and assisted in the revitalization of American manufacturing. In advance of these events, I expect we'll have some new announcements to make about additional steps the public and private sectors will take to further expand this kind of manufacturing innovation.
So with that, I'll get to your questions.
Q Is the President considering President Rouhani's offer to help in Iraq?
MR. EARNEST: Well, let me say a couple of things about this. The first is there are ongoing conversations in Vienna -- or conversations in Vienna that are about to start among the P5-plus-1 members and senior Iranian officials about their nuclear program.
Those conversations and resolving the international community's concerns about the Iranian nuclear program remains a top priority of this administration's foreign policy. You've heard some State Department officials acknowledge today that it's possible that there could be some conversations on the margins of that meeting among the P5-plus-1 members. But I want to make very clear that any of those conversations that may occur on the margins are entirely separate from the conversations about Iran's nuclear program. So it's important to understand that.
The second thing that's important for you to understand is that any conversations with the Iranian regime will not include military coordination. We will not be -- we're not interested in any effort to coordinate military activities with Iran.
The third thing I'd say about this also relates to something we will not discuss, and that specifically is the future of Iraq. So Iraq is an independent, sovereign country and decisions about the future of Iraq should be made by an Iraqi political leadership that reflects the best interests of Iraq's diverse population. Decisions about Iraqis' futures should be made solely in that venue and not by outside actors.
Q So what might be coordinated with Iran, given what will not be coordinated with Iran?
MR. EARNEST: I think what's been made clear -- and I think even according to published reports, it's clear that the Iranians feel a stake in resolving the deteriorating security situation that we've seen in Iraq. Frankly, it's in the interest of all of the countries in the region that the kind of violence at the hands of extremists that we've seen in Iraq come to an end. It's also in the interest of countries throughout the region to see the Iraq leadership pursue the governing of that country in a non-sectarian way; that there's a way for countries in the region to support the efforts of the Iraqi political leadership to invest in a political agenda and in security forces that are not sort of riven by sectarian differences.
Q Does President Obama want the U.S. and Iran to both apply pressure on Maliki to behave a certain way? Does President Obama want the U.S. and Iran to work together to find regional efforts with other countries? Can you tell me affirmatively what he is comfortable with partnering with Iran to do? And would he speak with Rouhani himself, or is it not going to happen at that level?
MR. EARNEST: I don't want to make any predictions about what kinds of conversations may occur other than to say that conversations may occur on the margins of the P5-plus-1 meeting in the context of conversations that are entirely separate from ongoing nuclear talks.
Here's what I think the administration would like to see: We would like to see the Iranian regime and the leaders of other countries in the region play a constructive role in encouraging Iraq's political leadership to pursue an inclusive diplomatic agenda. That means that -- it's the view of the United States that it's in the interest of all of these countries, including Iran, to see an Iraq that's governed in a non-sectarian way, and that investments in building up an inclusive political agenda and strengthening security forces, which are obviously in need of strengthening, that all of that is done in the context of a non-sectarian, inclusive effort.
Q Josh, you keep mentioning that both talks would be separate from the P5-plus-1. Is the United States concerned that Iran might use this as leverage in the P5-plus-1? Clearly, they have something right now that the United States wants.
MR. EARNEST: No, we're not concerned about that because, as I mentioned, the conversations that are ongoing with the P5-plus-1 members and Iran about their nuclear security program -- about their nuclear program is something that continues to be a high priority of this administration's foreign policy. And we're going to continue to pursue the opportunity for a resolution to those differences that exist between the Iranian regime and the international community. There is a deadline, a July 20th deadline that's been set for resolving those differences of opinion.
It's our view that significant gaps remain between the international community's position for resolving these differences and what the Iranians have stated a willingness to do. So we're going to spend some time over the course of the next month in advance of the July 20th deadline trying to bridge the significant gaps that still remain.
But all of that is very important work and entirely separate from the common interest that is shared by countries in the region who would like to see the peaceful resolution of the security situation in Iraq.
Q Do you see any ironies in the fact that Washington is asking for Tehran's assistance on this?
MR. EARNEST: I think those are your words. I didn't quite say that. I think it is merely an observation by many people in the international community that there is a shared interest among the variety of countries in the region around Iraq to see this kind of extremism, violent extremism stopped in its tracks. And it is not in anybody's interest for the nation of Iraq to be torn apart along sectarian lines in a way that's driven by extremists.
Q Josh, there's nothing in Iran's track record on Iraq that suggests that it's really interested in a multi-sectarian government. In previous episodes where the sectarian stuff has blown up, the Iranians have typically sent in their own agents, sent in Quds force, played a disruptive role. So what I'm wondering is whether, if this conversation were to happen this week, you'd be laying down some pretty strong markers to the Iranians saying, look, we know what you've done before in cases like this; don't plan on doing it this time. Would that be a fair characterization?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I don't want to get ahead of characterizing those conversations before they occur. But you can --
Q What about Iran's record on this?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I think you can assume that the message that we are sending publicly about the need for all of Iraq's political leadership to pursue an inclusive political agenda is a position that will be conveyed candidly to the Iranian leadership if those kinds of conversations actually occur. But there is no -- I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Our position on this is really, really clear. We do think that there is some common ground, because we do think it's in the interest of Iran and other countries that neighbor Iraq for this kind of violent sectarian strife to come to an end because it's in everybody's interest.
The kind of violence and sectarian strife that we've seen in Syria has spilled over into Iraq, and it has had a destabilizing impact on that regime and on that country. So, presumably, the leaders of other countries wouldn't want to see that destabilizing activity continue to occur and propagate.
Q One more question on this. There's a reasonable concern on Iran's part that if the United States is contemplating military action that's potentially destabilizing on its own border, would there be any thought to also offering the Iranians assurances that were the U.S. to consider military action it would be strictly limited, it would only be aimed at sort of fending off this insurgency as opposed to something bigger, which obviously Iran has had occasion to see in the past from the United States.
MR. EARNEST: Well, even outside the context of Iran, we've been pretty clear about what kind of -- what the goals of any contemplated military action would be. Specifically, they would be to bolster efforts by the Iraqi leadership to pursue a more inclusive political agenda. And that's true whether Iran is involved or not.
And I guess the other thing that I want to do here is reiterate something that the President said on Friday, which is that any of the military options that the President might consider, they would not include an open-ended military commitment. They would not include combat boots on the grounds. And they would be predicated on commitments from the Iraqi political leadership to pursue an inclusive political agenda that takes into account the legitimate grievances of the Kurdish, Shia and Sunni populations in that country.
Q Can I ask about the executive order? A couple things. Has he signed it yet? And do you have any fact sheet, or are you releasing anything about how many people are affected, any economic impact?
MR. EARNEST: At this point, Steve, the only thing I can confirm is that the President, following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, has directed his staff to prepare for his signature, an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The specific details of that order have not been finalized, so I can't give you the kinds of details that you're seeking.
Q Electronically or by --
MR. EARNEST: He has not signed it yet.
Q When he lands today?
MR. EARNEST: No -- I don't. The details are still being formalized. What the President has asked is for his staff to put together an executive order like this. So it's not something that's ready to be signed yet. He's asked them to put together an executive order that can be signed in the future.
Q No numbers on how many people would be affected?
MR. EARNEST: That's something that we may have more information on once we have the details of what this executive order says.
Q Also, the community has been asking for this since 2008. Why did it take so long?
MR. EARNEST: Well, as we've said, Steve, what we have sought is congressional legislation on this. The action that the -- an executive order along these lines would not be a substitute for robust congressional action. Last year we did see the Senate pass the so-called ENDA legislation. We have for several months now been encouraging the House to take up and pass that legislation. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of Republicans blocking progress on the kind of issue that has pretty strong support all across the country.
So we're disappointed that the House hasn't taken action. The President was really clear at the beginning of the year that once we want to work with Congress in bipartisan fashion to make progress on behalf of the American people. But the President is not going to give up his ability to act unilaterally in pursuit of that kind of agenda. And I think an executive order like this is a pretty good example of that strategy on the President's part, which is to work with Congress where we can but also act unilaterally where necessary to advance expanded opportunity for the American people.
Q Can I ask one more on Iraq? On Friday, the president said he would have a better sense by the end of the weekend what international partners might be willing to do to aid in any U.S. action in Iraq. I'm wondering if you could describe the outreach that happened over the weekend and the reception that you might be getting from other foreign leaders.
MR. EARNEST: I do have some information about it. Secretary Kerry placed a number of calls over the weekend to some of his counterparts in the region. He called the foreign ministers of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
You recall that on Friday the President directed his national security team to spend some time working over the weekend assembling a range of options for him. You received emails from me over the weekend a couple of times a day letting you know that the President was in pretty close touch with his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, who regularly updated him on a few things.
The first -- she obviously updated him on the security situation in Iraq. She also updated him on the diplomatic discussions that have been ongoing at a variety of levels, both with the Iraqi political leadership, the political leadership of other countries in the region, and countries around the world that have a legitimate concern similar to the concern we've expressed about the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
She also kept him updated on the conversations that were ongoing among members of his national security team. She provided the President another update along these lines this morning before we left Palm Springs. The President said that he wanted to meet with his national security team when he returns to Washington this evening. And the purpose of that meeting would be to hear from members of his national security team directly about their ongoing efforts to present him with a range of options.
So that's a process that's still ongoing, and this will be an opportunity for him to talk directly with members of his national security team about those ongoing efforts.
Q Do you have any updates about what that thinking is? And do you have any sense of what a timetable might be for an announcement of U.S. action?
MR. EARNEST: I don't have any update on those conversations other than to say that they're ongoing. This obviously is serious work, and it's something that the President's national security team takes very seriously. It's a collaborative effort among the diplomatic members of his team. There's also an important role here for the military and the intelligence teams to present the President with a range of options, and that's something that they're still working on.
Q -- happens tonight, it will be military, plus the NSC formally presenting the -- is it right to say that he will be presented with the range of options tonight?
MR. EARNEST: I don't want to get ahead of that meeting. I think what I can say confidently now is the President will be updated on their ongoing efforts. I'm not in a position right now to say whether or not he'll be presented with a range of options in the context of that meeting. But the goal of this meeting is for the President to get an update on the thinking of individual members of his team as they've been working over the weekend to prepare --
Q Dempsey, as well?
MR. EARNEST: I will see if we can get you a manifest of those who participate in the meeting. I don't have it with me right now, though.
Q Can we expect a readout as well, afterwards?
MR. EARNEST: We'll see if we can get you something.
Q What do we think of you moving people out of the embassy in Baghdad? Do you expect Baghdad to be under great threat or do you expect some recriminations if you take military action?
MR. EARNEST: I think the actions right now are precipitated on doing everything we can to protect the security of Americans who are representing our interests in Iraq. So there have been some movements that you've heard about of relocating some staff members to some consulates in Iraq.
But the embassy is open and is conducting official business. But it's something that we, the President always is concerned about is doing everything that we can to preserve the safety and security of Americans who are serving abroad.
Q Josh, back to the ENDA question. White House officials have been saying for ages that the President did not want to do this executive order because you wanted to leave open room for the legislative solution to happen. What led to you deciding to do it this week? And do you have any sense of a timetable as to when that order will be ready for him to sign?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I do want to be crystal clear about something, which is that the door for legislative action remains open. There is nothing in an executive order that they're still working to put together that would preclude Congress from taking an important but commonsense step to pass legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
As you know, an executive order that the President would sign along these lines would apply to federal contractors. And Congress would have the power to pass legislation, and it's passed the Senate already, to ensure -- to ban this discrimination across the country. So there's something much more widespread that Congress can do. It has passed through the Senate; it should pass through the House.
Q But the question was, why are you doing it now?
MR. EARNEST: I mean, quite simply, we've been waiting for quite a few months now for the House to take action, and unfortunately there aren't particularly strong indications that Congress is prepared to act on this. So like I said, we stand ready to continue to work with Congress to advance the cause of expanding opportunity for all Americans all across the country. This is one way in which Congress could act to do that, and we stand ready to work with them to get that done. But the President is not just going to sit around and wait for Congress to take action. This has not been a particularly prolific Congress when it comes to passing legislation, even legislation that has strong support all across the country like this.
So the President is going to do what he can -- in this case, consider an executive order that would ban discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Q When do you think that will be ready for him to sign?
MR. EARNEST: I don't have a timetable at this point, but we'll keep you updated. If I can get you better guidance about that timetable, we'll do that. But there's still some work that needs to be done to prepare an executive order for his signature.
Q Can I ask you a quick Russia question? Some indications that Russia has been limiting through Gazprom the supplies to Ukraine, and that is affecting Ukrainians and also prices in Europe. Do you think that -- is it the White House's concern that Russia is taking advantage of the situation with Iraq to kind of make a move? Or maybe completely disconnected from that, do you have concerns about what's happening now with Russia and oil supplies to Ukraine?
MR. EARNEST: Well, you've heard us say before that access to energy supplies should not be used to inappropriately influence the government of another country. It shouldn't be used to coerce another nation's political leadership. So that's something that we're concerned about and we're following very closely. There is an opportunity for us to act with our partners around the world to protect the interests of a sovereign Ukraine.
The EU has been actively engaged in trying to negotiate a settlement to this dispute between the Russians and the Ukrainians, and we're supportive of that effort and we're hopeful it will continue.
Q Can I ask about the situation on the border? The Vice President is heading down to Guatemala, and part of the reason officials said he was going was to dispel a misperception there that the President's delayed deportation -- deferred deportation policy would affect them and that they would be able to take advantage of it. And I'm wondering what led the White House to believe that's become an issue -- because just last week you were sort of writing that off as a political talking point for Republicans.
MR. EARNEST: Well, I think the suggestion from Republicans was a little bit less honest than the assessment that you presented. Let me just leave it at that.
The efforts of the Vice President are to go and cooperate with our partners in Central America because we have a shared interest in the safety of children, and that what we have seen is an influx of unaccompanied minors at the border between the United States and Mexico, and that's something that we're concerned about. And there have been a number of steps that have been ramped up to try to meet the humanitarian needs of children who show up on the border and are apprehended by theBorder Patrol. So there's a whole effort that's been stood up by FEMA, including good work from HHS to try to meet this growing need.
But what the Vice President will be engaged in is talking to the leaders of these other countries, because the leaders of these other countries are obviously concerned about the safety and security of kids in their country, and the United States remains concerned too.
So went to -- if there are steps that these countries can take to ensure the safety of their children and to dissuade parents from entrusting them in the hands of strangers to try to deliver them to the United States, we'd like to shut that off as quickly as we can. And some of that is making sure that those parents understand exactly what the law is, and the law says that these unaccompanied minors when they show up at the border would not qualify for deferred action, like the administration announced a couple years ago.
Q Just to clarify -- you do believe the misperceptions of the deferred action is part of what's leading to this wave of immigrant kids on the border? The White House now is certain that that's part of what is leading to all of these kids coming over here?
MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I don't think I want to put myself in a position of being able to understand exactly what's happening, but to the extent that we can clarify what the law is, we're going to do that. And that will be part of the Vice President's mission.
Q Just as we were taking off I saw a report that Malia Obama is working as a production assistant on a Steven Spielberg film. Can you say anything about that, and confirm whether that's true? And she's not on this flight. Is she living in California temporarily to do that? Or what is the situation there?
MR. EARNEST: I've seen those reports as well, Nedra. As you know, what we have done to protect the privacy of the President and First Lady's two daughters is to talk about the daughters' activities when they're appearing in public with their parents, and conversely to not talk about their activities when they're not appearing in public with their parents. So I'm going to try and live up to that principle in the context of this gaggle and not comment on those reports.
Q -- it rises to the level of like a public official and sort of a public event? It's not like an internship with no one you've ever heard of. It's Steven Spielberg.
Q -- photos of her going in and off the job site, too, right? So --
MR. EARNEST: Like I said, I've seen the reports. And, again, the line that we draw is related to the two daughters being involved in public activities with their parents; that when they are traveling with them -- that's one of the reasons that I try to -- that we worked over the weekend to provide you some greater clarity about whether or not they were in California with the President and First Lady.
Again, this was a public trip of the President and First Lady to California, and so there are potential -- the involvement of the First Daughters in that trip was a legitimate question, and that's why we were able to determine for you that Malia did spend the weekend with her parents and Sasha did not.
But in terms of what Malia and Sasha are up to when their parents aren't around is not something I'm just going to be in a position to get into.
Q I would just add that I think we've been pretty respectful of that as well, but if she is living in another state, that's significant, I would say. And maybe she's not, I don't know, but I just want to put it -- make that on the record.
MR. EARNEST: Look, I will stipulate to the fact that the President and First Lady are genuinely appreciative of the respect that the White House Press Corps has shown to their daughters and the privacy that's been afforded to them, even in a pretty competitive media environment. So I am appreciative of that. I'm not suggesting that questions along these lines, based on public reports, are somehow illegitimate or unfair. I'm just saying that I'm not going to talk about them.
Q Just one thing about the IRS. The IRS said that a computer crash led to an untold number of Lois Lerner's emails being -- they just disappeared apparently. Do you think that's a reasonable explanation? I think a lot of technical experts say, well, you know, e-mails aren't stored on a computer, they're stored on a cloud somewhere. Does that seem like a reasonable thing for the IRS to be telling congressional investigators who are outraged that these e-mails have gone missing?
MR. EARNEST: You've never heard of a computer crashing before?
Q I think e-mails generally are not stored on a computer; they're stored on a server somewhere. And the IRS's explanation for these e-mails going missing was that her computer crashed. So a lot of people are skeptical of, one, that that's a truthful answer, and two, that they're not trying to mislead Congress or trying to hide something in these e-mails. So I'm wondering if you think that's reasonable.
MR. EARNEST: I think it's entirely reasonable, because it's the truth and it's a fact, and speculation otherwise I think is indicative of the kinds of conspiracies that are propagated around this story. And they're propagated in a way that has left people with a very mistaken impression about what exactly occurred.
The fact of the matter is, 67,000 e-mails either sent by or received by Lois Lerner have been provided to Congress. So if we are trying to hide Lois Lerner's e-mails from congressional oversight, there's a pretty large loophole. Thousands of those e-mails actually relate to the time period covered by the hard drive crash that you referred to. So we have -- or IRS, I should say, has been engaged in an effort to track down e-mails that she may have sent or may have received. And tens of thousands of those have also been provided to Congress.
So there is ample evidence to indicate that a good-faith effort has been made by the IRS to cooperate with congressional oversight. And the far-fetched skepticism expressed by some Republican members of Congress I think is not at all surprising and not particularly believable.
Thanks, guys.
END2:31 P.M. EDT
[Jonathan H. Adler] Even if accidental, the loss of Lois Lerner's e-mails is evidence of problems at the IRS
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 01:50
Last Friday it was revealed that approximately two-years worth of Lois Lerner's e-mails at the Internal Revenue Service were lost due to a hard drive failure. This revelation would have raised eyebrows even were the timing not incredibly convenient. The hard drive crash occurred approximately ten days after Congress first inquired about the targeting of conservative non-profits. And, despite dozens of Congressional inquiries, the loss of e-mails relevant to multiple congressional investigations was not revealed until last week. Were that not enough, subsequent reports suggest the IRS has lost e-mails from six others also implicated in the alleged targeting of conservative groups. One need not be skeptical hippo to be skeptical.
Are there potentially innocent explanations? Yes, if by ''innocent'' one means that the e-mail loss is due to incompetence and bureaucratic short-sightedness rather than malfeasance. Megan McArdle explains:
As it happens, I used to administer just the sort of e-mail systems that the IRS seems to be using. So I fired off a set of queries to the IRS about its e-mail system, its archiving policies and how the loss of data happened. Many of those queries remain unanswered, but I was given some documents that explain how the files could have been lost. My conclusion: It is plausible that this was an innocent coincidence. But it is only plausible if the IRS is managing its IT systems so badly that it is very easy to lose critical records '-- or for abusive employees to destroy the evidence of their misbehavior. A private company under investigation that responded to regulators, or a judge, with this sort of explanation rather than producing the requested documents would rightly expect to be handed an adverse judgment or a whopping fine. This incident should be thoroughly investigated, and steps should be taken throughout the government to make sure that no similar incident can ever happen again. . . .
To believe the IRS requires a pretty low opinion of government competence. My friends who work in regulated sectors such as finance are outraged by the IRS's description of how it was running its backup process, because the government subjects them to constantly ratcheting standards for document retention '-- specifying how long, and on what format, they have to keep every communication ever generated by their firms. How dare they demand higher standards of regulated companies than they do of the regulators?
In 2014, every government agency should be storing every e-mail that goes in or out in an easily accessible format. That they weren't bothering suggests that the IRS does not expect to deliver the kind of accountability that it routinely demands of taxpayers. That's potentially a much bigger problem than anything Lois Lerner stands accused of '-- and it should be rectified, government-wide, with all due speed.
As always, TaxProf Paul Caron has compiled the latest news and commentary on the IRS scandal, as he does every day. By his count, this is day 404 of the IRS scandal. How many more will there be before we know what really happened?
Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation. He clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is a Senior Fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana. Follow: @jadler1969
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We Don't Need No Stinkin' Emails :: SteynOnline
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 14:45
by Mark SteynSteyn on AmericaJune 18, 2014
http://www.steynonline.com/6426/we-dont-need-no-stinkin-emails
They're openly sneering at us now. Late on Friday, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that two-and-a-quarter years of Lois Lerner's emails have been "lost". Yesterday the IRS told Congress that it is unable to produce the emails of six other officials involved in the targeting of conservative groups, among them Nicole Flax, the chief of staff to then IRS commissioner Steven Miller.
We now learn that the IRS only retains email on its server for six months. After that, the email exists only on the hard drive of the physical desktop computer of the employee in question. And therefore, if that hard drive crashes, those emails are lost forever.
By the way, do feel free to try that excuse if the IRS asks you to produce any document more than six months old. As I said way back when at the dawn of this investigation, everyone subject to the attentions of this agency should play by Lois Lerner Rules: oh, it'll take me years to produce all that stuff - even if I still have any of it.
Is it just the seven officials in whom Congress is interested whose computers crashed so catastrophically? That would seem statistically improbable. Or is this a more widespread problem and there are hundreds, thousands of IRS employees who've lost years of their emails? And, if that's the case, why has nobody suggested that that policy of only retaining emails on the server for six months needs to be changed, urgently? After all, the IRS isn't shy about telling the citizenry that their own data-retention policies are insufficient. Indeed, Cleta Mitchell (the lawyer representing certain of the targeted groups) says that one of her clients was penalized by the IRS for only retaining emails for a year - ie, twice as long as the IRS server retains them.
Over the weekend, Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan and George Will compared Lois Lerner's missing two-and-a-quarter years to Rose Mary Woods' missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes. President Nixon's secretary - the soi-disant "Fifth Nixon" - died in 2005, and I wrote about her in Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, now available in both autographable print edition and new and expanded eBook edition. Along the way I said this:
Scandals are complicated things. To catch fire with a public disinclined to wade through pages of densely investigative journalism, they need an image'--and Rose provided it. She said she'd taken a phone call, in the course of which she'd accidentally kept her foot on the tape machine's pedal and accidentally hit the record button; and even though the phone was a long way from the foot pedal, the explanation could have passed muster if Rose hadn't gamely essayed a visual re-enactment'--her limbs extended to the limit across the length of the office, her left hand reaching backward to the phone, her right forward to the record button, one foot straining for the pedal, presumably leaving the other free to snake round the desk and over to the corner to start the Ray Conniff on the eight-track. The big stretch was too much of a stretch for the court, and for the "silent majority," which broke its silence and started guffawing loudly. John Dean called her a "stand-up woman," and she was'--if only she'd stayed in that position.
It's different now. There are no buttons, no pedals. One moment, two years' worth of evidence is there on seven IRS desktops. The next, it's vaporized in what appears to be a highly selective series of computer crashes. It's still a stretch, but nobody cares whether you rubes buy it or not. I mean, what are you gonna do, right?
Rose Mary Woods' eighteen-and-a-half minutes lingered on in the cultural consciousness. There is still a Rosemary Award for Worst Open Government Performance, and a while back Arianna Huffington was handing out her own Rose Mary Woods Award for Convenient Technological Incompetence, although The Huffington Post seems in no hurry to revive the honor. Writing about Miss Woods for the first time in many years, I had forgotten what a staple she was - of stand-up routines, sitcoms, humor columns. When she died, the wags at The Washington Post ran an appreciation by Hank Stuever complete with an unexplained "gap" - a chunk of blank white paper in the middle of the article - secure in their confidence that, even after three decades, everyone would get the joke. In defiance of Warhol, Rose Mary was famous for eighteen minutes and twenty-eight seconds: the precise length of the gap. The world's most famous gap. The Post's Tony Kornheiser in a memoir of his father:
'What happened to your teeth, Dad?' I asked softly. There were gaps. Rose Mary Woods gaps.
Johnny Carson:
President Sadat had a belly dancer entertain President Nixon at a state dinner. Mr Nixon was really impressed. He hadn't seen contortions like that since Rose Mary Woods.
You could fill a memorial library with novels set in the Seventies in which she serves as the instant all-purpose cultural allusion. She's there in Rick Moody's The Ice Storm, and Delia Ephron's Hanging Up, and Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, and Robert Ludlum's Apocalypse Watch ("I figured we had one of those Rose Mary Woods things"). In Samuel Shem's The House of God four generations of a family gather for dinner, and Rose's turn provides fun for young and old:
Spurred on by the news photos of Rose Mary Woods spread-eagled between the foot pedal of her tape recorder and the phone behind her as if awaiting a quick roll in the hay with Nixon, we laughed and chortled together that now, finally, Nixon was going to get his'... My brother's four-year-old daughter'... was learning to play with her toy phone by picking it up and spread-eagling herself and screaming RO-MARY REACH RO-MARY REACH'...
Does anyone think Lois Lerner will rate a barrel-load of novels and parody awards? Most Americans have no idea who she is because, unlike Rose Mary Woods, the media have declined to make her a punchline. On Saturday, Ms Lerner failed to make the front page of The New York Times - or any other page. Emboldened by the acquiescence of the media's court eunuchs, American government is on the move, exiting the First World and heading for banana-republic territory, at quite a clip.
So, like a Gay Nineties boulevardier riddled with tertiary syphilis, the diseased IRS staggers on. Benghazi and Baghdad are far away, but the most powerful revenue agency on the planet is in your home, in your bank, in your credit card statements. If the IRS is corrupt, it wouldn't matter if every other federal agency were squeaky clean, which they certainly aren't. But it's beyond that: the IRS is systemically corrupt, and they're getting away with it. Which means that they'll keep doing it, and worse.
If you listen carefully, that sound you hear in the two-year static of vaporized evidence is your government laughing at you.
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SnowJob
Oliver Stone to Blend Fact and Fiction in Snowden-Inspired Flick
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 23:35
Famed Hollywood director Oliver Stone has acquired the rights to a fictitious novel written by one of Edward Snowden's lawyers with plans to use it as the basis for an upcoming movie on the whistleblower, weekly entertainment magazine Variety reported last week.
''Time of the Octopus,'' expected to be published later this year, was written by Anatoly Kucherena and tells the tale of American whistleblower Joshua Cold as he is stuck in a Moscow airport for three weeks.
The fictitious account closely resembles that of Snowden, who was briefly stuck in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport last year as he was en route to Latin America from Hong Kong. The whistleblower became stuck in the airport after U.S. officials suspended his passport.
Kucherena was retained by Snowden during his time in limbo at Sheremetyveo. Snowden has since been living in Moscow under temporary political asylum, and Kucherena is said to be one of the few people to have ongoing access to Snowden during his time in Russia.
Stone is expected to combine the fictitious account laid out in ''Time of the Octopus'' along with that found in the non-fiction book ''The Snowden Files,'' an account written by journalist Luke Harding of Snowden's plight after leaking thousands of classified documents detailing clandestine National Security Agency programs to reporters.
The decision to combine the stories means Stone's adaptation, set to start filming later this year, will be less of a documentary of Snowden's life post-whistleblower and more an invention of Hollywood imagination.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald confirmed last month that his account of the Snowden affair, detailed in his book ''No Place to Hide,'' will also hit the silver screen. Greenwald, who published the first set of stories based on the documents provided by Snowden, sold the rights to his film to producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.
German wiretaps now revealed
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:32
As disclosed, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) intercepts electronic messages through telecommunications and Internet in 195 countries, among which, Greece.
As revealed by TA NEA, Germany also plays "Big Brother", setting up wiretaps in 195 countries and locations, communications of which ait has llegedly monitored since April 2010. The wiretaps were revealed through a document filed during litigation between a German lawyer and the BND. According to this, the intercepts were conducted for reasons of "international terrorism", however the size and scope of the surveillance on foreign targets is not clear.
Lawyer Niko Harding sued BND because he considered that communication via e-mail with foreign customers may be a target of the German secret services and maintains that BND was not legally allowed to keep tabs on him, as a German citizen.
In last year's study of the general secretariat of Internal Affairs of the European Parliament for the rights of EU citizens say that in the operational activities of the German BND ''operates a service which can connect directly to digital nodes through which most foreign communications flow. German law allows intelligence agencies to seek up to 20% of 'foreign'communications that contain certain keywords, for the purposes of combating terrorism or the protection of the Constitution. This may only be done on German soil. Technically though, German Embassies abroad are German soil.
The study of the European Parliament states that the largest communications node in Germany is DE-CIX in Frankfurt. A revealing publication by Spiegel, which is mentioned in the study, stated that the German secret services have established special offices and facilities in this position in order to deflect the incoming data traffic, to copy and transpose the data for further analysis at BND's HQ, in Poulach near Munich.
The investigation of TA NEA shows that three telecommunications companies operating in Greece are among the more than 550 DE-CIX members/customers: Forthnet, OTEGlobe, and Cyprus' CYTA, operating in Greece.
The first in Greece to come to an agreement with DE-CIX was OTEGlobe in the mid nineties. The documents produced by the BND in court don't show whether the intercepts were made before the 2005 signing of the agreement between the Greek firm and the German telecommunications hub, however it is clear that the secret services have been conducting such activities at least since April 2010. In May 2011, collaboration between Forthnet and DE-CIX was announced, while CYTA signed an agreement with DE-CIX in April 2014.
As the newspaper said, only Forthnet replied to questions sent by the newspaper to the three companies on the measures taken to ensure confidentiality of telecommunications. "Forthnet fully adopting the orders of Greek legislation and regulatory framework to ensure the confidentiality of communications shall take all necessary technical and organizational measures of network operations for the security of mobile data," noted the firm's response.
Apart from the 3 Greek companies, veritable industry giants also use DE-CIX like facebook, and twitter, Microsoft, Verisign, Yahoo, Amazon, LinkedIn, Ebay and Deutsche Telecom, among others.
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Spying Together: Germany's Deep Cooperation with the NSA
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:04
Three months before Edward Snowden shocked the world with his revelations, members of NSA's "Special Source Operations department" sat down for a weekly meeting at their headquarters in the US state of Maryland. The group, considered internally to be particularly efficient, has several tasks, one of which is overseeing the intelligence agency's delicate relationship with large telecommunications firms. It is the department that Snowden referred to as the "crown jewels" of the NSA.
At this particular meeting, one significant slip-up was on the meeting agenda. On March 14, 2013, an SSO member had reported a potentially damaging incident. "Commercial consortium personnel" had apparently discovered the program "Wharpdrive," for which SSO had tapped a fiber-optic cable. "Witting partner personnel have removed the evidence," he explained further, "and a plausible cover story was provided." According to an internal NSA document to which SPIEGEL has access, a team was quietly put together to to reinstall the program.
The NSA, apparently, did not perform the highly sensitive operation on its own. All signs indicate that the agency had help from Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the country's foreign intelligence agency. The code name Wharpdrive appears in a paper drafted in preparation for a BND delegation's visit to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, and which instructs NSA leaders to "thank the BND for their assistance with the trilateral program." It also makes clear that the German agency plays a leadership role in the Wharpdrive program, with the NSA providing only technical assistance.
It isn't clear from the document exactly where the BND and NSA accessed the fiber-optic cable nor is there any indication of the operation's target. Neither agency responded to questions about Wharpdrive. What appears obvious, however, is that the BND cooperates closely with NSA in one of its most sensitive areas of operation.
NSA Sites in Germany
REUTERS
Wiesbaden
In the US Army's so-called Storage Station in the Wiesbaden district of Mainz-Kastel, the European Technical Center (ETC) can be found, a facility that is also used by the NSA. Only five kilometers away, in the Clay Kaserne located in the Erbenheim district of Wiesbaden, the Consolidated Intelligence Center is currently under construction, a site that will likely provide a new home to the signal intelligence specialists currently working in Mainz-Kastel. The new center is costing the Americans $124 million.Click here to access the documents.
DPA
Griesheim
The European Cryptologic Center (ECC) in Griesheim, not far from Darmstadt, was originally called the European Security Center (ESC) of the NSA and was briefly also named the European Security Operations Center (ESOC). Officially, the site is called the Dagger Complex. Several hundred people work here, including employees of both the NSA and of private security companies. It is considered to be one of the most important NSA sites in Europe. The fenced-in site is located not far from the August Euler airstrip.Click here to access the documents.
Thomas Klink/ DER SPIEGEL
Stuttgart
The official NSA headquarters in Germany is known as NSA/CSS Representative Europe Office (National Security Agency / Central Security Services) and is located in the Patch Barracks in the Stuttgart district of Vaihingen. This is also where the US European Command (EUCOM) is housed, the headquarters of the US military in Europe.Click here to access the documents.
REUTERS
Berlin
The Special Collection Service (SCS) is a unit operated jointly by the NSA and CIA which collects telecommunications and IT data. Germany's prosecutors have taken a special interest in the SCS in recent weeks due to the surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. The SCS also maintains a listening post at the US Embassy in Berlin, located next to the Brandenburg Gate.Click here to access the documents.
DPA
Frankfurt am Main
The Special Collection Service (SCS) is a unit operated jointly by the NSA and CIA which collects telecommunications and IT data. Germany's prosecutors have taken a special interest in the SCS in recent weeks due to the surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. The SCS also maintains a listening post at the US Consulate General in Frankfurt.Click here to access the documents.
Thomas Plettenberg/ DER SPIEGEL
Bad-Aibling
In the Mangfall Kaserne in Bad Aibling, Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the country's foreign intelligence agency, maintains a base. A building belonging to the NSA is also located here. It is the official liaison office between the two agencies and is called SUSLAG, which stands for Special US Liaison Activity Germany. The two intelligence agencies have worked closely together in Bad Aibling. According to a BND statement, a joint intelligence analysis center was closed down years ago.Click here to access the documents.
Germany's collaboration with US intelligence, which Berlin officials agreed to in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, is opaque and convoluted: opaque because the German parliament and public are unable to review most of what is delivered to the United States; convoluted because there are questions about its legality.Constitutionally Unacceptable
Leading constitutional law experts have their doubts. In testimony before the NSA investigation committee in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, heavyweight constitutional law experts Hans-J¼rgen Papier, Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem and Matthias B¤cker stated that the BND is potentially violating the German constitution by working with data received from the NSA. Furthermore, they argued that basic constitutional rights such as the privacy of correspondence, post and telecommunications apply to Germans abroad and to foreigners in Germany. That would mean that surveillance performed by the BND and NSA is constitutionally unacceptable.
German intelligence agencies, for their part, consider their cooperation with the NSA to be indispensable -- for counter-terrorism efforts, for the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and for the battle against organized crime. According to a classified paper created by the government in response to a query from the opposition, the BND does not keep official statistics on the amount of telephone, email and text message metadata that is shuttled to American agencies. "All metadata" collected at the NSA site in Bad Aibling in Bavaria "is made available," the response states. In 2012 and 2013, some 3 million items of content data, or intercepted conversations and messages, were sent to the United States each month.
These facts and figures, until now available only to select parliamentarians, offer a window into German-American intelligence cooperation. Documents SPIEGEL has seen from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden, when combined with SPIEGEL's own reporting, open up a much broader panorama.
They show that the exchange of data, spying tools and know-how is much more intense than previously thought. Given this close partnership, BND statements claiming they knew little about the programs and methods used by the NSA are, at minimum, startling.
One location in Germany is particularly illustrative of the trans-Atlantic pact. It is located in the Alpine foothills, in the beautiful valley of Mangfalltal. For decades, the NSA maintained its largest listening post in Germany in Bad Aibling, population 18,000. The agency once had up to 1,800 workers stationed here: They frequented Chicken Joe, a bar near the American base, and Johnny's Bowling. And they cruised through town in American off-road vehicles sporting US license plates.
The Americans' affection for the town can be seen in "A Little Bad Aibling Nostalgia," a document that NSA employees posted on the agency's intranet. They reminisced wistfully about "free bier" emails and leberk¤se, a bologna-like substance "made neither of liver nor cheese." German locals were fond of the agents, in part because they were reliable tenants. "Two men who specialized in Arabic dialects lived at my place," recalled jeweler Max Regensburger. "Nice people." Everyone, from baker to butcher to carpenter, profited from the Americans. When they left the base in 2004, Bad Aibling residents waved American flags in farewell.
The Tin Can
But the NSA did not completely abandon Bad Aibling. The BND took over most of the facilities on site, including nine white Radomes, the oversized golf ball-like structures crucial to many surveillance operations. But one small NSA special unit remained active and joined BND agents in the Mangfall Kaserne. The Americans built a specially constructed windowless building with an exterior of black-painted metal.
BND agents refer to the American complex, which houses the "Special US Liaison Activity Germany," or SUSLAG, as the "Tin Can." The unit's very existence is classified information. But it is clear that the Germans and Americans who work there know each other and value one-another's presence.
The official nature of the cooperation between Germany and the US in Bad Aibling is documented in a contract, written two years prior to the NSA's official departure, drafted under the auspices of then-Chancellery Chief of Staff Frank-Walter Steinmeier, now Germany's foreign minister. The "Memorandum of Agreement," signed on April 28, 2002, is six pages long and marked Top Secret. It is not from Snowden's material.
Much of the document consists of broad declarations of "good cooperation," but the important points can be found in the 74-page appendix. There, the two sides agree on joint espionage areas and targets, such as counter-terrorism, and the battles against organized crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Surveillance as such isn't mentioned, at least initially. The treaty signatories, instead, commit to respecting fundamental rights such as the privacy of correspondence, post and telecommunications and agree not to conduct surveillance on German or American citizens. The deal is valid both for "real" and "legal entities," meaning it applies to companies and associations as well.
But even in this memorandum, the crux is in the small print -- the addenda and exceptions. In the case of "terrorist activity," the taboos mentioned earlier no longer apply. Should it become clear that intercepted information originated from a German citizen, it can still be used as long as the partner agency is informed and agrees. The same is true in cases where the end point of monitored communications is located in a foreign country.
'Exciting Joint Ventures'
According to the German constitution, the BND is not allowed to perform surveillance on German citizens. But does the memorandum's small print open up a back door? Does the NSA provide information about radicals that the German intelligence agency is not permitted to have access to?
The BND denies the existence of such channels and says, "At no time has there been a deviation from the legal framework."
It seems doubtful that the Germans know exactly what their NSA colleagues are doing in Bad Aibling. According to the agreement, the NSA is allowed to carry out its own surveillance operations and only has to allow the German partners to look at its task assignments and operational details if asked.
In any case, internal documents indicate that the NSA is pleased with the Bad Aibling facility. "Two exciting joint ventures" are carried out there. One involves teams for working on joint surveillance (referred to as "Joint SIGINT Activity") and the other for the analysis of captured signals (Joint Analysis Center or JAC). Snowden's documents hint at what precisely the trans-Atlantic allies were collaborating on. In 2005, for example, five NSA employees worked "side-by-side" with BND analysts on a BND operation called Orion. Its targets lay outside NATO's eastern border.
According to the documents, most of the targets monitored jointly by the BND and NSA are in Africa and Afghanistan. One document, though, reveals something else. Stemming from 2009, it includes a list of companies and organizations with domain endings such as .com, .net and .org that are explicitly to be removed from the surveillance efforts because they are German web addresses. Among them are basf.com and bundeswehr.org, but also such domains as orgelbau.com and feuerwehr-ingolstadt.org.
SNOWJOB-BERLIN-NSA Turned Germany Into Its Largest Listening Post in Europe - The Intercept
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 00:54
The National Security Agency has turned Germany into its most important base of operations in Europe, according to a story published by Der Spiegel this week.
The German magazine reports that documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden ''paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence.'' The magazine adds, ''No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture like the one in Germany'...In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.''
The story reveals that the NSA's key facilities in Germany include Building 4009 at the ''Storage Station'' on Ludwig Wolker Street in Wiesbaden, which is in the southwest of the country. Officially known as the European Technical Center, the facility is the NSA's ''primary communications hub'' in Europe, intercepting huge amounts of data and forwarding it to ''NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East,'' according to the documents.
Spiegel also reports that an even larger NSA facility is under construction three miles away, in the Clay Kaserne, which is a U.S. military complex. Called the Consolidated Intelligence Center, the facility will cost $124 million once it is completed, and will house data-monitoring specialists from the Storage Station.
The agency's operations in Germany came under intense scrutiny earlier this year when Spiegel revealed that the NSA had eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone calls. In its latest issue, the magazine reports on a legal controversy over the NSA's still-close relationship with its German partner, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The Snowden documents show that ''the exchange of data, spying tools and know-how is much more intense than previously thought,'' according to Spiegel'--and this raises the question of whether the BND is violating constitutional protections on privacy for Germans abroad and foreigners in Germany.
The scope of the NSA's activities in Germany is considerable. Another key NSA facility, Spiegel reports, is the ''Dagger Complex'' in Griesheim, a town about 25 miles from Wiesbaden. It is ''the NSA's most important listening station in Europe,'' with around 240 intelligence analysts working there in 2011. The facility's official name is the European Center for Cryptology. ''NSA staff in Griesheim use the most modern equipment available for the analysis of the data streams, using programs like XKeyscore, which allows for the deep penetration of Internet traffic,'' according to Spiegel.
The story also delves into the growth of facilities that house the NSA's Special Collection Service, which is a joint operation with the CIA to collect targeted communications. There are more than 80 SCS stations around the world, and the Snowden documents indicate two sites are located in Germany'--in the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt, and the U.S. embassy in Berlin, which is where the SCS is believed to have recorded Chancellor Merkel's phone calls.
New Snowden Revelations on NSA Spying in Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:33
Just before Christmas 2005, an unexpected event disrupted the work of American spies in the south-central German city of Wiesbaden. During the installation of a fiber-optic cable near the Rhine River, local workers encountered a suspicious metal object, possibly an undetonated World War II explosive. It was certainly possible: Adolf Hitler's military had once maintained a tank repair yard in the Wiesbaden neighborhood of Mainz-Kastel.
The Americans -- who maintained what was officially known as a "Storage Station" on Ludwig Wolker Street -- prepared an evacuation plan. And on Jan. 24, 2006, analysts with the National Security Agency (NSA) cleared out their offices, cutting off the intelligence agency's access to important European data streams for an entire day, a painfully long time. The all-clear only came that night: The potential ordinance turned out to be nothing more than a pile of junk.
Residents in Mainz-Kastel knew nothing of the incident.
Of course, everybody living there knows of the 20-hectare (49-acre) US army compound. A beige wall topped with barbed wire protects the site from the outside world; a sign outside warns, "Beware, Firearms in Use!"
Americans in uniform have been part of the cityscape in Wiesbaden for decades, and local businesses have learned to cater to their customers from abroad. Used-car dealerships post their prices in dollars and many Americans are regulars at the local brewery. "It is a peaceful coexistence," says Christa Gabriel, head of the Mainz-Kastel district council.
But until now, almost nobody in Wiesbaden knew that Building 4009 of the "Storage Station" houses one of the NSA's most important European data collection centers. Its official name is the European Technical Center (ETC), and, as documents from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden show, it has been expanded in recent years. From an American perspective, the program to improve the center -- which was known by the strange code name "GODLIKELESION" -- was badly needed. In early 2010, for example, the NSA branch office lost power 150 times within the space just a few months -- a serious handicap for a service that strives to monitor all of the world's data traffic.
NSA Sites in Germany
REUTERS
Wiesbaden
In the US Army's so-called Storage Station in the Wiesbaden district of Mainz-Kastel, the European Technical Center (ETC) can be found, a facility that is also used by the NSA. Only five kilometers away, in the Clay Kaserne located in the Erbenheim district of Wiesbaden, the Consolidated Intelligence Center is currently under construction, a site that will likely provide a new home to the signal intelligence specialists currently working in Mainz-Kastel. The new center is costing the Americans $124 million.Click here to access the documents.
DPA
Griesheim
The European Cryptologic Center (ECC) in Griesheim, not far from Darmstadt, was originally called the European Security Center (ESC) of the NSA and was briefly also named the European Security Operations Center (ESOC). Officially, the site is called the Dagger Complex. Several hundred people work here, including employees of both the NSA and of private security companies. It is considered to be one of the most important NSA sites in Europe. The fenced-in site is located not far from the August Euler airstrip.Click here to access the documents.
Thomas Klink/ DER SPIEGEL
Stuttgart
The official NSA headquarters in Germany is known as NSA/CSS Representative Europe Office (National Security Agency / Central Security Services) and is located in the Patch Barracks in the Stuttgart district of Vaihingen. This is also where the US European Command (EUCOM) is housed, the headquarters of the US military in Europe.Click here to access the documents.
REUTERS
Berlin
The Special Collection Service (SCS) is a unit operated jointly by the NSA and CIA which collects telecommunications and IT data. Germany's prosecutors have taken a special interest in the SCS in recent weeks due to the surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. The SCS also maintains a listening post at the US Embassy in Berlin, located next to the Brandenburg Gate.Click here to access the documents.
DPA
Frankfurt am Main
The Special Collection Service (SCS) is a unit operated jointly by the NSA and CIA which collects telecommunications and IT data. Germany's prosecutors have taken a special interest in the SCS in recent weeks due to the surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. The SCS also maintains a listening post at the US Consulate General in Frankfurt.Click here to access the documents.
Thomas Plettenberg/ DER SPIEGEL
Bad-Aibling
In the Mangfall Kaserne in Bad Aibling, Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the country's foreign intelligence agency, maintains a base. A building belonging to the NSA is also located here. It is the official liaison office between the two agencies and is called SUSLAG, which stands for Special US Liaison Activity Germany. The two intelligence agencies have worked closely together in Bad Aibling. According to a BND statement, a joint intelligence analysis center was closed down years ago.Click here to access the documents.
On Sept. 19, 2011, the Americans celebrated the reopening of the refurbished ETC, and since then, the building has been the NSA's "primary communications hub" in Europe. From here, a Snowden document outlines, huge amounts of data are intercepted and forwarded to "NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East." The hub, the document notes, ensures the reliable transfer of data for "the foreseeable future."Soon the NSA will have an even more powerful and modern facility at their disposal: Just five kilometers away, in the Clay Kaserne, a US military complex located in the Erbenheim district of Wiesbaden, the "Consolidated Intelligence Center" is under construction. It will house data-monitoring specialists from Mainz-Kastel. The project in southern Hesse comes with a price tag of $124 million ('‚¬91 million). When finished, the US government will be even better equipped to satisfy its vast hunger for data.
One year after Edward Snowden made the breadth of the NSA's global data monitoring public, much remains unknown about the full scope of the intelligence service's activities in Germany. We know that the Americans monitored the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and we know that there are listening posts in the US Embassy in Berlin and in the Consulate General in Frankfurt.
But much remains in the dark. The German government has sent lists of questions to the US government on several occasions, and a parliamentary investigative committee has begun looking into the subject in Berlin. Furthermore, Germany's chief public prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the NSA -- albeit one currently limited to its monitoring of the chancellor's cell phone and not the broader allegation that it spied on the communications of the German public. Neither the government nor German lawmakers nor prosecutors believe they will receive answers from officials in the United States.
German Left Party politician Jan Korte recently asked just how much the German government knows about American spying activities in Germany. The answer: Nothing. The NSA's promise to send a package including all relevant documents to re-establish transparency between the two governments has been quietly forgotten by the Americans.
In response, SPIEGEL has again reviewed the Snowden documents relating to Germany and compiled a Germany File of original documents pertaining to the NSA's activities in the country that are now available for download here. SPIEGEL has reported on the contents of some of the documents over the course of the past year. The content of others is now being written about for the first time. Some passages of the documents have been redacted in order to remove sensitive information like the names of NSA employees or those of the German foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). This week's reports are also based on documents and information from other sources.
An Omnipotent American Authority
The German publichas a right to know exactly what the NSA is doing in Germany, and should be given the ability to draw its own conclusions about the extent of the US intelligence agency's activities in the country and the scope of its cooperation with German agencies when it comes to, for example, the monitoring of fiber-optic cables.
The German archive provides the basis for a critical discussion on the necessity and limits of secret service work as well as on the protection of privacy in the age of digital communication. The documents complement the debate over a trans-Atlantic relationship that has been severely damaged by the NSA affair.
They paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence. No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture comparable to the one in Germany. It is a web of sites defined as much by a thirst for total control as by the desire for security. In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.
The documents indicate that the NSA uses its German sites to search for a potential target by analyzing a "Pattern of Life," in the words of one Snowden file. And one classified report suggests that information collected in Germany is used for the "capture or kill" of alleged terrorists.
According to Paragraph 99 of Germany's criminal code, spying is illegal on German territory, yet German officials would seem to know next to nothing about the NSA's activity in their country. For quite some time, it appears, they didn't even want to know. It wasn't until Snowden went public with his knowledge that the German government became active.
On June 11, August 26 and October 24 of last year, Berlin sent a catalogue of questions to the US government. During a visit to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland at the beginning of November, German intelligence heads Gerhard Schindler (of the BND) and Hans-Georg Maassen (of the domestic intelligence agency, known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution or BfV) asked the most important questions in person and, for good measure, handed over a written list. No answers have been forthcoming. This leaves the Snowden documents as the best source for describing how the NSA has turned Germany into its most important base in Europe in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The NSA's European Headquarters
On March 10, 2004, two US generals -- Richard J. Quirk III of the NSA and John Kimmons, who was the US Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence -- finalized an agreement to establish an operations center in Germany, the European Security Center (ESC), to be located on US Army property in the town of Griesheim near Darmstadt, Germany. That center is now the NSA's most important listening station in Europe.
The NSA had already dispatched an initial team to southern Germany in early 2003. The agency stationed a half-dozen analysts at the its European headquarters in Stuttgart's Vaihingen neighborhood, where their work focused largely on North Africa. The analysts' aims, according to internal documents, included providing support to African governments in securing borders and ensuring that they didn't offer safe havens to terrorist organizations or their accomplices.
The work quickly bore fruit. It became increasingly easy to track the movements of suspicious persons in Mali, Mauritania and Algeria through the surveillance of satellite telephones. NSA workers passed information on to the US military's European Command, with some also being shared with individual governments in Africa. A US government document states that the intelligence insights have "been responsible for the capture or kill of over 40 terrorists and has helped achieve GWOT (Global War on Terror) and regional policy successes in Africa."
Is Germany an NSA Beachhead?
The documents in Snowden's archive raise the question of whether Germany has become a beachhead for America's deadly operations against suspected terrorists -- and whether the CIA and the American military use data collected in Germany in the deployment of its combat drones. When asked about this by SPIEGEL, the NSA declined to respond.
The operations of the NSA's analysts in Stuttgart were so successful that the intelligence agency quickly moved to expand its presence. In 2004, the Americans obtained approximately 1,000 square meters (10,750 square feet) of office space in Griesheim to host 59 workers who monitored communications in an effort to "optimize support to Theater operations" of the US Armed Forces. Ten years later, the center, although largely used by the military, has become the NSA's most important outpost in Europe -- with a mandate that goes far beyond providing support for the US military.
In 2011, around 240 intelligence service analysts were working at the Griesheim facility, known as the Dagger Complex. It was a "diverse mix of military service members, Department of the Army civilians, NSA civilians, and contractors," an internal document states. They were responsible for both collecting and analyzing international communication streams. One member of the NSA pointed out proudly that they were responsible for every step in the process: collection, processing, analyzing and distribution.
In May 2011, the installation was renamed the European Center for Cryptology (ECC) and the NSA integrated its Threat Operations Center, responsible for early danger identification, into the site. A total of 26 reconnaissance missions are managed from the Griesheim complex, which has since become the center of the "largest Analysis and Production activity in Europe," with satellite stations in Mons, Belgium, and in Great Britain. Internal documents indicate that the ECC is the operative intelligence arm of the NSA's European leadership in Stuttgart.
US tech giants seek protection against overseas NSA snooping '-- RT USA
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:16
Published time: June 17, 2014 12:29Reuters / China Daily
In an epic battle of behemoths, Microsoft and four other US technology companies are seeking legal protection in a Manhattan court against US intelligence agencies, presently empowered to spy on millions of users' data stored outside the country.
Some of the most reputable names in the tech business say revelations of the National Security Agency's global spying network, leaked last summer by former NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, could result in the loss of billions of dollars in business if overseas customers believe their files are vulnerable to US surveillance.
The arguments were submitted to a Manhattan district judge ahead of a July hearing to settle the matter, Reuters reported.
The latest legal action follows a court decision handed down in April that concluded it was legal for the government to order Microsoft to comply with a sealed search warrant for a customer email file that is stored in Dublin, Ireland. The judge ruled that the search warrant is a "hybrid'' (which he described as ''part search warrant and part subpoena"), saying that the recipient of a subpoena must produce information in its possession regardless '' even if that data is stored outside of the United States.
The judge added that if territorial limitations on search warrants were moved to cyberspace, "the burden on the government would be substantial, and law enforcement efforts would be seriously impeded."
Now, a group of large tech firms, comprised of Verizon, Apple, AT&T and Cisco Systems are openly supporting Microsoft's upcoming court battle against government snooping.
Lawyers for the companies, which provide internet services, as well as remote data storage (otherwise known as "cloud computing") say they suffered another setback in April when a Manhattan magistrate judge ruled on behalf of the government in its effort to make Microsoft comply with a search warrant for a customer email files, stored in Dublin, Ireland, AP reported.
Microsoft operates data centers around the world, including in the United States, Ireland, the Netherlands, Japan and Brazil.
The world's largest software developer argued that the decision threatens the US Constitution's protections against illegal search and seizure, poses a risk to US foreign relations and "reduces the privacy protection of everyone on the planet."
"Over the course of the past year, Microsoft and other US technology companies have faced growing mistrust and concern about their ability to protect the privacy of personal information located outside the United States," Microsoft said in court documents. "The government's position in this case further erodes that trust, and will ultimately erode the leadership of US technology companies in the global market."
Prosecutors, meanwhile, said Microsoft's position on the government's ability to obtain communications in certain instances is a ''dangerous impediment'' to the authorities and their investigative work.
Microsoft's position "serves as a dangerous impediment to the ability of law enforcement to gather evidence of criminal activity," they said.
Meanwhile, the software giant, founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, said it has encountered "rising concerns among both current and potential customers overseas" and some customers have cited the ruling as they chose a foreign provider to store data.
10 Things We didn't know before Snowden
"If this trend continues, the US technology sector's business model of providing 'cloud' Internet-based services to enterprises, governments, and educational institutions worldwide will be substantially undermined," Microsoft said.
In court documents filed last week, Verizon said the ruling, if unchallenged, "would have an enormous detrimental impact on the international business of American companies, on international relations and on privacy."
It said the ruling "could cost US businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue, undermine international agreements and understandings, and prompt foreign governments to retaliate by forcing foreign affiliates of American companies to turn over the content of customer data stored in the United States."
In court papers, AT&T said the ruling threatened to provide law enforcement with "a global information access tool without bounds."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties watchdog, said the government's intrusiveness ''poses a grave risk to privacy."
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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John Temple joins First Look leadership team - First Look Media
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 07:05
The challenge we have set for ourselves at First Look Media is to do things that haven't been done before, to find ways to combine journalism and technology to improve society. We're hard at work establishing a foundation for the company and part of that process has involved consulting with a number of people to help test our vision. Among those has been a former partner, John Temple, who helped found my first journalism start-up, Honolulu Civil Beat, as its first editor.
Today I am pleased to announce that John is joining First Look in a leadership role to help us achieve our mission. John is our President, Audience and Products.
I value John's judgment. I've seen his commitment to questioning and testing ideas in action. He is a seasoned publisher and journalist who has embraced the endless possibilities at the intersection of technology and media. He is fresh from his post as a senior fellow at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program at Stanford, where he spent a year investigating how technology can better help people engage and connect with the news. I believe his skills will strengthen First Look during these early stages of development. He is a strong leader who believes in learning through experimentation, and who knows the power of being surrounded by passionate, driven people who challenge each other to try, fail, learn and try again.
I saw John's commitment and integrity first hand when we worked side-by-side building Honolulu Civil Beat. We took our lofty ideas of what might be possible and turned them into a thriving local news organization that gives the public a powerful voice in the community. It wasn't easy, and there were times when we confronted challenges we didn't know how to solve. But four years later it serves as a reminder of how bringing together the right people and resources can create lasting impact in the world.
John has an impressive journalism background, which you can learn more about here. I'm excited to learn from his perspective and work with him to fulfill First Look's efforts to reimagine journalism for the digital age.
Welcome, John.
Agenda 21
Coldest June night in 50 years brings summertime snow | Yle Uutiset | yle.fi
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 19:33
Snowfall in Yli-Ii, north of Oulu, on Tuesday morningImage: LiikennevirastoSnow fell during the night and in the morning in parts of Lapland, northern Ostrobothnia and central Finland. The temperature fell to zero as far south as Virrat in Pirkanmaa.
The coldest June temperature in 50 years was recorded in Saanatunturi, Northern Finland, when the mercury dropped to minus 6.2. That wasn't quite low enough to beat the 1962 record of minus seven, measured at the start of June in Laanila, northern Lapland.
During the months of midnight sun in Lapland, weather conditions are generally dry, meaning that snow is more likely to fall further south, in northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. However, at 8am on Tuesday morning, snowfall was also observed in Yli-Ii, north of Oulu.
Last night also brought frosty conditions to northern Ostrobothnia and Lapland as well as in parts of the south. In Salo, eastern Finland, the ground surface temperature fell to minus 3 during the night.
Yle meteorologist Matti Huutonen said Tuesday is forecast to be the coldest day of the week, and the temperature is due to rise slightly going towards the weekend. Daytime temperatures on Tuesday will hover around ten degrees. But despite the slight improvement, hot summery conditions are unlikely to arrive in time for midsummer celebrations at the end of the week.
The cool weather is a result of air streams coming off the Arctic Ocean. Huutonen says the recent daytime temperatures have been below the average for this time of year. Temperatures on Tuesday are around ten degrees lower than the long-term average.
The changeable weather is set to continue for the next few days at least.
The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate | Politics News | Rolling Stone
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:39
In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem '' some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still '' almost certainly '' be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.
Global Warming's Terrifying New Math
There is surprising '' even shocking '' good news: Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries. By 2020 '' as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline '' more than 80 percent of the world's people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.
No matter what the large carbon polluters and their ideological allies say or do, in markets there is a huge difference between "more expensive than" and "cheaper than." Not unlike the difference between 32 degrees and 33 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not just a difference of a degree, it's the difference between a market that's frozen up and one that's liquid. As a result, all over the world, the executives of companies selling electricity generated from the burning of carbon-based fuels (primarily from coal) are openly discussing their growing fears of a "utility death spiral."
Germany, Europe's industrial powerhouse, where renewable subsidies have been especially high, now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar; and analysts predict that number will rise to 50 percent by 2020. (Indeed, one day this year, renewables created 74 percent of the nation's electricity!)
Scorched Earth: How Climate Change Is Spreading Drought Throughout the Globe
What's more, Germany's two largest coal-burning utilities have lost 56 percent of their value over the past four years, and the losses have continued into the first half of 2014. And it's not just Germany. Last year, the top 20 utilities throughout Europe reported losing half of their value since 2008. According to the Swiss bank UBS, nine out of 10 European coal and gas plants are now losing money.
In the United States, where up to 49 percent of the new generating capacity came from renewables in 2012, 166 coal-fired electricity-generating plants have either closed or have announced they are closing in the past four and a half years. An additional 183 proposed new coal plants have been canceled since 2005.
To be sure, some of these closings have been due to the substitution of gas for coal, but the transition under way in both the American and global energy markets is far more significant than one fossil fuel replacing another. We are witnessing the beginning of a massive shift to a new energy-distribution model '' from the "central station" utility-grid model that goes back to the 1880s to a "widely distributed" model with rooftop solar cells, on-site and grid battery storage, and microgrids.
The principal trade group representing U.S. electric utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, has identified distributed generation as the "largest near-term threat to the utility model." Last May, Barclays downgraded the entirety of the U.S. electric sector, warning that "a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar­photovoltaic-power generation and residential­scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo" and make utility investments less attractive.
See the 10 Dumbest Things Said About Global Warming
This year, Citigroup reported that the widespread belief that natural gas '' the supply of which has ballooned in the U.S. with the fracking of shale gas '' will continue to be the chosen alternative to coal is mistaken, because it too will fall victim to the continuing decline in the cost of solar and wind electricity. Significantly, the cost of battery storage, long considered a barrier to the new electricity system, has also been declining steadily '' even before the introduction of disruptive new battery technologies that are now in advanced development. Along with the impressive gains of clean-energy programs in the past decade, there have been similar improvements in our ability to do more with less. Since 1980, the U.S. has reduced total energy intensity by 49 percent.
It is worth remembering this key fact about the supply of the basic "fuel": Enough raw energy reaches the Earth from the sun in one hour to equal all of the energy used by the entire world in a full year.
In poorer countries, where most of the world's people live and most of the growth in energy use is occurring, photovoltaic electricity is not so much displacing carbon-based energy as leapfrogging it altogether. In his first days in office, the government of the newly elected prime minister of India, Narendra Modi (who has authored an e-book on global warming), announced a stunning plan to rely principally upon photovoltaic energy in providing electricity to 400 million Indians who currently do not have it. One of Modi's supporters, S.L. Rao, the former utility regulator of India, added that the industry he once oversaw "has reached a stage where either we change the whole system quickly, or it will collapse."
Nor is India an outlier. Neighboring Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute '-- making it the most rapidly growing market for PVs in the world. In West and East Africa, solar-electric cells are beginning what is widely predicted to be a period of explosive growth.
At the turn of the 21st century, some scoffed at projections that the world would be installing one gigawatt of new solar electricity per year by 2010. That goal was exceeded 17 times over; last year it was exceeded 39 times over; and this year the world is on pace to exceed that benchmark as much as 55 times over. In May, China announced that by 2017, it would have the capacity to generate 70 gigawatts of photovoltaic electricity. The state with by far the biggest amount of wind energy is Texas, not historically known for its progressive energy policies.
The cost of wind energy is also plummeting, having dropped 43 percent in the United States since 2009 '' making it now cheaper than coal for new generating capacity. Though the downward cost curve is not quite as steep as that for solar, the projections in 2000 for annual worldwide wind deployments by the end of that decade were exceeded seven times over, and are now more than 10 times that figure. In the United States alone, nearly one-third of all new electricity-generating capacity in the past five years has come from wind, and installed wind capacity in the U.S. has increased more than fivefold since 2006.
For consumers, this good news may soon get even better. While the cost of carbon­based energy continues to increase, the cost of solar electricity has dropped by an average of 20 percent per year since 2010. Some energy economists, including those who produced an authoritative report this past spring for Bernstein Research, are now predicting energy-price deflation as soon as the next decade.
For those (including me) who are surprised at the speed with which this impending transition has been accelerating, there are precedents that help explain it. Remember the first mobile-telephone handsets? I do; as an inveterate "early adopter" of new technologies, I thought those first huge, clunky cellphones were fun to use and looked cool (they look silly now, of course). In 1980, a few years before I bought one of the early models, AT&T conducted a global market study and came to the conclusion that by the year 2000 there would be a market for 900,000 subscribers. They were not only wrong, they were way wrong: 109 million contracts were active in 2000. Barely a decade and a half later, there are 6.8 billion globally. '(C)These parallels have certainly caught the attention of the fossil-fuel industry and its investors: Eighteen months ago, the Edison Electric Institute described the floundering state of the once-proud landline-telephone companies as a grim predictor of what may soon be their fate.
The utilities are fighting back, of course, by using their wealth and the entrenched political power they have built up over the past century. In the United States, brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned corporation in the U.S., have secretively donated at least $70 million to a number of opaque political organizations tasked with spreading disinformation about the climate crisis and intimidating political candidates who dare to support renewable energy or the pricing of carbon pollution.
A Call to Arms: An invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change
They regularly repeat shopworn complaints about the inadequate, intermittent and inconsistent subsidies that some governments have used in an effort to speed up the deployment of renewables, while ignoring the fact that global subsidies for carbon-based energy are 25 times larger than global subsidies for renewables.
One of the most effective of the groups financed by the Koch brothers and other carbon polluters is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which grooms conservative state legislators throughout the country to act as their agents in introducing legislation written by utilities and carbon-fuel lobbyists in a desperate effort to slow, if not stop, the transition to renewable energy.
The Kochs claim to act on principles of low taxation and minimal regulation, but in their attempts to choke the development of alternative energy, they have induced the recipients of their generous campaign contributions to contradict these supposedly bedrock values, pushing legislative and regulatory measures in 34 states to discourage solar, or encourage carbon energy, or both. The most controversial of their initiatives is focused on persuading state legislatures and public-utility commissions to tax homeowners who install a PV solar cell on their roofs, and to manipulate the byzantine utility laws and regulations to penalize renewable energy in a variety of novel schemes.
The chief battleground in this war between the energy systems of the past and future is our electrical grid. For more than a century, the grid '' along with the regulatory and legal framework governing it '' has been dominated by electric utilities and their centralized, fossil-fuel-powered­ electricity-generation plants. But the rise of distributed alternate energy sources allows consumers to participate in the production of electricity through a policy called net metering. In 43 states, homeowners who install solar PV to systems on their rooftops are permitted to sell electricity back into the grid when they generate more than they need.
These policies have been crucial to the growth of solar power. But net metering represents an existential threat to the future of electric utilities, the so-called utility death spiral: As more consumers install solar panels on their roofs, utilities will have to raise prices on their remaining customers to recover the lost revenues. Those higher rates will, in turn, drive more consumers to leave the utility system, and so on.
But here is more good news: The Koch brothers are losing rather badly. In Kansas, their home state, a poll by North Star Opinion Research reported that 91 percent of registered voters support solar and wind. Three-quarters supported stronger policy encouragement of renewable energy, even if such policies raised their electricity bills.
In Georgia, the Atlanta Tea Party joined forces with the Sierra Club to form a new organization called '' wait for it '' the Green Tea Coalition, which promptly defeated a Koch-funded scheme to tax rooftop solar panels.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, after the state's largest utility, an ALEC member, asked the public-utility commission for a tax of up to $150 per month for solar households, the opposition was fierce and well-organized. A compromise was worked out '' those households would be charged just $5 per month '' but Barry Goldwater Jr., the leader of a newly formed organization called TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won't be Killed), is fighting a new attempt to discourage rooftop solar in Arizona. Characteristically, the Koch brothers and their allies have been using secretive and deceptive funding in Arizona to run television advertisements attacking "greedy" owners of rooftop solar panels '' but their effort has thus far backfired, as local journalists have exposed the funding scam.
Even though the Koch-funded forces recently scored a partial (and almost certainly temporary) victory in Ohio, where the legislature voted to put a hold on the state's renewable-portfolio standard and study the issue for two years, it's clear that the attack on solar energy is too little, too late. Last year, the Edison Electric Institute warned the utility industry that it had waited too long to respond to the sharp cost declines and growing popularity of solar: "At the point when utility investors become focused on these new risks and start to witness significant customer- and earnings-erosion trends, they will respond to these challenges. But, by then, it may be too late to repair the utility business model."
The most seductive argument deployed by the Koch brothers and their allies is that those who use rooftop solar electricity and benefit from the net-metering policies are "free riders" '' that is, they are allegedly not paying their share of the maintenance costs for the infrastructure of the old utility model, including the grid itself. This deceptive message, especially when coupled with campaign contributions, has persuaded some legislators to support the proposed new taxes on solar panels.
But the argument ignores two important realities facing the electric utilities: First, most of the excess solar electricity is supplied by owners of solar cells during peak-load hours of the day, when the grid's capacity is most stressed '' thereby alleviating the pressure to add expensive new coal- or gas-fired generating capacity. But here's the rub: What saves money for their customers cuts into the growth of their profits and depresses their stock prices. As is often the case, the real conflict is between the public interest and the special interest.
The second reality ignored by the Koch brothers is the one they least like to discuss, the one they spend so much money trying to obfuscate with their hired "merchants of doubt." You want to talk about the uncompensated use of infrastructure? What about sewage infrastructure for 98 million tons per day of gaseous, heat-trapping waste that is daily released into our skies, threatening the future of human civilization? Is it acceptable to use the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet as an open sewer? Free of charge? Really?
This, after all, is the reason the climate crisis has become an existential threat to the future of human civilization. Last April, the average CO2 concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere exceeded 400 parts-per-million on a sustained basis for the first time in at least 800,000 years and probably for the first time in at least 4.5 million years (a period that was considerably warmer than at present).
According to a cautious analysis by the influential climate scientist James Hansen, the accumulated man-made global-warming pollution already built up in the Earth's atmosphere now traps as much extra heat energy every day as would be released by the explosion of 400,000 Hiroshima-class nuclear bombs. It's a big planet, but that's a lot of energy.
And it is that heat energy that is giving the Earth a fever. Denialists hate the "fever" metaphor, but as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) pointed out this year, "Just as a 1.4­degree-fever change would be seen as significant in a child's body, a similar change in our Earth's temperature is also a concern for human society."
Thirteen of the 14 hottest years ever measured with instruments have occurred in this century. This is the 37th year in a row that has been hotter than the 20th-century average. April was the 350th month in a row hotter than the average in the preceding century. The past decade was by far the warmest decade ever measured.
Many scientists expect the coming year could break all of these records by a fair margin because of the extra boost from the anticipated El Ni±o now gathering in the waters of the eastern Pacific. (The effects of periodic El Ni±o events are likely to become stronger because of global warming, and this one is projected by many scientists to be stronger than average, perhaps on the scale of the epic El Ni±o of 1997 to 1998.)
The fast-growing number of extreme-weather events, connected to the climate crisis, has already had a powerful impact on public attitudes toward global warming. A clear majority of Americans now acknowledge that man-made pollution is responsible. As the storms, floods, mudslides, droughts, fires and other catastrophes become ever more destructive, the arcane discussions over how much of their extra-destructive force should be attributed to global warming have become largely irrelevant. The public at large feels it viscerally now. As Bob Dylan sang, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."
Besides, there is a simple difference between linear cause and effect and systemic cause and effect. As one of the world's most-respected atmospheric scientists, Kevin Trenberth, has said, "The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities."
For example, when Supertyphoon Haiyan crossed the Pacific toward the Philippines last fall, the storm gained strength across seas that were 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they used to be because of greenhouse­gas pollution. As a result, Haiyan went from being merely strong to being the most powerful and destructive ocean-based storm on record to make landfall. Four million people were displaced (more than twice as many as by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 10 years ago), and there are still more than 2 million Haiyan refugees desperately trying to rebuild their lives.
When Superstorm Sandy traversed the areas of the Atlantic Ocean windward of New York and New Jersey in 2012, the water temperature was nine degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. The extra convection energy in those waters fed the storm and made the winds stronger than they would otherwise have been. Moreover, the sea level was higher than it used to be, elevated by the melting of ice in the frozen regions of the Earth and the expanded volume of warmer ocean waters.
Five years earlier, denialists accused me of demagogic exaggeration in an animated scene in my documentary An Inconvenient Truth that showed the waters of the Atlantic Ocean flooding into the 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial site. But in Sandy's wake, the Atlantic did in fact flood Ground Zero '' many years before scientists had expected that to occur.
Similarly, the inundation of Miami Beach by rising sea levels has now begun, and freshwater aquifers in low-lying areas from South Florida to the Nile Delta to Bangladesh to Indochina are being invaded by saltwater pushed upward by rising oceans. And of course, many low-lying islands '' not least in the Bay of Bengal '' are in danger of disappearing altogether. Where will the climate refugees go? Similarly, the continued melting of mountain glaciers and snowpacks is, according to the best scientists, already "affecting water supplies for as many as a billion people around the world."
Just as the extreme-weather events we are now experiencing are exactly the kind that were predicted by scientists decades ago, the scientific community is now projecting far worse extreme-weather events in the years to come. Eighty percent of the warming in the past 150 years (since the burning of carbon-based fuels gained momentum) has occurred in the past few decades. And it is worth noting that the previous scientific projections consistently low-balled the extent of the global­warming consequences that later took place '' for a variety of reasons rooted in the culture of science that favor conservative estimates of future effects.
In an effort to avoid these cultural biases, the AAAS noted this year that not only are the impacts of the climate crisis "very likely to become worse over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond," but "there is a possibility that temperatures will rise much higher and impacts will be much worse than expected. Moreover, as global temperature rises, the risk increases that one or more important parts of the Earth's climate system will experience changes that may be abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible, causing large damages and high costs."
Just weeks after that report, there was shock and, for some, a temptation to despair when the startling news was released in May by scientists at both NASA and the University of Washington that the long-feared "collapse" of a portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet is not only under way but is also now "irreversible." Even as some labored to understand what the word "collapse" implied about the suddenness with which this catastrophe will ultimately unfold, it was the word "irreversible" that had a deeper impact on the collective psyche.
Just as scientists 200 years ago could not comprehend the idea that species had once lived on Earth and had subsequently become extinct, and just as some people still find it hard to accept the fact that human beings have become a sufficiently powerful force of nature to reshape the ecological system of our planet, many '' including some who had long since accepted the truth about global warming '' had difficulty coming to grips with the stark new reality that one of the long-feared "tipping points" had been crossed. And that, as a result, no matter what we do, sea levels will rise by at least an additional three feet.
The uncertainty about how long the process will take (some of the best ice scientists warn that a rise of 10 feet in this century cannot be ruled out) did not change the irreversibility of the forces that we have set in motion. But as Eric Rignot, the lead author of the NASA study, pointed out in The Guardian, it's still imperative that we take action: "Controlling climate warming may ultimately make a difference not only about how fast West Antarctic ice will melt to sea, but also whether other parts of Antarctica will take their turn."
The news about the irreversible collapse in West Antarctica caused some to almost forget that only two months earlier, a similar startling announcement had been made about the Greenland ice sheet. Scientists found that the northeastern part of Greenland '' long thought to be resistant to melting '' has in fact been losing more than 10 billion tons of ice per year for the past decade, making 100 percent of Greenland unstable and likely, as with West Antarctica, to contribute to significantly more sea-level rise than scientists had previously thought.
The heating of the oceans not only melts the ice and makes hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons more intense, it also evaporates around 2 trillion gallons of additional water vapor into the skies above the U.S. The warmer air holds more of this water vapor and carries it over the landmasses, where it is funneled into land-based storms that are releasing record downpours all over the world.
For example, an "April shower" came to Pensacola, Florida, this spring, but it was a freak '' another rainstorm on steroids: two feet of rain in 26 hours. It broke all the records in the region, but as usual, virtually no media outlets made the connection to global warming. Similar "once in a thousand years" storms have been occurring regularly in recent years all over the world, including in my hometown of Nashville in May 2010.
All-time record flooding swamped large portions of England this winter, submerging thousands of homes for more than six weeks. Massive downpours hit Serbia and Bosnia this spring, causing flooding of "biblical proportions" (a phrase now used so frequently in the Western world that it has become almost a clich(C)) and thousands of landslides. Torrential rains in Afghanistan in April triggered mudslides that killed thousands of people '' almost as many, according to relief organizations, as all of the Afghans killed in the war there the previous year.
In March, persistent rains triggered an unusually large mudslide in Oso, Washington, killing more than 40 people. There are literally hundreds of other examples of extreme rainfall occurring in recent years in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
In the planet's drier regions, the same extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by man-made global-warming pollution has also been driving faster evaporation of soil moisture and causing record-breaking droughts. As of this writing, 100 percent of California is in "severe," "extreme" or "exceptional" drought. Record fires are ravaging the desiccated landscape. Experts now project that an increase of one degree Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures will lead to as much as a 600-­percent increase in the median area burned by forest fires in some areas of the American West '' including large portions of Colorado. The National Research Council has reported that fire season is two and a half months longer than it was 30 years ago, and in California, firefighters are saying that the season is now effectively year-round.
Drought has been intensifying in many other dry regions around the world this year: Brazil, Indonesia, central and northwest Africa and Madagascar, central and western Europe, the Middle East up to the Caspian Sea and north of the Black Sea, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, Western Australia and New Zealand.
Syria is one of the countries that has been in the bull's-eye of climate change. From 2006 to 2010, a historic drought destroyed 60 percent of the country's farms and 80 percent of its livestock '' driving a million refugees from rural agricultural areas into cities already crowded with the million refugees who had taken shelter there from the Iraq War. As early as 2008, U.S. State Department cables quoted Syrian government officials warning that the social and economic impacts of the drought are "beyond our capacity as a country to deal with." Though the hellish and ongoing civil war in Syria has multiple causes '' including the perfidy of the Assad government and the brutality on all sides '' their climate-related drought may have been the biggest underlying trigger for the horror.
The U.S. military has taken notice of the strategic dangers inherent in the climate crisis. Last March, a Pentagon advisory committee described the climate crisis as a "catalyst for conflict" that may well cause failures of governance and societal collapse. "In the past, the thinking was that climate change multiplied the significance of a situation," said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald. "Now we're saying it's going to be a direct cause of instability."
Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told the press, "For DOD, this is a mission reality, not a political debate. The scientific forecast is for more Arctic ice melt, more sea-level rise, more intense storms, more flooding from storm surge and more drought." And in yet another forecast difficult for congressional climate denialists to rebut, climate experts advising the military have also warned that the world's largest naval base, in Norfolk, Virginia, is likely to be inundated by rising sea levels in the future.
And how did the Republican-dominated House of Representatives respond to these grim warnings? By passing legislation seeking to prohibit the Department of Defense from taking any action to prepare for the effects of climate disruption.
There are so many knock-on consequences of the climate crisis that listing them can be depressing '' diseases spreading, crop yields declining, more heat waves affecting vulnerable and elderly populations, the disappearance of summer-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, the potential extinction of up to half of all the living species, and so much more. And that in itself is a growing problem too, because when you add it all up, it's no wonder that many feel a new inclination to despair.
So, clearly, we will just have to gird ourselves for the difficult challenges ahead. There is indeed, literally, light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a tunnel, and we are well into it.
In November 1936, Winston Churchill stood before the United Kingdom's House of Commons and placed a period at the end of the misguided debate over the nature of the "gathering storm" on the other side of the English Channel: "Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger.'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now."
Our civilization is confronting this existential challenge at a moment in our historical development when our dominant global ideology '' democratic capitalism '' has been failing us in important respects.
Democracy is accepted in theory by more people than ever before as the best form of political organization, but it has been "hacked" by large corporations (defined as "persons" by the Supreme Court) and special interests corrupting the political system with obscene amounts of money (defined as "speech" by the same court).
Capitalism, for its part, is accepted by more people than ever before as a superior form of economic organization, but is '' in its current form '' failing to measure and include the categories of "value" that are most relevant to the solutions we need in order to respond to this threatening crisis (clean air and water, safe food, a benign climate balance, public goods like education and a greener infrastructure, etc.).
Pressure for meaningful reform in democratic capitalism is beginning to build powerfully. The progressive introduction of Internet-based communication '' social media, blogs, digital journalism '' is laying the foundation for the renewal of individual participation in democracy, and the re-elevation of reason over wealth and power as the basis for collective decision­making. And the growing levels of inequality worldwide, combined with growing structural unemployment and more frequent market disruptions (like the Great Recession), are building support for reforms in capitalism.
Both waves of reform are still at an early stage, but once again, Churchill's words inspire: "If you're going through hell, keep going." And that is why it is all the more important to fully appreciate the incredible opportunity for salvation that is now within our grasp. As the satirical newspaper The Onion recently noted in one of its trademark headlines: "Scientists Politely Remind World That Clean Energy Technology Ready to Go Whenever."
We have the policy tools that can dramatically accelerate the transition to clean energy that market forces will eventually produce at a slower pace. The most important has long since been identified: We have to put a price on carbon in our markets, and we need to eliminate the massive subsidies that fuel the profligate emissions of global-warming pollution.
We need to establish "green banks" that provide access to capital investment necessary to develop renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry, an electrified transportation fleet, the retrofitting of buildings to reduce wasteful energy consumption, and the full integration of sustainability in the design and architecture of cities and towns. While the burning of fossil fuels is the largest cause of the climate crisis, deforestation and "factory farming" also play an important role. Financial and technological approaches to addressing these challenges are emerging, but we must continue to make progress in converting to sustainable forestry and agriculture.
In order to accomplish these policy shifts, we must not only put a price on carbon in markets, but also find a way to put a price on climate denial in our politics. We already know the reforms that are needed '' and the political will to enact them is a renewable resource. Yet the necessary renewal can only come from an awakened citizenry empowered by a sense of urgency and emboldened with the courage to reject despair and become active. Most importantly, now is the time to support candidates who accept the reality of the climate crisis and are genuinely working hard to solve it '' and to bluntly tell candidates who are not on board how much this issue matters to you. If you are willing to summon the resolve to communicate that blunt message forcefully '' with dignity and absolute sincerity '' you will be amazed at the political power an individual can still wield in America's diminished democracy.
Something else is also new this summer. Three years ago, in these pages, I criticized the seeming diffidence of President Obama toward the great task of solving the climate crisis; this summer, it is abundantly evident that he has taken hold of the challenge with determination and seriousness of purpose.
He has empowered his Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and, as of this June, existing sources of CO2. He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet. He has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal for the transport of oil from carbon­intensive tar sands to be taken to market through the United States on its way to China, thus effectively limiting their exploitation. And he is even now preparing to impose new limits on the release of methane pollution.
All of these welcome steps forward have to be seen, of course, in the context of Obama's continued advocacy of a so-called all-of-the-above energy policy '' which is the prevailing code for aggressively pushing more drilling and fracking for oil and gas. And to put the good news in perspective, it is important to remember that U.S. emissions '' after declining for five years during the slow recovery from the Great Recession '' actually increased by 2.4 percent in 2013.
Nevertheless, the president is clearly changing his overall policy emphasis to make CO2 reductions a much higher priority now and has made a series of inspiring speeches about the challenges posed by climate change and the exciting opportunities available as we solve it. As a result, Obama will go to the United Nations this fall and to Paris at the end of 2015 with the credibility and moral authority that he lacked during the disastrous meeting in Copenhagen four and a half years ago.
The international treaty process has been so fraught with seemingly intractable disagreements that some parties have all but given up on the possibility of ever reaching a meaningful treaty.
Ultimately, there must be one if we are to succeed. And there are signs that a way forward may be opening up. In May, I attended a preparatory session in Abu Dhabi, UAE, organized by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bolster commitments from governments, businesses and nongovernmental organizations ahead of this September's U.N. Climate Summit. The two-day meeting was different from many of the others I have attended. There were welcome changes in rhetoric, and it was clear that the reality of the climate crisis is now weighing on almost every nation. Moreover, there were encouraging reports from around the world that many of the policy changes necessary to solve the crisis are being adopted piecemeal by a growing number of regional, state and city governments.
For these and other reasons, I believe there is a realistic hope that momentum toward a global agreement will continue to build in September and carry through to the Paris negotiations in late 2015.
The American poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, "After the final 'no' there comes a 'yes'/And on that 'yes' the future world depends." There were many no's before the emergence of a global consensus to abolish chattel slavery, before the consensus that women must have the right to vote, before the fever of the nuclear­arms race was broken, before the quickening global recognition of gay and lesbian equality, and indeed before every forward advance toward social progress. Though a great many obstacles remain in the path of this essential agreement, I am among the growing number of people who are allowing themselves to become more optimistic than ever that a bold and comprehensive pact may well emerge from the Paris negotiations late next year, which many regard as the last chance to avoid civilizational catastrophe while there is still time.
It will be essential for the United States and other major historical emitters to commit to strong action. The U.S. is, finally, now beginning to shift its stance. And the European Union has announced its commitment to achieve a 40-percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Some individual European nations are acting even more aggressively, including Finland's pledge to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.
It will also be crucial for the larger developing and emerging nations '' particularly China and India '' to play a strong leadership role. Fortunately, there are encouraging signs. China's new president, Xi Jinping, has launched a pilot cap-and-trade system in two cities and five provinces as a model for a nationwide cap-and-trade program in the next few years. He has banned all new coal burning in several cities and required the reporting of CO2 emissions by all major industrial sources. China and the U.S. have jointly reached an important agreement to limit another potent source of global-warming pollution '' the chemical compounds known as hydro-fluorocarbons, or HFCs. And the new prime minister of India, as noted earlier, has launched the world's most ambitious plan to accelerate the transition to solar electricity.
Underlying this new breaking of logjams in international politics, there are momentous changes in the marketplace that are exercising enormous influence on the perceptions by political leaders of the new possibilities for historic breakthroughs. More and more, investors are diversifying their portfolios to include significant investments in renewables. In June, Warren Buffett announced he was ready to double Berkshire Hathaway's existing $15 billion investment in wind and solar energy.
A growing number of large investors '' including pension funds, university endowments (Stanford announced its decision in May), family offices and others '' have announced decisions to divest themselves from carbon­intensive assets. Activist and "impact" investors are pushing for divestment from carbon­rich assets and new investments in renewable and sustainable assets.
Several large banks and asset managers around the world (full disclosure: Generation Investment Management, which I co-founded with David Blood and for which I serve as chairman, is in this group) have advised their clients of the danger that carbon assets will become "stranded." A "stranded asset" is one whose price is vulnerable to a sudden decline when markets belatedly recognize the truth about their underlying value '' just as the infamous "subprime mortgages" suddenly lost their value in 2007 to 2008 once investors came to grips with the fact that the borrowers had absolutely no ability to pay off their mortgages.
Shareholder activists and public campaigners have pressed carbon-dependent corporations to deal with these growing concerns. But the biggest ones are still behaving as if they are in denial. In May 2013, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson responded to those pointing out the need to stop using the Earth's atmosphere as a sewer by asking, "What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?"
I don't even know where to start in responding to that statement, but here is a clue: Pope Francis said in May, "If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Never forget this."
Exxonmobil, Shell and many other holders of carbon-intensive assets have argued, in essence, that they simply do not believe that elected national leaders around the world will ever reach an agreement to put a price on carbon pollution.
But a prospective global treaty (however likely or unlikely you think that might be) is only one of several routes to overturning the fossil-fuel economy. Rapid technological advances in renewable energy are stranding carbon investments; grassroots movements are building opposition to the holding of such assets; and new legal restrictions on collateral flows of pollution '' like particulate air pollution in China and mercury pollution in the U.S. '' are further reducing the value of coal, tar sands, and oil and gas assets.
In its series of reports to energy investors this spring, Citigroup questioned the feasibility of new coal plants not only in Europe and North America, but in China as well. Although there is clearly a political struggle under way in China between regional governments closely linked to carbon-­energy generators, suppliers and users and the central government in Beijing '' which is under growing pressure from citizens angry about pollution '' the nation's new leadership appears to be determined to engineer a transition toward renewable energy. Only time will tell how successful they will be.
The stock exchanges in Johannesburg and S£o Paulo have decided to require the full integration of sustainability from all listed companies. Standard & Poor's announced this spring that some nations vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis may soon have their bonds downgraded because of the enhanced risk to holders of those assets.
A growing number of businesses around the world are implementing sustainability plans, as more and more consumers demand a more responsible approach from businesses they patronize. Significantly, many have been pleasantly surprised to find that adopting efficient, low-carbon approaches can lead to major cost savings.
And all the while, the surprising and relentless ongoing decline in the cost of renewable energy and efficiency improvements are driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Is there enough time? Yes. Damage has been done, and the period of consequences will continue for some time to come, but there is still time to avoid the catastrophes that most threaten our future. Each of the trends described above '' in technology, business, economics and politics '' represents a break from the past. Taken together, they add up to genuine and realistic hope that we are finally putting ourselves on a path to solve the climate crisis.
How long will it take? When Martin Luther King Jr. was asked that question during some of the bleakest hours of the U.S. civil rights revolution, he responded, "How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever.'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
And so it is today: How long? Not long.
This story is from the July 3rd-17th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.
Determining the Proper Scope of Climate Change Benefits | Brookings Institution
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:30
Paper|June 4, 2014
By: Ted Gayer and W. Kip Viscusi
President Obama's proposed rule for limiting carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's power plants is estimated to have a compliance cost $7.3 billion dollar while providing a climate benefit of $30 billion in 2030. But a new working paper from Ted Gayer and Kip Viscusi suggests that the EPA's methodology for calculating the benefit represents a shift away from typical practice. A more traditional cost-benefit analysis would estimate climate benefits of only $2 billion to $7 billion '' less than the estimated compliance cost of the rule.
The authors write that the assessments used to determine benefits for Obama's rule has, like other recent EPA proposals to limit greenhouse gases, shifted to a global benefits approach. Rather than considering only the benefits to U.S. citizens, the analysis considers benefits for other countries while Americans bear the full costs.
The implications of this shift go beyond calculations of climate rules. Gayer and Viscusi write that ''[I]f applied broadly to all policies, [this practice] would substantially shift the allocation of societal resources.'' For example, a global perspective would likely shift immigration policy to one of entirely open borders, would shift away from transfers to low-income U.S. citizens and towards transfers to much lower-income non-U.S. citizens, and would substantially alter U.S. defense policy.
Learn more about the EPA's shift toward a global benefit analysis by reading the full working paper.
CLIMATE CHANGE=PREPPERSDoomsday 2012: 'Preppers' Prepare for Worst, Turn a Profit - ABC News
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:27
ABC US News | ABC Celebrity NewsCopyThe never-ending hysteria over a Doomsday cometh has sparked a growing movement of people called "preppers," who prepare for the end of the world as we know it -- and in some cases, make a profit.
Tim Ralston, a married father of two from Arizona, is one such "prepper."
"There's a lot of different things that could happen," Ralston said. "For me, I look at prepping as kind of like insurance. You have car insurance, health insurance, life insurance."
Call it Apocalypse insurance. Ralston turned his family's two-car garage into a staging area. Inside is a trailer, which he keeps packed and ready to go at all times, stockpiles of freeze-dried food, including cartons of canned chicken with a shelf life of 15 years, survival gear, such as a system for purifying polluted water, first aid kits and lots of weapons and ammunition. His son has his own AK-47.
"In the beginning, my wife really wasn't on the same page as I was," Ralston said. "But in reality, the more information I started to give to her, it opened up her eyes to the other potential threats that are out there."
Once a week, Ralston takes his two sons out into the Arizona desert about 30 minutes away from their Scottsdale home for a Doomsday dress rehearsal. Eventually, Ralston said he plans to use a converted shipping container to build an underground shelter in the desert, filled with everything they would need to survive.
"You just never know," he said. "I have a lot of other religious friends that say, 'I don't want to prepare, I'll just go to heaven.' And I say, 'Well, do you know what it's like to starve to death?' It's not a pleasant thing. God put you on this Earth for certain things, and for me it's to make sure my family lives and I can help other people."
Ralston is just one of several people featured on National Geographic's upcoming series, "Doomsday Preppers," which premieres on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. ET. Other participants include a couple from Texas who live off the grid, filter their own water, have a stockpile of canned goods to feed 22 people for years and have converted school buses into getaway vehicles.
There's also a New England mom, Kathy Harrison, who calls herself the Doris Day of Doom.
"I'm preparing for a black swan event like a catastrophic new Madrid earthquake," she said.
Harrison and her husband Bruce don't fit the survivalist stereotypes. They aren't stockpiling weapons. Instead, she keeps bees.
"In a grid down situation those bees become not just food for us, but they become honey that we can barter for," Harrison said. "Those bees are the essence of resilience for us."
Paranoia over the world coming to an end is part of the zeitgeist now. Chevrolet ran an ad during the Super Bowl, about a post- apocalyptic world in which only people who owned the Chevy Silverado pick-up truck survived. Even TV comedies like "Parks and Recreation," have had fun with the Doomsday frenzy.
Some people fear that humanity's downfall will come from our dependence on technology and fossil fuels, which could fail us or run dry and we will be forced back into the Stone Age, "Mad Max" style.
Others are convinced the Mayans had it right and that our day of reckoning will come on Dec. 21, 2012, and we'll simply run out of time.
stop spraying us '' sf >> selling chemtrails
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:25
As the covert yet blatantly obvious spraying program escalates with each passing week, so too does public awareness that something very wrong is being done to our skies. It's become a rare and precious treat to get one full day when we don't get sprayed like bugs. Activists worldwide are now finding it much easier to wake people up to this ecocide. The willfully ignorant are a noisy yet dwindling minority. It can't be denied forever.
Those responsible for this chemtrail / geoengineering program - let's just call them ''the globalists'' '' are diligently laying groundwork for the eventual, perhaps imminent, revelation of their crime against all life on Earth. This can be seen in countless books, press articles, ''debates'' and radio / TV appearances. David Keith was even on the Colbert Report.
Their message is simple. Yes, geoengineering is unpleasant, but it may be the only way to save us from the catastrophic effects of runaway human caused global warming. They cite CO2, ocean acidification and methane as the deadliest threats - all derivatives of carbon.
For the spraying program to be accepted, we must believe we face an extinction-level threat from man made global warming, and unpleasant steps may have to be taken to save us. Ken Calderia likened it to chemotherapy; you have to take the poison to save the patient. The globalists can't get us to accept something bad unless we truly believe it will save us from something terrifyingly worse. A textbook example of the Hegelian Dialectic. Fear is an excellent control mechanism.
Without widespread and deeply-ingrained fear of imminent, catastrophic global warming, the globalists can't explain why they're spraying us. It's their only excuse.
But is the science completely settled on human caused global warming? The founders of Greenpeace and the Weather Channel don't think so '' and neither do more than 30,000 US scientists, including 9,000 PhDs.
global warming / carbonWikipedia says global warming is ''unequivocal'' '' there is no doubt that it's happening and it's caused by carbon released from human activities. (Mind you, it also says chemtrails don't exist, but let's leave that to one side.) For brevity, let's call the Wikipedia definition the ''AGW position.'' (Anthropogenic Global Warming.)
Our climate changes all the time. Ice Ages come and go, grapes were grown as far north as Scotland and Newfoundland (the vikings named it ''Vinland'') during the Medieval Warm Period (950AD to 1250AD), while London's Thames River froze solid in the 1680s. The sun goes through activity cycles which effect the temperature on all the planets. It's been relatively quiet of late, hence the admitted 17 year ''pause'' in global warming. CO2 levels have been ten times higher than todays, yet life still flourished.
Carbon dioxide is a trace gas essential to plant growth and has little effect on global temperature. Water vapor is a much more significant greenhouse gas. (Cloudy nights are warmer than clear nights.) What Al Gore's famous hockey stick graph didn't tell you is that CO2 levels rise *after* temperatures rise. When ice sheets retreat, plants and animals move in and produce it. Before you dismiss this out of hand, please take the time to watch this excellent presentation, and try to find one factual or scientific error in it.
The message that human produced carbon emissions are causing devastating global warming has been relentlessly pushed for decades and went into overdrive with the release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. Every few weeks breathless stories tell us the previous month, year or decade was the the hottest in human history, the poles are melting and coastal cities will soon be underwater.
Children are imprinted with the AGW position before they can read. Ask a random five year old if he or she thinks mom is hurting the planet when she drives her car to the store. How many times since you woke up this morning have you heard, seen or read a message or logo reminding you that CO2 is a terrible thing and that you should feel guilty for adding to it? The hysteria has reached such absurd heights that some consider it ''altruistic'' to kill yourself to save the planet.
Even the oil companies are on board with the program, including Exxon, BP, Shell, and Chevron.
Scientists are routinely caught faking data to support the AGW position, most famously in the Climategate scandals. Those who disagree are defunded, fired or lose their tenure. Despite this eco-McCarthyism, more than 30,000 US scientists and 9.000 PhDs risked their careers to speak out against the AGW position. The oft-repeated ''97% consensus'' has some serious holes in it.
Questioning the AGW position will get you branded a ''climate denier,'' with a clear echoes of ''Holocaust denier.'' Others go further, proposing the arrest of anyone questioning the official line on global warming. One particularly chilling ''green'' commercial featured the summary execution of children who wouldn't tow the AGW line. Obama's Information Czar, Cass Sunstien considers ''climate deniers'' dangerous conspiracy theorists and thinks the government should conduct ''cognitive infiltration'' to prevent their message getting out. In other words, unleash the COINTELPRO shills, trolls and goons.
Chemtrail activists know this first hand. Every time they post evidence of the chemtrail / geoengineering program to a public forum, within minutes they are aggressively attacked by multiple anonymous posters. They are insulted, bombarded with logical fallacies and every tool in the disinfo handbook. Clearly, some things are not to be questioned. You can test this at home: If you post comments casting any doubt on the following positions to a public forum (YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, wherever), you will be attacked.
Vaccines are safe and effectiveThere's no such thing as chemtrails '' those lines in the sky are just water vapor and ice crystalsGMO food is as safe as non-GMO; long term human studies are unnecessaryFlouride is safe and good for youOffice fires brought down the 47-story WTC7 at free fall speedGlobal warming is undeniable '' it threatens all life on earth and is caused by carbon emissions from human activityConversely, if your comments support theories such as bigfoot, leprechauns, Elvis sightings or that the moon is made of cheese, there are no concerted attacks.
So why is so much time, money and effort spent silencing critics of the AGW position? What makes it sacrosanct?
timeline1991: The Rockefeller-founded Club of Rome writes: ''In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill '... The real enemy then, is humanity itself.''1992: The Rio Earth Summit issues the Framework Convention on Climate Change and UN Agenda 21 calling for drastic reduction in carbon emissions.1997:Al Gore works with Enron's Ken Lay to develop the first carbon tax.2000: The Climate Research Unit (who were later busted for ''hiding the decline'' in the 2009 Climategate scandal) says snowfall will soon become ''a very rare and exciting event.''2006: Gore releases ''An Inconvenient Truth,'' while remaining a major shareholder in Occidental Petroleum. He wins an Oscar, Grammy and Nobel Peace Prize for it.2007: The British High Court rules it factually incorrect and bans it from being shown in UK schools without a disclaimer.2007: David de Rothschild releases ''The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook.''2007: The BBC airs ''The Great Global Warming Swindle.''
Podesta Boasts That Obama's Dictates on Climate Change Can't Be Stopped | www.independentsentinel.com
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:28
John Podesta
President Obama is enacting climate change legislation from the White House. He is writing the laws and enforcing them through the EPA and the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. His left-wing mastermind from The Center for American Progress, John Podesta, boasted that Obama cannot be stopped.
Not only is President Obama writing the laws, he is enacting a severe form of cap & trade which has already been struck down by congress. Obama will say congress failed to act and he has no choice, but they did act by saying no to a legislation the majority of American people do not want.
On Monday, John Podesta said the president will continue to use executive orders to pass regulations, regulations which amount to laws, under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon dioxide emissions that they say cause global warming.
''They may try, but there are no takers at this end of Pennsylvania Avenue,'' Podesta told reporters at a Monday press conference at the White House.
The Supreme Court has emboldened the administration. A recent Supreme Court decision green-lighted anti-coal regulations which will eventually destroy the coal industry without ever having given them a chance to develop clean coal.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have urged the Obama administration to scale back their climate goals because of the adverse impact of new regulations on the coal industry. Coal supporters have portrayed the administration's actions as the ''war on coal'' due to huge job losses in coal states like Kentucky and West Virginia.
''We're getting the living crap beaten out of us,'' West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told President Obama's nominee to be the country's top energy regulator last year. ''There has been nothing more beat up than coal.''
''They just beat the living daylights out of little West Virginia, but they sure like what we produce,'' Manchin told former nominee Ron Binz. ''We could do it a lot better if we had a government working with us as a partner.''
Republicans have introduced numerous bills to stop the regulatory overreach by Obama.
A recent Republican effort to derail Obama's climate goals came from Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who introduced legislation to repeal all energy tax subsidies, which would hurt renewable energy growth.
''Washington should not be using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers in the energy industry,'' Lee said in a statement. ''Consumer-driven, free-market competition provides a much better way to ensure Americans have access to reliable, affordable energy.
In 2010, Podesta outlined the plan by which Obama could assert his dictatorial powers using executive orders, agency regulations, rules and so on, in a report titled, The Power of the President.
Podesta's extremely far-left Center for American Progress is funded by socialist George Soros.
Podesta was recently hired by Obama to push through the leftist agenda without congress, by ignoring the separation of powers, one of two important powers that can still limit the Executive outside of SCOTUS. The other power is states' rights which is also under assault by this administration, an administration which plans to centralize every area of government.
EPA head Gina McCarthy is trying to sell climate change to Blacks by telling them they are most hurt by it. She says this as she is enacting rules that will raise prices dramatically, hurting Blacks who tend to have more poor.
We have had the climate change lies and exaggerations exposed numerous times. We know that in the least it is exaggerated to put through a far-left agenda.
There were a series of emails released in which climate change scientists admitted to lying or exaggerating about global warming in order to enforce an agenda. There was the exposure of the false premise of the hockey stick theory which debunked much of the foundation on which the theory was laid.
A report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admitted climate change has not turned out as claimed. The report, ''Climate Change Reconsidered'', is worth reading.
Among its findings, the report notes that ''no close correlation exists between temperature variation over the past 150 years and human related CO2 emissions.''
Blaming the climate or even the weather on humans is insane. You might as well blame the floods in Colorado on humans instead of the downpours of rain, comparable to 1894 and 1969. Indeed, the U.S. gives ample evidence of greatly reduced events associated with the weather, writes Heartland.
There have been fewer tornadoes over recent decades. It's been eight years since a Category 3 hurricane hit the U.S. Droughts have been shorter and less extreme than the 1930s and 1950s. And sea levels are predicted to increase barely four to eight inches per century and that may be on the high side. There will be dramatic weather events, but there have always been dramatic weather events!
For more than seventeen years, there has been negligible global warming which is why the climate change fraudsters are now calling it climate change and blaming cold spells on global warming.
Climate change is the new communism and it will continue to be used tyrannically unless the American people vote it out by voting these far-left Democrats out of office.
Remember the quotes that first exposed the lies about climate change by scientists. Here are a few from the thousands of pages of emails revealing the hoax:
'¨''The common enemy of humanity is man.'¨ In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up '¨with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, '¨water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these '¨dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through'¨changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome.'¨The real enemy then, is humanity itself.'''¨- Club of Rome, '¨premier environmental think-tank, '¨consultants to the United Nations
''We need to get some broad based support,'¨ to capture the public's imagination'...'¨So we have to offer up scary scenarios,'¨ make simplified, dramatic statements '¨and make little mention of any doubts'...'¨Each of us has to decide what the right balance'¨ is between being effective and being honest.'''¨- Prof. Stephen Schneider, '¨Stanford Professor of Climatology, '¨lead author of many IPCC reports
'¨'¨''We've got to ride this global warming issue. '¨Even if the theory of global warming is wrong,'¨ we will be doing the right thing in terms of '¨economic and environmental policy.'''¨- Timothy Wirth, '¨President of the UN Foundation
'¨'¨''No matter if the science of global warming is all phony'...'¨climate change provides the greatest opportunity to'¨bring about justice and equality in the world.'''¨- Christine Stewart,'¨former Canadian Minister of the Environment
It should be mentioned that aside from the control it gives bureaucracies, global warming is a lucrative business.
Read more at Daily Caller.
Tags:climate change, fiats, John Podesta
BTC
FBI Leaks List of Possible Drug Bitcoin Buyers
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:28
The feds might've been clever enough to take down a shadowy internet drug ring, but it still hasn't mastered the email BCC: CoinDesk reports a list of people and companies interested in the US Marshals seized, $18 million Bitcoin auction is now out in the open.
The slip-up occurred just like it always does when someone fucks up a simple reply-all: "In a statement to CoinDesk, Lynzey Donahue, a U.S. Marshals spokeswoman, indicated that the emailer had intended to send all the recipients an attached informational document and to blind copy all those it intended to contact."
Oh well, here are the highlights of the 40-person thread, according to CoinDesk:
Daniel Folkinshteyn, assistant professor at Rowan UniversityBarry Silbert, CEO for SecondMarketLuther Lowe, director of public policy for YelpMalcolm Oluwasanmi, chairperson of Little Phoenix Investment GroupFabrice Evangelista, quantitative arbitrage at BNP ParibasMichal Handerhanm, co-founder and COO of Bitcoin ShopDave Goel, managing general partner of Matrix Capital ManagementDinuka Samarasinghe, investment professionalChris DeMuth Jr., Wrangeley CapitalFred Ehrsam, co-founder, CoinbaseJonathan Disner, corporate counsel at DRW Trading GroupWilliam Brindise, head investment manager at DigitalBTCMichael Moro, director at SecondMarketJennifer R. Jacoby, lawyer at WilmerHaleSam Lee, co-founder, Bitcoins ReserveShem Booth-Spain, artist and musicianAvarus CorporationI am shocked to see nary a single Winklevoss on the list, but it could be incomplete. Or maybe they're not so liquid these days after that triplex.
Photo of a bunch of physical coins that represent a bunch of virtual coins via Getty
BITCOIN AUCTION-USMS Asset Forfeiture Sale
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 03:59
FOR SALE29,656.51306529 bitcoins
THIS NOTICE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL BUT INVITES INTERESTED PARTIES TO SUBMIT A BID FOR PURCHASE. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS BEING PROVIDED WITHOUT RECOURSE TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA OR THE UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE.
THIS AUCTION IS FOR THE BITCOINS CONTAINED IN WALLET FILES THAT RESIDED ON SILK ROAD SERVERS, INCLUDING THE SERVERS ASSIGNED THE FOLLOWING INTERNET PROTOCOL ADDRESSES: 46.183.219.244; 109.163.234.40; 193.107.86.34; 193.107.86.49; 207.106.6.25; AND 207.106.6.32 (''SILKROAD SEIZED COINS'').
THIS AUCTION DOES NOT INCLUDE THE BITCOINS CONTAINED IN WALLET FILES THAT RESIDED ON CERTAIN COMPUTER HARDWARE BELONGING TO ROSS WILLIAM ULBRICHT, THAT WERE SEIZED ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 24, 2013 (''DPR SEIZED COINS'').
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 USMSBitcoins@usdoj.gov. 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.
TERMS OF SALE:
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
Mon
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23
Phase I
Bidder registration and deposit due by Noon EDT
24
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USMS notifies parties about eligibility to participate in the online auction
27
Phase II
Online auction period from
6:00 AM EDT to 6:00 PM EDT
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30
Winning bidder notified by 5:00 PM EDT
July 2014
Tue
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Phase III
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Feds Auctioning Off Drug Dealer Bitcoins at Liquidation Prices
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:57
S
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 CEX.io, 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 Overstock.com, 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 Overstock.com and Dish Network as the third major company to accept bitcoin.
Bitcoin security guarantee shattered by anonymous miner with 51% network power | Ars Technica
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:45
Cornering the Bitcoin market may be easier than cornering orange juice futures.
Paramount Pictures / Aurich Lawson
For the first time in Bitcoin's five-year history, a single entity has repeatedly provided more than half of the total computational power required to mine new digital coins, in some cases for sustained periods of time. It's an event that, if it persists, signals the end of the crypto currency's decentralized structure.
Researchers from Cornell University say that on multiple occasions, a single mining pool repeatedly contributed more than 51 percent of Bitcoin's total cryptographic hashing output for spans as long as 12 hours. The contributor was GHash, which bills itself as the "#1 Crypto & Bitcoin Mining Pool." During these periods, the GHash operators had unprecedented powers that circumvented the decentralization that is often held up as a salient advantage Bitcoin has over traditional currencies. So-called 51 percenters, for instance, have the ability to spend the same coins twice, reject competing miners' transactions, or extort higher fees from people with large holdings. Even worse, a malicious player with a majority holding could wage a denial-of-service attack against the entire Bitcoin network.
Like tremblers before a major earthquake, most of GHash's 51-percent spans were relatively short. Few people paid much attention, since shortly after a miner loses the majority position, it also loses its extraordinary control. Then, on June 12, GHash produced a majority of the power for 12 hours straight, a sustained status that enables precisely the type of doomsday scenario some researchers have warned was possible.
There's no evidence the anonymous operators of GHash exercised any of those abilities. Still, the mere possibility undermines a core Bitcoin tenet that it be decentralized so it can't be controlled by a single entity.
"A 51 percenter can control which Bitcoin transactions happen," wrote Ittay Eyal, a post-doctorate researcher in Cornell's Department of Computer Science, in an e-mail to Ars. "It becomes a monopoly. It can set arbitrarily high transaction fees, for example, or even extort someone to allow them to perform transactions. It could block or delay all transactions but its own. One of Bitcoin's goals was to be a free system, independent of anyone's control. With small pools, no one has this kind of control. With a 51 percenter, there is."
GHash's ascendency to a majority miner comes even as its operators pledged never to cross the 51-percent threshold. It also comes less than a year after GHash was accused of using its considerable hashing power to attack a gambling site. Emin G¼n Sirer, a Cornell professor who works with Eyal, agreed there was no evidence GHash or its operators at CEX.io took advantage of the recent majority positions. In his own e-mail, he added:
But having a single entity in GHash's position, of holding 51 percent of the mining power, of being in a monopoly position, of being able to launch any of these attacks at will, completely violates the spirit and intent of Bitcoin as a currency.
Bitcoin's value proposition stems from its technological foundation, which in turn is based on building distributed trust. People flock to Bitcoin because they do not trust the fiat infrastructure, they hold Bitcoin because they are worried that the people in charge of USD can inflate it at will or usurp money from their accounts. But now, with a monopoly miner, they are suddenly in a position where they have to, once again, trust a single entity to remain benign.
This completely collapses the Bitcoin narrative that the Bitcoin community has been using to draw in new users. If we are to trust GHash's good will and ongoing benign behaviors, we might as well do away with the entire Bitcoin protocol and replace the system with a simple database server kept on GHash's premises.
Worse, no one knows who exactly is behind GHash/CEX.io. They have had an episode where they did a double-spend attack against a gambling site in the past. But even if GHash could be trusted right now, a single entity in command of the currency represents a single point of failure for the Bitcoin economy.
Officials with GHash didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this article. Eyal and Sirer's previous research into Bitcoin weaknesses has been criticized by some as being exaggerations that aren't possible in practice. Matt Green, a Johns Hopkins University professor specializing in cryptography and the security and anonymity of Bitcoin, said whatever mitigations there may be, GHash's 51-percent stake is a significant development.
"If they tried to do [something malicious] people would notice and there would be blowback," Green told Ars. "So it's not the end of the world. Nonetheless, the security model of Bitcoin depends on no miner having (even close to) majority. Right now that assumption is being violated."
Eyal and Sirer reported their observations of GHash in a blog post published Friday headlined It's Time For a Hard Bitcoin Fork. Such a redesign should recognize the existing Bitcoin blockchain to ensure backwards compatibility, but it should incorporate changes to fix three fundamental problems threating the viability of Bitcoin as a currency that's immune from manipulation. The changes include restructuring blocks in a way that disincentives mining pools, closes the threat of so-called "selfish mining" attacks that allow a small number of miners to control Bitcoin, and improves visibility into any attempts to manipulate the Bitcoin blockchain.
The Cornell researchers rejected arguments some Bitcoin advocates have asserted that attacks on the Bitcoin blockchain are infeasible because they would require 51 percenters to act against their own investments in hardware and interest in a stable digital currency. From the start, the researchers said, the point of Bitcoin has been to incorporate strong cryptography as a self-policing system that ensured all players were on equal footing.
"Overall, there is absolutely no reason to trust GHash or any other miner," they wrote in Friday's post. "People in positions of power are known to abuse it. A group with a history or double-expenditures just blithely went past the 51 percent psychological barrier: this is not good for Bitcoin."
'Coin Pocket' Becomes First Bitcoin Wallet App on iOS After Policy Change
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:07
Open iTunes to buy and download apps.
DescriptionSend and receive Bitcoin from your iOS device.
- Sweep Private Keys in HEX, WIF, or BIP38 format.- QR Code Scanner.- Export BIP38 private key for backup.- Multiple sources for BTC to USD conversion.
Note: Check your state and federal laws on the transmission of Bitcoin or virtual currencies before using the send feature of this app. You are liable for the use of Bitcoin in your jurisdiction.
Customer ReviewsYes!
by kuhrooFinally Apple is letting Bitcoin wallet apps in the App Store (with no sending restrictions). Love that this is open-source and overall very clean. I would love to have a pin to open the actual app up and have the ability to manage multiple wallets, but not needed at this time. Big step for Bitcoin on iOS.
Useless
by FannyVitaleDon't bother, this app is useless. I would give it no stars if I could. Downloaded the app today on the iPhone 5s and took it to the Bitcoin fair at Hester Street in Manhattan New York city. Tried to use it with six different vendors all of whom accept bit coin. It appears to scan but leaves the address and amount boxes blank. Very embarrassing maiden voyage for this app which appeared on the app store today. Zero stars....
Looks good
by BoSoX1_ARReally neat app. Hope its secure
View In iTunesThis app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free
Category:FinanceReleased: Jun 15, 2014Version: 1.0.0Size: 0.6 MBLanguage: EnglishSeller: Enriquez Software LLC(C) 2014 Enriquez Software LLC.Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Chiner$
China agrees to design and run new UK nuclear power plants despite concerns about national security.
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:57
Deal signed yesterday by China's premier Li Keqiang on visit to BritainState-owned nuclear firms will be able to control power plants in UKChina will also invest massively in HS2 rail link and other infrastructureBy James Chapman, Daily Mail Political Editor
Published: 18:54 EST, 17 June 2014 | Updated: 19:00 EST, 17 June 2014
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Visit: Chinese premier Li Keqiang (right) is said to have demanded to meet the Queen
China is to be allowed to design, own and operate a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain despite concerns about the implications for national security.
A deal signed yesterday during a visit by China's premier Li Keqiang will let Chinese state-owned nuclear firms control British power plants if they meet the requirements of regulators.
Mr Li and David Cameron also agreed that the £50billion HS2 high-speed rail project could involve massive Chinese investment. China says it wants to pour money into major UK infrastructure projects and has signed £14billion in trade deals to mark the premier's three-day visit.
Mr Li is accompanied by dozens of Chinese business leaders eager to discuss investment in areas such as energy where China has faced opposition elsewhere in the world.
The Chinese premier is said to have demanded to meet the Queen although it is relatively unusual for her to receive world leaders who are not heads of state.
Yesterday she welcomed him to Windsor Castle where they were joined by the Duke of York in the White Drawing Room. Later he went to Downing Street for lunch with the Prime Minister and business leaders where he was served a Chinese-themed menu including claypot chicken in a savoury sauce with shiitake mushrooms.
One major deal is expected between BP and China's National Offshore Oil Corporation worth about £11.8billion over 20 years.
Negotiations to end a Chinese ban on imports of British beef and lamb, imposed in the 1980s during the BSE scandal, are also to take place. The state-owned China Development Bank is expected to invest in HS2 and the next generation of nuclear power stations.
Lucrative: David Cameron and the Chinese premier signed trade deals worth more than £14billion
Chinese firms are already heavily involved in a new £14billion Hinkley C reactor planned for construction in Somerset.
Yesterday, the UK and Chinese governments signed an agreement to co-operate on civil nuclear power that could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to British companies.
A separate agreement stated that Chinese companies could own and operate a Chinese-designed nuclear power station here, if they meet the requirements of the UK's independent regulator. However, the deal is likely to provoke controversy.
Some experts have warned against giving China a controlling stake in the industry on national security grounds, saying it would leave Britain at the mercy of the communist regime.
Mark Pritchard, a Tory member of Parliament's national security strategy committee, said: 'Chinese investment in the UK is very welcome, but we should always consider the national security implications when it comes to critical national infrastructure and sensitive technologies.'
Ministers, however, said investing in nuclear will both diversify the energy mixes of both countries while playing a role in tackling climate change.
The leaders were all smiles outside 10 Downing Street, but critics say the deal could leave Britain vulnerable
The Prime Minister hailed the burgeoning trade links between the two countries, which he said was 'central' to the Government's plan to revitalise the UK's economy.
Chinese investment into the UK in the last 18 months than in the last 30 years, he added at a press conference in Downing Street.
'Today we have signed deals worth more than £14 billion, securing jobs and long term economic growth for the British and Chinese people,' Mr Cameron said.
'Ours is truly a partnership for growth, reform and innovation. The figures tell the story - bilateral trade at record levels, our exports to China up 15 per cent in 2013, they have more than doubled in the last five years and at a billion a month, they are growing faster than France's or Germany's.'
Mr Li yesterday became the latest world leader to line up against Scottish independence when he backed a 'strong, prosperous and united United Kingdom'.
He said China and the UK should view each other's economic development 'as an opportunity'.
He added: 'We both believe that we should increase mutual political trust, engage in equal co-operation and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns to solidify the political foundation of bilateral ties.'
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China wins stake in British nuclear power and high-speed rail.
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:57
Chinese funds are expected to be directed to the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, based in the same part of Somerset as Hinkley Point B, above. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
China has been given the chance to take a decisive stake in the next stage of Britain's energy and transport infrastructure as Chinese companies won the right to own and operate a nuclear power station and to help build high-speed rail lines.
The agreements were among trade deals worth £14bn agreed with Beijing during the visit of the Chinese premier Li Keqiang, which prompted David Cameron to declare Britain is playing a part in the rise of China '' which he called a defining event of the 21st century.
The two most controversial aspects of the deals will allow Chinese firms to own and operate a Chinese-designed nuclear power station and to build and operate rail lines in Britain. The Chinese have a mixed safety record on high-speed rail.
The prime minister said: "Ours is truly a partnership for growth, reform and innovation. Our partnership goes well beyond the economic field. The UK recognises that the rise of China is one of the defining events of our century.
"We welcome the fact that China's economic growth is lifting millions out of poverty. As premier Li noted yesterday, as China grows in economic power that brings greater responsibilities on the world stage."
The government moved to stem criticism of co-operation in the highly sensitive area of civil nuclear power by saying it is part of an overall agreement to tackle climate change. China and Britain also signed a joint statement on climate change.
In a Guardian article, the energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey writes: "Given the boost to low carbon electricity, to energy security and to jobs, the Chinese interest in taking forward investment at Hinkley Point C '' the UK's first nuclear station in a generation '' is hugely welcome.
"But equally important is that both China and the UK recognise that climate change is one of the greatest global challenges we face, and for the first time ever, the UK and China have released a joint statement, committing our governments to work even more closely together on a response to climate change.
"It's important because it is only the second time China has done this. The only other country with which China has agreed a statement on climate change is the US. This statement reflects the strength of our cooperation with China on climate change and low carbon."
In a joint statement about high-speed rail, the two governments said: "Both sides agree to promote substantive cooperation between the UK-China on rail, including high-speed rail in areas including design, engineering, construction, supply operation and maintenance on projects in China and the UK."
There were also major deals in energy. An £11.8bn BP gas supply contract was one of a series of deals unveiled by major UK firms during Li's visit.
The deal will provide state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) with liquefied natural gas (LNG) for 20 years. Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell extended an agreement with CNOOC to work on energy projects around the world, including LNG.
The deals were signed at talks in Downing Streeti.
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said the partnership with CNOOC has been fruitful so far and the firms were "committed to growing the business together".
Meanwhile, engineering company Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese nuclear reactor manufacturer SNPTC to cooperate on civil nuclear power projects in the UK and other markets.
The UK-based firm currently supplies emergency diesel generators to almost 40% of all nuclear reactors in China that are in operation or under construction and more than 70% of the safety-critical equipment. Jason Smith, Rolls-Royce's president of nuclear, said: "China represents one of the world's largest civil nuclear markets in which Rolls-Royce has been supplying safety-critical technology solutions for 20 years."
The company employs 55,000 staff in 45 countries, including almost 2,000 in China.
The London Stock Exchange also signed agreements with the Bank of China and the Agricultural Bank of China to strengthen the Chinese renminbi offshore market in the UK and to provide access to cash for Chinese companies. LSE chairman Chris Gibson Smith said: "London is the world's most international financial market and a natural partner to China in its ambitious global development."
In a personal touch, Cameron gave Li a copy of the shooting script for the first episode of Downton Abbey signed by the show's creator. Li had expressed interest in visiting Highclere Castle where the drama is shot. Cameron also gave Li a special £10 lunar gold coin '' made by the Royal Mint and designed by the artist Wuon-Gean Ho '' celebrating the Chinese year of the horse.
Space War$
Note from EURO Control insider on radar 'glitch'
Rumor mill has it that the outbound SSR frequency appears to have been subject to 'interference' (jamming?), i.e. the 1030 MHz SSR antenna that is supposed to elicit a response from the transponders onboard the aircraft… Who, what, why, how, and if, still many questions, nothing 'official' of course… Not even a peep on our briefing sheets, which is curious, given the obvious safety implications…
NATO says not to blame for planes vanishing from radar - Yahoo News
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 22:47
LONDON (Reuters) - NATO said on Sunday it was not to blame for recent incidents in which dozens of aircraft briefly vanished from air traffic control radar screens in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Slovak state Air Traffic Services company said on Friday that the brief disappearance of planes from radar screens on June 5 and 10 was connected to a military exercise whose goal was "the interruption of radio communication frequencies."
It did not identify the military force organising the exercise, but Austrian media said it was NATO.
The military alliance, in response to a request for comment, said it did carry out some training that involved "localised and low-power jamming" in the skies over Hungary during the June 2-6 period and that it was currently conducting similar training in southern Italy from June 9-20.
However, it said no jamming was conducted on June 5.
"Our assessment is that NATO did not cause any interference with civilian air traffic control frequencies. When NATO conducts such exercises, we coordinate our activities with relevant civilian authorities and only use frequencies provided to us by the host nation," a NATO military officer said.
NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft that have been flying regular missions over Europe to monitor Russian activities near Ukraine could not have caused the interference because they did not have a jamming capability, the officer said.
The European air navigation safety organisation EUROCONTROL and the European Air Safety Agency are investigating the incidents.
"We will cooperate with these authorities in order to be absolutely sure that there is no connection between our exercises and the frequency interference issues that have been reported," the NATO officer said.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Politics & GovernmentMilitary & DefenseNATO
EUROLand
Franse drugs en hoeren niet in winstcijfers - AD.nl
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:27
Franse drugs en hoeren niet in winstcijfers - AD.nl
Door: redactie18-6-14 - 23:55 bron: ANPProstituees aan het werk in Nice. (C) AFP.Frankrijk gaat de geschatte winst van illegale drugshandel en prostitutie niet meenemen in de economische statistieken van het land. Dit in tegenstelling tot nieuwe EU-regels waarin staat dat drugs en prostitutie wel bij de cijfers mogen worden opgenomen.
Onder meer Itali en Groot-Brittanni hebben toegezegd de gemiddelde winst in het bruto binnenlands product te zullen opnemen. Frankrijk heeft daar geen oren naar omdat zulke transacties niet altijd op basis van wederzijds akkoord plaatsvinden.
'Illegale transacties moeten alleen meegerekend worden als er wederzijdse toestemming is. Dat is duidelijk niet het geval bij illegale prostitutie en daarom rekenen we dat niet mee", aldus een functionaris van het Franse statistiekbureau.
Bij harddrugs, waar iemand verslaafd aan kan zijn, is er volgens de Fransen bij de gebruiker geen 'toestemming' maar 'afhankelijkheid', dus ook dat blijft buiten de boeken. De geschatte winst van legale prostitutie wordt nu wel al meegerekend. Dat blijft zo.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVERENRapporteer een fout in het artikel aan onze redactieMeer overgerelateerd nieuwsMeer over(C) 2014 De Persgroep Digital. Alle rechten voorbehouden.Lees de gebruiksvoorwaarden. - Privacy
Volg het nieuws op onze zustersite in Belgi www.hln.be.
Dutch Royal Family builds illegal pier for the sake of ''Greek public interest''
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:15
tagged: above the law, Ermioni, Greece, illegal building, King, Kranidi, Netherland Times, private pier, Queen Maxima, royal villa, Royals, scandal, security measures, Willem-AlexanderPosted by keeptalkinggreece in Uncategorized
What does the Dutch Royal Family has in common with the Greeks? Fairly nothing '' except maybe some old odd blood relations with the former Greek royal family which Greeks decided to send to a private home long long time ago. So how can the Royal House Oranje serve the Greek public interest? I can answer right away: I have no clue and no idea. But the Greek state, inf act 3 of its ministers, decided that if the House Oranje is happy and swims in a private beach then the Greeks' public interest is served! Even if Holland's King Willem-Alexander and the private beach right in front of his villa in Ermioni, Peloponnese, prohibit locals from swimming around and enjoy their traditional cheese- and spinach pies at the beach.
Fact is that three Greek ministers issued a decision allowing ''at exception of the current laws'' King Willem-Alexander to build a private dock and also to fence the beach. Fact is also that Royals are still above the law and have to secure that foot soldiers swim somewhere else.
Royal jetty
The Royal Villa and the Royal building illegalities
Back in 2012, the Dutch state invested 5.9 million dollars to buy a summer villa for Willem-Alexander and his family in Kranidi in noble municipality of Ermioni in Peloponnese.
In early summer 2014, locals saw that a private dock was built at the seashore in front of the villa and thus in times when the issue of seashore is a highly political issue and the law prohibits private use of the Greek seashores.
According to newspaper ProtoThema, three ministers had issued a special license for the Durch Royal couple to proceed to some buildings. The ministerial decision signed by the minister of Public Order Dendias, of Maritime Varvitsiotis and the deputy minister of Environment Kalafatis approved the Dutch request of January 8th 2014 citing ''public interest.''
Ministerial decision for Royals
''Approved for reasons of public interest and the protection of public order'... under exclusion of any general or special legislation.'' The ministerial decision approved the installation of a security system and also gave building permit for the installment of fencing and ''associate marine works.''
''The ministerial order did not give permit for the building of a private pier though,'' notes the newspaper adding that the villa status does not refer to an embassy or consulate building that is considered to be ''foreign soil'' but a property owned by the Dutch government.
Nevertheless, the royal constructors built in zero time a private dock and a small port, a path to the villa, a small building for the royal sunbeds and the royal security personnel, installed surveillance cameras and prohibition signs and hired security guards who keep a sharp eye to those few daring come close to the royal beach.
Royal Villa
Stay away from Royal Beach
A group of Citizens complained about the Royal exemption from the law, the Royal ''construction illegalities'' and ''arbitrariness'' and Marias Karras, the president of the Citizens' Intervention Initiative told Proto Thema:
''The port was constructed over night with the flimsy excuse of providing an easy escape for the King of Holland in case of danger, while the other fortifications were the reasons for the defense of the royal family in case of attack.''
Karras added that it was the sole responsibility of the government that it ignored the laws to please the Royal Dutch and added that ''according to the laws, no seashore or part of the sea can be property of another state.''
Anger in Holland
While the issue is for Greeks a matter of ''free access to free beaches'' for the Dutch is a matter of ''public money spending''.
According to Netherlands Times,
the Dutch ''Parliament wants clarification from the Cabinet about how much the Dutch state has invested into the Greek vacation villa of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Mxima. Local media claims that ''illegal building'' occurred on the grounds, bought by the Dutch state.
The RVD says that the Greek government gave permission to the national counter-terrorism coordinator (NCTV), who took a package of security measures. The RVD says that a jetty has been constructed at the home, and a plot of land has been leased, but will not clarify the cost of this.
This is not the first time that the construction of a Royal holiday home has come under fire. In 2007, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Mxima bought a home in Mozambique. The high costs of protecting a Royal vacation home in a developing country in Africa became a political discussion, and the home was given up in 2009.''
BTW: the villa is not so legal as it it built in what we call in Greece ''εκÏός σχεδίÎυ'', that is ''outside town/urban planning zone.'' (see the ministerial decision). If you are a common Greek you get no phone land line or even electricity in such a building nowadays.
Proof! A Dutch queen cannot have enough security measures.
EU Parliament: Conservatives propose Muslim for European Parliament President
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:13
The conservative ECR group has proposed Sajjad Haider Karim, who in 2004 became the first British Muslim MEP, to be the next European Parliament President. However, the candidacy appears to be a long shot.Sajjad Karim, nominated as European Parliament Presidential candidate by the European Conservatives and Reformists' group (ECR), has written to the leaders of all the main groups in the European Parliament seeking their backing.
He said that the image of the EU in the world had been tainted by the recent European elections, with the rise of extremist parties.
''I ask the group leaders: is it not now time to reinstate our values of tolerance, acceptance and diversity'', writes Karim, who was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, of Pakistani descent. He adds he is relying on a track record of 20 years experience, as an elected public official, 10 of which have been served here in the European Parliament.
''I have served diligently working across groups and political divides always seeking consensus and delivery,'' writes Karim, who was elected in 2004 for the Liberal Democrats, but joined the Conservative Party in November 2007.
Read more: Conservatives propose Muslim for European Parliament President | EurActiv
Polish authorities try to seize magazine's files
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:30
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Polish police and state prosecutors on Wednesday raided the headquarters of a magazine that recently published compromising information about the government, in a failed attempt to seize its computers.In scenes broadcast live on Polish TV, Sylwester Latkowski, the editor of the weekly Wprost, said he resisted demands of authorities to hand over his laptop and pen drive and would only do so if he received a court order first. He said agents twisted his arm in order to get the laptop, and they left after a few hours without the materials they sought.A lawyer for the magazine, Jacek Kondracki, said the magazine would sue the authorities for violating press freedoms."We are not living in Putin's country or in Belarus," he said, referring to President Vladimir Putin's Russia, which has faced criticism for curbs on press freedoms.A spokeswoman for the state prosecutors, Renata Mazur, said the search was ordered after Latkowski refused to hand over the recordings. She said the aim was to obtain evidence, not violate journalist secrecy.In Poland, journalists are obliged to protect their sources if they request anonymity, and only a court order can waive that.Mazur said prosecutors pulled back out of fear for their security, under an "escalating conflict." The magazine's offices were filled with cameramen and reporters who stormed into a closed room where Latkowski was meeting with the prosecutors.The sweep comes just days after Wprost published information from secretly made recordings of a restarant conversation last July between National Bank of Poland chief Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, in which they discussed how the central bank might use its power to help the government win re-election in 2015.Critics have decried the apparent collusion as a violation of the bank's independence from political interference. Earlier Wednesday, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said the government was facing a crisis and urged its leaders to consider in their consciences whether to resign over the scandal."It cannot go on this way," a visibly angry Komorowski said during a visit to the northern city of Sopot. "We must feel responsibility for Poland, for its institutions. We must aim to clarify the most difficult issues and expect a decent behavior, starting with ourselves."The opposition has called for the government to step down, but Prime Minister Donald Tusk has defended the two leaders, saying the conversation was in Poland's interest, and that the secret bugging amounts to an attempted coup.Also Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski said he discussed with Tusk the possibility of holding an early election to help calm the political turmoil.The manager of the restaurant, identified only as Lukasz N., was detained for questioning and has been charged with two counts of criminal wiretapping. In Poland, bugging or wiretapping to get unauthorized access to information is punishable by up to two years in prison.
SDR
"Cluster Of Central Banks" Have Secretly Invested $29 Trillion In The Market
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:30
Another conspiracy "theory" becomes conspiracy "fact" as The FT reports "a cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets." The report, to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), confirms $29.1tn in market investments, held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries, which "could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices." China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become ''the world's largest public sector holder of equities'', according to officials, and we suspect the Fed is close behind (courtesy of more levered positions at Citadel), as the world's banks try to diversify themselves and "counters the monopoly power of the dollar." Which leaves us wondering where are the central bank 13Fs?
While most have assumed that this is likely, the recent exuberance in stocks has largely been laid at the foot of another irrational un-economic actor - the corporate buyback machine. However, as The FT reports, what we have speculated as fact for many years now (given the death cross of irrationality, plunging volumes, lack of engagement, and of course dwindling credibility of central planners)... is now fact...
Central banks around the world, including China's, have shifted decisively into investing in equities as low interest rates have hit their revenues, according to a global study of 400 public sector institutions.
''A cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets,'' says a report to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (Omfif), a central bank research and advisory group. The trend ''could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices'', it warns.
...
The report, seen by the Financial Times, identifies $29.1tn in market investments, including gold, held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries.
...
China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become ''the world's largest public sector holder of equities'', as the report argues is ''partly strategic'' because it ''counters the monopoly power of the dollar'' and reflects Beijing's global financial ambitions.
...
In Europe, the Swiss and Danish central banks are among those investing in equities. The Swiss National Bank has an equity quota of about 15 per cent. Omfif quotes Thomas Jordan, SNB's chairman, as saying: ''We are now invested in large, mid- and small-cap stocks in developed markets worldwide.'' The Danish central bank's equity portfolio was worth about $500m at the end of last year.
Read more here
So there it is... conspiracy fact - Central Banks around the world are buying stocks in increasing size.
To summarize, the global equity market is now one massive Ponzi scheme in which the dumb money are central banks themselves, the same banks who inject the liquidity to begin with.
That would explain this.
That said, good luck with "exiting" the unconventional monetary policy. You'll need it.
Setting Negative Interest Rates, Euro Central Bank Plots Heist
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:25
Under the guise of seeking higher inflation to ''stimulate'' the economy (and erode the value of people's savings even more quickly), the European Central Bank (ECB) announced negative interest rates on deposits held at the bank '-- the first time a major monetary authority has ever set the rate below zero. If that proves to be not enough in its supposed battle against ''deflation'' or ''not enough'' inflation, the central planners at the eurozone central bank are threatening to do still more. Already, they are talking about potentially even starting up their own Federal Reserve-style ''quantitative easing'' gimmicks to gobble up real assets with fiat currency conjured out of thin air. Critics, though, are warning of disaster.
Since the financial crisis began, central banks around the world have been running the proverbial printing presses like never before. In the United States, the privately owned Federal Reserve System bailed out its crony megabanks around the world with literally trillions of dollars '-- all on the backs of the struggling American people. The Bank of England has been engaged in similar looting. The ECB, meanwhile, despite being slightly more limited in terms of what it can do, has been showering bloated European governments and mega-banks with massive sums of new euros, too.
Apparently, though, it was not enough to satisfy the special interests and central bankers, or ''banksters'' as they are often called these days by critics. Earlier this month, the ECB, purporting to be concerned about how alleged ''deflation'' might derail the purported ''economic recovery,'' announced its newest set of interest rates. Its main refinancing rate is now 0.15 percent, down from 0.25 percent. Meanwhile, the deposit rate '-- the interest rate paid to banks that deposit funds at the ECB '-- officially turned negative for the first time ever at -0.10 percent. It was at zero prior to June 11.
At a press conference announcing what many analysts said was the ''historic'' development, ECB boss Mario Draghi noted that ''the rates we've changed are for the banks, not for the people.'' In other words, everyday Europeans will not be charged interest merely to deposit funds at the bank '-- at least not yet. ''It's wrong to think we want to 'expropriate savers,''' added Draghi, a former Goldman Sachs chief and regular attendee at the shadowy Bilderberg summits along with top Big Business and Big Government bosses. Ironically, one of the goals was to depress the euro exchange rate, so savers holding the currency will indeed have part of their wealth expropriated, regardless of what Draghi says.
What the negative deposit rates mean, essentially, is that commercial banks will be penalized for accumulating reserves rather than loaning out all of those fresh euros into the supposed ''real'' economy. The idea, at least according to the central planners at the ECB, is to force banks to loan out more of the funds to businesses and consumers. That will somehow translate into more ''economic recovery.'' Apparently creating vast new quantities of currency out of thin air and using those euros to gobble up government bonds was not enough.
Economic analysts, though, were not convinced that the ECB's latest ploy would have the supposedly intended effect. ''Of course, they've been trying to jumpstart things for nearly six years, but surely this latest move will work like a charm,'' author Ryan McMaken, editor at the market economics-oriented Ludwig von Mises Institute, noted sarcastically in comments about the ECB developments. ''It's more likely to spur inflation and unemployment.'' Other analysts were even more pessimistic.
Also commenting on the negative rates was economist Frank Hollenbeck, who teaches finance and economics at the International University of Geneva. Despite the ECB claims of fighting ''deflation,'' Hollenbeck said the real reason for the developments lies elsewhere. In reality, he said, the euro central bank is ''panicking'' and ''trying to save itself from the executioner's axe.'' The European ''media'' and complicit mega-bankers, though, are fully behind the effort.
''Of course, the European banking sector and its bought-and-paid-for journalists unanimously support this prospect of continued theft through debasement,'' he said. ''They are giddy at the prospects of higher asset prices and higher banker incomes, unjustified by fundamentals, and the implied massive transfer of income and wealth from the have-nots to the haves.'' Europe, he added ominously, is an ''accident waiting to happen'' as bloated governments continue to borrow and spend citizens into oblivion enabled by the ECB. Hollenbeck called the bloc a ''runaway train'' with a ''certain crash'' in its future.
''Under current economic and political conditions in Europe, a breakup of the Euro is almost a foregone conclusion,'' Hollenbeck continued. ''Instead of letting this happen, the ECB, in trying to save itself, prefers to risk destroying the value of the euro (something it's supposed to protect) by creating massive price distortions and misallocations on an illusionary hope that quantitative easing will magically solve Europe's deep-seated structural problems.'' Longer term, he added, all of the ECB currency printing will lead to ''the complete destruction of the resource allocation function of prices.''
''The ECB will eventually die, but only after massive human suffering,'' Hollenbeck concluded.
Even European central bankers have spoken out about the latest policies. Former ECB board member J¼rgen Stark, for example, blasted as ''irrational'' the whole discussion of ''too low'' inflation by the central bank and the IMF. ''I miss the term price stability,'' Stark told CNBC in an interview. ''Low inflation and price stability will boost real disposable income and will help to foster private consumption. This is good news.'' The ECB has a ''target inflation rate'' (measured in price increases rather than expansion of the currency supply) of less than two percent, but prices have supposedly not risen that fast.
''One can really understand and explain why the inflation rate is so low and ... it is in my view not a threat,'' added Stark, whose native Germany has well-founded historical paranoia about hyperinflation. ''The discussion, all in all, in my view, is really irrational.'' The German central banker resigned from the ECB board in 2011 over disagreements about the outfit's decision to conjure currency into existence to buy government bonds in a half-baked effort to prop up bloated Southern European governments. At the time, critics around the world lambasted the ECB decision. Now it is all set to accelerate, just as analysts warned.
On top of dragging interest rates down into negative territory, ECB boss Draghi also announced that the central bank had undertaken ''preparatory work'' to begin buying asset-backed securities from banks. The U.S. Fed, of course, has been trying to shovel new currency into the economy by gobbling up mortgage-backed securities with its freshly created funny ''money.'' Despite the recently started ''taper,'' the U.S. central bank is still pumping tens of billions of base dollars into the economy each month as part of its outlandish ''quantitative easing'' plots. Eventually, though, as in Europe, the economic pain will come.
The ECB's board apparently thought following the Fed in driving the currency and the economy further off a cliff would be a good idea. Despite the deeply controversial nature of the decisions, the euro central bank's board was apparently unanimous in its decision to keep flooding the bloc with euros. Incredibly, though perhaps not surprising, the central banking boss also promised more currency printing to come. ''We think this is a significant package,'' Draghi said in announcing the new rates and plans for buying up real assets. ''Are we finished? No.''
Of course, in a free economy, interest rates would be set in the market, based largely on the demand for, and supply of, loanable funds. In today's world, those crucial rates, which have implications for the entire economy, are set by failed central-planning committees and unelected commissars at the central banks. Money in a free economy, meanwhile, would not consist of fancy-looking pieces of paper and computer digits issued with impossible-to-pay interest attached and imposed by the coercive power of government. Instead, market participants acting voluntarily would decide what money is. Historically that has generally been a commodity or group of commodities '-- especially gold and silver.
To restore prosperity and liberty while defanging the wild schemes and wholesale looting of the middle class by central bankers and governments, humanity must restore honest money. That means, for starters, abolishing central banks such as the ECB, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and others around the globe. Ending the central planning of interest rates is also crucial. The alternative is the continued and increasingly brazen fleecing of the planet '-- especially the poor and the middle class '-- to enrich the ruling class and its select cronies in the megabanks and government.
Without action, the worst is certainly yet to come.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at anewman@thenewamerican.com.Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU.
Dr Oz
NYTimes 2010: Web Site to Offer Health Advice, Some of It From Marketers [ShareCare]
Privacy Policy - Sharecare
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:01
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Hillary 2016
U.S. captures Benghazi suspect in secret raid - The Washington Post
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 19:24
U.S. Special Operations forces have captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged ringleader of the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Here is what is known about Khattala. ( '‰The Washington Post)
U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assaults has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.
The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured Sunday near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody ''in a secure location outside Libya.'' The officials said there were no casualties in the operation and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.
Abu Khattala's apprehension is a major victory for the Obama administration, which has been criticized for having failed so far to bring those responsible for the Benghazi attacks to justice.
[Timeline: How the Benghazi attacks played out.]
Speaking at TechShop in Pittsburgh, Pa., President Obama praised U.S. Special Operations forces for ''showing incredible courage and precision'' in capturing Abu Khattala, who Obama said ''is alleged to have been one of the masterminds'' of the Benghazi attacks.
''He is now being transported back to the United States,'' Obama said.
''We continue to think about and pray for the families of those who were killed during that terrible attack,'' the president added. ''But more importantly, it's important for us to send a message to the world that when Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible, and we will bring them to justice. And that's a message I sent the day after it happened, and regardless of how long it takes, we will find you.''
A three-count criminal complaint filed by the FBI last July and unsealed in federal court in the District charges Abu Khattala with ''killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving use of a firearm'' on Sept. 11-12, 2012, providing and conspiring to ''provide material support to terrorists resulting in a death'' and possessing and using a firearm during a crime of violence.
Conviction on the felony counts could make Abu Khattala eligible for the death penalty or life imprisonment. In a statement, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department could bring more charges against Abu Khattala.
The Washington Post learned about the capture Monday but agreed to a request from the White House to delay publication of a story because of security concerns.
Last year, the U.S. attorney in the District filed charges against Abu Khattala and at least a dozen others in connection with the Benghazi attacks. None besides Abu Khattala '-- who is expected to be arraigned in Washington '-- has been apprehended.
Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity about the still-secret operation, would not say where Abu Khattala was being held. They said he was ''en route'' to the United States but would not say when he was expected to arrive.
Several terrorist suspects abducted overseas have been held aboard U.S. naval ships at sea while being interrogated, after which they were turned over to FBI ''clean teams'' to question them for trial without endangering the admissibility of evidence.
The State Department designated Abu Khattala a terrorist in January, calling him a ''senior leader'' of the Benghazi branch of the militant organization Ansar al-Sharia, a group that arose after the 2011 fall of the Libyan regime of Moammar Gaddafi.
Ansar al-Sharia was also designated a terrorist organization and held specifically responsible for the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and State Department information management officer Sean Smith dead.
Two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed early the next day in a mortar attack at a nearby CIA annex where the attackers moved after overrunning the diplomatic compound.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters after news of the capture broke that the administration had ''been in touch with us for the last several days on this.''
''It's good news,'' Chambliss said. ''He's being interrogated right now.''
Officials who confirmed Abu Khattala's capture declined to comment on whether others were apprehended with him, or to describe the specific military or law enforcement units that were involved. One individual with knowledge of the raid said it was carried out by the Army's elite Delta Force.
Last October, commandos from Delta Force, along with members of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, carried out a similar raid in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and abducted Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai,who is accused of participating in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.
Ruqai, also known as Anas al-Libi, is currently awaiting trial in New York.
A plan to grab Abu Khattala days after Ruqai's capture was postponed because of violent uprisings against the Libyan government, which had approved the abductions. Asked whether Libya had approved the Sunday abduction, a U.S. official said, ''I am not going to get into the specifics of our diplomatic discussions, but to be clear: This was a unilateral U.S. operation.''
''We have made clear to successive Libyan governments our intention to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack on our facilities in Benghazi,'' the official said. ''So it should come as no surprise to the Libyan government that we would take advantage of an opportunity to bring Abu Khattala to face justice.''
Mohammed Abdullah, a member of the Libyan Congress and president of the National Front Party, said that news of the apprehension was ''a message to these criminals that they will be fought; that their crimes will not go unpunished.
''We would have loved to have the Libyan government execute the arrest warrant,'' Abdullah said. ''But the government's inability to go after people like this has put us in a situation where we have to accept such raids.''
Mohamed Busidra, a Salafist Islamist member of the Libyan Congress who spent 22 years in prison under Gaddafi's government, said, ''I wish that Americans and others would respect Libyan sovereignty.'' Following the October raid, the FBI feared it had missed its best opportunity to arrest Abu Khattala.
Shortly after the Benghazi attacks, FBI agents in New York, which has territorial responsibility for Africa, began working with federal prosecutors there, although the case was subsequently moved without explanation to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District.
Failure to make arrests in the Benghazi case was seen as an enormous frustration for the FBI and a subject of sharp criticism from lawmakers. Within weeks of the attacks, and sporadically thereafter, Abu Khattala was interviewed by American reporters in the open in Benghazi, where he said he did not participate in the initial assault on the Benghazi compound but came on the scene as it was ending.
In a June 11 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director James B. Comey testified: ''I take the Benghazi matter very, very seriously. It is one that I am very close to '-- briefed on a regular basis. One we are putting a lot of work into and that we've made progress on.''
''One thing you've got to know about the FBI, we never give up,'' Comey said. ''So sometimes things take longer than we'd like them to, but they never go into an inactive bin.''
Believed to be in his 40s, Abu Khattala was imprisoned for many years by the Gaddafi regime for his Islamist views.
The FBI believes other groups were also involved in the Benghazi attacks and is pursuing criminal charges against several individuals, including Abu Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah. Bin Qumu has also been designated a terrorist by the State Department, as has his group.
In 2007, Bin Qumu was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent to Libya, where he was detained. Gaddafi's government released him in 2008.
The Benghazi attacks and their aftermath have been the subject of ongoing controversy. A volatile political issue, Benghazi has already influenced initial skirmishing over the 2016 presidential election, particularly for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's secretary of state at the time of the attacks.
Republicans have charged the White House with failing to secure the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, attempting to cover up what actually occurred on the night of the initial attack and mishandling the subsequent investigation. After numerous hearings and an official State Department review, a select committee has been set up in the House of Representatives to investigate further.
Initial comment from lawmakers, including Republicans, was positive. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted that he was ''very pleased.'' Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters it was ''good news'' that he was ''very glad to hear.'' McCain suggested that Abu Khattala be brought to Guantanamo.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said that she was ''pleased.'' But she said she hoped that ''rather than rushing to read him his Miranda rights and telling him he has the right to remain silent, I hope the administration will focus on collecting the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks and to find other terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attacks.''
Administration officials released no initial details on the circumstances of Abu Khattala's detention and interrogation.
Erin Cunningham in Tripoli and Juliet Eilperin, Ann Marimow and Ed O'Keefe in Washington contributed to this report.
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CNN Poll: Most Democrats Not 'Enthusiastic' About Hillary for President
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 23:22
Despite sky-high name recognition, a best-selling book and a weak Democratic presidential field, most Democrats just aren't that excited about Hillary Clinton at the moment.While a solid majority dutifully say they'll support the former first lady and secretary of state if she wins their party's presidential nomination, only a minority are excited about that prospect, a poll released Sunday revealed.
The CNN/ORC International poll found that 63 percent of Democrats and independents who lean toward the party said they'd most likely support Clinton as the nominee.
"Clinton remains the prohibitive front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, but there are signs that rank-and-file Democrats may be willing to consider other candidates," said CNN polling director Keating Holland.
"There are big differences between liberal and moderate Democrats that indicate that a primary challenger who runs to the right of Clinton may get more traction than a progressive challenger would," adds Holland.
"Fifty percent of liberal Democrats say they would be enthusiastic about Clinton winning the nomination, but only 36 percent of moderate Democrats feel the same way."
Overall, only 41 percent of Democrats said they're "enthusiastic" if Clinton wins the nomination while 42 percent said they'd be satisfied with her nomination. One in 10 said they'd be dissatisfied, and 5 percent said they'd be upset.
The survey was conducted for CNN by ORC International May 29-June 1, with 1,003 adults nationwide, including 481 Democrats and independents who lean towards the party, and 452 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP, questioned by telephone.
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Report: Hillary Clinton's Book A ''Bomb,'' Only 60K Hard Covers Sold In First Week'...
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:36
I know, shocker.
Via Weekly Standard:
In an email this evening, a veteran publishing source calls the latest Hillary Clinton book, Hard Choices, a memoir of her State Department years, a ''bomb.'' The source is referring to the early but underwhelming sales figures.
''Between us, they are nervous at S&S [Simon & Schuster],'' says the source, who gave permission for his email to be published. ''Sales were well below expectations and the media was a disaster.''
According to this source, a Simon & Schuster insider, ''They sold 60,000 hard covers first week and 24,000 ebooks.'' The publishing house was ''hoping and praying for 150,000 print first week.''
''The 60k represents a less than 10% sell thru based on what they shipped,'' says the source.
It's been reported that one million copies of Clinton's book were shipped weeks before the June 10 publication date. ''They will be lucky to sell 150,000 total lifetime,'' the source writes in the email.
Hillary reportedly received a near-$14 million advance, a sum the publishing house will unlikely make back.
Keep reading'...
HUH?? what about the VIDEO??-US captures suspected Benghazi attack mastermind in secret raid '-- RT USA
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:33
Published time: June 17, 2014 15:34Edited time: June 17, 2014 16:58ARCHIVE PHOTO: A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012 (AFP Photo)
United States officials reportedly captured a militant accused of orchestrating the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.
The Washington Post first reported Tuesday morning that US Special Operation forces captured the man, Ahmed Abu Khattala, after months of coordination with agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Khattala, who is labeled by the Post as ''one of the suspected ringleaders'' of the 2012 event that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, was reportedly apprehended during a secret raid that occurred over the weekend in Libya, but journalists at the paper agreed to postpone publication until Tuesday due to security concerns.
The operation that led to Khattala's capture was a success, US officials told the Post, and all American personnel have since left the north Africa nation. Khattala is the first suspect thought responsible for the attack to be apprehended by authorities, albeit nearly two months after the attack, and will reportedly be arraigned in Washington, DC. Investigators first confirmed to NBC News last August that Khattala had been charged under seal.
Officials have neglected to provide further information about Khattala's status, but Reuters reported shortly after news broke on Tuesday that the suspect was being held on a US ship, according to one official. In the past, terrorist suspects have been confined to such facilities and interrogated off US soil before being brought to the States.
"The fact that (Khatallah) is now in US custody is a testament to the painstaking efforts of our military, law enforcement and intelligence personnel. Because of their courage and professionalism, this individual will now face the full weight of the American justice system," the White House said in a statement later in the day.
According to the Post, one senior official who confirmed news of this weekend's raid called the event ''a reminder that when the United States says it's going to hold someone accountable and he will face justice, this is what we mean.''
''We have made clear to successive Libyan governments our intention to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack on our facilities in Benghazi,'' one official added to the paper. ''So it should come as no surprise to the Libyan government that we would take advantage of an opportunity to bring Abu Khatalla to face justice.''
Two CIA contractors and a State Dept. security official died as a result of the Sept. 2012 incident, which occurred at an American consulate building in Benghazi on the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The US State Department has since January called Khattala a ''senior leader'' of a Benghazi affiliate of Ansar Al-Sharia, a militant organization that has been designated a terrorist organization by American officials.
Although Khattala has only been linked to that group by the State Dept. since the start of this year, as early on as one month after the Benghazi tragedy he was already being attributed with having an integral role in the attack.
"These reports say that no one knows where I am and that I am hiding," he told Reuters in Oct. 2011."But here I am in the open, sitting in a hotel with you. I'm even going to pick up my sister's kids from school soon."
As RT reported previously, Khattala said during that same time that US politicians were ''playing with the emotions of the American people''and''using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.'' Then, Khattala told the Times he had no plans to go into hiding despite already being accused of a role in the still-fresh attack.
''Mr. Abu Khattala insisted that he had not been part of the aggression at the American compound,'' The Times reported then. ''He said he had arrived just as the gunfire was beginning to crackle and had sought to break up a traffic jam around the demonstration. After fleeing for a time, he said, he entered the compound at the end of the battle because he was asked to help try to rescue four Libyan guards working for the Americans who were trapped inside.''
So, was Ahmed Abu Khatallah the mastermind behind that YouTube video? | Twitchy
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:46
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is crowing today about the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the accused ringleader in the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi. It's a relief to at last have a suspect in custody to interrogate, but the question remains: what did Khatallah have to do with that YouTube video that supposedly inspired the attack?
That would be golden.
NA-Tech
Amazon Fire Phone - tech hubris
BBC News - YouTube to block indie labels as subscription service launches
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:14
17 June 2014Last updated at 13:18 ET By Joe MillerTechnology ReporterYouTube will remove music videos by artists such as Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, because the independent labels to which they belong have refused to agree terms with the site.
Google, which owns YouTube, has been renegotiating contracts as it prepares to launch a music subscription service.
A spokesperson for the indie labels said YouTube was making a "grave error of commercial judgment".
YouTube said it was bringing "new revenue streams" to the music industry.
Continue reading the main storyWe think it is wrong for YouTube to threaten to ostracise certain independents... because they are unwilling to surrender to a take it or leave it ultimatum''
End QuoteGeoff TaylorChief executive, BPISpeaking to the Financial Times, Robert Kyncl, YouTube's head of content and business operations, said videos from independents could be blocked "in a matter of days," if new licenses are not negotiated.
The three major record labels - Universal, Sony and Warner - have all agreed terms with the site, but smaller independents are holding out.
'Lack of respect'Some independents say they are being offered "highly unfavourable terms". Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien accused Google of trying to "strong-arm" labels into accepting low fees.
Alison Wenham, who runs the Worldwide Independent Network , which represents the independent music community said YouTube is "making a grave error of commercial judgment in misreading the market".
"We have tried and will continue to try to help YouTube understand just how important independent music is to any streaming service and why it should be valued accordingly," she added.
"By not giving their subscribers access to independent music YouTube is setting itself up for failure... The vast majority of independent labels around the world are disappointed at the lack of respect and understanding shown by YouTube."
BPI, the organisation which represents British record companies - including the three major labels - said it was wrong for YouTube, which is the dominant online video platform, to "threaten to ostracise certain independents".
Chief executive Geoff Taylor said the move would end up "denying fans the opportunity to hear their music, and labels and artists the chance to earn a living from it - because they are unwilling to surrender to a take it or leave it ultimatum."
Impala, a body which represents the labels - including XL Recordings, 4AD, Cooking Vinyl and Domino - has appealed to the European Commission for help with its battle against YouTube.
'Revenue source'The BBC understands that even if blocks do go ahead, content from artists signed to independent labels will remain available on YouTube via channels such as Vevo.
Videos which are exclusively licensed by independent record labels, such as acoustic sets or live performances, may be taken down.
A YouTube spokesman told the BBC: "Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry.
"We're adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind - to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year.
"We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us."
YouTube's entry into the music subscription market comes after Amazon launched a similar service for its Prime members, and Apple bought online music service Beats Music.
The Major Labels Are Trying to Sell Spotify for $10 Billion, Sources Say | Digital Music NewsDigital Music News
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 06:14
The Major Labels Are Trying to Sell Spotify for $10 Billion, Sources Say | Digital Music NewsDigital Music News
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In the wake of the highly-successful acquisition of Beats by Apple, major labels Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group are now focusing on the next prize: a massive Spotify acquisition or liquidity event. According to several sources inside and outside of the major label system who have agreed to speak with Digital Music News, the Beats sale is 'simply small potatoes' compared to the juicy prize that Spotify could represent, and labels are pulling as many strings as possible to make a 'giant liquidation event' happen.
A major factor in this push is equity, a lot of equity.
According to multiple sources, the major labels now carry a collective ownership share in Spotify of roughy 20%, a multiple of the percentage held in Beats.The shift is a result of some re-engineering by the major labels on how they profit from streaming services. In the older model, labels focused more on large, upfront guarantees in exchange for the rights to use their valuable catalogs. Rhapsody, for example, has bitterly complained about that approach in the past, but according to a pair of sources close to those deals, that has shifted considerably over the past few years. ''[The big recording labels] decided they want equity more than payments, because there's a market [for acquisition] now,'' one source relayed.
''You're talking about the difference between making millions right now, or billions in a few years.''On that note, one source pointed to Spotify as a very, very juicy prize, with one target sale price pushing past $10 billion (you know, WhatsApp money).
One label attorney, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointed to massive telecommunications and mobile companies as targeted buyers. ''The Verizons, the NTT DoCoMos, the Oranges, that group,'' the source noted. ''Spotify is a nice package for customers.''
Separately, sources also noted that Spotify's investors are also getting more antsy for a sale, and pushing the agenda towards and initial public offering (IPO), acquisition, or other 'liquidity event'. But an IPO could represent a difficult bet: just recently, VC superstar Fred Wilson questioned whether the prodigious Wall Street wellspring has already ended, and whether companies like Pandora were the last to cash in. ''The combination of sky high valuations, equally high burn rates, and a disappearing IPO market is not a pleasant one,'' Wilson blogged last month.
That may be better judged by Goldman Sachs, a massive Spotify investor and a shrewd Wall Street manipulator. It's unclear exactly how much Goldman has sunk into Spotify, though overall investment in the streaming service is roughly $540 million.
Written while listening to Paramore.
Comments (23)
TuneHunterWednesday, June 11, 2014'....investors are also getting more antsy for a sale,
They better be antsy!Soon Mr. Ek will be out of $250M from last round and there is a lot of geography to cover with flashy offices.
In any case they do have a chance '' not only labels are loaded with clueless folks at the top.
FarePlayThursday, June 12, 2014Paul, this story has plant all over it. Even your sign for ''sale pending'' I believe falsely creates an air that Spotify is in play.
Of course the labels want the cash, after all they did mortgage their companies and the careers of the artists they supposedly represent. Now that they devalued their product literally overnight, If they don't get their payoff they're going to look pretty stupid.
Let's get real. Spotify's losses escalate as the business scales. They're probably better off with an IPO, than getting a serious, disciplined company to buy them. With Apple, At&T and Iovine, Beats will very quickly gain market share and fly by Spotify.
But then who knows in this crazy, speculative business they call tech; sucking all the oxygen out of the room.
ChrisThursday, June 12, 2014http://www.digitaltrends.com/music/beats-music-struggles-with-subscriber-count-in-the-low-six-figures/
Yeah sure buddy.
IronmanWednesday, June 11, 2014How deliciously ironic that this valuation number is more or less equal to the losses from recorded music revenue from 1999 till now'....
FarePlayThursday, June 12, 2014Make that number closer to 50 billion.
AnonymousFriday, June 13, 2014Allowing for music districting ventures and avoiding logical and simple opportunities puts that number at $200B.
Just holding tight to 1999 revenues would make after inflation $56 billions in 2013 '' IFPI reported global income of $ just 15 billion for last year.I predict just $14 for 2014. All new streamers working ver hard to demolish music industry and Radio revenues.
johnWednesday, June 11, 2014so some telecom wolf is going to buy spotify? i think spotify needs to be owned by its current ownership to stay on point, a telecom is not going to continue to innovate the service properly i don't think.
TuneHunterWednesday, June 11, 2014They only innovate in please of the semi-freelodaer or freeloader since ads just like on Pandora are almost nonexistent. Conversion to Pandora style and then to discovery moment monetization can justify $10B IPO or takeover.
It's possible in just 24 months! BUT HE HAS TO CHANGE HIS PROVEN BUSINESS MODEL.
Nina UlloaWednesday, June 11, 2014The last thing we need is another Pandora..
TUNEHunterWednesday, June 11, 2014If we convert music and lyrics ID services to CASHIERS of the music industry Pandora will become next morning $5 billion dollar music store.Spotify in current proven business model will continue as ENDLESS FIRECRACKER burning away music!
AnonymousWednesday, June 11, 2014 Right.
Wait till YouTube Music launches and buy it for $1m'...
Faza (TCM)Wednesday, June 11, 2014I know I'd be looking to sell. Question is: where's the chump that'll buy 'em?
PatWednesday, June 11, 2014The cards are falling just as I had predicted the day the Beats sale was announced. Hopefully Spotify gets to the right hands, because it is the superior service, and there's nothing more than I'd rather see than Apple's decisions coming around to bite them in the arse. Not so much referring to the Beats acquisition, as that's a savvy and smart business move, but them adjusting the headphone jack to abandon the traditional 1/8 jack, for no apparent reason (they say the tests prove that it's a higher quality audio, however audio professionals say the difference is so minute that the human ear cannot detect it). And who really wants Beats to jack up the retail price of iPhones, just so your issued the new Apple standard of Beats headphones (overpriced, trendy crap-phones).
agraham999Wednesday, June 11, 2014I don't know what headphone jacks have to do with streaming music services, but I will address your point, because it is kinda silly. First of all, they are not abandoning the headphone jack, but allowing for headphones to access the thunderbolt jack. It is great from a developer and manufacturer standpoint, as well as users. Any headphone that used this jack, would still have the ability to work anywhere else with an adaptor, but this isn't simply some audio improvement issue. Thunderbolt is digital and it carries data. That means new functionality for headphones and possibly superior technologies when it comes to ambient sound reduction, speech quality, etc.
From a purely aesthetic perspective, this would also allow for a completely flat cable. Thinner'...and smaller. Also, it would allow the headphones to access and draw power directly from the device.
You know Apple/iTunes has done more for the music industry in both technology and sales in the past 10 years than just about any other company'...so why the hate? Are you really that tied to a 1/8'" jack that's been around for decades? Were you similarly upset when there was the switch from 1/4'" to 1/8'"?
Some guyWednesday, June 11, 2014LOL
kirkmcThursday, June 12, 2014It's not Thunderbolt, it's a Lightning connector; it's very different. It can send digital data, just as the older 30-pin connector did. But Thunderbolt is a very different animal, and one we won't see in portable devices for a long time.
agraham999Thursday, June 12, 2014Yes right'...I misspoke'...I meant Lightning'...thanks. And yes the old connection could send digital data, but it wasn't a practical plug for replacing an 1/8'" plug with. Swapping out the terminology, my point is the same'...which is it is asinine to complain (in a post about Spotify being sold) about a switch from a 1/8'" round plug, to a flat/digital plug'...and even if that's the point you feel you really gotta make here, I guess it is fair to point out we also switched from the 1/4'" plug'...and of course Apple killed off the floppy drive, the optical drive, is eliminating the mechanical hard drive with SSD/Flash, popularized that stupid all-in-one computer design, refused to allow us to use flash (instead of html5), and on and on'...what arrogance. They deserve a bite in the arse as you say.
Thanks to Apple I have all these floppy disks and I can use any of them.
KirkmcThursday, June 12, 2014I agree that the comment about the plug doesn't belong in this post. Just clarifying.
pixelThursday, June 12, 2014Improvements like conversion to 48kHz? Sorry but that ''improvements'' are good for idiots who will believe in every sh** that their god apple tell them'... If you wanna want what I'm talking about, you should start to study all aspects of digital audio and physics of audio frequencies.Just don't believe in every commercial spot
pixelThursday, June 12, 2014''if you wanna know'' '' my mistake
hippydogThursday, June 12, 2014One of my predictions is a mass consumer ''non trust'' in streaming after one of the bigger ones fail, it seems it may happen sooner then I thought..
WillisThursday, June 12, 2014If this report is true, there are a couple things to consider:
1. Something is worth only what people are willing to pay.2. There are no buyers for this right now.
stephen craig aristeiThursday, June 12, 2014Who ever said this above (or is it below??) were right, as soon as Spotify is out of it's last round of funding, they will not be in a very good position to continue and the investments made by the companies previous investors will be deminished substantially'....My fear is that in order for the initial investors (the major labels) to really come out on top, what kind of ''consessions'' will they have to lock into the deal to make it ''sweet enough'' to give them the ''payday'' they are looking for?'.....What I am saying in plain english is ''What kind of and how much of the artist's rights and revenues from those rights are they going to give a way to the new buyer? After all, the ''rights and revenues'' are not theirs, but belong to the ''artists'' ! ! ! Kind of like when CBS and all the majors went to all the major selling artists on their label and asked them to take a ''reduced royalty'' on this new item they are marketing called the ''Compact Disc'' ! Didn't they all ask us to take a 50% discount in royalties for those sales, ''just for a while'', as they introduced the product to the public'....And how long did it take us to get that royalty back up to where our contracts stated it should be?????
I think it is important for every act, their mgmt, and their legal reps all stand firm and state that they will not allow the labels to unilaterally assign future rights and royalties to some business entity that was clearly a ''conflict of interest'' from the beginning, and that the labels need to be completely transparent in this sale !
The Major Labels Are Trying to Sell Spotify for $10 Billion, Sources Say | Digital Music NewsDigital Music News
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In the wake of the highly-successful acquisition of Beats by Apple, major labels Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group are now focusing on the next prize: a massive Spotify acquisition or liquidity event. According to several sources inside and outside of the major label system who have agreed to speak with Digital Music News, the Beats sale is 'simply small potatoes' compared to the juicy prize that Spotify could represent, and labels are pulling as many strings as possible to make a 'giant liquidation event' happen.
A major factor in this push is equity, a lot of equity.
According to multiple sources, the major labels now carry a collective ownership share in Spotify of roughy 20%, a multiple of the percentage held in Beats.The shift is a result of some re-engineering by the major labels on how they profit from streaming services. In the older model, labels focused more on large, upfront guarantees in exchange for the rights to use their valuable catalogs. Rhapsody, for example, has bitterly complained about that approach in the past, but according to a pair of sources close to those deals, that has shifted considerably over the past few years. ''[The big recording labels] decided they want equity more than payments, because there's a market [for acquisition] now,'' one source relayed.
''You're talking about the difference between making millions right now, or billions in a few years.''On that note, one source pointed to Spotify as a very, very juicy prize, with one target sale price pushing past $10 billion (you know, WhatsApp money).
One label attorney, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointed to massive telecommunications and mobile companies as targeted buyers. ''The Verizons, the NTT DoCoMos, the Oranges, that group,'' the source noted. ''Spotify is a nice package for customers.''
Separately, sources also noted that Spotify's investors are also getting more antsy for a sale, and pushing the agenda towards and initial public offering (IPO), acquisition, or other 'liquidity event'. But an IPO could represent a difficult bet: just recently, VC superstar Fred Wilson questioned whether the prodigious Wall Street wellspring has already ended, and whether companies like Pandora were the last to cash in. ''The combination of sky high valuations, equally high burn rates, and a disappearing IPO market is not a pleasant one,'' Wilson blogged last month.
That may be better judged by Goldman Sachs, a massive Spotify investor and a shrewd Wall Street manipulator. It's unclear exactly how much Goldman has sunk into Spotify, though overall investment in the streaming service is roughly $540 million.
Written while listening to Paramore.
Comments (23)
TuneHunterWednesday, June 11, 2014
'....investors are also getting more antsy for a sale,
They better be antsy!Soon Mr. Ek will be out of $250M from last round and there is a lot of geography to cover with flashy offices.
In any case they do have a chance '' not only labels are loaded with clueless folks at the top.
FarePlayThursday, June 12, 2014
Paul, this story has plant all over it. Even your sign for ''sale pending'' I believe falsely creates an air that Spotify is in play.
Of course the labels want the cash, after all they did mortgage their companies and the careers of the artists they supposedly represent. Now that they devalued their product literally overnight, If they don't get their payoff they're going to look pretty stupid.
Let's get real. Spotify's losses escalate as the business scales. They're probably better off with an IPO, than getting a serious, disciplined company to buy them. With Apple, At&T and Iovine, Beats will very quickly gain market share and fly by Spotify.
But then who knows in this crazy, speculative business they call tech; sucking all the oxygen out of the room.
ChrisThursday, June 12, 2014
http://www.digitaltrends.com/music/beats-music-struggles-with-subscriber-count-in-the-low-six-figures/
Yeah sure buddy.
IronmanWednesday, June 11, 2014
How deliciously ironic that this valuation number is more or less equal to the losses from recorded music revenue from 1999 till now'....
FarePlayThursday, June 12, 2014
Make that number closer to 50 billion.
AnonymousFriday, June 13, 2014
Allowing for music districting ventures and avoiding logical and simple opportunities puts that number at $200B.
Just holding tight to 1999 revenues would make after inflation $56 billions in 2013 '' IFPI reported global income of $ just 15 billion for last year.I predict just $14 for 2014. All new streamers working ver hard to demolish music industry and Radio revenues.
johnWednesday, June 11, 2014
so some telecom wolf is going to buy spotify? i think spotify needs to be owned by its current ownership to stay on point, a telecom is not going to continue to innovate the service properly i don't think.
TuneHunterWednesday, June 11, 2014
They only innovate in please of the semi-freelodaer or freeloader since ads just like on Pandora are almost nonexistent. Conversion to Pandora style and then to discovery moment monetization can justify $10B IPO or takeover.
It's possible in just 24 months! BUT HE HAS TO CHANGE HIS PROVEN BUSINESS MODEL.
Nina UlloaWednesday, June 11, 2014
The last thing we need is another Pandora..
TUNEHunterWednesday, June 11, 2014
If we convert music and lyrics ID services to CASHIERS of the music industry Pandora will become next morning $5 billion dollar music store.Spotify in current proven business model will continue as ENDLESS FIRECRACKER burning away music!
AnonymousWednesday, June 11, 2014
Right.
Wait till YouTube Music launches and buy it for $1m'...
Faza (TCM)Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I know I'd be looking to sell. Question is: where's the chump that'll buy 'em?
PatWednesday, June 11, 2014
The cards are falling just as I had predicted the day the Beats sale was announced. Hopefully Spotify gets to the right hands, because it is the superior service, and there's nothing more than I'd rather see than Apple's decisions coming around to bite them in the arse. Not so much referring to the Beats acquisition, as that's a savvy and smart business move, but them adjusting the headphone jack to abandon the traditional 1/8 jack, for no apparent reason (they say the tests prove that it's a higher quality audio, however audio professionals say the difference is so minute that the human ear cannot detect it). And who really wants Beats to jack up the retail price of iPhones, just so your issued the new Apple standard of Beats headphones (overpriced, trendy crap-phones).
agraham999Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I don't know what headphone jacks have to do with streaming music services, but I will address your point, because it is kinda silly. First of all, they are not abandoning the headphone jack, but allowing for headphones to access the thunderbolt jack. It is great from a developer and manufacturer standpoint, as well as users. Any headphone that used this jack, would still have the ability to work anywhere else with an adaptor, but this isn't simply some audio improvement issue. Thunderbolt is digital and it carries data. That means new functionality for headphones and possibly superior technologies when it comes to ambient sound reduction, speech quality, etc.
From a purely aesthetic perspective, this would also allow for a completely flat cable. Thinner'...and smaller. Also, it would allow the headphones to access and draw power directly from the device.
You know Apple/iTunes has done more for the music industry in both technology and sales in the past 10 years than just about any other company'...so why the hate? Are you really that tied to a 1/8'" jack that's been around for decades? Were you similarly upset when there was the switch from 1/4'" to 1/8'"?
Some guyWednesday, June 11, 2014
LOL
kirkmcThursday, June 12, 2014
It's not Thunderbolt, it's a Lightning connector; it's very different. It can send digital data, just as the older 30-pin connector did. But Thunderbolt is a very different animal, and one we won't see in portable devices for a long time.
agraham999Thursday, June 12, 2014
Yes right'...I misspoke'...I meant Lightning'...thanks. And yes the old connection could send digital data, but it wasn't a practical plug for replacing an 1/8'" plug with. Swapping out the terminology, my point is the same'...which is it is asinine to complain (in a post about Spotify being sold) about a switch from a 1/8'" round plug, to a flat/digital plug'...and even if that's the point you feel you really gotta make here, I guess it is fair to point out we also switched from the 1/4'" plug'...and of course Apple killed off the floppy drive, the optical drive, is eliminating the mechanical hard drive with SSD/Flash, popularized that stupid all-in-one computer design, refused to allow us to use flash (instead of html5), and on and on'...what arrogance. They deserve a bite in the arse as you say.
Thanks to Apple I have all these floppy disks and I can use any of them.
KirkmcThursday, June 12, 2014
I agree that the comment about the plug doesn't belong in this post. Just clarifying.
pixelThursday, June 12, 2014
Improvements like conversion to 48kHz? Sorry but that ''improvements'' are good for idiots who will believe in every sh** that their god apple tell them'... If you wanna want what I'm talking about, you should start to study all aspects of digital audio and physics of audio frequencies.Just don't believe in every commercial spot
pixelThursday, June 12, 2014
''if you wanna know'' '' my mistake
hippydogThursday, June 12, 2014
One of my predictions is a mass consumer ''non trust'' in streaming after one of the bigger ones fail, it seems it may happen sooner then I thought..
WillisThursday, June 12, 2014
If this report is true, there are a couple things to consider:
1. Something is worth only what people are willing to pay.2. There are no buyers for this right now.
stephen craig aristeiThursday, June 12, 2014
Who ever said this above (or is it below??) were right, as soon as Spotify is out of it's last round of funding, they will not be in a very good position to continue and the investments made by the companies previous investors will be deminished substantially'....My fear is that in order for the initial investors (the major labels) to really come out on top, what kind of ''consessions'' will they have to lock into the deal to make it ''sweet enough'' to give them the ''payday'' they are looking for?'.....What I am saying in plain english is ''What kind of and how much of the artist's rights and revenues from those rights are they going to give a way to the new buyer? After all, the ''rights and revenues'' are not theirs, but belong to the ''artists'' ! ! ! Kind of like when CBS and all the majors went to all the major selling artists on their label and asked them to take a ''reduced royalty'' on this new item they are marketing called the ''Compact Disc'' ! Didn't they all ask us to take a 50% discount in royalties for those sales, ''just for a while'', as they introduced the product to the public'....And how long did it take us to get that royalty back up to where our contracts stated it should be?????
I think it is important for every act, their mgmt, and their legal reps all stand firm and state that they will not allow the labels to unilaterally assign future rights and royalties to some business entity that was clearly a ''conflict of interest'' from the beginning, and that the labels need to be completely transparent in this sale !
YouTube to block indie labels who don't sign up to new music service | Technology | theguardian.com
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:35
Independent artists could disappear from YouTube "in a matter of days" after the Google video service confirmed it was dropping content from independent labels that have not signed up for its upcoming subscription music service.
YouTube is about to begin testing the new service '' which will charge people to watch and listen to music without ads, and download songs to their mobile devices '' within the next few days, initially within Google.
The company's head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl, told the Financial Times that the service '' previously rumoured to be called YouTube Music Pass '' will launch more widely later in the year.
His confirmation that YouTube will block videos from labels that do not sign licensing deals for the new premium tier will be hugely controversial among indie labels, with trade body WIN already filing a complaint to the European Commission about its negotiating strategy.
"While we wish that we had 100% success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience," said Kyncl, claiming that YouTube has signed up labels representing 90% of the music industry.
Independent labels are likely to disagree. Their licensing agency Merlin estimates that indies collectively account for a 32.6% market share of the recorded music industry's sales and streams.
Contacted by The Guardian following his comments, WIN's chief executive Alison Wenham was blunt in her response. "They have suffered a simple but catastrophic error of judgement in misreading the market," said Wenham, who had organised a press conference earlier in the month to protest at YouTube's plans.
Wenham said YouTube was "setting itself up for failure" and only a small number of independent labels would agree to its terms.
"We have tried and will continue to try to help YouTube understand just how important independent music is to any streaming service and why it should be valued accordingly. Music fans want a service that offers the complete range of music available. This is something that companies such as Spotify and Deezer do, both of whom have excellent relationships with the independent music sector," she said.
WIN claims that the company has signed lucrative licensing deals with major labels Universal, Warner and Sony, while demanding that independent labels sign up to inferior terms or face having their videos blocked from YouTube's free service.
''Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry,'' a Google spokesman said. He said the subscription-based service would bring new revenue streams ''in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.''
Wenham's criticism echoes a claim made at the event by musician Billy Bragg, who said "I don't know why they've opened this hornet's nest right now, apart from corporate hubris. I don't think they realise what a stupid thing they've done."
Artists including Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Jack White could see their videos taken down. The site has become a key promotional outlet for independent labels of all sizes in recent years.
YouTube attracts more than 1bn monthly viewers, with music one of its biggest categories. Its upcoming premium music subscription tier will compete with Spotify, Deezer and Napster among other services, including Apple-owned Beats Music and Google's own Google Play Music All Access.
Independent labels have long complained that they deserve more respect from digital music services negotiating licensing deals, and set up Merlin to strike deals on their behalf.
The agency has remained silent throughout the recent arguments about YouTube's planned new service, although its chief executive Charles Caldas criticised the company at an industry conference in late April.
Referring to an earlier quote from Bragg suggesting that musicians unhappy about royalties paid by Spotify should be "marching to YouTube central with flaming pitchforks", Caldas said: "I can't say Billy's right, but I can say that he's not wrong."
The move comes as Amazon too has begun to flex its muscles in ways that limit the content its customers can receive. Amazon is delaying shipments and refused pre-orders for some titles from Hachette, publisher of Harry Potter author JK Rowling, and home to David Baldacci, Stephen Colbert, David Foster Wallace and others.
It has also pulled pre-orders for forthcoming Warner Home Video features, including international blockbuster The Lego Movie, 300: Rise of an Empire, Winter's Tale and Transcendence.
' YouTube accused of strong-arming indie labels into poor deals
War on Ammo
BULLETPROOF-Bill Text: DE HB347 | 2013-2014 | 147th General Assembly | Draft | LegiScan
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:46