629: Passport Terrorists!

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 14m
June 26th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir de Stille in Brussel, Sir Mike the Cyber-Knight, Anwanur Gielow

Associate Executive Producers: Luke Rayner, Jacob Scherer, Brian House, Timnonymous

Cover Artist: 20wattbulb


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By Donagh Hatton
New Hams
Monitoring REF033C
BitTorrent update
Syncthing is NOT an alternative. READ, PEOPLE!!!
According to Music Bizz insider, limitations are likely related to thwarting piracy
MEETING!-Help us Build Sync, A Call for Alpha Testers | The Official BitTorrent Blog
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:29
Help us Build Sync, A Call for Alpha Testers | The Official BitTorrent BlogHelp us Build Sync, A Call for Alpha Testersby Erik Pounds on June 23, 2014
Help us Build Sync, A Call for Alpha Testersby Erik Pounds on June 23, 2014
We're launching a Community Testers program to help build future versions of BitTorrent Sync.
Sync began as an experiment in re-thinking the way we manage our files. Working with our community, we built a strong alternative to the public cloud, providing all the benefits, without the limitations. It's designed to be fast and secure, with no caps on usage. Millions of users and several iterations later, we're still working hard to make it even better.
This summer, we'll be releasing an update that will enhance the overall user experience '' with an interface and feature set that makes sharing files with others much easier. It doesn't matter if you're an early technology adopter or an everyday dabbler, the product will just work.
So today, we're putting out a call for alpha testers to give early builds a spin and help us refine the product. It's a new approach to testing for the Sync team, and the goal is to hear more from our users directly and ensure that we're meeting your needs.
Some features may be experimental and won't make the final cut, but key components we're planning for the final release include:
A re-designed user interfaceSharing with others by sending clickable linksShare from the Finder and Windows ExplorerOverall performance enhancementsThanks to those who participate in this program and to everyone who's active on our forum.
Happy Syncing,-Erik Pounds
To be invited as an Alpha tester, go here:
Written by: Erik PoundsErik Pounds is Vice President of Product Management for BitTorrent Sync. Erik joined BitTorrent, Inc. from Greylock Partners, prior to which he spent 3 years with Drobo. Erik graduated with a BS in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco where for four years he was a member of their Division I Golf Team.
Related Posts:
Sync Hacks: Waking Up Some Very Old Instruments
by Lou on June 24, 2014
Sync Hacks: TV Everywhere with PlayLater and BitTorrent Sync
by Lou on June 17, 2014
Sync Hacks: How To Use BitTorrent Sync to Synchronize Directories in Ubuntu 14.04
by Lou on June 10, 2014
Sync Hacks: How a Journalistic Wedding Photographer uses BitTorrent Sync on Shoots
by Lou on June 3, 2014
If Left Unchecked, Cloud Fever Could Make Us Sick
by Erik Pounds on June 3, 2014
(C) 2014 The Official BitTorrent Blog.
Talk about Elyse Garlings wine on the show
Book Club
Middle East recommendation from Knight
After listening to the past few shows, your desire to learn more about middle east history really hit home with me.
In 2006 or 2007 I came across "United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11 by Professor Salim Yaqub." Its about 12 hours of lectures dealing with the US/Middle East relations over the past 100 years (stopping at 2003).
I'd like to recommend this "book" for the NA Book Club. I hope you and other producers find this a valuable tool to understanding current US/Middle East relations.
Professor Salim Yaqub is an Associate Professor at UC Santa Barbra.
Also on Audible.
Sir Andrew Greene (of Florida, not UK)
Founding Producer (since March 2009)
Google I/O Wearables = Slave Jewelry
New Gmail API: An Email Standard Power Grab? | Acompli
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:53
Written by Javier Soltero, June 25, 2014
Today at Google I/O, sandwiched somewhere between smart watches and health monitoring technology, Google announced a new REST API for accessing Gmail. Their choice to highlight an API during their keynote reinforces the strategic importance of Gmail to the company as it continues to aggressively acquire a user base across both consumer and enterprise audiences.
Google's choice to mention it in the keynote, as did Apple in its WWDC keynote, sparked some interesting conversation at Acompli. Our initial reaction was something like ''HUZZAH! NO MORE WHACKY gIMAP!''
But the joy quickly faded as we dug into the specifics. The most obvious question was ''Well, what's changed here? Is this the go-forward API for Gmail/Google Apps?'' The quick answer: No. Not yet, at least. This new API is not rich enough to support the capabilities that make Acompli possible. Google clearly includes the ''smoking Gmail API Note'' in their developer documentation:
Elsewhere on the Internet, the discussion inevitably turned to the issue of standards and how this move represents a move in the wrong direction in preserving the ubiquity of access to email services built on things like IMAP, SMTP, POP3 (gasp!) and a few others.
So, is this a good thing? In short, yes, but it highlights the false promise of the role standards play in the retrieval of email messages. Email standards are the reason why it remains one of the most important and heavily used communications medium in the world. The standards evolved from the early days of the Internet as a set of rules that enable messages to be delivered across arbitrarily complex networks. Unfortunately those standards, and specifically the ones related to retrieving mail (such as IMAP), are quaint by comparison to most APIs developers use these days. Even worse, the standards themselves are all colored with extra elements that make them fundamentally incompatible with each other. In plain English, it means that a Gmail IMAP client and a Yahoo IMAP client are significantly different even though they are both built on a standard.
Fortunately, users don't care about this kind of stuff. People assume that developers will build email clients and services that can connect to email providers using whatever magic is required, even if it is not built on a standard. The thing they do care about is making sure a message gets delivered and that the recipient can retrieve and read that message. This leads us to the one standard that really does matter: SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol). This standard is responsible for ensuring that email systems can talk to each other and route messages appropriately. It is the binding agreement we all share that makes electronic mail universally reliable and ubiquitous.
Google's choice to make their Gmail service more accessible to developers through a proprietary API will definitely lead to more innovative uses of email data and possibly new client experiences. This is most certainly a good thing for users, especially since we all depend on email in one way or another. It doesn't, however, affect the fundamental way in which email travels from one point of the Internet to the other.
The opportunity for dominant email platforms like Gmail and Exchange is to focus on opening up access to developers to build differentiated, powerful experiences that work with the vast amounts of great data in email. If this means the introduction of new APIs, then great. Much like the telephone system and the diversity of handsets and PBXs, there's ample opportunity to innovate on how users access communication mediums without fundamentally altering the open way in which calls are routed from one system to another. Any step towards making email a more developer-friendly and accessible medium is a step in the right direction, especially for us here at Acompli. Now all we need is for Microsoft to follow suit and simplify and unify their myriad API options for Exchange and Office 365 so we can build even more interesting capabilities with their platform as well.
John's Mic Addiction http://microphone-parts.com/
Notice to Congress -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Western Balkans
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 23, 2014
- - - - - - -
On June 26, 2001, by Executive Order (E.O.) 13219, the President declared a national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions of persons engaged in, or assisting, sponsoring, or supporting (i) extremist violence in the Republic of Macedonia and elsewhere in the Western Balkans region, or (ii) acts obstructing implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia or United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, relating to Kosovo. The President subsequently amended that order in E.O. 13304 of May 28, 2003, to take additional steps with respect to acts obstructing implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement relating to Macedonia.
The actions of persons threatening the peace and international stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on June 26, 2001, and the measures adopted on that date and thereafter to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond June 26, 2014. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans declared in E.O. 13219.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
Drone Nation
Constitutional Lawyer Eric's initial response to my questions about the drone memo
Me: Does this actually mean its ok for the government to kill a US citizen, if done with ‘proper authority’ from the Executive? Does this hold up?
“But it was alright, everything was alright, the struggle was finished. Eric: And this troubles you, citizen? Stop thinking.
“But it was alright, everything was alright, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
Z Street lawsuiut
IRS Email Jeopardy
The agency had a legal obligation to retain the records it lost.
Wall St Journal editorial
June 24, 2014 7:43 p.m. ET
The IRS is spinning a tale of bureaucratic incompetence to explain the vanishing emails from former Tax Exempt Organizations doyenne Lois Lerner and six other IRS employees. We have less faith by the minute that there is an innocent explanation for this failure to cooperate with Congress, but even if true it doesn't matter. The IRS was under a legal obligation to retain the information because of a litigation hold.
In 2009 a pro-Israel group called Z Street applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status. When the process was delayed, an IRS agent told the group that its application was undergoing special review because "these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization's activities contradict the Administration's public policies." In August 2010 Z Street sued the IRS on grounds that this selective processing of its application amounted to viewpoint discrimination.
Enlarge Image
Associated Press
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and legal precedent, once the suit was filed the IRS was required to preserve all evidence relevant to the viewpoint-discrimination charge. That means that no matter what dog ate Lois Lerner's hard drive or what the IRS habit was of recycling the tapes used to back up its email records of taxpayer information, it had a legal duty not to destroy the evidence in ongoing litigation.
In private white-collar cases, companies facing a lawsuit routinely operate under what is known as a "litigation hold," instructing employees to affirmatively retain all documents related to the potential litigation. A failure to do that and any resulting document loss amounts to what is called "willful spoliation," or deliberate destruction of evidence if any of the destroyed documents were potentially relevant to the litigation.
At the IRS, that requirement applied to all correspondence regarding Z Street, as well as to information related to the vetting of conservative groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were delayed during an election season. Instead, and incredibly, the IRS cancelled its contract with email-archiving firm Sonasoft shortly after Ms. Lerner's computer "crash" in June 2011.
In the federal District of Columbia circuit where Z Street's case is now pending, the operating legal obligation is that "negligent or reckless spoliation of evidence is an independent and actionable tort." In a 2011 case a D.C. district court also noted that "Once a party reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its routine document retention/destruction policy and put in place a 'litigation hold' to ensure the preservation of relevant documents."
The government's duty is equally pressing. "When the United States comes into court as a party in a civil suit, it is subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as any other litigant," the Court of Federal Claims ruled in 2007. The responsibility to preserve evidence should have been a topic of conversation between the IRS chief counsel's office and the Justice Department lawyers assigned to handle the Z Street case.
As it happens, the IRS also had a duty to notify Congress if it learned that discoverable evidence had been lost or destroyed. We now know that the IRS has been aware of Lois Lerner's lost emails since at least February, but IRS Commissioner John Koskinen failed to mention this in his congressional testimony on March 26, saying instead that the IRS was fully cooperating with congressional requests.
Since the email destruction story broke, the IRS has pushed the narrative that losing or recycling emails was no big deal for the agency that wields the government's fearsome taxing power. The agency isn't nearly as cavalier about the responsibilities of groups whose tax status it handles.
One tax-exempt group represented by Washington lawyer Cleta Mitchell had a policy of retaining documents for one year. But under a deal insisted upon by the IRS, the group had to retain correspondence such as email for three years and permanently for "legal or important matters," or it risked losing its tax-exempt status.
So much for the IRS living by its own rules, and on Tuesday at a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing we learned of another IRS legal failure. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero said the IRS "did not follow the law" when it failed to report the loss of Lois Lerner's emails. All federal agencies are "required to notify us when they realize they have a problem that could be destruction or disposal, unauthorized disposal" of federal records, he said.
Attorney General Eric Holder won't name a special prosecutor, but there's still plenty of room for the judge in the Z Street case to force the IRS to explain and answer for its "willful spoliation" of email evidence.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
U.S. correspondent
and content editor
on twitter: @LoriLMarcus
Board of Sonasoft, IRS email contractor, working to get 'Silicon Valley's Wannabe Obama' elected - Liberty Unyielding
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 22:02
The blogosphere has been alive in the last 48 hours with the sound (smell?) of smoking gun, after the revelation late last week that at the time of Lois Lerner's remarkably convenient computer crash, the IRS had a contract with a company named Sonasoft for email back-up and archiving services.
The IRS contracted with Sonasoft from 2005 to 2011. Sonasoft's niche in the IT services world is explicitly organizing and backing up email files on Exchange and SQL servers, which the Sonasoft sales pitches point out are an increasingly unwieldy problem for IT departments and users. As a state-of-the-art solution, Sonasoft offers SonaVault, a software package whose properties are so on-point for the catastrophe that supposedly stalked the Lerner emails that it's positively ridiculous.
Consider some of the verbiage from this 2010 presentation on the benefits of SonaVault. The slides are reproduced below; the pitch homes in on the requirement for companies to be ready for litigation and ''eDiscovery,'' or searching for and producing, on demand, the electronic records of relevant email transactions.
Sonasoft presentation. Slide 22
Sonasoft presentation. Slide 25
Of particular note, beyond the extremely pertinent focus on organizing email data to respond to litigation and discovery requirements, is the highlighted portion on Slide 28. It points out that SonaVault provides a customer with continuous email archiving, even when a primary email server ''fails over'' to the standby server. In other words, there is never any reason to fear the loss of archived emails.
Sonasoft presentation. Slide 28
The record at USASpending.gov verifies that the IRS had an annually renewed contract with Sonasoft at the time of the supposed loss of Lois Lerner's emails, in June 2011. Patrick Howley beat me to the finish line to report (at TheDC) that the Sonasoft contract was terminated shortly afterward. The annual contract, which had been renewed in September 2010, expired without renewal on 31 August 2011. The IRS-Sonasoft relationship was severed altogether on 8 September 2011, with a de-obligation purchase order.
So that's awfully interesting. Whatever Sonasoft's obligations after the contract was terminated, it's clear that the company had a relevant contractual obligation to the IRS at the time of the supposed email loss. There seems to be no question that Sonasoft's knowledge of the email ''catastrophe'' needs to be investigated.
Strange politics
But there's more to this drama '' and it's (go figure) political. Sonasoft is a small company, founded and run in Silicon Valley by a Mr. Nand (Andy) Khanna. It isn't clear whether Andy Khanna is any relation to Rohit (Ro) Khanna, a Pennsylvania-born attorney who served as an Obama appointee in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is now a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in the 17th district of California (in Silicon Valley). But what is clear is that the two other members of Sonasoft's board of directors '' the members other than Andy Khanna '' are both working hard to get Ro Khanna elected.
Here are the players. On the Sonasoft board of directors, Dr. Romesh K. Japra, M.D., is the chairman of the board. The board director is Mr. Romi Randhawa, whose day job is president and CEO of HPM Networks, another Silicon Valley IT company.
And then there's Ro Khanna. Khanna has connections to Obama that go way back, to Obama's first run for the Illinois state senate, when Khanna was at the University of Chicago as an undergrad. Will Burns, a Chicago Democratic political operative, recruited Khanna to walk precincts with Obama during the campaign, and Khanna was reportedly star-struck:
''He was probably the first politician I'd met,'' Khanna continues. ''My recollection is that he was an exceedingly decent, gracious person, and that there was a lot of buzz around him as the future mayor. At the time, people talked about Obama as the next Harold Washington'--who was, to be clear, viewed with extreme reverence. They thought Obama could be the next black mayor of Chicago. That got me interested in politics.''
Bloomberg-BusinessWeek writer Joshua Green compares Khanna's first encounter with Obama to Bill Clinton's storied encounter with John F. Kennedy. (So you can see the direction Green's political profile, which touts Khanna as ''Silicon Valley's Wannabe Obama,'' is going.)
Khanna ran a doomed campaign for the House from Silicon Valley in 2004, tilting quixotically at entrenched Democrat Tom Lantos on an anti-Iraq War platform. That run garnered him connections among top Democrats, which, along with his early link to Obama, made him an obvious pick for a deputy assistant secretary job at Commerce when Obama took the White House.
Perhaps coincidentally, Khanna left the Department of Commerce in August 2011, the same month that the Sonasoft contract with the IRS expired. (And, just to clarify, there is no obvious evidence that Khanna had or has a direct connection with Sonasoft, or the IRS Tea Party-targeting policy.)
Bloomberg BusinessWeek depiction of Ro Khanna as ''Silicon Valley's Wannabe Obama.'' (Photo: Cody Pickens)
In October 2011, Obama crony Vinod Khosla, the legendary venture capitalist, hosted a donors' dinner for Khanna's next run for Congress. Khanna's committee raised over $1 million for a proposed 2012 run against aging Republican Pete Stark. But Khanna pulled out of the race early.
The 2014 campaign connection
After the 2012 election '' and this is what really caught Joshua Green's attention '' Khanna began preparing for a new campaign in Silicon Valley, this time with the biggest names from the Obama 2012 campaign team on his roster. Khanna is making another run in 2014 against an entrenched Democrat (seven-termer Mike Honda), but he brings major firepower, especially for a guy you've probably never heard of:
What makes Khanna more interesting than your typical underdog is who else he has in his corner. On April 2, when he announced that he would challenge Honda, he also revealed that the people who will be running his campaign are many of the same ones who just got Barack Obama reelected. Even though Khanna has never been elected to anything, he has managed to sign up one of Obama's top-three fundraisers, Steve Spinner, as his campaign chairman; Obama's national field director, Jeremy Bird, as his chief strategist; and the president's media firm, pollster, and data-analytics team, along with assorted other veterans of the reelection. Their aim is to build at the congressional level the same type of campaign they ran for Obama. It's as if Bill Belichick and the staff of the New England Patriots decided to coach a high school football team.
Somebody really wants to get this guy elected. And the interesting thing is that two of Sonasoft's three board members appear to be in the middle of it.
Romi Randhawa, CEO of HPM Networks, is perhaps of lesser interest in this regard. His main appearance was as joint host of a fundraising reception for Khanna in October 2013.
But Romesh Japra, a high-profile figure in Silicon Valley's Indian-American community, seems to be playing a bigger role. Besides being one of Khanna's major donors ($7,400 since 2011), Japra has been implicated in a byzantine effort to run multiple Republican candidates in the primary, and thus divide the GOP vote so that Khanna and Honda, the Democrats, face off only with each other in November 2014.
California adopted a non-partisan ''jungle primary'' system via Proposition 14 in 2010, and the Golden State's primaries now advance the top two vote-getters, even if they're both from the same party. If you want to make an intra-party challenge to a strong incumbent, the most effective divide-and-conquer strategy may well be an across-the-board ''more the merrier'' approach.
Republican candidate Vanila Singh, running for the 17th district seat this spring, had the GOP field to herself, until a pair of high-profile Khanna supporters encouraged another Republican, Joel Vanlandingham, to join the campaign late. One of that pair was reportedly Romesh Japra (see last link above).
The primary result on 3 June was satisfactory for Khanna supporters, although things might well have turned out the same without Vanlandingham as a spoiler. Honda and Khanna will have the race to themselves in November.
The peculiar thing, in any case, is Sonasoft's collateral connectedness to the Khanna drama, on which the Obama machine has left such distinctive fingerprints. It doesn't seem to signify anything more than the web of vaguely icky crony connections that characterize so much of government and politics today '' regrettably, on both sides of the aisle.
But it's one more thing for the ''If Republicans did this there'd be a major outcry'' column. Democrats have done it, however, so we may never know the whole story.
Revealed: The Lois Lerner Emails That Weren't Lost | TheBlaze.com
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:46
House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said Wednesday that former IRS official Lois Lerner suggested investigating Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) before she was forced to leave her position due to the IRS targeting scandal.
According to documents unearthed by Camp, Lerner received an invitation to speak at an event that was intended for Grassley.
Emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner pondered an investigation into Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for attending an event with his wife, whose participation would be paid for. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Lerner informed the group of the mistake, but then wrote to a colleague: ''Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?''
That questioned prompted another IRS official to respond that paying for Grassley's wife to attend is income for Grassley, and is ''not prohibited on its face.'' The followup email said the proper procedure would be to see if the group files a 1099 form to report the ''income'' Grassley earned, and see if Grassley reported that income in his annual tax filing.
Lerner replied by saying ''thanks,'' and added, ''Don't think I want to be on stage with Grassley on this issue.'' The emails are redacted and don't make it clear at what event they both might have spoken.
Camp said it is ''shocking'' that Lerner would use the email mix-up as a way to attack Grassley.
''At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights,'' he said. ''We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal.
''The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS's abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this administration's unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.''
Read the Lerner emails here:
Grass Ley Lerner
White House Lawyer to Testify About Lost IRS Emails - oConnor
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:49
Updated June 24, 2014 12:04 a.m. ET
The Obama administration agreed late Monday to allow a White House lawyer to testify at a House hearing Tuesday about lost Internal Revenue Service emails, dropping its earlier objection.
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter that White House lawyer Jennifer O'Connor "will be pleased" to attend the hearing. Ms. O'Connor worked as counsel to the IRS during 2013 and supervised much of the agency's collection of...
Shut Up Slave!
Warrantless cellphone searches- US vs Riley & US vs Wurmie
This decision is not a law. Congress will make laws based on the opinion
All you need is a warrant 15 mins tops
Exigent Circumstances
Exigent:Pressing or Demanding
Ellen Canale, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, made a statement acknowledging the ruling on Wednesday, if in a limited fashion. She said, “We will make use of whatever technology is available to preserve evidence on cell phones while seeking a warrant, and we will assist our agents in determining when exigent circumstances or another applicable exception to the warrant requirement will permit them to search the phone immediately without a warrant.”
“Exigent circumstances” refers to the language in the opinion itself, which clearly allows for other exceptions to the general warrant requirement. There is a saying in the law that “each case turns on its own facts,” that is, no two cases are alike and a slightly different factual scenario might yield a very different legal result. If there were reason for the arresting officer to believe that information on a suspect’s phone would have immediate life-saving utility, perhaps in saving a hostage, then the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement would apply. It seems that the DOJ has latched onto the prospect of expanding the exigent circumstances doctrine before the ink in the Riley and Wurmie opinion is dry.
Congress will make laws about farraday bags against remote wiping
We need a dead mans switch
Hospitals Soon See Donuts-to-Cigarette Charges for Health - Bloomberg
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:21
You may soon get a call from your doctor if you've let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of picking up candy bars at the check-out counter or begin shopping at plus-sized stores.
That's because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do.
Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke. The largest hospital chain in the Carolinas is plugging data for 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients, while Pennsylvania's biggest system uses household and demographic data. Patients and their advocates, meanwhile, say they're concerned that big data's expansion into medical care will hurt the doctor-patient relationship and threaten privacy.
''It is one thing to have a number I can call if I have a problem or question, it is another thing to get unsolicited phone calls. I don't like that,'' said Jorjanne Murry, an accountant in Charlotte, North Carolina, who has Type 1 diabetes. ''I think it is intrusive.''
Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. They say their data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records.
While both sell to health insurers, they said it's to help those companies offer better services to members.
Bigger PictureMuch of the information on consumer spending may seem irrelevant for a hospital or doctor, but it can provide a bigger picture beyond the brief glimpse that doctors get during an office visit or through lab results, said Michael Dulin, director of research and evidence-based medicine at Carolinas HealthCare System.
Carolinas HealthCare System operates the largest group of medical centers in North Carolina and South Carolina, with more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' offices and surgical centers. The health system is placing its data, which include purchases a patient has made using a credit card or store loyalty card, into predictive models that give a risk score to patients.
Within the next two years, Dulin plans for that score to be regularly passed to doctors and nurses who can reach out to high-risk patients to suggest interventions before patients fall ill.
Buying CigarettesFor a patient with asthma, the hospital would be able to score how likely they are to arrive at the emergency room by looking at whether they've refilled their asthma medication at the pharmacy, been buying cigarettes at the grocery store and live in an area with a high pollen count, Dulin said.
The system may also score the probability of someone having a heart attack by considering factors such as the type of foods they buy and if they have a gym membership, he said.
''What we are looking to find are people before they end up in trouble,'' said Dulin, who is also a practicing physician. ''The idea is to use big data and predictive models to think about population health and drill down to the individual levels to find someone running into trouble that we can reach out to and try to help out.''
While the hospital can share a patient's risk assessment with their doctor, they aren't allowed to disclose details of the data, such as specific transactions by an individual, under the hospital's contract with its data provider. Dulin declined to name the data provider.
Greater DetailIf the early steps are successful, though, Dulin said he would like to renegotiate to get the data provider to share more specific details on patient spending with doctors.
''The data is already used to market to people to get them to do things that might not always be in the best interest of the consumer, we are looking to apply this for something good,'' Dulin said.
While all information would be bound by doctor-patient confidentiality, he said he's aware some people may be uncomfortable with data going to doctors and hospitals. For these people, the system is considering an opt-out mechanism that will keep their data private, Dulin said.
'Feels Creepy'''You have to have a relationship, it just can't be a phone call from someone saying 'do this' or it just feels creepy,'' he said. ''The data itself doesn't tell you the story of the person, you have to use it to find a way to connect with that person.''
Murry, the diabetes patient from Charlotte, said she already gets calls from her health insurer to try to discuss her daily habits. She usually ignores them, she said. She doesn't see what her doctors can learn from her spending practices that they can't find out from her quarterly visits.
''Most of these things you can find out just by looking at the patient and seeing if they are overweight or asking them if they exercise and discussing that with them,'' Murry said. ''I think it is a waste of time.''
While the patients may gain from the strategy, hospitals also have a growing financial stake in knowing more about the people they care for.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, hospital pay is becoming increasingly linked to quality metrics rather than the traditional fee-for-service model where hospitals were paid based on their numbers of tests or procedures.
Hospital FinesAs a result, the U.S. has begun levying fines against hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within a month, and rewarding hospitals that do well on a benchmark of clinical outcomes and patient surveys.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which operates more than 20 hospitals in Pennsylvania and a health insurance plan, is using demographic and household information to try to improve patients' health. It says it doesn't have spending details or information from credit card transactions on individuals.
The UPMC Insurance Services Division, the health system's insurance provider, has acquired demographic and household data, such as whether someone owns a car and how many people live in their home, on more than 2 million of its members to make predictions about which individuals are most likely to use the emergency room or an urgent care center, said Pamela Peele, the system's chief analytics officer.
Emergency RoomsStudies show that people with no children in the home who make less than $50,000 a year are more likely to use the emergency room, rather than a private doctor, Peele said.
UPMC wants to make sure those patients have access to a primary care physician or nurse practitioner they can contact before heading to the ER, Peele said. UPMC may also be interested in patients who don't own a car, which could indicate they'll have trouble getting routine, preventable care, she said.
Being able to predict which patients are likely to get sick or end up at the emergency room has become particularly valuable for hospitals that also insure their patients, a new phenomenon that's growing in popularity. UPMC, which offers this option, would be able to save money by keeping patients out of the emergency room.
Obamacare prevents insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or charging patients more based on their health status, meaning the data can't be used to raise rates or drop policies.
New Model''The traditional rating and underwriting has gone away with health-care reform,'' said Robert Booz, an analyst at the technology research and consulting firm Gartner Inc. (IT) ''What they are trying to do is proactive care management where we know you are a patient at risk for diabetes so even before the symptoms show up we are going to try to intervene.''
Hospitals and insurers need to be mindful about crossing the ''creepiness line'' on how much to pry into their patients' lives with big data, he said. It could also interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
The strategy ''is very paternalistic toward individuals, inclined to see human beings as simply the sum of data points about them,'' Irina Raicu, director of the Internet ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said in a telephone interview.
To contact the reporters on this story: Shannon Pettypiece in New York at spettypiece@bloomberg.net; Jordan Robertson in San Francisco at jrobertson40@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net Andrew Pollack
Wimbledon bans tea flasks over terrorism fears - Telegraph
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:43
Vacuum flasks are similar to pressure cookers in that both create a sealed container. Terrorists have been known to pack bombs inside the flasks.
Another Wimbledon guard said the flasks could be used as weapons and staff could not see what they contained. Coolboxes and camping chairs are also banned, but bottles of wine and spirits are permitted. At one entrance, about 12 flasks had been confiscated. A guard said the ban was introduced last year but they were told to enforce it vigorously this year.
Many fans bring picnics to the tournament, where food and drink can be expensive. A cup of tea costs £2.10 while coffee sells for £2.30. Those with vacuum flasks were being told they could leave them at the left luggage depot, at a cost of £5, or they would be thrown away. Caroline Fiennes, a philanthropy adviser and author, said: ''I have always thought it rather delightful that one can take in food and drink.
''I've always taken a flask of tea but this year you can't take them in, so I had to check mine in the left luggage before security '-- tea and all. Disaster. If you look at their hilarious leaflet about 'the queue', the list of banned items includes Thermos flasks. But not hard-sided bottles of water. What injury can you cause a player with a Thermos that you couldn't cause with an aluminium bottle? Of course Brits want to bring tea.''
One company was offering some solace to thirsty fans, handing out free cups of coffee. Caf(C) Pod said on Twitter that it would serve free coffee throughout Wimbledon fortnight.
An All England Lawn Tennis Club spokesman said: ''We try to ensure that visitors know in advance our conditions of entry which are widely publicised.''
·'‰Wimbledon has paid tribute to the former British number one tennis player Elena Baltacha, who died last month from liver cancer at the age of 30.
The ladies' singles champion Marion Bartoli and Elle Robus-Miller, from the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, were on court for a special coin tossing ceremony before the opening match. Spectators said Bartoli ''had a tear in her eye''.
Many players this year are wearing white Rally for Bally wristbands, produced by Laura Robson.
Remote Shut-Off
Email From Pedro
If you drive a new GM with OnStar you have a remote shut off.
New cars that have the Park Assist, radars that tells you where other cars are and cars that adjust the speed when you have the cruise control.
You can bet they can be remote controlled.
Now days manufacturers are changing mechanical parts to electronic parts.
For Example…
GM got rid of the Throttle Cable now the Throttle Pedal has a Rheostat; the Throttle Body has a Servo Motor that works as Cruise Control and Throttle.
GM got rid of the Hydraulic Power Steering and replacing with Electrical Power Steering. So can be tied to Park Assist.
Daimler Benz apply the brakes when you get close to a car when the Cruise Control is engaged.
Also GM can Lock and Unlock the door remotely (go to a new car and try to unlock the car manually, is pretty hard to do).
Now let put it all together…
The car can actually be disabled and parked at will.
Also will lock your ass in until some arrive, will have a calm soothing voice using the speaker from the car and talk to someone with the microphone in the car.
Just watch the Ford Focus Challenge commercial; all this been pitched to the Techies and Hipsters.
My car has the OnStar Disabled so the communication has been severed.
The other cars does not have OnStar.
The OnStar is a box that you can simply disconnect; my fear is that will be integrated with the PCM/BCM (Power Control Module/Body Control Module) and that is the Computer that controls the Engine and Transmission.
Giant Voice Mass Notification Extension - Federal Business Opportunities: Opportunities
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:15
Added: Jun 23, 2014 7:36 pm
COMBINED SYNOPSIS/SOLICITATION 'COMBO':Giant Voice Mass Notification Extension(i) This is a combined synopsis/solicitation for commercial items prepared in accordance with the format in Subpart 12.6, utilizing the Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP) under FAR Part 13.5, Test Program Procedures for Certain Commercial Items as supplemented with additional information included in this notice. This announcement constitutes the only solicitation; quotes are being requested and a written solicitation will not be issued.
(ii) Solicitation FA5000-14-T-0085 is issued as a Request for Quotation (RFQ).
(iii) The solicitation document and incorporated provisions and clauses are those in effect through Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-74 effective 30 May 2014. The DFARS provisions and clauses are those in effect to DPN 20140528 effective 28 May 2014. The AFFARS provisions and clauses are those in effect to AFAC 2014-0421 effective 21 Apr 2014.
(iv) This is a not small business set-aside. The associated North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code for this procurement is 238210 with a small business size standard of $14,000,000 average annual revenue.
(v) The Pricing Schedule is incorporated as Attachment 1. Offerors shall complete Attachment 1 in its entirety and return with any other documentation/data as required by this Combo.
(vi) The government intends to award a firm-fixed price contract for the following:
Outdoor Mass Notification Expansion for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska. The service required is a non-personal service to engineer, furnish, install and test (EFI&T) three additional wireless, stand-alone outdoor mass notification poles/stations. See attached Performance Work Statement (PWS).
All responsible Contractors shall provide a quote in accordance to the specifications stated above. Transportation costs shall be included in the quote. Contractor shall submit their quote on company letterhead, delivery time, name, address, telephone number of the offeror, terms of any express warranty, unit price, and overall total price. See attached Pricing Schedule
(vii) Delivery shall be FOB Destination. Contractor shall include delivery schedule information on the Pricing Schedule, Attachment 1. All items shall be delivered to:
F1W3ME - 673D CS/SCX - PLANS & PROGRAMS7263 Gibson AveJoint-Base Elmendorf Richardson, 99506
(viii) FAR 52.212-1 Instructions to Offerors -- Commercial Items (Apr 2014) is hereby incorporated by reference, with the same force and effect as if it were given in full text. The following have been tailored to this procurement and are hereby added via addenda:
1. To assure timely and equitable evaluation of the proposal, the offeror must follow the instructions contained herein. The proposal must be complete, self-sufficient, and respond directly to the requirements of this solicitation.
2. Specific Instructions: The response shall consist of two (2) separate parts: Part I - Technical Acceptability and Part II - Price Proposal.
a. PART 1- TECHNICAL CAPABILITY - Submit one (1) copy of technical capability narrative, limit to 10 pages.b. PART 2- PRICE - Submit one (1) copy of price schedule any additional documentation is limited to 10 pages.
3. Award will be made to the offeror whose offer is conforming to the solicitation and is determined to be the lowest price technically acceptable, IAW FAR 15.101-2
Technical Acceptability, at a minimum, is defined as meeting all of the criteria in specifications above. Price and technical acceptability will be considered. The Government intends to evaluate offers and award without discussion, but reserves the right to conduct discussions. Therefore, the offeror's initial offer should contain the offeror's best terms from a price and technical standpoint. However, the Government reserves the right to conduct discussions if later determined by the Contracting Officer to be necessary. Offers that fail to furnish required representations or information, or reject the terms and conditions of the solicitation may be excluded from consideration.
4. System for Award Management Registration.
(a) Definitions. As used in this provision-
"Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number" means the 9-digit number assigned by Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. (D&B) to identify unique business entities.
"Data Universal Numbering System+4 (DUNS+4) number" means the DUNS number means the number assigned by D&B plus a 4-character suffix that may be assigned by a business concern. (D&B has no affiliation with this 4-character suffix.) This 4-character suffix may be assigned at the discretion of the business concern to establish additional System for Award Management records for identifying alternative Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) accounts (see the FAR at Subpart 32.11) for the same concern.
"Registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) database" means that-
(1) The Offeror has entered all mandatory information, including the DUNS number or the DUNS+4 number, the Contractor and Government Entity (CAGE) code, as well as data required by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (see Subpart 4.14), into the SAM database; and(2) The offeror has completed the Core, Assertions, and Representations and Certification, and Points of contact sections of the registration in the SAM database;
(3) The Government has validated all mandatory data fields, to include validation of the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Offeror will be required to provide consent for TIN validation to the Government as a part of the SAM registration process.
(4) The Government has marked the record "Active".
(1) By submission of an offer, the offeror acknowledges the requirement that a prospective awardee shall be registered in the SAM database prior to award, during performance, and through final payment of any contract, basic agreement, basic ordering agreement, or blanket purchasing agreement resulting from this solicitation.
(2) The offeror shall enter, in the block with its name and address on the cover page of its offer, the annotation "DUNS" or "DUNS+4" followed by the DUNS or DUNS+4 number that identifies the offeror's name and address exactly as stated in the offer. The DUNS number will be used by the Contracting Officer to verify that the offeror is registered in the SAM database.
(c) If the offeror does not have a DUNS number, it should contact Dun and Bradstreet directly to obtain one.
(1) An offeror may obtain a DUNS number-
(i) Via the internet at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform or if the offeror does not have internet access, it may call Dun and Bradstreet at 1-866-705-5711 if located within the United States; or
(ii) If located outside the United States, by contacting the local Dun and Bradstreet office. The offeror should indicate that it is an offeror for a U.S. Government contract when contacting the local Dun and Bradstreet office.
(2) The offeror should be prepared to provide the following information:
(i) Company legal business name.
(ii) Tradestyle, doing business, or other name by which your entity is commonly recognized.
(iii) Company physical street address, city, state and Zip Code.
(iv) Company mailing address, city, state and Zip Code (if separate from physical).
(v) Company telephone number.
(vi) Date the company was started.
(vii) Number of employees at your location.
(viii) Chief executive officer/key manager.
(ix) Line of business (industry).
(x) Company Headquarters name and address (reporting relationship within your entity).
(d) If the Offeror does not become registered in the SAM database in the time prescribed by the Contracting Officer, the Contracting Officer will proceed to award to the next otherwise successful registered Offeror.
(e) Processing time, which normally takes 48 hours, should be taken into consideration when registering. Offerors who are not registered should consider applying for registration immediately upon receipt of this solicitation.
(f) Offerors may obtain information on registration at https://www.acquisition.gov.
6. Debriefing, FAR 15.506: If a post-award debriefing is given to requesting offerors, the Government shall disclose the following information, if applicable:(1) The agency's evaluation of the significant weak or deficient factors in the debriefed offeror's offer.(2) The overall evaluated cost or price and technical rating of the successful and debriefed offeror and past performance information on the debriefed offeror.(3) The overall ranking of all offerors, when any ranking was developed by the agency during source selection.(4) A summary of rationale for award;(5) For acquisitions of commercial items, the make and model of the item to be delivered by the successful offeror.(6) Reasonable responses to relevant questions posed by the debriefed offeror as to whether source-selection procedures set forth in the solicitation, applicable regulations, and other applicable authorities were followed by the agency.
(ix) FAR 52.212-2 Evaluation -- Commercial Items (Jan 1999) is hereby incorporated by reference, with the same force and effect as if it were given in full text. The following have been tailored to this procurement and are hereby added via addenda:
(a) BASIS FOR CONTRACT AWARD: The Government will award a contract resulting from this solicitation to the responsible offeror whose offer conforming to the solicitation will be most advantageous to the Government based on a Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) basis. By submission of its offer with the instructions provided in clause FAR 52.212-1, Instructions to Offerors - Commercial Items and its addenda, the offeror accedes to all solicitation requirements, including terms and conditions and any representations and certifications. Failure to meet a requirement may result in an offer being determined unacceptable. Offerors must clearly identify any exception to the solicitation terms and conditions and provide complete accompanying rationale. The evaluation process shall proceed as follows:
1. Price Evaluation: Initially, the Government shall rank all offers by price. An offeror's proposed price will be determined by multiplying the quantities identified on the Pricing Schedule: Attachment 1, by the proposed unit price for each Contract Line Item Number (CLIN) to confirm the extended amount for each CLIN. These extended amounts will be added together to determine the total evaluated price for the period of performance (PoP). The price evaluation will document fairness and reasonableness of the proposed total evaluated price. The Government reserves the right to perform a price realism analysis.
2. Technical Acceptability: The Government will evaluate on an acceptable or not acceptable basis for the contractor's technical acceptability based on the offeror's knowledge and understanding of the Mass Notification Expansion as described in the Performance Work Statement (PWS) including:
a. The offeror shall provide a quality control plan including a broad approach to quality control, a quality control determination and methods for handling deficiencies
b. The offeror shall provide a staffing plan that demonstrates the ability to meet all technical requirements of the PWS
c. The offeror shall provide a notional schedule that meets the following criteria:
(i) The schedule shall identify applicable milestones of the project, including any required data submittals as outlined in the PWS
(ii) The schedule shall show how all work specified in the PWS will be completed within the proposed period of performance
Offerors are cautioned to submit sufficient information to permit a meaningful assessment of their technical capabilities. Communication conducted to resolve minor or clerical errors will not constitute discussions and the CO reserves the right to award a contract without the opportunity for proposal revision.
(x) Each offeror shall include a completed copy of the provision at FAR 52.212-3, Alternate I, Offeror Representations and Certifications--Commercial Items (May 2014), or ensure the Representations and Certifications are updated at www.sam.gov.
(xi) The clause at FAR 52.212-4, Contract Terms and Conditions - Commercial Items (May 2014), is hereby incorporated by reference, with the same force and effect as if it were given in full text.
(xii) The clause at FAR 52.212-5, Contract Terms and Conditions Required To Implement Statutes Or Executive Orders - Commercial Items (May 2014), is hereby incorporated by reference, with the same force and effect as if it were given in full text. Additionally, the following clauses apply to this acquisition:
FAR 52.203-3 FAR 52.203-3 - Gratuities Apr 1984FAR 52.203-6 FAR 52.203-6 --Restrictions on Subcontractor Sales to the Government Sep 2006FAR 52.203-6 Alt I FAR 52.203-6 Alt I --Restrictions on Subcontractor Sales to the Government Oct 1995FAR 52.204-7 FAR 52.204-7 -- System for Award Management Jun 2013FAR 52.204-10 FAR 52.204-10 -- Reporting Executive Compensation and First-Tier Subcontract Awards Jul 2013FAR 52.204-14 FAR 52.204-14 -- System for Award Management Maintenance Jan 2014FAR 52.207-3 FAR 52.207-3 -- Right of First Refusal of Employment May 2006FAR 52.209-6 FAR 52.209-6 -- Protecting the Government's Interest When Subcontracting with Contractors Debarred, Suspended, or Proposed for Debarment Aug 2013FAR 52.209-10 FAR 52.209-10 -- Prohibition on Contracting with Inverted Domestic Corporations May 2012FAR 52.212-1 FAR 52.212-1 Instructions to Offerors- Commercial Items Apr 2014FAR 52.212-3 FAR 52.212-3 Offerors Representations and Certifications - Commercial Items May 2014FAR 52.212-4 FAR 52.212-4 Contract Terms and Conditions Commercial Items May 2014FAR 52.212-5 FAR 52.212-5 (Dev) Contract Terms and Conditions Required to Implement Statutes or Executive Orders Commercial Items including subparagraphs Jan 2014FAR 52.219-8 FAR 52.219-8 -- Utilization of Small Business Concerns Jul 2013FAR 52.219-14 FAR 52.219-14 -- Limitations on Subcontracting Nov 2011FAR 52.219-28 FAR 52.219-28 -- Post Award Small Business Program Representation July 2013FAR 52.222-3 FAR 52.222-3 -- Convict Labor Jun 2003FAR 52.222-17 FAR 52.222-17 -- Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers May 2014FAR 52.222-19 FAR 52.222-19 -- Child Labor--Cooperation With Authorities and Remedies Jan 2014FAR 52.222-21 FAR 52.222-21 -- Prohibition of Segregated Facilities Feb 1999FAR 52-222-26 FAR 52-222-26 Equal Opportunity Mar 2007FAR 52.222-35 FAR 52.222-35 -- Equal Opportunity for Veterans Sep 2010FAR 52.222-36 FAR 52.222-36 -- Affirmative Action for Workers with Disabilities Oct 2010FAR 52.222-37 FAR 52.222-37 -- Employment Reports on Veterans Sep 2010FAR 52.222-41 FAR 52.222-41 -- Service Contract Act of 1965 May 2014FAR 52.222-42 FAR 52.222-42 -- Statement of Equivalent Rates for Federal Hire May 2014FAR 52.222-44 FAR 52.222-44 -- Fair Labor Standards Act and Service Contract Act--Price Adjustment May 2014FAR 52.222-50 FAR 52.222-50 -- Combating Trafficking in Persons Feb 2009FAR 52.222-54 FAR 52.222-54 -- Employment Eligibility Verification FAR 52.232-18 Availability of Funds Aug 2013FAR 52.225-5 FAR 52.225-5 -- Trade Agreements Sep 2013FAR 52.225-13 FAR 52.225-13 -- Restrictions on Certain Foreign Purchases Jun 2008FAR 52.232-33 FAR 52.232-33 Payment by Electronic Funds Transfer Central Contractor Registration Jul 2013FAR 52.233-2 FAR 52.233-2 -- Service of Protest Sep 2006FAR 52.233-3 FAR 52.233-3 Protest after Award Aug 1996FAR 52.233-4 FAR 52.233-4 Applicable Law for Breach of Contract Claim Oct 2004FAR 52.247-64 FAR 52.247-64 -- Preference for Privately Owned U.S. Flag Commercial Vessels Feb 2006DFARS 252.209-7001 DFARS 252.209-7001 -- Disclosure of Ownership or Control by the Government of a Terrorist Country Jan 2009
DFARS 252.225-7001 DFARS 252.225-7001 Buy American Act and Balance of Payments Program Dec 2012DFARS 252.225-7012 DFARS 252.225-7012 -- Preference for Certain Domestic Commodities Feb 2013DFARS 252.232-7003 DFARS 252.232-7003 -- Electronic Submission of Payment Requests and Receiving Reports Jun 2012DFARS 252.232-7010 DFARS 252.232-7010 -- Levies on Contract Payments Dec 2006DFARS 252.243-7002 DFARS 252.243-7002 -- Requests for Equitable Adjustment Dec 2012AFFARS 5352.201-9101 Ombudsman Apr 2014
(xiii) The local clause "WAWF Instructions" is located as Attachment 2.
(xv) NOTICE TO ALL INTERESTED PARTIES: Questions shall be submitted to: 673rd Contracting Squadron/LGCB, Attn: SrA Jonathan Buenrostro, via fax to 907-552-7496 or e-mail: jonathan.buenrostro@us.af.mil no later than 12 P.M. Alaska Standard Time on the 1st of July, 2014. E-mail is preferred.
xvi) Quotes shall be submitted to: 673rd Contracting Squadron/LGCB, Attn: SrA Jonathan Buenrostro, via fax to 907-552-7496 or e-mail: jonathan.buenrostro@us.af.mil no later than 12 P.M. Alaska Standard Time on the 10th of July, 2014. E-mail is preferred. For information regarding this solicitation, contact SrA Jonathan Buenrostro electronically via email.
List of Attachments:' Attachment 1: Pricing Schedule' Attachment 2: WAWF Instructions' Attachment 3: Performance Work Statement' Attachment 4: DOL Wage Determination
San Francisco Asks Apple to Crack Down on "Predatory" Parking Apps
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:00
Despite the tech-friendly climate within City Hall, San Francisco is coming down on a new breed of parking spot-sharing apps. The city issued a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Apple pull them from the App Store for violating California law.
The letter primarily targets MonkeyParking, an app that launched this Spring promising drivers $150 per month to squat in one of San Francisco's underpriced street parking while nearby drivers bid for it. In other words, the Rome-based "sharing economy" startup arbitraged the taxpayer-subsidized cost of parking. MonkeyParking's profits came from motorists camped out in popular areas while hapless circling drivers tried to outbid each other.
Appifying the homeless man standing in a parking spot and demanding a tip proved too much for San Francisco. In a press release, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera slammed the spot-sharing apps for profiting off a public resource:
"Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work '-- and Monkey Parking is not one of them," Herrera said. "It's illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely '-- to engage in online bidding wars while driving. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit."
Herrera's cease-and-desist demand to Monkey Parking includes a request to the legal department of Apple Inc., which is copied on the letter, asking that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant immediately remove the mobile application from its App Store for violating several of the company's own guidelines. Apple App Store Review Guidelines provide that "Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users" and that "Apps whose use may result in physical harm may be rejected."
Herrera's action also targets two other similar apps, Sweetch and ParkModo. The latter recently hired drivers off Craigslist, offering "$13.00 per hour to occupy public parking spaces in the Mission District."
San Francisco isn't completely cold on the idea of enabling "surge pricing" on street parking, as long as its the city's own version. SFpark, the city's variable, demand-based meter pricing program, has been deemed asuccess by city officials, progressives, and transit-first activists alike. Now San Francisco intends on rolling out the program city-wide.
Meanwhile, all three apps have been given until July 11th to cease operations, or the city will find them "potentially liable for civil penalties of $2,500 per transaction for illegal business practices."
[Photo: @MonkeyParking]
BBC News - Social media 'at least half' of calls passed to front-line police
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:26
24 June 2014Last updated at 06:47 ET By Keith MooreBBC Radio 4's Law in ActionComplaints originating from social media make up "at least half" of calls passed on to front-line officers, a senior officer has told the BBC.
Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing, said the number of crimes arising from social media represented "a real problem".
He said it was a particular problem for officers who deal with low-level crimes.
About 6,000 officers were being trained to deal with online offences, he said.
He said the police and public were still trying to understand when online insults became a crime.
Mr Marshall told BBC Radio 4's Law in Action: "As people have moved their shopping online and their communications online, they've also moved their insults, their abuse and their threats online, so I see that it won't be long before pretty much every investigation that the police conduct will have an online element to it.
"It's a real problem for people working on the front line of policing, and they deal with this every day.
"So in a typical day where perhaps they deal with a dozen calls, they might expect that at least half of them, whether around antisocial behaviour or abuse or threats of assault may well relate to social media, Facebook, Twitter or other forms."
'There's a line'A number of front-line police officers from different parts of the country spoken to by the BBC agreed with Mr Marshall's assertion that a significant amount of the calls they were asked to respond to were now related to social media, including death threats, bullying and harassment.
Det Con Roger Pegram, from Greater Manchester Police, said the way offences were committed had changed a lot since he joined the force 14 years ago.
"These are traditional offences," he said.
"You don't need to actually front someone up face-to-face in the street to threaten them.
"This can all be done from the comfort of your own home, a coffee shop with wi-fi, and these people can commit crime anywhere to anybody."
One officer, who did not wish to be named, said while there were serious complaints worthy of further investigation, many related incidents not considered crimes in the era before social media.
Continue reading the main storyYou can listen to the full report on BBC Radio 4's Law in Action on Tuesday, 24 June at 16:00 and Thursday, 26 June at 20:00.
He said: "A lot of the time.. it's that whole attitude of, 'I don't know what to do, I'll call the police, they'll sort it out for me.'
"It should be a case of let's be sensible, let's not be friends with that person on Facebook, perhaps contact Facebook first or don't use Facebook. It's common-sense stuff."
Mr Marshall agreed that the police "couldn't possibly deal with every bit of nonsense and disagreement that occurs in social media".
"People throughout history have shouted abuse at each other and had disagreements and arguments and possibly said things that they regret later and the police have never investigated every disagreement between everyone," he said.
"So we have to be careful here that there's a line that needs to be drawn and if something is serious and it's a crime and someone is genuinely threatened or in the case of domestic abuse - maybe they're being coerced and treated deliberately in this way as a sort of punishment by a partner - that's a serious issue that we need to take on."
Public education requiredMr Marshall said a combination of police training, public education and enforcement by social media companies was required to combat the problem.
Although the director of public prosecutions's guidance was a "good starting point", Mr Marshall said, 6,000 officers were being trained over the next few months by the College of Policing - which sets all police standards in England and Wales - to make judgments about when a complaint identified a pattern of behaviour that required further investigation.
And while anecdotal evidence from officers indicates that dealing with complaints arising from social media now absorbed a significant amount of their time, it is not yet borne out in the figures.
Currently, online crimes are recorded under traditional headings such as harassment or threats to kill and not as a cybercrime, so each record is required to be read individually to ascertain if the crime originated on social media.
Mr Marshall said because of that, the force was missing out on information.
The College of Policing was currently carrying out research to quantify how many crimes actually originate on social media, he said, and was expecting the results in the next couple of months.
The Home Office said that it had introduced a voluntary "flag" this year that would enable forces to highlight online crime "to further improve our understanding of where crime occurs".
This is expected to become mandatory by 2015/16.
Hear the full report on Law in Action on Tuesday, 24 June at 16:00 and Thursday, 26 June at 20:00. You can listen again via the BBC Radio 4 website or by downloading the free Law in Action podcast.
Kerry in Baghdad to discuss Iraq crisis
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:16
John Kerry has arrived in Baghdad to discuss the crisis in Iraq with top leaders, as Sunni fighters continued to make gains against government forces in the north of the country.
The US secretary of state is due to meet the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki on Monday, and Sunni and Kurdish leaders on his visit.
A state department spokesman said Kerry would "discuss US actions under way to assist Iraq as it confronts this threat and urge Iraqi leaders to move forward as quickly as possible with its government formation process to form a government that represents the interests of Iraqis".
Kerry said on Sunday that the US would not pick or choose who rules Baghdad. He said, however, Washington had noted the dissatisfaction among Kurds, Sunnis and some Shia with Maliki's leadership and emphasised that the US wanted Iraqis to "find a leadership that was prepared to be inclusive and share power".
The US government has ruled out sending ground troops to aid the Iraqi government against its fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and its Sunni allies, but has kept an option open to use air power. It has moved a carrier strike group and troops transports into the Gulf area.
The visit comes as Sunni fighters led by the ISIL have expanded their offensive in Iraq, capturing more territory from the government.
ISIL, was reported on Sunday to have taken the towns of Qaim, Rawah and Anah in Anbar province. Qaim, located on the border with Syria, hosts a key crossing between the two countries.
Fighters also claim to be in full control of the northern city of Baiji, which hosts Iraq's biggest oil refinery, though the military denies the rebels control the refinery itself.
The Associated Press news agency, citing Iraqi miltary officials, reported that Sunni fighters captured two border crossings, the Turaibil crossing with Jordan and the al-Walid crossing with Syria, on Sunday.
Kerry not wearing helmet in Bagdahd arrival pictures
Big Oil Is Cashing In On Iraq Violence
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:33
The spike in instability in several oil producing regions around the world is threatening to knock some production offline, but it is also boosting profits for drillers operating in trouble-free zones.
Oil prices have hit their highest levels in almost 9 months as places like Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Libya continue to experience violence and political upheaval. For companies with heavy investments in these regions, the situation is perilous, but for oil companies elsewhere, the higher price is good news.
This past weekend, militants from the radical Sunni organization ISIS gained control over another town in Iraq, along the Syrian border. As news of their victory was still being reported, Brent crude closed just below $115 per barrel (June 22) and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose to nearly $107.
Oil markets could be looking at an extended period of elevated prices, which is bad news for companies with billions invested in Kurdistan or other parts of Iraq. ExxonMobil and BP already started evacuating some of their workers from southern Iraq, despite the fact that militants remain north of Baghdad.
But for companies drilling far from the violence '' in Texas for example '' a $5 per barrel increase in prices can be the difference between whether or not an oil project is economically viable.
Oil companies are using the opportunity to step up drilling. The Eagle Ford shale in southern Texas, for example, saw four more oil rigs and one gas rig come into operation over the past week. Across the U.S., the number of oil rigs in use reached 1,545 -- the highest level since record keeping began in 1987.
Total dollars invested are also expected to reach record levels. Oil services firm Baker Hughes, Inc. projects that oil and gas companies will pour $165 billion into exploration and production this year.
Related Article:11 Years On, We're Still In 'Shock And Awe' Over Iraq
''There is room for additional upside amid the current commodity price environment and the potential for increased capital deployment into the U.S. markets stemming from geopolitical risk internationally, notably Iraq,'' said James West, an analyst with Barclays, according to Bloomberg News. In other words, trouble in the Middle East is profitable for drillers in Texas.
Of course, it is not just oil companies in the U.S. that are profiting from expensive oil. Higher prices mean more revenue for petro-states such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and even smaller exporters like Malaysia and Bahrain. In Russia, for example, the ruble rose to its highest level in over three weeks on June 19, and the MICEX '' Russia's major stock exchange '' continues to rebound after falling on the crisis in Ukraine.
At the same time, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. In an interview with Monitor Global Outlook, Mohammed Ali Yasin, the managing director of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, explained the downside of a sudden oil price spike to Persian Gulf states, even though they rake in more money. ''I don't believe that political tension anywhere near the GCC would be good for any country. These spikes are usually temporary and political instability will down-weigh any increase in revenue. Foreign investors will put a premium and will expect higher returns in order to come here,'' he said.
An unexpected surge in prices could provide welcome budgetary relief to states on the Arabian Peninsula, which are still trying to recover from Arab Spring unrest. But over the long term, instability will hurt oil-dependent economies.
By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
The 300 meme
Reading the State Dept briefing notes and it has only dawned on me re: 300 advisors and the novel/film 300 - let's show them Persians :-)
Areas in Iraq the IOW is watching
Abu Kamal
The MAIN crossing, known for the 2008 CIA raid
Gateway for the Ceyhan pipeline
NYTimes propagates sectarian war with sunni/shiha questions
300 (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:15
300 is a 2007 American fantasyaction film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae within the Persian Wars. The film was directed by Zack Snyder, while Miller served as executive producer and consultant. It was filmed mostly with a super-impositionchroma key technique, to help replicate the imagery of the original comic book.
The plot revolves around King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), who leads 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian"god-King"Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his invading army of more than 300,000 soldiers. As the battle rages, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) attempts to rally support in Sparta for her husband. The story is framed by a voice-over narrative by the Spartan soldier Dilios (David Wenham). Through this narrative technique, various fantastical creatures are introduced, placing 300 within the genre of historical fantasy.
300 was released in both conventional and IMAX theaters in the United States on March 9, 2007, and on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and HD DVD on July 31, 2007. The film received mixed to positive reviews, receiving acclaim for its original visuals and style, but criticism for favoring visuals over characterization and its depiction of the ancient Persians in Iran, which some had deemed racist; however, the film was a box office success, grossing over $450 million, with the film's opening being the 24th largest in box office history at the time. A sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, which is based on Miller's unpublished graphic novel prequel Xerxes, was released on 7 March 2014.
Over Dilios' narration, the life of young Leonidas is depicted, chronicling his journey from a boy to a man per Spartan doctrine. Years later, after Leonidas is crowned King, Persian messengers arrive at the gates of Sparta demanding its submission to King Xerxes. Offended by their threats and behavior, King Leonidas and his guards kick the messengers into a well. Leonidas visits the Ephors, proposing a strategy to repel the numerically superior Persians by using the terrain of Thermopylae (the Hot Gates) '' his plan involves funneling the Persians into a narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Ephors consult the Oracle, who decrees that Sparta must not go to war. As Leonidas departs, a messenger from Xerxes appears, rewarding the Ephors for their covert support.
Defying the Ephors, Leonidas follows his plan, gathering 300 of his best soldiers. Along the way to Thermopylae, they are joined by Arcadians and various other Greeks. They construct a wall at Thermopylae to contain the approaching Persian advance. Meanwhile, Leonidas encounters Ephialtes, a hunchbacked Spartan whose parents fled Sparta to spare him certain infanticide. Ephialtes asks to redeem his father's name by joining Leonidas, warning him of a secret path the Persians could use to outflank and surround them. Leonidas is sympathetic to the eager warrior but rejects him, as Ephialtes cannot properly hold a shield, which would compromise the Spartans' phalanx formation.
Prior to the battle, the Persians demand that the Spartans lay down their weapons. Leonidas refuses, and with their tightly-knit phalanx formation the Spartans use the narrow terrain to repeatedly rebuff the advancing Persian army. Xerxes personally approaches Leonidas to persuade him to surrender, offering Leonidas wealth and power in exchange for his loyalty. Leonidas declines, promising instead to make the "God-King" bleed. Outraged, Xerxes sends in his elite guard, the Immortals, whom the Spartans dispatch. As the Spartans continue to defeat Xerxes' forces, Ephialtes defects to the Persian king and reveals the location of the secret path. When they realize Ephialtes' treachery, the Arcadians retreat. Leonidas orders a reluctant Dilios to return to Sparta to tell the Council of their sacrifice.
In Sparta, Queen Gorgo reluctantly submits sexually to the influential Theron in exchange for help in persuading the Spartan council to send reinforcements to Leonidas. When Theron betrays her in front of the Council, Gorgo kills him out of rage, which spills open a bag of Xerxes' gold from Theron's robe. Marking his treachery, the Council unites against Persia. At Thermopylae, as the Persians surround the Spartans, Xerxes' general demands their surrender, again offering Leonidas titles and prestige. Leonidas seemingly bows in submission, allowing one of his men to leap over him and kill the general. A furious Xerxes orders his troops to attack. As Persian archers shoot at the remaining Spartans, Leonidas rises and hurls his spear at Xerxes, cutting the Persian, thus making good on his promise to make "the God-King bleed." Visibly disturbed by this reminder of his own mortality, Xerxes watches as all of the Spartans are felled by arrows. Concluding his tale before an audience of attentive Spartans, Dilios declares that the 120,000-strong Persian army that narrowly defeated 300 Spartans now faces 10,000 Spartans commanding 30,000 Greeks. Praising Leonidas' sacrifice, Dilios leads the assembled Greek army into a charge against the Persian army, igniting the Battle of Plataea.
Gerard Butler as Leonidas, King Of Sparta.Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo, Queen of Sparta (Gorgo has a larger role in the film than she does in the comic book, where she only appears in the beginning).[3]Giovanni Cimmino as Pleistarchus, son of Leonidas and Gorgo (Pleistarchus does not feature in the comic book).[3]Dominic West as Theron, a fictional corrupt Spartan politician (Theron is not featured in the comic book).[3]David Wenham as Dilios, narrator and Spartan soldier.Vincent Regan as Captain Artemis, Leonidas' loyal captain and friend.Tom Wisdom as Astinos, Captain Artemis' eldest son. In the film Astinos has a constant presence until he dies. In the comic book Astinos is only mentioned when he dies.[3]Andrew Pleavin as Daxos, an Arcadian leader who joins forces with Leonidas.Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes, a deformed Spartan outcast and traitor.Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes, God-King of Persia.Stephen McHattie as The Loyalist, a loyal Spartan politician.Michael Fassbender as Stelios, a young, spirited and highly skilled Spartan soldier.Peter Mensah as a Persian messenger who tries to get Sparta to submit.Kelly Craig as Pythia, an Oracle to the Ephors.Tyler Neitzel as young Leonidas.Robert Maillet as Uber Immortal (giant), a muscular and deranged Immortal who battles Leonidas during the Immortal fight.Patrick Sabongui as the Persian General who tries to get Leonidas to comply at the end of the battle.Leon Laderach as Executioner, a hulking, clawed man who executes men who have displeased Xerxes.ProductionEditProducer Gianni Nunnari was not the only person planning a film about the Battle of Thermopylae; director Michael Mann already planned a film of the battle based on the book Gates of Fire. Nunnari discovered Frank Miller's graphic novel300, which impressed him enough to acquire the film rights.[4][5]300 was jointly produced by Nunnari and Mark Canton, and Michael B. Gordon wrote the script.[6] Director Zack Snyder was hired in June 2004[7] as he had attempted to make a film based on Miller's novel before making his debut with the remake of Dawn of the Dead.[8] Snyder then had screenwriter Kurt Johnstad rewrite Gordon's script for production[7] and Frank Miller was retained as consultant and executive producer.[9]
The film is a shot-for-shot adaptation of the comic book, similar to the film adaptation of Sin City.[10] Snyder photocopied panels from the comic book, from which he planned the preceding and succeeding shots. "It was a fun process for me... to have a frame as a goal to get to," he said.[11] Like the comic book, the adaptation also used the character Dilios as a narrator. Snyder used this narrative technique to show the audience that the surreal "Frank Miller world" of 300 was told from a subjective perspective. By using Dilios' gift of storytelling, he was able to introduce fantasy elements into the film, explaining that "Dilios is a guy who knows how not to wreck a good story with truth."[12] Snyder also added the sub-plot in which Queen Gorgo attempts to rally support for her husband.[13]
Two months of pre-production were required to create hundreds of shields, spears, and swords, some of which were recycled from Troy and Alexander. Creatures were designed by Jordu Schell,[14] and an animatronic wolf and thirteen animatronic horses were created. The actors trained alongside the stuntmen, and even Snyder joined in. Upwards of 600 costumes were created for the film, as well as extensive prosthetics for various characters and the corpses of Persian soldiers. Shaun Smith and Mark Rappaport worked hand in hand with Snyder in pre-production to design the look of the individual characters, and to produce the prosthetics, props, weapons and dummy bodies required for the production.[15]
300 entered active production on October 17, 2005, in Montreal,[16] and was shot over the course of sixty days[15] in chronological order[13] with a budget of $60 million.[17] Employing the digital backlot technique, Snyder shot at the now-defunct Icestorm Studios in Montreal using bluescreens. Butler said that while he did not feel constrained by Snyder's direction, fidelity to the comic imposed certain limitations on his performance. Wenham said there were times when Snyder wanted to precisely capture iconic moments from the comic book, and other times when he gave actors freedom "to explore within the world and the confines that had been set."[18] Headey said of her experience with the bluescreens, "It's very odd, and emotionally, there's nothing to connect to apart from another actor."[19] Only one scene, in which horses travel across the countryside, was shot outdoors.[20] The film was an intensely physical production, and Butler pulled an arm tendon and developed foot drop.[21]
Post-production was handled by Montreal's Meteor Studios and Hybride Technologies filled in the bluescreen footage with more than 1,500 visual effects shots. Visual effects supervisor, Chris Watts, and production designer, Jim Bissell, created a process dubbed "The Crush,"[15] which allowed the Meteor artists to manipulate the colors by increasing the contrast of light and dark. Certain sequences were desaturated and tinted to establish different moods. Ghislain St-Pierre, who led the team of artists, described the effect: "Everything looks realistic, but it has a kind of a gritty illustrative feel."[15][22] Various computer programs, including Maya, RenderMan and RealFlow, were used to create the "spraying blood."[23] The post-production lasted for a year and was handled by a total of ten special effects companies.[24]
SoundtrackEditIn July 2005, composer Tyler Bates begun work on the film, describing the score as having "beautiful themes on the top and large choir," but "tempered with some extreme heaviness." The composer had scored for a test scene that the director wanted to show to Warner Bros. to illustrate the path of the project. Bates said that the score had "a lot of weight and intensity in the low end of the percussion" that Snyder found agreeable to the film.[25] The score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and features the vocals of Azam Ali.[26] A standard edition and a special edition of the soundtrack containing 25 tracks was released on March 6, 2007, with the special edition containing a 16-page booklet and three two-sided trading cards.[27]
The score has caused some controversy in the film composer community, garnering criticism for its striking similarity to several other recent soundtracks, including James Horner and Gabriel Yared's work for the film Troy. The heaviest borrowings are said to be from Elliot Goldenthal's 1999 score for Titus. "Remember Us," from 300, is identical in parts to the "Finale" from Titus, and "Returns a King" is similar to the cue "Victorius Titus."[28][29][30] (see copyright issues.) On August 3, 2007, Warner Bros. Pictures acknowledged in an official statement:
... a number of the music cues for the score of 300 were, without our knowledge or participation, derived from music composed by Academy Award winning composer Elliot Goldenthal for the motion picture Titus. Warner Bros. Pictures has great respect for Elliot, our longtime collaborator, and is pleased to have amicably resolved this matter.[31]
Promotion and releaseEditThe official 300 website was launched by Warner Bros. in December 2005. The "conceptual art" and Zack Snyder's production blog were the initial attractions of the site.[32] Later, the website added video journals describing production details, including comic-to-screen shots and the creatures of 300. In January 2007, the studio launched a MySpace page for the film.[33]The Art Institutes created a micro-site to promote the film.[34]
At Comic-Con International in July 2006, the 300 panel aired a promotional teaser of the film, which was positively received.[35] Despite stringent security, the trailer was subsequently leaked on the Internet.[36] Warner Bros. released the official trailer for 300 on October 4, 2006,[37] and later on it made its debut on Apple.com where it received considerable exposure. The background music used in the trailers was "Just Like You Imagined" by Nine Inch Nails. A second 300 trailer, which was attached to Apocalypto, was released in theaters on December 8, 2006,[38] and online the day before.[39] On January 22, 2007, an exclusive trailer for the film was broadcast during prime time television.[40] The trailers have been credited with igniting interest in the film and contributing to its box-office success.[41]
In April 2006, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced its intention to make a PlayStation Portable game, 300: March to Glory, based on the film. Collision Studios worked with Warner Bros. to capture the style of the film in the video game, which was released simultaneously with the film in the United States.[42] The National Entertainment Collectibles Association produced a series of action figures based on the film,[43] as well as replicas of weapons and armor.[44]
Warner Bros. promoted 300 by sponsoring the Ultimate Fighting Championship's light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, who made personal appearances and participated in other promotional activities.[45] The studio also joined with the National Hockey League to produce a 30-second TV spot promoting the film in tandem with the Stanley Cup playoffs.[46]
In August 2006, Warner Bros. announced 300's release date as March 16, 2007,[47] but in October the release was moved forward to March 9, 2007.[37]300 was released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and HD DVD on July 31, 2007, in Region 1 territories, in single-disc and two-disc editions. 300 was released in single-disc and steelcase two-disc editions on DVD, BD and HD DVD in Region 2 territories beginning August 2007. On July 21, 2009, Warner Bros. released a new Blu-ray Disc entitled 300: The Complete Experience to coincide with the Blu-ray Disc release of Watchmen. This new Blu-ray Disc is encased in a 40-page Digibook and includes all the extras from the original release as well as some new ones. These features include a Picture-in-Picture feature entitled The Complete 300: A Comprehensive Immersion, which enables the viewer to view the film in three different perspectives. This release also includes a digital copy.[48]
On July 9, 2007, the American cable channel TNT bought the rights to broadcast the film from Warner Bros.[49] TNT started airing the film in September 2009. Sources say that the network paid between $17 million[50] and just under $20 million[49] for the broadcasting rights. TNT agreed to a three-year deal instead of the more typical five-year deal.[50]
ReceptionEditBox officeEdit300 was released in North America on March 9, 2007, in both conventional and IMAX theaters.[51] It grossed $28,106,731 on its opening day and ended its North American opening weekend with $70,885,301, breaking the record held by Ice Age: The Meltdown for the biggest opening weekend in the month of March and for a Spring release. Since then 300's Spring release record was broken by Fast and Furious and 300's March record was broken by Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.[52]300's opening weekend gross is the 24th highest in box office history, coming slightly below The Lost World: Jurassic Park but higher than Transformers.[53] It was the third biggest opening for an R-rated film ever, behind The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8 million) and The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million).[54] The film also set a record for IMAX cinemas with a $3.6 million opening weekend.[55] The film grossed $456,068,181 worldwide.
300 opened two days earlier, on March 7, 2007, in Sparta, and across Greece on March 8.[56][57]Studio executives were surprised by the showing, which was twice what they had expected.[58] They credited the film's stylized violence, the strong female role of Queen Gorgo which attracted a large number of women, and a MySpace advertising blitz.[59] Producer Mark Canton said, "MySpace had an enormous impact but it has transcended the limitations of the Internet or the graphic novel. Once you make a great movie, word can spread very quickly."[59]
ReviewsEditCritical receptionEditSince its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2007, in front of 1,700 audience members, 300 has received generally mixed reviews. While it received a standing ovation at the public premiere,[60] it was panned at a press screening hours earlier, where many attendees left during the showing and those who remained booed at the end.[61] Critics are divided on the film.[62]Rotten Tomatoes reports that 60% of American, British and other critics gave the film a positive review, based upon a sample of 225, with an average score of 6.1 out of 10.[63]Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 51 based on 35 reviews.[62]
Some of the most unfavorable reviews came from major American newspapers. A.O. Scott of The New York Times describes 300 as "about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid," while criticizing its color scheme and suggesting that its plot includes racist undertones; Scott also poked fun at the buffed bodies of the actors portraying the Spartans, declaring that the Persian characters are "pioneers in the art of face-piercing", but that the Spartans had access to "superior health clubs and electrolysis facilities".[64]Kenneth Turan writes in the Los Angeles Times that "unless you love violence as much as a Spartan, Quentin Tarantino or a video-game-playing teenage boy, you will not be endlessly fascinated."[65]Roger Ebert, in his review, gave the film a two-star rating, writing, "300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud."[66] Some critics employed at Greek newspapers have been particularly critical, such as film critic Robby Eksiel, who said that moviegoers would be dazzled by the "digital action" but irritated by the "pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters."[57][67]
Variety's Todd McCarthy describes the film as "visually arresting" although "bombastic"[68] while Kirk Honeycutt, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, praises the "beauty of its topography, colors and forms."[69] Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper acclaims 300 as "the Citizen Kane of cinematic graphic novels."[70]Empire gave the film 3/5 having a verdict of "Visually stunning, thoroughly belligerent and as shallow as a pygmy's paddling pool, this is a whole heap of style tinged with just a smidgen of substance." 300 was also warmly received by websites focusing on comics and video games. Comic Book Resources' Mark Cronan found the film compelling, leaving him "with a feeling of power, from having been witness to something grand."[71]IGN's Todd Gilchrist acclaimed Zack Snyder as a cinematic visionary and "a possible redeemer of modern moviemaking."[72]
AccoladesEditAt the MTV Movie Awards 2007, 300 was nominated for Best Movie, Best Performance for Gerard Butler, Best Breakthrough Performance for Lena Headey, Best Villain for Rodrigo Santoro, and Best Fight for Leonidas battling "the 'ber Immortal",[73] but only won the award for Best Fight. 300 won both the Best Dramatic Film and Best Action Film honors in the 2006''2007 Golden Icon Awards presented by Travolta Family Entertainment.[74] In December 2007, 300 won IGN's Movie of the Year 2007,[75] along with Best Comic Book Adaptation[76] and King Leonidas as Favorite Character.[77] The movie received 10 nominations for the 2008 Saturn Awards, winning the awards for Best Director and Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film.[78] In 2009, National Review magazine ranked 300 number 5 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.[79]
Historical accuracyEditSince few records about the actual martial arts used by the Spartans survive aside from accounts of formations and tactics, the fight choreography led by Damon Caro and Chad Stahelski was a synthesis of different weapon arts with Filipino martial arts as the base.[80] This can be seen in the blade work and the signature use of the off hand by Arnis/Kali/Eskrima in the offensive use of the shields. The Spartans' use of the narrow terrain, in those particular circumstances, is a military tactic known as "defeat in detail".
Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek History at Cambridge University, advised the filmmakers on the pronunciation of Greek names, and said they "made good use" of his published work on Sparta. He praises the film for its portrayal of "the Spartans' heroic code", and of "the key role played by women in backing up, indeed reinforcing, the male martial code of heroic honour", while expressing reservations about its "'West' (goodies) vs 'East' (baddies) polarization".[81] Cartledge writes that he enjoyed the film, although he found Leonidas' description of the Athenians as "boy lovers" ironic, since the Spartans themselves incorporated institutional pederasty into their educational system.[82]
Ephraim Lytle, assistant professor of Hellenistic History at the University of Toronto, said 300 selectively idealizes Spartan society in a "problematic and disturbing" fashion, as well as portraying the "hundred nations of the Persians" as monsters and non-Spartan Greeks as weak. He suggests that the film's moral universe would have seemed "as bizarre to ancient Greeks as it does to modern historians".[83]
Victor Davis Hanson, National Review columnist and former professor of Classical history at California State University, Fresno, who wrote the foreword to a 2007 re-issue of the graphic novel, said the film demonstrates a specific affinity with the original material of Herodotus in that it captures the martial ethos of ancient Sparta and represents Thermopylae as a "clash of civilizations". He remarks that Simonides, Aeschylus, and Herodotus viewed Thermopylae as a battle against "Eastern centralism and collective serfdom", which opposed "the idea of the free citizen of an autonomous polis".[84] He also said the film portrays the battle in a "surreal" manner, and that the intent was to "entertain and shock first, and instruct second".[85]
Touraj Daryaee, now Baskerville Professor of Iranian History and the Persian World at the University of California, Irvine, criticized the movie's use of classical sources, writing:
Some passages from the Classical authors Aeschylus, Diodorus, Herodotus and Plutarch are spilt over the movie to give it an authentic flavor. Aeschylus becomes a major source when the battle with the "monstrous human herd" of the Persians is narrated in the film. Diodorus' statement about Greek valor to preserve their liberty is inserted in the film, but his mention of Persian valor is omitted. Herodotus' fanciful numbers are used to populate the Persian army, and Plutarch's discussion of Greek women, specifically Spartan women, is inserted wrongly in the dialogue between the "misogynist" Persian ambassador and the Spartan king. Classical sources are certainly used, but exactly in all the wrong places, or quite naively. The Athenians were fighting a sea battle during this.[86]
Robert McHenry, former editor-in-chief of Encyclop...dia Britannica and author of How to Know said the film "is an almost ineffably silly movie. Stills from the film could easily be used to promote Buns of Steel, or AbMaster, or ThighMaster. It's about the romanticizing of the Spartan 'ideal', a process that began even in ancient times, was promoted by the Romans, and has survived over time while less and less resembling the actual historical Sparta."[87]
The director of 300, Zack Snyder, stated in an MTV interview that "the events are 90 percent accurate. It's just in the visualization that it's crazy.... I've shown this movie to world-class historians who have said it's amazing. They can't believe it's as accurate as it is." Nevertheless, he also said the film is "an opera, not a documentary. That's what I say when people say it's historically inaccurate".[88] He was also quoted in a BBC News story as saying that the film is, at its core "a fantasy film". He also describes the film's narrator, Dilios, as "a guy who knows how not to wreck a good story with truth".[12]
In an interview 300 writer Frank Miller said, "The inaccuracies, almost all of them, are intentional. I took those chest plates and leather skirts off of them for a reason. I wanted these guys to move and I wanted 'em to look good. I knocked their helmets off a fair amount, partly so you can recognize who the characters are. Spartans, in full regalia, were almost indistinguishable except at a very close angle. Another liberty I took was, they all had plumes, but I only gave a plume to Leonidas, to make him stand out and identify him as a king. I was looking for more an evocation than a history lesson. The best result I can hope for is that if the movie excites someone, they'll go explore the histories themselves. Because the histories are endlessly fascinating."[89]
ControversyEditBefore the release of 300, Warner Bros. expressed concerns about the political aspects of the film's theme. Snyder relates that there was "a huge sensitivity about East versus West with the studio."[90] Media speculation about a possible parallel between the Greco-Persian conflict and current events began in an interview with Snyder that was conducted before the Berlin Film Festival.[91] The interviewer remarked that "everyone is sure to be translating this [film] into contemporary politics." Snyder replied that, while he was aware that people would read the film through the lens of current events, no parallels between the film and the modern world were intended.[92]
Outside the current political parallels, some critics have raised more general questions about the film's ideological orientation. The New York Post's Kyle Smith wrote that the film would have pleased "Adolf's boys,"[93] and Slate's Dana Stevens compares the film to The Eternal Jew, "as a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war."[94] Roger Moore, a critic for the Orlando Sentinel, relates 300 to Susan Sontag's definition of "fascist art."[95]Alleanza Nazionale, an Italianneoconservative political party formed from the collapse of the neo-fascist party MSI, has used imagery from the work within candidate propaganda posters titled: "Defend your values, your civilization, your district".[96]
Newsday critic Gene Seymour, on the other hand, stated that such reactions are misguided, writing that "the movie's just too darned silly to withstand any ideological theorizing."[97] Snyder himself dismissed ideological readings, suggesting that reviewers who critique "a graphic novel movie about a bunch of guys...stomping the snot out of each other" using words like "'neocon,' 'homophobic,' 'homoerotic' or 'racist'" are "missing the point."[98] Snyder, however, also admitted to fashioning an effeminate villain specifically to play into the homophobia of young straight males.[99]Slovenian critic Slavoj Žižek also wrote that the story represents "a poor, small country (Greece) invaded by the army of a much large[r] state (Persia)," suggesting that the identification of the Spartans with a modern superpower is flawed.[100]
The 300 writer Frank Miller said: "The Spartans were a paradoxical people. They were the biggest slave owners in Greece. But at the same time, Spartan women had an unusual level of rights. It's a paradox that they were a bunch of people who in many ways were fascist, but they were the bulwark against the fall of democracy. The closest comparison you can draw in terms of our own military today is to think of the red-caped Spartans as being like our special-ops forces. They're these almost superhuman characters with a tremendous warrior ethic, who were unquestionably the best fighters in Greece. I didn't want to render Sparta in overly accurate terms, because ultimately I do want you to root for the Spartans. I couldn't show them being quite as cruel as they were. I made them as cruel as I thought a modern audience could stand."[89]
EugenicsEditEphraim Lytle, assistant professor of Hellenistic history at the University of Toronto, commented: "Ephialtes, who betrays the Greeks, is likewise changed from a local Malian of sound body into a Spartan outcast, a grotesquely disfigured troll who by Spartan custom should have been left exposed as an infant to die. Leonidas points out that his hunched back means Ephialtes cannot lift his shield high enough to fight in the phalanx. This is a transparent defence of Spartan eugenics, and convenient given that infanticide could as easily have been precipitated by an ill-omened birthmark."[83]
Michael M. Chemers, author of "'With Your Shield, or on It': Disability Representation in 300" in the Disability Studies Quarterly, said that the film's portrayal of the hunchback and his story "is not mere ableism: this is anti-disability."[101]
Frank Miller '' commenting on areas where he lessened the Spartan cruelty for narrative purposes '' said: "I have King Leonidas very gently tell Ephialtes, the hunchback, that they can't use him [as a soldier], because of his deformity. It would be much more classically Spartan if Leonidas laughed and kicked him off the cliff."[89]
Depictions of Persians and Iran's reactionEditFrom its opening, 300 also attracted controversy over its portrayal of Persians. Officials of the Iranian government[102] denounced the film.[103][104][105] Some scenes in the film portray demon-like and other fictional creatures as part of the Persian army, and the fictionalized portrayal of Persian King Xerxes I has been criticized as effeminate.[106][107] Critics suggested that this was meant to stand in stark contrast to the sheer masculinity of the Spartan army.[108]Steven Rea argued that the film's Persians were a vehicle for an anachronistic cross-section of Western stereotypes of Asian and African cultures.[109]
The film's portrayal of ancient Persians caused a particularly strong reaction in Iran.[110]Azadeh Moaveni of Time reported that Tehran was "outraged" following the film's release. Moaveni identified two factors which may have contributed to the intense reaction: its release on the eve of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and the common Iranian view of the Achaemenid Empire as "a particularly noble page in their history."[103][104][111] Various Iranian officials condemned the film.[112][113][114][115] The Iranian Academy of the Arts submitted a formal complaint against the film to UNESCO, labelling it an attack on the historical identity of Iran.[116][117] The Iranian mission to the U.N. protested the film in a press release,[118] and Iranian embassies protested its screening in France,[119]Thailand,[120]Turkey,[121] and Uzbekistan.[122] The film was banned within Iran as "hurtful American propaganda".[123]
Popular cultureEdit300 has been spoofed in various media, spawning the "This is Sparta!" internet meme,[124] with parodies also appearing in film and television.
These include the shortUnited 300, which won the Movie Spoof Award at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards and a visual parody of Night at the Museum.Skits based upon the film have appeared on Saturday Night Live[125] and Robot Chicken, the latter of which mimicked the visual style of 300 in a parody set during the American Revolutionary War, titled "1776,"[126] and in another episode there were several segments in which Leonidas shouts, "This is...(something)!" and kicks a nearby object.[127]20th Century Fox released Meet the Spartans, a spoof of 300 directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Universal Pictures was planning a similar parody, titled National Lampoon's 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus Wallace Leonidas.[128]300 was also parodied in an episode of South Park named "D-Yikes!".[129]In the game Deadliest Warrior: The Game, there is an achievement called "That was Sparta!" that is obtained by killing 300 Spartans.In the video game Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, there is a Heroic Challenge called "This is Persia", which is completed by causing an enemy to fall to their death down a bottomless pit.In the game God of War: Ghost of Sparta, a secret move called the Might of Sparta can be unlocked. This move is a powerful kick which resembles the "THIS IS SPARTA!" kick used in 300 that can deal immense damage to enemies and break their shields without using special attacks.On February 21, 2010, the German heavy metal band Heaven Shall Burn played a show at Szene in Vienna, Austria called "Defending Sparta"; the band dressed as Spartans on stage and ticket sales for the show were limited to 300.[130]300, particularly its pithy quotations, has been "adopted" by the student body of Michigan State University (whose nickname is the Spartans), with chants of "Spartans, what is your profession?" becoming common at sporting events starting after the film's release, and Michigan State basketball head coach Tom Izzo dressed as Leonidas at one student event.[131][132]King Leonidas's costume is featured in God of War: Ascension's multiplayer. It is an exclusive pre-order bonus for those who bought the game in GameStop.305 is a 2008 mockumentary parodying 300 and done in the style of The Office.South Korean variety show Running Man member Kim Jong-kook is known for his sudden appearances that are often accompanied by the soundbite "Sparta!" taken from the movie, earning the nickname "Sparta-kooks".Leonidas was pitted against Master Chief (Halo) in an episode of the YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History.In 2007, a remixer created a remix using This IS Sparta, and it quickly went viral.In the online multiplayer game, League of Legends, a spartan-inspired playable character named "Pantheon" includes voiceover lines which reference 300. These include, "Getting kicked into a well is the least of your worries" and one in which the character states his profession to be a baker, rather than a warrior, as in 300.In June 2008, producers Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari and Bernie Goldmann revealed that work had begun on a sequel to 300, 300: Rise of an Empire.[133] Legendary Pictures had announced that Frank Miller started writing the follow-up graphic novel, and Zack Snyder was interested in directing the adaptation, but moved on to develop and direct the Superman reboot Man of Steel.[134][135] Noam Murro directed instead, while Zack Snyder produced. The film focused on the Athenian admiral, Themistocles, as portrayed by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton. The sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire was released on March 7, 2014.[136]
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All this leads to the true owners of 'merica making Obama a war monger. Finally! :-)
Syrian rebels recruiting teens, says Human Rights Watch
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:14
BEIRUT (AP) -- A car bomb exploded Tuesday in the central Syrian city of Homs, killing one person and wounding at least 14 in the latest blast to hit the city in recent weeks, Syrian media and an activist group said.State news agency SANA said the car bomb exploded near a candy shop in the pro-government neighborhood of Wadi Dahab, killing one person and wounding 23. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the blast came from a car bomb in Wadi Dahab, saying it killed one woman and wounded 14.Several car bombs have exploded in Homs over the past few months, killing and wounding dozens of people. Wadi Dahab is home mostly to Alawites, members of the minority sect of President Bashar Assad.An explosion in Wadi Dahab on June 12 killed seven people and wounded 25.Also Tuesday, Syria's Foreign Ministry criticized the European Union's decision to place sanctions on 12 ministers of the Syrian government because of their responsibility "for serious human rights violations."The ministry said in a statement that the EU's decision comes at a time when the al-Qaida-breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is carrying out "terrorist attacks" in Iraq and Syria. It said that "confirms the European Union's support to these terrorist organizations that are committing the ugliest crimes against Syrians."The EU said Monday the 12 ministers will be banned from traveling to the 28-nation bloc and will see any assets held there frozen. The ministers' names were not released.The Syrian statement said the EU decision is not only "a flagrant violation of international laws but forms the peak of political hypocrisy."Syria's conflict began in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests against Assad's rule but escalated into an insurgency and civil war with sectarian overtones.Opposition activists say more than 160,000 people have been killed, nearly a third of them civilians.
Syrian children recruited as anti-Assad soldiers, says HRW
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 09:51
Non-state armed groups have used children who appeared as young as 10 to participate in Syria's devastating civil war, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Monday. Boys joined the armed groups for various reasons '-- and were sometimes lured with the promise of education '-- but many ended up being used for suicide missions and other dangerous tasks.
The report is based on interviews with 25 former or current child soldiers who talked to the HRW researchers from their homes in refugee camps, clinics and public gathering places. The total number of child soldiers fighting in the Syrian civil war is not known, but a local monitoring group, the Violations Documenting Center, found that 194 ''non-civilian'' male children have been killed since the beginning of the conflict, which is now in its fourth year. Recruiting child soldiers, under age 15, in both combat and support roles is considered a war crime that can be tried by the International Criminal Court.
A boy called ''Saleh,'' 17, told HRW he fought with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) '-- the Western-backed opposition group fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad '-- at 15 after he was detained and tortured by government security forces. He later joined two other armed groups. (All children's names are pseudonyms given by the researchers.)
''I thought of leaving [the fighting] a lot,'' he said. ''I lost my studies, I lost my future, I lost everything.''
Another boy, going by ''Majed,'' 16, said that Jabhat al-Nusra '-- a radical Islamist anti-Assad group '-- in Daraa promised him free schooling at a local mosque that included military training, Quran study and target practice. He said that commanders encouraged children to sign up for suicide attacks, according to the report.
''Sometimes fighters volunteered, and sometimes [commanders] said, 'Allah chose you.'''
Priyanka Motaparthy, the report's author, called the use of child soldiers the war's ''blind spot'' and warned about the dangers of accepting children's participation in war as a fact made inevitable by extreme circumstances or local interpretations of adulthood.
''So many people will tell you, 'you're considered a man as of the age of 16,''' but children are not, she told Al Jazeera.
Children were reported to have served for groups including the FSA, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The researchers found groups often neglected to check children's real ages and failed to turn them away when suspecting they weren't adults. Some FSA commanders said their units did not accept children as a matter of official policy, but would ultimately accept anyone eager to fight.
''16, 17 is not young. [If we don't take him,] he'll go fight on his own,'' Abu Rida, leader of the Saif Allah al-Maslool brigade, an FSA group in Daraa, told HRW.
Children's reasons for joining varied, but contrary to the experience of child soldiers in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo or countries where children were often forced to join rebel groups, the Syrian child soldiers interviewed by HRW all said they had volunteered.
Some who had been arrested or tortured reported that disillusionment with the regime had kindled their political enthusiasm and a sense of duty. Others said they followed friends or relatives, or joined because of the promise of education in areas where the government had stopped providing classes.
''But the problem is that they are extremely vulnerable and young but they don't necessarily have a sense of what they're getting in to,'' Motaparthy said.
''Children under that age, their brains are not fully developed, they're not able to understand long-term consequences of action. Some of the children I talked to said, 'I didn't understand it would take this long,' they thought they signed up for three months, not for three years.''
Since the beginning of the conflict, the levels of violence have steadily increased.
''Back in 2012 the worst weapon for a kid was a assault rifle,'' she said. ''Now it's mounted machine guns.''
Some commanders also reportedly preferred younger children to execute combat mission because they were braver. One doctor described treating a boy between 10 and 12 years old whose job it was to whip prisoners held in an ISIL detention facility, according to the report.
All children interviewed by HRW are boys. Except for the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, no other armed groups had recruited girls to assist with combat operations '-- an observation that follows the rights group's earlier findings on ISIL's and other groups' increased restrictions of the movement of women and girls in accordance with their extremist interpretation of Islamic law.
HRW called on the United Nations' Security Council to refer the crimes to the International Criminal Court. It also urged the Syrian government to stop providing aid to groups using child soldiers in their operations.
''Anyone providing funding for sending children to war could be complicit in war crimes,'' Motaparthy said.
U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 04:21
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.
Anti-U.S. Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Retakes Stage Amid Iraq Turmoil - NBC News.com
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:08
The endless lines of men with fists raised in the air and armed with machine guns and rocket launchers rallied in Iraq's streets to send a warning of military might to the Sunni extremist fighters tearing through their country.
But the thousands of Shiite fighters '' some sporting suicide vests and calling themselves the ''Peace Brigades'' - also sent another signal: feared firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army are back.
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While Sadr was once the poster boy for violent resistance to the U.S.-led invasion, he has in recent years positioned himself as a political kingmaker in post-withdrawal Iraq and even publicly discouraged sectarian strife.
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But analysts say that his recent calls for brigades to form and protect holy shrines from attacks by Sunni militants '' which culminated in the weekend's show of force - betray a canny commandant and risk returning Iraq to some of its darkest days.
"The forces that he puts on the streets are some of the worst sectarian killers in Iraq"
''It means two things - that Iraqi security forces are incapable of providing security in Baghdad and the chance of the re-emergence of sectarian slaughter - with death squads roaming Baghdad and other areas around the capital - increases dramatically,'' said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal.
Roggio - like many - question Sadr's attempts to play a moderate card.
''He speaks a good game but watch what Sadr does, not what he says. That's been the real problem with him all along,'' he added. ''He may speak a good game, but the forces that he puts on the streets are some of the worst sectarian killers in Iraq.''
Sadr formed the Mahdi Army in 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. The Shiite militia gained broader notoriety when it waged fierce battles in Najaf against U.S. forces a year later. It is blamed for the mass killings of Sunni civilians in sectarian violence in Iraq that peaked in 2006 and 2007 and for cleansing Sunnis from Baghdad neighborhoods.
The Pentagon once said the Mahdi Army had ''replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence.''
Alaa Al-Marjani / ReutersShiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr shows his ink-stained finger after voting in parliamentary election at a polling station in Najaf, south of Baghdad on April 30, 2014.
When Sadr ordered a ceasefire in 2007, the move was accompanied by questions over whether he sought to wait out U.S. forces or to make a political play.
Sadr helped usher Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to power in 2006 and ultimately again in 2010 '' but since then has become one of the premier's most vocal critics, describing him as a dictator.
In February, Sadr said he was withdrawing from all politics and unaffiliated with any faction. His explanation: a necessary decision to protect the family name.
The puzzling move '' accompanied by fierce criticism of Maliki's government - prompted rampant speculation that the cleric was repositioning himself '' or reinventing his brigade '' rather than retiring.
Few ''really bought it'' when Sadr said in Feburary he was stepping away from politics, according to independent Iraq analyst Stephen Wicken,
''He's much more canny than that,'' Wicken said. ''He plays this reluctant hero card: that he doesn't want to be dragged into politics and public life but then has to by force of his belief or weight of his family's legacy.''
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Those guesses appeared to play out when Sadr recently called for brigades to form and protect Shiite shrines from the lightning advance and offensive by Sunni extremist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
The heavily armed fighters who answered his call marched through Iraq's cities over the weekend under the name ''Saraya Al Salaam'' '' or Peace Brigades '' but to analysts and Iraq watchers, they are the officially inactive Mahdi Army - rebranded.
Sadr's ability to call out massive numbers of supporters at a moment's notice has been one of the cleric's ''hallmarks'' over the years, according to Wicken. In this case, calling up fighters in the name of protecting Shiite interests could present a dig at Maliki, whose forces have been unable to stave of the ISIS advance. ''This is an opportunity for Sadr,'' Wicken said.
"If the state needs to rely on thugs like Sadr and others to secure areas that are being threatened by ISIS ... then it is really in trouble"
While Sadr's ultimate ambition might be to achieve the spiritual authority of his forebears - both his father and father-in-law were Grand Ayatollahs - ''he doesn't actually have the personality'' or gravitas to become a religious authority, according to Wicken.
Sadr's timing is everything, according to analysts, who point to the cleric's tendency to step away from day-to-day politics and return when opportunity is ripe to reclaim the mantle of Shiite defender.
''He's not a serious cleric, he's not a religious authority. The only power and legitimacy that he actually has comes primarily from his family's name and legacy and also from his willingness to take really populist platforms and, when necessary, call out his forces to kill people,'' Wicken said.
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Sadr's real credentials stem from his role in founding and commanding the Mahdi Army. While he has lost some ground to splinter groups in the past few years, ''he still has that resonance,'' Wicken said. While Sadr is not a ''gifted orator, his words carry weight,'' according to Wicken.
Putting fighters on the streets would signal to Sadr's Shiite rivals that ''he's still relevant,'' according to Hayder al-Khoei, an Iraq analyst for London-based think tank Chatham House.
''He's played his hand now,'' al-Khoei said. ''He's back and he's back for good.''
Rebranding the militia as the Peace Brigades reflects a broader attempt to put distance between atrocities commited by Sadr's fighters against Sunnis in 2006 and 2007.
''They're trying to shed that black history that they have,'' al-Khoei added. ''Lots of Sunni Iraqis remember the role they played."
The mobilization of Sadr's militia adds to the polarization and portrayal of Iraq's current crisis as a Shiite-Sunni conflict, analysts say.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP - Getty ImagesShiite fighters parade with their weapons in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday.
Still, the cleric's battle-hardened and ideologically driven fighters could be an asset to Iraq's security forces if they are deployed for operations.
"They can add experience in the counterinsurgency campaign - experience that the Iraqi army is desperate for,'' al-Khoei said.
While ''Sadr has always been more than willing to use force to get what he wants in Iraq,'' Roggio said the cleric's recent re-entry also underscores a deeper point.
''Its further evidence of the deterioration of the state,'' Roggio said. ''If the state needs to rely on thugs like Sadr and others to secure areas that are being threatened by ISIS and regain control of areas outside of Baghdad, then it is really in trouble. Once the sectarian groups like the Mahdi Army reach the streets, it just greatly increases the chances of the sectarian killing that brought Iraq to the brink of full-scale civil war."
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First published June 23 2014, 8:20 AM
Mahdi Army - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:10
This article is about the Shia Mahdi Army of contemporary Iraq. For the Sunni Mahdi Army of Nineteenth Century Sudan, see Muhammad Ahmad.The Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), also known as the Mahdi Army or Mahdi Militia (Arabic جيش اÙمهدي), was an Iraqiparamilitary force created by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in June 2003.
The group rose to international prominence on April 18, 2004, when it spearheaded the first major armed confrontation against the U.S.-led forces in Iraq from the Shia community. This concerned an uprising that followed the ban of al-Sadr's newspaper and his subsequent attempted arrest, lasting until a truce on June 6. This truce was followed by moves to disband the group and transform al-Sadr's movement into a political party to take part in the 2005 elections; Muqtada al-Sadr ordered fighters of the Mahdi army to cease fire unless attacked first. The truce broke down in August 2004 after provocative actions by the Mahdi Army, with new hostilities erupting. In 2008, following a crackdown by Iraqi security forces, the group was disbanded.
At its height, the Mahdi Army's popularity was strong enough to influence local government, the police, and cooperation with Sunni Iraqis and their supporters. The group was popular among Iraqi police forces. National Independent Cadres and Elites party that ran in the 2005 Iraqi election was closely linked with the army.
The group was armed with various light weapons, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Many of the IEDs used during attacks on Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces used infra-red sensors as triggers, a technique that was used widely by the IRA in Northern Ireland in the early-to-mid-1990s.[3]
Nomenclature[edit]The name Jaysh al-MahdÄ has apocalyptic connotations: in Shi-ite theology, the Mah'dÄ is an end-times figure who it is said will assist Christ in destroying the Dajjāl and establish a global Islamic khilāfah in preparation for the Yaum al-Qiyāmah (judgement day); in more common terms, it is believed that the MahdÄ will come to help the Messiah (i.e. Jesus, referred to in Islam as `Īsā ibn Mariyam, "Jesus son of Mary") to defeat the Antichrist (literally, al-MasÄh al-Dajjāl means "the Deceiving Messiah"), before establishing a just Islamic social order in preparation for Judgment Day.
In the Twelver school of Shia Islam, the MahdÄ is believed to have been a historical figure identified with the Twelfth Imām, Muhammad al-MahdÄ, and is therefore called al-Imām al-MahdÄ. It is believed that he is still present on earth "in occultation" (i.e., hidden), and will emerge again in the end times. Those Shi`ites of this school believe that the Imām MahdÄ is the rightful ruler of the whole Islamic community (ummah) at any given time, and he is therefore also called Imām al-Zamān, meaning "Imām of the Age/Time."
History[edit]Early history[edit]Created by Muqtada al-Sadr and a small faction of Shi'ites, the Mahdi Army began as a group of roughly 500 seminary students connected with Muqtada al-Sadr in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, formerly known as Saddam City. The group moved in to fill the security vacuum in Sadr City and in a string of southern Iraqi cities following the fall of Baghdad to U.S-led coalition forces on April 9, 2003. The group was involved in dispensing aid to Iraqis and provided security in the Shi'ite slums from looters.
Gradually, the militia grew and al-Sadr formalized it in June 2003.[4] The Mahdi Army grew into a sizable force of up to 10,000 who even operated what amounted to a shadow government in some areas. Al-Sadr's preaching is critical of the US occupation, but he did not initially join the Sunni Islamist and Baathist guerrillas in their attacks on coalition forces.
2004 Shi'ite Uprising[edit]Uprising begins[edit]Sadr's position changed dramatically, however, by the beginning of April 2004. Following the closure of the Sadr-owned newspaper al-Hawza and the arrest of one of his senior aides, Sadr gave an unusually heated sermon to his followers on April 2. The next day, violent protests occurred throughout the Shi'ite south that soon spilled over into a violent uprising by Mahdi Army militiamen, fully underway by April 4.
April hostilities[edit]The Mahdi Army forces began an offensive in Najaf, Kufa, Kut, and Sadr City, seizing control of public buildings and police stations while clashing with coalition forces. The militants gained partial control of Karbala after fighting there. Other coalition forces came under attack in Nasiriyah, Amarah and Basra. Najaf and Kufa were quickly seized after a few firefights with Spanish troops, and Kut was seized after clashes with Ukrainian troops soon afterwards.
After sporadic clashes, coalition forces temporarily suppressed most militia activity in Nasiriyah, Amarah, and Basra. Mahdi rebels expelled Iraqi police from three police stations and ambushed U.S forces in Sadr City, killing seven U.S troops and wounding several more. U.S forces subsequently regained control of the police stations after running firefights with the fighters, killing dozens of Mahdi militiamen. However, Mahdi Army members still maintained some influence over many of the slum areas of Sadr City.
On April 16, Kut was retaken by US forces, and several dozen Mahdi Army members were killed in the battle. However, the area around Najaf and Kufa along with Karbala remained under the control of Sadr's forces. Sadr himself was believed to be in Najaf. Coalition troops cordoned off Najaf with 2,500 troops, but reduced the number of forces to pursue negotiations with the Mahdi Army. At the beginning of May, coalition forces estimated that there were 200''500 militants still present in Karbala, 300''400 in Diwaniyah, an unknown number still left in Amarah and Basra, and 1,000''2,000 still in the Najaf-Kufa region.
On May 4, coalition forces began a counter-offensive to eliminate the Mahdi Army in southern Iraq following a breakdown in negotiations. The first wave began with simultaneous raids in Karbala and Diwaniyah on militia forces, followed by a second wave on May 5 in Karbala and more attacks that seized the governor's office in Najaf on May 6. 86 militiamen were estimated killed in the fighting along with 4 U.S soldiers. Several high-ranking militia commanders were also killed in a separate raid by US Special Operations units. On May 8, U.S forces launched a follow-up offensive into Karbala, launching a two-pronged attack into the city. U.S tanks also launched an incursion into Sadr City. At the same time, perhaps as a diversionary tactic, hundreds of Mahdi Army members swept through Basra, firing on British patrols and seizing parts of the city. Two militants were killed and several British troops were wounded.
On May 24, after suffering heavy losses in weeks of fighting, Mahdi Army forces withdrew from the city of Karbala. This left the only area still under their firm control being the Najaf-Kufa region, also under sustained American assault. Several hundred Mahdi Army militia in total were killed. Unfazed by the fighting, Muqtada al-Sadr regularly gave Friday sermons in Kufa throughout the uprising.
June truce[edit]On June 6, 2004, Muqtada al-Sadr issued an announcement directing the Mahdi Army to cease operations in Najaf and Kufa. Remnants of the militia soon ceased bearing arms and halted the attacks on U.S forces. Gradually, militiamen left the area or went back to their homes. On the same day, Brigadier GeneralMark Hertling, a top US commander in charge of Najaf, Iraq, stated "The Muqtada militia is militarily defeated. We have killed scores of them over the last few weeks, and that is in Najaf alone. [...] The militia have been defeated, or have left."[5] June 6 effectively marked the end of Shi'ite uprising. The total number of Mahdi Army militiamen killed in the fighting across Iraq is estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000.[citation needed]
The return of Najaf to Iraqi security forces following the cease-fire left Sadr City as the last bastion of Mahdi Army guerrillas still pursuing violent resistance. Clashes continued periodically in the district following the end of the Najaf-Kufa battles. On June 24, Mahdi Army declared an end to operations in Sadr City as well, effectively ending militia activity, at least for the time being.
After the June 4 truce with the occupation forces, al-Sadr took steps to disband the Mahdi Army. In a statement, he called on militia members from outside Najaf to "do their duty" and go home. US forces in Najaf were then replaced by Iraqi police. Al-Sadr told supporters not to attack Iraqi security forces and announced his intention to form a party and enter the 2005 elections. He said the interim government was an opportunity to build a unified Iraq. Interim President Ghazi Yawer gave assurances that al-Sadr could join the political process provided he abandoned his militia. Iraqi officials also assured al-Sadr that he was not to face arrest.[6]
August hostilities[edit]After Sadr's militia besieged a police station in Najaf and the local governor called for assistance, the US military intervened again. US troops arrested Sadr's representative in Karbala, Sheikh Mithal al Hasnawi on July 31[7] and surrounded al-Sadr's home on August 3.[8][9][10][11] British troops in Basra also moved against al-Sadr followers, arresting four on August 3. After the expiration of a noon deadline to release them on August 5, the Basra militiamen declared holy war on British forces.[12]
On August 5, via his spokesman Ahmed al-Shaibany, al-Sadr re-affirmed his commitment to the truce and called on US forces to honour the truce. He announced that if the restoration of the cease-fire failed "then the firing and igniting of the revolution will continue".[13] The offer was rejected by the governor of Najaf, Adnan al-Zurufi ("There is no compromise or room for another truce") and US officials ("This is one battle we really do feel we can win").[14]
In the days that followed fighting continued around the old city of Najaf, in particular at the Imam Ali shrine and the cemetery. The Mahdi Army, estimated at 2,000 in Najaf, was outnumbered by some 2,000 US troops and 1,800 Iraqi security forces, and at a disadvantage due to the vastly superior American tactics, training, firepower and air power, such as helicopters and AC-130 gunships. On August 13, the militia was trapped in a cordon around the Imam Ali shrine. While negotiations continued between the interim government and the Mahdi Army, news came that al-Sadr had been wounded.[15]
On August 12, British journalist James Brandon, a reporter for the Sunday Telegraph was kidnapped in Basra by unidentified militants. A video tape was released, featuring Brandon and a hooded militant, threatening to kill the British hostage unless US forces withdrew from Najaf within 24 hours. Brandon was released after less than a day, following intervention by al-Sadr. At a press conference immediately after his release, Brandon commented on his treatment and thanked his kidnappers: "Initially I was treated roughly, but once they knew I was a journalist I was treated very well and I want to say thank you to the people who kidnapped me." A spokesman for al-Sadr said: "We apologise for what happened to you. This is not our tradition, not our rules. It is not the tradition of Islam."[16][17]
The fact that American troops surrounded the Shrine led to an impasse as the Mahdi army could not leave the shrine and US troops did not want to offend Islam by setting foot inside the shrine. The standoff did not end for three weeks until Sistani emerged from convalescence in London and brokered an agreement between the two forces.[18]
Iraqi reactions[edit]The uprising seemed to draw an ambivalent reaction from the Iraqi population, which for the most part neither joined nor resisted the rebels. Many Iraqi security forces melted away, wishing to avoid confrontation. In a sign of Mahdi Army's unpopularity in Najaf, however, which follows more traditionalist clerics, a small covert movement sprung up to launch attacks on the militants. The uprising did receive a good deal of support from Shi-ite radicals in Baghdad, however, who were galvanized by the simultaneous siege of the city of Fallujah.
2005[edit]Loyalists to al-Sadr ran under the National Independent Cadres and Elites banner in the 2005 Iraqi election. Though a number of the movements supporters felt that the election was invalid. The party finished sixth overall in the election and was represented in the transitional legislature. Another twenty or so candidates aligned with al-Sadr ran for the United Iraqi Alliance.
The movement is believed to have infiltrated the Iraqi police forces, and to have been involved in the September 2005 arrest of two British soldiers by Iraqi police.[19]
On December 4, 2005, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was assaulted by a mob in Najaf, where the Mahdi Army is influential.[20]
October 2006 battle[edit]In mid October, a roadside bomb killed Qassim al-Tamimi, the chief of investigations for the provincial police force and a member of the rival Badr Organization. Badr fighters blamed the Mahdi Army for the killing and in response to this, the police captured a brother of the suspected bomber, who was a member of the Mahdi Army. Fighting began on October 17, when 800 masked members of the Mahdi army stormed three police stations in Amarah. Several firefights occurred between the militia and police over the course of the next four days.
By the morning of October 20, 2006, local leaders and residents said that victorious Mahdi fighters were patrolling the city on foot and in commandeered police vehicles and were setting up roadblocks. Sheik al-Muhamadawi stated early October 20 that "there is no state in the city. Policemen do not have enough weapons and ammunition compared with the militia, which has all kinds of weapons."[21] At least 27 people were killed and 118 wounded in the clashes.
The Mahdi Army eventually withdrew from their positions in Amarah following negotiations between local tribal and political leaders and representatives from the Baghdad offices of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. A battalion from the Iraqi Army sent from Basra then took control of the city.
The stunning and defiant display of militia strength underscored the weaknesses of the Iraqi security forces and the potency of the Mahdi Army, which had been able to operate virtually unchecked in Iraq. This caused many to accuse the Mahdi Army of starting Civil War in Iraq .
August 2007-March 2008 ceasefire[edit]In August 2007, during fighting between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi police in Karbala, Muqtada al-Sadr called for a ceasefire and urged Mahdi Army members to stop fighting. The cease-fire has been credited with helping to reduce violence in Iraq between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi Army since August 2007.[22] Amid fears of the ending of the ceasefire in February 2008,[23] it was extended for a further six months by al-Sadr on February 22, 2008.[24]
March 2008 Iraqi security forces crackdown[edit]On 25 March 2008, thousands of Iraqi troops carried out a military strike against the Mahdi Army in their stronghold of Basra. This operation, code named Operation Charge of the Knights, was the first of its kind since British troops withdrew from the city centre.
Clashes took place between security forces and the militants loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr after a dawn military offensive in the southern city.[25] In Al-Sadr's headquarters of Najaf, the cleric ordered the field commanders of his Mahdi Army militia to go to 'maximum alert' and prepare "to strike the occupiers".[26] Gunmen also reportedly clashed with Iraqi police in the southern city of Kut.[27]
The Mahdi Army launched a nationwide civil disobedience campaign across Iraq to protest raids and detentions against the Mahdi Army. The discord threatened to unravel al-Sadr's ceasefire, spark renewed sectarian violence, and prompt the United States to delay troop withdrawals. Violent rivalries among Shiites had been predicted by many observers ahead of the Iraqi governorate elections, 2008, which were to be held by October 1, 2008.[28]
Concurrently, on April 6, Iraqi and U.S. forces moved into the southern third of Sadr City to prevent rocket and mortar fire from the area against the Green Zone. U.S. engineers began construction of a concrete barrier along al-Quds Street to seal the southern third of the city off and allow reconstruction to take place. Over the next month, the Mahdi Army launched a number of attacks on the troops building the barrier, but sustained heavy losses. On May 11, al-Sadr concluded a cease-fire agreement with Iraqi security forces, ending the battle. Mahdi Army losses were estimated at between 700 and 1,000 casualties.[29]
Disbandment[edit]On August 28, 2008, al-Sadr ordered the Mahdi Army to suspend military activity indefinitely.[30] Later, however, al-Sadr created either two or three new organizations to take the place of the Mahdi Army: the Promised Day Brigades, established in November 2008 as a militia,[31] and the Muhamidoon, which focuses on social work and religious education.[32] A 2010 Associated Press report also mentioned a third wing, the Monaseroun, responsible for "the mobilization of supporters."[33]
Since 2008, rumors of a Mahdi Army resurgence have cropped up periodically. In April 2010, after winning 40 of 325 seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections, Sadr called for its reestablishment,[34]
Iran's influence[edit]Although Muqtada Al-Sadr has historically had close ties to Iran, he has generally opposed Iranian clerical and political influence in Iraq. Unlike the Al-Hakim family, of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and many leaders of the Dawa party who fled to Iran following the Persian Gulf War and remained there in exile until the American invasion in 2003, Muqtada al-Sadr and his family remained in Iraq throughout Saddam's rule. The refusal to leave Iraq garnered the Sadr family much support during and after the collapse of Saddam's regime. Early 2006, al-Sadr pledged military support to Iran and other neighboring Islamic countries if they were to be attacked by a foreign nation.[35] Since then, however, Al-Sadr has opposed the Dawa Party, and in March 2008 Prime Minister Maliki ordered a major offensive targeting the Mahdi Army in Basra.[36]
In late 2007 or 2008, Muqtada al-Sadr moved to Iran and spent several years studying Shia jurisprudence in Qom before returning to Najaf in 2011.[34][37]
Activities[edit]Since August 2006, the Mahdi Army rarely challenged coalition troops on a wide scale. Neither the coalition nor the Iraqi government made any move to arrest al-Sadr. The Mahdi Army participated in battles against Sunni insurgents and operated its own justice system in the areas it controlled.[38][39]
Structure[edit]When reporting on an early October 2006 clash between the Mahdi Army and Coalition troops in Diwaniyah, BBC news suggested that currently the Mahdi Army is not a homogeneous force, with local groups apparently acting on own initiative.[40]
In September 2006, a senior coalition intelligence official had remarked to reporters how there were political fractures within Al-Sadr's organization in protest of his relatively moderate political course of action,[41] with one coalition intelligence official claiming that at least six major leaders no longer answer to al-Sadr and as many as a third of the army was now out of his direct control.[42]
See also[edit]References and notes[edit]^"Mahdi Army military parade in Iraq". RT. June 21. Retrieved June 21. ^Ricks, Thomas E. "Intensified Combat on Streets Likely". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2010. ^Harkin, Greg; Elliott, Francis; Whitaker, Raymond (October 16, 2005). "Revealed: IRA bombs killed eight British soldiers in Iraq". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 12, 2010. ^Howard, Michael (February 15, 2007). "Mahdi army commanders withdraw to Iran to lie low during security crackdown". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 12, 2010. ^http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?archive=true&article=43036§ion=104^Sadr orders militia to quit Najaf | BBC News^US troops violate Sadr ceasefire agreement - Green Left^Fighting flares around Sadr home -BBC News^Iraqi bid to arrest al-Sadr fails - Boston Globe^Headlines for August 3 - Democracy Now!^US troops kill 300 in Najaf raid - The Guardian^British troops face Iraq jihad | Telegraph^"Clashes in holy city as truce plea ignored". The Scotsman. 6 August 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2013. ^'300 die' in battle for holy city as Iraqi truce ends | Telegraph^Radical cleric 'wounded' in Najaf | BBC News^UK journalist kidnapped in Basra | BBC News^Kidnapped UK journalist released | BBC News^Al-Sadr militia swaps prisoners with Iraq | CNN^Sadr militia's new muscle in south | Christian Science Monitor^Ex-Iraqi leader claims assassination attempt | CNN.com^Semple, Kirk (2006-10-20). "Attack on Iraqi City Shows Militia's Power". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-10-20. ^Al-Sadr calls for calm after Shiite militias clash in Karbala, Baghdad - CNN.com^Iraqi militia to hear Saturday whether to resume fighting - CNN^Al-Sadr extends Mehdi Army cease-fire | CNN^Al-Sadr urges 'civil revolt' as battles erupt in Basra | The Guardian^Iraqi troops, militias clash in Basra | USA Today^Iraqi forces battle gunmen in oil city | Reuters AlertNet^Iraqi raids anger Shiite militia | CNN^Spencer Tucker (2010). The Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars. ABC-CLIO. p. 1060. ISBN 9781851099481. ^Anthony Cordesman; Adam Mausner (2009). Withdrawal from Iraq: Assessing the Readiness of Iraqi Security Forces. Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 45. ISBN 9780892065530. ^"Mapping Militant Organizations: Promised Day Brigades". Stanford University. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2013. ^Tim Arango (21 September 2011). "Sadr's Path Could Determine How Iraq Turns". New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013. ^"Feared Shiite Mahdi Army militia led by hardline cleric reviving in post-election Iraq". Fox News. 4 May 2010. ^ abBabak Rahimi (3 June 2010). "The Return of Moqtada al-Sadr and the Revival of the Mahdi Army". Combating Terrorism Center. Retrieved 19 October 2013. ^Cleric says militia would defend Iran if attacked | Jerusalem Post^Radical Militia and Iraqi Army in Fierce Battle 29 August 2006^Al-Sadr calls on Iraqis 'to resist'. English.aljazeera.net (2011-01-08). Retrieved on 2012-06-04.^Iraq: Al-Sadr Militia Taking Law Into Own Hands | Radio Free Europe^The Economist magazine. May 29th, 2010 edition. Article "A well-locked closet". p. 62.^Battle rages in Shia Iraqi Town - BBC News^US:Iraq failing to tackle death squads - The Guardian^Cleric Said to Lose Reins of Parts of Iraqi Militia | New York TimesExternal links[edit]Armed groups in the Iraq WarInsurgentsBa'athist revolutionariesIraqi Armed Forces and PoliceMilitias and othersNationalist Salafis
Pan-Arab Nationalists
Salafi Jihadists
Iraqi ArmyThe Iraqi Army, a component of the Iraqi Security Forces tasked with responsibility for all Iraqi land-based military operations following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.Iraqi Air ForceIraqi PoliceThe Iraqi Police are the organic civil police force of the Republic of Iraq. The police have three main branches.Iraqi Police Service (IPS): Responsible for the day to day patrolling of cities around most crimes.National Police (NP): Paramilitary force for counterinsurgency, public-disorder and counter-terrorist tasks.Supporting Forces: Remaining police organizations, primarily the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE).Facilities Protection ServiceA paramilitary force responsible for protecting government buildings and facilities.Shia militias
Mahdi Army (Jaish-i-Mahdi) (جيش اÙمهدي)The Mahdi Army is a militia force created by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in June of 2003, disbanded in 2008.Abu Deraa's Mahdi Army factionIn the fall of 2006, Abu Deraa and his supporters formed their own militia.Badr Organization (originally Badr Brigade/Bader Corps) (منظمØ(C) بدر)The armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (SCIRI).Sheibani NetworkSmuggling network and Insurgent group, which both supplies other insurgents and attacks coalition and Iraqi forces.Soldiers of Heavenan armed Iraqi Shi'a sect.Special Groups (Iraq) Iranian-backed factions of the Mahdi Army which went on to become separate organisations which continued fighting after the Mahdi Army's disbanding.Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous)The largest Special Group, led by Qais Khazali and later Akram al-Kabi.Promised Day BrigadesThe Special Group which was created as successor of the Mahdi Army and continued activities against US and coalition forcesKata'ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades)The most notorious Special Group, it became completely independent from the Mahdi Army and other Special Groups.Sunni militias
Kurdish militias
Peshmerga- term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. The term is now officially used for the security forces of Iraqi Kurdistan.Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK. A militant separatist organization which aims to set up an independent Kurdish state in Turkey. As of 2013[update] has bases in Iraqi Kurdistan's Qandil mountains.Kurdistan Freedom Falcons or TAK. Radical splinter group from the PKK, currently residing in the Qandil mountains.Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan or PJAK. A militant organization aiming to overthrow the Islamic government of Iran. As of 2013[update] taking refuge in the Qandil mountains.Minority militias
Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:45
ISTAR stands for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance. In its macroscopic sense, ISTAR is a practice that links several battlefield functions together to assist a combat force in employing its sensors and managing the information they gather.
Information is collected on the battlefield through systematic observation by deployed soldiers and a variety of electronic sensors. Surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance are methods of obtaining this information. The information is then passed to intelligence personnel for analysis, and then to the commander and his staff for the formulation of battle plans. Intelligence is processed information that is relevant and contributes to an understanding of the ground, and of enemy dispositions and intents.
ISTAR is the process of integrating the intelligence process with surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks in order to improve a commander's situational awareness and consequently their decision making. The inclusion of the "I" is important as it recognizes the importance of taking the information from all of the sensors and processing it into useful knowledge.
ISTAR can also refer to:
a unit or sub unit with ISTAR as a task (e.g.: an ISTAR squadron)equipment required to support the taskVariations of ISTAR[edit]There are several variations on the "ISTAR" acronym. Some variations reflect specific emphasis on certain aspects of ISTAR.
STAR (Surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance)[edit]A term used when emphasis is to be placed on the sensing component of ISTAR.
RSTA (Reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition)[edit]A term used by the US Army in place of STAR or ISTAR. Also a term used to identify certain US Army units: for instance, 3rd Squadron, 153rd RSTA. These units serve a similar role to the belowmentioned US Marine Corps STA platoons, but on a larger scale.
STA (Surveillance and target acquisition)[edit]Used to designate one of the following:
ISR (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance)[edit]ISR is the coordinated and integrated acquisition, processing and provision of timely, accurate, relevant, coherent and assured information and intelligence to support commander's conduct of activities. Land, sea, air and space platforms have critical ISR roles in supporting operations in general. By massing ISR assets, allowing a period of immersion, developing layering and cross cueing of sensors, an improved clarity and depth of knowledge can be established.[1] ISR encompasses multiple activities related to the planning and operation of systems that collect, process, and disseminate data in support of current and future military operations.[2]
Examples of ISR systems include surveillance and reconnaissance systems ranging from satellites, to manned aircraft such as the U-2, to unmanned aircraft systems such as the US Air Force's Global Hawk and Predator and the US Army's Hunter, to other ground-, air-, sea-, or space-based equipment, and to human intelligence teams. The intelligence data provided by these ISR systems can take many forms, including optical, radar, or infrared images or electronic signals. Effective ISR data can provide early warning of enemy threats as well as enable military forces to increase effectiveness, coordination, and lethality, and demand for ISR capabilities to support ongoing military operations has increased.[3]
ISR concepts are also associated with certain intelligence units, for instance Task Force ODIN, ISR TF (Company+) in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the United States, the similar entity is used within their Marine Corps's Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Intelligence Group (SRIG). The SRIG modelled as a consolidated military intelligence collection agency, most of the gathered intelligence are collected from many sources (i.e. STA Sniper platoons, Marine reconnaissance assets, signal intelligence, etc.).
ISTAR units and formations[edit]See also[edit]Surveillance, Intelligence, Reconnaissance Group (SRIG) USMCC4ISTAR, a broader concept that also includes Command, Control, Communications and Computers.CARVER matrixReferences[edit]External links[edit]
BBC News - Israeli air strikes target Syria after Golan death
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:11
22 June 2014Last updated at 21:37 ET Israel says it has carried out air strikes on military targets in Syria.
The military said it had attacked nine targets in response to the killing of a 15-year-old boy in a strike in the occupied Golan Heights on the border between the two countries on Sunday.
Two others, including the boy's father, an Israeli defence contractor, were injured when a blast hit their vehicle.
Israel called the boy's death the most substantial incident in the Golan since start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
It is unclear whether Syrian rebels or government forces were behind the incident.
'Everyone loved him'Israeli military spokesman, Lt Col Peter Lerner, told the Associated Press news agency the attack from Syria was "clearly intentional" but it was unclear whether the blast in the area of Tel Hazeka near the Quneitra crossing was the result of mortar fire, a roadside bomb or shelling.
He described it as "an unprovoked act of aggression against Israel and a direct continuation to recent attacks that occurred in the area".
The Israeli military said its air strikes targeted Syrian army positions, including a military headquarters, in response and that "direct hits were confirmed".
The teenager, an Arab Israeli, has been named as Mohammed Qaraqara.
"He was an excellent student, everyone loved him," his cousin Salah Qaraqara told Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Our enemies don't differentiate between Jews and non-Jews, adults and children."
The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, was seized by Israel from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War.
The two countries remain technically in a state of war, and UN observers are deployed to monitor a 70km-long (45-mile) demilitarised zone.
Firing linked to the Syrian conflict occasionally reaches the Israeli side of the border fence - some unintentional, some said to be deliberate.
In March, Israel conducted air strikes against several Syrian military targets after a bombing that injured four of its soldiers in the Golan Heights.
Israel had accused the Syrian army of "aiding and abetting" the attack on a patrol near the ceasefire line.
Syria said one of its soldiers was killed in the Israeli military response.
Some of Israeli's recent air strikes are believed to have prevented the transfer of stockpiles of rockets from the Syrian government to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement that supports President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkish Support for ISIS and Islamic Terrorists | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 03:58
President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walking along the Colonnade at the White House. Photo: Samantha Appleton.
The battle in Iraq consists of ''Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shiite-oriented central government,'' I wrote in a recent article.
Some readers question that the republic of Turkey supports the ''Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,'' the main Sunni group fighting in Iraq. They point to ISIS attacks on Turkish interests within Turkey, along its border with Syria, and in Mosul, and a successful recent meeting of the Turkish and Iranian presidents. Good points, but each of these can be explained.
First, ISIS is willing to accept Turkish support even while seeing the Islamist prime minister and his countrymen as kafirs (infidels) who need to be shown true Islam.
Second, the presidential visit took place on one level while the fighting in Syria and Iraq took place on quite another; the two can occur simultaneously. Turkish-Iranian rivalry is on the rise and, as the distinguished Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil notes in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly:
Recent years have often seen official language from the two countries about prospering bilateral trade and common anti-Israeli ideological solidarity. But mostly out of sight have been indications of rivalry, distrust and mutual sectarian suspicion between the two Muslim countries.
Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. ''As we have the longest border with Syria,'' writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, ''Turkey's support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.'' Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey's frontiers.
Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis, but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a ''two-way jihadist highway,'' has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on ''the secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.''
Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: They provided the bulk of ISIS' funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April.
One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active-duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met three times with one Yasin al Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.
Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.
Regarding the Assad regime: ''Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,'' writes Mr. Cengiz, ''at first along with Western and some Arab countries, and later in spite of their warnings.''
Regarding Rojava: Rojava's leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt ''that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders'' to fight the Kurds.
More broadly, as the Turkish analyst Mustafa Akyol notes, Ankara thought ''anybody who fought al-Assad was a good guy and also harbored an ideological uneasiness with accepting that Islamists can do terrible things.'' This has led, he acknowledges, to ''some blindness'' toward violent jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is so popular in Turkey that others publicly copy its logo.
In the face of this support, the online newspaper Al-Monitor calls on Turkey to close its border to ISIS while Rojava threatened Ankara with ''dire consequences'' unless Turkish aid ceases.
In conclusion, Turkish leaders are finding Syria a double quagmire, with Mr. Assad still in power and the Kurdish entity growing stronger. In reaction, they have cooperated with even the most extreme, retrograde and vicious elements, such as ISIS. However, this support opened a second front in Iraq which, in turn, brings the clash of the Middle East's two titans, Turkey and Iran, closer to realization.
Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.This article was originally published by The Washington Times.
Diplomats call on Tony Blair to quit as Middle East peace envoy over Iraq legacy
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:20
The letter, with signatories including his former ambassador to Iran Sir Richard Dalton and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone '' comes weeks after he published an essay in which he claimed that the 2003 invasion was not to blame for the current crisis.
But the letter rejects this, saying: ''We believe that Mr Blair, as a vociferous advocate of the invasion, must accept a degree of responsibility for its consequences.''
The letter, addressed to foreign ministers in the US, Russia and the EU as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, adds that the former prime minister's achievement as Middle East envoy are ''negligible'' .
Read more: Isis jihadists 'have recruited at least 1,500 young Britons'Islamists sweep towards Baghdad Blair admits 'removal of Saddam' partly to blame for uprisingA spokesperson for Mr Blair's office dismissed the letter, saying: ''These are all people viscerally opposed to Tony Blair with absolutely no credibility in relation to him whatsoever.''
F-Russia / Ukraine / Syria
Be careful of Nukes in Ukraine!
Could start an EU war
Kagans are insane
$200 million for ukraine right sector
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:05
Under the Resolution of the Government, the MIA was allocated 199,281.1 thousand UAH for purchasing personal protective equipment, military vehicles, military uniforms and gear, and items for food service that the Internal Affairs Bodies and the National Guard need.
In particular, the funds were allocated for target purchasing of armoured vehicles of BTR-E class produced in Ukraine, body armour facilities, and active defence facilities (universal KWM-02 armour vests, and WZ2005 composite helmet).
In addition, the funds were allocated for purchasing military uniforms and gear, items for food service, and camouflage uniforms.
The Ministry of Finance was ordered to make these charges from the Reserve Fund of state budget.
SPECIALISTS-'‹Import the law: EU to send Kosovo-style mission to Ukraine '-- RT News
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:23
Published time: June 23, 2014 15:03A checkpoint of the Ukrainian military in Amvrosievka, Donetsk Region (RIA Novosti / Maksim Blinov)
The EU will send a two-year law enforcement mission to Ukraine that will overhaul its police. And the Ukrainian military is to receive assistance from NATO to become a formidable fighting force.
''A political decision has been taken today to send a two-year mission. It will be created immediately and deployed in a short time,'' Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told journalists on Monday on the sideline of an EU ministerial meeting in Luxemburg.
''The mission's goal would be to assist reforms of the interior forces and special services in Ukraine,'' he added.
The minister didn't offer any detail on the number of European specialists to be sent to Ukraine or the scope of their authority.
The EU has experience with sending its officials to have an input on governance practices and reforms in places like Somalia, Congo or Mali. The biggest is the EULEX Kosovo mission, which is second only to Brussels in the number of EU civil servants serving in one place.
Thousands of European police, prosecutors, judges and other officials have been in Serbia's breakaway republic to help it with state building and implementing European standards of law enforcement and justice since 2008 and will remain there until at least 2016, when their current mandate extended in April this year expires.
The EU demands that Ukraine takes reforms in many areas of governance and economy as part of adopting the EU Association Agreement. The loans it is offering to Kiev come with a commitment to carry out austerity reforms.
Earlier NATO announced that it would assist Ukraine in reforming and beefing up its armed forces. Members of the alliance are expected to form a trust fund to finance the process after a meeting in Brussels later this week, according to a Brussels source in the alliance cited Monday by Itar-Tass.
The assistance will not involve supplying weapons to the civil war-torn country, leaving the decision on offering such deals to individual member states.
Kiev is conducting a military crackdown on armed protesters in the east of the country, whom the Ukrainian authorities call terrorists. The campaign did not stop despite a week-long unilateral ceasefire announced last week by President Petro Poroshenko.
The conflict has claimed hundreds of lives, many of the civilians, as Ukrainian troops are using heavy artillery and air strike against militia-held cities.
Albania granted 'EU candidate' status - MaltaToday.com.mt
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:31
The country had already received three rejections since 2009.
EU ministers in Luxembourg Tuesday brought Albania one step closer to EU membership by awarding it official "candidate" status.However, they also warned the Balkan country that much work still lies ahead before it can become a member of the bloc.
The European Commission had already said it merits the step due to internal reforms.
On Twitter, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele described the decision as ''an acknowledgement of reform efforts, encouragement for more."
"It's far from membership, but it's an important step and it's something which Albania has richly deserved," Croatia's EU affairs minister Vesna Pusic said.Albania was expecting the European Union to grant it candidate status Tuesday to join the bloc, after three rejections since 2009.
It is now among eight nations that are candidates or potential candidates to join the EU.
The EU had postponed its decision in December, asking the country to show tangible results in fighting corruption and organized crime, and consolidating the rule of law. Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialist party, which came to power in June 2013, has pledged to push for EU integration.
Candidate status doesn't mean automatic membership. Tirana will have to meet requirements in tackling crime and corruption, and bringing its justice system and administration to European standards.
As part of efforts to show it takes its commitments seriously, Albanian police recently took control of a lawless southern village, a main source of marijuana production, after a four-day gun-battle.
ALBANIA-Trans Adriatic Pipeline: Home
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:30
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is a natural gas pipeline project. The pipeline will start in Greece, cross Albania and the Adriatic Sea and come ashore in southern Italy, allowing gas to flow directly from the Caspian region to European markets.
House votes to speed up exports of natural gas | TheHill
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 04:58
The House on Wednesday passed a bill to expedite applications of liquefied natural gas exports.
Passage of the bill, 266-150, could boost the measure's sponsor, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), in challenging Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for his Senate seat this year.
Udall introduced similar legislation in the Senate earlier this year. Last week, Udall revised his bill to reduce the timeline for DOE to approve liquefied natural gas (LNG) applications from 90 days to 45 days. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is working to set a vote on Udall's bill.
Gardner's bill would expedite liquefied natural gas exports to non-Free Trade Agreement countries such as Ukraine by requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to decide on applications within 30 days after an environmental review of the LNG facilities.
While the Department of Energy recently issued new guidelines for its approval process of export facilities in the U.S., Republicans said more needs to be done.
"The economic impacts alone make natural gas exports a winning policy, but the geopolitical impacts are an incredible benefit as well and have been ignored for far too long. Allies around the world have told us that they would greatly benefit from American LNG," Gardner said.
"It is time to help our friends abroad. It is time to create jobs here at home," Gardner added.
The administration has defended its process for approving applications, and noted that even if applications are processed faster the majority natural gas export facilities in the U.S. won't be ready to ship the product overseas until 2018. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said that speeding up the review process would not necessarily expedite the necessary construction for the projects.
"Rushing the DOE review is not going to speed up the construction of these projects. We need the construction of the infrastructure for the export of natural gas," Waxman said.
Once DOE is done with its environmental review, the bill would give the department 30 days to then approve the export facility, deeming it in the public's best interest.
Calls for more liquefied natural gas exports increased in Congress following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine receives over half of its natural gas supply from Russia, and roughly 16 percent of Europe's natural gas is transported through Ukraine by pipeline.
Putin: US unhappy with South Stream because it wants to deliver gas to Europe '-- RT Business
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:32
Published time: June 24, 2014 19:08This picture taken on October 31, 2013, shows workers welding pipes during the symbolic start of the construction of the Bulgarian section of Russian gas giant Gazprom's South Stream pipeline near the village of Rasovo. (AFP Photo)
The US opposes the Russian South Stream gas pipeline project because it wants to supply gas to Europe itself, President Putin said on Tuesday. He called the situation an "ordinary competitive struggle."
READ MORE: Austria and Russia sign South Stream gas pipeline treaty
''They do everything to disrupt this contract. There is nothing unusual here. This is an ordinary competitive struggle. In the course of this competition, political tools are also being used,'' the Russian president said after holding talks with his Austrian counterpart, President Heinz Fischer, in Vienna.
"We are in talks with our contract partners, not with third parties. That our US friends are unhappy about South Stream, well, they were unhappy in 1962 too, when the gas-for-pipes project with Germany was beginning. Now they are unhappy too, nothing has changed, except the fact that they want to supply to the European market themselves," Putin stated.
Should this happen, American gas ''will not be cheaper than Russian gas '' pipe gas is always cheaper than liquefied gas,'' Putin stressed.
Russia and Austria have signed an agreement to construct the Austrian arm of the US$45 billion South Stream gas pipeline project, which is expected to deliver 32 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to the country, bypassing Ukraine.
But President Putin stressed that Moscow is not bypassing Ukraine for political reasons.
"These are natural steps to expand the transport infrastructure," Putin said. "[Moscow is not] striving to bypass Ukraine."
He reminded that the Nord Stream, South Stream, and Blue Stream projects started a while ago.
"It is wrong to always say that we are doing anything against anyone," Putin noted. He added that Russia, just like its ''partners,'' can and will ''create the most favorable conditions, and have contacts and contracts with many partners.''
Russia will continue ''to promote our product in emerging markets,'' Putin stressed.
At the same time, Austrian President Heinz Fischer hailed the project, calling the South Stream gas pipeline ''expedient'' and ''useful.''
The joint South Stream Austria project will be 50 percent owned by Gazprom '' Russia's largest gas producer '' and 50 percent owned by Austria's OMV Group, the country's largest oil and gas company.
Fischer stated that if anyone criticizes Austria, they should also criticize other member countries and their companies.
''I suppose that there will be no such moment when such a country as Austria will not be holding talks with a partner, which has intense relations with us, and will not be ready to negotiate with it,'' the Austrian leader said.
''We know such a dialogue does not contradict any EU decision,'' he added.
Construction of the Austrian section is expected to begin in 2015. The first deliveries could begin in 2017, reaching full capacity in January 2018.
OMV spokesman Robert Lechner was slightly more optimistic, saying the first South Stream deliveries to Austria could come as early as 2016.
Ukraine parliament to discuss bill to open gas pipelines to EU/U.S. firms
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 09:52
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, June 19Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:02am EDT
KIEV, June 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament agreed on Thursday to discuss a bill to allow gas transit facilities to be leased on a joint venture basis with participation from firms in the European Union or United States.
Ukraine would hold 51 percent and foreign partners would be offered 49 percent in the venture, which would manage both transit pipelines and underground gas storage facilities.
Suffering a third cut-off of natural gas supplies from Russia in under nine years, and with bilateral relations in crisis, Ukraine is desperate to become less dependent on Russian gas, but at the same time to provide more reliable transit for the Russian gas that Europe needs.
The government said the joint venture would bring in investment and remove the need for the South Stream pipeline, which Russia's Gazprom is building to take gas to southeastern Europe across the Black Sea, avoiding Ukraine.
It would also aim to boost Ukraine's capacity to receive "reverse flows" of Russian gas reimported back from EU countries.
"If Europeans join this company, Russia will not build South Stream," Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told parliament. No date was set for discussion of the bill.
South Stream has fallen foul of EU competition authorities, who object to the fact that it will not be open to other gas producers. However, a number of EU countries including Germany, Austria and Bulgaria are strongly in favour, and European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Monday that it was a project the EU could accept.
If it is built, the pipeline threatens to deprive Ukraine's badly strained budget of the transit fees that it currently receives from Russia for gas heading towards Europe.
The EU imports 30 percent of its natural gas needs from Russia, and about half of that comes via Ukraine, with some already having been diverted through the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
Its supplies were briefly cut off in 2006 and 2009 when Ukraine argued with Russia about the price of its gas.
The flow to Ukraine has now been cut off again after Kiev refused to accept a price rise imposed by Russia following the ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich in February.
However, Ukraine, whose new president Petro Poroshenko plans this month to sign the association and free trade agreements with the EU that his predecessor shunned, has continued to allow transit gas to flow normally across its territory.
Oettinger, who has been mediating in the dispute, has said he hopes to bring both sides back to the negotiating table by mid-July.
For its part, the EU has tried to support arrangements for Ukraine to be able to re-import Russian gas back from other parts of eastern Europe, to help it offset in part any disruptions to supplies from Russia.
Ukraine, which consumes about 45 billion cubic metres of gas a year and supplies just less than half that from its own production, has said it expects to receive about 6 bcm in reverse flows from EU countries this year.
Yatseniuk has said total gas volumes shipped to Ukraine from the EU could reach 15 bcm a year.
In April, Germany's RWE began deliveries via Poland under a framework that allows for delivery of up to 10 bcm of gas per year.
And Slovakia has agreed to make technical adjustments to an old unused pipeline so it can ship over 3 bcm of gas a year, rising to up to 10 bcm from next spring. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; writing by Katya Golubkova and Kevin Liffey, editing by David Evans)
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Putin Scores Another Historic Victory: Austria Signs South Stream Pipeline Deal In Defiance Of Europe | Zero Hedge
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:57
As the war of words between Europe and Russia has escalated, one of the outcomes that has emerged is that just like in false flag war over Syria, the Ukraine war was about the simplest possible thing, and yet so very complicate: a gas pipeline. Of course, it was never a secret that the prize in controlling Ukraine was possession of the vast pipeline infrastructure that left Russia and entered Europe, but since it was all Gazprom's gas in the first place, it didn't really matter if Kiev had possession of the gas as it transits to Europe, or if, as the case is now, Ukraine is merely a transit hub with all Russian gas delivered to European countries and none of it staying in the civil war torn country. After all as of this moment Ukraine can't afford any Russian gas, and if it siphons off any of the product destined for Germany and beyond it would simply antagonize its new NATO best friends, who also happen to be Gazprom clients.
No, the pipeline that has emerged with a starring role in the Ukraine conflict has nothing to do with Ukraine, but is a pipeline that crosses several hundred kilometers south of Ukraine - the South Stream project, which leaves the Russian black sea coast south of Crimea, crosses the black sea, and traverses Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and ends up in the gas hub in Baumgarten, Austria from where it proceeds to all points in central Europe, mostly Germany.
The project, which was conceived in 2007, was meant explicitly to bypass Ukraine, and to be an alternative to the now mothballed Nabucco gas pipeline which, with the backing of the US and Europe, would have taken Caspian gas (mainly Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan) and traverse Turkey before emerging in Bulgaria, and then followed the European path of the South Stream into the Austrian hub and beyond.
Not surprisingly, it was the key transit hub of the South Stream, Bulgaria, that started making problems for Putin even as he succeeded in trumping Nabucco (when in June 2013 the CEO of Austrian energy giant OMV, Gerhard Roiss, announced the project as "over" after the Turkish Shah Deniz consortium chose the Trans-Adriatic Pipieline over Nabucco as a gas export route which would supply Italy instead of Austria).
Recall that it was in January, two months before the Ukraine government was overthrown that the prime minister of Bulgaria - a country that has a very distinguished love/hate relationship with Russia (a relationship which the US would love to make more "hate") - Plamen Oresharski, surprisingly ordered a halt to work on the South Stream, on the recommendation of the EU. The decision was announced after his talks with US senators.
"At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."
At the time McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.
"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources - clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT.
It was also in January when EU authorities ordered Bulgaria to suspend construction on its link of the pipeline, which is planned to transport Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and onward to western Europe. Brussels wants the project frozen, pending a decision on whether it violates the EU competition regulations on a single energy market. It believes South Stream does not comply with the rules prohibiting energy producers from also controlling pipeline access.
Therein, of course, lies the rub, because as Europe has learned the hard way so many times, its overrliance on Russia for both the production and the transit of gas means that it has absolutely no leverage over the Kremlin - something recent events in Ukraine have only confirmed.
Putin, earlier today, merely cemented the reality that it is not so much about who controls the energy transit pipelines, but whose influence controls Europe: America's or Russia's. "The US opposes the Russian South Stream gas pipeline project because it wants to supply gas to Europe itself, President Putin said on Tuesday. He called the situation an "ordinary competitive struggle."
''They do everything to disrupt this contract. There is nothing unusual here. This is an ordinary competitive struggle. In the course of this competition, political tools are also being used,'' the Russian president said after holding talks with his Austrian counterpart, President Heinz Fischer, in Vienna.
"We are in talks with our contract partners, not with third parties. That our US friends are unhappy about South Stream, well, they were unhappy in 1962 too, when the gas-for-pipes project with Germany was beginning. Now they are unhappy too, nothing has changed, except the fact that they want to supply to the European market themselves," Putin stated.
Should this happen, American gas ''will not be cheaper than Russian gas '' pipe gas is always cheaper than liquefied gas,'' Putin stressed.
* * *
Which in turn brings us to the culmination of the political struggle over the South Stream, when earlier today, in yet another coup for the Kremlin, one of the most stable and respected European countries, AAA-rated Austria gave its final approval to the "controversial" Russian gas pipeline project early Tuesday, defying EU officials and welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin to the neutral country that has been a long-standing energy customer for Moscow.
As Reuters reports, "the chief executives of Russia's Gazprom and Austria's OMV sealed the deal to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, a staunch defender of the project in the face of opposition from the European Commission."
In other words, one short month after Putin concluded the Holy Grail deal with Beijing, he not only managed to formalize his conquest of Europe's energy needs with yet another pipeline, one which completely bypasses Ukraine (for numerous reasons but mostly one: call it a Plan B), but scored a massive political victory by creating a fissure in the heart of the Eurozone, after Austria openly defied its European peers and sided with Putin.
Needless to say, the European Commission is furious, and is digging in its heels saying South Stream does not comply with EU competition law because it offers no access to third parties. South Stream also, as noted above, counters the EU's policy of diversifying supply sources to reduce dependence on Russia.
But OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss, in a stunning moment of realpolitik clarity and admission that when it comes to the energy future of Europe, Putin is more important than Mario Draghi, told a news conference after the signing: "Europe needs Russian gas. Europe will need more Russian gas in future because European gas production is falling ... I think the European Union understands this, too."
Of course, they do. The only issue is they don't want to admit it because doing so seals Europea's fate as a vassal energy state of Russia. As for Europe's pipedream, pardon the pun, alternative of receiving LNG from the US, it was none other than Cnehiere CEO Charif Souki who said in April, when asked if Cheniere's terminal could rescue eastern European countries from their dependence on Russia, that "It's flattering to be talked about like this, but it's all nonsense. It's so much nonsense that I can't believe anybody really believes it.''
They don't, but it's all politics. And in politics it is all about wielding power, or submitting to it. Austria did the latter today, and by defecting on its European peers, it may have started a process that leads to the splintering of the Eurozone itself, with none other than Vladimir Putin once again pulling the strings.
The project has pitted European industry against politicians in Brussels, and divided South Stream supporters - which stretch from Germany through the heavily Russia-dependent central and southeastern Europe - from other EU member states.
On a one-day working visit to Vienna that drew some criticism in the EU, Putin spoke of close business ties to Austria, the first western European country to sign, in 1968, long-term gas supply deals with Moscow.
He called Austria an "important and reliable" partner for Russia, which is Austria's third-biggest non-EU trading partner after the United States and Switzerland.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer also defended the South Stream project, saying: "No one can explain to me - and I can't explain to the Austrian people - why a pipeline that crosses EU and NATO countries can't go 50 km into Austria."
Oh and for the record, the Austrian president said "He said he opposed sanctions against Moscow"... just in case the next time Europe dares to pass off any Russian sanctions over Ukraine decision as unanimous.
And speaking of Ukraine, things got downright bizarre in Vienna when the head of Austria's chamber of commerce reminded Putin that part of Ukraine had belonged to Austria in 1914. "What is that supposed to mean? What are you proposing?" Putin quipped, eliciting laughter from the business elite. Next thing you know Putin will be joking about annexing Hungary...
And there you have it, just in case it was still unclear: what is happening in Ukraine is all a big joke to the power brokers in Europe, the "business elite" - the decision has long since been made that Putin will see no objection by said elite to whatever his intentions with regard to the irrelevant and civil war-torn country are. Aside, of course, from the token CIA and US theater fit simply for lower common denominator consumption.
The joint South Stream Austria project will be 50 percent owned by Gazprom '' Russia's largest gas producer '' and 50 percent owned by Austria's OMV Group, the country's largest oil and gas company.
Austria's president Fischer stated that if anyone criticizes Austria, they should also criticize other member countries and their companies.
''I suppose that there will be no such moment when such a country as Austria will not be holding talks with a partner, which has intense relations with us, and will not be ready to negotiate with it,'' the Austrian leader said.
''We know such a dialogue does not contradict any EU decision,'' he added. What he meant is that nobody in Europe can tell Putin what to do.
* * *
As for the logistical issues of the pipeline, now that the agreement has been signed, they will all be resolved in due course: Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said earlier he was in weekly if not daily contact with European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger about winning approval for the South Stream project.
"We solve problems as they come up, and now the problem of construction of the pipeline is to be solved," Miller said.
The pipeline deal does not address the question of third-party access, which is required by EU law to prevent the owner of an energy source from monopolising its distribution channels. OMV's Roiss said the issue must be negotiated with Brussels. Roiss said the Austrian part of the pipeline, which is planned to be built in 2016 and deliver its first gas supplies around the start of 2017, would comply fully with European law.
Gazprom and OMV said they would split the 200 million euro ($272 million) costs of building the 50-km (31- mile) Austrian stretch of South Stream, which in total will be 2,446 km long. The total cost of the South Stream pipeline is $40 billion.
At the end of the day it's only capex: money that is more than returned to the investor in the long-run. America may remember capex - it's what companies did before they pushed financial engineering beyond the edge, all in the pursuit of short-term capital appreciation gains. And if Gazprom can't fund it, we are confident China would be delighted to invest in the project by buying a few billion Renminbi-denominated bonds.
* * *
So congratulations to Putin: today he merely further cemented his status as Europe's default energy provider. But not only that. As Reuters noted some politicians have warned that Putin may try to exploit divisions between friendly EU states, such as neutral Austria with its traditionally good ties to Moscow, and those like Britain that want to take a harder line.
"Obviously ... Putin wants to split the European Union. That's nothing new. That's what the Russians always try to do when they are in a corner," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Monday.
Well, Mr. Bildt, Russia certainly succeeded in sowing the seeds of even more discord in the European Union, whose most stable country just sided with Putin and told all of its European "partners", Merkel and Cameron included, a big fuck you. As for your completely wrong remark about just who is "in the corner" we will let it slip: after all, as that other European career politician Jean-Claude Juncker taught us, when it gets serious, you have to lie.
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June 17-18: Kiev set to bomb E.Ukraine to the ground, set up filtration camps - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:08
I am a US citizen who wishes Mr. Putin would punish Right Sector for their lawlessness in the Eastern Ukraine. I will keep reading your articles every day.
Hoss Irving, USA
* * *
It makes me really sick neo-Nazis living thousands of miles away travel to Eastern Ukraine to kill Ukrainian citizens that are in favour of a federalized Ukraine or of their independence.
Someone needs to do something about. Like collect all the evidence of war crimes committed by the Kiev junta and take it to the Hague or UN. The US government should be condemned for this.
Hans von der Heyde,
* * *
Russia, justified by those who know true situation in cutting gas, provided plenty of opportunities for Ukraine to settle.
What is a puzzle is why the video showing water being cut off to Crimea is not sent to all major media outlets worldwide. Water deprivation is never allowed according to Geneva convention and all ICC rules. Major flaw in Ukraine politics.
Hope that water issue gains exposure in TV, internet, newspaper articles.
Janet Jacoby, USA
* * *
I need a ship-to address that is reliable and in position for best international shipping for a parcel for the Eastern Ukrainian refugees.
David Stewart, USA
* * *
Just read an article on how the Kiev junta wants to set up filtration (concentration) camps for people who don't agree with the regime.
It seems that if this [civil war] goes on long enough Donetsk and Lugansk will be bombed to the ground and who knows how many more lives will be lost. I don't think Poroshenko cares because he knows the Americans would like to put their missiles close to the Russian border in the bombed out area. It is a gruesome and unbelievable situation because you can't even get a UN that is neutral to go in and put a stop to this because they are controlled by the Americans. Well I have faith that the President and those at the top know more than I do and are ready to the right thing at the right time and hopefully with the least bloodshed.
Steve Wojcyk, Canada
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Don't Get Too Excited About Ukraine's New 'Peace Plan' | VICE News
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:08
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko made a surprise visit to Eastern Ukraine on Friday, where he announced a unilateral ceasefire and a 14-point peace plan meant to quell unrest in the region and turn the tide of the bloody conflict that has raged there since April.
Except the plan is not really meant to do any of that. The first clue that the ceasefire won't hold is that it's unilateral, meaning the pro-Russia militants the Ukrainian army is fighting haven't actually agreed to it. So it's just as well that in his orders to stop shooting, Poroshenko added a caveat that essentially boils down to, ''You can keep shooting.''
Here's how the first sentence of the statement on the official website of the presidential administration reads: ''Petro Poroshenko ordered a ceasefire in the east of the country, which will last from 10pm, June 20 to 10am, June 27.''
Great, but then there's the fine print at the bottom: ''In case an armed assault is carried out against Ukrainian forces or the civilian population, our military will open fire.''
So what about the Peace Plan component of the deal? Poroshenko has given security guarantees to all those involved in negotiations, and immunity from prosecution for all those who have taken up arms. Except no one on the rebel side is involved in negotiations, and immunity is only guaranteed to those who haven't committed ''serious crimes.''
Poroshenko's peace plan is an attempt to retake the moral high ground in the eyes of his people and the international community.
So any rebels who have taken up arms but haven't fired them in anger seem to be in the clear '-- but it doesn't look like the rest have a terribly huge incentive to put down their weapons.
Why has Poroshenko even announced this peace deal, which the rebels have had no hand in and which the Kremlin has already called ''an ultimatum to the rebels in southeastern Ukraine to disarm?''
Public relations.
Ukraine doesn't control its border with Russia in the east and blames Russia for sending arms and mercenaries across its frontier into the fight. The Ukrainian Interior Minister's latest photo post on Facebook about captured Russian arms featured an armored personnel carrier with documentation allegedly linking it to an army base in Russia. That's why point No. 4 of the peace plan, which calls for the creation of a six-mile buffer zone along the border, looks more like a military objective than an olive branch.
At the same time, Russia has repeatedly called for Ukraine to withhold fire and pull its troops out of the east of the country to spare the lives of civilians and rebels, who according to Russia have legitimate grievances against the central authorities in Kiev. This posturing is helping Russia win the propaganda war at home, if not in Ukraine and abroad.
Poroshenko's peace plan is an attempt to retake the moral high ground in the eyes of both his own people and the international community. Now, every pot shot that is taken against Ukrainian troops after 10pm tonight is an example of the pro-Russia separatists' unwillingness to give peace a chance.
So don't expect peace to break out in eastern Ukraine anytime soon. The likelihood is that the Ukrainian military will intensify its operations against the rebels '-- but with an added sense of moral superiority.
Follow Simon Ostrovsky on Twitter: @SimonOstrovsky
Putin welcomes Kiev's ceasefire, calls for urgent dialogue with east '-- RT News
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:07
Published time: June 21, 2014 16:53Edited time: June 21, 2014 17:41This combo of file pictures shows Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko, RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the ceasefire announced by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko. However, for the plan to become ''realistic,'' Putin said both sides of the Ukrainian conflict must stop the fighting and sit down for talks.
Putin ''supports'' Poroshenko's decision for a ''cease fire in the south-eastern Ukraine, and his pronounced intention to take some concrete steps for achieving peaceful settlement,'' a statement published on the Kremlin website said on Saturday.
With that, the Russian President notes the 15-point peace plan suggested by Poroshenko on Friday ''will not be viable and realistic'... without practical actions aimed at the start of the negotiations process.''
Putin called on both Kiev and anti-government forces to ''halt any battle actions and sit down at the negotiating table.''
He also noted that the Friday incident, when a Russian checkpoint came under fire from the Ukrainian side after the ceasefire was announced was ''unacceptable.''
READ MORE: Hundreds of E.Ukrainian refugees in firing line on Russian border
The Russian leader urged Poroshenko to use the opportunity for reaching ''political compromises'' with eastern Ukrainians, adding that the peace plan ''should not be an ultimatum by nature.''
Earlier on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is concerned that the announcement of the peace plan for eastern Ukraine has coincided with Kiev ramping up its military activities in the region.
The fact that Poroshenko's plan does not include negotiations is a ''radical deviation'' from the Geneva agreements on Ukraine, Lavrov added.
''Everyone will be watching the Western sponsors of the Kiev authorities, who took responsibility for the coup and for the preparation of the presidential elections that followed. Now this responsibility should probably be realized in some concrete steps, which will bring the situation back to the framework of the Geneva April 17 manifest and will allow for equitable dialog on constitutional reform and on resolving the crisis in general to be started with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine,'' Lavrov said.
Poroshenko on Friday rolled out a 15-point peace plan and said that Kiev will halt its offensive for a week, during which the Ukrainian troops will open fire only if they come under attack. He warned, however, that the ceasefire must be used by the anti-government activists as an opportunity to disarm, threatening that those who do not comply ''will be destroyed.''
The peace plan offered amnesty and safe passage for the anti-Kiev fighters who ''have not committed grave crimes'' and promised ''steps for decentralization of power'' in the region, including the amendment of the Constitution. It also suggested a 10-kilometer "buffer zone'' on the Russian-Ukrainian border to be created, which would be ''jointly patrolled.''
The self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics responded by saying they will not lay down arms unless the Ukrainian forces leave the region.
ITAR-TASS: Russia - MPs praise Putin's request to have permission to use Russian army in Ukraine revoked
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:06
MOSCOW, June 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin's initiative to have the parliament's permission to use the Russian army in Ukraine revoked confirms Moscow's desire to peacefully settle the Ukrainian crisis, a senior Russian lawmaker from the lower house of parliament said Tuesday.''We hope and believe that the negotiating process that started the day before in Donetsk will at least de-escalate violence and stop fire,'' Leonid Slutsky, the head of the State Duma committee on CIS affairs, Eurasian integration and ties with compatriots, told journalists.
CIS stands for the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose association of former Soviet republics.
In this ''system of coordinates,'' Slutsky continued, ''the permission by the Federation Council is a powerful irritant for the global community.''
''In a situation when the likelihood of the use of the Russian Federation's armed forces in Ukraine is rather minimized, the head of state believes it is possible to ask the Federation Council to revoke its permission,'' he said.
Putin earlier on Tuesday suggested that the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, cancel its resolution authorizing the use of Russia's armed forces in crisis-gripped Ukraine, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
''In connection with the start of three-party talks on this issue [settlement of the situation in Ukraine's eastern regions] the head of state submitted to the Federation Council a proposal on cancelation of the Federation Council's resolution of March 1, 2014 No. 48-FZ on the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine,'' Peskov told ITAR-TASS.
He said Putin, prior to his departure for Vienna on an official visit on Tuesday, addressed a relevant letter to Valentina Matviyenko, Federation Council Speaker. The move is designed to normalize the situation in Ukraine's East.
The parliamentary permission for Putin to use Russia's armed forces in Ukraine authorized him to use the army ''on the territory of Ukraine until the public and political situation normalizes in the country.''It was given on Putin's request ''proceeding from the interests of security of Russian Federation citizens, our compatriots and personnel of the military contingent of the Russian armed forces stationed in line with an international treaty on the [then-] territory of Ukraine [Autonomous Republic of Crimea]'' and under Russia's Constitution.
Another lawmaker, the head of the State Duma security committee, Irina Yarovaya, said on Tuesday that Putin's proposal had from the start been designed to ''ensure security and constrain the military conflict.''
Yarovaya said ''Russia has been holding the position that the Ukrainian leadership should provide the legal groundwork for the entire set of measures to ensure security of both our compatriots and all Ukrainian nationals.''
''Russia's entire diplomatic resource is aimed at observation by Ukraine of the international law norms to protect human rights and peacefully settle all issues in line with the law,'' she said.
The Federation Council will consider Putin's request at Wednesday's plenary session, a source who took part in the upper house's meeting has told ITAR-TASS.
Ukraine has been in turmoil after a coup occurred in the country in February and new people were brought to power amid riots. Then-President Viktor Yanukovych had to leave Ukraine for security reasons.
Crimea, where most residents are Russians, did not recognize the legitimacy of the coup-imposed authorities who often expressed ultranationalist views.
Crimea adopted a declaration of independence on March 11. It held a referendum on March 16, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and reunify the Russian Federation after some 60 years as part of Ukraine. Putin signed the reunification deals March 18.Some Russian officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes, following Crimea's incorporation by Russia.
The West led by the United States has repeatedly threatened Russia with further penalties for Moscow's position on Ukraine but Russia has rejected the threats, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western countries.
After Crimea's incorporation by Russia, protests against the coup-imposed Kiev authorities erupted in Ukraine's Russian-speaking southeastern regions, with demonstrators demanding referendums on the country's federalization.
Kiev's punitive operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine's Southeast involving armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation has killed hundreds of people, including civilians, left buildings destroyed and damaged and forced tens of thousands to flee Ukraine.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which border on Russia, held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. South Ossetia recognized the independence of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) on June 18. No other countries have followed suit so far.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who won the May 25 early presidential election in Ukraine and took office on June 7, announced a ceasefire in Ukraine's embattled Southeast from June 20 until June 27. He also presented a peace plan to settle the situation in the Southeast during his first working trip to the Donetsk Region.Despite periodical reports that the ceasefire has been violated by Kiev, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Prime Minister Alexander Borodai said Monday, June 23, after talks on implementation of Poroshenko's peace plan, that militias in Ukraine's embattled Southeast agreed to the ceasefire until June 27.
US unlocks military aid to Egypt, backing President Sisi.
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:09
22 June 2014Last updated at 17:44 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
US Secretary of State Kerry: "We want to contribute to the success of Egypt"
The US has revealed it has released $575m (£338m) in military aid to Egypt that had been frozen since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi last year.
The news came as Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo just two weeks after former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as president.
After talks with the new leader, Mr Kerry stressed the importance of upholding the rights of all Egyptians.
Mr Sisi won May elections, vowing to tackle "terrorism" and bring security.
The retired field marshal overthrew Mr Morsi last July amid mass protests against his rule.
He has since been pursuing a crackdown on Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which urged a boycott of the 26-28 May elections. Liberal and secular activists also shunned the poll in protest at the curtailing of civil rights.
'Difficult years of transition'State department officials said the military aid was released to the authorities in Cairo about 10 days ago, after getting a green light from Congress.
The funds - from the annual $1.5bn of chiefly military aid - will mainly be used to pay existing defence contracts.
Continue reading the main storyFor Egypt, this is a moment of high stakes and also a big opportunity''
End QuoteJohn KerryUS Secretary of StateThe US also promised it would provide 10 Apache attack helicopters for use by the army against militants in the Sinai peninsula.
"The Apaches will come and they will come very, very soon," John Kerry said at joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart.
In "candid" talks with President Sisi on a broad range of issues, Mr Kerry "emphasised also our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association."
He also pledged that Washington would "stand with the Egyptian people in their fight for the future they want."
"For Egypt, this is a moment of high stakes and also a big opportunity," Mr Kerry said, acknowledging that a number of promises by Egyptian leaders "are yet to be fulfilled".
"After three difficult years of transition, the United States remains deeply committed to seeing Egypt succeed," he said.
Mr Kerry arrived in Cairo on an unannounced visit on Sunday, the most senior US official there since the election.
Egypt remains a strategic ally for Washington, and Mr Kerry's visit so soon after Mr Sisi's inauguration shows the US is still keen to engage actively and early on with the new president in the hope it will make a difference, says the BBC's Kim Ghattas, who is travelling with Mr Kerry.
But our correspondent says that the last time Mr Kerry was in Cairo in November his advice was ignored.
Washington fears that the winner-takes-all attitude to politics in the region, from Egypt to Iraq is feeding instability, she adds.
Who is Egypt's new president?
Born in Cairo in 1954 Had long military career, latterly specialising mainly in military intelligence Appointed army chief under Mohammed Morsi Key figure in interim government after ousting Morsi in July 2013 Profile: Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
EGYPT RUBBELIZATION ON DECK?-Israel should back Mahmoud Abbas to deter ISIS - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 21:38
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis and Israeli President Shimon Peres arrive in the Vatican Gardens to pray together at the Vatican, June 8, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Max Rossi)
Author: Akiva Eldar Posted June 25, 2014
The takeover of western and northwestern Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and its entrenchment in northwest Syria are turning the Syrian-Iraqi arena into the main combat zone between Sunni radicalism and Shiite radicalism in the Muslim world. At this stage it's hard to assess whether ISIS will manage to govern the extensive regions it has taken over, or whether Iranian intervention and perhaps even involvement by Hezbollah will manage to block this extreme Sunni faction. Either way, the region is now on a slippery abyssal slope. The jihadist extremists exploited the weakness of the central governments in their failing and divided states.
Summary'Ž Print While the United States and Europe try to strengthen moderate Arab countries as a counterbalance to global jihad extremists in Iraq and elsewhere, Israel continues to diminish moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.AuthorAkiva EldarPosted June 25, 2014Translator(s)Ruti Sinai
One does not need a particularly rich imagination to guess the implications of an ISIS takeover of one of the many holy Shiite sites along the length and breadth of Iraq, and what a god-awful tumult will ensue if ISIS fighters destroy the sacred Shiite site at Samarra, as extremists did in 2006 triggering the Iraqi civil war. Samarra may hold additional significance for ISIS as the birthplace of the organization's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and is a stone's throw from the area controlled by his forces.
ISIS is riding the wave of the stinging failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in governing Egypt, Tunisia and Gaza. In Syria, too, the global jihad has pushed the Muslim Brotherhood into a corner. Middle East scholar Matti Steinberg pointed out to Al-Monitor that the Arabic name of the ''Regional Islamic Caliphate,'' which global jihad wishes to establish, includes the term ''Iraq and al-Sham,'' which incorporates not just Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, but Jordan and Palestine as well.
Researchers at the Institute for National Strategic Studies point to Jordan, Israel's immediate neighbor, as being one of ISIS' next targets. The commander of the ISIS forces in the Iraqi city of Mosul has announced his intention to invade Jordan and eliminate King Abdullah II. Jihad organization activists are infiltrating Jordan en masse under the cover of waves of refugees and along the supply and aid routes for the Syrian rebels that run through Jordan. Some million Syrian and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees are forming an economic and demographic pressure cooker that threatens to explode at any moment all over the royal house.
The institute's senior researchers warn that if the global jihad takes control of Jordan, it could reach the West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula and from there penetrate Israel. Indeed, an al-Qaeda/global jihad cell from East Jerusalem and Jenin planned to hook up this year with the organization's militants in Syria to carry out suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The researchers also point to the threat to Israel from Jabhat al-Nusra, whose people are active along the border with Jordan as well as on the Syrian Golan Heights alongside the Islamic Front fighters.
To prevent Jordan from falling into the hands of these terror organizations, the institute's experts recommend a ''joint US-European effort (with low-profile Israeli involvement) to strengthen Jordan both economically and militarily.'' In addition, they suggest that the United States work toward strengthening the players identified as the ''moderate camp,'' which objects to global jihad, and establish channels of cooperation among the members of this camp.
One need not be a senior researcher at a prestigious institute to understand that the moderate camp that the United States must strengthen includes the Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.
And what, in their opinion, should Israel contribute to the joint US-European effort to strengthen this camp? Several thousand more houses in the settlements? How is it supposed to ''prepare for a scenario of events spilling over across its border,'' as they write in their position paper? A few more Palestinians killed?
The medication prescribed by the national defense experts faithfully reflects the views of Israel's diplomatic-defense establishment. They urge an increase in intelligence on ISIS and its ties with organizations operating within Israel's borders, to prevent the penetration of Islamic-jihadist elements into the Palestinian Authority and the establishment there of ISIS infrastructure. They also propose that Israel ''contribute to the effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority's governability, security and economy.'' How long can one contribute to the ''security governance'' of an authority under occupation? To what extent can one tend to its ''economic governance'' without providing it with a diplomatic horizon?
Just as happened in Syria and in Iraq, and absent a savior, the moderate (Sunni) Palestinians will walk away from the political arena and dismantle the Palestinian Authority. Its collapse is expected to have implications for Jordan, and the entry of ISIS into Jordan figures now more than ever before at the top of Israel's security-establishment worry list. Those who did not want the PLO got Hamas. Those who did not want Hamas were left with Iran on one side and al-Qaeda on the other. Anyone who believes in the status quo or in unilateral solutions that will perpetuate the occupation at al-Aqsa and the Cave of the Patriarchs will find global jihad there as well.
On June 22, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his fear of the possibility that the United States will collaborate with Iran to block ISIS' takeover of Iraq and of Syria. In an interview with NBC, Netanyahu explained that Iran and ISIS are sworn enemies of the United States '-- and of Israel, of course. "When your enemies are fighting each other, don't strengthen either one of them," he said, adding that one must "weaken both." And whom do you need to strengthen? The answer lies with Netanyahu.
Israel cannot do its part just by giving the Americans advice and berating the Europeans. The malicious rejoicing over US President Barack Obama's predicament in Iraq is the joy of a poor man doing nothing. Israel cannot bury its head in the sand and ignore the storm brewing in its neighborhood.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who arrogantly defined Israel as ''a villa in a jungle,'' refused to understand that for 47 years, Israel has been the one imposing the laws of the jungle on millions of people devoid of basic rights.
Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps raising the fences surrounding the ''villa'' and the walls of fear of the ''jungle.'' He refuses to understand that no wall can ensure that the jungle will not encroach into the villa.
Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/isis-syria-gaza-hezbollah-abbas.html
Follow the Pipes
East African nations seek consultant for crude oil pipeline | Reuters
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:10
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have invited bids for a single consultant to oversee a feasibility study and initial design for the construction of a 1,300-kilometre (808-mile) oil pipeline to transport crude to the Kenyan coast.
Uganda and Kenya have discovered commercial quantities of oil and plan to start production in the next three years or so.
Kenya's Ministry of Energy and Petroleum said in addition to the pipeline, the consultant would be required to oversee the construction of a fibre optic cable from Hoima in Uganda through the Lokichar basin in northwest Kenya to Lamu, and tank terminals in Hoima, Lokichar and Lamu.
It said in an advertisement published in Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper that will also involve the construction of a 9-km pipeline from the Lamu tank terminal to an offshore mooring buoys.
''The pipeline is to be developed as a single project but split into two lots namely Hoima to the Uganda/Kenya border and from the border to Lamu,'' the ministry said, adding that interested companies and consortia had until July 25 to submit proposals.
The ministry's principal secretary, Joseph Njoroge, said this month the aim of having a single consultant for the whole project was to ensure consistency in the quality of the whole pipeline. [ID:nL6N0OL2SY]
East Africa has become potentially lucrative for international oil firms after Kenya and Uganda's commercial oil finds and discoveries of gas off the coast of Tanzania and Mozambique.
Tullow Oil and Africa Oil, which control blocks in Kenya, have estimated discoveries in the South Lokichar basin at 600 million barrels, a level experts say is enough to make a pipeline viable even without Uganda.
The two companies said on Tuesday they had found additional oil and gas reserves at their northwest Kenya blocks.[ID:nFWN0OZ03Z]
Uganda estimates it has oil reserves of 3.5 billion barrels.
The plan for a single consultant and transaction adviser was approved by the governments of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Burundi in early May. Those countries make up the East African Community, although South Sudan is still only an applicant to join the group.
Kenya's plans for oil production have moved fast since Tullow and Africa Oil's first discoveries were announced in March 2012.
In contrast, neighbouring Uganda struck oil in the Albertine rift basin in 2006 but commercial production has been delayed by wrangling with oil firms over Uganda's plans for a refinery and other factors and is not expected until 2016 at the earliest.
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 05:42
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BP says to sign $20bn gas supply contract with China
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:10
BP says to sign $20bn gas supply contract with China/AFP
MOSCOW, June 17- British energy giant BP will sign a long-term deal with Chinese state owned peer CNOOC in London on Tuesday to supply China with liquefied natural gas, BP chief executive Bob Dudley said.
The LNG deal, worth around $20 billion (14.75 billion euros) over 20 years, will be signed in front of Prime Minister David Cameron and Premier Li Keqiang during the Chinese leader's three day visit to Britain, Dudley said on the sidelines of an oil conference in Moscow.
''BP will be signing an agreement today in front of the Chinese premier and David Cameron in agreement with CNOOC,'' Dudley told reporters at the World Petroleum Congress.
''The project has a value over the term of the contract of around $20 billion.''
''It's a 20 year supply agreement of LNG to CNOOC to take it into southeast China. It is a big deal, a fair price for them, a fair price for us and a good bridge between the UK and China in terms of trade,'' he said.
British media reported that Royal Dutch Shell would also be signing a deal with CNOOC on Tuesday.
David Muir to take over ABC World News anchor desk | abc11.com
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 14:30
ABC News announced new roles Wednesday for Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos and David Muir.Sawyer will lead new programming focusing on big issues and news-making interviews, Stephanopoulos will add Chief Anchor of ABC News to his "Good Morning America" and "This Week" duties, and Muir will become Anchor and Managing Editor of World News starting September 2.
In a news release, ABC News President James Goldston said Sawyer started a conversation last year about one day stepping away from World News and "devoting her boundless energy full time to a team which will create and commission original reporting, big ideas and interviews for all platforms."
"As much as she loved leading World News to new heights - with so much important, brilliant and impactful reporting and a number one finish in the May sweep - Diane decided that now is the moment to concentrate full time on tackling big issues in new ways," said Goldston.
Goldston said Stephanopoulos will be the lead anchor for major special events and breaking news at ABC.
And Muir will also continue to anchor 20/20 with Elizabeth Vargas and will play a key role in covering the biggest breaking news events as they happen.
"David has made his reputation reporting from the ground on every big story of recent times, and we know that when the big stories happen, wherever they happen, David will be there for us and our audience," said Goldston.
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David Muir - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 21:43
David Muir (born November 8, 1973) is an American journalist and anchor for ABC News, the news division of the ABC broadcast-television network based in New York City. Muir serves as the weekend anchor for the flagship ABC News broadcast World News and co-anchor of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20. In addition, Muir is a principal substitute for World News with Diane Sawyer on weeknights and will succeed Sawyer in September 2014. While at ABC News, David Muir has won multiple Emmy awards and Edward R. Murrow awards for his reporting both overseas and in the United States.
Muir is one of the most visible American journalists and the most used reporter in the history of ABC News. According to the Tyndall Report, his reporting received the most airtime in both 2011 and 2012.[1]TV Week has called him one of the "12 to Watch in TV News"[2] and TMZ, a celebrity news website, has called him "the Brad Pitt of News Anchors".[3]
Personal life[edit]Muir was born in Syracuse, New York, on November 8, 1973. He grew up in Onondaga Hill, a village southwest of Syracuse. Muir has one older sibling. He graduated from Onondaga Junior-Senior High School in 1991 and attended Park School of Broadcasting at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1995.[4] While in college, Muir also attended the Institute on Political Journalism at the Fund for American Studies at Georgetown University and studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain.[4] Muir is fluent in Spanish. Muir delivered the commencement address at Ithaca College in May 2011, during which he urged graduates to use their voices.[5] Muir has never been married. He lives in Manhattan.
WTVH television[edit]From 1995 to 2000, Muir worked as an anchor and reporter at WTVH television in Syracuse. His reports from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Israel, and the Gaza Strip following the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin earned him top honors from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.[citation needed] The Associated Press honored him for Best Enterprise Reporting and Best Television Interview.[citation needed] The Syracuse Press Club recognized him as anchor of the "Best Local Newscast" and he was voted one of Syracuse's "Best Local News Anchors".
WCVB television[edit]From 2000 to 2003, Muir was an anchor and reporter for WCVB television in Boston. There he won the regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting and the National Headliner Award and Associated Press honors for his work tracing the path of the hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks.[6] The Associated Press also recognized his news-anchoring and reporting.[7]
ABC News[edit]In August 2003, Muir joined ABC News as anchor of the overnight news program World News Now. Since March 2007, he has been the anchor of World News Saturday. In 2007 and occasionally thereafter, he co-anchored the newsmagazine Primetime. In February 2011, Muir was promoted to anchor both weekend newscasts and the broadcast was named "World News With David Muir". Muir has been credited with a rise in the ratings on the weekend evening broadcasts.[8] In February 2013, Muir was promoted to co-anchor ABC's 20/20 with Elizabeth Vargas.
In August 2005, Muir was inside the New Orleans Superdome as Hurricane Katrina hit and stayed in New Orleans to report on the unfolding humanitarian crisis. His reports revealed the deteriorating conditions inside the Convention Center and Charity Hospital, as Muir and his photographer waded through chest-deep waters for blocks to find patients trapped inside the hospital.[4]
Muir reported from the Israeli-Lebanon border in August 2006 on the Israeli war with Hezbollah.
Muir was in Gaza in June 2007 to cover the Hamas coup, reporting from inside the Gaza Strip.[4] In August 2007, Muir was dispatched to Peru after the worst earthquake in that country in more than three decades.
In March 2008, he reported from Ukraine more than two decades after the Chernobyl nuclear accident. In April 2009, Muir and Diane Sawyer reported a '20/20' hour about guns in America getting "disturbing results" as described by the NY Daily News.[9]
In March 2009, Muir reporting on "20/20" revealed the huge increase in the number of homeless children in America. Muir made several trips to the Gulf of Mexico to investigate the BP oil spill.
In 2010, Muir reported from Haiti after the earthquake. Muir returned to report on the attacks against women and on the unfolding mental health crisis in Port-au-Prince.[4]
In 2011, Muir reported from Tahrir Square during the political revolution in Egypt and from Fukushima, Japan following the deadly tsunami and nuclear power plant accident. Muir wrote about his reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia and his subsequent return, "Inside Somalia's Crippling Famine", for the Daily Beast.[10] Muir also anchored several hours of the tragedy in Newtown as it unfolded, and then reported from the scene as President Obama visited the town. Muir also reported from the movie theater mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado; from Joplin, Missouri in the aftermath of a destructive tornado; and from Tucson, Arizona after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that left six others dead.[4]
In 2012, Muir served as one of ABC's lead correspondents for the 2012 U.S. Presidential election. His interviews with Republican candidate Mitt Romney[11] generated national headlines on the issues of taxes and immigration policy in the United States.[12] Muir's Emmy-nominated Made In America series on the American economy is a continuing feature on Sawyer's broadcast. Muir has brought the series to other television programs including ABC's The View, where he has served as guest co-host.[13]
In February 2013, Muir reported from inside Iran leading up to the nuclear talks.[14] He was the first American journalist to report from Mogadishu, Somalia on the famine.[15] Muir and his team came under fire while reporting from Mogadishu. In 2013, he received Edward R. Murrow award for his work.
On June 25, 2014, ABC News announced that Muir would succeed Diane Sawyer as anchor and managing editor of ABC World News. Muir will make his debut broadcast on September 2, 2014.
References[edit]^"ABC's David Muir Was The Most-Used Reporter On Broadcast News In 2012". Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^"12 to Watch in TV News". TV Week. December 17, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^"David Muir -- Brokaw, Eat Your Heart Out!". TMZ. March 11, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^ abcdef"David Muir, February 14, 2013". ABC News. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^Davis, Keith. "ABC News Anchor David Muir Urges Ithaca College Graduates to Find Their Own Voices". News Releases. Ithaca College. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^Ford, David (February 20, 2013). "ABC News Anchor David Muir Reports from Iran". ABC News. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^"News Correspondents: David Muir". ABC Medianet. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Accessed February 6, 2010.^Fung, Katherine (August 24, 2011). "'ABC World News With David Muir' Sees Ratings Improvement". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^Huff, Richard (April 9, 2009). "ABC News gets disturbing results with 'If Only I Had a Gun'". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^Muir, David (August 8, 2011). "Inside Somalia's Crippling Famine". Daily Beast. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^"David Muir Mitt Romney Interview". ABC News. July 29, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^Little, Morgan (July 29, 2012). "Romney unsure if he's paid less than a 13.9% tax rate in the past". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2014. ^"David Muir Brings 'Made in America' Gifts to 'The View'". January 25, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2013. ^Ford, David (February 20, 2013). "ABC News Anchor David Muir Reports from Iran". ABC News. Retrieved February 2, 2014. ^Fung, Katherine (July 28, 2011). "ABC's David Muir On Famine In Somalia: 'It's Heartbreaking'". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2014. External links[edit]
New Gmail API: An Email Standard Power Grab? | Acompli
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:53
Written by Javier Soltero, June 25, 2014
Today at Google I/O, sandwiched somewhere between smart watches and health monitoring technology, Google announced a new REST API for accessing Gmail. Their choice to highlight an API during their keynote reinforces the strategic importance of Gmail to the company as it continues to aggressively acquire a user base across both consumer and enterprise audiences.
Google's choice to mention it in the keynote, as did Apple in its WWDC keynote, sparked some interesting conversation at Acompli. Our initial reaction was something like ''HUZZAH! NO MORE WHACKY gIMAP!''
But the joy quickly faded as we dug into the specifics. The most obvious question was ''Well, what's changed here? Is this the go-forward API for Gmail/Google Apps?'' The quick answer: No. Not yet, at least. This new API is not rich enough to support the capabilities that make Acompli possible. Google clearly includes the ''smoking Gmail API Note'' in their developer documentation:
Elsewhere on the Internet, the discussion inevitably turned to the issue of standards and how this move represents a move in the wrong direction in preserving the ubiquity of access to email services built on things like IMAP, SMTP, POP3 (gasp!) and a few others.
So, is this a good thing? In short, yes, but it highlights the false promise of the role standards play in the retrieval of email messages. Email standards are the reason why it remains one of the most important and heavily used communications medium in the world. The standards evolved from the early days of the Internet as a set of rules that enable messages to be delivered across arbitrarily complex networks. Unfortunately those standards, and specifically the ones related to retrieving mail (such as IMAP), are quaint by comparison to most APIs developers use these days. Even worse, the standards themselves are all colored with extra elements that make them fundamentally incompatible with each other. In plain English, it means that a Gmail IMAP client and a Yahoo IMAP client are significantly different even though they are both built on a standard.
Fortunately, users don't care about this kind of stuff. People assume that developers will build email clients and services that can connect to email providers using whatever magic is required, even if it is not built on a standard. The thing they do care about is making sure a message gets delivered and that the recipient can retrieve and read that message. This leads us to the one standard that really does matter: SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol). This standard is responsible for ensuring that email systems can talk to each other and route messages appropriately. It is the binding agreement we all share that makes electronic mail universally reliable and ubiquitous.
Google's choice to make their Gmail service more accessible to developers through a proprietary API will definitely lead to more innovative uses of email data and possibly new client experiences. This is most certainly a good thing for users, especially since we all depend on email in one way or another. It doesn't, however, affect the fundamental way in which email travels from one point of the Internet to the other.
The opportunity for dominant email platforms like Gmail and Exchange is to focus on opening up access to developers to build differentiated, powerful experiences that work with the vast amounts of great data in email. If this means the introduction of new APIs, then great. Much like the telephone system and the diversity of handsets and PBXs, there's ample opportunity to innovate on how users access communication mediums without fundamentally altering the open way in which calls are routed from one system to another. Any step towards making email a more developer-friendly and accessible medium is a step in the right direction, especially for us here at Acompli. Now all we need is for Microsoft to follow suit and simplify and unify their myriad API options for Exchange and Office 365 so we can build even more interesting capabilities with their platform as well.
Introduction - Gmail API '-- Google Developers
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:46
The Gmail API is a RESTful API that can be used to access Gmail mailboxes and send mail. The API can be used by Gmail and Google Apps users alike as an alternative to IMAP. It is intended primarily for programmatic, batch mailbox access as a web service.
The API supports many of the basic operations available through the Gmail user interface like reading, composing, and sending mail. It also lets you manage labels on threads and messages and query for specific messages and threads.
ContentsAPI overviewKey resource typesAuth and the Gmail APIScopesExample use caseCommon usesSending Gmail messagesFetching received emailsMail change historyLabel managementAPI overviewThe Gmail API is a web service: it uses a RESTful API with a JSON payload. This section provides a general overview of the API features and their use. For detailed information on the API's resources and methods, refer to the Gmail API reference.
Key resource typesThe Gmail API provides five primary resource types:
Messages and labels are the basic units of a mailbox. Drafts, history, and threads all contain one or more messages with additional metadata.
Messages are immutable: they can only be created and deleted. No message properties can be changed other than the labels applied to a given message.
Labels serve as the primary means of categorizing and organizing messages and threads. A label has a many-to-many relationship with messages and threads: a single message may have multiple labels applied to it and a single label may be applied to multiple messages or threads. Labels also come in two types: system and user. System labels, such as INBOX, TRASH, or SPAM, are internally created and cannot be created, deleted, or modified. However, some system labels, such as INBOX, can be applied to or removed from messages and threads. User labels can be added, deleted, or modified by the user or an application.
Drafts represent unsent messages. The messages themselves cannot be modified once created, but the message contained within the draft may be replaced. Sending a draft automatically deletes the draft and creates a message with the SENT system label.
History is a collection of recently modified messages in chronological order. While the history is intended as a lightweight method of synchronizing a client, it typically only contains records of changes within the past 30 days. In some cases, such as when a client becomes too out of date, the client should manually synchronize.
Threads are collections of messages that represent a conversation. Like messages, threads may also have labels applied to them. However, unlike messages, threads cannot be created, only deleted. Messages can, however, be inserted into a thread.
Auth and the Gmail APILike other Google REST APIs, the Gmail API uses OAuth 2.0 to handle authentication and authorization. Your app will specify one or more scopes: strings which identify resources that it needs to access. These scopes are used together with a set of tokens to secure a user's access to resources. A scope represents a particular form of access to a single resource or to a group of resources, for example:
Read a message from Gmail (https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.readonly)Change labels applied to a thread or message (https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.modify)Send a message on behalf of a user (https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.componse)Although you can code the web service authorization calls explicitly, you normally should simplify your app by using the Google API client libraries available for many programming languages.
For more about using auth with the Gmail API, see Authorizing Your App with Gmail.
ScopesThe Gmail API supports the following scopes:
https://mail.google.com/Full access to the account, including permanent deletion of threads and messages. This scope should only be requested if your application needs to immediately and permanently delete threads and messages. All other actions can be performed with less permissive scopes.https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.modifyAll read/write operations except immediate, permanent deletion of threads and messages.https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.readonlyRead all resources and their metadata. No write operations.https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.composeCreate, read, update, and delete drafts. Send messages and drafts.Note:Generally, your app should use the most restrictive scope that meets its requirements.Example use caseConsider the following use case: printing out a page of threads for the currently authenticated user (for example, in a recent messages panel). To achieve this, your app would perform the following steps:
Authenticate as the user, using the https://www.googleapis.com/auth/gmail.readonly scope.Call the API method. GET https://www.googleapis.com/gmail/v1/users//threadsProcess the returned list of threads in your app.For actual example code, refer to the Quickstart for the language of your choice.
Common usesThis section provides a very high-level view of how some common use cases can be implemented. For more details, refer to the developer guides.
Sending Gmail messagesEmails are sent as base64-encoded strings within the raw property of a message. To create and send a message:
Create the email content in some convenient way, which may depend on the programming language you are using.Create a base64-encoded string representation of that content.Create a new message resource and set its raw property to the base64 string you just created.Call messages.send to send the message.Fetching received emailsGiven the ID of an email, you can fetch the contents using the get method of the Users.messages resource.
When you fetch a message, you can specify the payload format for the response. FULL (the default) format returns the entire parsed message in the payload field. MINIMAL format returns only the metadata such as identifiers and labels. RAW format returns the data as a base-64 encoded string within the raw property.
Mail change historyMessage changes are represented by History objects. The start_history_id property lets you set from what point you want changes returned. Some changes may affect more than one message and thus the history representing that change will contain multiple messages.
Label managementLabels applied to a thread are also applied to all messages within the thread. If a label is deleted, it is removed from all threads and messages it was applied to. The messageListVisibility property is used to determine if messages with this label show up in the messages list. Similarly, the labelListVisibility is used to determine if the label appears in the label list. You can use the messages.modify or threads.modify method to change the labels applied to messages or threads, respectively.
New Office REST APIs and Developer Tools for Visual Studio Update - Somasegar's blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:46
Today, along with the Office team, we are a releasing a number of significant updates for developers building apps that interact with the Office ecosystem.
Whether you are building a mobile app that wants to connect to high-value data and services in Office 365, developing rich integration into Office experiences with a custom app for Office, or developing Cloud Business App projects that integrate with SharePoint, today's releases enable developers to connect to the Office ecosystem in new and exciting ways.
Applications are increasingly being built by composing high-value data and services together to deliver unique mobile, desktop and web experiences. Today's Office 365 API releases let developers consume Office data and service from any application, and today's Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio and "Napa" releases let developers build new kinds of application experiences within Office apps.
Here's a few of the exciting features in today's releases '' for full details check out:
Office 365 REST APIs Preview
Office 365 provides a wealth of high-value data and services for business applications. Today, Office is exposing these data and services via a new, simple and consistent set of Office 365 REST APIs. This release includes APIs for working with Files, Calendar, People and Mail, exposing data spanning Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Azure Active Directory.
These APIs use standard OAuth and OData, making them easy to use in any development environment and from any platform. For example, to get the email of an authenticated user via Exchange Online:
GET https://outlook.office365.com/ews/odata/Me/Inbox/Messages HTTP/1.1 Authorization: Bearer eyJ0eX...Accept: application/jsonThis HTTP request will return the user's Inbox email messages:
{ "@odata.context": "https://outlook.office365.com/EWS/OData/$metadata#Me/Inbox/Messages", "value": [ { "@odata.id": "https://outlook.office365.com/EWS/OData/Users('s@contoso.com')/Messages('...')", "@odata.editLink": "https://outlook.office365.com/EWS/OData/Users('s@contoso.com')/Messages('...')", "Id": "...", "ChangeKey": "...", "ClassName": "IPM.Note", "Subject": "Sent with REST", "BodyPreview": "This message was created and sent with the Mail REST API!", "Body": { "ContentType": "HTML", "Content": "This message was created and sent with the Mail REST API!" }, "Importance": "Low", } ]}Check out the API docs and samples for details about how to use these APIs in your applications and sites. Also check out the preview Office 365 API Tools for Visual Studio.
Apps for Office
Developers can embed custom experiences inside Office with apps for Office. Today, several new options are being made available including PowerPoint content apps and Outlook mail apps in compose forms. Developers can build these apps both in Visual Studio and in the updated ''Napa'' tools.
For example, with an Outlook compose app, you can extend the end-user's email authoring experience with a custom pane, in this case a "My Templates" pane.
Check out the Office 365 Platform blog for more examples of the new capabilities for apps for Office, and the Visual Studio blog for details about the updated Visual Studio tools available with the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 '' March 2014 Update.
Cloud Business Apps
In Visual Studio 2013 we introduced the Cloud Business Application template for quickly building modern business applications. Today's release of the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 - March 2014 Update includes features which make it easier to integrate Documents, further streamline development and support connecting to valuable enterprise data sources. For example, you can now connect directly to enterprise data in SAP:
Check out the Visual Studio Blog for more details on the new features for Cloud Business Apps.
Integrating Office into your application experiences has never been easier. Check out http://dev.office.com to get started today!
What does the new Gmail API mean for Internet standards? | ZDNet
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:44
Summary: Google quietly released a new set of Gmail APIs today, giving developers access to some of the building blocks of its popular Gmail protocols. But the message to developers was clear: Don't even think about building your own client.
While Google was dazzling an audience of developers today with shiny new hardware, yet another stab at Internet TV, and even a giveaway made from cardboard, another more substantial change was happening behind the scenes.
In a post at the Google Apps Developer Blog, Gmail Technical Lead Eric DeFriez introduced a new API for Gmail, giving developers a set of tools to tap into Gmail accounts and, in the process, fanning fears that some venerable Internet email standards might be riding off into the sunset.
The new API offers fine-grained access to a Gmail user's account, allowing an app developer to make simple HTTPS calls and get responses in a variety of formats, with OAuth 2.0 authorizing access behind the scenes.
The new Gmail API includes tools that allow programmatic access to messages and labels, so that a web-based app can send or delete a message and change the labels on existing messages.
In theory, an app developer could build a complete (albeit simple) Gmail client using the new API. But that use case is frowned upon in the introduction to the Gmail API, which sternly warns that "the Gmail API should not be used to replace IMAP for full-fledged email client access."
Instead, the developers' guidelines suggest, the new API should be used for new apps that do simpler tasks, such as:
Read-only mail extraction, indexing, and backupLabel management (add/remove labels)Automated or programmatic message sendingNow, offering APIs to developers to get to users' email accounts isn't a new feature. Microsoft Office announced a similar API (one that does a lot more, actually) last March.
The new move by Google offers a very limited entr(C)e into Gmail accounts, keeping the full Gmail API under lock and key as a proprietary weapon for Google's own apps. And on platforms where it chooses not to deliver an app, most notably Windows 8.x and Windows Phone, Gmail users get a substandard experience.
As an email standard, IMAP is a horrible mess, and moving away from reliance on IMAP for interoperability is probably in the better interests of everyone who uses the Internet. But moving to a completely proprietary standard as Google is doing with Gmail is problematic as well.
Microsoft's server-side email solutions all support Exchange ActiveSync, which can be readily licensed by software developers, with Microsoft offering a long-term commitment to the standard. Gmail is Google's mail protocol, controlled and administered by Google and subject to change at its whims.
As of today, Google invests considerably in Gmail clients for iOS and Android, but Windows users are left mostly to web-based solutions. For enterprise customers that connect to Google Apps accounts (which use the same protocols as free Gmail accounts), most of the alternatives are messy, to say the least.
Today's announcements are good news for anyone who lives in an all-Android environment, and the outcome will probably be OK for iOS users as well, because of the investment that Google makes in iOS apps.
It's unlikely that Google will drop support for IMAP as some have suggested, at least in the near term. Too many business clients count on that base-level support. But you can count on Google leaving IMAP support far behind as the rest of the platform moves on.
Google Car-Asiana Crash
Google Car, Meet Asiana's Pilots
Pilots to Boeing: "You screwed up. You trusted us!"
Until Tuesday morning's release, partisans were going at each other over whether a National Transportation Safety Board report on last July's crash at San Francisco International Airport should cite Boeing, the plane's maker, as a contributing factor in the only fatal U.S. airline crash in more than five years.
As nobody disagrees, Asiana Flight 214's crew failed in a basic task, keeping track of the plane's airspeed on final approach. Before they could correct their error, the plane's tail smacked a sea wall, breaking off. Amazingly, only three passengers died, two of whom apparently weren't wearing seat belts, while the third is believed actually to have perished after being run over by a fire truck.
But Asiana also blames Boeing's auto-throttle system, which its three-man crew believed would automatically maintain a set airspeed of 137 knots. That gripe received some endorsement in Tuesday's NTSB report though the board deadlocked over whether to require Boeing to change the system. But a deeper trouble here is the increasingly problematic handoff between computers and human beings who are being primed to fail.
San Francisco's automatic glide-slope system was temporarily out of commission, but the weather was perfect. The South Korean crew had been reminded before the flight about a significant feature of the Boeing 777, but apparently forgot that physically moving the throttle levers while using a separate automatic system to regulate their descent would put the auto-throttle system into sleep mode.
Critics now insist Boeing should have included an alert or automatic override in case pilots might fly the plane into the ground using the tools Boeing gave them. That's a cop-out. The chief pilot later claimed "it was very difficult to perform a visual approach with a heavy airplane," according to the NTSB, which would seem to indicate the real problem: The crew was nonplused, perhaps nearly panicked, at the prospect of having to maintain a proper glidepath without help from the airport's sophisticated landing aid.
Diligent annotators of this column will recall Captain Malcolm Scott from nearly a decade ago, who criticized a British Airways decision to ban manual thrust control (which Asiana's pilots should have employed to maintain the plane's airspeed) by its Airbus pilots. Flying skills would atrophy, he warned, suggesting that the industry's implicit goal was to remove the human factor from the cockpit altogether.
Aviation Week magazine has since called the Asiana crash a "rich case study in monitoring deficiencies," adding that "a growing mountain of data suggest that such unpreparedness is closer to endemic than isolated."
Jet Blue, for one, insists that its pilots should be constantly "mentally flying" the plane even when the computer is flying, saying, "If no one is mentally flying the airplane, then no one is flying the airplane."
Unfortunately, human beings will find it difficult to teach themselves to be assiduous monitors of systems that increasingly never fail. And soon, except for landing and takeoff, manual flying may be all but impossible in densely used airspace as controllers pack in planes more tightly and precisely to save fuel and time and to make way for a horde of unmanned vehicles. Already, even as the skies become safer, the greatest risk to passengers is pilots accidentally crashing well-functioning aircraft during those rarer and rarer parts of the flight when they are physically in control.
How does this apply to you as a motorist in the age of Google? It means those who think the driverless car is just around the corner will be sorely disappointed.
To revel in the future that the visionaries hold out, the obstacles are nearly insurmountable. In their lush vision, America's parking lots and driveways could return to nature as a relative handful of always-handy robot cars would supplant the mostly idle cars owned in the millions by Americans today.
In practice, though, all cars would likely have to be driverless—or at least capable of taking control away from a driver in heavy traffic situations—for any cars to be driverless. Otherwise, effectively one jerk in a '74 Buick would own the only right of way.
Doing so, though, would require not only expensive onboard systems in every car but wireless networking that would likely raise privacy and personal autonomy fears far more alarming to many Americans than whether NSA computers are scanning their mostly boring emails and text messages. Imagine a National Rifle Association for car owners.
All this means—sorry—you won't soon be catching up on "Dexter" during your morning commute. But the news isn't all bad. Technology that is already finding its way into cars will increasingly intervene to relieve us of the accidents we inflict on ourselves by misjudging a curve or failing to brake to avoid the dodderer in front of us who finally is making the left turn he's been signaling since he left Florida seven hours ago.
Google IO
Instead of my chromebook telling me my phone is running out of battery, why not make a better battery??
Jack Halprin: As a Google Attorney, I Need the Homes of 7 Teachers, and Here's Why | SF Weekly
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:26
By Faux Jack HalprinThere's been a lot of misinformation recently about my decision to buy a seven-unit San Francisco home and evict all the other tenants, including a city school teacher, just so I can have the place to myself.People are saying it's a bad thing. Somehow they're using Google to spread this lie. It had never before occurred to me that such a thing could happen.
So I need to clear the record: as a Google employee, I need the homes of seven school teachers to survive. It's just a fact of life, like the food chain, or the singularity.
People like me, who are in the tech sector, who are changing the world, simply outrank people like teachers, who can never shape the future. Not when all they have are the primitive brains of children to work with.
Have you seen those things? Most of them can't even play chess, let alone return ranked search results. Trust me when I say this -- I've seen the research -- children are not our future. Designer polymers are. Not only are they smarter, they're easier to trademark.
What I'm trying to say is that, in a free society, some people make better choices than others, and we reward those people with the homes of their vanquished enemies. Some people, for example, choose to be teachers, and spend their lives teaching other people's kids things that they can Google for free. Naturally, we pay them very little money -- so little that they're practically homeless already. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone even notices when I evict someone making under $150,000 a year. Honestly, how can you tell?
Then there are other people, like me, who make good decisions, becoming important parts of the companies that sponsor TED talks. Naturally, we pay these people what they're worth. Why am I so highly compensated? Well, if I weren't at the office every day, doing the work I do, the government wouldn't be nearly as good at spying on you.
You're welcome.
To continue doing the important work I do every day, I absolutely require the homes of seven teachers -- preferably disabled and minorities. If they've won an award for teaching excellence, or making a difference in their community, that would be particularly sweet.
Without my taking over their homes, how do you expect Google to file patent claims against Apple -- patent claims that are more important to the future of mankind than the work of a thousand homeless teachers? Without my ability to have an extra six bathrooms at my disposal, how could Google possibly lobby city government for the right of its employees to take your homes away?
It couldn't be done. And that means a world where your phone can't sync both your personal and work calendars together. Is that a world you want to live in?
The question you should be asking isn't "Why does he need to evict teachers when he's already got a home here?" It's "Has he evicted enough teachers?"
It's a disturbing question, I know, but don't worry: I won't stop until the answer is "yes." Even if I have to personally throw the last city school teacher into Oakland by hand. Well, actually I wouldn't do it by hand. That's what Uber's for, right?
Don't try to hold me accountable. I have the money. What other possible justification could I need? I Googled it, and didn't find anything.
Benjamin Wachs is a literary chameleon
Police Arrest 10 Protesters at Google Headquarters
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:26
What's This?
By Colin Daileda2014-06-25 16:12:00 UTC
A protester managed to get into the Google I/O developers conference on Wednesday, shouting "Develop a conscience," before guards evicted her. According to The Next Web, the heckler was trying to call attention to an eviction complaint related to a Google lawyer, Jack Halprin.
Earlier this year, activists protested outside Halprin's house, accusing him of using ''illegal methods'' to evict tenants from his property in San Francisco.
Later in the keynote, a second protester interrupted the proceedings, apparently with a different agenda in mind:
Protesters had showed up earlier in the day at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where Google was holding its I/O conference. It was unclear if the demonstration was related to an incident on Tuesday night, when police broke up a protest outside Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, arresting 10 people demonstrating in favor of Internet freedom.
Supporters of #OccupyGoogle, which has a website and a somewhat theatrical Twitter account, first showed up at the Google headquarters on Tuesday night, armed with tents and signs.
The signs were painted with messages about net neutrality. According to their website, the group wants to "create and maintain...an Internet that acts as a free speech zone."
The mood outside of Google seemed almost jovial, according to the photos.
But that ended as night fell and Google called the cops. Though they showed up in force, police appeared quite relaxed, judging by the pictures.
At some point officers asked everyone to leave, warning protesters that otherwise they would get arrested for trespassing, according to Occupy Google's Twitter account.
When no one dispersed, officers took 10 people into custody.
So far, Google hasn't responded to requests for comment.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
Topics: arrest, #occupygoogle, police, Politics, U.S., US & WorldImage: Stephen Lam/Getty Images
What is the liberal tech media going to do? The 3 conservatives voted in favor of Aereo. Head explosions incoming.
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:17
In a precedent-setting decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that Aereo is in violation of US copyright law. The decision states that Aereo's use of tiny antennas hooked up to cloud DVR technology violates the right of companies producing broadcast content. Specifically, the decision says that Aereo's business violates the 1976 Copyright Act; the act states that individuals or businesses are violating copyright if:
1: perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or2: to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work ... to the public by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public are capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places at the same time or at different times
In the case of Aereo, the Supreme Court says the company's service is tantamount to "a performance or display of the work."
The decision is backed up by the Supreme Court's history with cable companies. In 1976, the Copyright Act deemed the rebroadcast of airwave-based television via cable a performance. As a result, cable companies had to pay broadcast networks for access to content. Today's ruling states that Aereo is essentially in the same boat as cable TV companies. "Aereo's activities are substantially similar to those of the [cable television] companies that Congress amended the Act to reach," Associate Justice Stephen Breyer writes.
Aereo's argument was that, since it only rebroadcasts shows that its users choose and save on customer-assigned DVR machines, its users were retransmitting/performing. More simply: each Aereo subscriber is assigned an individual DVR machine and antenna. Since each user must choose what they watch (unlike cable, which is a feed of every channel all the time), Aereo argued that it's not a rebroadcaster, but its users are (which is legal). Instead, Aereo thinks of itself as a hardware provider. That hardware (DVR machines and antennas) provide a service. Associate Justice Breyer disagrees: "We conclude that Aereo is not just an equipment supplier and that Aereo 'perform[s].'"
The nine Supreme Court justices were split six to three, with justices Breyer, Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan in favor, while justices Thomas, Alito and Scalia were against. Justice Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion of the court.
Update: Cablevision, a Northeast US cable company, offered the following statement on today's ruling:
"We are gratified that the Court's decision adopted a sensible middle ground, holding that unlicensed retransmission services like Aereo violate the copyright law, while protecting consumer-friendly, cloud-based technologies, such as RS-DVR. The real winner today is the consumer who will continue to benefit from future innovation."
Cablevision was in a particularly awkward situation with regards to the case, as it previously battled similar copyright law to keep selling its cloud DVR technology. As the statement above notes, Cablevision is particularly pleased with today's ruling because it both pushes against Aereo's business model (which competes with cable TV) and provides space for services like cloud DVR to exist.
Update 2: The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which serves as the mouthpiece for the broadcast companies which sued Aereo, issued a statement regarding today's ruling as well:
"NAB is pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the concept of copyright protection that is enshrined in the Constitution by standing with free and local television. Aereo characterized our lawsuit as an attack on innovation; that claim is demonstrably false. Broadcasters embrace innovation every day, as evidenced by our leadership in HDTV, social media, mobile apps, user-generated content, along with network TV backed ventures like Hulu.
Television broadcasters will always welcome partnerships with companies who respect copyright law. Today's decision sends an unmistakable message that businesses built on the theft of copyrighted material will not be tolerated."
Update 3: Aereo itself has finally issued a statement. It's a long one, but here it is in full:
"Today's decision by the United States Supreme Court is a massive setback for the American consumer. We've said all along that we worked diligently to create a technology that complies with the law, but today's decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter. This sends a chilling message to the technology industry. It is troubling that the Court states in its decision that, 'to the extent commercial actors or other interested entities may be concerned with the relationship between the development and use of such technologies and the Copyright Act, they are of course free to seek action from Congress.' (Majority, page 17) That begs the question: Are we moving towards a permission-based system for technology innovation?
"Consumer access to free-to-air broadcast television is an essential part of our country's fabric. Using an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast television is still meaningful for more than 60 million Americans across the United States. And when new technology enables consumers to use a smarter, easier to use antenna, consumers and the marketplace win. Free-to-air broadcast television should not be available only to those who can afford to pay for the cable or satellite bundle."
Justice Scalia's dissent gets its right. He calls out the majority's opinion as 'built on the shakiest of foundations.' (Dissent, page 7) Justice Scalia goes on to say that 'The Court vows that its ruling will not affect cloud-storage providers and cable television systems, seeante, at 16-17, but it cannot deliver on that promise given the imprecision of its results-driven rule.' (Dissent, page 11)"
We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done. We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world."
Supreme Court rules against Aereo. Thoughts?
Dirty Bomb Advice from an Expert - Larry Grimm - Atomic Insights
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 23:09
With the recent frantic coverage of the GAO's ''sting'' of Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing procedures, the phrase ''dirty bomb'' is again being thrown about in the popular press. I thought it was time to make the following piece readily available in another location. You might be able to find a similar document somewhere else on the web; I have lost track of where I first found it. I thought it was so important that I sent it on to my mother and asked her to share it with her friends, especially those who tend to be worriers.
(Update 7-15-2007 at 0726: I did a bit of Googling and found another posting of the original piece on a web site called Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Here is the link '' http://www.ddponline.org/dirtybomb.htm)
Timmi Toler, Community Editor, The Liberty
With recent reports that radiation detectors are being tested in our community, many residents are wondering how to be prepared or what to do in the event that a radiological dispersion device (or ''dirty bomb'') is detonated. The Liberty turned to Larry Grimm for some answers. Grimm, a former Navy Reservist who served as a corpsman with the 1st Marines, Recon Battalion, Alpha Company, is now the senior health physicist for the Radiation Safety Division at UCLA. He has 27 years experience working with a wide variety of radioactive materials and their uses. He offered his personal insights to the following questions to help equip citizens with what he considers the most effective tool available in the fight against terrorism: knowledge.
Q: What is a radiological dispersion device?
A: It is a weapon designed to spread radioactive material over an area. Radioactive materials can be spread via a conventional (''dirty'') bomb, an aerosol device or through waterways.
Q: What is the biggest concern from a radiological dispersion device?
A: Two things: the irrational fear it can induce and the expense of cleanup. The possibility of the radiation actually hurting anyone is quite small. We fear what we do not understand, sometimes irrationally. The concepts of radiation are poorly taught in high school, and the only other radiation information we get has been sensationalized by Hollywood, politicians, and those looking to make a buck off of our lack of education. You can beat the fear by learning how radiation works and how to manage it safely (protection techniques). Fear and panic kill people, as any good Marine knows. Radioactive materials are chemicals. Sometimes it is easy to clean them up, sometimes hard. For example, cleaning oil off concrete is hard, but picking up chunks of metal is easy. Fortunately, it only takes a radiation detector to find the radioactive material, so it is easier to find and clean up than a non-radioactive chemical. Likely, the biggest problem will be economic disruption while cleanup takes place. Radiation dispersion devices are really disruption, not destruction, weapons.
Q: How will I know if something is a radioactive device/bomb?
A: You won't know, until someone checks and announces it. Most police and fire vehicles carry radiation detectors these days and the announcement is likely to be made quickly. If a bomb went off, I would presume the worst and start practicing the protection techniques listed below. The techniques are also applicable, to a certain extent, if there is a chemical or biological agent, however, there are a few important differences. For example: if you suspect a chemical agent, do not seek shelter in a low space (like a basement). Most chemicals are heavier than air and will settle in low spaces.
Q: What steps should I take if a radiological dirty bomb goes off in the area?
A: There are four simple protection techniques: Contamination control, distance, shielding and time. Contamination control and distance are the most useful techniques in a bomb situation.
Remember to help others first. Radioactive materials are rarely immediately life threatening. The worst-case terrorism scenarios indicate that there would not be enough radioactive material to cause immediate harm. Did you ever feel anything or see an effect from getting an X-ray? In 99.999% of radiation exposures, no effect is felt or seen. If I went towards the blast area to help someone, I would not fear the radiation. However, I would be cautious and respectful of the radiation. Therefore, I would use the following techniques no matter if I was escaping the area, trapped in the area, or going in to help.
Contamination control: Keep the radioactive chemical off and out of your body. Button up clothing and wear a mask (or anything to cover nose and mouth.) A radioactive material is always a chemical, which behaves like the chemical wants to behave. The distance technique is the best protector in a dirty bomb scenario. However, if I need to be near the source, or if I am downwind of the blast, I will first practice contamination control. If I suspect that I swallowed or inhaled the chemical, but do not feel ill, I would later seek professional help. Radiation effects take a long time to show up, and I wouldn't want to add to the congestion at the hospital. However, there could be a nasty chemical associated with a radioactive bomb, so if I felt even slightly ill, I would seek medical help in a hurry.
Distance: In even the worst bomb scenario, you would be safe from the radiation if you get just a couple blocks away and get upwind of potential airborne material. Think of it as standing next to a campfire '' get too close to the heat radiation, and it could burn you, but if far enough away, you do not get any heat. Exactly like a campfire, you do not want to be in the smoke, so get upwind. The most likely radioactive material in a dirty bomb would be Cobalt or Cesium. If the terrorist could somehow manage to get 10,000 Curies in the bomb, you only need to be about 300 yards (three football fields) away to be safe from the radiation. If you are not downwind or near the dispersion area, you are safe. Do not ''head for the hills''. Leave the roadways open so emergency responders can get through.
Shielding: Anything acts as a shield '' a building, a car, a hill, et cetera. Your major concern is gamma radiation. Imagine the gamma as a radio wave. When don't you get a radio signal? When you are in the middle of a building, in a basement, behind a hill, et cetera. Whatever shielding decreases a radio signal will decrease gamma rays. I handled 12 million curies of Cesium (a 1000 times more than a possible bomb) with a mere 20 feet of water for shielding, and I got no dose!
Time: The less you are around the radiation, the less dose you will get. As most people would use distance, and get away in a hurry, they already used the time technique by not hanging around the radiation. Emergency responders may need to use this technique, and all across the US, they are receiving training on how to use it.
Q: If you suspect the chemical is on your clothes or body, what should you do?
A: First, simply remove the clothing. Take off the clothing, put it somewhere distant, and you will get no exposure from what is on the clothes. A common myth is that if radiation hits someone, they become radioactive. The reality is: it is the radioactive chemical that makes you radioactive, not the radiation, so you want to keep the chemical off yourself.
Second, wash or shower. Most radioactive materials are easily washed off. Another common myth is that you need to scrub hard to get radioactive material off you. In actuality, you should wash lightly and frequently. Scrubbing hard can abrade the skin and push the chemical into the body. When I practiced Nuclear Medicine, almost every day I got radioactive material on my index finger. With a light washing, it went away every time. Twenty-five years later, my finger is just fine, and still willing to point a Marine towards the vaccination line (a corpsman's pay back for being called ''squidly'')!
Q: If I am trapped in my house with my children and downwind of the dispersion device, what do I do?
A: How do you keep dust and cold air out of your house? Simple '' make sure things are shut tight. It's the same with radioactive materials. Stay put, and hunker down. The downwind concern is that the radioactive chemical is airborne. Keep the chemical out of your house and you will be quite safe. Keep doors and windows closed. You might move to the middle of the house or basement, which uses the distance and shielding protection techniques, in case there are levels of radiation nearby. If you must go out, use the time technique and do your task quickly. If the radioactive chemical is heavy, or it is raining, the chemical will not travel far by air, so if you are more than a mile away, there would likely be no problem. In the likely scenarios which use Cobalt or Cesium, they are heavy and do not travel too far in the air. Listen to your radio, as emergency information services should soon tell you if it is safe to go out. Boredom will be your biggest problem.
Q: If I am outside and downwind of the blast and cannot move quickly, what do I do?
A: Get into the nearest building and do what you would do in your house '' keep things shut and move to middle room or basement areas. Another option is to get in or stay in your car with windows up and fresh air vents closed. You will keep the chemical out, and the car provides some shielding. If it is hot in the car, recirculating air conditioning is okay to use. If you can move the car, drive a few blocks away.
Q: Will my food become radioactive?
A: Not if it is sealed or covered. Again, another myth about radiation is that it causes other things to become radioactive. The truth is this only happens if the chemical gets on it. I would keep bottled water and a few canned goods for emergencies, but the way food is packaged these days, the foods in your cupboards and refrigerator will be just fine. For extra measure, you can rinse things off before you open/use them, but most likely this is not necessary if you have kept the house closed up.
Q: What should I get to prepare for a dirty bomb?
A: Not much. Keep some bottled water on hand and a portable radio. Do not buy a radiation meter. Do not buy special contamination suits. Do not buy gas masks. Only trained professionals should have these things. Untrained people have been hurt by these things. Can you imagine the horror and grief of a child suffocating in a gas mask, especially if the radiation was three miles away? The simple protection techniques are all you need. They work. I know. I use them every day in my work. Use your common sense when applying the techniques and you, and your children, will be very safe.
Q: What are the odds of a radiological dispersion device going off in my area?
A: Pretty slim. A radiological dispersion device is unlikely to kill anyone, unless it is a bomb and the person is in the blast area. Therefore, it is a poor ''mass destruction'' weapon. On the other hand, it can disrupt things badly, particularly if we respond with fear and panic. Although its not hard to build a radiological dispersion device, it is difficult to carry around the large quantity of radioactive material necessary.
Q: What if the radioactive material is put in our water supply?
A: Being a chemical, the radioactive material will dilute in the water. Without going into technical reasons, suffice it to say that by the time it got to your house, there wouldn't be enough to pose a real risk. Smoking one cigarette probably poses more risk than the amount of radioactive material that you could ingest in this scenario. We ingest naturally occurring radioactive materials every day of our lives. Likely by the time it got to you, the terrorists' material would be a pittance of what you normally, naturally take in. Another common misconception is that man-made radioactive materials are different and more dangerous than natural materials. However, there really is no difference. Man-made and natural radioactive material effects are the same. Our bodies are adapted to handling the effects of low levels of radiation, which we receive every moment of our lives. If it is suspected to be in the water supply, and you are concerned, use bottled water. I would likely have no fear of showering with the tap water.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Please teach these simple things to others. As more people learn how easy it is to protect themselves from a radiological dispersion device, our collective fear levels decrease. Learn about radiation, and the fear of it will melt away. As a youngster, I feared electricity, but I learned it can be handled safely. I now respect it, but do not fear it. The same is true of radiation: respect it, but do not fear it. Terrorists feed on fear. Fear is bondage, knowledge is freedom.
LARRY GRIMMSenior Health Physicist for Radiation Safety Division, UCLA
EUobserver / EU wants stronger military industry
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:16
BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Tuesday (24 June) laid out plans on how to boost the EU's military and defence industries.
It wants to create a single market on defence, make it more profitable, and intensify and merge research with the civil sector.
Antonio Tajani, the EU industry commissioner, said greater defence collaboration is needed between member states to enable the EU to "adequately face its security challenges".
Tajani described the plan in terms of helping the EU pull itself out of the economic crisis.
"It is vital that the European defence industry remains a world-leading centre for manufacturing and innovation, creating highly qualified jobs and growth," he said in a statement.
The commission says budget cuts, the crisis, and a fragmented internal market are threats to the industry and the EU's overall defence capabilities.
It notes the sector in 2012 employed 400,000 people and generated a '‚¬96 billion turnover.
The 14-page plan wants to expand on 'dual-use technology', in which equipment can be used for both civilian and military objectives.
The EU's '‚¬80 billion Horizon 2020 research programme would be used to help fund dual-technology projects.
It also wants to develop a new programme to explore the potential benefits of EU-funded research projects.
Among the ideas is to create drones capable of carrying out both civil and military operations.
It wants the European Defence Agency (EDA) to prepare a "new process for developing defence and hybrid standards in Europe".
The EDA, along with the commission, would be in charge of developing standardisation and certification.
The European Aviation Safety Agency would back the EDA and commission in their efforts to converge a military certification system with the applicable civil requirements.
Another idea is to shift the "control of industrial and technological assets" away from national governments to a new system at the EU level.
Details have yet to be formulated but the commission intends to come out with a paper before the end of the year.
"While defence and security remain primarily a matter of national responsibility, more can be done to promote European co-operation," said the EU's internal market commissioner Michael Barnier.
Dutch consider sending troops to Afghanistan for Nato mission
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 21:12
Dutch consider sending troops to Afghanistan for Nato missionMonday 23 June 2014
The cabinet is considering sending some 100 Dutch soldiers to Afghanistan to help train Afghan police officers and soldiers, the Volkskrant says on Monday.
The 100 Dutch soldiers would form part of the 12,500 strong Nato mission named Resolute Support, the Volkskrant states. Nato is planning to set up the mission to ensure Islamic extremists do not take over the country when the 50,000 strong ISAF mission completes its withdrawal at the end of this year.
The paper says Nato foreign affairs ministers could agree to the mission this week but have a conference on July 9 as a deadline. A source said Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans had not yet taken a position.
The Dutch soldiers would be based in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif where German soldiers would also be based. The US would supply the bulk of the troops for the mission.
A precondition for the mission is that the new Afghan president signs a peace and security pact. Both presidential candidates have agreed to this, the paper says.
Dutch soldiers are currently active in Mali, on the Turkish border with Syria and in the anti-piracy campaign off the Somali coast.
(C) DutchNews.nl
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Lack of digital skills leading disconnected voters to Ukip
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:11
Umunna said that BBC research showed that one in five people cannot do basic online tasks, which leaves them isolated from the economy.
''There has been a lot of talk of communities that have been disconnected from our global economy, and those of course were a lot of those voting for Ukip in the local and European elections,'' Umunna said on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday. ''Of that mass of people who can't do the things that all of us take for granted, a very large number of them are from those communities.''
He said that the next Labour government would focus on training those people so that they can fulfil their aspirations. Ed Miliband has also been campaigning on the issue of skills, including installing a new taskforce for digital skills, and more extreme measures such as removing the benefits of young jobseekers if they don't go into training.
Ukip topped European polls last month amid a continent wide shift to the right.
Ukip has blamed its lack of success in London on the capital's more media and digital savvy population, with spokesperson Suzanne Young saying that the party had difficulty appealing to the ''educated, cultural and young.'' But members of the party have also attributed its success to its strong presence on social media.
BBC News - UK loses allies in bid to block Juncker's EC presidency
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 05:03
25 June 2014Last updated at 22:32 ET David Cameron's bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next European Commission president looks set to fail after his allies changed tack.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had given the British prime minister hope after agreeing to a vote on the issue if there was no consensus.
But both the Netherlands and Sweden now say they will back Luxembourg's ex-PM.
Mr Cameron says Mr Juncker's nomination ignores the "pro-reform message" sent by European voters last month.
The EU summit starts on Thursday after leaders first commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in Ypres.
That ceremony will be followed by a working dinner on the EU's long-term policy agenda in Brussels, before EU leaders make a decision on the Commission presidency on Friday.
ObjectionsMr Cameron has said he will demand an unprecedented vote if Mr Juncker's name is tabled so that EU leaders are forced to justify their support for the veteran politician in public.
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Jean-Claude Juncker is seen as the ultimate Brussels 'insider'
The UK prime minister believes Mr Juncker is too much in favour of closer political union and might block reform of the EU.
He also objects to the idea that EU leaders are allowing the European Parliament to effectively make the choice, since Mr Juncker was the leading candidate of the centre-right group that topped May's polls.
The UK's Europe minister David Lidington said choosing the Commission president from among those leading candidates risked making the EU executive a "creature of the European Parliament".
Previously, the job at the head of Commission has only been given with the unanimous agreement of at least the EU's bigger countries, including Britain.
But with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban now Mr Cameron's only supporter, correspondents say Mr Juncker is likely to be overwhelmingly backed as the nomination, even if it does go to a vote.
Damaging rowChancellor Merkel said on Wednesday that it would be "no tragedy" if Mr Juncker won the Commission's top job with less than unanimous backing.
But Downing Street said that she later agreed with the British PM that a vote should take place if necessary.
A statement from No 10 said she also underlined their support for Britain's continued membership of a reformed EU.
But the BBC's Chris Morris says the fact that such a statement needs to be made is a reminder of how damaging this row has become.
Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Juncker said he expected to be confirmed as the next Commission president by the end of the week "if common sense prevails".
Juncker is "heavy smoker and drinker," says Dijsselbloem.
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:03
Jeroen Dijsselbloem (l.) with Jean-Claude JunckerPhoto: AFPPublished on Wednesday, 8 January, 2014 at 10:25
(CS/vb) Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijssebloem appears to be holding something of a grudge against his predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker, calling the former Luxembourg PM a ''heavy smoker and drinker'' on a Dutch talkshow.
On the programme ''Knevel & Van den Brink'' '' broadcast on Monday evening '' Dijsselbloem initially avoided talking about Juncker.
However, when asked if smoking and drinking are allowed at Eurogroup meetings, Dijsselbloem commented that while this has always been forbidden ''the former chairman'' did not stick to the rules.
Dijsselbloem went on to say that Juncker is a ''heavy smoker and drinker.''
When asked if a politician had ever been drunk during negotiations, Dijsselbloem added that no-one was ever incapacitated at the meetings he has so far attended.
In the Netherlands Dijsselbloem's comments have sparked some interest, with newspaper ''De Telegraaf'' speculating that the Eurogroup president is taking revenge for Juncker's involvement in the Cyprus bail-out, which came after the Dutch finance minister had taken the chairmanship of the Eurogroup.
The comments also come at a time when Juncker is openly voicing his interest in pursuing a career in Brussels, as he recently said in an interview with radio RTL in Luxembourg that he is ready to accept a nomination to become the next European Commission president if it is offered to him.
Juncker himself on Wednesday said at a New Year's reception at the Chamber of Deputies that he does not have an alcohol problem, while declining further comment on Dijsselbloem's statements.
Watch the talkshow programme in Dutch here and see an analysis by "De Telegraaf" here.
UK loses allies in bid to block Juncker's EC presidency.
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 05:03
26 June 2014Last updated at 03:32 David Cameron's bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next European Commission president looks set to fail after his allies changed tack.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had given the British prime minister hope after agreeing to a vote on the issue if there was no consensus.
But both the Netherlands and Sweden now say they will back Luxembourg's ex-PM.
Mr Cameron says Mr Juncker's nomination ignores the "pro-reform message" sent by European voters last month.
The EU summit starts on Thursday after leaders first commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in Ypres.
That ceremony will be followed by a working dinner on the EU's long-term policy agenda in Brussels, before EU leaders make a decision on the Commission presidency on Friday.
ObjectionsMr Cameron has said he will demand an unprecedented vote if Mr Juncker's name is tabled so that EU leaders are forced to justify their support for the veteran politician in public.
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Jean-Claude Juncker is seen as the ultimate Brussels 'insider'
The UK prime minister believes Mr Juncker is too much in favour of closer political union and might block reform of the EU.
He also objects to the idea that EU leaders are allowing the European Parliament to effectively make the choice, since Mr Juncker was the leading candidate of the centre-right group that topped May's polls.
The UK's Europe minister David Lidington said choosing the Commission president from among those leading candidates risked making the EU executive a "creature of the European Parliament".
Previously, the job at the head of Commission has only been given with the unanimous agreement of at least the EU's bigger countries, including Britain.
But with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban now Mr Cameron's only supporter, correspondents say Mr Juncker is likely to be overwhelmingly backed as the nomination, even if it does go to a vote.
Damaging rowChancellor Merkel said on Wednesday that it would be "no tragedy" if Mr Juncker won the Commission's top job with less than unanimous backing.
But Downing Street said that she later agreed with the British PM that a vote should take place if necessary.
A statement from No 10 said she also underlined their support for Britain's continued membership of a reformed EU.
But the BBC's Chris Morris says the fact that such a statement needs to be made is a reminder of how damaging this row has become.
Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Juncker said he expected to be confirmed as the next Commission president by the end of the week "if common sense prevails".
Polish foreign minister called ties to USA 'worthless' -report.
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:09
WARSAWSun Jun 22, 2014 10:50pm BST
Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski speaks during a joint news conference with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov and Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in the headquarters of the foreign ministry in Baghdad June 23, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Karim Kadim/Pool
WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish news magazine said on Sunday it had obtained a secret recording of Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, in contention for a senior European Union job, saying that Poland's relationship with the United States was worthless.
The Wprost news magazine said the recording was of a private conversation earlier this year between Sikorski and Jacek Rostowski, a member of parliament with the ruling Civic Platform who until last year was finance minister.
The magazine did not say who recorded the conversation or how it obtained the recording.
Aides to Sikorski and Rostowski said they had no immediate comment. A government spokeswoman said it was hard to form a view based on a few excerpts of a conversation, but there might be a comment later.
There also was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department.
According to a transcript of excerpts of the conversation that was published by Wprost on its Internet site, Sikorski told Rostowski: "You know that the Polish-U.S. alliance isn't worth anything."
"It is downright harmful because it creates a false sense of security ... Complete bullshit. We'll get in conflict with the Germans, Russians and we'll think that everything is super because we gave the Americans a blow job. Losers. Complete losers."
According to the transcript, Sikorski described Warsaw's attitude towards the United States using the Polish word "murzynskosc."
That derives from the word "murzyn," which denotes a dark-skinned person and someone who does the work for somebody else, according to the PWN Polish language dictionary.
The remarks were brief excerpts from a longer conversation between the two men, and it was not immediately clear if Sikorski had made comments elsewhere in the conversation that contradicted those excerpts.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said last month that Sikorski would be a natural candidate for the job of the EU's top diplomat. The role is filled by Catherine Ashton, but may become vacant when a new European Commission is formed.
Asked by Reuters to comment on the transcript of Sikorski's conversation with Rostowski, foreign ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said: "We do not comment on media speculation. ... Possible comments will be published only after the whole magazine is published."
Government spokeswoman Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska said the government was waiting for publication of the full recordings before commenting.
"It's hard to relate to something which is just a few sentences taken out of a conversation. We'll comment probably on Monday or Tuesday after the government's sitting," she said.
An aide in Rostowski's parliamentary office said he would not comment "at least until he familiarizes himself with the whole conversation."
Wprost last week published secret recordings of conversations between two other senior officials, central bank chief Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz.
According to a transcript, the two men discussed the central bank helping the government with the economy if it is facing election defeat, and ways of applying pressure on a businessman. Both man have said their words were taking out of context and that they did not break the law.
The recordings prompted calls from the opposition for the government to step down. A raid by prosecutors on the premises of Wprost magazine to try to seize as yet-unpublished tapes prompted protests over media freedoms.
Tusk said last week that calling an early election was an option if no other way could be found out of the crisis.
(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski, Marcin Goettig, Marcin Goclowski and Pawel Sobczak; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Christian Lowe and Will Dunham)
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Ireland 'leads the world in Islamic values as Muslim states lag' - Telegraph
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:33
''Looking at an index of Economic Islamicity, or how closely the policies and achievements of countries reflect Islamic economic teachings - Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Norway, and Belgium round up the first 10''.
''If a country, society, or community displays characteristics such as unelected, corrupt, oppressive, and unjust rulers, inequality before the law, unequal opportunities for human development, absence of freedom of choice (including that of religion), opulence alongside poverty, force, and aggression as the instruments of conflict resolution as opposed to dialogue and reconciliation, and, above all, the prevalence of injustice of any kind, it is prima facie evidence that it is not an Islamic community,'' he said.
An Overall Islamicity Index analysing social rules and human rights measures found that similar rankings were generated in 2010.
"New Zealand, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands; and again only Malaysia (38) and Kuwait (48) make it into the top 50 from Muslim countries,'' he said. ''Islam is, and has been for centuries, the articulation of the universal love of Allah for his creation and for its unity, and all that this implies for all-encompassing human and economic development."
Labour condemns Government over extremism in schools
Ireland named as world sex traffic centre by US state department - Irish Mirror Online
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:37
Ireland is a destination and transit country for sex trafficking, according to a new US State Department report.
The damning study, Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, highlighted serious gaps in Ireland's anti-trafficking laws and in how they are dealt with, campaigners have claimed.
The report, which was published on Friday said: ''Foreign trafficking victims identified in Ireland are from Nigeria, Cameroon, the Philippines, Poland, Brazil, Pakistan, South Africa, Lithuania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Kuwait, and other countries in Asia, and Eastern Europe.
''There has been an increase in identified Irish children subjected to sex trafficking within the country.''
The report went on to say that the Irish Government is complying with the minimum standards to stop trafficking and that gardai had increased investigations of alleged trafficking offenders, including foreign diplomats, claiming: ''Some domestic workers, primarily women, employed by foreign diplomats on assignment in Ireland, work under poor conditions and are at risk of labour trafficking.''
It also highlighted how the Government has ''decreased its funding for NGOs providing service to victims, and continued to prosecute a high number of non-trafficking crimes, including child molestation cases, as trafficking cases''.
In total, 44 potential trafficking victims were identified last year, compared with 48 in 2012.
Of the victims last year, eight were subjected to forced labour and 16 were children, including 11 Irish national children who were trafficked for sexual exploitation.
The US State Department recommended that more prosecutions be brought and that a reflection period should be granted to potential victims of trafficking.
They also urged that the implementation of ''the 2008 anti-trafficking law to ensure sex trafficking and forced labour offenders are held accountable through convictions and dissuasive sentences''.
The chief executive officer of Ruhama, Sarah Benson, which supports women affected by prostitution and trafficking, told the Irish Examiner: ''We concur with many of the concerns outlined in this year's TIP report, particularly those dealing with the identification and protection of victims.
''These concerns include the flawed identification process, the low quality of housing provided for victims, and the cumbersome referral process.''
Meanwhile, the Immigrant Council of Ireland said traffickers were exploiting Irish failings and that urgent action was needed.
Chief executive Denise Charlton, said: ''Once again the response of the Government to one of the biggest crimes of our time has been found to fall short of what is required.''
Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliament | World news | The Guardian
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:31
Janusz Korwin-Mikke, PolandPoland's newly elected MEP is anti-EU, anti-democracy, pro-Putin and, by his own account, anti-women. The 72-year-old led his party New Right to fourth place in the elections, with 7.2% of the vote. He also gained 28.5% of votes among 18- to 25-year-olds '' more than any other party.
His persistence seems to be paying off: Korwin-Mikke has run in just about every election '' presidential and parliamentary '' in post-communist Poland. But apart from a brief stint in parliament in the early 1990s, he had previously never made much headway, always ending up with less than 3%.
A colourful and abrasive character, Korwin-Mikke makes Milton Friedman look like a socialist.
He favours a Dickensian-era style of capitalism in which there would be no labour laws and market forces could operate unhindered. He calls the EU a "communist project" which is run by "Maoists like Barroso" and has said he would like to put the European commission building to better use by "turning it into a brothel".
He has said that "women are dumber than men and should not be allowed to vote". "Evolution has ensured that women are not too intelligent. After all, no intelligent being would last more than an hour a day with a baby and all its goo-goo ga-ga gibberish," said Korwin-Mikke, who also happens to be a champion bridge player.
He is similarly derisive of democracy, calling it the "stupidest form of government ever conceived", favouring a monarchy instead. He has said he will spend no longer than 18 months in the European parliament as he now hopes to cross the 5% threshold needed to get into the Polish parliament in elections scheduled for next year.
When asked by journalists why, then, he even bothered to fight these elections, Korwin-Mikke replied: "What do you mean why? Thanks to this I will have immunity, some money and I can get myself an MEP office." He promised, though, that during his first three months in the European parliament "I will raise so much hell that they will remember me there for a long time".
Greek resistance hero, politician and writer Manolis Glezos addressing supporters during a rally of the Left Coalition Party in central Athens. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty ImagesManolis Glezos, GreeceNot all the new MEPs are far-right, xenophobic and anti-Europe. Manolis Glezos, the new European parliament's oldest deputy, is a 92-year-old second world war hero, leftwing icon, inveterate writer and indefatigable activist. On Monday, he added another feather to his cap, winning more votes (105,184) than any other Euro parliamentarian on Greece's 21-MEP ticket. He doesn't tweet, doesn't type and insists on taking an afternoon nap every day '' a legacy of being exiled and imprisoned for 16 years for his views. "That way I get two days out of one," he once told the Guardian. "I start at 7am stop at 3pm, start again at 5pm and go all the way through to midnight. I get a tremendous amount done."
Famous for ripping down the swastika from the Acropolis within days of Nazi forces overrunning Greece, Glezos is also considered the greatest living authority on the resistance movement against Hitler's occupying forces, penning two voluminous tomes (both running to more than 800 pages) on the period.
As the anti-austerity, radical-left Syriza party's top representative in Brussels, he does not intend to put down his pen. The anti-capitalist has a lot to say in the 766-seat parliament '' not least about Germany's "colonisation" of Europe. "Greece is the guinea pig of policies exacted by governments whose only God is money," he said. "It started here but will move to other states '... people are clearly reacting and we have to give voice to them." Doing that will not be as easy as it sounds.
The intrepid Glezos has one fear: flying. On doctors' orders he will not be able to join other MEPs on the Athens-Brussels plane route. But he has already come up with a contingency plan '' and has boat timetables and bus timetables at the ready.
Alessandra Mussolini is the grand-daughter of the fascist Italian leader Benito Mussolini. Photograph: Laura Lezza/Getty ImagesAlessandra Mussolini, ItalyNiece of Sophia Loren and granddaughter of Il Duce, Mussolini has had a career as colourful as her ancestry. She has posed topless for Playboy, played a nun in a critically derided film, and played a vocal role in far- and centre-right Italian politics since the early 90s. Now, 10 years after she was first elected an MEP for her (now defunct) Social Alternative list, she is to return to the European parliament '' this time for Silvio Berlusconi's beleaguered Forza Italia (FI) party.
Mussolini, 51, has never been short of an opinion, no matter how offensive. The far-right group in Europe of which she was a member broke up in 2007 after comments she made about crime rates among Romanians provoked a storm of protest '' unsurprisingly '' among her colleagues in the Greater Romania party. In 2006, responding to an accusation by a transgender MP candidate that she was a fascist, she declared: "Better fascist than faggot."
Occasionally, however, sharp tongue has won her plaudits from beyond her usual fanbase. When, in 2004, Ukip's Godfrey Bloom remarked that "no self-respecting small businessman with a brain '... would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age," she reportedly retorted: "I am from Naples and I can say that we women do know how to cook and clean the fridge and even be politicians, while perhaps Godfrey Bloom knows neither how to clean the fridge nor to be a politician."
Bruno Gollnisch was defeated by Marine Le Pen for the Front National presidency in 2011. Photograph: Bruno Vigneron/Getty ImagesBruno Gollnisch, FranceMeet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliamentMarine Le Pen has done her best to put in place a slick, media-friendly operation since taking over as head of the Front National. But in the south-east region where her racist father, Jean-Marie Le Pen was elected in Sunday's European elections, another old-style FN politician was re-elected alongside the Front National founder: Gollnisch, who was defeated by Le Pen's daughter for the FN presidency in 2011.
Gollnisch, 64, is a former academic who is a regional councillor in the southeastern Rhone-Alpes and has served consecutive mandates as an MEP since 1989. But like Le Pen senior '' who last week said the French immigration problem could be solved "in three months" by an Ebola virus outbreak '' he is a potential embarrassment for the new-look FN. He is an outspoken critic of Islam who had his parliamentary immunity lifted in May 2011 when he was sued for inciting racial hatred in anti-Islamic comments three years earlier.
In February last year, he dropped his trousers and mooned at a regional council meeting in order to protest at state subsidies being given to certain musical bands who sang about sex. He said afterwards that he wanted to "show disapproval of the region's cultural decisions."
In August last year, he provoked a spat with the Socialist party over a personal attack on party spokesman Eduardo Rihan Cypel, who is of Brazilian origin. Gollnisch said Rihan Cypel reminded him of "people that you invite round, and once they settle in, they want to bring everybody round".
Mario Borghezio last year called the Italian government a 'bongo bongo' administration. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty ImagesMario Borghezio, ItalyLast year, Borghezio called the Italian government a "bongo bongo" administration and black minister C(C)cile Kyenge more "a housekeeper" than a politician '' resulting in an expulsion from the rightwing Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, to which Italy's xenophobic Northern League belongs. He complained of having been the victim of a "grotesque persecution" by Nigel Farage, co-chair of the EFD, who branded his words repugnant. But, after another tub-thumbing, immigrant-bashing election campaign, Borghezio could be back.
The 66-year-old veteran of the Italian right was standing in the central region of Italy and thanked the "good guys" of a far-right group, Casa Pound, for having helped him with the logistics of his campaign. (Among other high points, it saw him hand out bread "for our people" in a strongly multicultural area of Rome, and be shouted down at a primary school's gates by angry mothers. "Those two witches brought me good luck," he told online news site Linkiesta.)
Borghezio's comments about Kyenge (whom he accused of trying impose her "tribal traditions" on Italy) got him in hot water last year, but it was hardly his first offence. He has described Ratko Mladic, accused of genocide, as "a patriot", and praised some of the ideas of Anders Bering Breivik, perpetrator of the 2011 Norwegian attacks, as "excellent".
In Brussels, Borghezio could be joined by Gianluca Buonanno, a fellow leghista who has his own long list of greatest hits. In January, he smeared his face with black greasepaint in the national parliament in a protest against supposed prejudice against Italians. On 1 April '' known in Italy as "April's fish" '' he contributed to a debate on illegal immigration by pulling out a sea bass from under his seat in the chamber and waving it vigorously. Last year he reportedly produced a fennel bulb during a parliamentary debate on gay rights. In Italian, the word for fennel is also used as a derogatory term for gay men.
Martin Sonneborn has a reputation as someone who pushes political satire to its limits. Photograph: Timur Emek/Getty ImagesMartin Sonneborn, GermanyHis party campaigned with such incisive slogans as "Merkel is stupid" and "Hands off German willies: No to the EU penis-norm", and proposed building a wall around Switzerland. Yet in Germany, its dadaist election campaign seems to have struck a chord. Europe's only purely satirical party managed to gain 0.6% of the overall vote and will send its first MEP to Brussels. Sonneborn, a former editor of satirical magazine Titanic, has already announced plans to resign after a month: "I will spend my first four weeks in Brussels by intensively preparing for my resignation," he said. "We have a rota of 60 candidates who haven't earned a penny in national politics, and I will make sure they'll all get a go on the gravy train before 2019."
He told The Guardian said he was looking forward to meeting Ukip: "We are planning to create an alliance of idiots and fools, which I think has a lot of potential with the new crop of MEPs. Nigel Farage would fit very well into this new group, and I would herewith like to extend an invitation to him."
In Germany, Sonneborn has a reputation as someone who pushes political satire to its limits. In the late 90s he repeatedly impersonated fictitious candidates from real parties like the German Social Democrats, the liberal FDP and the far-right DVU, often campaigning with deliberate offensive slogans that highlighted the respective parties' prejudices. During the 2005 general election campaign, he auctioned off slots in the party's political ads for product placement.
Asked whether satirising politics was still funny at a time when the European parliament was increasingly filled with politicians like Farage or Beppe Grillo, who didn't take the political processes in Brussels seriously in the first place, Sonneborn said: "The party pursues modern turbo politics with other people's ideas. Our manifesto may not be authentic, but our appetite for power is".
In the past Udo Voigt has described Hitler as 'a great German statesman'. Photograph: Morris Mac Matzen/ReutersUdo Voigt, GermanyGermany's first far-right MEP has praised Hitler as a "great statesman" and suggested that Rudolf Hess should win the Nobel peace prize. Voigt, 61, is a former head of the NPD, an organisation that Germany's interior intelligence service classifies as a far-right extremist party. During his leadership from 1996 to 2011, Voigt took the party into a more aggressively nationalist direction, prompting a failed attempt to outlaw the party by Germany's federal court in 2003. A renewed attempt, arguing that its ideology is identical to that of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party, is ongoing.
The son of a former Wehrmacht officer, Voigt joined the NPD aged 16, and held on to his membership even when it cost him his job in the military services. After he took over the NPD leadership in 1996, he openly recruited younger neo-nazis to the organisation, against the will of other party members.
In a 2004 interview with the rightwing newspaper Junge Freiheit, Voigt described Hitler as "a great German statesman", and the current democratic German republic as "an illegitimate system".
In 2005, Voigt received a four-month suspended sentence for incitement of the people, after calling for an armed uprising against the state at a 1998 rally. Police video recordings in 2007 showed that Voigt planned to suggest Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, as a candidate for the Nobel peace prize.
In December 2007, an investigation on German TV showed an interview Voigt had given to a group of Iranian journalists, in which he claimed that "no more than 340,000" Jews had died in the Holocaust, as opposed to the six million figure that is accepted by most historians.
In 2012 a Berlin court handed Voigt a 10-month suspended sentence and a fine of '‚¬1,000 for glorifying the actions of the Waffen-SS at a party meeting in 2010. He has described the Nazi salute as a "peace greeting" and called for an end to its ban in Germany.
After election results were released, Voigt hailed the "breaking up of old political structures in Europe". "We will try to build alliances to fight against foreign infiltration, and seek the cancellations of the Schengen agreement and the proposed transatlantic trade agreement. We want Europe to be a union of fatherlands and ethnicities."
Voigt said he had recently been invited to Strasbourg by the British National party's Nick Griffin to discuss far-right alliances, and that talks were ongoing with parties including France's Front National, Hungary's Jobbik and Greece's Golden Dawn.
He said he was saddened by the BNP's failure to win a seat but was looking forward to talking to other parties from Britain: "It's now up to Ukip to say if they want to work with us."
Voigt said the election result had been "a success, though perhaps not a total success". His party had gained 1% of the vote in Germany, 0.3% less than at the general election last year and less than other minor splinter parties, such as the Animal Rights party. At previous European elections, the NPD had failed to gain more than the prerequisite 3% hurdle quota, which was abolished for the first time at this year's election.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:28
Janusz Ryszard Korwin-Mikke (Polish pronunciation: [Ëjanuʂ ËkÉ--rvʲin Ëmʲikkɛ]) often referred to by his initials JKM, born 27 October 1942) is a Polish political commentator and Member of the European Parliament. He is the leader of the Congress of the New Right, which was formed in 2011 from Freedom and Lawfulness, which he led from its formation in 2009, and the Real Politics Union (UPR), which he led from 1990''1997 and 1999''2003.
Biography[edit]Janusz Ryszard Korwin-Mikke was born in Warsaw, Poland. He studied at the Faculty of Mathematics and Faculty of Philosophy of the Warsaw University. In 1965 he was detained by the communist authorities, while studying psychology, law, and sociology. In 1968 he was again arrested and relegated from the university for his participation in student protests. He passed the master's examination without attending a course of Philosophy.
In years 1969''1974 he was a researcher in the Institute of Motor Transport (Instytut Transportu Samochodowego), and then at Warsaw University. In 1978 he established "Liberal Publishing House" (Oficyna Liberał"w), an underground publishing house.
From 1962 to 1982 he was a member of the Democratic Party, a puppet party subordinate to the communist authorities. In August 1980 he supported the political strike of the Szczecin Shipyard workers, and later he was an adviser of NSZZ Rzemieślnik"w Indywidualnych "Solidarność" (The Independent Craftsmen's Union). After the imposition of martial law he was interned but later released. In 1987 he was elected the chairman of a liberal-conservative political party called Ruch Polityki Realnej (The Real Politics Movement), which in 1989 changed its name to Unia Polityki Realnej (UPR, Real Politics Union). In 1990 he established a new weekly Najwyższy Czas! ("It's High Time!"). The paper has published a number of antisemitic articles, some of them authored by Korwin-Mikke himself.[1]
Lech WałÄsa appointed him to become a member of Solidarity's advisory body '' Komitet Obywatelski (The Civic Committee).
Korwin-Mikke has met with Milton Friedman, who at this time was on tour in Europe advocating free market. Milton Friedman has reported on Janusz Korwin-Mikke in his memoirs:[2]
Janusz Korwin-Mikke, with whom I corresponded, had been active before liberation as an underground publisher, bringing out a translation of Capitalism and Freedom and Hayek's Road to Serfdom, as well as other libertarian literature. Subsequently, he ran for presdent on a strict libertarian platform. At the time we were in Warsaw, his Union of Real Policy was housed in a former dwelling that was a literal maze of small offces, all occupied by young people actively working on spreading hte libertarian gospel. We had very good, livery discussions with them.
'--Milton Friedman , Two lucky people: Memoirs - Milton Friedman, Rose. D. Friedman
Korwin-Mikke was a Member of Parliament during the first term of Sejm (Polish Parliament) of the Third Republic of Poland. Originator of the vetting resolution. He was a candidate for the UPR in the Polish Presidential Election of 1995, obtaining 2.4% of the vote. He was also candidate in 2000 when he got 1.43% of the vote. In the senate by-election in Wrocław in April 2004 he got 18% votes, but finally did not receive the seat. In the presidential elections of 2005 he obtained 1.4% of the vote.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke's economic views are radically liberal, in the classical sense of the word; in the U.S. his views would be best described as libertarian conservative.[citation needed] He frequently refers to such figures as Fr(C)d(C)ric Bastiat, Alexis de Tocqueville, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher. Korwin-Mikke is a self-declared monarchist and thinks that democracy is the "stupidest form of government ever conceived".[3]
In 2009 he left UPR and created a new party, Freedom and Lawfulness (Polish: Wolność i Praworządność, WIP).
Korwin-Mikke is a popular public figure in the mass-media and on the internet, mainly due to often unusual or eccentric ways of demonstrating his political stances. For instance, he protested against high taxes in Poland by eating his tax return together with Polish musician Krzysztof Skiba in front of the Polish revenue service office.[citation needed]
One of Korwin-Mikke's particular opinions that raised public attention is denying the sensibility of women's suffrage (arguing that most women were not interested in politics anyway, would more often vote for a welfare state[4]). He also claims that women are generally less intelligent than men[3][5]). Other provocative statements include the claim that there is no written proof Adolf Hitler was aware of the Holocaust or that the difference between rape and consensual sex were very subtle.[6] During the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Korwin-Mikke wrote that the general public should "not see the disabled on television".[7] He proposed that the European Commission's Berlaymont building were better used as a brothel.[3][5]
He writes the most popular political blog in Poland.[8]
Janusz Korwin-Mikke is a former professional contract bridge player. He has authored, together with Andrzej Macieszczak, a popular book on the subject.[9]
In a May 2014 in a televised debate Korwin-Mikke's made controversial comments about man-woman relations (in reference to his book "Father's vademecum") in a marriage made . Asked about whether a husband's imposition on his wife could constitute a rape, Korwin-Mikke reportedly said "Women are always pretending that they are showing some resistance and this is normal. One has to know when one can and when one can't." The litigation, brought about by a local leader of the rival party was denied by the court. [10][11]. Korwin-Mikke has also stated that he believes women are on average less intelligent then man (according to the statistics.[3][12] On the other hand, he does not deny women the passive right to vote and he claims that Margaret Thatcher is his political authority.
Publications[edit]Ratujmy paÅstwo (Let Us Save the Country) 1990Nie tylko o Å>>ydach (Not Only About Jews) 1991Prowokacja? (Provocation?) 1991Wizja parlamentu w nowej konstytucji Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Vision of parliament in new Polish constitution) 1994"Rząd rżnie głupa" '' czyli mowy sejmowe (Government playing dumb '' Parliament speeches) 1993Vademecum ojca (Father's vademecum) 1997Niebezpieczne ubezpieczenia (Dangerous insurances) 2000Ekonomikka (Economikks) 2001Rok 2007 (Year 2007) 2001Dekadencja (Decadence) 2002Naprawić PolskÄ? No problem! (Fix Poland? No problem!) 2004Podatki '' Czyli rzecz o grabieży (Taxes '' thing about robbery) 2004Bez impasu (Without impasse/finesse)Kto tu dymi? (Who is making smoke here?) 2007Rusofoby w odwrocie (Russophobes in reverse) 2009Rząd rżnie głupa 2013See also[edit]References[edit]^Pankowski, Rafal; Kornak, Marcin (2005). "Poland". In Mudde, Cas. Racist Extremism in Central and Eastern Europe (Routledge). p. 151. ^Two lucky people: Memoirs - Milton Friedman, Rose. D. Friedman. ^ abcd"Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliament". The Guardian. 26 May 2014. ^"Leader of Poland's Euro-sceptic party believes: "Women should not have right to vote."". 7 April 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014. ^ abDay, Matthew (16 May 2014). "EU elections 2014: the Polish party that wants to turn EC building in Brussels into brothel". The Telegraph. ^Szczerbiak, Aleks (10 June 2014). "The Congress of the New Right is the latest anti-establishment party to have success in Poland, but it may struggle to secure long-term support". EUROPP '-- European Politics and Policy blog. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). ^"Politician blasts Paralympics". News Poland Express. 7 September 2012. ^Blog Janusza Korwin-Mikke najpopularniejszy w Internecie '' blog, Janusz Korwin-Mikke. media2.pl (2012-03-27). Retrieved on 2012-04-06.^http://lubimyczytac.pl/ksiazka/58418/brydz^[1] Poland investigates Eurosceptic MEP over 'What is rape?' comment. Reuters, May 28, 2014.^{"Sąd oddalił pozew przeciw Korwin-Mikkemu. "Jako czynny polityk ma prawo do wyrażania swoich opinii i ocen"". ^[2] Interview in Polish Radio, May 20, 2014.External links[edit]PersondataNameKorwin-Mikke, JanuszAlternative namesShort descriptionPolish politicianDate of birth27 October 1942Place of birthWarszawa, PolandDate of deathPlace of death
Isis threat justifies greater surveillance powers in UK, says Liam Fox
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 21:11
Liam Fox said most people will accept greater powers to intercept the communications of extremists. Photograph: Steve Back/Barcroft Media
Britain's security services may need to be given greater powers of surveillance to monitor extremists from Isis when they return home to Britain from Iraq and Syria, the former defence secretary Liam Fox has said.
A majority of people will accept that an "ideological battle" means that the authorities will need greater powers to intercept the communications of extremists, Fox said.
The former defence secretary, who was speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, said Britain should offer to put its airbases at the disposal of the US to avoid a "horrendous" situation in Iraq as Isis forces pose a threat to Baghdad.
Fox said: "There are those who say if we don't get involved, if we hunker down then we will be fine. There will be no backlash. That is utterly, utterly wrong because the jihadists don't hate us because of what we do. They hate us because of who we are. We can't change that. It is our values and our history that they detest more than anything else."
Fox said the authorities could deprive British citizens returning from Syria and Iraq of their passports. But he said the greatest effort should go towards increasing the power of the state to monitor the communications of extremists. He said: "We have the security services to ensure that they [extremists] are watched and that they don't pose a greater threat."
Asked whether the powers of the security services were insufficient, the former defence secretary said: "That is a real question that we are going to have to ask '' whether the security services have adequate resources for an increased threat.
"That is a question politicians will have to take into account in judgments on spending allocations, but also do the powers they have reflect the increasing [threat]? You've got people in the light of Snowden saying that the state has too many powers and we have to restrict the powers of the state."
Asked which powers the state should be given, Fox said: "The whole area of intercept needs to be looked at. We have got a real debate, and it is a genuine debate in a democracy, between the libertarians who say the state must not get too powerful and pretty much the rest of us who say the state must protect itself."
Asked whether this meant more surveillance and increasing the manpower of the security services, he said: "If required it is the first duty of the state to protect its citizens '... it is a real worry and it is a problem that is going to be with us for a very long time. At heart it is an ideological battle and we have to realise that we have to win the ideological battle as well."
The remarks by Fox suggests that some figures, particularly on the right, will use the success of extremists in Iraq to challenge the claim by Edward Snowden that the state has amassed too many powers of surveillance. Snowden leaked a series of NSA files to the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald last year.
What's killing the honey bees? Mystery may be solved - CBS News
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:17
John Gentzel (L) and Steve Corniffe work on collecting honey produced by the bees at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel's Bees, Honey and Pollination Company in Homestead, Florida, April 10, 2013. Honey bee owners along with scientists continue to try to figure out what is causing bees to succumb to the colony collapse disorder which has devastated apiaries around the country. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Pesticides appear to play a key role in killing off the honey bee population, according to a new study from Harvard University. The authors wrote that pesticides might lead to '"impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behavior."
This finding supports previous studies that established a link between chemicals used on crops with colony collapse disorder (CCD). The bees are often exposed to the pesticides when chemically treated plants, such as corn, release pollen into the air. Bees do not pollinate corn, but the corn's pollen makes its way onto flower and other crops, where the bees are exposed.
CCD has been devastating the U.S. honey bee population since at least 2006. The mysterious disorder causes honey bees to disappear from their hives, and their bodies are rarely found. Experts have floated several theories for CCD, including disease, parasites, stress, and lack of access to food sources. Others have suggested that there is a combination of factors, including exposure to pesticides. Theories like interference from cell phone towers have even been considered and discounted.
In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is investing $3 million into efforts to protect the honey bee population. CCD has escalated winter time honey bee loses by as much as 30 percent each year.
This latest study, published May 9 in the Bulletin of Insectology, pinpoints two types of neonicotinoid pesticides as lethal agents. Imidacloprid and clothiandin have the greatest impact on healthy hives during winter months, the study concluded.
In drawing this conclusion, the researchers setup 18 hives in October 2012. The bees in 12 hives were fed high-fructose corn syrup or sugar laced with either imidacloprid or clothiandin. The other hives were fed untreated sugar or high-fructose corn syrup solutions.
By the next spring, half of the colonies of the insecticide-treated hives had disappeared. Those remaining in the hives were not healthy. The bees in one of the untreated colonies also died off, though evidence points to a parasite rather than CCD, because their bodies remained in the hive.
The authors wrote that the study results "reinforce the conclusion that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD."
One piece of evidence that did not comply with previous findings is that long-term exposure to small doses of neonicotinoids did not compromise the bees' immune systems. The hives became infected just as often when there were no neonicotinoids present. This only means more research is needed, as "neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD," according to the authors.
Several critics have voiced concerns that the study sample size is too small, and that it did not control for other potential reasons why honey bees abandon hives.
In explaining the criticisms, The Examiner's James Cooper wrote, "A couple of red flags here to the credulous press: Lu is not an entomologist, and the journal, Bulletin of Insectology, is an obscure Italian journal published at the University of Bologna." He also cited another possible explanation. "In fact, what seems to have happened is that as the bee colonies declined as winter approached, there were fewer bees eating the same amount of insecticide, which eventually killed them."
Further, he noted that the chemicals are banned in the European Union, yet CCD has still been observed in France every year. They are legal and widely used in Canada and Australia, yet beekeepers in those areas have not reported CCD.
The debate over the validity of the science is often fueled by what the organization Friends of the Earth (FOE) calls "tobacco-style PR tactics" employed by pesticide companies. FOE suggests that the companies aim to "delay action and manufacture doubt about the science linking pesticides to the bee crisis" in order to protect commercial interests.
Later this week, the USDA will release its annual report on honey bee overwintering losses.
(C) 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Pesticides linked to mass bee deaths also affect other friendly organisms including birds and fish
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:09
A group of 29 scientists from four continents found unequivocal evidence from hundreds of published studies to claim that ''neonics'' '' the most widely used pesticides in the world '' are having a dramatic impact on the ecosystems that support food production and wildlife.
The independent researchers, who are also advisers to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have concluded that the ''systemic'' pesticides such as the neonicotinoids pose as great a risk to the environment as the banned pesticide DDT, and other persistent organophosphates.
The findings of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, published today, are in stark contrast to the UK Government's stance on neonicotinoids, which is that there is not enough evidence to ban their use or to support the EU's proposed moratorium in Europe.
The taskforce, set up four years ago, analysed 800 peer-reviewed scientific reports on neonicotinoids and fibronil, another type of systemic pesticide, a group of pesticides that are absorbed by all parts of a plant, including roots, leaves, flowers, fruit and even nectar and pollen.
One of the lead authors of the report, Jean-Marc Bonmartin of the National Centre for Scientific Research in France, said that the published evidence of the link between neonics and damage to wildlife and the environment was now clear.
''We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates and DDT,'' Dr Bonmartin said.
''Far from protecting food production, the use of neonics is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it, imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem,'' he said.
The report, called the Worldwide Integrated Assessment, found that neonics posed a risk not just to honeybees but to a variety of other animals, such as soil-conditioning earthworms, aquatic invertebrates and even birds and fish.
Key findings from the assessment found that neonics accumulate in the soil and persist for months and in some cases for years. The breakdown products are often as toxic '' or more toxic '' than the pesticide's active ingredients, which are designed to work as poisonous nerve agents.
''If you use them every year they accumulate, they get into the soil water and hence into streams. So essentially we are contaminating the global environment with highly toxic, highly persistent chemicals,'' said David Goulson, professor of biology at Sussex University and one of the report's authors.
''The focus to date has been on honeybees but it's clear that the impacts of neonics are more profound than that. The story goes far beyond bees. It goes to all wildlife that lives on farmland,'' Professor Goulson said.
Neonicotinoids affects all parts of a plant, including pollen and flowers (AP)
Maarten Bijleveld van Lexmond, who chaired the research, said: ''The findings of the [assessment] are gravely worrying. We can now clearly see that neonics and fibronil pose a risk to ecosystem functioning and services which go far beyond concerns about one species and which really must warrant government and regulatory attention.''
Contrary to Government assertions, the scientists found published evidence to suggest that relatively low levels of neonics, similar to concentrations found in the field, can affect bee navigation, learning, food collection, longevity, resistance to disease and fertility.
An assessment of neonics last year by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs concluded that under normal circumstances there are no effects on bees, although it is not possible to rule out ''rare effects''.
Defra scientists also found that laboratory-based studies showing sub-lethal effects on bees from neonics do not represent realistic exposure levels and conditions in the open air. ''Consequently'... the risk to bee populations from neonicotinoids, as they are currently used, is low,'' they said.
Neonicotinoids: What's affected?The study by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides is a meta-analysis of about 800 published scientific papers on the ''systemic'' pesticides known as neonicotinoids and fibronil. This class of agro-chemicals are designed to permeate the entire crop plant, from roots to leaves and flowers, to ward off insect pests. However the task force has identified potential problems with a number of other animals:
Bees and other insect pollinators
Neonics are nerve poisons and can impair the sense of smell or memory that are essential for navigation in bees and other insect pollinators, such as butterflies.
Terrestrial invertebrates
Earthworms are critical for the health of soil yet they can also be affected by neonics, according to the study. Research shows that the pesticides can alter the tunnelling behaviour of earthworms.
Aquatic invertebrates
Neonics can be found in soil moisture and so can be washed into streams and rivers. The most affected group in the aquatic environment were freshwater snails and water fleas.
Imidacloprid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:18
IdentifiersCAS number138261-41-3 YPubChem86418ChemSpider77934 YUNII3BN7M937V8 YDrugBankDB07980KEGGC11110 YChEBICHEBI:39169 YChEMBLCHEMBL406819 YATCvet codeQP53AX17Jmol-3D imagesImage 1[O-][N+](=O)NC/1=N/CCN\1Cc2cnc(Cl)cc2
InChI=1S/C9H10ClN5O2/c10-8-2-1-7(5-12-8)6-14-4-3-11-9(14)13-15(16)17/h1-2,5H,3-4,6H2,(H,11,13) YKey: YWTYJOPNNQFBPC-UHFFFAOYSA-N Y
InChI=1/C9H10ClN5O2/c10-8-2-1-7(5-12-8)6-14-4-3-11-9(14)13-15(16)17/h1-2,5H,3-4,6H2,(H,11,13)Key: YWTYJOPNNQFBPC-UHFFFAOYAZ
PropertiesMolecular formulaC9H10ClN5O2Molar mass255.661AppearanceColorless crystalsMelting point136.4''143.8 °CSolubility in water0.51 g/L (20 °C)Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa) Y (verify) (what is: Y/N?)Infobox referencesImidacloprid is a systemic insecticide which acts as an insectneurotoxin and belongs to a class of chemicals called the neonicotinoids which act on the central nervous system of insects with much lower toxicity to mammals. The chemical works by interfering with the transmission of stimuli in the insect nervous system. Specifically, it causes a blockage in the nicotinergic neuronal pathway. This blockage leads to the accumulation of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter, resulting in the insect's paralysis, and eventually death. It is effective on contact and via stomach action.[1] Because imidacloprid binds much more strongly to insect neuron receptors than to mammal neuron receptors, this insecticide is selectively more toxic to insects than mammals.[2]
Imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world.[3] Although it is now off patent, the primary manufacturer of this chemical is Bayer CropScience (part of Bayer AG). It is sold under many names for many uses; it can be applied by soil injection, tree injection, application to the skin of the plant, broadcast foliar, ground application as a granular or liquid formulation, or as a pesticide-coated seed treatment.[4][5] Imidacloprid is widely used for pest control in agriculture. Other uses include application to foundations to prevent termite damage, pest control for gardens and turf, treatment of domestic pets to control fleas,[2] protection of trees from boring insects,[6] and in preservative treatment of some types of lumber products (e.g., Ecolife brand).[7]
Recent research suggests that widespread agricultural use of imidacloprid and other pesticides may be contributing to honey bee colony collapse disorder, the decline of honey bee colonies in Europe and North America observed since 2006.[8][9][10] As a result, several countries have restricted use of imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids.[8] In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied on may be flawed, or even deceptive.[11][12]
Authorized uses[edit]Imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in the world. Its major uses include:
Agriculture - Control of aphids, cane beetles, thrips,[13]stink bugs, locusts, and a variety of other insects that damage cropsArboriculture - Control of the emerald ash borer and other insects that attack trees (including hemlock, maple, oak, and birch)[6]Home Protection - Control of termites,[2][13]carpenter ants, cockroaches, and moisture-loving insectsDomestic animals - Control of fleas (applied to the neck)[2]Turf - Control of Japanese beetle larvaeGardening - Control of aphids and other pestsWhen used on plants, imidacloprid, which is systemic, is slowly taken up by plant roots and slowly translocated up the plant via xylem tissue.
Application to trees[edit]When used on trees, it can take 30 '' 60 days to reach the top, (depending on the size and height) and enter the leaves in high enough quantities to be effective. Imidacloprid can be found in the trunk, the branches, the twigs, the leaves, the leaflets, and the seeds. Many trees are wind pollinated. But others such as fruit trees, Linden, Catalpa, and Black Locust trees are bee and wind pollinated and imidacloprid would likely be found in the flowers in small quantities. Higher doses must be used to control boring insects than other types.[6]
Background[edit]On January 21, 1986 a patent was filed, and granted on May 3, 1988, for imidacloprid in the United States (U.S. Pat. No. 4,742,060) by Nihon Tokushu Noyaku Seizo K.K. of Tokyo, Japan.[14]
On March 25, 1992, Miles, Inc. (later Bayer CropScience) applied for registration of imidacloprid for turfgrass and ornamentals in the United States. On March 10, 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the registration of imidacloprid.[15]
On January 26, 2005, the Federal Register notes the establishment of the '(Pesticide Tolerances for) Emergency Exemptions' for imidacloprid. It use was granted to Hawaii (for the) use (of) this pesticide on bananas(,) and the States of Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota to use (of) this pesticide on sunflower(s).[16]
Brand names[edit]Imidacloprid has many brands and formulations for a wide range of uses, from delousing or defleaing animals to protecting trees. Selected brand names include: Admire, Advantage (Advocate) (flea killer for pets), Confidor, Conguard, Gaucho, Hachikusan, Intercept, Kohinor, Mallet, Maxforce Quantum, Merit, Nuprid, Optrol, Premise, Prothor, Provado, Turfthor, Temprid (Bayer), Winner, and Xytect.
Biochemistry[edit]Imidacloprid is a systemicchloronicotinylpesticide, belonging to the class of neonicotinoid insecticides. It works by interfering with the transmission of nerve impulses in insects by binding irreversibly to specific insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.[17]
As a systemic pesticide, imidacloprid translocates or moves easily in the xylem of plants from the soil into the leaves, fruit, pollen, and nectar of a plant. Imidacloprid also exhibits excellent translaminar movement in plants and can penetrate the leaf cuticle and move readily into leaf tissue.[18]
Since imidacloprid is efficacious at very low levels (nanogram and picogram), it can be applied at lower concentrations (e.g., 0.05''0.125 lb/acre or 55''140 g/ha) than other insecticides. The availability of imidacloprid and its favorable toxicity package as compared to other insecticides on the market in the 1990s, allowed the EPA to replace more toxic insecticides including the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, the organophosphorus compounds, and methylcarbamates.[19][20]
Environmental fate[edit]The main routes of dissipation of imidacloprid in the environment are aqueousphotolysis (half-life = 1''4 hours) and plant uptake. The major photometabolites include imidacloprid desnitro, imidacloprid olefine, imidacloprid urea, and five minor metabolites. The end product of photodegradation is chloronicotinic acid (CNA) and ultimately carbon dioxide. Since imidacloprid has a low vapor pressure, it normally does not volatilize readily.[17]
Imidacloprid breaks down rapidly in water in the presence of light (half-life = 1''4 hours) but is persistent in water in the absence of light. It has a water solubility of .61 g/L. which is relatively high.[21] In the dark, at pH between 5 and 7, it breaks down very slowly, and at pH 9, the half-life is about 1 year. In soil under aerobic conditions, imidacloprid is persistent with half-lives of the order of 1''3 years. Major soil metabolites include imidacloprid nitrosimine, imidacloprid desnitro and imidacloprid urea, which ultimately degrade to 6-chloronicotinic acid, CO2, and bound residues.[13][17][22] 6-Chloronicotinic acid is recently shown to be mineralized via a nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) pathway in a soil bacterium.[23]
Imidacloprid is unstable in sunlit water and quickly degrades. In the soil it strongly binds to organic matter. When not exposed to light, imidacloprid and dinotefuran break down slowly in water, and thus have the potential to persist in groundwater for extended periods. In surveys of groundwater, imidacloprid was usually not detected. When detected, it was present at very low levels, mostly at concentrations less than 1 part per billion (ppb) with a maximum of 7 ppb, which are below levels of concern for human health. The detections have generally occurred in areas with porous rocky or sandy soils with little organic matter, where the risk of leaching is high '-- and/or where the water table was close to the surface.[24]
Based on its high water solubility (0.5-0.6 g/L) and persistence, both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency in Canada consider imidacloprid to have a high potential to run off into surface water and to leach into ground water and thus warn not to apply it in areas where soils are permeable, particularly where the water table is shallow - [13][17][25]
According to standards set by the environmental ministry of Canada, if used correctly (at recommended rates, without irrigation, and when heavy rainfall is not predicted), imidacloprid does not characteristically leach into the deeper soil layers despite its high water solubility (Rouchaud et al. 1994; Tomlin 2000; Krohn and Hellpointner 2002).[17] In a series of field trials conducted by Rouchaud et al. (1994, 1996), in which imidacloprid was applied to sugar beet plots, it was consistently demonstrated that no detectable leaching of imidacloprid to the 10''20 cm soil layer occurred. Imidacloprid was applied to a corn field in Minnesota, and no imidacloprid residues were found in sample column segments below the 0-15.2 cm depth segment (Rice et al. 1991, as reviewed in Mulye 1995).[13][17]
A 2012 water monitoring study by the state of California, performed by collecting agricultural runoff during the growing seasons of 2010 and 2011, found imidacloprid in 89% of samples, with levels ranging from 0.1-3.2 µg/L. 19% of the samples exceeded the EPA threshold for chronic toxicity for aquatic invertebrates of 1.05 µg/L. The authors also point out that Canadian and European guidelines are much lower (0.23 µg/L and 0.067 µg/L, respectively) and were exceeded in 73% and 88% of the samples, respectively. The authors concluded that "imidacloprid commonly moves offsite and contaminates surface waters at concentrations that could harm aquatic [invertebrates]"[26]
Toxicology[edit]Based on laboratory rat studies, imidacloprid is rated as "moderately toxic" on an acute oral basis to mammals and low toxicity on a dermal basis by the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (class II or III, requiring a "Warning" or "Caution" label). It is rated as an "unlikely" carcinogen and as weakly mutagenic by the U.S.EPA (group E). It is not listed for reproductive, or developmental toxicity, but is listed on EPA's Tier 1 Screening Order for chemicals to be tested under the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP).[15][27] Tolerances for imidacloprid residues in food range from 0.02 mg/kg in eggs to 3.0 mg/kg in hops.[1]
Animal toxicity is moderate when ingested orally and low when applied dermally. It is not irritating to eyes or skin in rabbits and guinea pigs (although some commercial preparations contain clay as an inert ingredient, which may be an irritant). The acuteinhalationLD50 in rats was not reached at the greatest attainable concentrations, 69 milligrams per cubic meter of air as an aerosol, and 5,323 mg a.i./m" of air as a dust. In rats subjected to a two-year feeding study, no observable effect was seen at 100 parts per million (ppm). In rats, the thyroid is the organ most affected by imidacloprid. Thyroid lesions occurred in male rats at a LOAEL of 16.9 mg a.i./kg/day. In a one-year feeding study in dogs, no observable effect was seen at 1,250 ppm, while levels up to 2,500 ppm led to hypercholesterolemia and elevated livercytochrome p-450 measurements.[1][17]
Bees and other insects[edit]Imidacloprid is one of the most toxic insecticides to bees. The acute oral LD50 ranges from 0.005 µg a.i./bee to 0.07 µg a.i./bee, which makes imidacloprid more toxic to bees than the organophosphatedimethoate (oral LD50 0.152 µg/bee) or the pyrethroidcypermethrin (oral LD50 0.160 µg/bee).[28] The toxicity of imidacloprid to bees differs from most insecticides in that it is more toxic orally than by contact. The contact acuteLD50 is 0.024 µg a.i./bee (micrograms of active ingredient per bee).[29]
Imidacloprid was first widely used in the United States in 1996 as it replaced three broad classes of insecticides. In 2006, U.S. commercial migratory beekeepers reported sharp declines in their honey bee colonies. Such declines had happened in the past; however unlike the case in previous losses, adult bees were abandoning their hives. Scientists named this phenomenon colony collapse disorder (CCD). Reports show that beekeepers in most states have been affected by CCD.[30] Although no single factor has been identified as causing CCD, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in their progress report on CCD stated that CCD may be "a syndrome caused by many different factors, working in combination or synergistically."[31] Several studies have found that sub-lethal levels of imidacloprid increase honey bee susceptibility to the pathogen Nosema.[32][33][34]
David Goulson (2012) of the University of Stirling showed that trivial effects of imidacloprid in lab and greenhouse experiments can translate into large effects in the field. The research found that bees consuming the pesticide suffered an 85% loss in the number of queens their hives produced, and a doubling of the number of bees who failed to return from food foraging trips.[8][9]
Lu et al. (2012) reported they were able to replicate CCD with sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid. The imidacloprid-treated hives were nearly empty, consistent with CCD, and the authors exclude Varroa or Nosema as contributing causes.[10]
In May 2012, researchers at the University of San Diego released a study showing that honey bees treated with a small dose of imidacloprid, comparable to what they would receive in nectar and formerly considered a safe amount, became "picky eaters," refusing nectars of lower sweetness and preferring to feed only on sweeter nectar. It was also found that bees exposed to imidacloprid performed the "waggle dance," the movements that bees use to inform hive mates of the location of foraging plants, at a lower rate.[35]
Researchers from the Canadian Forest Service showed that imidacloprid used on trees at realistic field concentrations decreases leaf litter breakdown owing to adverse sublethal effects on non-target terrestrial invertebrates. The study did not find significant indication that the invertebrates, which normally decompose leaf litter, preferred uncontaminated leaves, and concluded that the invertebrates could not detect the imidacloprid.[36]
A 2012 in situ study provided strong evidence that exposure to sublethal levels of imidacloprid in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used to feed honey bees when forage is not available causes bees to exhibit symptoms consistent to CCD 23 weeks post imidacloprid dosing. The researchers suggested that "the observed delayed mortality in honey bees caused by imidacloprid in HFCS is a novel and plausible mechanism for CCD, and should be validated in future studies".[37][38]
Sublethal doses (
GERMANS!-Clothianidin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:19
ClothianidinIdentifiersCAS number210880-92-5 (E) NPubChem213027 (E)ChemSpider184723 (E) YKEGGC18508 YMeSHClothianidinChEBICHEBI:39178 NChEMBLCHEMBL259727 YBeilstein Reference9196326, 8620724 (E)Jmol-3D imagesImage 1Image 2CNC(Nn(:o):o)=NCc1cnc(Cl)s1
InChI=1S/C6H8ClN5O2S/c1-8-6(11-12(13)14)10-3-4-2-9-5(7)15-4/h2H,3H2,1H3,(H2,8,10,11) YKey: PGOOBECODWQEAB-UHFFFAOYSA-N Y
InChI=1/C6H8ClN5O2S/c1-8-6(11-12(13)14)10-3-4-2-9-5(7)15-4/h2H,3H2,1H3,(H2,8,10,11)Key: PGOOBECODWQEAB-UHFFFAOYAT
PropertiesMolecular formulaC6H8ClN5O2SMolar mass249.68 g mol''1AppearanceColorless crystalsDensity1.61 g cm-3Melting point179 °C (354 °F; 452 K)Solubility in water327 mg dm-3 (at 20 °C)log P0.732Acidity (pKa)7.472Basicity (pKb)6.525Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa) N (verify) (what is: Y/N?)Infobox referencesClothianidin is an insecticide developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer AG. Similar to thiamethoxam and imidacloprid, it is a neonicotinoid. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that are chemically similar to nicotine, which has been used as a pesticide since the late 1700s. Clothianidin and other neonicotinoids act on the central nervous system of insects as an agonist of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that stimulates nAChR, targeting the same receptor site (AChR) and activating post-synaptic acetylcholine receptors but not inhibiting AChE. Clothianidin and other neonicotinoids were developed to last longer than nicotine, which is more toxic and which breaks down too quickly in the environment. However, studies published in 2012 show that neonicotinoid dust released at planting time may persist in nearby fields for several years and be taken up into non-target plants, which are then foraged by bees and other insects.[citation needed]
Clothianidin is an alternative to organophosphate, carbamate, and pyrethroid pesticides. It poses lower risks to mammals, including humans, when compared to organophosphates and carbamates. It has helped prevent insect pests build up resistance to organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides.[1][2][3]
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), clothianidin's major risk concern is to nontarget insects (honey bees). Information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoid insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.[4] In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids including clothianidin pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, concluding, "A high acute risk to honey bees was identified from exposure via dust drift for the seed treatment uses in maize, oilseed rape and cereals. A high acute risk was also identified from exposure via residues in nectar and/or pollen."[5]
Authorized uses[edit]Clothianidin is authorized for spray, dust, soil drench (for uptake via plant roots), injectable liquid (into tree limbs and trunks, sugar cane stalks etc.), and seed treatment uses, in which clothianidin coats seeds that take up the pesticide via the roots as the plant grows. The chemical may be used to protect plants against a wide variety of agricultural pests in many countries, of which the following are mentioned in citable English-language sources: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, UK, and the United States. Seed treatment uses of clothianidin, corn in particular, have been revoked or suspended in Germany, Italy and Slovenia. The suspensions are reflective of E.U. pesticide law and are generally associated with acute poisoning of bees from pesticide dust being blown off of treated seeds, especially corn, and onto nearby farms where bees were performing pollinator services.[2][6][7][8][9][10][11]
Background[edit]Although nicotine has been used as a pesticide for over 200 years it degraded too rapidly in the environment and lacked the selectivity to be very useful in large-scale agricultural situations. However, in order to address this problem, the neonicotinoids (chloronicotinyl insecticides) were developed as a substitute of nicotine. Clothianidin is an alternative to organophosphate, carbamate, and pyrethroid pesticides. It poses lower risks to mammals, including humans, when compared to organophosphates and carbamates. It also plays a key role helping to prevent the build up in insect pests of resistance to organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides, which is a growing problem in parts of Europe.[1][2][3]
Clothianidin was first given conditional registration for use as a pesticide by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2003, pending the completion of additional study of its safety to be done by December 2004. Bayer did not complete the study on time and asked for an extension. The date was postponed to May 2005 and they also granted Bayer the permission it had sought to conduct its study on canola in Canada, instead of on corn in the United States. The study was not completed until 2007. In a November 2007 memo EPA scientists declared the study ''scientifically sound,'' adding that it, ''satisfies the guideline requirements for a field toxicity test with honeybees.''[1][12]
Clothianidin continued to be sold under a conditional registration, and in April 2010 it was granted an unconditional registration for use as a seed treatment for corn and canola. However, in response to concerns raised by bee keepers, in November the EPA released a memorandum in which they stated that some of the studies submitted did not appear to be adequate and the unconditional registration was withdrawn.[13][14]
In 2012, arguing that after more than 9 years the EPA continues to maintain the registration status for clothianidin despite the fact that the registrant has failed to supply satisfactory studies confirming its safety, an alliance of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a petition on March 21 asking the EPA to block the use of clothianidin in agricultural fields until they have conducted a review of the product. The petitioners state that they are aware that the EPA has moved up its registration review of clothianidin and other neonicotinoids in response to concerns about their impacts on pollinators, however they note that this process is projected by the EPA to take six to eight years and is thus grossly insufficient to address the urgency of the threat to pollinators.[15]
Toxicity[edit]Regulatory authorities describe the toxicological database for clothianidin as "extensive", and many studies have been reviewed to support registrations around the globe for this chemical. Laboratory and field testing revealed that clothianidin shows relatively low toxicity to many test species but is highly or very highly toxic to others. Toxicity varies depending on whether the exposure occurs on a short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) basis.[2][9][13][16][17]
Because it is systemic, persistent and highly toxic to honey bees, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada has requested additional data to fully assess the potential effects of chronic exposure of clothianidin, resulting from its potential movement into plant pollen and nectar.[9][18]
Mammals[edit]Clothianidin is moderately toxic in the short-term to mammals that eat it, and long-term ingestion may result in reproductive and/or developmental effects.[1][2][8] Using laboratory test animals as surrogates for humans and dosages much higher than are expected from exposure related to actual use, rats showed low short-term oral, dermal, and inhalation toxicity to clothianidin. For mice, acute oral toxicity was moderate to high. Rabbits showed little to no skin or eye irritation when exposed to clothianidin, and the skin of guinea pigs was not sensitized by it. When extrapolated to humans, these results suggest that clothianidin is moderately toxic through oral exposure, but toxicity is low through skin contact or inhalation. While clothianidin may cause slight eye irritation, it is not expected to be a skin sensitizer or irritant. Clothianidin does not damage genetic material nor is there evidence that it causes cancer in rats or mice; it is unlikely to be a human carcinogen.[1][2][18]
Permissible amounts of clothianidin residue on food and animal feed vary from crop to crop and nation to nation. However, regulatory authorities around the globe emphasize that when used according to the label instructions, clothianidin residues on food are not expected to exceed safe levels (as defined by each nation's laws and regulations).[18][19][20][21][22][23]
Aquatic life[edit]In the 2003 United States EPA assessment report it was stated that clothianidin should not present a direct acute or chronic risk to freshwater and estuarine/marine fish, or a risk to terrestrial or aquatic vascular and nonvascular plants. It is considered to be toxic to aquatic invertebrates if disposal of wastes according to disposal instructions are not followed.[1] The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada lists it as "very highly toxic" to aquatic invertebrates, but only slightly toxic to fish.[9]
In the 2003 EPA report it was stated that although no water monitoring studies had been conducted, due to the extreme mobility and persistence of clothianidin in the environment, clothianidin has the properties of a chemical which could lead to widespread groundwater contamination should the registrant request field uses involving direct application of clothianidin to the land surface. In a 2010 EPA report it was noted that the registrant had recently added new uses on the labels, including using it directly applied to the soil surface/foliage at much higher application rate than as specified in 2003. As a result, the potential for clothianidin to move from the treated area to the nearby surface water body under the new uses is much greater than the use as a seed treatment.[24]
Birds[edit]According to the EPA, clothianidin is practically non-toxic to test bird species that were fed relatively large doses of the chemical on an acute basis. However, EPA assessments show that exposure to treated seeds through ingestion may result in chronic toxic risk to non-endangered and endangered small birds (e.g., songbirds). Bobwhite quail eggshell thickness was affected when the test birds were given a diet consisting of relatively large amounts of clothianidin-treated seeds.[1][2][8] The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada lists clothianidin as "moderately toxic" to birds.[9]
Bees and other insect pollinators[edit]Honey bees pollinate crops responsible for about a third of the human diet; about $224 billion worth of crops worldwide.[25] Beginning in 2006, beekeepers in the United States began to report unexplained losses of hives '-- 30 percent and upward '-- leading to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD). The cause of CCD remains under debate, but scientific consensus is beginning to emerge suggesting that there is no one cause but rather a combination of factors including lack of foraging plants, infections, breeding, and pesticides'--with none catastrophic on their own, but having a synergistic effect when occurring in combination.[26][27][28][29]
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority notes that clothianidin ranks "among the most highly acutely toxic insecticides to bees" through contact and oral exposure.[30] Since clothianidin is a systemic pesticide that is taken up by the plant, there is also potential for toxic chronic exposure resulting in long-term effects to bees and other pollinators from clothianidin residue in pollen and nectar. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in addition to potential effects on worker bees, there are also concerns about lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects in the queen from chronic exposure. However, in a 2012 statement the EPA reported that they are not aware of any data demonstrating that bee colonies are subject to elevated losses due to long-term exposure when clothianidin products are used at authorized rates.[31][32]
Honey bees and other pollinators are particularly sensitive to clothianidin, as evidenced by the results of laboratory and field toxicity testing and demonstrated in acute poisoning incidents in France and Germany in 2008, and in Canada in 2010 and 2013 [33] associated with the planting of corn seeds treated with clothianidin.[34][35][36][37] To reduce the risk to pollinators from acute exposure to clothianidin sprays, label instructions prohibit the use of these products when crops or weeds are in bloom and pollinators are nearby, but in the U.S. label instructions do not require the use of a "sticker", a sticking agent meant to reduce dust from treated seeds during planting. However, according to the EPA, the use of sticking agents to reduce dust from treated seeds is standard practice in the U.S.[38][39]
In a July 2008 German beekill incident, German beekeepers reported that 50 to 100 percent of their hives had been lost after pneumatic equipment used to plant corn seed blew clouds of pesticide dust into the air, which was then pushed by the wind onto neighboring canola fields in which managed bees were performing pollinator services. The accident was found to be the result of improper planting procedures and the weather. However, in 2009, Germany suspended authorization for the use of clothianidin on corn, citing unanswered questions that remained about potential exposure of bees and other pollinators to neonicotinoid pesticides.[39]
A 2011 Congressional Research Report describing some of the reasons why scientists believe honey bee colonies are being affected by CCD reported that the United States Department of Agriculture had concluded in 2009, "it now seems clear that no single factor alone is responsible for the malady." According to the research report, the neonicotinoids, which contain the active ingredient imidacloprid, and similar other chemicals, such as clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are being studied for a possible link to CCD. Honey bees are thought to possibly be affected by such chemicals, which are known to work their way through the plant up into the flowers and leave residues in the nectar and pollen that bees forage on. The scientists studying CCD have tested samples of pollen and have indicated findings of a broad range of substances, including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. They note that the doses taken up by bees are not lethal, but they are concerned about possible chronic problems caused by long-term exposure.[4][40]
A report released in 2012 found a close relationship between the deaths of bees and the use of pneumatic drilling machines for the sowing of corn seeds coated with clothianidin and other neonicotinoid insecticides. In pneumatic drilling machines, seeds are sucked in, causing the erosion of fragments of the insecticide shell, which are then expelled with a current of air. Field tests found that foraging bees flying through dust released during the planting of corn seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides may encounter exposure high enough to be lethal. They concluded: "The consequent acute lethal effect evidenced in all the field sowing experiments can be well compared with the colony loss phenomena widely reported by beekeepers in spring and often associated to corn sowing."[41] Another field study released in 2012 looked at sublethal effects of clothianidin and imidacloprid in amounts that bees might be exposed to during foraging. Sublethal doses can affect orientation, foraging, learning ability and brood care. The study found: "clothianidin elicited detrimental sub-lethal effects at somewhat lower doses (0.5 ng/bee) than imidacloprid (1.5 ng/bee). Bees disappeared at the level of 1 ng for clothianidin, while we could register the first bee losses for imidacloprid at doses exceeding 3 ng."[42]
In a 2012 study, scientists found that an analyses of bees found dead in and around hives from several apiaries in Indiana showed the presence of the neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The research showed that the insecticides were present at high concentrations in waste talc that was exhausted from farm machinery during planting and that is left outside after cleaning the planting equipment. Talc is used in the vacuum system planters to keep pesticide treated seeds flowing freely and was studied by the investigators since the waste talc can be picked up by the wind, and could spread the pesticide to non-treated areas; they did not however investigate whether and how much pesticide spreads this way. The insecticides were also consistently found at low levels in soil up to two years after treated seed was planted, and on nearby dandelion flowers and corn pollen gathered by the bees.[43][44] Also in 2012, researchers in Italy published findings that the pneumatic drilling machines that plant corn seeds coated with clothianidin and imidacloprid release large amounts of the pesticide into the air, causing significant mortality in foraging honey bees.[45]
Neonicotinoids banned by European Union[edit]In 2012, several peer reviewed independent studies were published showing that neonicotinoids, including clothianidin, had previously undetected routes of exposure affecting bees including through dust, pollen, and nectar; that sub-nanogram toxicity resulted in failure to return to the hive without immediate lethality, the primary symptom of colony collapse disorder; and showing environmental persistence in agricultural irrigation channels and soil. These reports prompted a formal peer review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which stated in January 2013 that neonicotinoids, including clothianidin, pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied on may be flawed and contain several data gaps not previously considered. Their review concluded, "A high acute risk to honey bees was identified from exposure via dust drift for the seed treatment uses in maize, oilseed rape and cereals. A high acute risk was also identified from exposure via residues in nectar and/or pollen."[5][46] In April 2013, the European Union voted for a two-year restriction on neonicotinoid insecticides.[47] The ban restricted the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam for use on crops that are attractive to bees (maize, cotton, sunflower, and rapeseed), and goes into effect on December 1, 2013. Eight nations voted against the motion, including the British government which argued that the science was incomplete.[48]
Following on the release of the EFSA report in January 2013, the UK Parliament has asked manufacturer Bayer Cropscience to explain discrepancies in evidence they have submitted to an investigation.[49]
Data gaps[edit]North American and European pesticide regulatory authorities have identified specific data gaps and uncertainties for which clothianidin manufacturers must provide data.[1][50][51] Studies required of the manufacturers will further investigate clothianidin's:
environmental persistence in soil and subsequent uptake in rotational cropsavailability in pollen and nectarlong-term effects on honey bees and other pollinatorsdevelopmental immunotoxicityeffects on aerobic aquatic metabolismability to leach from treated seeds andacute toxicity to freshwater invertebratesThe challenges associated with studying potential long-term effects of pesticides on honey bee colonies are well documented and include the inability to adequately monitor individual bee health or extrapolate effects on individuals to whole hives. Behavior changes between bees and/or colonies in laboratory or field test conditions versus natural environments also add to the challenges.[52] Studies submitted by Bayer AG to USEPA have provided some useful information about clothianidin's potential long-term effects on honey bees but outstanding questions remain. USEPA's analysis of nine pollinator field studies submitted concluded that three were invalid, so EPA did not use the data they provided in making its regulatory decision for clothianidin. EPA classified the remainder as supplemental, generally because Bayer AG conducted the studies without EPA first approving the protocols.[53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60] Supplemental studies are ones that don't definitively answer uncertainties but still provide some data that might be useful in characterizing risk.[61] Indicative of the rapid advance of regulators' understanding of pollinator science, USEPA first accepted one of the studies as sound science in 2007, then reclassified it as invalid in November 2010 only to reclassify it as supplemental one month later.[62] The changes in EPA's classification of this study have no effect on the regulatory status for clothianidin in the U.S. because the study does not provide data with which EPA can legally justify altering its 2003 registration decision.[14] An international group of pesticide regulators, researchers, industry representatives, and beekeepers is working to develop a study protocol that will definitively answer remaining questions about the potential long-term effects on bee colonies and other pollinators.[63]
Environmental persistence[edit]Laboratory and field testing shows that clothianidin is persistent and mobile in the environment, stable to hydrolysis, and has potential to leach to ground water and be transported via runoff to surface water bodies. Worst-case scenario estimates indicate that if applied at the maximum rate repeatedly over years, clothianidin has the potential to accumulate in the top 15 cm of soil. However, the Australian pesticide authority's review of rotational crop studies determined that clothianidin generally is not taken up by crops sown in fields where treated corn seeds were planted, even when the test corn seeds were coated with an intentionally large amount of the chemical (2 mg/seed vs the authorized maximum application rate of 1.25 mg).[1][2]
Risk mitigation[edit]Once laboratory and field data identify hazards associated with a chemical, regulatory authorities take different approaches to mitigate those hazards and bring the risks down to acceptable levels, as defined by each nation's laws and regulations. For clothianidin, hazard mitigation includes establishing the maximum amount of the chemical that can be used (e.g. kg/acre or mg/seed), requiring buffer zones around treated fields to protect water supplies, and prohibiting the use of low-technology seed treatment methods or equipment that can send clouds of clothianidin dust or spray up into the air during seeding operations.[1][2][18][64]
Clothianidin users are also required to monitor the weather and not use the chemical or seeds treated with it on windy days or when rain is forecast. Workers are protected from clothianidin exposure through requirements for personal protective equipment, such as long-sleeve shirts, gloves, long pants, boots, and face mask or respirators as appropriate. To reduce the possibility that birds and small mammals might eat treated seeds, users are required to ensure that soil covers planted seeds and that any spilled seed is picked up.
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abcdefghij"USEPA Clothianidin fact sheet". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 14 October 2013. ^ abcdefghi"Australian evaluation of the new active CLOTHIANIDIN". Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^ ab"Background Information On Use Of Neonicotinoid Pesticides And Their Effects On Bees". U.K. Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ^ abRen(C)e Johnson for the Congressional Research Service January 7, 2010 Congressional Research Service Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder^ abEuropean Food Safety Authority (16 January 2013) "Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substance clothianidin"EFSA Journal11(1):3066.^"Pesticides 2011". Ireland's Pesticide Registration & Control Division Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Retrieved 12 August 2011. ^"Clothianidin Status web page". USEPA. Retrieved 12 August 2011. ^ abc"Clothianidin registration announcement". Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Retrieved 12 August 2011. ^ abcde"Registration Decision RD2013-14, Clutch 50 WDG, Arena 50 WDG and Clothianidin Insecticides". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Retrieved 14 October 2013. ^"Mode of Action Classification Table for Uk Approved Insecticide Active Substances". Insecticide Resistance Action Group, U.K. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ^"Background Information On Use Of Neonicotinoid Pesticides And Their Effects On Bees, see Action in other Member States". U.K. Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ^Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists' red flags | Grist^ ab"USEPA Freedom of Information Act e-Reading Room for Clothianidin". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^ ab"Clothinidin Status: 2010 Reclassification of Clothianidin Field Study for Pollinators". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^http://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/CFS-Clothianidin-Petition-3-20-12.pdf^"Advice Summary, Application for Registration of a Chemical Product". Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Advice Summary, Application for Variation of a Registered Chemical Product". Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^ abcd"Evaluation Report ERC2011-01, Clutch 50 WDG, Arena 50 WDG and Clothianidin Insecticides". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL2011-30, Clothianidin". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Retrieved 12 August 2011. ^"Advice Summary, Application for Variation of a Registered Chemical Product". Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"U.S. Federal Register Notice: Clothianidin; Pesticide Tolerances". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Keeping our Food Safe: Measuring, Monitoring and Assessing Residues.". U.K. Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ^"Official Journal of the European Union, amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for chlorothalonil clothianidin, difenoconazole, fenhexamid, flubendiamide, nicotine, spirotetramat, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam in or on certain products". U.K. Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ^http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/memo_nov2010_clothianidin.pdf^Kinver, M. (27 September 2010) "'Pollination crisis' hitting India's vegetable farmers"BBC News^Kay, J. (August 19, 2008) "Lawsuit seeks EPA pesticide data"San Francisco Chronicle^MacKenzie, D. (16 February 2009) "Honeybees under attack on all fronts"New Scientist^McGrath, M. (5 March 2009) 'No proof' of bee killer theoryBBC News^Alaux, C. et al. (2010) "Interactions between Nosema microspores and a neonicotinoid weaken honeybees (Apis mellifera)"Environmental Microbiology12(3):774''82^"Australian evaluation of the new active CLOTHIANIDIN, p35". Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Clothianidin Status web page, Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation section". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Weakening, collapse and mortality of bee colonies, last bullet on p. 49". French Food Safety Agency. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^Collective-Evolution^"Weakening, collapse and mortality of bee colonies, p.88". French Food Safety Agency. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Evaluation of Pesticide Incident Report 2010-3100". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013. ^"Evaluation of Pesticide Incident Report 2010-3391". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013. ^"Evaluation of Pesticide Incident Report 2010-4374". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013. ^"Pesticide News Story: EPA Acts to Protect Bees". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^ ab"BVL 2.9.2009 Press Release". Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety. Retrieved 15 July 2011. ^Decourtye and Devillers (2010) "Ecotoxicity of Neonicotinoid Insecticides to Bees" in Insect Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors ed. by Steeve Herv(C) Thany (New York: Springer/Landes) Chapter 8, pp. 85-95, on p. 86^Tapparo et al (2012) "Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds"Environmental Science and Technology^Schneider et al (2012) "RFID Tracking of Sublethal Effects of Two Neonicotinoid Insecticides on the Foraging Behavior of Apis mellifera"PLoS ONE^"Researchers: Honeybee deaths linked to seed insecticide exposure" January 11, 2012 (Purdue University News Service)^Krupke et al (2012) "Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure for Honey Bees Living Near Agricultural Fields"PLoS ONE^Andrea Tapparo, Daniele Marton, Chiara Giorio, Alessandro Zanella, Lidia Sold , Matteo Marzaro, Linda Vivan, Vincenzo Girolami (2012). "Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds". Environmental Science & Technology46 (5): 2592''2599. doi:10.1021/es2035152. PMID 22292570. ^European Food Safety Authority (2012) "Assessment of the scientific information from the Italian project 'APENET' investigating effects on honeybees of coated maize seeds with some neonicotinoids and fipronil"EFSA Journal10(6):2792^Tania Rabesandratana for ScienceInsiderApril 29, 2013 European Commission Goes Ahead With Controversial Pesticide Ban^Charlotte McDonald-Gibson (29 April 2013). "'Victory for bees' as European Union bans neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for destroying bee population". The Independent. Retrieved 1 May 2013. ^Damian Carrington (16 January 2013) "Insecticide 'unacceptable' danger to bees, report finds"The Guardian^"Evaluation Report ERC2011-01, under What Additional Scientific Information Is Being Requested?". Health Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Re-registration Requirements Following Further Annex I Inclusion Decisions, see Other updates section". U.K. Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ^"Weakening, collapse and mortality of bee colonies, pp.143-144". French Food Safety Agency. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422440". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422439". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422431". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422436". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422437". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422435". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422438". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 45422434". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Reclassification of MRID 46907801 Data Package for Clothianidin". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Data Evaluation Record, Honey Bee - Field Testing for Pollinators MRID 46907801/46907802". USEPA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"January 24, 2011 International SETAC Pellston Workshop". The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Retrieved 15 August 2011. ^"Notice of Approval Number: 0065 of 2011, Approval and Consent for a Plant Protection Product". U.K. Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
FOE-Our board of directors
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:25
Whitey Bluestein, Bluestein & Associates, LLCWhitey Bluestein is a strategic advisor to high-tech start-ups, focusing on mobile applications, payments, video and prepaid services. Over his 30-year career in corporate development, he has worked in every facet of telecommunications, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the wireless market, trends, pricing plans and wholesale carrier deals. He is a GigaOM Pro Mobile Industry Expert and an AlwaysOn 2013 Mobile Power Player. A lifelong environmentalist, he was the second Executive Director of Vermont Public Interest Research Group, where he focused on utilities and nuclear power. He worked at the U.S. Department of Energy in renewable fuels, detailed to the Secretary of Energy on several assignments. Before joining the Friends of the Earth board, he was the board president of Bluewater Network. Whitey received his B.S. in Business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University (Bloomington) and his Juris Doctor with Honors from George Washington University Law School. He also completed the NARUC Advanced Regulatory Studies Program, at the Institute of Public Utilities, Michigan State University, in East Lansing. Bluestein is admitted to practice law in Indiana, the District of Columbia and before the U.S. Supreme Court, but enjoys not having practiced law for more than 30 years! He lives in Marin County, California.
Jayni Chase, Founder and CEO, Center for Environmental EducationJayni founded the Center for Environmental Education, a nationally based non-profit organization which advances environmental education. She is also the author of Blueprint for a Green School, an environmental education resource guide. Jayni is the recipient of numerous awards from organizations such as The Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Environmental Media Association (EMA), Women For, U.S. Environmental Film Festival, and the Rainforest Alliance. Most recently Jayni participated in the Clinton Global Initiative and, along with Earth Day Network (EDN), she is launching a new ambitious initiative, GREEN reModel. She joined the Board of Directors of EDN in February 2008.
Cecil D. Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director/Director of Policy Initiatives, West Harlem Environmental ActionCecil D. Corbin-Mark is the Deputy Director and the Director of Policy Initiatives at West Harlem Environmental Action in New York City. A life-long resident of Hamilton Heights in Harlem, New York, he is the former Vice-President of his neighborhood association, and the former Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Committee of his Community Planning Board. He serves as a mentor through the Friends of Island Academy -- a program to assist formerly incarcerated teens. He is also a big brother to several young men and women from his neighborhood. Cecil earned a degree in political science from Hunter College, C.U.N.Y., and completed graduate work in political science at Oxford University in the U.K., focusing on radical political traditions of Africans of the Diasporas in the Americas. He has lectured on the environment and environmental justice at Hunter College, Teacher's College, The College of Mount St. Vincent, Buffalo State, Cornell University, Yale School of Forestry, and Columbia University School of Public Health. Cecil currently, or has in the past, served on the following boards, coalitions and committees: New York Jobs with Justice, Center for Environmental Health, Urban Wet Weather FACA for the U.S. EPA, the New York State DEC Urban Air Toxic Committee, New York State Cumulative Risk Assessment Work Group, New York City DEP Water Quality Citizen Advisory Committee, Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board, Clean Air Network, Association for Clean Water Action, Clean Products/Clean Production Network, Environmental Justice Fund, Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods, the NYC Environmental Education Advisory Council. He is also a member of the Steering Committee for the Northeast Environmental Justice Network.
Harriett Crosby, Co-founder & President of Institute for Soviet American Relations Audit committee chair ISAR supports the work of environmental activists in the former Soviet Union. Harriett has worked as an instructor for the Colorado Outward Bound School and taught at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Aspen Community School , and at the Putney School in Vermont. She worked at the White House Council on Environmental Quality for the first five years of the Clinton Administration. Harriett has a Master's degree in Psychology from Temple University and has been trained as a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. She attended Pitzer College and just received their distinguished alumni award. She manages Fox Haven, a farm and retreat center in Maryland, and currently serves as secretary for the board of Friends of the Earth.
Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director, Center for Auto Safety Legal committee chair Clarence is the author of The Lemon Book and The Safe Road to Fuel Economy, and numerous publications on auto safety, air pollution and transportation. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Consumers Union, the Canadian Automobile Protection Association and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. He is a past recipient of the Washington, D.C. Consumer Lawyer of the Year Award and Syracuse University's Salzberg Medallion. Clarence received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Clarence currently serves as the legal committee chair for the board of directors.
Dan Gabel, Chairman and CEO, Hagedorn & Company Dan and his wife, Bunny, have been involved with Friends of the Earth since 1970. He served on the Board of Friends of the Earth Foundation as Director and Treasurer for about 15 years. He joined the Board of Friends of the Earth in 1995 and served as Chairman of the Board for many years. Dan and Bunny graduated from Duke University where he is on the Board of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment Earth Sciences. He is also on the board of Waterkeepers Alliance, Cary Institute, Cheshire Academy, Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, Insurance Brokers Association of New York (where he is the current president), Hundred Year Association, Abtec Industries, and Tekkote Corporation. Since 1979 he has been Chairman and CEO of the New York based insurance brokerage firm, Hagedorn & Company.
Jeffrey Glueck, COO, Foursquare Jeff is the COO of Foursquare, the location-based social network that over 50 million people have joined. He is passionate about helping people discover locally-owned merchants and preserving the vibrancy of local communities, and enabling beloved small businesses to compete on a level playing field with national brands and chains.
Previously, he was CEO at Skyfire Labs in Silicon Valley, an innovative start-up that develops cloud computing solutions to help deal with the explosion of data use and video consumption on mobile devices around the world. He previously served as Chief Marketing Officer for Travelocity for seven years, where he launched the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, and ''Travel for Good'' including the first carbon offset program of any online travel agency. In 2007 he was named to Advertising Age's "40 Under 40" leaders. He has held positions advising Latin American governments on sustainable development and as a White House Fellow in the Clinton administration working on green trade and renewable energy financing. He is married and lives in New York, and on the weekends enjoys hiking and spending time with his three young children.
Michael J. Herz, Founder, San Francisco BaykeeperNominating committee chair A research scientist and environmental activist for more than 30 years, Mike was an associate professor in residence at the University of California at San Francisco & has published numerous books and papers on the effects of toxics on the brain & behavior. He co-founded and was Executive Director of the San Francisco chapter of the Oceanic Society & Executive Vice President of the national organization. He was a member of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission following the Exxon Valdez oil spill & has served on numerous technical review committees for the National Research Council, Department of Interior & State of California. He is past-President of the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association, a Maine land trust that also protects endangered Atlantic salmon, a current board member of Maine Rivers & the Putney School & a former commodore of the Singlehanded Sailing Society. Mike received a Master's degree from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.
Russell Long, Founder, Bluewater Network Russell founded Bluewater Network, a national environmental organization which merged with Friends of the Earth in 2005. Bluewater has helped establish laws and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars, reduce air and water pollution from the shipping industry, and curtail thrillcraft use on public lands. In 2001, Mother Jones magazine named Russell a "Hellraiser." He has served on various state, regional, and local advisory boards regulating oil spills, water conservation, and marine transportation in California. Russell holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard, a Master's of Business Administration from Columbia University, and a Doctorate in Ecology and Development from the California Institute of Integral Studies. In addition to Friends of the Earth, he also serves on the Board of the Sapelo Foundation in Georgia.
Avis Ogilvy Moore, Charter Member of Friends of the Earth With Friends of the Earth since its founding in 1969, Avis has been a life-long environmentalist, activist, researcher and scholar. She co-founded and chaired the New York branch of Friends of the Earth in 1972 and is a past chair of FoE's board. Avis has served on numerous other boards over the years including Sierra Club's Atlantic Chapter, Zero Population Growth's New York Chapter and the Louisiana Landmarks Society. She is the board chair for Potomac Riverkeeper and the Community and People's Recovery Association in New Orleans. She received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and M.A. in French literature from New York University.
Stephen Nemeth, Founder and CEO, Rhino Films Stephen Nemeth formed and heads up Rhino Films, the independent film company that originated as a division of iconoclastic record label Rhino Records. He has produced ten films, including "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and executive produced fourteen others. He is also working with Amnesty International through Artists for Amnesty on developing and producing human rights related projects. He serves on the boards of the Woodstock Film Festival, the Wildlife Ecostation, Wheels For Humanity, Children Uniting Nations, Shine On Sierra Leone, OneVoice, the Hollywood Film Festival, the Veggie Van Organization, the One Second Film Foundation, the advisory board of the Full Frame Documentary Festival, the dean's board of UC Santa Cruz's School for the Arts, and is a consultant for Admetech, a prostate cancer research foundation at the Harvard Medical School.
Chris Pabon, Director of Development, Project On Government OversightChris Pabon is the Director of Development at Project on Government Oversight. Prior to joining POGO, Chris worked at Friends of the Earth for over 10 years. He has worked within the development offices of the College of Pan American Agriculture and Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Chris also served for four years as the coordinator for DC Fundraisers, an organization with 500 members whiched organized monthly brownbags for its members. Chris was elected as a delegate for Washington, D.C., to the Non Profit Congress in 2006. Chris has worked in all aspects of fundraising including event organizing, direct mail, donor relations, combined federal campaign, planned giving and was also an instructor with the Social Action and Leadership School for Activists. Chris received a B.A. in Political Science (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Tennessee and has taken specialization courses through the Institute for Policy Studies, National Society of Fund Raising Executives and the Foundation Center. He has served as a judge for the Council on Foundations Wilmer Shields Rich Award, a prize that every year chooses the best communication tools (web sites, annual reports, special reports, newsletters) produced by foundations. Chris is fluent in Spanish and has been quoted in numerous publications such as the Washington Post, New York Post, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and radio interviews. He has hiked through the peaks and valleys of the Bolivian segment of the Andes. In his spare time he enjoys attending Cons, cheering for the U.S. men's soccer team, cooking and watching movies.
Chris Paine, FilmmakerChris Paine is a filmmaker best known for his documentaries "Who Killed the Electric Car?" (2006) and "Revenge of the Electric Car" (2011). Other films as executive producer include "Charge" about electric motorcycle racing with Ewan McGregor, "Faster!" and "No Maps for These Territories" about science fiction author William Gibson. His work as an environmentalist include campaigns against the expansion of Pacific Coast Highway south of San Francisco, the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, and natural gas fracking in California. He founded the internet project "counterspill.com" in the wake of the BP oil disaster. The site is dedicated to documenting the cost of non-renewable energy disasters around the world. Counterspill won 3 Webby Awards in 2012. Chris was raised in California by parents in the open space and environmental education movement. He studied film and international relations in New York. His entrepreneurial projects includes Mondo-tronics a supplier of materials for the Mars Pathfinder mission and Internet Outfitters, a design/database firm which he sold in 1999. He serves on the boards of Friends of the Earth, the e-bike company Conscious Commuter, Impro Theater, and the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
Arlie Schardt, Founder and Director, Environmental Media ServiceChair Arlie has had a long and illustrious career within the media. He served as national press secretary for Senator Al Gore's 1987-88 Presidential campaign, Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund, southern civil rights correspondent for Time magazine, news media editor at Newsweek, Associate Director of the ACLU, writer and later Chief of the News Service at Sports Illustrated, and editor of Foundation News magazine at the Council on Foundations. He has written features and op-ed pieces in numerous national magazines and leading dailies. He has also contributed to three books on politics and national issues.
Soroush Shehabi, CEO, Washington Life MagazineDoria Steedman, Dir. of Partnership DevelopmentDoria has had a very distinguished career in the advertising field, having been chosen as 1996 Advertising Woman of the Year by Advertising Women of New York. Previously, she worked for Geer DuBois Advertising, where she served on the Executive Committee; produced and directed two award-winning films for People Magazine; was selected as one of Advertising Age's ''100 Best and Brightest''; and was elected to the Board of Directors of Advertising Women of New York (AWNY). She served as president of AWNY from 1993 to 1995, and as chair of the AWNY Foundation from 1995 to 1997. She became Creative Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in 1992, where she was responsible for the quality and the quantity of the Partnership's anti ''drug advertising, both the exclusively pro-bono work and the Office of National Drug Policy's paid media campaign.
Peyton M. West, Director, Help for Threatened Wildlife/Frankfurt Zoological SocietyDevelopment committee co-chairPeyton directs Help for Threatened Wildlife, a non-profit that supports Germany's Frankfurt Zoological Society and its international conservation programs. This includes projects ranging from the repatriation of rhinos to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to conserving the Amazon headwaters of Peru's Purus-Manu Conservation Corridor. Prior to joining HFTW, she worked at the American Association for the Advancement of Science to encourage better engagement between scientific, educational and religious communities around issues such as evolution and climate change. An ardent advocate for science she has promoted science literacy through documentaries, websites, museum exhibits, and television shows including the children's program "Go, Diego, Go!" Previously she worked mammal department at the Bronx Zoo in New York and as a field biologist with the Serengeti Lion Project in Tanzania and Kenya. She holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota.
David Zwick, Founder, Clean Water ActionTreasurerDavid's work over the past 30 years has focused on helping grassroots citizen organizations form, grow and campaign successfully. In the fall of 2007, he stepped down as president of Clean Water Action, which he founded in 1972. Since then he has been a Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics for a semester and worked as a consultant to organizations and campaigns helping build capacity, improve management, and design and run effective projects. For many years David was Treasurer of America Votes, a national organization that works with its partner groups on election projects. He is the author of Water Wasteland, which helped shape the Clean Water Act, and co-author of the bestseller, Who Runs Congress. He holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. David currently serves as Treasurer for the Board of Friends of the Earth.
Brent Blackwelder, Ex-officio and president emeritusBrent was most recently president of Friends of the Earth, from 1994 to 2009. In his 40-plus years of environmental advocacy he has been active in campaigns to reform foreign aid, save forests, protect rivers and advance human rights. He was an architect of significant legislation to protect natural resources and clean up pollution. Brent is a leader in the effort to save rivers -- he helped expand the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System from eight rivers in 1973 to more than 250 today and helped eliminate more than 200 dams and stream dredging projects, which would have destroyed rivers, wetlands, wildlife and areas of significant scientific value. He founded American Rivers, the Environmental Policy Center and Environmental Policy Institute, and was the chairman of the board of directors of the League of Conservation Voters. Brent holds a bachelor's degree from Duke University and a master's from Yale University in mathematics and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Maryland. He current serves as ex-officio and president emeritus of Friends of the Earth.
Ian Illuminato-FOE-WTF-Consultants
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:26
Special advisorsDavid Freeman, Senior advisorS. David Freeman is a senior advisor with Friends of the Earth's nuclear campaign. He has more than four decades of experience directing federal, regional and local energy policies. He was appointed chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority by Jimmy Carter in 1977, where he stopped the construction of eight large nuclear power plants and pioneered a massive energy conservation program. Subsequently, David served for two decades as general manager of several large public power agencies including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the New York Power Authority and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. David is a renowned expert on clean energy, efficiency and the risks of nuclear power. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech, and an L.L.B. from the University of Tennessee. He wrote Energy: The New Era in 1974, and Winning Our Energy Independence: An Energy Insider Shows How in 2007.
Campaign consultantsFred Felleman, Northwest consultantFred Felleman is a longtime maritime activist and whale biologist who is leading our work in the Pacific Northwest to reduce the significant air and water pollution and harm to marine mammals caused by the shipping industry in Puget Sound, the Salish Sea and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. He currently serves on the Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee, the Puget Sound Partnership Oil Spill Advisory Committee and the Strait of Juan de Fuca Regional Network. Fred holds an M.S. from the University of Washington's College of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences.
Ian Illuminato, Health and environment consultantIan's work focuses on protecting people and the environment from threats posed by nanotechnology. He has worked for Greenpeace Italy, Greenpeace International, and the United Nations Environmental Program in Italy and has extensive experience monitoring the impact of technological change on the environment. At Greenpeace he helped lead an international movement against genetically engineered crops in Europe and the Middle East. He persuaded Europe's largest rice company to stop importing American rice to keep its stock GM-free. He also works closely with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to remove toxins from beauty products. He has authored reports including, ''Nano and biocidal silver: extreme germ killers present a growing threat to public health'' and ''Nanotechnology, climate and energy: over-heated promises and hot air?'' His writing has appeared in publications including the Journal of Nanoparticle Research and the European Journal of Oncology. He has also appeared in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Scientific American, Business Week and Reuters. He has also served on the Executive Committee of Friends of the Earth International. Ian has a B.A. degree in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Bill Walker, Press consultantBill Walker has deep experience and skills from both sides of the line between journalism and activism. His first career was as an award-winning reporter for major metro dailies including The Denver Post and The Sacramento Bee. Deciding he wanted to help make change rather than just write about it, he joined the environmental movement as a media strategist for Greenpeace, coordinating news coverage for dozens of non-violent direct actions. He was an early leader of The Ruckus Society, which has trained hundreds of activists in the skills of non-violent protest. After gaining experience in electoral politics with the California League of Conservation Voters, he opened and ran the West Coast office of the Environmental Working Group, which pioneered the use of sophisticated data analysis of issues ranging from toxic chemicals in consumer products to agricultural policy. He is now a communications and campaign consultant to a organiations including Friends of the Earth, The Story of Stuff and Human Impact Partners.
About UsTake actionAsk the CEO of Lowe's to stop selling plants pretreated with bee-killing pesticides.
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:28
Posted Jun. 25, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell
Washington, D.C. '' Many ''bee-friendly'' home garden plants sold at Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees, according to a study released today by Friends of the Earth and allies.
The study, Gardeners Beware 2014, shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides -- a key contributor to recent bee declines. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright assuming comparable concentrations are present in the flowers' pollen and nectar. Further, 40 percent of the positive samples contained two or more neonics.
The study is a larger follow up to a first-of-its-kind pilot study released by Friends of the Earth last August. The new study expanded the number of samples and number of locations where plants were purchased, and also assessed the distribution of neonic pesticides between flowers and the rest of the plant.
''The high percentage of contaminated plants and their neonicotinoid concentrations suggest that this problem continues to be widespread,'' said Lisa Archer, director of the Food & Technology program at Friends of the Earth-U.S. ''Most gardeners have no idea that their gardens may be a source of harm to bees. We're calling on retailers to get neonicotinoid pesticides out of their plants and off their shelves as soon as possible. Until then, gardeners should buy organic plants to ensure the safety of bees.''
''Our data indicate that many plants sold in nurseries and garden stores across the U.S. and Canada are being pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides, making them potentially toxic to pollinators,'' said Timothy Brown, Ph.D., co-author of the report from the Pesticide Research Institute. ''Unfortunately, these pesticides don't break down quickly so these plants could be toxic to bees for years to come.''
Bees and other pollinators, essential for the two-thirds of the food crops humans eat every day, are in decline in countries around the world. The European Union banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids, based on strong science indicating that neonics can kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors.
A new meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies released this week by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides -- a group of global, independent scientists -- confirms neonics are a key factor in bee declines and are harming beneficial organisms essential to functional ecosystems and food production, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms, reptiles, and birds. The Task Force called for immediate regulatory action to restrict neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoid insecticides have been responsible for several high profile bee kills from high doses of the pesticides, but a strong and growing body of science shows that neonics contribute to impairment in reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications and immune response at doses far below those that cause bee kills. In this study, all of the nursery plant samples where neonics were detected have the potential to harm or even kill bees.
More than half a million Americans have signed petitions demanding that Lowe's and Home Depot stop selling neonics. In the face of mounting evidence and growing consumer demand, nearly a dozen nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers, are taking steps to eliminate bee harming pesticides from their garden plants and their stores. BJ's Wholesale Club, with more than 200 locations in 15 states, announced today it will require vendors to remove neonics from plants by the end of 2014 and/or require warning labels for plants treated with neonics.
''A growing number of responsible retailers have decided to be part of the solution to the bee crisis and are taking bee-harming pesticides off their shelves,'' said Archer. ''We urge Home Depot, Lowe's and other major retailers to join these leaders in making our backyards and communities safe havens for bees.''
A majority of the UK's largest garden retailers, including Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, have already voluntarily stopped selling neonics.
''There is a growing movement around the world demanding that we protect the bees essential to our food supply,'' said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfUs. ''Lowe's and other retailers need to stop selling Bayer's bee-killing pesticides and start being part of the solution to the bee crisis.''
In addition to pressuring retailers, U.S. groups are calling for the government to restrict neonics in the United States as they have in the EU. Despite more than a million public comments urging swift protections for bees, the EPA has delayed taking substantive action on neonicotinoids until registration review is complete.
In 2013, U.S Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the ''Saving America's Pollinators Act'' which seeks to suspend the use of neonics on bee-attractive plants until EPA reviews all available data, including field studies. This bill has bi-partisan support and 68 cosponsors. Last week President Obama announced a federal strategy to protect pollinators and called on EPA to assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days.
''It is deeply troubling that retail garden centers like Home Depot and Lowe's continue the sale of neonicotinoid pesticides and seedlings and plants pre-treated with such pesticides as supposedly ''bee-friendly'' products. This is an unfair and deceptive practice. Many consumers are not made aware that the ''bee-friendly'' products they purchase have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids or the damaging health effects they have on honey bees or other pollinators, as demonstrated by rigorous scientific reviews. This is disturbing, especially considering the alarming rate of honey bee decline and colony losses. Our food system and agriculture industry cannot afford for the use of these pesticides to continue. I encourage retailers to immediately remove the sale of neonicotinoids and any products pre-treated with such pesticides until the Environmental Protect Agency has completed its review of neonicotinoids and determined whether such pesticides have an unreasonable and adverse-effect upon honeybees and other pollinators,'' said Congressman John Conyers.
''Pollinator decline is a grave concern for farmers and consumers world-wide. I am deeply concerned about the findings in this report, which illustrates why passing our Saving America's Pollinators Act is so urgent. I was pleased to see the White House call for the establishment of a Pollinator Health Task Force, which is a positive step. I will continue to urge the EPA to both expedite its review of neonicotinoid pesticides, and, in the meantime, suspend their use until the agency has thoroughly demonstrated that these pesticides do not pose a threat to pollinators,'' said Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
The Report Gardeners Beware 2014: Bee-Toxic Pesticides Found in ''Bee-Friendly'' Plants Sold at Garden Centers in the U.S. and Canada, tips for consumers and a complete list of the co-releasing organizations and cities where plant samples were gathered can be found at www.BeeAction.org.
Friends of the Earth '' U.S. is the U.S. voice of the world's largest federation of grassroots environmental groups, with a presence in 74 countries. Friends of the Earth works to defend the environment and champion a more healthy and just world. www.FoE.org.
Pesticide Research Institute is an environmental consulting firm providing research, analysis, technical services and expert consulting on the chemistry and toxicology of pesticides. www.pesticideresearch.com
SumOfUs.org is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy. www.SumOfUs.org
Friends of the Earth U.S., the Pesticide Research Institute and SumOfUs, are releasing the report today with American Bird Conservancy, Atlanta Audubon Society, Bee Safe Neighborhoods, Beyond Pesticides, Beyond Toxics, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Ecology Center, Environment New York, Environment Texas, Environmental Youth Council, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth Canada, Georgia Organics, Green America, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maryland Pesticide Network, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network North America, Toxics Action Center, Toxic Free North Carolina, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in the following cities: Ann Arbor, MI, Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Boulder, CO, Boston, MA, Baltimore area, MD, Eugene, OR, London, Ontario, Minneapolis, MN, Montreal, Quebec, New York, New York, Portland, ME, Raleigh, NC, Sacramento, CA, San Francisco, CA, St. Augustine, FL, Vancouver, British Columbia and Washington, DC.
Expert Contact: Lisa Archer, (510) 978-3145, larcher@foe.orgCommunications Contacts: EA Dyson, 202-222-0730, edyson@foe.org; Stacy Malkan, 510-542-9224, stacydmalkan@gmail.com
Categories: Food and Technology, News Releases / Tags: Neonicotinoid
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Agenda 21
The scandal of fiddled global warming data - Telegraph
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 22:46
When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data. There was already much evidence of this seven years ago, when I was writing my history of the scare, The Real Global Warming Disaster. But now another damning example has been uncovered by Steven Goddard's US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world's most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA's US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been ''adjusting'' its record by replacing real temperatures with data ''fabricated'' by computer models. The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data. In several posts headed ''Data tampering at USHCN/GISS'', Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on ''fabricated'' data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century.
When I first began examining the global-warming scare, I found nothing more puzzling than the way officially approved scientists kept on being shown to have finagled their data, as in that ludicrous ''hockey stick'' graph, pretending to prove that the world had suddenly become much hotter than at any time in 1,000 years. Any theory needing to rely so consistently on fudging the evidence, I concluded, must be looked on not as science at all, but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberrations of group psychology.
IPCC report: impact of global warming by region
Climate change could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions a year by 2100, report claims.
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:16
The bipartisan report, released today, has been dubbed 'the most detailed ever' on the potential economic effects of climate change on the U.S.Claims in just 25 years annual property losses from hurricanes and other coastal storms will reach $35 billionA decline in crop yields of 14 percent will cost corn and wheat farmers tens of billions of dollars a yearAnd heat wave-driven demand for electricity is forecast to cost utility customers up to $12 billion annuallyIts conclusions about crop losses and other consequences are based not on computer projections, but on data from past heat wavesBy Reuters and Helen Pow
Published: 00:53 EST, 24 June 2014 | Updated: 01:35 EST, 24 June 2014
Climate change could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars a year by 2100, a new bipartisan report has claimed.
Over the next 25 years, annual property losses from hurricanes and other coastal storms are expected to reach $35 billion; a decline in crop yields of 14 percent will cost corn and wheat farmers tens of billions of dollars a year and heat wave-driven demand for electricity is forecast to cost utility customers up to $12 billion annually.
But the report, commissioned by a group chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of the Treasury and Goldman Sachs alum Henry Paulson, and environmentalist and financier Tom Steyer, claims the price tag could soar to hundreds of billions by 2100.
Hurricanes on the rise: This November 15, 2012 photo shows a house in Sea Bright New Jersey that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Over the next 25 years, annual property losses from hurricanes and other coastal storms alone are expected to reach $35 billion, a new report claims
The analysis, released Tuesday, 'is the most detailed ever of the potential economic effects of climate change on the U.S.,' climatologist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University said.
It comes three weeks after President Barack Obama ordered U.S. regulators to take their strongest steps ever to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including requiring power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Called 'Risky Business,' the report projects climate impacts at scales as small as individual counties.
Its conclusions about crop losses and other consequences are based not on computer projections, which climate-change skeptics routinely attack, but on data from past heat waves.
It paints a grim picture of economic loss.
'Our economy is vulnerable to an overwhelming number of risks from climate change,' Paulson said in a statement, including from sea-level rise and from heat waves that will cause deaths, reduce labor productivity and strain power grids.
By mid-century, $66 billion to $106 billion worth of coastal property will likely be below sea level.
Act now: On June 14, 2014, President Barack Obama told a graduating class at the University of California, Irvine that denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese, and issued a call to action on global warming
There is a 5 percent chance that by 2100 the losses will reach $700 billion, with average annual losses from rising oceans of $42 billion to $108 billion along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.
Extreme heat, especially in the Southwest, Southeast and upper Midwest, will slash labor productivity as people are unable to work outdoors at construction and other jobs for sustained periods.
The analysis goes further than previous work, said Princeton's Oppenheimer, by identifying places that will be 'unsuited for outdoor activity.'
Demand for electricity will surge as people need air conditioning just to survive, straining generation and transmission capacity.
That will likely require the construction of up to 95 gigawatts of generation capacity over the next 5 to 25 years, or roughly 200 average-size coal or natural gas power plants.
As utilities add the construction costs to customers' bills, people and businesses will pay $8.5 billion to $30 billion more every year by the middle of the century.
The report does not make policy prescriptions, concluding only that 'it is time for all American business leaders and investors to get in the game and rise to the challenge of addressing climate change.'
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World Bank: Climate policies could lift global GDP by trillions every year
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:27
Global economic output could rise by as much as an additional $2.6 trillion ('‚¬1.9tn) a year, or 2.2%, by 2030 if government policies improve energy efficiency, waste management and public transport, according to a World Bank report released on Tuesday (24 June).
The report, produced with philanthropic group ClimateWorks Foundation, analysed the benefits of ambitious policies to cut emissions from transport, industrial and building sectors as well as from waste and cooking fuels in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the United States and the European Union.
It found a shift to low-carbon transport and improved energy efficiency in factories, buildings and appliances could increase global growth in gross domestic product (GDP) by an extra $1.8 trillion ('‚¬1.3tn), or 1.5%, a year by 2030.
If financing and technology investment increased, global GDP could grow by an additional $2.6 trillion ('‚¬1.9tn), or 2.2%, a year by 2030, the World Bank said.
Climate policies could also avert at least 94,000 premature deaths a year from pollution-related diseases by 2030, improve crop productivity and prevent around 8.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases being emitted - the same as taking around 2 billion cars off the road.
For example, if China deployed 70 million low-carbon cook stoves, it could avoid around 1 million premature deaths from pollution and reap almost $11 billion ('‚¬8.1bn) in economic benefits, the report showed.
"These interventions should seem like no-brainers to governments around the world," World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim told reporters on a conference call.
"The report removes another false barrier, another false argument not to take action against climate change," he added.
In March, a report by a UN panel of scientists projected that the effects of global warming could cut global economic output by between 0.2 and 2.0% a year by damaging human health, disrupting water supplies and raising sea levels.
However, many countries believe this is an underestimate because it excludes risks of catastrophic changes, such as a Greenland ice melt of the collapse of coral reefs which could cause massive economic losses.
To speed up action on climate change, United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited heads of state, governments, businesses and civil society to a climate summit on September 23 in New York.
The summit is aiming to spur progress towards getting a deal by the end of 2015 which binds all nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Talks on deal are making slow progress. An interim UN meeting in Bonn, Germany, earlier this month only managed to take tentative steps towards an agreement.
PROGRESS REPORT: President Obama's Climate Action Plan
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:17
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 25, 2014
Today '' one year after the President laid out his comprehensive Climate Action Plan '' the White House released a new report detailing progress towards cutting carbon pollution and protecting our communities and public health.
In the year since the President's speech at Georgetown University, the Administration has announced new efficiency standards, permitted renewable energy projects on public lands, and proposed carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants. Alongside state, tribal, local, and private sector partners, the Administration is taking steps to make our communities more resilient to the effects of severe weather and is working with other countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases internationally. In fact, when fully implemented, the policies put forward just in the past year since the President's Plan was released will:
Cut nearly 3 billion tons of carbon pollution between 2020 and 2025, an amount equivalent to taking more than 600 million cars off the road for a year;Enable the development of 8,100 megawatts of wind, solar, and geothermal energy, enough to power nearly 2 million homes;Train more than 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry;Save consumers more than $60 billion on their energy bills through 2030;Improve the energy efficiency of more than 1 billion square feet of city buildings, schools, multifamily housing complexes, and business across the country, an area the size of 17,000 football fields; andProtect the health of vulnerable Americans, including children and the elderly, by preventing 150,000 asthma attacks and up to 3,300 heart attacks.
US mayors to vote on climate change resolution
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:14
HOUSTON (AP) -- A bipartisan group of mayors from across the country unanimously approved a resolution Monday that calls on cities to use natural solutions to fight the effects of climate change.Attendees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted in Dallas on the resolution that encourages cities to use nature to "protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation's coastlines, maintain a healthy tree and green space cover and protect air quality," sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations.The resolution was backed by Democratic mayors from GOP-dominated states - Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.It passed easily even though Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided over how to deal with climate change. Although science shows human industrial activity is contributing to global warming, some conservatives remain skeptical."What's so significant is that there was a unanimous vote on an issue that can be so divisive," said Laura Huffman, director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. "When you peel away the high-level arguments and deal with the ground-level issues everyone just rolls up their sleeves and gets to work."Mayors are looking for alternatives to traditional infrastructure projects that will be cost-effective and provide residents with amenities.For example, Huffman said, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is combining traditional pipes with open spaces as he revamps the city's storm water collection system. These open spaces collect water much like pipes do, while providing residents with additional parks."We're seeing that all over the country," Huffman said.--Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP
On N.C.'s Outer Banks, scary climate-change predictions prompt a change of forecast - The Washington Post
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:02
NAGS HEAD, N.C. '-- The dangers of climate change were revealed to Willo Kelly in a government conference room in the summer of 2011. By the end of the century, state officials said, the ocean would be 39 inches higher and her home on the Outer Banks would be swamped.
The state had detailed maps to illustrate this claim and was developing a Web site where people could check by street address to see if their property was doomed. There was no talk of salvation, no plan to hold back the tide. The 39-inch forecast was ''a death sentence,'' Kelly said, ''for ever trying to sell your house.''
So Kelly, a lobbyist for Realtors and home builders on the Outer Banks, resolved to prove the forecast wrong. And thus began one of the nation's most notorious battles over climate change.
Coastal residents joined forces with climate skeptics to attack the science of global warming and persuade North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature to deep-six the 39-inch projection, which had been advanced under the outgoing Democratic governor. Now, the state is working on a new forecast that will look only 30 years out and therefore show the seas rising by no more than eight inches.
Environmentalists are appalled, and North Carolina has been lampooned as a hotbed of greedy developers trying to ''outlaw'' the rising tide. Some climate-change experts are sympathetic, however, calling the rebellion an understandable reaction to sea-level forecasts that are rapidly becoming both widely available and alarmingly precise.
''The main problem they have is fear,'' said Michael Orbach, a marine policy professor at Duke University who has met with coastal leaders. ''They realize this is going to have a huge impact on the coastal economy and coastal development interests. And, at this point, we don't actually know what we're going to do about it.''
Cities such as Norfolk and Miami have embraced the data, identifying inundation zones as a first step toward planning '-- and seeking federal funds for '-- sea walls, floodgates and other forms of protection. On lonelier stretches of the U.S. shoreline, however, government aid seems less likely than interference and abandonment, and the forecasts are sparking deep anxiety about the future.
In the Carolinas and Southampton, N.Y., isolated enclaves of ultra-rich shore-front owners have moved preemptively to build private bulkheads to protect their homes from the rising sea. But such fortifications are not an option on the Outer Banks, a string of narrow barrier islands dotted with busy beach towns, isolated fishing villages and stretches of wild seashore. In spots, the islands are barely 100 yards wide.
''We don't have any tools in our toolbox other than retreat,'' Kelly said on a recent morning in a sunny Manteo cafe that would be underwater if the sea were 39 inches higher. ''In the backs of their minds, what everyone is thinking is that they just want people off the Outer Banks.''
Long before that would happen, though, Kelly worries that codifying the 39-inch forecast would crush the local economy, which relies entirely on tourism and the construction, sale and rental of family beach houses. In Dare County alone, the islands' largest jurisdiction, the state has identified more than 8,500 structures, with an assessed value of nearly $1.4 billion, that would be inundated if the tides were 39 inches higher.
Even with an eight-inch forecast, 414 Dare County properties worth $70 million would be marked for inundation. If the state ever activates the Web site that lets potential investors search by address, Kelly said, ''all of a sudden, those properties would be worthless.''
Nationwide, $700 billion of coastal property could be below mean sea level by the end of the century '-- and an additional $730 billion could be at risk at high tide '-- without new policies to forestall climate change, according to a new report by the Risky Business Project, a high-powered group of financial and political figures who are set to meet Wednesday with senior Obama administration officials.
So far, locals say there is no sign that the housing market on the Outer Banks is suffering. Nags Head's town manager, Cliff Ogburn, said that the town is doing a booming business in building permits and that ''occupancy is as high as it's ever been,'' having rebounded from the dark days before 2011. That is when Nags Head and Dare County spent $36 million to repair severe erosion on 10 miles of beachfront, where encroaching waves had claimed nearly a dozen houses and the seaside swimming pool at the Nags Head Comfort Inn.
Now the beach looks great, the tourists are back and Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills are talking to the county about beach nourishment projects of their own.
''We lose beach because the water is rising equal to the thickness of two nickels every year,'' Bobby Outten, the manager of Dare County, said on a recent tour of the restored shoreline. ''Some call it sea-level rise, but from our perspective it's erosion, and we've been living with it forever.''
The arrival of man-made beaches on the Outer Banks has drawn the disapproval of some environmentalists. For generations, the islands have moved with the waves and human settlements have moved with them. These days, however, the islands are so heavily developed, houses threatened by the surf often have nowhere to go.
Beach nourishment offers a temporary solution. But as the sea rises, it ''ceases to be cost effective and it becomes obvious that something else has to happen,'' said Spencer Rogers, an erosion specialist with North Carolina Sea Grant, a research consortium based at North Carolina State University.
''If things get to the worst extent, then we're going to be abandoning places,'' Rogers said. ''There won't be any option.''
Outten acknowledges that nourishment is a temporary fix, but he argues that it protects property, beautifies the shoreline and keeps the local economy humming. Besides, he said, it's the only option he's got.
''What is it you would ask us to do differently right now? Tell people to move away?'' Outten said. ''Preaching abandonment is absurd. People would go in the closet and get the guns out.''
That's nearly what happened when local officials caught wind of the 39-inch forecast. The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission, which regulates land use in the state's 20 coastal counties, had asked its science panel to assess vulnerability to sea-level rise, which was then becoming a hot topic nationally.
In 2010, the panel reviewed the scientific literature and concluded that the seas along the North Carolina coast could rise anywhere from 15 inches to 55 inches over the coming century, a forecast in line with projections by federal agencies and various other states.
But the science panel took a step further. For planning purposes, it said, the state should figure on 39 inches by 2100. So the commission drafted a policy declaring sea-level rise ''a pervasive and persistent hazard'' and ordering coastal counties to use the 39-inch forecast for private development and public infrastructure projects.
If adopted, the policy would have made North Carolina the first state to issue such a precise forecast for sea-level rise, said Skip Stiles, who tracks state activity on climate change for Virginia-based Wetlands Watch. Bob Emory, the Coastal Resources Commission's chairman at the time, said its members ''had no idea we were opening up a can of worms.''
The worms hit the fan in January 2011, when the commission rolled out the policy in a closed-door briefing for Carteret County.
''They said there were numerous things the county had to start doing: Raise roads, elevate bridges, rezone land. Any property affected by 39 inches, they wanted to be rezoned as uninhabitable,'' said John Droz, a local physicist who was quickly recruited by Carteret County officials to undertake an independent review of the 39-inch forecast.
Emory disputed that account, saying the commission had no intention of demanding such drastic action. ''We were not at the stage where there was enough certainty to say you can do this here, you can't do that there,'' he said.
Nonetheless, the Carteret County chairman fired off a letter asking neighboring counties for help ''repudiating the proposal.'' The science was uncertain, he wrote, there was no assessment of economic impact and there were no maps to show what it all meant.
By July, when Kelly walked into that meeting of federal and state planning officials, the state had maps. And the news was not good.
At 39 inches, the backside of the Outer Banks was gone. So was most of Roanoke Island. Inland, it was worse. On the gentle slope of the piedmont, every foot of sea-level rise would inundate roughly 1,000 acres. Pamlico Sound would look more like the Chesapeake Bay '-- one of the most profound transformations of coastline predicted anywhere in the country.
Rumors spread, and members of the state's environmental community fanned the flames, musing publicly about an end to new construction on the Outer Banks and the possible abandonment of Highway 12, the islands' wave-battered, much-repaired lifeline.
A member of the science panel, geologist Stanley Riggs, published a book likening the islands to a ''string of pearls'' that would soon be separated by shoals unable to support a fixed highway. In Dare County, this spawned dark jokes about getting to work by kayak.
In 2012, the General Assembly agreed that the state was moving too fast. Lawmakers set aside the 39-inch forecast and ordered the commission to draft new projections that take into account dissenting views on sea-level rise and its causes.
The state's new Republican governor appointed a new coastal commission chairman, Frank Gorham, an oil and gas man who announced this spring that the new forecast would be limited to 30 years.
With the 100-year forecast, ''we just lost credibility,'' Gorham said. ''If you have a 30-year period, people will take it more seriously.''
Rogers, who has served on the commission's science panel since its inception, predicts that the new forecast will look pretty much like the old one, which concluded that the sea would rise at roughly historic rates through 2050. Only in the latter half of the century is sea-level rise projected to accelerate sharply. But that lies outside the scope of the new forecast, which is due out next year.
With their bureaucratic victory, coastal leaders are postponing the inevitable, environmentalists say.
''I can see their point. They're saying, 'How do we know the sea is going to rise 39 inches in 100 years?' And the truth is, we don't. But you've got to start planning for something,'' said Andrew Coburn, associate director of Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. ''They're trying to ignore the problem, hoping it will go away.''
Outten, the Dare County manager, says he is not ignoring the forecast, though he does pray it's wrong.
In the meantime, he said, ''it doesn't seem reasonable to invest today's tax dollars and punish the public for a problem that is 100 years away and may not exist. We aren't arguing with science. We're just trying to be reasonable.''
Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.
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Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:02
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Why haven't we encountered aliens yet? The answer could be climate change | IFLScience
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:45
Enrico Fermi, when asked about intelligent life on other planets, famously replied, ''Where are they?'' Any civilisation advanced enough to undertake interstellar travel would, he argued, in a brief period of cosmic time, populate its entire galaxy. Yet, we haven't made any contact with such life. This has become the famous "Fermi Paradox''.
Various explanations for why we don't see aliens have been proposed '' perhaps interstellar travel is impossible or maybe civilisations are always self-destructive. But with every new discovery of a potentially habitable planet, the Fermi Paradox becomes increasingly mysterious. There could be hundreds of millions of potentially habitable worlds in the Milky Way alone.
This impression is only reinforced by the recent discovery of a ''Mega-Earth'', a rocky planet 17 times more massive than the Earth but with only a thin atmosphere. Previously, it was thought that worlds this large would hold onto an atmosphere so thick that their surfaces would experience uninhabitable temperatures and pressures. But if this isn't true, there is a whole new category of potentially habitable real estate in the cosmos.
Finding ETSo why don't we see advanced civilisations swarming across the universe? One problem may be climate change. It is not that advanced civilisations always destroy themselves by over-heating their biospheres (although that is a possibility). Instead, because stars become brighter as they age, most planets with an initially life-friendly climate will become uninhabitably hot long before intelligent life emerges.
The Earth has had 4 billion years of good weather despite our sun burning a lot more fuel than when Earth was formed. We can estimate the amount of warming this should have produced thanks to the scientific effort to predict the consequences of man-made greenhouse-gas emissions.
These models predict that our planet should warm by a few degrees centigrade for each percentage increase in heating at Earth's surface. This is roughly the increased heating produced by carbon dioxide at the levels expected for the end of the 21st century. (Incidentally, that is where the IPCC prediction of global warming of around 3°C centigrade comes from.)
Over the past half-billion years, a time period for which we have reasonable records of Earth's climate, the sun's surface temperature increased by 4% and terrestrial temperatures should have risen by roughly 10°C. But the geological record shows that, if anything, on average temperatures fell.
Simple extrapolations show that over the whole history of life, temperatures should have risen by almost 100°C. If that were true, early life must have emerged upon a completely frozen planet. Yet, the young Earth had liquid water on its surface. So what's going on?
Get luckyThe answer is that it us not just the sun that has changed. The Earth also evolved, with the appearance of land plants around 400m years ago changing atmospheric composition and the amount of heat Earth reflects back into space. There has also been geological change with the continental area steadily growing through time as volcanic activity added to the land-mass and this, too, had an effect on the atmosphere and Earth's reflectivity.
Remarkably, biological and geological evolution have generally produced cooling and this has compensated for the warming effect of our ageing sun. There have been times when compensation was too slow or too fast, and the Earth warmed or cooled, but not once since life first emerged has liquid water completely disappeared from the surface.
Our planet has therefore miraculously moderated climate change for four billion years. This observation led to the development of the Gaia hypothesis that a complex biosphere automatically regulates the environment in its own interests. However, Gaia lacks a credible mechanism and has probably confused cause and effect: a reasonably stable environment is a precondition for a complex biosphere not the other way around.
Other inhabited planets in the universe must also have found ways to prevent global warming. Watery worlds suitable for life will have climates that, like the Earth, are highly sensitive to changing circumstances. The repeated cancelling of star-induced warming by ''geobiological'' cooling, required to keep such planets habitable, will have needed many coincidences and the vast majority of such planets will have run out of luck long before sentient beings evolved.
However, the universe is immense and a few rare worlds will have had the necessary good fortune. It may just be that Earth is one of those lucky planets '' a precious, fragile jewel in space. So, perhaps inevitably, climate change will remain a bane of the continued existence of life on such planets.
David Waltham is the author of Lucky Planet (http://davidwaltham.com/lucky-planet/).
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Chinese tycoon serves up free luxury lunch to hundreds of NY homeless | Mail Online
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:54
Recycling magnate Chen Guangbiao was on the street handing out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they needed moneyChen is worth an estimated $750 millionHe was born into a poor family and his brother and sister died of hunger as childrenExtra homeless people who showed up but missed out on the lunch reportedly booed the millionaireBy Associated Press
Published: 14:06 EST, 25 June 2014 | Updated: 15:12 EST, 25 June 2014
A Chinese tycoon served up a fancy lunch to hundreds of homeless New Yorkers at a Central Park restaurant today and handed out $100 bills to the poor.
Recycling magnate Chen Guangbiao selected a menu of sesame-seed-encrusted tuna, beef filet and berries with cr¨me fraiche at The Loeb Boathouse restaurant for the residents of a Manhattan shelter.
He also entertained his 250 guests by singing 'We are the World' and promised to donate $300 per attendee to charity.
Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao (center) poses with men holding gifts of money as he hosts a lunch for several hundred homeless people from the New York City Rescue Mission today
Shatima Davis, an occasional resident of the New York Rescue Mission, enjoys an appetizer at The Loeb Boathouse restaurant in New York
Chen partnered the event with the New York City Rescue Mission, the oldest shelter in the nation.
However, the New York Post reported that an extra 100 homeless people showed up to the Boathouse, who were not let into the charity event.
The excess homeless who were left out, booed and yelled 'Liar', 'Conman' and swore at the millionaire.
Chen had scheduled the lunch for 250 people but cut that number back to 200, which reportedly angered the homeless who couldn't be included.
Men eat as Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao hosts a lunch for several hundred homeless people from the New York City Rescue Mission
Ernest St. Pierre reacts after Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao hosted the lunch
About three dozen volunteer waiters sported green uniforms similar to those once worn by soldiers in China's People's Liberation Army, bearing the words 'Serve the People.'
They were dishing up food to a mostly male group of attendees.
'I'm looking forward to a good time and a good meal,' said Antone Hills, a Mission resident who was a guest. 'I think he's a good guy and he's helping our country.'
'I was not born into a rich family or a family of government officials. When I was four years old my brother and sister died of hunger, so I achieved my success through confidence, self-motivation and my hard work'
- Chen Guangbiao
Chen says he wants to disprove the cliche image of rich Chinese spending money mostly on luxuries.
'I was not born into a rich family or a family of government officials. When I was four years old my brother and sister died of hunger, so I achieved my success through confidence, self-motivation and my hard work,' Chen said in Chinese in an interview on 'CBS This Morning.'
He then launched into an a cappella rendition of 'We are the World.'
His worth is estimated $750 million.
'Our thought was if someone wants to treat them to an amazing event '-- something they would never experience on their own, maybe even a kernel of hope that life could be different again, we're in for that reason. That's our motive,' said the mission's executive director, Craig Mayes.
But Chen's American ambitions surpass philanthropy.
Earlier this year, the 46-year-old businessman wanted to buy The New York Times. Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., said the newspaper was not for sale.
Sharon Robinson, left, and Roy Gantt, both residents of the New York City Rescue Mission, look over their just served desserts at The Loeb Boathouse
Volunteer wearing uniforms similar to those once worn by soldiers in China's People's Liberation Army watch as guests from the New York City Rescue Mission arrive
To announce the lunch, Chen placed ads in the Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Saying he wanted to invite 1,000 'poor and destitute Americans' his photo was printed next to an image of Lei Feng, a soldier in Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army who is characterized as selfless.
The caption read 'China's Lei Feng for a new era.' Some of the waiters' outfits on Wednesday were replicas of Lei's uniform.
Chen has been deemed eccentric from his theatrical antics.
To protest air pollution in Beijing, he stood on a street corner handing out containers marked 'Fresh Air.'
Chen also rushed to the scene of a massive earthquake in Sichuan and handed out cash to victims.
On Tuesday in New York City, he was on the street handing out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they needed money.
His English language business card reads: 'MOST CHARASMATIC PHILANTHROPIST OF CHINA.'
Guests from the New York City Rescue Mission take drinks as they enter The Loeb Boathouse restaurant
Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao sings as he hosts the lunch
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Jeff Robinov's New Company Studio 8 Financed $1B By China's Fosun International | NikkiFinke.com
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:03
Fosun International Ltd filed with the Hong Kong exchange just now (where it is Monday morning their time) announcing the company's investment in Jeff Robinov's new company Studio 8. I'm told that Fosun's investment in Studio 8 will mean the Warner Bros Pictures former chief's new company will have a combined equity and debt of around $1 billion. Once the structure is finalized, details will be announced. But I can tell you that Fosun International onJune 6th entered into a unit purchase agreement with Robinov's Studio 8 to invest. Before founding Studio 8, Robinov served as a top executive at Warner Bros Pictures Group for 17 years, most recently as President of Warner Bros Motion Pictures Group, until he left last year. He has some of the best talent relationships in the business, including Christopher Nolan, Ben Affleck, and Baz Lurhmann. Under the Agreement, Fosun International will exercise significant influence over the distribution arrangements of movies produced by Studio 8 in the mainland of China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions. Robinov still needs to put together other distribution, and I hear there's no contractual right for anyone to co-finance Fosun-Studio 8 films.
Fosun International "is optimistic about the future prospects of the Chinese film industry. Through the Transaction, the Company hopes to introduce Hollywood's advanced and sophisticated film making expertise and technique, movie concept and technology and complete production and publication systems into the China market, in order to drive the development of the Chinese film industry.
"Going forward, the Company will continue to integrate the world's leading film and entertainment resources to build a global culture platform encompassing movies, entertainment, cultural consumption and media networks through mergers and acquisitions and equity investments."
It has been exceedingly hard for former Hollywood studio moguls to find financing for their new endeavors. But Robinov's incredible track record combining huge grossing tentpoles like the Dark Knight trilogy and Oscar-winning films like Argo made this deal come together relatively quickly. He had been talking to Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media Corp but for a much smaller amount '' reportedly $120M-$150M '' before this investment. Fosun is based in Shanghai where it manages four types of businesses; insurance, direct investment, asset management and industrial operations with monies in steel, mining and pharmaceuticals. The company is listed on Hong Kong's stock exchange. In April, Fosun International launched a venture capital branch in Silicon Valley, earmarking $100 million to invest in technologically-driven startups. In December, Fosun also bought 6% of Bona Film Group.
UPDATE: The following is Fosun International's news release about the Studio 8 deal:
Fosun Enters Hollywood by Investing in U.S. Film Studio
(Shanghai, 23 June 2014) Fosun International Limited (HKEx stock code: 00656, together with its subsidiaries, ''Fosun''), announced that on 6 June 2014, Fosun signed a unit purchase agreement with Studio 8 from the U.S.. Fosun will invest in Studio 8.
Through this investment, Fosun plans to bring Hollywood's advanced and sophisticated film making expertise and technique, movie concept and technology, complete production and publication system to the China market, in order to drive the development of the Chinese film industry and worldwide film growth. Meanwhile, there will be more opportunities to share Chinese elements and stories in Studio 8's Chinese co-productions. Fosun will integrate the world leading film and entertainment resources to build a global culture platform covering movie, entertainment, culture consumption and media network with various means as M&A and equity investment.
Before founding Studio 8, a company specialized in movie and entertainment business, Mr. Jeff Robinov served as an executive at Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group for 17 years, most recently as President of Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group. Robinov helped oversee some of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed films and franchises in recent memory including The Dark Knight trilogy (over $2.3 billion worldwide gross), The Hangover films (over $1.3 billion worldwide gross), Inception (over $825 million worldwide gross), Argo (over $230 million worldwide gross) which won the Oscar for best picture and Gravity which won seven Oscars, including best director. Studio 8 will keep Hollywood's successful business model, starting the business from film making, TV and derivate products. Eventually, the company will apply the content-based materials to the mobile and internet industry.
Mr. Jeff Robinov said, ''We are happy to partner with Fosun, a well-respected Chinese company with global investment capabilities. Both China and the U.S. possess the film markets with the most influence and potential and we are excited to unite the markets, teams, technologies and respective advantages and work together on building a number of top-level films including co-production films between China and other countries.''
Fosun believes that China has already become the world's second largest motion pictures market, and is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world's largest market in the next few years. With the trend of integrating the global culture and entertainment market, the consumption of movie and entertainment has grown significantly. This investment is a significant strategic footprint for Fosun in the global movie and entertainment industry. Guo Guangchang, Chairman of Fosun Group, said that,'' Mr. Jeff Robinov and Studio 8 are one of the best and experienced teams in Hollywood. Our partnership will combine the resources of China and Hollywood to build a global platform not only focusing on movie and entertainment investment, but also aiming to integrate our resources around the world.''
In the future, Fosun will exercise significant influence over the distribution arrangements of movies produced by Studio 8 in the mainland of china, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions. Fosun hopes to bring the best Hollywood movies to the Chinese audience which will create the best possible viewing experience. Meanwhile, Fosun will also establish an investment, financing and business operation platform taking roots in China's culture consumption market and focusing on the global movie and culture industry.
Previously, Fosun has already made other investments in the culture industry, including Focus Media, Bona Film Group, etc.
BP says to sign $20bn gas supply contract with China
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:10
BP says to sign $20bn gas supply contract with China/AFP
MOSCOW, June 17- British energy giant BP will sign a long-term deal with Chinese state owned peer CNOOC in London on Tuesday to supply China with liquefied natural gas, BP chief executive Bob Dudley said.
The LNG deal, worth around $20 billion (14.75 billion euros) over 20 years, will be signed in front of Prime Minister David Cameron and Premier Li Keqiang during the Chinese leader's three day visit to Britain, Dudley said on the sidelines of an oil conference in Moscow.
''BP will be signing an agreement today in front of the Chinese premier and David Cameron in agreement with CNOOC,'' Dudley told reporters at the World Petroleum Congress.
''The project has a value over the term of the contract of around $20 billion.''
''It's a 20 year supply agreement of LNG to CNOOC to take it into southeast China. It is a big deal, a fair price for them, a fair price for us and a good bridge between the UK and China in terms of trade,'' he said.
British media reported that Royal Dutch Shell would also be signing a deal with CNOOC on Tuesday.
Turkey's 'wine dream has been halted'
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:24
Demet Cengiz
The Turkish wine sector is suffering from marketing restrictions brought about by new alcohol regulations, as the country's wine makers continue to lose ground against newcomers in the market such as Georgia, Moldova and Israel.One of the most recent examples of the sector's plight is the recent cancellation of the annual Masters of Wine Weekend in Istanbul, which had allowed the promotion of Turkish wine to the world and attracted some of the world's most experimented oenologists.
The organizer of the event, which had been held for four years up to this year, Yunus Emre Kocabaşoğlu, said competitor countries in the sector had learned crucial tactics from Turkey.
''Georgia was trying to promote itself for years with the motto, 'The land where wine was born.' They learned about holding events of such quality from us. One of my students is now working in one of Georgia's projects. Moldova entered into contact with us and wanted us to organize an event for them. There is even demand from Israel,'' Kocabaşoğlu said.
One of the Masters of Wine oenologists, Sarah Abbott, blamed the recent legal changes in Turkey for the recent drop in wine exports.
''The Turkish wine dream has been halted. Georgian wine is still relatively new to the U.K., but its overall exports are booming '... Wine for them is a symbol of hope, renewal, civilization and prosperity.
Although the culture in Turkey is quite different, for you too I think that wine has this role of representing a nation - a nation that is at peace with itself, outward looking and confident in the future,'' said Abbott, while also stressing the importance of wine for cultural tourism.
''Governments must protect the wellbeing of their people, and it is right that the sale of alcoholic drinks should be controlled. But the ban on all marketing of wine is needlessly damaging to the Turkish wine sector,'' she added.
Another Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, also regretted that a ''great opportunity has been lost'' with the cancellation of the Masters of Wine event in Istanbul.
''It's a shame that the government's policies are undermining the industry at a time when so many people want to taste Turkish wines. Like Turkish cuisine, wines should be regarded as an asset to the country,'' Atkin said.
A law that entered in force last year banned all advertisement and promotion of alcoholic products, including shop signs that included alcoholic brands.
The new regulations were carried through after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized that the anis-flavored rakı was sometimes considered Turkey's national drink, instead praising the virtues of the salty yoghurt-based refreshment ayran.
The Fix is In!
Macau busts $645 million World Cup betting ring - CNN.com
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:32
By Sophie Brown, CNN
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0726 GMT (1526 HKT)
Macau's legal gambling revenue dwarfs that of Las Vegas, but illicit betting rackets continue to thrive.
Police bust international betting rings operating from Macau hotelMore than US$600 million in illegal bets placed on World Cup gamesArrests are part of campaign to crack down on illicit bookmakers in Asia during World Cup(CNN) -- Police have smashed an illegal betting syndicate in Macau for allegedly taking the equivalent of US$645 million in bets on World Cup matches.
It's believed to be the biggest ever raid on an illicit football bookmaking racket in the Asian casino capital, according to police.
The gambling ring used three hotel rooms to take internet and phone bets from around the world, a first coordinator for the Macau Judiciary Police told CNN. One gambler placed a bet valued at around US$5 million, initial investigations found.
Police arrested some 22 people from mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia in the raid on Thursday. Two of the suspects, from China and Malaysia, were believed to be the ringleaders of the syndicate.
Officers seized cash worth around US$248,000, along with 17 computers, at least 10 cell phones, and betting slips.
A second gambling syndicate was busted in the same hotel hours later, with police arresting four Chinese men early Friday morning. According to police, the second betting ring took around US$645,000 in illegal bets on World Cup matches in a single day.
Police have not released the name of the hotel.
READ: The dark side of Asia's gambling Mecca
The arrests are part of a cross-border campaign to crack down on illegal betting in Macau, Hong Kong and China's southern Guangdong province around the World Cup. Authorities from the Pearl River Delta region are also cooperating with Interpol and seven other Asian nations to tackle illicit gambling.
More than half of the world's illegal sports bets are placed in Asia, according to a recent study by the International Center for Sport Security and Paris Sorbonne University.
Since the tournament began, Hong Kong police have arrested a total of 39 suspects over illegal gambling and seized betting slips worth around US$10 million, according to the South China Morning Post.
The city's legal gambling authority, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, is the second biggest betting operator worldwide. The club said illicit sports betting in Hong Kong generated an estimated HK$500 billion (US$64.5 billion) last year -- almost four times the amount the Jockey Club turned over in the same period.
In Singapore, 15 people have been arrested for allegedly receiving illegal football bets equivalent to US$640,000 in the past two weeks, police said Monday.
Police in Malaysia have also arrested dozens of suspected illegal bookmakers since the World Cup began.
WATCH: Interpol investigates World Cup betting
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Ghana FA calls in police after being caught up in match-fixing 'sting'.
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:13
GFA asks police to 'investigate two persons for misrepresenting the GFA'Allegations reported day after Ghana drew 2-2 with Germany at World CupIt's claimed two men offered to ensure national team friendlies to be fixedBy Sam Webb and Mark Duell
Published: 01:46 EST, 23 June 2014 | Updated: 08:54 EST, 23 June 2014
The Ghana Football Association president today denied agreeing for the national team to play in matches that others were preparing to fix.
An undercover investigation identified two people, one a licensed FIFA agent and the other a Ghana club official, who said they could fix friendly matches involving the national side through bribed match officials.
The players in the Ghana team, who are currently involved in the World Cup and this weekend drew 2-2 with Germany, are not involved with the alleged scam.
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Key players: Obed Nketiah (left), who is involved with Ghana's FA, and sports agent Christopher Forsythe (right) were filmed allegedly agreeing to fix a friendly match involving Ghana using corrupt officials
Let's dance: Ghana drew 2-2 with Germany on Saturday at the World Cup after an impressive performance
The report by Channel 4's Dispatches and The Telegraph claimed that GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi had agreed for Ghana to play in two proposed matches after the World Cup, but he has denied that.
The contract for the partnership between the GFA and Diamond Capital, a bogus investment firm, stated that it would cost £100,000 for each match involving the Ghanaian team, but Diamond would be allowed to appoint the referees and other match officials - a clear violation of FIFA's rules.
A video shows Christopher Forsythe, from Ghanaian sports management agency ForSports, and Obed Nketiah, chief executive of Ghana's Berekum Chelsea, apparently agreeing to arrange for bribed officials to influence the result of a post-World Cup friendly against the USA.
In the filmed meeting - which Mr Nyantakyi was not at - Mr Forsythe is heard to say: 'We will get the officials that we have greased their palms, so that they will do it.'
'The contents of the publication are not wholly true,' Mr Nyantakyi told the BBC World Service's Newsday programme.
'I was sent a press enquiry from the newspaper and I provided a full account of what transpired. It's unfortunate that they did not report fully what I told them.
'First of all I have not agreed to any match-fixing deal involving the FA. I was given a draft contract which I indicated to their agent that I hadn't read and I also had some issues with it and so it will be premature for anybody to say the FA is at fault.'
Dispatches: How to Fix a Football Match
Celebration: Ghanaian fans take a selfie prior to the match between Germany and Ghana at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza. Ghana could still progress to the knock-out stages of the World Cup
Star: Ghanaian player Michael Essien, who played for Chelsea, and his teammates are not implicated in the allegations
The Telegraph reported that, during a meeting with an undercover reporter, Mr Nyantakyi had said he was happy with a proposed contract for two friendly matches which would have seen match officials appointed by a bogus investment firm, a breach of FIFA rules.
But Mr Nyantakyi said he did not read the contract and only submitted it to the GFA's lawyers to see if it was worth pursuing.
'I didn't read it at all... I did not read the contract at all,' he said. 'They told me it was an investment company that was interested in buying the rights to our matches and that the matches will be organised by a FIFA match agent...
'When the draft contract was submitted to me it was forwarded to the lawyers to look at it because we need to know their position before we can sign.
'If they say okay, I read it to satisfy myself that all is okay. But I cannot read it and decide on my own to sign without the okay from the lawyer and the committee.'
Kevin-Prince Boateng believes Ghana can become the 'Hope of...
When news of the investigation first broke on Sunday night, the GFA issued a statement saying it had called in the police to investigate two people for misrepresentation.
A statement from the GFA said: 'The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has requested the Ghana Police Service to investigate two persons for misrepresenting the GFA with an attempt to defraud.
'The two were also allegedly filmed claiming that they would bribe GFA officials to ensure that the contract is signed.
'We wish to state that the GFA did not sign the contract as we waited for the response from the legal committee and that the two gentlemen did not make such corrupt offers to the GFA or its officials.'
UGLY CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS AT HIGHEST LEVEL OF BEAUTIFUL GAMEInvestigator: Michael Garcia is leading a FIFA probe into the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup
New York attorney Michael Garcia is leading a FIFA ethics probe into the shadowy bidding process for the 2022 World Cup, which went to Qatar.
Former Asian soccer chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has been accused of funneling millions of pounds to FIFA executives and national football associations in a bid to win the right to stage the World Cup in 2022.
Mr Bin Hammam, Qatar's top football chief, is accused of organising a major gas deal to secure key votes for the country's World Cup bid.
It has been reported that a cache of millions of leaked documents revealed how he brokered government-level talks through the Thai member of FIFA's executive committee over the deal, which was potentially worth tens of millions of pounds to Thailand.
He is also accused of setting up meetings between the Qatari royal family and at least seven Fifa committee members, including president Sepp Blatter.
The Qatar bid committee has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and said it would 'take any steps necessary' to defend the process.
The 2018, which went to Russia, and 2022 tournaments were awarded at the same time, prompting commentators to suggest the entire voting process was tainted and should be repeated from scratch - which could mean a renewed bid from England to act as host.
Lord Goldsmith, appointed a member of FIFA's independent governance committee set up to look at ways of reforming the governing body, said the decision to award Qatar the World Cup in 2022 should not stand if it is proved it was due to 'bribery and improper influence'.
It added: 'We wish to assure the public that we will not tolerate such misrepresentations and we will seek strong sanctions against such individuals if such claims are found to be true.'
Ghana's hopes of progressing to the knock-out stages of the World Cup are still alive after Portugal's stoppage-time equaliser against the U.S. on Sunday night left everything to play for in Group G.
But Mr Nyantakyi claimed the fixing scandal had been deliberately timed to hurt his country at the World Cup.
'It is a well-orchestrated plan to punish the hard-won reputation of the Ghanaian FA and also to try and devalue the participation of the country at the World Cup and it's not acceptable at all,' he said.
President of the Ghanaian Football Association Kwesi Nyantakyi. He denies involvement in any alleged match fixing and claims he had not even read the contract provided
The journalists met with Kwesi Nyantakyi, president of the Ghana Football Association, claiming to represent Diamond Capital, an investment firm that was looking to enter the world of football.
They claimed Diamond wanted to sponsor Ghana's international friendlies.
In a short meeting Mr Nyantakyi reportedly agreed to the fictional firm sponsoring two games as a trial run and left, leaving further negotiations to a Fifa-registered sport agent called Christopher Forsythe.
To get the ball rolling, Diamond would have to pay the president and other top officials £30,000.
The contract for the partnership stated that it would cost £100,000 for each match involving the Ghanaian team, but Diamond would be allowed to appoint the referees and other match officials - a clear violation of Fifa's rules.
Article 12 of the Regulations on the Organisation of Refereeing in FIFA Member Associations states: 'The appointment of Referees is a fundamental part of Referee development and must be undertaken by the Referees Committee in conjunction with the refereeing department.
'No club, league or other body of the Member Association may interfere in the Referee appointment process.'
With their own officials in charge of the game, Diamond could influence the result and place large bets on the outcome.
Mr Nyantakyi has denied the reports, saying he did not read the contract and only submitted it to the GFA's lawyers to see if it was worth pursuing.
At an earlier meeting with the reporters in London, Mr Forsythe is reported to have said: 'The referees can change the matches every time.'
He added: 'In Ghana the best... is seeing that the team has lost but it wasn't the fault of the players, but the official.'
Mr Forsythe has denied the allegations. He said: 'The Telegraph and Dispatches investigators have reported a one-sided story and my lawyers are taking the case on and in due course they will release statement on the true nature of the whole investigation.'
A profile on the website for ForSports, the Ghana-based sports management agency Mr Forsythe works for, states: 'Chris is Fifa Players' Agent licensed by the Ghana FA and also "Registered Overseas Agent" with The Football Association with Registration Number ROAF 1593.
'His attention to detail, astute professionalism, language skills and vast experience in dealing with different cultural aspects makes sure that he curates the best possible outcome for all parties involved in any contract negotiation.'
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Ghana Sends Plane With $3 Million to Calm World Cup Team
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:15
June 25 (Bloomberg) ''- Long lunch breaks or maybe even a sick day -- executives will likely be seeing a lot of both as Americans settle in for Thursday's pivotal U.S. World Cup match against Germany. But one avid fan has a solution to the production dropoff: a national holiday. And the pitch has gone straight to the White House. (Source: Bloomberg)
Ghana's Black Stars soccer team were awaiting the arrival of a plane with $3 million promised by the government as compensation for playing in the World Cup in Brazil, in the run-up to a match that may send them home.
The team is focused on the game against Portugal tomorrow, which they must win in order to have a chance to qualify for the tournament's knockout stages, coach James Kwesi Appiah told reporters in Brasilia. Appiah said he hoped the money issue would be resolved within a few hours. Sannie Daara, spokesman for the Ghana Football Association, couldn't immediately be reached to confirm whether the plane had landed.
''This is a situation that had to be sorted out before the competition,'' Appiah said. ''It's hard to have this situation and having to tell the players each day that the money will come. But our players are dedicated and they are focused only on the game tomorrow against Portugal.''
More on the 2014 World Cup:
Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama contacted the team and the arrangements for payment were made afterward, the association said in a statement on its website earlier today. The players requested the money in cash because many of them don't have bank accounts in Ghana, Appiah said.
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/BloombergGhana's President John Dramani Mahama contacted the team and the arrangements for payment were made after, the Ghana Football Association said in a statement on its website. Close
Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama contacted the team and the arrangements for... Read More
OpenPhotographer: Chris Ratcliffe/BloombergGhana's President John Dramani Mahama contacted the team and the arrangements for payment were made after, the Ghana Football Association said in a statement on its website.
President IntervenesGhana's team, which includes Sulley Muntari of AC Milan and Kevin-Prince Boateng of FC Schalke, has played two matches so far in the tournament, losing 2-1 to the U.S. and drawing 2-2 with Germany. They play their final first-round match against Portugal tomorrow and need to win to have any chance of progressing. The Black Stars were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Uruguay in the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
''President Mahama waded into the matter after agitation from the Black Stars players,'' the association said. ''President Mahama personally spoke to the players to assure them the money will be paid by Wednesday afternoon.''
FIFA worked with the Ghanaian association and the players to resolve the situation, Delia Fischer, a spokeswoman, told reporters in Rio de Janeiro today. Soccer's governing body doesn't like to see this kind of problem, which has happened in past tournaments, she said. She declined to say more and referred questions to the Ghanaian team.
Fixing AllegationThe football association may find it hard to move such a large amount of money into Brazil suddenly if it doesn't have the necessary clearance from customs or import permits from a central bank, said Ion De Vleeschauwer, chief dealer at Bidvest Bank in Johannesburg. Bidvest is the biggest chain of money changers in South Africa.
''At the drop of a hat, to bring in $3 million in cash, it might get you into a spot of bother,'' he said. ''I don't think the Brazilians will confiscate it but they just may not allow it to be released.''
The money would need to be declared to Brazil's tax authorities, though it wouldn't be subject to any duties on arrival in the country if correctly reported, the tax collection agency said in an e-mailed response to questions.
It's not the first off-field problem to disrupt Ghana's World Cup. The football association has asked police to investigate claims reported by the London-based Daily Telegraph that the association's president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, had agreed to fix future international exhibition matches. The association has denied the report.
Back at home, Mahama has taken steps to ensure that the broadcasts of Black Stars games aren't disrupted by regular blackouts. The government has asked its aluminum smelter to cut power usage during the World Cup and will buy additional electricity from neighbor Ivory Coast to ensure that Black Stars games can be shown live.
To contact the reporters on this story: Ekow Dontoh in Accra at edontoh@bloomberg.net; Mario Sergio Lima in Brasilia Newsroom at mlima11@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Ben Holland, Jim Silver
World Cup at risk of match fixing, says University of Canberra researcher
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:01
University of Canberra senior lecturer Catherine Ordway is researching the risk of match fixing at the FIFA World Cup. Photo: Melissa Adams
While billions of people around the world are tuning into the FIFA World Cup this month, Catherine Ordway has been taking a deeper look at what's going on in Brazil.
The senior lecturer in sports management at the University of Canberra has been analysing various factors of competing countries and players to determine the risk of match fixing at the World Cup in an effort to improve education and stamp out corruption in sport.
''Football is a major sport found to have been fixed in various jurisdictions around the world and it wouldn't be a shock and a surprise to anyone in the industry if games in the lead-up to the World Cup had been fixed along the way,'' Ms Ordway said.
''So that would suggest '' potentially '' that some of the teams that are at the World Cup may have been involved in fixing.''
Match fixing is big business, Ms Ordway said some estimates valued the turnover of the related illegal gambling industry at $1 trillion a year.
''It's absolutely mind-bogglingly massive, particularly in Asia, but also in Europe,'' she said, noting major match-fixing rings had been broken in Russia, Croatia, Singapore and Malaysia.
''Singapore and Malaysia's own national football leagues have collapsed under the weight of match fixing. Those national teams are not at the World Cup; but the Croatian and Russian teams are there.''
While she says that doesn't mean those players are involved in match fixing, the risk is higher, as it also is when players are not well paid, or don't have much at stake.
Several of the final round matches being played this week, including Australia's, won't change the outcome of the tournament.
''They're the kind of matches that potentially can be played around with '' that's not to suggest that '... Australia is at high risk of being involved in fixing.''
Ms Ordway says Australia is ''ahead of the game'' in having criminal sanctions against match fixing and a culture not prone to corruption.
''If you've got a corrupt country and culturally it's acceptable to behave in corrupt ways through taking bribes and so on, then it's a different education strategy [needed to combat match fixing].''
It's not just the players who can be influenced by match fixers either, with referees ''the next at-risk category''.
''One fun recommendation by the key author in this area, Declan Hill, is to have more female referees.''
While Ms Ordway said anecdotal evidence suggested women were less corruptible in positions of power, Mr Hill had found a key tactic match fixers employed to bribe referees was to provide prostitutes the night before the game.
While Ms Ordway is realistic about the likelihood of corruption, she says vigilance is key to upholding the value of sport.
"There is sadly a degree of skepticism about all high-level sport and sports attracting corruption, fraud '' whether it's cheating to win or cheating to lose. But I love sport and I still love to watch the spectacle and you just have to watch Timmy Cahill's goal to spark that passion and think, you know, it's all worth it."
IMF's Lagarde urges ECB to consider QE
Sat, 21 Jun 2014 21:35
The European Central Bank (ECB) should contemplate quantitative easing if inflation in the single currency bloc remains low for a protracted period, says International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
"If inflation was to remain stubbornly low, then we would certainly hope that the ECB would take quantitative easing measures by way of purchasing of sovereign bonds," Lagarde told CNBC on Thursday.
She defines "stubbornly low inflation" as prices remaining well below target in spite of measures being taken to boost inflation.
Read More'Damaging deflation' threatens euro zone: EY
Euro zone consumer prices rose by just 0.5 percent year-on-year in May, down from 0.7 percent in April and well short of the ECB's target of close to 2 percent.
Unlike other major central banks, the ECB has so far resisted embarking on a quantitative easing program, but has said it stands ready do so if needed.
Earlier this month, the central bank unveiled fresh measures to stimulate the economy including taking an unprecedented step on of imposing a negative interest rate on banks for their deposits'--in effect charging lenders to park money with it.
Read MoreDraghi announces host of stimulus measures
When asked whether further ECB action may lead to complacency among governments in terms of carrying out structural reforms, Lagarde said: "They all seem convinced that they have to pursue structural reforms, support demand by good solid monetary policy, and continue the fiscal consolidation path they have agreed."
SDR-"De-Dollarization" Continues - China Starts Direct Trade With UK | Zero Hedge
Fri, 20 Jun 2014 03:54
Following the initial de-dollarization meeting, there has been a slew of anti-dollar moves around the world (including Gazprom's shift of 90% of its clients to non-dollar payments). However, on the heels of the "anti-dollar alliance" discussions yesterday, DW reports that China would start direct trade between the renminbi and the British pound on Thursday. China's Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) confirmed Sterling and yuan would be directly swapped without using the US dollar as an intermediary.
Via DW,
China's Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) said Wednesday the Asian nation would start direct trade between the renminbi and the British pound on Thursday.
Sterling and yuan would be directly swapped without using the US dollar as an intermediary, the trade platform noted.
"The move will promote the bilateral trade and investment between China and the United Kingdom and facilitate the use of renminbi and pound in the cross-border trade settlement," CFETS commented.
China has long had direct currency trade with the US and has recently added Japan's yen, the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars, Russia's ruble and the Malaysian ringgit to its options.
Wednesday's announcement came during a visit to the UK by China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang and after the signing of various bilateral business contracts.
Britain for its part has been looking to make London a European hub for overseas yuan trading in competition with Frankfurt and Paris. China's central bank announced Wednesday that a subsidiary of China Construction Bank had been chosen to undertake yuan clearing business in London.
Still - there's always Iraq to trade USDs with...
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"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.
VIDEO-Fox News guest: Bill Clinton plotted using own death to make Hillary president
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 06:18
By David EdwardsTuesday, June 24, 2014 10:24 EDT
An author who Fox News hosts insisted had ''impeccable'' sources told the network on Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton had considered using his own death to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency.
While hyping his new book, Blood Feud: The Clintons Vs. The Obamas, Ed Klein explained to the hosts of Fox & Friends that he was expecting some ''blowback'' as retaliation from Bill and Hillary Clinton.
''They always say it's not true,'' he noted. ''People ask me, 'How do you get these sources to talk to you?' And there's a couple of answers. One is they like to boast about their connections to people at high levels. Number two, they want to get their story out.''
Host Steve Doocy remarked that Klein's ''sources are impeccable,'' and that he had even talked to the household help after one of the Obamas' vacations at Martha's Vineyard.
''They told me that the Obamas had separate bedrooms, that the president smoked in bed, that he ate Murdick's Fudge in bed,'' Klein laughed. ''It's an amazing story.''
The author said that he had also learned that Bill Clinton had smiled when he was diagnosed with a ''progressive'' heart condition because the term sounded liberal.
''And he's discussed with Hillary, according to people who were in the room with them when he did it, what would happen if he died,'' Klein said. ''What should Hillary do? And what is said is, 'Hillary, you should put on widow's weeds, dress in black, and it would be worth a couple of million votes.''
''I can hear him saying that,'' Doocy laughed.
''You almost can, for sure,'' co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed.
Although Klein argued that he had never been sued, his 2005 book, The Truth About Hillary was panned by critics for being ''poorly researched, poorly written, poorly sourced.''
Among other things, the author suggested that Hillary Clinton was a lesbian, and she was raped by then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton (D) when they conceived their daughter Chelsea.
Just a day before Klein's Tuesday interview, the Fox & Friends hosts had been skeptical of his assertions.
''Now, who is his source? Chelsea? I mean, how would you possibly get in between them?'' co-host Brian Kilmeade asked.
Watch the video below from Fox News' Fox & Friends, broadcast June 24, 2014.
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
VIDEO-Holmes Norton Apologizes to Koskinen | MRCTV
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:51
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Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Obama on Climate Skeptics in Congress: 'I'm Going to Just Pretend Like, I Don't Know, I Can't Read.'' | MRCTV
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:32
patrick.goodenoughPatrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.
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Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:15
VIDEO- "There WILL Be Plots To Kill Americans!" Senator "I've Seen The Plans" Feinstein - YouTube
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:50
VIDEO- White House Releases SECRET MEMO That Justifies Killing Americans With NO Trial! - YouTube
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:36
VIDEO- Polish FM "An We're Going To Think Everything Is Great Because We Gave The Americans A BLOWJOB!" - YouTube
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:28
VIDEO- Federal Judge Rules "NO FLY" List Violate Constitutional Rights Of Those On the List - YouTube
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 02:22
VIDEO-Caught on tape: In four-letter words, what senior EU politicians think of David Cameron - Europe - World - The Independent
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:19
The astonishing attack emerged as Mr Cameron faced an embarrassing defeat in his lonely attempt to stop the veteran federalist Jean-Claude Juncker being chosen as the next president of the European Commission at a summit of EU leaders on Friday. The Prime Minister will warn them that Mr Juncker's appointment would increase the chances of Britain voting to leave the EU in the 2017 in/out referendum he has promised.
Amid dismay in European capitals at Mr Cameron's negotiating tactics, the Prime Minister looks set to be deserted by Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands, with which he hoped to gather enough votes to block Mr Juncker, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg.
Mr Cameron can be sure of the backing of only one country '' Hungary.
''He has lost a lot of friends and goodwill by being so bullish,'' one Brussels insider said.
Downing Street talks between Mr Cameron and Herman Van Rompuy, who will chair the summit as President of the European Council, ended without agreement yesterday. No 10 described the meeting as ''full and frank'' '' diplomatic code for a row.
Mr Cameron told Mr Van Rompuy he would go down fighting by forcing a vote at the summit, breaking with the tradition that the top Brussels job is decided by consensus.
A vote would force other leaders to say why they believe Mr Juncker is the right man for the job, flushing out what Britain claims are their private doubts about Mr Juncker.
Explosive leaks of what Polish politicians really think about Mr Cameron emerged when secretly taped recordings of their conversations this spring were passed to the Polish magazine Wprost.
Jacek Rostowski, Poland's former Finance Minister, said: ''[Cameron] thinks he'll go renegotiate [EU rules on freedom of movement] and come back, no Polish government could agree to it. Except in return for a mountain of gold.''
Radoslaw Sikorski, the current Polish Foreign Minister, replied: ''It's either a very badly thought through move, or, not for the first time a kind of incompetence in European affairs. Remember? He f****d up the fiscal pact [which Mr Cameron vetoed in 2011 but failed to stop]. He f****d it up. Simple as that.
''He is not interested, he does not get it, he believes in the stupid propaganda, he stupidly tries to play the system... his whole strategy of feeding [his Eurosceptic critics] scraps in order to satisfy them is just as I predicted, turning against him; he should have said, 'f*** off', tried to convince people and isolate [the sceptics]. But he ceded the field to those that are now embarrassing him.''
Mr Sikorski, a contemporary of Mr Cameron at Oxford University and member of the hell-raising Bullingdon Club at the same time as Boris Johnson, added: ''They've f****d up Eastern Europe and a few other things. 'If Europe doesn't reform, it'll end badly!' Let them worry about their economy. If they don't reorganise themselves, they'll have as bad an economy as Germany.''
Mr Rostowski, another Anglophile, said the impact of Britain leaving the EU ''will generally be bad for us, because we would like for Great Britain to stay. I think it'll be the case that [Mr Cameron] will lose the elections. Great Britain will leave. Once they do, they'll keep open borders. Not for [gypsy] beggars.''
Mr Cameron's clampdown on ''benefit tourism'' by EU migrants in Britain played badly in Poland.
Pawel Gras, then media spokesman for Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister, said this was ''thoughtless, probably suggested by [some spin doctor], probably came from some focus group, he didn't think through the consequences, the whole thing was stupid, Donald [Tusk] called him at once to discuss it, he had such a go at him [Mr Cameron], I mean, f***, it's a shame we didn't record it, he had a such a proper f****** go at him''.
Responding to the leaks, Downing Street said: ''The Prime Minister has been very clear that support for the EU in the UK is wafer thin. There is real disillusionment amongst British voters about the EU.
''Clearly abuse of the right to free movement is one of those issues where people have concerns and where we think it is absolutely right to have a discussion and look at what can be done.''
VIDEO-Biden to Germans: You are xenophobic '-- RT USA
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:08
Published time: June 12, 2014 17:14US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
Vice President Joe Biden undoubtedly ruffled some feathers in Germany on Tuesday when he suggested the country was ''xenophobic'' and much less accommodating to immigrants compared to the United States.
Speaking at an event held by the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, DC, Biden gave a speech in which he described three things the United States needs to do to ''keep our edge'' in the global economy. One of these priorities is passing comprehensive immigration reform, but the way Biden chose to frame the issue has made headlines and raised plenty of eyebrows.
''We have to pass an immigration bill,'' Biden said, as quoted by the Washington Examiner, which also obtained a recording of the segment. ''Look at Germany, look at the rest of the world. We're the only non-xenophobic nation in the world that's a major economy.''
In a tweet by Detroit News DC Bureau Chief David Shepardson, the journalist said Biden went even further than that and added other countries in the mix, claiming that Germany, Japan, and China are all ''not nearly as welcoming of immigrants'' as the US.
Biden reportedly did not expand on his analysis, leaving many to question just how truthful it was. As noted by the German edition of The Local, the notion that Germany is hostile to immigrants doesn't fit in with the facts inside Europe's largest economy.
According to a May report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Germany has experienced a ''boom'' in immigration over the last few years, leapfrogging Canada and the United Kingdom to take second place as a top destination for migrants around the world, behind only the US. The OECD stated that between 2009 and 2012, permanent migration rose 38 percent as Germany moved up from eight place.
''Such a strong increase from one year to another has been rarely observed in any major OECD country,'' Thomas Liebig, one of the study's authors, said to Bloomberg. ''We can clearly speak about a boom of migration to Germany without exaggeration.''
Meanwhile, The Local noted that new data from Germany's Federal Statistics Office show more than 15.3 million people out of the country's 81 million-strong population have a migrant background.
Before remarking on Germany's xenophobia, Biden said the US needed to invest further in a skilled workforce and infrastructure, bemoaning the current lack of consensus on the issue.
''We have to invest in infrastructure,'' he said. ''That used to be an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in the united states of America. For the past 150 years it's been a consensus; not at the moment.''
Notorious for making controversial statements or gaffes, Biden's comments regarding Germany aren't the first time he's been scrutinized. The vice president made waves in the past for being caught on a hot mic telling President Obama the Affordable Care Act is a ''big f**king deal,'' announcing his support for gay marriage before the president himself, and making questionable comments like telling a politician in a wheelchair to stand up for an applause.
VIDEO-Obama: U.S. can't "play whack-a-mole" with militant groups - CBS News
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:04
President Obama said the Sunni militants that have taken overparts of northern Iraq pose a "medium- and long-term threat" to the U.S. because of their extreme ideology, although other groups probably have more advanced immediate plans to attack U.S.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized their fourth town in two days over the weekend as Shiite militiamen began to march in Iraqi cities.
SaturdayObama on Iraq region's power vacuumThe stated goal of the militants is to set up a strict Islamic regime in Iraq and Syria. In an interview, President Obama told Norah O'Donnell th...
Mr. Obama told CBS News' Norah O'Donnell that he expects that the local populations would reject ISIS because of their extreme and violent behavior. The biggest threat they pose, he said, is their ability to continue destabilizing the country and creating violence that could spill over into other countries in the region.
"I think it's important for us to recognize that ISIS is just one of a number of organizations that we have to stay focused on," Mr. Obama said, noting that groups like al Qaeda and Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped hundreds of young women in Nigeria, are still active.
CBS Evening NewsObama: ISIS poses "medium and long-term" threat to AmericansIn an interview with Norah O'Donnell, President Obama addresses the threat that the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) p...
"This is going to be a global challenge and one that the United States is going to have to address but we're not going to be able to address it alone. And as I said yesterday, what we can't do is think that we're just going to play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up," the president said. "We're going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy and we're going to have to partner and train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs as well."
More of O'Donnell's interview with the president will air Monday morning on "CBS This Morning."
(C) 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-I like Chinese - Monty Python - YouTube
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:55
VIDEO-Dick Cheney: There Will Be Another 9/11-Type Attack On US Soil Before 2020 | Truth Revolt
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:52
According to former Vice President Dick Cheney, there will be another 9/11-type attack on U.S. before the decade is out, and this time, "it's likely to be far deadlier than the last one."
The former Vice President was a guest on the Tuesday night Hugh Hewitt Show, generally discussing foreign policy and his new think tank The Alliance for a Strong America. They spoke about the march of the terrorist group ISIS and the failure of the Obama administration to generate an agreement with Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki. Finally, Hewitt asked Cheney to look ahead to the possibility of another attack on U.S. soil and what will happen if that attack is nuclear:
Hewitt: Do you think we get through this decade without a massive attack on the homeland?
Cheney: I doubt it. I doubt it. I think there will be another attack. And next time, I think it's likely to be far deadlier than the last one. You can just imagine what would happen'...
Hewitt: Yeah.
Cheney: '...if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container, and drive it down the Beltway outside of Washington, D.C.
Hewitt: And do you, by the way, if that were to happen, do you see the government reconstituting? Because it would have to be military rule for a period of time at least.
Cheney: Well, there was, some years ago, a program called the continuity of government program. It was part of the Cold War strategy that we pursued here, and basically it involved having a government waiting, if you will, ready to go in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States, so that we could always maintain the Constitutional base of governmental authority. I was part of that program for several years, and a lot of it, I'm sure, is probably still classified. But it was very, very important, and we operated and actually trained under circumstances of how would we go about making, providing for a government to survive if you know, we're having nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union falling all over the country.
VIDEO-Farage unveils 'new' group and new name | euronews, Europe
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:28
UKIP's Nigel Farage on Tuesday officially unveiled his new political group in the European Parliament, one week after it was formed.
The former commodities broker admitted there were differences in policy between some of its members, but said his MEPs would have a free vote.
''We agree with the idea of democracy, we disagree with the idea of power being handed over to these European institutions,'' said Farage.
''Now there may be some differences in interpretation in terms of environment, we are deeply sceptical about wind energy, because it costs too much money.''
Known as the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in the last parliament, Farage said would be rebranded as the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy.
Meanwhile, France's Marine Le Pen of the Front National on Monday failed to form a group with Dutch MP Geert Wilders.
It means the firebrand politician will stay in the Hague and won't take his seat in the European Parliament.
''Yesterday we had to conclude we didn't succeed, I regret that, to form an alliance. I believe we will succeed later this year, maybe as early as September. But I am not going to wait for that,'' he said.
Wilders said that Janusz Korwin-Mikke's free market views was too extreme for him to sit with the Polish MEP.
Le Pen had cited him as a potential partner.
VIDEO-BBC News - West warns Russia of sanctions amid Ukraine fighting
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 16:59
25 June 2014Last updated at 09:53 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: ''We see no signs that Russia is respecting its international commitments''
The West has warned Russia of new sanctions after fighting flared up in eastern Ukraine despite a truce between the government and pro-Russian rebels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin that new sanctions could be applied if efforts to stabilise the situation were not speeded up.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said inaction by Russia would mean a stronger case for sanctions.
President Petro Poroshenko said violations might end the truce.
However, his Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, told reporters at a Nato meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Ukraine would "stick to our unilateral ceasefire," which began on Friday.
On Tuesday, a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down with the loss of nine lives, with reports of fighting overnight near the Russian border in Luhansk region.
The Ukrainian military accused the rebels on Wednesday of breaking the ceasefire 44 times since it began.
But Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, has said there is effectively no ceasefire because of government attacks.
The truce is part of Ukraine's plan to end two months of conflict with pro-Russian insurgents who control key buildings in towns and cities across the east.
More than 420 people have been killed in the region since mid-April, the UN estimates.
Analysis: David Stern, BBC News, Kiev
One would suspect that the Ukrainian government's truce in the east is now a dead letter. Public outrage alone would seem to demand some sort of military retaliation.
And if the Ukrainian government uses force, then very likely the Ukrainian insurgents and their Russian comrades-in-arms will answer in kind. An escalation seems inevitable.
At this point, it is close to impossible to determine why the militants decided to carry out such a provocative act, just one day after they declared a ceasefire. Maybe this was some rogue element. Maybe the insurgents were never serious. Maybe Moscow told them to do it.
Whatever the reason, the hopes of just 24 hours ago, that Ukraine's east could finally see peace, if only temporarily, ring especially hollow.
Russian and Ukrainian media consider Putin step
President Poroshenko is expected to unveil proposals for constitutional reform to give regions greater self-government when he attends parliament on Thursday.
On Friday, he is due to sign the long-delayed association agreement with the European Union - a pact rejected in January by then President Viktor Yanukovych under pressure from Russia.
'Sanctions can return'Mrs Merkel welcomed the surprise decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cancel a parliamentary resolution authorising him to use Russian forces in Ukraine.
She told the German parliament the move was "psychologically important" but warned that sanctions "can be put back on the agenda" if Ukrainian soldiers continued to die.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was also in Brussels for a meeting of Nato ministers, said the downing of the helicopter was hard to reconcile with Mr Putin's avowed support for peace.
Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Moscow was "using a new different type of warfare against Ukraine" and he promised a "package of long-term support measures for Ukraine".
Russia denies claims that it is encouraging and arming the separatists.
New fightingThe separatist commander in the rebel stronghold of Sloviansk, Donetsk region, announced on Wednesday that his forces had shot down the helicopter.
In a statement, Igor Strelkov accused government forces of bombarding local villages with artillery and mortars.
A dawn mortar attack by the rebels on Wednesday inflicted "significant losses" on government forces near Sloviansk, he added.
An AFP news agency crew visiting Sloviansk reported hearing a "wave of shelling being launched by Ukrainian forces" on Wednesday morning. This was met by the rebels with "extended rounds of anti-aircraft and heavy machine-gun fire".
There were also fresh clashes in Luhansk region on Wednesday, with Ukrainian MP Oleh Lyashko telling press that guards had come under attack 2km (1.2 miles) from the Russian border.
Insurgents agreed on Monday to observe a ceasefire, proposed by the Ukrainian government, until Friday.
Are you in Ukraine? How has the unrest affected you? You can email your experiences to haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk, using the subject line 'Ukraine'.
VIDEO-Supreme Court reverses lower court on Aereo, says Aereo violated copyright law
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 14:29
Getty Images
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia leaves the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments April 22, 2014 in Washington, DC.
On a 6-3 vote, the court handed a victory to the four major TV broadcasters and cast Aereo's immediate future into doubt.
Backed by media mogul Barry Diller, the TV-over-the-Internet start-up, was launched in 2011.
Last week, Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia told CNBC his company charges for technology not TV content, and therefore is not infringing on copyrights.
Any customer can buy an antenna and DVR for their home and watch and record their local channels, said Kanojia'--adding that his company is doing the same thing but with more modern technology.
The networks including CNBC's parent NBC as well as ABC, CBS, and Fox said Aereo steals free, over-the-air programming and then transmits that content to its online customers, without paying retransmission fees to the broadcasters.
'--By CNBC.com. Reuters contributed to this report.
Disclosure: CNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal, is among the broadcasting and cable companies opposing Aereo on copyright claims before the Supreme Court.
VIDEO-Clintons are in damage control mode | TheHill
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:42
DENVER '-- Team Clinton is doing damage control on a series of comments by Hillary Clinton about the former first couple's wealth.
Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday defended his wife as ''not out of touch,'' and lashed out at the criticism during an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference.
With Hillary and Chelsea Clinton looking on from the audience of a hotel ballroom, he explained that Hillary Clinton's comment two weeks ago that the couple was ''dead broke'' when they left the White House was ''factually true.''He also criticized reporters for not including context in stories about the former first lady's discussion of her work to help the less fortunate during her career, previewing a message Clinton supporters say the couple needs to harp on in the weeks and months ahead.
In response to questions from NBC's David Gregory, Bill Clinton said his wife had once offered legal assistance to people who couldn't afford it and fought for paid leave for pregnant mothers in the 1970s. He also said that he and the former secretary of State go to their local grocery store on the weekends and talk to ''people in our town.''
''We know what's going on,'' the former president said.
Several longtime Clinton allies said they weren't sure his comments would end the criticism, which came on the heels of several stumbles in which Hillary Clinton tried to explain away her finances.
The comments have left even some allies of the Clintons bewildered.
''I don't want to acknowledge that it's been a problem, but it's been a problem,'' said one former Clinton aide who maintains ties with those in the former New York senator's inner circle.
The former aide said Hillary Clinton needs to refine her message on the issue, particularly in the months ahead when she will campaign for Democrats in the midterm elections.
''It's tricky for someone to be promoting a memoir, where they need to be talking about themselves, but talk about other people instead,'' the former Clinton staffer said. ''But she needs to use these opportunities to tell stories about the people she's met. She needs to say, 'When I was here I met X and she did Y and that's led to Z,' which has framed her policy thinking. She needs to ground the conversation.''
Hillary Clinton made the ''dead broke'' comment during her first interview to promote her book Hard Choices. The remark, to ABC's Diane Sawyer, overshadowed the opening days of her book tour.
And this past weekend, Clinton inadvertently highlighted her finances again when she told The Guardian that ''unlike the truly well off,'' she and the former president ''pay ordinary income tax,'' and their wealth only came ''through dint of hard work.''
The comments have provided an opening for Republicans to criticize Clinton ahead of a possible 2016 run for the White House.
''The Clintons still feel the need to feign that they are still in touch with the struggles of regular Americans,'' said Tim Miller, the communications director for America Rising. ''He laments being the president with the 'lowest net worth' which is akin to saying his floors are made of the cheapest marble. Then he goes on to say that they talk with people in their town. They live in one of the most elite, moneyed towns in America.
''The Clintons have lived in a 1 percent bubble for so long, their experience has become warped, and that's a major problem in a presidential campaign,'' Miller added. The couple's home is in Chappaqua, N.Y.
As the book tour winds down, supporters of the couple say Hillary Clinton has to speak more about her foundation work '-- on women's and girls' issues '-- and her work as a senator, when she devoted much of her time working on issues in upstate New York.
''She's gotta tell stories,'' the former aide continued. ''It's a skill to answer a question about yourself by talking about someone else. And she's got to find a way to incorporate some of that. It shouldn't be an add-on. It should be the central thing she's doing. ''
Bill Clinton on Tuesday tried to hammer home his wife's long-running work on behalf of the working class.
He said Americans don't ''resent somebody else doing well. They resent that they're not getting a fair deal.''
''You just have to be transparent and tell the truth,'' he said.
Another former longtime Clinton aide who also still advises Hillaryland from time to time, said that the No. 1 thing the Clinton camp can do is ''don't panic.''
''A lot of this stuff comes and goes and some things stick and other things don't,'' the former aide said. ''I don't see it being a long-term personal problem because in a personal sense she's not disconnected to everyday people. It actually very much defines who she is.''
The former adviser said the comparisons to former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney are different because ''people didn't know him that well.''
''That narrative was part of their introduction to him,'' the adviser said.
VIDEO-Court ruling: parents don't have the right to send their unvaccinated kids to school - Vox
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:15
In New York City, parents do not have the right to send their unvaccinated kids to school if another student has a vaccine-preventable illness.
That's according to a Brooklyn Federal District Court judge, who ruled earlier this month that a parent's constitutional right to freely exercise their religion does not always make their children exempt from vaccination requirements.
a parent's right to exercise their religion does not always make their children exempt from vaccination requirements
New York City schools require all students to get a series of basic vaccinations in order to attend classes. But in New York State '-- along with several other states '-- laws say that parents can opt out of these requirements for religious reasons.
When three families in New York City recently tried to do so, their children were barred from attending school, leading them to file suit against the city. Citing a1905 Supreme Court case '-- in which the court ruled that Massachusetts was permitted to fine a man $5 for refusing a smallpox vaccine '--JudgeWilliam Kuntz ruled that the court had "strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations."
Of course, the plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling, and this is just one of several similar suits filed across the country in recent years. Given that48 statesallow religious exemptions for vaccine requirements, the ruling will certainly be tested at higher levels before it becomes a real policy.
All this comes as increasing numbers of parents around the countryare refusing vaccines,leading tooutbreaks of a number of diseasesthat could have easily been prevented. Earlier this spring, during a measles outbreak in New York, the unvaccinated sibling of a home-schooled child who'd been infected was barred from attending public school. That sibling ultimately contracted the disease, and keeping him home prevented it from spreading further.
For a great explanation of the anti-vaccination crisis, watch this two-minute video:
Correction: This story originally stated the decision was made on Sunday, not earlier this month. It also stated all three families opted out of the vaccine requirements, when in fact two did, and one family tried to but had their request rejected.
VIDEO- A Letter to the President: Rebekah - YouTube
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:45
VIDEO-Kerry holds talks with Kurdish leaders - RT‰ News
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:37
Tuesday 24 June 2014 21.52US Secretary of State John Kerry has held crisis talks with leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.
He urged them to stand with Baghdad in the face of a Sunni insurgent onslaught that threatens to dismember the country.
Security forces fought Sunni armed factions for control of the country's biggest oil refinery today and militants launched an attack on one of its largest air bases less than 100km from the capital.
More than 1,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in less than three weeks, the United Nations has said.
It described the figure as "very much a minimum".
The number includes unarmed government troops machine-gunned in mass graves by insurgents, as well as several reported incidents of prisoners killed in their cells by retreating government forces.
Mr Kerry flew to the Kurdish region after a day in Baghdad on an emergency trip through the Middle East to rescue Iraq after a lightning advance by Sunni fighters led by an al-Qaeda offshoot.
The militants are members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is also known as ISIL.
US officials believe that persuading the Kurds to stick with the political process in Baghdad is vital to keep Iraq from splitting apart.
"If they decide to withdraw from the Baghdad political process it will accelerate a lot of the negative trends," said a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Kurdish leaders have made clear that the settlement keeping Iraq together as a state is now in jeopardy.
"We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq," Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said at the start of his meeting with Mr Kerry.
Earlier, he blamed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's "wrong policies" for the violence and called for him to quit, saying it was "very difficult" to imagine Iraq staying together.
The Kurds have ruled themselves within Iraq in relative peace since the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
However, they seized on this month's chaos to expand their own territory, taking control of rich oil deposits.
Two days after the Sunni fighters launched their uprising by seizing the north's biggest city Mosul, Kurdish troops took full control of Kirkuk.
Kirkuk is a city they consider their historic capital and which was abandoned by the fleeing Iraqi army.
The Kurds' capture of Kirkuk eliminates their main incentive to remain part of Iraq: its oil deposits could generate more revenue than the Kurds now receive from Baghdad as part of the settlement that has kept them from declaring independence.
Some senior Kurdish officials suggest in private they are no longer committed to Iraq and are biding their time for an opportunity to seek independence.
VIDEO-What gives paper money its actual value?
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:53
Money is just tinted paper printed with different numbers on it. So what gives the ol' greenbacks its value? The bills used to be tied to the gold standard but now, it's up to The Fed to control how many bills there are. So why can't they just decide to print out ridiculous amounts of bill to make everyone rich?
Ted-Ed explains how the total number of currency in circulation can't increase too much faster than the total value in goods and services in the economy because each bill will only buy a smaller amount of things they could before (inflation). But the opposite of inflation is bad too! And the video below explains why.
Image Credit: Svetlana Lukienko/Shutterstock
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VIDEO-MH370 captain plotted route to southern Indian Ocean on home simulator - Telegraph
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 04:17
But suspicion of Capt Zaharie emerged within a week of MH370's disappearance as the Chinese government intensified pressure on Malaysia to explain the mystery and find the missing plane. More than 150 of its 227 passengers were Chinese nationals.
Detectives raided Capt Zaharie's home in Kuala Lumpur and took away his flight simulator as part of their investigation as tracking information from the British Inmarsat satellite company indicated the flight had not plunged into the South China Sea off Malaysia's east cost close to Vietnam as feared but had doubled back across the Malay Peninsula, turned left and headed towards the southern Indian Ocean.
Its movement indicated it had been deliberately diverted but there is no evidence yet to conclude who was responsible.
On Friday, shortly before new details of Capt Zaharie's deleted simulator flight path emerged, Malaysia's acting transport minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, said his search team would soon begin looking in a new area in the southern Indian Ocean corridor suggested by a new analysis.
"We have to continue with the lead because the best lead we have is based on the handshake on the Inmarsat [satellite data] and still in the southern corridor", he said.
Sources close to the investigation confirmed to The Telegraph on Sunday that a deleted flight path had been recovered from Capt Zaharie's simulator which had been used to practice landing an aircraft on a small runway on an unnamed island in the far southern Indian Ocean.
The discovery leaves Capt Zaharie as the prime suspect in a crime which cannot yet be proven to have been committed '' and Malaysian police have been careful in their public comments to stress that all leads are still being investigated and no conclusions have been reached.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 16, however, Malaysia's chief of police Khalid Abu Bakar said he believed the plane had been diverted by hijackers, saboteurs or someone with a personal vendetta or psychological problem. Friends and relatives of Capt Zaharie denied he had any motive for hijacking his own plane and described him as a warm and helpful man who was committed to social work.
He had campaigned for the mainstream People's Justice Party of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and did not support Islamic extremists, party worker Sivarasa Rasiah told The Telegraph shortly after the plane disappeared.
"He comes across as a really likeable guy, a warm guy. There is absolutely no way he is doing this of his own volition," he said.
VIDEO- Darrell Issa vs Irs Commissioner John Koskinen HEATED Over Lois Lerner Missing Emails - YouTube
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 03:19
VIDEO-HARF BOTOX OUT OF BREATH-Daily Press Briefing: June 23, 2014
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 03:17
1:51 p.m. EDT
MS. HARF: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the briefing. It's a busy Monday. Just a few quick updates at the top. I'm sure you've seen the plethora of statements from the Secretary today, as well as his press avail. As you know, in terms of a travel update, he's in Baghdad today meeting with a variety of Iraqi leaders, underscoring our support for the Iraqis as they're going through this very difficult period, having a variety of conversations with a variety of people. So we've had that out today.
One more thing at the top, or two quick things. The Secretary released a statement on the remaining removal of chemical weapons from Syria. All of the declared chemical weapons now are out of Syria. Obviously there's still a process that we need to continue here, but that was the other statement.
And then finally one more quick item at the top. And we will be releasing a statement on this as well, but we welcome the decision by the Sudanese appeals court today to release Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag from a Sudanese jail. Ms. Ibrahim was sentenced on May 15th to be flogged for adultery and to be hanged to death for apostasy because of her religious conversion to Christianity. As you know, the case has drawn the attention of the world, has been a deep concern to the United States Government and to many Americans.
We also at this point continue to urge Sudan to repeal its laws that are inconsistent with its 2005 interim constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These actions would help demonstrate to the Sudanese people that their government intends to respect their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. And as you know, this is a case we raised quite frequently with the government there and welcome today's news.
QUESTION: I'm sure we'll get back to the Sudan situation in a minute, but I want to start with the one thing that you didn't mention, which is in Egypt.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: And the Secretary had some words about that.
MS. HARF: Yes, we also --
QUESTION: The White House --
MS. HARF: -- did release his statement on that as well.
QUESTION: The White House also has some '' I'm curious, though. Did the Secretary, in fact, raise these cases yesterday in '' raise this '' the case yesterday while he was in Egypt? And if he did, what did he say and how did the Egyptians respond?
MS. HARF: Well, a few points. I think the Secretary made very clear today our feelings on the case. As you know, this is a judicial process. But in his statement, he called on the Egyptian Government to review the political sentences and verdicts pronounced and consider all available remedies, including, of course, pardons. As he said today, immediately upon hearing about the sentences, he called the foreign minister of Egypt to express our deep concerns. Yesterday, the topic of course came up in the context of our concerns about human rights, rule of law, these kind of sentences and convictions of course. We know there's a judicial process here, but that's all put in place in the context of our larger concerns about human rights, and the Secretary made that very clear in his call today.
QUESTION: Right. But the human rights '' the most recent Human Rights Report says that Egyptian '' your human rights '' the State Department's Human Rights Report says that Egyptian courts are susceptible to government influence. And I'm just wondering if the Secretary made clear his concerns about this case yesterday in his discussions.
MS. HARF: We've made clear for months our concerns about this case.
QUESTION: Right, right. But I mean '' but most recently, before the --
MS. HARF: And I'll double check on the conversations yesterday.
QUESTION: -- before the '' right. But before the most '' before the verdict, the most recent communication with the Egyptians about this case was yesterday, right, with the Secretary?
MS. HARF: I will double check on that to see what the conversations looked like.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I'm just wondering. I mean, it seems like if he did raise the case and express concerns about it, and given the fact that you guys do not believe that the Egyptian judiciary is free and independent of government influence, how is this anything other than just a slap in the face to you guys, particularly after you've given them '' you went ahead and released additional assistance?
MS. HARF: Well, let me double check again on the level of detail of conversations yesterday. I know the issue was broadly broached in terms of human rights and convictions, but let me check on that from yesterday.
QUESTION: All right. Yeah.
MS. HARF: But setting that aside '' hold on, let me finish. Setting that aside, I think you saw from the Secretary's statement today very strong language about how this process lacked fundamental norms of due process, is a deeply disturbing setback to Egypt's transition. So I think he made very clear that injustices like this can't stand if Egypt has any chance of moving forward.
MS. HARF: That being said, we do have a strategic partnership with Egypt that we think is important, but we will be very clear when we have deep concerns about what they've done.
QUESTION: So does that mean that there is no consequence for this?
MS. HARF: Look, I think the Secretary made very clear our concerns about it, and we are constantly reevaluating our policy towards Egypt based on what they do. Look, and what we've said is we need to see steps taken moving forward and that as decisions are made by this government, we will evaluate them based on those decisions.
QUESTION: So there's no '' but there isn't anything in the short term that you're aware of that you're going to do to express your displeasure, other than the statements that the Secretary made at the --
MS. HARF: Look, we're constantly reevaluating our policy, but to my knowledge, there's nothing specific that's being done today. But again, this all plays into the broader context of the space that we've seen, quite frankly, the shrinking space in Egypt for freedom of expression, for freedom of the press, which we've been very concerned about.
QUESTION: What is the status of the transfer of the 10 Apache helicopters that were supposed to go to the Egyptian military? Related to that, what is the overall status of the release of the $575 million in FMF funding?
MS. HARF: The 572 I think is what you're referring to. So that was recently obligated, as folks know. It was the result of continuing consultations with Congress. Those consultations are ongoing. Obviously it wasn't timed to coincide with anything other than our consultations with Congress. No updates on the Apaches. We're still working with the Hill. As you know, money's obligated, but obviously we have to keep working with Congress to get things moving, so I don't have any update for you on that.
QUESTION: Would it be --
QUESTION: On the journalists, please.
QUESTION: Would it be too '' wouldn't it be reasonable to consider perhaps slowing down the process of transferring the delivery of the Apaches or of actually making the funds available to the Egyptians for their military operations to show the U.S.'s displeasure with the verdict?
MS. HARF: I think we were very clear about our displeasure with the verdict today. And as I said, we continually look at our policy towards Egypt and what our assistance will look like. There are many competing factors here. You heard the Secretary speak about them yesterday in his press avail. So we're '' again, we're constantly evaluating this, and we will make our displeasure known, as we did today.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. trust Egypt in light of these meetings which the Secretary had on Sunday? And he was rather voluble, to use a word, about his conversations with both President Sisi and with Foreign Minister Shoukry on Sunday. Does the U.S. feel that it can trust this new government?
MS. HARF: Look, it's not about trust, Roz. It's not about trust in any relationship. It's about actions and what we see happening. And I think the Secretary made very clear in his statement today our concern '' our deep concerns and how we view these sentences and these convictions. I think that came through crystal-clear today in his statement. Certainly, again, I think for him coming on the heels of his visit there, this was, I think, particularly tough news to take today. And we'll continue to make our displeasure known.
QUESTION: And one more --
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MS. HARF: Wait. She's been waiting.
QUESTION: -- and one more --
MS. HARF: One more on this.
QUESTION: Yeah. And then I'll yield to Lena.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: Yes. (Laughter.) Would it be fair to say that the Egyptian Government is damaging its own credibility, not just with the American Government but with the international community, because President Sisi has promised a new start?
MS. HARF: Well, I think that, again, going back to what the Secretary said, these kind of sentences, these kind of convictions, fly in the face of everything that President Sisi told him yesterday that he wanted to govern '' the way in which he wanted to govern. The Secretary said that today. I think that it's hard for people around the world to look at these sentences and these convictions and see that there's anything just about them, see that there's anything about them that is the kind of Egypt President al-Sisi has talked about going forward. So again, it's about action, it's not about words.
The Secretary had good meetings yesterday. These are important meetings. These are important discussions. We have a broad relationship with Egypt. But again, they've said they want '' that they aspire to see their country advance in a certain way. Okay, we need to see actions back up those words. And again, we've called on the Egyptian Government to review the sentences, to look at potential avenues, including pardons, in this case.
QUESTION: These journalists were brought into the court for more than 12 times. Each time they go there, their trial gets postponed. Only hours after Secretary Kerry meets with Sisi and the foreign minister '' although you've said you've always expressed concern regarding the freedom of press and what's happening in Egypt, this verdict came only hours after the Secretary left the country. What do you make of this, the timing? It's --
MS. HARF: Well, I don't want to jump to any conclusions about the timing. As you know, there is a judicial process here. And as Matt mentioned, we have had concerns about the judicial process being politicized in the past. Certainly we've expressed that. I don't want to jump to conclusions about timing. Again, I think the Secretary made very clear that he had conversation yesterday with senior Egyptian leaders who talked about the kind of Egypt they want to build. Okay, this latest action, regardless of the timing or the reason, flies in the face of that. And it needs to not happen in the future, and we need '' they need to take steps to remedy it.
QUESTION: Why are you still considering increasing aid to Egypt? Or '' we understand that the aid that has been provided throughout the last year is the military aid that's necessary to guarantee the Camp David deal. And --
MS. HARF: Well, let's talk about '' when we talk about counterterrorism --
QUESTION: You're talking about an act in Congress to increase the aid to Egypt --
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: -- and approve that budget while you're just expressing concerns about all these major issues happening there.
MS. HARF: Again, we have shared interests when it comes to counterterrorism, particular in the Sinai. A lot of what we've provided in terms of assistance is for the counterterrorism fight in the Sinai, which also benefits the people of Egypt. Let's be clear about that.
Also assistance that doesn't go to the government, that benefits democracy programs in Egypt, that benefits average Egyptians trying to make their voices heard. So we have a broad, strategic relationship with Egypt. We will make very clear when they have done things that we disagree with. And I think all you have to do is look at the last year '' almost year now '' since July 4th and look at how our policy evolves in response to what the Egyptian Government itself has done. We've been very clear that we're willing to take steps in response to what they do.
QUESTION: Let me clarify again '' just again on the Apache question. You say that the delivery is still being reviewed, it's still in process. Can you specify exactly what the status of those helicopters is?
MS. HARF: I believe at this point in the process it's been obligated, but we're working with the Hill in terms of releasing funds and timing and all of that. I can check and see if there's more specifics, though, Roz.
QUESTION: Can I go to Iraq?
QUESTION: On Egypt, please.
QUESTION: Can I '' no, I want to follow up on Egypt. Is it fair to say that the U.S.-Egyptian relationship is of such strategic importance to the United States '' both because of the peace treaty with Israel, privileged access for the U.S. military to the Suez Canal, and of course, Egypt's status as the most populous Arab nation '' that it really doesn't ultimately matter in terms of consequences what Egypt does on human rights, that the United States will continue to maintain the relationship for those three fairly significant strategic regions '' reasons?
MS. HARF: I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive. I do not think that (a) we will maintain a relationship with Egypt. Even when we suspended our assistance, because of what happened last July, we maintained a relationship. It's really the nature of that relationship and the character of it and what it looks like. And that does change in response to the actions the government does or doesn't take. And that does include human rights.
QUESTION: And do you think it likely that the U.S. Government will suspend additional aid deliveries or reduce amounts of aid given to Egypt in response to this particular instance, or in response to the broader pattern of human rights abuses since July 4th?
MS. HARF: I wouldn't want to guess, Arshad. I know '' we again, we constantly look at our policy. I have no updates on that front or nothing to predict in terms of what we may or may not do.
QUESTION: So the Secretary said when he was there yesterday that he was hopeful that the helicopters would arrive very soon. That suggests that the Administration believes that it is a good idea and that you're '' for them to have the helicopters --
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- and that you are trying, working --
MS. HARF: With Congress.
QUESTION: -- with Congress '' encouraging Congress to allow them to be transferred.
MS. HARF: Yes. That's my '' it's my understanding our position on that has not changed.
QUESTION: Okay. So even after something as egregious as this and in the pattern '' in fitting with the pattern that you say is horrible, you are still lobbying Congress to ramp up assistance to the Egyptian Government. Is that correct?
MS. HARF: Matt '' well, take a step back, though.
QUESTION: But that's correct, isn't it?
MS. HARF: Our relationship '' well, no. Let me --
MS. HARF: Well, let me put it into context. Our relationship with Egypt is a complicated one and it's a broad one. And quite frankly, this is an egregious step. You saw the Secretary make a comment on it today. We've also seen egregious steps over the past few months, right, with the hundreds of people sentenced to death, in absentia most of them, without even having trials. There is a pattern here. We are working with the Egyptians to try and break it not that there's a new government in place, but again these things aren't mutually exclusive.
We can on the one hand express our displeasure, express our concern about human rights, and also say but there is, at times, a shared interest to provide some assistance. It's not black and white.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, I mean, I understand where you're '' what you're saying. I don't '' I'm not sure it makes --
MS. HARF: You just don't agree with it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, I '' I'm not sure '' I just don't think it makes any sense. This is a government that has been doing everything wrong in terms of one of your '' allegedly, one of your top, highest priorities, which is the protection of human rights --
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: -- and instead of punishing them or taking some step to show your displeasure other than just saying angry words, you're actually trying to get them more assistance.
MS. HARF: Well, we do believe --
QUESTION: I mean, you're trying to reward them.
MS. HARF: No, this isn't about a reward. This is about the fact that we have shared strategic interests, that the assistance we provide to them '' all of that is done in service of those shared strategic interests. It's all where the United States national security interests lie.
QUESTION: So national security --
MS. HARF: So they're a competing national security interest. Human rights is one of them, counterterrorism '' there are all these competing interests, and what we do in Egypt and everywhere else is balance those interests.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, why isn't it then fair for someone to take a look at this and say, ''Well, in the battle of competing national security interests, human rights loses?''
MS. HARF: Because I think that's a very simplistic and black-and-white reading of the situation.
QUESTION: Well, but that's what it is.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: That's the '' I mean that's --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) be accurate.
MS. HARF: Again, I would fundamentally disagree with it. This is a complicated relationship, Matt. To be fair, over the past year we have changed our relationship with Egypt at times to a large extent, as you saw after July 4th.
MS. HARF: So I think we've been very clear that we're willing to take steps. But you have to look at it from the broader perspective, what serves U.S. national security interests. And we do believe at this time the '' our interests are served by maintaining an assistance relationship with Egypt while also pressing on human rights, while making clear that if they don't take certain steps we will take further action.
QUESTION: Okay, but it's not as if since July 4th the bar graph has gone flat or down. If '' you're '' the U.S. assistance to Egypt after the initial penalties, since July 4th, has gone up.
MS. HARF: And we have. We suspended assistance for quite a bit. And it's '' I'm not sure '' let me double-check on that --
QUESTION: But as they --
MS. HARF: -- but it's my understanding this was all pre-obligated.
QUESTION: Right, right. Right.
MS. HARF: This wasn't we decided to do new things.
QUESTION: Well, I know, but --
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: -- the assistance is going up to Egypt as they --
MS. HARF: Well, no. It's been steady, as we had --
QUESTION: It's flat-lined?
MS. HARF: Well, it's '' again, there's no new assistance, right. It's just issues that we '' or assistance that we have put on hold to look at after what happened last July 4th, and then moving forward with assistance as we deemed it in our security interests to do so.
QUESTION: Right. I guess I just don't understand what the '' I mean, there seems to be no consequence at all here. I mean --
MS. HARF: Again, this is a broad relationship, Matt, and there are a variety of levers we have in terms of tools we can use to push the Egyptian Government.
QUESTION: Okay, what '' sorry, so '' and now '' and one of those would be aid, right?
MS. HARF: One of them, but it's not the only one.
QUESTION: Okay, well --
MS. HARF: And I think you saw the Secretary very strongly come out and say '' and I don't have any predictions for what might happen next. There's a process in place, we've called on the Egyptian Government to review these sentences, we've called them to do things like considering pardons.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: I just don't have any more --
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that they're at least willing to consider those steps?
MS. HARF: I'm quite frankly '' am not sure. We would encourage them to, obviously.
QUESTION: What was the Secretary's understanding of the legal process once he finished his meeting with President Sisi? Did President Sisi spell out for him this is --
MS. HARF: In terms of this case?
QUESTION: In terms of this case and of --
MS. HARF: Let me check and --
QUESTION: -- yeah.
MS. HARF: -- see if this case specifically came up in their meeting.
MS. HARF: I'm not sure that it did.
QUESTION: -- because --
MS. HARF: I'm happy '' obviously, the broader issue came up of convictions and sentences and detentions.
QUESTION: And I'm asking because I'm wondering --
QUESTION: It didn't come up in --
MS. HARF: I said I'm not sure. I'm going to check, Arshad.
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, because I --
QUESTION: Okay, no, no. I thought you had told Matt that it did come up earlier.
MS. HARF: I said I know the issue generally came up yesterday, but let me check what meetings. He had a number of meetings and I just need to check.
QUESTION: I'm asking in the context of the Secretary's statement and his comments at the press avail suggesting look at all venues available to you --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- including pardons. And I'm wondering, did it come out of that conversation? Was that briefing that the Secretary might have had just about the judicial process?
MS. HARF: I'm happy to check, guys, about what more happened on the ground, what meetings it came up in specifically, if any. I know again the broad issue came up, but I just want to get some facts from the team that's been on the ground. As you know, they've been working on Iraq today as well, so let me just see what I can get you.
Let's just do one more on this.
QUESTION: One more on Egypt. Okay, well, actually it's about Al Azouli prison. It seems like the Egyptian Government has this hidden prison where they torture the disappeared individuals. They are hundreds of them. There were '' there was '' they're being subjected to torture. It's a military jail called Al Azouli. Do you have anything on this?
MS. HARF: I don't have any specifics. I'm happy to check with our team and see if we have anything.
QUESTION: Iraq, please?
MS. HARF: Yes, let's move on. Yes.
QUESTION: If we start with John Kerry's visit to Baghdad.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: If you can just confirm if he is going to Kurdistan as well to meet the Kurdish leaders?
MS. HARF: I don't have any additional updates in terms of his travel. He did meet with Iraqi leaders today from across the political spectrum, including Prime Minister Maliki, Speaker Nujaifi, and Foreign Minister Zebari. If we have updates in the future I'm happy to pass them on.
QUESTION: So I just got back from Iraq yesterday. I went to Kurdistan, I went to Mosul ''near Mosul. Like one thing that most really people if you talk to, whether they're Kurds or '' if they don't understand what the United States is doing now. For example '' okay, if you can tell me what John '' Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to achieve --
MS. HARF: Yep, so --
QUESTION: -- from meeting with Nouri Maliki.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh. So '' yep. In all of these meetings, he stressed the need for Iraqi leaders to understand the urgency of the situation and that the responsibility is on their shoulders to act in a unified way. He emphasized that defending Iraq against ISIL in large part depends on their ability to form a government and to do it quickly. So that was one of the key takeaways that came from his meetings. You also saw the President, as we talked about last week, announcing some additional assistance as well.
QUESTION: Specifically, like, he stated with '' in his meeting with Egyptian foreign minister yesterday that Iraq needs a leader that represents all Iraq's communities.
MS. HARF: Absolutely. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Does that mean you believe or the United States Government believes Maliki does not represent all the communities?
MS. HARF: That's not what he's saying. He also said, I believe, that we don't pick sides, we don't pick a leader; it's up for the Iraqi people to do that. As you know, there is a process for government formation now --
QUESTION: But he also said that '' he notes that --
MS. HARF: So any leader needs to represent all Iraqis.
QUESTION: But he also said that he notes that the Kurds are dissatisfied, the Sunnis are dissatisfied, and some of the Shias are also dissatisfied.
MS. HARF: That's right.
QUESTION: That means that he wants Maliki replaced.
MS. HARF: That's not what he said at all. I think you're putting words in the Secretary's mouth. What we have said is that Iraq needs a leader '' all of its leaders, quite frankly '' that represent all Iraqis, and that it's up for the process to play itself out here, as you know. And all of the parties, I think, have committed to the timetable to start government formation, I think, I on the first when the Council of Representatives convenes. And the process will play itself out, but we don't support any one person.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm. But do you think Maliki '' like, I mean, it seems to many people that the only way to solve this problem, if it can be solved, is to replace Maliki, because nobody wants him --
MS. HARF: Again --
QUESTION: -- the Sunnis, the Kurds --
MS. HARF: We've been very clear. Whoever the leader is, they need to represent all parties. I know that you're trying to push on this and I know there's a lot of commentary out there about this, but we've been very clear that we will work with the leadership of Iraq, and all of Iraq's leaders need to govern in an inclusive way.
QUESTION: Just a couple more questions.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What about the, like, 300 military advisors and experts you have sent to Iraq? What is their job? What are they trying to achieve?
MS. HARF: Well, a couple things. First, they're going to be advisors working with the Iraqis to help shore up their ability to fight ISIL. We're also going to be enhancing our intelligence sharing, including through joint operation centers to fuse information. We're going to continue to supply a steady stream of sophisticated munitions, and the advisors really be working with some of Iraq's best units to help them fight ISIL. Our support, I think, will be intense and sustained. And again, none of this will work if Iraq's leaders don't step up to the plate and realize this is a key moment to govern in a different way going forward.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Last one.
QUESTION: Sorry, sorry.
MS. HARF: Wait, let's go to Matt.
QUESTION: Last one.
QUESTION: Wait. Just one more ''
MS. HARF: One more, and then I'm going to Matt.
QUESTION: -- because I want to really be clear about this. Like, everybody knows that the United States military had been training Iraq for years with a lot '' a much larger number of U.S. forces.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Like, really, nobody expects that with 300 people training for --
MS. HARF: It's a very different time.
QUESTION: -- like, I mean, yeah. But what can they achieve?
MS. HARF: It's a very different time.
MS. HARF: A very different threat.
QUESTION: What couldn't they achieve then, why can they achieve it now --
MS. HARF: Well, again --
QUESTION: -- from training Iraqi --
MS. HARF: -- a lot happened after the United States left Iraq. And as the President spoke to, I think now two weeks ago, maybe a week and a half ago, so much of what we've seen in terms of the lack of cohesion in the Iraqi armed forces has been because its leaders have failed to govern in an inclusive way and have really fomented sectarian divisions instead of doing the opposite. So these 300 advisors will be providing assistance, serving in an advisory role to some --
QUESTION: But will it be different from the kind of --
MS. HARF: -- to some of Iraq's best units.
QUESTION: Will it be any different from the kind of, like, assistance? Will it be any better in any way, if you can concretely speaking about it?
MS. HARF: It's a very different time. For more specifics on that, I'm happy to have my colleagues at the Defense Department help you out.
QUESTION: Marie --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- last week, there were a bunch of questions posed to Jen about the immunity issue.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: It's my understanding, and I can't remember if this was said at the Pentagon or at the White House earlier, but that immunity for the 300, who are not there yet, correct --
MS. HARF: Correct, that's my understanding.
QUESTION: -- is going '' is covered in a diplomatic note? Is that --
MS. HARF: Yep. So I have a little bit on this. Let me give you what I have, and then I am sure there will be follow-ups.
So obviously, the President has made clear that we need to address the status of any military personnel sent into Iraq. We can confirm that Iraq has provided acceptable assurances on the issue of protections for these personnel via the exchange of diplomatic note. Specifically, Iraq has committed itself to providing protections for our personnel equivalent to those provided to personnel who were in country before the crisis. And we believe these protections are adequate to the short-term assessment and advisory mission that our troops will be performing there.
QUESTION: Okay. Is this something '' do you know when that arrived?
MS. HARF: I can check.
QUESTION: Was it --
MS. HARF: I don't. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Was it like last week or just over the weekend?
MS. HARF: I'm happy to check.
QUESTION: I mean, what '' in other words, was this an issue '' was this something that the Secretary would have been raising today?
MS. HARF: The Secretary was really focused on --
MS. HARF: -- the political steps forward and CT.
QUESTION: Do you know how long it lasts?
MS. HARF: I'm happy to check.
QUESTION: Does that mean that there '' this is it? You guys are satisfied with this and you're not going to seek anything more in the way of legal immunities?
MS. HARF: We believe that these protections are adequate to what these 300 advisors will be doing.
QUESTION: Does this mean that any of those advisors could fall under the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts, or are they all kept outside of the Iraqi judicial system?
MS. HARF: So the '' without going into every specific in the dip note, the protections are akin to those extended to diplomatic personnel. Our troops will have the legal protections they need to perform their mission. And again, they would, were something to arise, face due process for violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Who provided these protections?
MS. HARF: The Iraqi Government --
QUESTION: Yeah, but the prime minister --
MS. HARF: -- through a dip note.
QUESTION: The prime minister, the government, the foreign minister?
MS. HARF: I'm not sure who signs diplomatic notes. I'm happy to see if there are more details. It's an official exchange of communications between our two governments, though.
QUESTION: A question on Kurdistan, please.
MS. HARF: Can we '' is there anything else on this? Okay, yeah.
QUESTION: One more on this.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: But does it need a parliamental decision, or a vote on this issue?
MS. HARF: Well, as you know, the parliament I think won't be convening until the 1st. We are working with the Iraqis to determine whether, when a new COR is seated, its approval will be necessary. For now we do believe we have the assurances we need, though.
QUESTION: Just a quick -- on this. That means essentially that these 300 advisors, even though they don't have any diplomatic role '' they're military advisors '' are essentially covered under the Vienna Conventions?
MS. HARF: Again --
QUESTION: Is that --
MS. HARF: Well, they're covered under the assurances given to us in a diplomatic note between our two governments.
QUESTION: Right. But you said ''akin to.''
MS. HARF: I said they're akin to what diplomatic '' I'm not going to go into all of the specifics in the diplomatic note that we exchanged, but again, akin to those.
QUESTION: Well '' okay.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Maybe we can talk about the '' maybe we can get someone from the legal office to '' I'm just '' I'm a little confused as to how --
MS. HARF: I don't need someone to explain to me what it says. There's just not a lot more we can share.
QUESTION: No, to explain to me.
MS. HARF: Yeah. There's just not going to be a lot more we can share about this. We are confident in the assurances we've been given that our folks will have the legal protections they need.
QUESTION: But did you think that those '' the assurances that they've given now could not have been extended in 2011?
MS. HARF: Well again, the situation now is different in character and kind than it was in 2011. This is a much smaller number of advisors, a clear Iraqi request for us, and appropriate assurances from the government. So it's just a very different situation. And again, the diplomatic note is what's covering this.
QUESTION: Okay. And did you guys specifically ask for this, or did they offer it?
MS. HARF: We certainly asked '' well, I don't know where it originated, but we certainly needed assurances that our folks would have protections.
QUESTION: Why not make the nature of the assurances public? What is the '' why not do that?
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: What is the harm in that?
MS. HARF: I'm not sure there's '' I don't know if there's harm in it. Again, this is a private diplomatic communication between our Government and the Government of Iraq. We and the United States military believe that these are '' assurances are enough for our folks to be there. I'm happy to see if there's more details we can share. Again, I think this is just coming about fairly recently in terms of timing.
QUESTION: Sure. Again, if you could ask the question of it '' whether it could be made public so that people could actually see it and understand what it is, and --
MS. HARF: I'll see if there's more we can share.
QUESTION: -- therefore get the reassurance that one might get from actually looking at a document.
MS. HARF: Yeah. I don't give that reassurance standing up here, Arshad?
QUESTION: I didn't say that.
MS. HARF: Going to you.
QUESTION: I know the U.S. has recently stepped up its --
MS. HARF: And then I'm going back there.
QUESTION: -- its military assistance to Iraq. You just delivered the first F-16 jets and a lot of Hellfire missiles, rocket-firing helicopters. But you just '' you've sent all of these to the Iraqi army, Iraqi Government.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Well, in Iraq there are two armies: the Peshmerga, which protects Kurdistan, and the Iraqi army. And the Peshmerga has increasingly come under attacks from ISIS recently. And I talked to the commanders there on the ground; they were telling me that they feel that they might be outgunned by the ISIS fighters because they have reportedly gotten their hands on American weaponry from Mosul and other parts of Iraq they belonged '' that had belonged to the Iraqi army.
So is there any plan that you might consider also arming the Peshmerga --
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: -- to protect Kurdistan? Because there is no Iraqi soldier, there is no Iraqi police in Kurdistan.
MS. HARF: Well, let me make a few points here. We do support the steps that have been taken between the federal government and the Kurdish Regional Government to cooperate on a security plan that will enhance both the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga's ability to hold positions and to confront ISIL. So they are actually working together on a common security plan here. We support --
QUESTION: They don't work together in Kurdistan.
MS. HARF: Can I finish before you follow up?
MS. HARF: Thanks.
We support the federal Government of Iraq. That's who we have a relationship with; that's who we give assistance to. But again, we've encouraged the Kurds '' particularly the Peshmerga '' to work with the Iraqi army to fight this threat together.
QUESTION: But Peshmerga is, as you know, recognized by the Iraqi constitution as a regional guard, regional whatever '' army. And can't you work through that Iraqi constitution, respecting that constitution? Can't you also provide them with arms?
MS. HARF: Again, we provide assistance to the Government of Iraq and have been encouraged that the government is working with the Peshmerga to fight this threat together, and we think that's appropriate.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes. Poland.
QUESTION: Yes. Thank you, Marie.
MS. HARF: If I had to guess.
QUESTION: Marie, one of the weekly magazines in Poland published audio tapes with conversations of high-ranking government officials, and on one of the tapes a person identified as Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski is saying the Polish-American alliance isn't worth anything, is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security for Poland. So is this true? What's your comment on this?
MS. HARF: Well, I can't comment on alleged tapes. I can't confirm their authenticity or background. I'm just not in a position to verify that. But more broadly, the United States and Poland have an incredibly strong relationship. You saw recently the Secretary certainly has been there, has been meeting, including with the foreign minister. And this is a relationship based on shared values. It remains strong. It's a key part of our alliances in that part of the world. And the crisis in Ukraine, I think, has made that even more the case, where we're confronting a shared threat together. So I can't comment on the authenticity of the tapes, but I know that the Secretary and the foreign minister have a very good relationship and we'll continue to have one with Poland.
QUESTION: Are you still willing to work with Mr. Sikorski --
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: -- after comments like this?
MS. HARF: Again, I can't verify the authenticity of these comments '' excuse me. But absolutely, we have a very strong relationship with the foreign minister.
QUESTION: In addition to the Secretary's visit, I believe the President --
MS. HARF: President, yes, yes, yes.
QUESTION: -- was actually there not so long ago.
MS. HARF: At the same time.
QUESTION: Yeah, indeed.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The question, though, is: Have '' are you aware of hearing '' of people hearing this kind of sentiment in conversations with Polish officials?
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, no. As I said, I mean, quite frankly, we have a very strong relationship with Poland, had a really good visit there with the President, as you mentioned, and the Secretary.
QUESTION: Regardless of whether it was Mr. Sikorski saying this on the tape or not, you would disagree with the comments whoever was --
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: -- whoever was speaking?
MS. HARF: Whoever said those comments.
QUESTION: Whoever said it was wrong, right? Can I ask you --
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: -- why?
MS. HARF: Because we have a very strong relationship that's based on shared values. Again, I mentioned Ukraine. All you have to do is look at the crisis in Ukraine and how we're consulting and working with all of our allies, including Poland, to confront this threat together. So I think that just underscores how important NATO is, how important all of our partners are there.
QUESTION: So you would '' better go to someone else because I can't --
MS. HARF: Okay, Lucas.
QUESTION: -- I can't frame this question correctly.
QUESTION: Going back to ISIS for a second. Earlier today in Baghdad, Secretary Kerry said that ISIL can't be tolerated in the region. And I was wondering why he didn't feel that way three years ago.
MS. HARF: I don't know what you're referring to.
QUESTION: If he's saying that now ISIL cannot be tolerated in the region now that ISIL has gone into Iraq, why didn't he feel the same way when they were operating freely in Syria?
MS. HARF: I'm not sure what you're basing your comment that he didn't feel that way on. Do you have anything specific to ask about?
QUESTION: Well, he's saying that this is essentially al-Qaida in Iraq, and did he not think that there was al-Qaida in Syria as well?
MS. HARF: Look, the Secretary and everybody has been very clear about the threat that's being posed by terrorists that has mostly started in Syria and have now bled over into Iraq. And the Administration has been very clear about the threat posed by ISIL for years '' for months and years. It was a key topic of conversation with Prime Minister Maliki when he was here last November. So I think any notion that the Secretary or anyone else here did not understand the threat is just false.
I would say, though, we have seen the threat evolve. And what you've seen over the past few months is really ISIL gaining strength, ISIL gaining territory, which is why it's so imperative to get more assistance to Iraq.
QUESTION: Is there any regrets supporting Prime Minister Maliki these past few years?
MS. HARF: Again, we work with the elected leader of Iraq. And we've been very clear that we will work with him, but we've also been clear when we have concerns about how he's governed. So again, it's a relationship that we have had for some time now, and it's up to the Iraqis to pick their next leader.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary voice some of these concerns a few years ago when --
MS. HARF: I think it's safe to say that many members of this Administration '' and of course the Secretary was in the Senate then '' have voiced these concerns and have had concerns about how the Government of Iraq is governing. Yes.
QUESTION: So, wait, can I go back to my Poland question?
MS. HARF: Oh, yeah. And then I'm going to you next. Yes.
QUESTION: Unless they want to stay on Iraq.
MS. HARF: No, no, no, no. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, it's just that you say that Ukraine is the '' is why --
MS. HARF: Just one example.
QUESTION: -- one '' is one example of this, but --
MS. HARF: Afghanistan is another.
QUESTION: But using Ukraine as an example would seem to be problematic because the Russians have actually annexed Crimea. They take --
MS. HARF: But you asked what our relationship was based on, and I said shared values --
QUESTION: No, I know.
MS. HARF: -- and shared interests --
MS. HARF: -- and finding a better path forward for Ukraine where Russia is not able to do the kind of things we see them do is a shared challenge we are confronting together.
QUESTION: Well, right. But my question wasn't about what the relationship with Poland is based on. It is why --
MS. HARF: That's exactly what you asked.
QUESTION: No, it's not. I was asking why the person, whoever said these things, is wrong. And the person who said these things said that the relationship between Poland and the U.S. is worthless and that it, in fact, can hurt, because it creates a false sense of security. I didn't ask about whether there were shared values. I don't think --
MS. HARF: Well, but that's why he's wrong about the first part, whoever this was on this tape, that it's useless --
MS. HARF: -- because we have shared interests, and we are working to confront them together.
QUESTION: But shared interests doesn't '' that doesn't necessarily mean that it's '' that the relationship is worth anything, does it? I mean, that's the reason that there is a relationship. It doesn't add value to it. So --
MS. HARF: Well, I think you've also seen the President and the Secretary talk quite a bit about reassurance of our allies since the situation in Ukraine, and we've taken steps to shore them up. So that's '' when we talk about security of countries like Poland, we've taken concrete steps to say we will stand by our allies in the face of Russian aggression in this region. So that would seem to be worth something.
QUESTION: Well, right. Except that '' well, yeah. But what you have done in response to what you claim is '' what you say is Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea --
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: -- is sanctions, which may or may not be having the '' they certainly don't '' they haven't --
MS. HARF: I think most economists would disagree with that notion. I think they've been pretty clear they are having an effect --
QUESTION: Well, I'm --
MS. HARF: -- on the Russian economy, at least.
QUESTION: Yeah. But they haven't had any effect on who runs Crimea.
MS. HARF: Well, look --
QUESTION: Russia hasn't said, ''Okay. Uncle. Enough. We're going to pull out of Crimea,'' because of them.
MS. HARF: Again, Russia has a decision to make. They can continue running their economy into the ground and hurting their own people, or they can take steps to uphold their obligations under international law.
QUESTION: But that's not my question, Marie. Marie, I'm trying to figure out why it is that the Poles should take heart from policy '' from Ukraine being an example of the great value of a relationship with the United States and NATO, when the United States and NATO haven't done anything, at least effectively, to get the Russians out of Crimea.
MS. HARF: I think we've done '' taken a number of steps to reassure allies like Poland, including deploying detachments of U.S. planners to augment their capabilities, to reassure them of their security in the face of Russian aggression. I think we've taken a number of concrete steps in Poland and elsewhere.
QUESTION: Isn't one big difference between Poland and Ukraine --
QUESTION: Well, it's a NATO ally, yes. But --
QUESTION: -- is that Poland is a member of NATO and Ukraine is not?
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Well, but no --
MS. HARF: But we are confronting Russian aggression in Ukraine in part by reassuring our NATO allies and taking concrete steps to show them we will stand by them.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you know, just is anyone from the Embassy or this building trying to follow up to find out if, in fact, Mr. Sikorski said this stuff?
MS. HARF: I'm happy to check. I don't know.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Can we talk about Syria?
MS. HARF: Just a little bit. I'm '' yes, yes. We'll do one here, and then we'll do a couple on Syria.
QUESTION: Well, thank you, Marie. This is Arshad, the other Arshad --
MS. HARF: The other Arshad.
QUESTION: Both of them. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- with a question on Bangladesh. Recently the UN chief called for a dialogue between the two contending major parties, BNP and the Awami League. And this has been a matter of concern, because things are going downhill as far as law and order situation is concerned. And the minority issue came up. So under the backdrop of this, and since assistant secretary of state last visit was in November, and since then she never paid a visit, so what is the current position of the United States on this situation? Are they still sticking for a dialogue?
MS. HARF: Absolutely. Our position hasn't changed. I think the assistant secretary that you mentioned most recently spoke about this April 30th in a hearing up on the Hill, where she talked about the fact that Bangladesh continues to be an important partner to the United States, that we are encouraging dialogue between the parties, that we have consistently said this is the path forward here, and nothing about that has changed.
QUESTION: So is there any fresh election, specifically the dialogue would lead to a fresh election?
MS. HARF: I don't have anything I think more to say on what we think should come of the dialogue. Obviously it's up to all the parties to decide together.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes, Syria.
QUESTION: Regarding the Secretary's statement on the removal of the last of the chemical materials --
MS. HARF: Yes. Eight percent, the last 8 percent. Yes.
QUESTION: The last declared.
MS. HARF: Declared. Yeah.
QUESTION: The last declared.
MS. HARF: And we made clear that point in the statement.
QUESTION: So what happens next? Is the priority trying to destroy the production facilities? Is the focus on trying to get back to some sort of peace talks, if that's even feasible? Is it about simply trying to figure out another way or stopping the civil war? What's the priority for this Administration?
MS. HARF: Well, there's a number of priorities. One of them is destroying the chemicals that are now out of the country and that are on the ships. So obviously that's a process that will be done in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. So that's what comes next in terms of those chemicals.
As you mentioned, yes, there are other things we still have to do, including destroying the '' some of the production facilities. And again, everything is out of those facilities; it's just about destroying them. And also to continue to make sure that there are no other chemical weapons out there. So in terms of CW, that's sort of where we are right now. But again, this is a milestone, and I think a lot of people doubted whether we would ever get here, so I think it's significant to note.
Look, in terms of the diplomatic side, we are where we have been in that we believe there is no military solution, that we need the parties to get back to the table, but the Assad regime has shown itself wholly unwilling to do so. We're not just going to have talks to have talks. So we will continue to support the opposition, to ramp up our support, as you heard the President talk about recently, and evaluate what happens next.
QUESTION: Are you providing military support to the Syrian opposition?
MS. HARF: We've said we provide a wide range of support to both the Free Syrian Army and to the political side of the house as well, and that support will continue.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry said that the U.S. is providing military support.
MS. HARF: I don't have any more details on what he said, but we are providing a wide range of support.
QUESTION: Yeah. But why don't you confirm it?
MS. HARF: I don't '' he can confirm it for us. I don't have anything to add to what he said.
QUESTION: One more. Do you think it is possible that Syria has any chemical weapons or chemical weapon precursors that it did not '' that it failed to declare?
MS. HARF: I think it's certainly possible. I think you saw that in the Secretary's statement today.
QUESTION: What, if anything, are you doing to try to neutralize the '' or to prevent Syria from using those weapons, if they exist?
MS. HARF: Well, again, we don't know that they exist. And the OPCW has the lead on reviewing and verifying the accuracy of its declaration. So we'll continue supporting them, whether that's with intelligence or information. We will continue supporting them in that regard. But I think we've made very clear that there are consequences to use, and I think if you just look at the last however many months we've been working on getting these weapons out of the country, that that is a significant milestone that we were able to get what they've declared out of the country.
QUESTION: What consequence did Syria suffer for its having used chemical weapons?
MS. HARF: That they have lost their entire declared stockpile of them.
QUESTION: Right. They voluntarily chose to give those up.
MS. HARF: Under great international pressure brought on by the threat of American military strikes.
QUESTION: So your view is that their choice to give them up is a consequence?
MS. HARF: Yes, absolutely, I do. Yes. Anything else?
QUESTION: Yeah, a lot. I'm kind of confused by that last answer, though, because I mean, this is a --
MS. HARF: The Syrians had to forfeit a stockpile of weapons that, quite frankly, I think they had shown themselves absolutely willing and able to use.
MS. HARF: But under great international pressure, including the threat of American air power, they had to be brought to the table to surrender them. So yes, I do think that getting rid of those chemical weapons is a good thing.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I don't think anyone could argue that it's not a good thing.
MS. HARF: I'm sure there are people willing to make that argument out there.
QUESTION: You think?
MS. HARF: You know.
MS. HARF: The arguments people make, the depths to which they will go, Matt --
MS. HARF: -- never ceases to amaze me.
QUESTION: All right. Assad is no closer to leaving power now than he was before August '' before the chemical weapons were used, right?
MS. HARF: But that was never going to be the goal of any military action at the time, regardless.
QUESTION: Okay. All right, can we go to Ukraine?
QUESTION: Can I make one analogy here, though? Your suggestion that suffering '' that Syria voluntarily, albeit under pressure, choosing to give up its chemical weapons is a consequence that it suffered as a result of the use of chemical weapons is kind of like saying somebody takes a gun, shoots and kills somebody, and then under pressure gives up their gun. But the point is it's, yeah, they've given up their gun, but is that a punishment for --
MS. HARF: And that gun can never be used ever again to harm anyone else.
QUESTION: Yeah. But nobody's arguing that. So you think it is a consequence?
MS. HARF: Yeah, I actually '' yes, I think that the Syrians gave up a weapon that they liked having in their arsenal and clearly showed themselves willing to use. It doesn't mean that don't have really other terrible weapons in their arsenal as well.
QUESTION: Can I go to --
MS. HARF: I have time just for a couple more --
QUESTION: Ukraine?
MS. HARF: -- and then I have to run. Sorry.
QUESTION: Ukraine?
MS. HARF: Yes, let's do a few on Ukraine.
QUESTION: So the President and President Putin spoke today, according to the White House and according to the Kremlin. I want to ask you about that call, unless you want to say more than what the White House already said about it.
MS. HARF: I think I'll punt to the White House.
QUESTION: Okay. You've seen that the Russian '' the separatists, the rebels in the east, have said that they will respect or that they plan to respect the ceasefire. I presume you think this is --
MS. HARF: We've seen those claims. But again, actions have to back up the words.
QUESTION: Okay. Have --
QUESTION: Will four days make a difference?
MS. HARF: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Will four days make a difference?
MS. HARF: Look, we would support any side taking steps to work towards a cease-fire. Obviously, we need to see those steps taken to support the words that we've now seen from President Putin and others.
QUESTION: But not '' I'm not talking about what President Putin '' I mean, President Putin has come out and said that he supports the ceasefire as well --
MS. HARF: Yes. No, I was responding to your question.
QUESTION: -- but he's also said that '' okay, so you're '' I'm talking about the separatists.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. As I said, there are words out there people have spoken about supporting the cease-fire --
QUESTION: Right. Okay.
MS. HARF: -- but we haven't seen actions taken to back that up yet.
QUESTION: Okay. Have you seen any '' in terms of actions, what have you seen? Has it gotten worse?
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Has it gotten --
MS. HARF: It has, in some respects. We have seen evidence of continued Russian military support to the separatists, and a new ongoing build-up of Russian forces on the border.
QUESTION: Okay. On Friday, there was discussion in here and in a conference call with a senior official about Russian tanks moving or having left '' they were being prepared at a site --
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- in southwest Russia and then there were indications that some of them might have left that site. Is that still the case?
MS. HARF: Yeah. So --
QUESTION: Do you '' have they '' are you aware that they have gone into Ukraine?
MS. HARF: Right. And as we said, I think, last week on June 13th, Russia sent tanks from a deployment site in southwest Russia into eastern Ukraine. And we have information that additional tanks have been prepared for departure from the same site. On June 20th the OSCE reported eyewitness accounts seeing a military convoy of unknown origin driving through Luhansk city. This convoy included tanks and armored personnel carriers. We also have ground photos from the destroyed BM-21 multiple rocket launchers in Luhansk, that the launcher originally belonged to a Russian motorized rifle brigade. So there's a host of information that tanks, rocket launchers are crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine.
QUESTION: And all of this is post-Friday?
MS. HARF: I can check on the timing.
QUESTION: There was one thing '' yeah.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: I had basically the same question, which was the briefer on the call couldn't confirm that any of the tanks that the U.S. Government has information had left --
MS. HARF: Have crossed?
QUESTION: -- had actually crossed.
MS. HARF: I'm happy to check and see what the status of that is.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: And is it still your understanding that reports in Russia of enormous amounts of refugee flows are incorrect?
MS. HARF: Incorrect. Yes.
MS. HARF: Still our understanding. Sorry for the fire drill today, guys. That's it. See you all --
QUESTION: Fire drill? Is there a fire drill?
MS. HARF: It was a quick fire drill.
QUESTION: Is there?
MS. HARF: No, I said I did a quick briefing.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:38 p.m.)
DPB # 110
VIDEO-Fireworks Erupt After GOP Rep Tells IRS Boss His Personal Integrity Is in Question
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 03:04
Turner grilled Koskinen demanding to know why the FBI has not be contacted asking, "Will you call the FBI, integrity of your agency is absolutely at stake?"
Turner went on to stress that Koskinen should responsibly handle the situation.
"You should call the FBI. You should call for a special prosecutor," he said.
After Koskinen insisted, "I'm not going to call the FBI," Turner said, "Then that is an issue of your personal integrity because the integrity of this agency and the concerns that American have of it is at stake."
Follow Pam Key On Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO- Trey Gowdy OWNS Irs Commissioner John Koskinen. Trey Gowdy vs Irs Commissioner - YouTube
Tue, 24 Jun 2014 02:54
VIDEO-Book: Oprah Winfrey calls Michelle Obama 'tiresome,' prefers Hillary Clinton | WashingtonExaminer.com
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 22:43
New book questions the warm relationship between the Obamas and Oprah Winfrey. AP PhotoThe lovey-dovey public relationship between Oprah Winfrey and the President and Michelle Obama is a mirage, according to a new book that says first lady badgers the TV giant for favors and makes the fellow Chicagoan feel ''jumpy.''
In his latest political book, ''Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas,'' best-selling author Edward Klein also reveals that ''Oprah feels slighted by the Obamas'' but would walk on hot coals for Bill and Hillary Clinton, who she is eager to help in a 2016 presidential election.
Klein writes: '' 'I have a much warmer relationship with Hillary than I do with either Michelle or Barack,' Oprah said. 'The Clintons make me feel at ease 100 percent of the time. But even when the Obamas think they are being charming, they hold you at arm's length. They make me jumpy, even when the obviously don't mean to.' ''
Klein, whose critical book about Obama, ''The Amateur,'' was best-seller, writes in his new work that the first lady and top aide Valerie Jarrett are needy. ''Being with them over a period of time can be tiresome,'' he quotes Winfrey saying.
''They're always badgering you for something,'' wrote Klein on page 261. ''I've spent much of my life fending off powerful and not-so-powerful people who want things from me. But these two women are something else again. They're walking agendas. Their wish list never stops.''
As a result, he concludes, Winfrey ''feels slighted.'' He quotes a friend of Winfrey who said that the Obamas ''have been incredibly thoughtless in the way they have treated her. It's been unfair and hurtful.''
But he described a different relationship with the Clintons, explaining that she has been open to their efforts to win her endorsement in 2016, even as Vice President Joe Biden also woos Winfrey's support should he run for the presidency.
Quoting a Clinton insider, Klein writes, ''Bill and Hillary have both had long talks with Oprah. They've made it clear they're planning a run for the White House and would appreciate her support. They want her to do for Hillary what she did for Obama in his first campaign in 2008. They think her support is worth a million votes, and maybe more. Hillary says she's convinced that Oprah is going to come on board.''
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
VIDEO-FBI Raids Home of Dangerous Doomsday Prepper: Agents Find Legally Owned Firearms, Barrels of Food
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 22:27
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies blasted alerts all over the country earlier this week advising Americans to be on the lookout for 'Doomsday Prepper' Martin Winters, who police say was stockpiling over fifty ''high powered'' rifles, deadly booby traps and food in preparation for an ''end times'' event. Neighbors interviewed by mainstream news were terrified about the allegations, leaving some with the impression that Winters was ''crazy'' because he allegedly claimed that he would kill federal agents if necessary.
While SWAT officials indicated the likelihood that they would have to engage Winters in a firefight was high, friends and family suggested otherwise, saying that Winters may have had views different from most people but insisting that he is a ''good guy'' who wouldn't hurt others unless it was necessary to do so in self defense.
Police went so far as to suggest that Winters had essentially gone off the reservation and that he didn't care whether he lived or died, and that he was ''plotting'' a confrontation with the federal government.
But the claims and allegations may have been blown way out of proportion. After police obtained a warrant to search Winters' home based on information obtained from a confidential informant they were probably surprised that not only did Winters have no explosive booby troops set up all over his property as had been claimed, he was also far short of having possession of the fifty high-powered rifles that police said he had been stockpiling.
Federal agents this week searched the Florida home of a 'doomsday prepper' they alleged had stockpiled over 50 high-powered assault rifles and several explosive devices buried around his property as 'booby traps'.
However the warrant showed up little more than barrels of food.
But in federal court on Wednesday, Winters' defense attorney, Ellis Faught, said the confidential informant's estimates were wide of the mark.
The informant had bought four so-called destructive devices from Winters, but they were not buried as booby traps.
Five guns were found locked in a safe, according to 10 News.
'None of this was there,' Fraught told the court, the station reported.
'And it's my understanding that no guns were dug up.
'It was alleged by the government that there were 50 to 60 guns and I'm only aware of five of them that were found and they were found in his house in a safe.'
Source: Daily Mail
While Martin Winters' political ideology and interests may differ from those of most Americans, the government had tried him in a public court before any evidence had been presented or found. Some of his neighbors were terrified of this ''crazy'' individual after they had been told of his alleged crimes, and the mainstream media was happy to oblige the narrative that this right-wing survivalist extremist was a danger to himself and society.
The FBI issued the following photo to its media surrogates during the manhunt in an effort to depict Winters as a survivalist who had gone off the deep end:
His daughters, however, say that Winters is not violent at all and that he is a loving father and grandfather.
''I think they took the whole context of him being prepared and twisted it,'' says his daughter Tracy.
(Pictured: Martin Winters with daughters)
Video: ''This whole manhunt happened because Winters was trying to protect his family''
Senator Rand Paul warned Americans about this growing trend of demonizing innocent Americans in a speech he delivered to Congress three years ago in opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act noting that those who don't subscribe to the status quo could be branded as extremists and terrorists. Paul's prediction couldn't have been more accurate, especially considering the manhunt and circumstances surrounding the ordeal with Martin Winters:
There are laws on the books now that characterize who might be a terrorist.
Someone missing fingers on their hands is a suspect according to the Department of Justice. Someone who has guns, someone who has ammunition that is weatherproofed, someone who has more than seven days of food in their house can be considered a potential terrorist.
If you are suspected by these activities do you want the government to have the ability to send you to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention?
I suspect, we're not talking about someone who has been tried or found guilty. We're talking about someone suspected of activities.
We have, unfortunately, reached a point in America where talking about ideas that don't go along with mainstream thought has become suspicious activity and those engaging in it are now identified as extremists or persons of interest. With the surveillance state rapidly expanding its capabilities to monitor conversations and interactions with those around us, it has become more important now than ever before to keep our personal activities as private as possible.
OPSEC, a term preppers use to describe operational security, is a key tenet of staying safe in the event of a major disaster. But in this day and age it is a concept that is just as important to implement while everything is seemingly stable, because sharing too much with the wrong people may make you a target, not just to looters and thieves, but overzealous government agents as well.
Today Martin Winters is a domestic terrorist. Tomorrow it might be you.
VIDEO-Super Soldiers & Operation Moon Shadow - Part 1 Captain K. Interviews (S02E01) - YouTube
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 21:35
VIDEO-Bill Clinton urges Hillary Clinton to 'take maximum advantage' of his death, new book reveals | WashingtonExaminer.com
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 19:18
Dr. Allan Schwartz, Bill Clinton's cardiologist, speaks to the media outside the Milstein... Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, and first lady Michelle Obama stand together during the July 2011...Former President Bill Clinton has been busy writing ''playbooks'' for his wife, Hillary, to use in her likely 2016 presidential campaign including how to ''take maximum advantage of my death," according to a new book out Monday.
In Edward Klein's ''Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas,'' the former president is quoted suggesting that his death and subsequent state funeral would help elect Hillary Clinton. He said it would be ''worth a couple of million votes.''
In the epilogue of his book, provided to Secrets, Klein quotes Bill Clinton complaining that the Hillary Clinton for President campaign in 2008 started too late. He also said that when she runs, Hillary Clinton has ''got to hit hard at the Obama record.''
Klein, a former New York Times and Newsweek editor, interviewed dozens of Clinton and Obama insiders for his book which details hostile feelings between the two political families.
In one conversation revealed to Klein, Clinton, who has suffered heart troubles, suggests that there is a benefit to his wife if he dies before the election.
Starting on page 276, Klein begins by quoting the former president:
''I'm worried how my health will affect your campaign,'' he said. ''I have to do all I can to prepare the campaign playbooks, but I also have to accept the fact that if I fall by the wayside, you have to continue without me and make a positive thing out of it.''
''A positive thing?'' Hillary said. ''What the hell are you talking about?''
''Obviously, you have to have a big state funeral for me, with as much pomp and circumstance as possible,'' he said. ''I'm thinking maybe I should be buried at Arlington [National Cemetery] rather than at my library in Little Rock. After all, I was commander in chief for eight years and have every right to be buried at Arlington.''
''Bill!'' Hillary said, trying to interrupt his train of thought. ''I'm going to plan this thing out in detail,'' he said.
''I don't want to hear this!'' Hillary said.
''Wear your widow's weeds, so people will feel sympathy for you. Wear black for a decent mourning period and make my death an asset. The Images on television of the funeral and the grieving widow in black will be priceless. When I'm gone, people will think only of my good points and forgive, if not forget, the bad. I'll be remembered in a positive light more in death than I was in life. That always happens. Everybody knows that. So you'll have to take maximum advantage of my death.''
''Bill....'' Hillary said.
''It should be worth a couple of million votes,'' he said.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
VIDEO- Hyundai Blue Link | Stolen Vehicle Recovery - YouTube
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 15:30
VIDEO-Football match-fixing deal casts cloud over World Cup - Telegraph
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:30
Reporters from The Telegraph and a former Fifa investigator claimed they represented an investment company that wanted to ''sponsor'' games. Christopher Forsythe, a registered Fifa agent, along with Obed Nketiah, a senior figure in the Ghanaian FA, boasted that they could employ corrupt officials who would rig matches played by Ghana.
The president of the country's football association then met the undercover reporter and investigator, along with Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah, and agreed a contract which would see the team play in the rigged matches, in return for payment.
The contract stated that it would cost $170,000 (£100,000) for each match organised by the fixers involving the Ghanaian team, and would allow a bogus investment firm '‹to appoint match officials, in breach of Fifa rules.
''You [the company] will always have to come to us and say how you want it to go'...the result,'' said Mr Forsythe. ''That's why we will get the officials that we have greased their palms, so they will do it. If we bring in our own officials to do the match'...You're making your money.''
''You have to give them [the referees] something'... they are going to do a lot of work for you, so you have to give them something,'' said Mr Nketiah, who is also the chief executive of the Ghanaian football club Berekum Chelsea and sits on the management committee of the Ghana U20 national team.
Ghana team players celebrate during their match against Germany at World Cup 2014. Their country's FA bosses are now facing allegations of match-fixing (PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES)
Mr Forsythe said that match fixing was ''everywhere'' in football and that he could even arrange rigged matches between Ghana and British teams. ''The referees can change the matches every time. Even in England it does happen,'' he said. Following the meeting in London, the representative of the investment firm asked if his company could be sure their approach would work.
Mr Forsythe replied: ''We will always choose associations/countries that we think we can corrupt their officials for all our matches.''
He listed a number of African and European countries, adding ''we can look for match officials who will sing to our tune''.
Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah then introduced the undercover reporters to Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana FA, at a five-star hotel in Miami earlier this month shortly before his team played South Korea in Miami before heading to Brazil.
During the meeting in Florida, the president agreed to a contract that stated each match would cost the investment company $170,000 and that they could appoint the match officials for each game. A contract was drawn up that specified that ''The Company will appoint and pay for the cost of the referees/match officials in consultation with an agreed Fifa Member association(s),'' in direct breach of the rules that prohibit third parties from appointing officials, in order to protect their impartiality. During the meeting, the president suggested that the fictional investment company put on two matches after the World Cup to prove that they were able to organise games.
'‹''So why don't you arrange matches?'' said Mr Nyantakyi. ''Let's say there should be an experimental period for us to see how we do your work? There is an opportunity in August, and then in December, but I don't know about that. But these months appear to be the only time that we can have any opportunity to play friendly games.''
When a reporter asked if the president was happy with the contract, as long as it reflected the experimental period he had requested, he replied, ''Yeah these are the issues that I've got with it.''
''So we can work on that with a trial game?'' asked the investigator.
''Yeah,'' replied the president.
Premier League stars were due to play in matches which will not now take place.
Ghana's football stars include the ex-Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien and former Tottenham Hotspur player Kevin-Prince Boateng, although there is no suggestion that either, or any other player, is involved in match-fixing.
Last week saw the first convictions in the modern era of criminals in this country for attempting to rig football matches, following an earlier investigation by this newspaper.
Chann Sankaran and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, businessmen from Singapore, and Michael Boateng, a former professional footballer, were found guilty after a six-week trial.
Sankaran and Ganeshan were sentenced to five years and Boateng 18 months. Sankaran and Ganeshan have links to the notorious international match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, and were said to be attempting to establish a network of corrupt footballers in Britain.
Last month, The Telegraph revealed police concerns over attempts to fix a game between Nigeria and Scotland that was due to be played in London. Officers from the National Crime Agency, Britain's equivalent of the FBI which investigates organised crime, are understood to have asked Fifa to issue an alert over attempts to rig the game.
Terry Steans, a former Fifa investigator, said that the World Cup is ''vulnerable'' to match fixing.
''I know that the World Cup is vulnerable to these criminal gangs because they have existing networks of contacts at all levels inside the game and they will look for any vulnerability they can find to exploit,'' he said.
''Match-fixing is widespread. It is happening at every level and in many countries. Match-fixing syndicates with criminal intent have infiltrated all levels of football and sport from national, regional and onto international. Fifa needs to do more.''
The revelations will heap further pressure on Fifa, which is facing huge controversy over its management of international football. Over the last month, Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, has faced calls to stand down after it emerged the former Qatari executive committee member had made millions of dollars in payments to Fifa officials.
In March, The Telegraph revealed that the same official had paid Jack Warner, one of the people that participated in the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup, $1.2'‰million shortly after the vote.
When they were confronted about their operation, both Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah denied any involvement in a plot to fix matches. Mr Nketiah said: ''These are false allegations and I will never in my life do such a thing.''
As part of a statement, Mr Forsythe, said: ''To be frank everything I told you about the match fixing was a figment of my own imagination because I am so naive that I don't even know how matches are done. They were promises just to be able to get something off you.''
Mr Nyantakyi said that he had not read the contract and he did not know about the deal to fix games. He said that the proposed match would have been handled by a licensed Fifa match agent and that he was unaware that Mr Forsythe had demanded £30,000 for the football association.
The Ghanaian FA announced last night it has asked the Ghana Police Service to investigate Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah for "misrepresenting the GFA with an attempt to defraud".
The football body has also reported the matter to FIFA and CAF.
In a statement, it said: "We wish to assure the public that we will not tolerate such misrepresentations and we will seek strong sanctions against such individuals if such claims are found to be true."
- 'How to fix a football match', Channel 4 Dispatches, 7.30pm on Monday
VIDEO-Sandy Hook Redux: Obama officials confirm that it was a drill and no children died | The Daily Sheeple
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 03:22
Jim Fetzer, Sofia Smallstorm, and Paul PrestonVeterans TodayJune 14th, 2014Reader Views: 170,022
By Jim Fetzer (with Sofia Smallstorm and Paul Preston)
''I have a lot of sources in regards to as to what's going on with the president and the administration and so on, and every one of my sources said it was a false flag''--Paul Preston
Sofia Smallstorm, who produced and directed the documentary, ''Unraveling Sandy Hook'', which many regard as the best video study of the Sandy Hook event, recently interviewed a Los Angeles school expert, Paul Preston, about Sandy Hook and his knowledge of what had transpired.
Governor Malloy had held a press conference that day, explaining that he and the Lt. Governor had been ''spoken to'' that something like this might happen, which raised the question, what ''something like this''? Did he mean he had been told a school shooting massacre would take place? or a drill that would be presented as a real event?
Remarkably, we now have confirmation from an unexpected source. Paul Preston had obtained information from officials in the U.S. Department of Education of the Barack Obama administration, who confirmed to him on the basis of their own personal knowledge that:
(1) it had been a drill;
(2) no children had been killed; and,
(3) it had been done to promote an anti-gun agenda.
Given his background of 41 years in the California public school system (from custodian to district superintendent) and having served as a teacher, coach, vice-principal and principal before retiring in 2012 as the superintendent of two charter schools, I thought what he had to say about Sandy Hook deserved widespread dissemination.
So when did a two-hour show on Revolution Radio, ''False Flags (9/11, Sandy Hook and the Boston bombing)'' on 30 May 2014, as the third segment, I included the second 30-minutes of Sofia's interview with Paul Preston, which is archived on ''The Real Deal'' and can be heard here.
Because Preston is also highly trained in school safety issues and had himself organized drills of many kinds, including active-shooter drills, what he has to say is especially telling. He has a website of his own at www.Agenda21Radio.com, which he created to alert listeners to the perils of Agenda 21.
Transcript of 30-minute clip of Sofia Smallstorm interviewing Paul Preston
Transcription by Jeannon
S = Sofia Smallstrom
P = Paul Preston
S '' Welcome back everyone to the Speed of Light on the Pure Momentum Network. This is Sofia Smallstorm and we're listening to a very interesting discussion '' Paul Preston, school principal, school safety consultant, teacher, coach, and superintendent. He has been in the California system for 41 years. He is now retired.
So Paul, let's continue. Can we get a little bit into Sandy Hook now and what set off your antenna about it?
P '' Well, you know I've been involved in many many situations at schools that have been, you know, emergency type situations and was involved even to some degree with the Columbine situation in that we had an individual who as trying to blow up the school, our school, at the time. In a similar fashion to what was a predicted bomb threat that occurred at Columbine thee days before the Columbine shooting, and that's how we kind of got in touch with the Columbine people. They got in touch with us because it turned out to be a similar neo-Nazi group that was related to the Trench Coat Mafia, of all people.
And so learning and watching ad seeing all these incidences play out, all these school shootings, I took an enormous interest in because we were doing a study trying to determine because the neo-Nazis we had been working with in our school along the same time of the Columbine incident were telling us that there was going to be some big event take place. And so our staff, myself, we all wanted to sit down and figure where this was all going to and we studied a lot of the Nazi websites and so on, and we figured out that yes, something big was going to happen.
Well then Columbine happened. So we watched with a lot of intensity and under with my own circumstances and also with watching the videos and replays of the other active shooter situations, I became sort of a specialist in that and applied it to my own active-shooter training that I was doing and conducting with my own people.
S '' Right. And now can we get in to Sandy Hook?
P '' Well yes. Of all the hundreds of hours that I spent watching these scenarios and investigating and reporting on them on my radio show, the first thing I noticed when I heard about Sandy Hook when I turned on the TV like everybody else '...now I have always told everybody when you're seeing these things play out in real time, the best news reporting is what's happening in real time '' that day of, you know, the moments that are around the incident. But document for yourself what's going on because you'll never see it again.
And the first thing that caught my eye as I was watching everything play out was the lack of intensity with which people were moving and that really disturbed me. It hit me within the first few minutes, watching the video, the helicopters flying around and so on. Things just didn't seem to be right, like I would always understand in an incident command system. People weren't rushing around. People weren't panicking. They ran that one guy off into the woods and then they arrested him. They took him away and there was no connectedness to that.
I was also wondering why all the emergency equipment wasn't around the school. And I didn't see any students either and that really bothered me.
S '' So, it was almost like too slow motion for a real event. Not enough panic. Not enough chaos. You had mentioned chaos earlier being a part of these real situations. And a lot of support people rushing around like press and police but not running fast enough, not running with intensity and alarm and panic and concern, I think.
P '' None of that was there.
S '' Yes. So all right, and then what did you start thinking?
P '' Well, just within the first 10 or 15 minutes, it just all looked too staged to me, and I know about staging these things since I've staged a number of them. And, like I said, then you stage something there's a complete lack of intensity as you would have in a real scenario when there's panic really taking hold of people and they're really afraid and they're screaming and yelling and so on.
But the one thing that really bothered me was where were the kids. You know they had how many hundreds of kids there at the school. I didn't see them.
S '' Right.
P '' And there was lack of accounting for them.
And right away '' and I'll juxtaposition this with the situation that happened in Pennsylvania. You saw the kids right away. I know it's a high school, but you know, you saw the kids right away and you saw their plan of evacuation of the school unfolding.
Now this is where it really falls apart with Sandy Hook for me. saw'...I saw no evidence of a real plan of student evacuation taking place. And that stuck to my head like crazy when I was in the moments watching this whole thing play out in real time.
S '' That's very interesting. No evidence of a real plan. Because only someone'...I mean everybody had their own response to it. Some of us were already clued in from previous kinds of situations. All this has got to be not what they're telling us it is. But you come from the industry, the business, and you felt that there is'... I would say you knew '... It probably was not even a feeling. It was like, you know, set in stone in your head. Where's the plan? I don't see the plan playing itself out. Right?
P '' I saw same of your evacuation centers and I saw some of your colored tarps on the ground, the colored taps and so on, but even that pretty odd because normally if you have the tarps out there'...in every active shooter situation you have ever see, there's somebody on the tarp or there's been some help that's been given to somebody when somebody has been wounded, but none of that was even evident. And I don't see anybody trying to rush to anybody's help at all in a mass casualty situation.
See, when you don't see that'...I mean'...I'll go back to the example that I have before about the 13 who overdosed. We had people everywhere, and we had people everywhere until everybody was safe, which was 35, 40 minutes, almost an hour. And that was never happening there at Sandy Hook. You didn't see the mass of people doing that.
S '' Yes, it's more like the press filled in for that missing element. The press sounded more concerned and panicked on TV as they reported but the actual participants were not so '...And got, you know, long after the fact we got the supposed 911 calls, we got various people giving their versions of it on television as they got interviewed. But we didn't see it on the ground. And so how long did you watch it for? Over a period of days, weeks? And what were your thoughts?
P '' You know, I make it a study. I study these things intensely, and what really, what really put me over the top was the next morning with Robbie Parker going out there, and I saw that clip as it happened. And I said there's something really wrong here.
And that's when I started thinking about the '...the actors. You can actually rent these actors out. In fact that put these things up for training all the time.
And I just said 'this is not'...first of all, his demeanor was terrible. I would never go out'...and I know sometimes this happens but'...to send a parent out to talk to the press in that fashion about the daughter that he just lost. None of that seemed to be appropriate. None of it seemed to fit. And his behavior with the smiling laughing thing and getting into character that you could see. I said ' hmmm, I'm not buying this. I'm just not buying it.'
S '' Yes, I know. Very few other people did. So, did you contact anyone? Did you speak to anyone? I don't mean officially but in your own network of friends.
P '' Yes.
S '' And what were their thoughts.
P '' Almost everybody was unanimous that it was a false flag.
S '' And when did you start looking it up on the Internet because I think people started posting immediately. You know, they were making YouTubes. The community began to express online. So when did you start looking into all of that?
P '' We''a side note to this is that I have a lot of sources in and around and in that area. I have a lot of sources in regards to as to what's going on with the president and the administration and so on, and every one of my sources said it was a false flag.
S '' Now these are quasi-official'... what kind of sources are these?
P '' Let me say that there are the sources that are very close to this administration who knows what's going on.
S '' Really. So they are really like almost insiders then?
P '' Oh yes.
S '' And they all'....they say it was a false flag because they figured it out like you did, or they had actually factual knowledge of such..
P '' They had factual knowledge of such. That's part of the plan.
S '' I see. And so how much were they willing to tell you, and what else were they willing to tell you? Anything?
P '' Oh, they told me quite a bit, and some of it I can't reveal to you, but it fits the narrative of the anti-gun movement and the disarmament of America and that's what the focus was.
S '' And you realized that that's part of the broader picture? That's the Agenda 21 society?
P '' Absolutely.
S '' So do you want to tell us a little but about that or do you want to stick with the Sandy Hook material? I'll let you decide.
P '' Well, let's go ahead with the Sandy Hook material and then we can jump into that.
S '' OK, so we're past Robbie Parker now, and what about the funerals? You must have known then that '...Did you have any concept about victims or no victims, et cetera?
P '' Well, that whole thing was pretty shaky. What was really starting to filter in in the system and was just confirming what I was already being told about these charity sites that had been developed. By the way, they were put up the day before the shooting. And I had gotten some screen shots, and I had confirmed with my sources. Some of them were thinking that it was a very sloppy operation actually.
But there were reassurances to me that there really were no victims and that everything's being staged.
And of course the funerals to me'...you go and look at the whole funeral process. It looked like they were all staged, from the Robbie Parker one in Utah, or the Sarah Parker one with the Parker family.
And then I started getting information from people that actually had attended that funeral who lived in Utah and said that was something very funny about it.
S '' Now I would like to ask you whether your sense is that these are real families even, or are they patched together?
P '' Well, you know, that's a good question because, you know, the thing that rolls around in my head, you know, the actors type of thing, you know. You know because you can put families together and these acting programs will do that under certain training scenarios. And so, it's a good question. It really is a fair question to ask whether or not they were real families.
S '' And then of course because they continue to speak and organize and be called upon to comment, they have to be formed into these family groupings over time. And remain grouped like that whether they are truly married or not.
You know, here's one thing that I noticed. When you see a couple, if they seem really like an odd couple, then that kind of strikes you as weird. And I saw that. I saw a very odd coupled-ness with lots of these Sandy Hook families. It seemed to me, why would this person marry this person and live with them? They're so totally different. That happens sometimes but in this content it really jumped out at me'...myself anyway. I didn't know if you noticed that'...
P '' It' different to say, you know, when you saw them together whether they are natural families or not. That's'...I'm suspicious of that. And like I say, I'm suspicious because I know that you can put these families together, you know, with some of these acting companies out there. And that just kind of blends in with what I was already being suspicious about.
And so, there's a lot of things that would go into the details of examining this. And I've see a lot of the pictures and so on, and some of the pictures don't match up, especially the one of the Parkers in the White House. And it looks like to me that's Sarah Parker sitting there that's, you know, supposed to be a victim.
S '' There's no Sarah Parker'...
P '' Which one is it'...maybe it's not the Parker'...
S '' Oh, you mean with Obama'...
P '' Yes, right.
S '' Emily or Madeline '...those are the two order sisters, and a lot of people felt that that was Emily Parker leaning on Obama.
P '' Yes, that was Emily Parker'...
S '' Have you seen the Super Bowl video?
P '' Yes, I have seen that.
S '' Well, there is a girl who looks a lot like an older Emily Parker in that video. So if that was Emily at the White House, or actually I think'...I don't know if it was at the White House'...but with Obama, she couldn't be six in one picture and then just a month or two later, twelve or thirteen.
P - Right.
S '' That's where we have to make a decision.
But what did you think of all the photographs of the children? Did you notice anything '' the portraits that we were shown that these were the victims? Did you notice anything about those portraits?
P '' No, other than some of the malformations of different parts of their bodies '' seemed to be a pretty obvious thing.
The whole thing '...when you take a look at the totality of this, in my opinion, it's very sloppily done.
S '' Why would it have been sloppily done though?
P '' Well, you know, when '...and again, it's kind of like sometimes there's order that comes out of chaos. And when you have these chaotic situations, people want to put things back together as best they possibly can to feel more comfortable or to recover from it. And I didn't see any of that. I don't know if that makes any sense to anybody. People don't want to have that chaos. They want to heal. They want to come back together. They want to solve a problem so that they can move forward.
And that's part of what happens when you do these drills is that you take a day or so and you talk about what happened so that you can improve upon and make it better. People do that naturally even when there's chaos and there's an emergency situation because they want to seek normalcy again.
I didn't see the same kind of emotions, if you will, or the same kind of communications between parents, kids, that you would normally see in these situations. It just didn't look'...it looked phony to me.
S '' So you mean the community itself, they did not try to repair in the organic way'...?
P '' I would say that is true, from the parents to the kids, to the entire community.
S '' What do you think of this privacy issue that has been bandied about by the authorities, that all the privacy needs to be respected, and you can't reveal this or that'...?
P '' That to me just adds more fuel to the fire because that's not what you do in the normal situation of an incident command system. You get the facts out because you know oftentimes when you get the facts out, you're also looking for criminal behavior, and the more information that you can get out that that's way, the better.
And I'm certainly not buying the notion that the parents weren't allowed to see the kids.
S '' The bodies, identifying the'...
P '' I just'...that to me'...that should be a red flag to anybody who has looked in to Sandy Hook. The parents weren't allowed to do that. What's up with that?
S '' And what did you think of the coroner's behavior at his press conference?
P '' Well there's many things about him. I just '...I '...first of all, I didn't understand why all of a sudden there's 26 bodies and then there's no coroner or doctor who's looked at the bodies and they're declared dead. And then all of a sudden the coroner comes out and everybody says that there was an automatic gun or a handgun that was used, and the coroner, on his own, comes out and says 'oh no, that was an AR15 that was used.'
So there's a lot of confusion, you know, about that coroner, his report, his reporting out. Nothing seems very clear and concise to me. And you know I would argue that, you know, as I looked at him and watched what was going on, he seemed to be just answering question on the fly without a lot of knowledge behind the questions.
S '' And this suggested to you that this was a sloppily created event?
P '' Absolutely.
S '' And would you say that that was because of the portent of the whole thing that they'...there were people involved in this'...let's say Dr. Carver, the coroner, who had some idea, if it was a scripted event, it was going to go big, and really big? So do you think that the sloppiness of it was because in being organized, it's very difficult to juggle how people are going to perform given that they know how big this thing could get?
P '' Well, you know, what happens is that you'...if you're going to do these things and carry it through with the lie, everybody's got to be telling the same lie at the same time all the time.
And I think with my judgments about the parents and the kids, and seeing them lie, I was seeing a big lie being perpetrated right in front of me because nothing seemed to be consistent. And like you said, which I thought was interesting, is that oftentimes the media would fill in a lot of the blanks for you.
A classic example of the blanks comes up when you talk about where are the kids that are evacuating the school. There were helicopters that were circling overhead. They certainly would have been able to show, you know, hundreds of kids exiting the school.
That was never shown. But you did see a picture out in a parking lot, which by the way if you take a long look at this picture of all these kids being led out, about 15 or 20 kids being led out by teachers and adults from this parking lot, if you take a look at the parking lot from the aerial views, you can see that there are different cars in the parking lot in that area. So obviously that was done during some sort of drill. That's my opinion. And it didn't match with what was going on at the time. So nothing is matching in real time for me. That's just another thing.
But where are the kids? Where were the kids? They weren't present. They just weren't there. So that's the kind of stuff that wasn't worked out and, you know, they were doing things on the fly. That's why I say'...I would say it was very amateur, very amateurish as to what was going on.
S '' Which is surprising because in the powers that would have designed this thing '' that it would be so amateur '' but'...
You are familiar with the character, Gene Rosen?
P '' Gene Rosen '' which one was '...?
S '' Gene Rosen was the man who was very close to the school and he took the kids in and offered them juice and cookies, and he gave many different'...he recounted his rescuing or fielding these kids differently in many interviews. So can you comment on that?
P '' I can comment on this because this points to this proves my point that these kids '...did they get off a bus? Where did they go? OK, I think that one of the stories was that the kids got off the bus and they made their way to his house, and there was all this panic or whatever was going on. OK, there's something really wrong with that picture to begin with.
First of all, when you're doing these scenarios and this school had to have been trained for this because FEMA requires these trainings, and if you're getting safety monies from the federal government, which every school does, they have to follow the proper protocols and that's the proper release of the students to their parents.
S '' Right. He said, that children showed up on his lawn and they were with a bus driver, in one story. In another story, they were just there by themselves and they were repeating babbling that there teacher was dead. So what'...would the protocol be that the children'...the children, according to the story, left the school on their own.
P '' Well, that to me, that's very suspicious in and of itself.
S '' Right, I mean the cops had not gotten there in the first five minutes. Apparently some of them could still hear shooting going on, and how did the kids get out and just run down the road, you know?
P '' All that seems to be '...and again, I want to go into the thing about the incident command system, evacuation, walk-outs and so on. None of that fits that protocol. None of it.
The story of Gene Rosen or any of that stuff '-- None of that fits. That to me is just more evidence that there were no students other than the actor students that were there.
S '' Then what was the purpose of having the Gene Rosen player?
P '' Diversion.
S '' From what?
P '' A diversion from the other realities going on and to add more hype about the story. It's the same thing about the guy that was chased through the woods. You know, they had a couple of guys that were chased through the woods. What were they all about?
And there were no answers about any of that, about where they came from and even my people couldn't come up with an answer about that. Some of my people say it was very sloppily done.
S '' These are your insider people, right?
P '' Right.
S '' Now did you see any of the videos of the people circling through the firehouse?
P '' Yes.
S '' And did that strike you '...what did you think of that?
P '' Well, I had already come to my conclusion that this was a drill, and again, being very suspicious of the Obama administration, Diane Feinstein, Second Amendment issues, using Agenda 21 in particular, I had not see that for quite some time afterwards, maybe a couple of weeks after.
We were engaged in our own things that we were doing in terms of investigations and stuff like that. We're pretty intense about what we're doing here on Agenda 21 Radio, and we have some very highly placed sources of information that comes to us and which we're very grateful for.
I, for one reason or another, hadn't seen that video maybe two or three weeks until after the incident.
There's more evidence right there because what in the world were all those people doing there to begin with? You see, if you're doing an incident command situation, there's a place for those people and those people can be moved on rather than seeing that circus that was going on, which is what that was. That was all staged.
S '' Right. And these were far too many adults, no children whatsoever, no panic. And to me the people that were there-''they weren't dressed for December. So some people have suggested that that particular drill, the circling in and out of the firehouse, took place a lot earlier, and it matches the time frame and the clothing of the children evacuated from the school. They did not have their coats.
And I was going to ask you, is it normal when there's an emergency for the teacher to evacuate the children without letting them get their coats, or would they take the extra time and say 'children go put your goats on as fast as you can.' How does that work?
P '' Well no. If there's a signal to get them out of the building, and there's always a signal of some sort to get them out of the building safely, they go directly out. Period. End of subject.
And if they can get their coat, that's great, but the safety thing is to get them away from where there potentially is a threat and that would be the key thing. And again, you pointed to something else and I brought this up earlier about the drill that we used to run and people would always, you know, screw up the drill because they would knock on the door in an active shooter situation and the teacher would open the door.
Well, you know, how does that all play out? I was looking at things pretty much in real time within minutes of news being broadcast as it was happening from a helicopter. Now I am a real-time kind of guy. So I'm looking at maybe 15 minutes into the shooter, maybe 20 minutes into the shooter situation. I'm looking at clear video of the campus and so on. I'm not seeing anything happening.
Where are the kids? The kids aren't there.
S '' Right.
P '' And they should be released or what's going on with them?
S '' And there were some people said that they were in closets for up to four hours. That doesn't make any sense either.
P '' That does not many any sense to me because what happens, and again it goes back to the police, and back to Columbine, they will go in and check every nook and cranny. And quite frankly, I know how that's done. We used to do that. We always used to look and check to see where people were.
S '' Right. And you would not miss large adults hiding in small closets.
And the idea of Katelyn Boyd and some of these teachers bundling up all their kids into the bathroom and having a few sit on the toilet'...I even heard the toilet roll holder, my God, that's pretty tough to do even for a six year old. But what do you think of that? That doesn't make sense to me.
Sofia Smallstorm, ''Unraveling Sandy Hook in 2, 3, 4 and 5 dimensions''
P '' Well, you know, we tell people in an active shooter situation to seek'...to hide or '...if there is a shooter there to take the challenge. We used to do these things where we had these dummy books and we'd bring in an active shooter as the stage person and throw books at them, you know, because that really throws them off. You're taught those kinds of little techniques to throw the active shooter off.
But I can imagine some people getting holed up in a closet or something like that if they haven't been able to lock the door. And that's one of the things we tell our people all of the time. Lock the door. And we made sure in all schools, and all schools should have the, the doors should have the inside key on them, you know, so you can use an inside key on them also as we could on the outside.
S '' So we have a couple of minutes left at this first hour. Do you have anything to say about Adam Lanza '' fiction, non-fiction, real?
P '' Well, just on the surface of it, and again I would throw out I'm highly specialized trained in drugs and alcohol recognition, obviously looks like he has some meds onboard just by the look. But you know if you couch that along the same lines that that this may be a fictional event, that he's a fictional character, which fits his description of what I see there.
And of course if you're doing a fictionalized event like this, you want to have the most crazed individual that you can have looking at you through the picture there, and that's exactly what you have. That's my speculation. I think that's what they wanted. That's what they did.
And he has a history and what is the history? We're not real clear on the history. You know, first of all, they found out that he's got his brother's driver's license. Then there's some confusion. And you know it one of these kind of scenarios that just didn't quite fit.
And as a school person that to me was one of the big pieces of evidence. Why does he have his brother's license? And then they made contact his brother that I guess was in Jersey some place, wherever he was, and there was an investigation. That all seemed to be tracking with me as a distraction about what was really happening at the school.
See, the more they under this situation'... this is just my speculation '' the more they could distract from the actual Sandy Hook school site itself and stage things away from there, the more they could sell the story of Sandy Hook on the whole.
S '' That's a very very good point, Paul. Excellent. And we should add that the mug shot that they gave us of Adam Lanza was very painterly. It wasn't even a photo, and it did have that, you know, ghoulish expression on it to make us think this is a real lunatic.
But we are now at the end of our first hour and I really really thank you, Paul Preston, for being with us. And we will take up a second hour discussion in the Members Section. So this is Sofia Smallstorm thanking everyone for listening to this first hour and please do come to PureMomemtum.net and join us for the second hour in the Members Section with Paul Preston, 41 years in the public schools and someone who has been through a lot of staging of drills and has a lot of drill understanding and experience.
(H/T to From the Trenches World Report)
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
Contributed by Jim Fetzer, Sofia Smallstorm, and Paul Preston of Veterans Today.
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Recovered, Lawrence O'Donnell thanks Koch brothers - Kendall Breitman - POLITICO.com
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:55
Lawrence O'Donnell returned to MSNBC's ''Last Word'' Monday night and offered praise to an unlikely hero '-- David Koch.
O'Donnell was back on the air after a 75-day hiatus following injuries suffered in a car accident during a vacation in the British Virgin Islands with his older brother.
Continue Reading
''The first words I saw when I rolled into the hospital was the name David H. Koch. Yes, that David Koch,'' O'Donnell said as he recalled the events following the accident. ''Now brace yourselves please for the first positive words said about David Koch on this program. I agree with Harry Reid's critique of the Koch brothers' contributions to American politics, but that is not the only thing they contribute to.''
(Also on POLITICO: Big Money, the Koch brothers and me)
O'Donnell recalled his time spent in treatment at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, where Koch is on the board of trustees. In 2009, Koch donated $25 million to the hospital, the largest gift in the hospital's history at the time.
''You can be outraged by what the Koch brothers do with their money in politics and you can appreciate what they contribute to hospitals and medical research, and you can do that at the same time and still retain an ability to function,'' O'Donnell said.
''And so, yes, I feel some gratitude to David Koch,'' he added.
(QUIZ: How well do you know Charles and David Koch?)
In the accident, O'Donnell suffered a broken hip in multiple places and sustained other injuries to his legs. The MSNBC host said in an interview with The Daily Beast that he had to relearn how to walk.


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