Cover for No Agenda Show 632: The Weed Mobile
July 6th, 2014 • 2h 46m

632: The Weed Mobile


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

I like maps, so when I saw the Map of the Caliphate from the July 2nd newsletter, I did some research. A reverse google image search led to a 2006 powerpoint by a CAPT Steve Miller titled "The Global War on Terrorism The Long War" (Link:
On their version this this map, it's source is listed as I researched this, but the site wasn't online, didn't have an entry in nor google cache, and was currently UNREGISTERED! I of course scooped it up and forwarded to
Hope this doesn't put you on any more watch lists than you're already on!
John from Boston
no agenda single
Hi Adam,
I’m a ‘smalltime’ $5 monthly producer on the show and was thinking of ways I could help out in lou of all the money I don’t have right now to give you.
I created a No Agenda single which is 2:30 minutes long and contains some jingles from the show. No big deal - but if you like what you hear and want to mention it on the podcast, I’ve listed it for sale on iTunes/amazon etc. I’ll give the show 1/2 my earnings from the single if anyone buys it. I can do more of these as well if there’s a good response.
If you mention it - folks can find the single by:
Artist - The Magic Number
Track - No Agenda Alpha Mix
Jonathan Davies
In the morning, John and Adam!
Being an IT slave, I’m loving the “dude named ben” saga… I’ve been slacking on donations lately due to finding out we’re expecting our 4th Human Resource! So I decided to create a campaign with some Dude Named Ben t-shirts! I’m going to turn around and donate 50% of all the profits to No Agenda, so if you could spread the word, that would be great!
The shirts can be ordered at
I’m the guy who came up with Climate Inequality and have the domain climate forwarding to, so when the teespring campaign is over, will forward over to you as well.
Humbly yours,
Jim Bonczek
New Hams
Monitoring REF033C
JCD REF014C on the San Jose Repeater - Old Dudes!
Go Fuck Yourselves email
Subject: You Guys Suck
Date: Sun, 06 Jul 2014 16:05:25 +0200
From: Ho Cho Cho
It pains me - I mean, it really twists my bowels - that you guys are
still on the air.
I stopped listening over a year ago when: a) Adam Curry complained about
having to do a show over his vacation in the south of Paris (which he
confessed as part somehow a twisted appeal for donations); and b) Dvorak
made a snide comment about people who like 'Belgian beer'. As a wine
snob, Dvorak could probably not help but make this comment, for the same
reason that JFK-conspiracy nuts can't help but pooh-pooh UFOs: it's too
close to home. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Hate
what's most similar to you.
Anyway, it was fresh and novel for a while - but the appeals for
donations became too grating, too desperate, and too cloying. On top of
that, the deconstructions of the news became simply too fanciful. Like
any broken clock that is right twice a day (the Bergoglio prediction)
there were a dozen other ones so outside the believability that one
wondered whether 'No Agenda' was simply a show for entertainment --
except there was nothing light-hearted about it, especially with its
continual, fairly deranged calls for donation in the midst of the
world's greatest depression.
What a shame, but like any other phenomenon and any other community, it
'became what it was', which was a quasi-entertaining show which took
itself too seriously, as evidenced by its too intrusive appeals for
donations which, sure, are nice, but as a primary means of employment
(according to Curry at the time) meant a 'Gawd, let me barf/void my
bowels' situation.
So since then, to preserve my own cleanliness and self-respect, I've
boycotted not only "No Agenda", but Dvorak's PCMag columns and
Marketwatch columns, which I used to visit as an avid fan.
My advice: Drink a Belgian beer, and go fuck yourselves!
Obama looking gaunt yet?
Blocked at work or elsewhere? HELP US by submitting a correction. We are not a "Parked Domain"
Obama Uses Hey
Adam, This gave me a chuckle and made me think of you and John. -note the subject line "hey." Ol' Barry, he's just one of us ya know. Thanks for the great show. Your Reverend Manning clip from yesterday was fucking halarious.
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:34:09 -0400
Subject: Hey
Friend --
If we want to hold the Senate and make gains in the House, Democrats need to come through tonight -- before the midnight deadline.
If you're able, please chip in $3 or whatever you can right now:
Barack Obama
P.S. -- Midnight is also the last chance to be automatically entered to win a trip to meet me in Austin early next month. Step up now!
In response to the recent BTSync events, I would like to formally request immediate Podcast License revocation for anyone violating the following rules:
1) Not clicking on a checkbox to see if it fixes the problem
2) Believing Tech Support
Those violating the above rules may have their license reinstated after paying the standard fine.
Love the show,
Sir Brian
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)
The Fix Is In
BBC Sport - Tim Krul: How the 120th-minute substitute stole Dutch glory
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:22
Genius? Madness? Or perhaps evidence of weeks of planning and meticulous attention to detail?
In a World Cup described by many as the best ever, the drama reached new heights in Salvador on Saturday - and all from 12 yards.
Netherlands' World Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica was goalless and seconds from a penalty shootout.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal took the unusual step of substituting his goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen, and sending on Tim Krul. It could scarcely have worked out better.
Here is the story of the shootout told through the eyes of Match of the Day's punditry team.
120 minutes and the change is made Gary Lineker: "To swap a goalkeeper is something I cannot ever recall seeing before. It is slightly insulting, possibly, for Jasper Cillessen but Louis van Gaal is a very single-minded, confident individual - it is a brave call and he will live or die by it."
Alan Shearer: "It's a massive call. Tim Krul has faced 20 penalties for Newcastle and saved two. So he has obviously been doing something in training that we haven't seen because that is not a great record. This is what you get paid for as a manager - you make big, big calls and this is a massive call. It either works for him, or it goes against him."
Rio Ferdinand: "In a penalty shootout, keepers can't lose normally because the pressure is on the strikers. Now Tim Krul is going in there and he is under pressure."
Gary Lineker: "Tim Krul is out there already, marching towards goal for almost the first time in this game. He has not touched the ball yet. It is a staggering substitution and we are about to see if it will pay off."
Penalty one - Krul v Celso BorgesLow and into the corner, firmly struck. Krul goes the right way but through it goes.
Robin van Persie scores for Netherlands - this makes it 1-1.
Penalty two - Krul v Bryan RuizThis time Krul gets a hand to it and parries it away.
Arjen Robben scores for Netherlands - they lead 2-1.
Penalty three - Krul v Giancarlo GonzalezKrul attempts some mind games. But Gonzalez is having none of it. Excellent penalty.
Wesley Sneijder scores for Netherlands - they lead 3-2.
Penalty four - Krul v Christian BolanosMore mind games from Krul, delaying tactics, but they don't affect Bolanos.
Dirk Kuyt scores for Netherlands - they lead 4-3.
Penalty five - Krul v Michael UmanaAn excellent save from the specialist shootout stopper. Louis van Gaal's super sub has saved the Dutch.
Krul's shootout Spoke to every Costa Rican about to take a penalty. Patrolled around his penalty box in an attempt to psyche out the taker. Dived the right way for every penalty. Saved two. Netherlands into the semi-final. Rio Ferdinand: "Krul was telling them, 'I know where you're going to put your penalty - I've looked and I know where you are going to go'. I like it, I'd like my keeper to be doing that. It puts them off, and adds a bit of edge to it."
Alan Shearer: "Tim Krul was playing mind games, walking up to the Costa Rica players, taking his time to get onto his line. I don't mind that at all - you do what you can to get through. It's gamesmanship but the Costa Rica players have to try and handle it."
The reaction Gary Lineker: "What a performance, and what a piece of management by Louis van Gaal. We said he would live or die by that decision, well he lives and he lives into the semi-finals."
Rio Ferdinand: "Manchester United fans will be buzzing to see Louis van Gaal making big decisions like that and them coming off. They will be thinking, 'what a manager we have got coming in'. I would have thought Jasper Cillessen knew before the game that he would be taken off for a penalty shootout. His reaction to Tim Krul's saves shows you the spirit in that squad - it was all about the team going through and he knows he will start the next game."
Alan Hansen: "Penalty shootouts are always exciting, but there were so many added ingredients to this one. We have never seen the like of it before."
Alan Shearer: "Big managers have to make big calls in big games, and that was a huge call by Van Gaal. He has got all the big decisions right at this World Cup."
Neymar and Silva are out
FRESH NEWS is Willian borges da silva is injured in training and has back problems and most likely out. Meanwhile all German players who had influenza/flu issues are healed.
Why Tourette's May Be Tim Howard's Secret Weapon on the Field - The Daily Beast
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 21:33
U.S. News07.03.14
Those record 16 saves against Belgium might not have just been sheer athletic ability. Neurologist Oliver Sacks says the syndrome helps give the Team USA goalie 'abnormal quickness.'
Tim Howard's astonishing performance as the U.S. goalie in Tuesday's World Cup game against Belgium shares a neurological component with a case described decades ago by the eminent neurologist Oliver Sacks involving an essentially unbeatable ping-pong player.
Both Howard and Sacks' patient have Tourette syndrome, the most manifest ill effects of which are involuntary tics.
But in Sacks' experience, many of those with the condition also possess preternaturally quick reflexes, which his ping-pong player also demonstrated by proving able to step in and immediately back out of a moving revolving door without being struck.
''Abnormal quickness,'' Sacks told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. ''I see this in many other people with Tourette's.''
Sacks cited a study where a control group of "neuro-typicals'' and a person with Tourette's were asked to react as quickly as possible to a situation. The control group proved able to respond two to two and a half times faster than usual and with poor aim. The person with Tourette's responded five to six times faster than usual and without compromising accuracy.
''This is very real, this mixture of speed and accuracy,'' Sacks said. ''I think it often is part of Tourette's.''
Howard said in an interview with Der Spiegel last year that he was in his late teens when he discerned a blessing amid the trials of Tourette's.
''I realized I was faster than others when it came to certain movements, and that these reflexes were linked to my disorder,'' he said.
One Tourette's researcher who spoke to The Daily Beast was more cautious than Sacks, saying he could not confirm with scientific certainty that people with the condition do indeed have heightened reflexes.
''The research is not in yet if they can perform at a higher level than can be normally expected,'' said Dr. Michael Okun, professor of neurology at the University of Florida at Gainesville and chairman of the Tourette Syndrome Association Medical Advisory Board.
Okun has found that other aspects of Tourette's can prove highly beneficial in a wide range of endeavors. He noted that people with the condition often have obsessive-compulsive tendencies. They repeat tasks over and over with a ritualistic and often perfectionist bent.
''Obsessive-compulsive tendencies really help to enhance abilities,'' Okun said. ''In chess, piano, or when they're playing goalie for the World Cup team.''
''Obsessive-compulsive tendencies really help to enhance abilities,'' Okun said. ''In chess, piano, or when they're playing goalie for the World Cup team.''
Okun went on, ''It's the practice, all the stuff you don't see. It's all the work that Howard does off the field'...sharpening and honing skills.''
The very effort to do it exactly right requires focus. And people with Tourette's often discover that total focus on what they are doing causes their tics to subside.
''They focus really well'...because they need to focus,'' Okun said.
Viewers would not likely see if Howard experienced a tic on the field, Okun suggested, because it would strike when the ball was far away from the goal.
''When the camera's not on him,'' he said.
Howard reported in the Der Spiegel interview that he does indeed sometimes suffer tics during a match, when the play is on another part of the field.
''As long as the game is not happening right in front of my nose but somewhere in the midfield, I let it twitch,'' he said. ''I don't try to suppress it, either.''
That changes when the ball comes near.
''Then I am all there,'' Howard said. ''It's strange. As soon as things get serious in front of the goal, I don't have any twitches; my muscles obey me then.''
He was asked if he worried that a tic might someday cause him to drop a ball.
''It won't,'' he replied.
Okun and Sacks agree that Tourette's seems to originate in the basal ganglia, a region in the forebrain that is related to a wide range of functions, including the initiation and inhibition of motion, as well as emotion, cognition, attention, and learning. Scans show no clear anatomical difference between those with Tourette's and those without. The condition is thought to involve complex neural circuitry such as a juncture where focus can banish tics, where mind really can prevail over matter.
''Fascinating,'' Okun said.
That underlying triumph was at work in each of Howard's record 16 saves on Tuesday. Howard also almost certainly was moving with the faster reflexes he had first consciously noticed as a teen, a gift such as Sacks first observed in another man with Tourette's back in 1981. Sacks happened to cite Howard as one of several great athletes with Tourette's in an article in 2014. Sacks also listed basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and baseball players Jim Eisenreich and Mike Johnston.
Sacks did not see the big game on Tuesday, but he expressed interest in viewing video of Howard's saves. Sacks will be looking to see if there were similarities other than remarkable speed between Howard and the ping-pong player, whose greatness further derived from the ability to make surprising and unpredictable shots.
''I'm not saying it's a good thing to have, but if one has Tourette's, there are advantages,'' Sacks said.
Deutschland Blitzkrieg
NSA targets private German users
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:27
German hackers of the Chaos Computer Club at a meeting in Hamburg. Photo: DPA
German outrage over the NSA spying scandal erupted again on Thursday, as it emerged the US intelligence agency targets privacy-conscious Germans trying to remain unknown online.
Broadcaster ARD revealed the NSA had been targeting German hacker group Chaos Computer Club, along with a student helping to run a supposedly anonymous global internet network.
Sebastian Hahn, a student from Erlangen, Bavaria, helped run a server for Tor - a service designed to allow users to move through the internet without leaving identifiable data trails.
Excerpts from the NSA's programming code seen by ARD suggested the agency had hacked his server, recording all the connections to and from it in an attempt to find "potential Tor clients".
The agency noted every one of the hundreds of thousands of daily users accessing Hahn's server and saved their connections, according to the report.
This information was then used to filter out definite Tor users' IP addresses, which were saved in special NSA database.
Hahn has called the revelations "shocking." "It's a massive encroachment into my private sphere," he told ARD.
Other IP addresses found to be targeted by the Americans included some used by the hacker group Germany's Chaos Computer Club (CCC).
The CCC belongs to a group of privacy-conscious global internet service providers (ISPs) which said it would take British intelligence agency GCHQ to court over allegations it illegally accessed millions of people's private communications.
The complaint has been filed at a London court by the CCC together with American ISP Riseup and May First/People Link, GreenNet of Britain, Greenhost of the Netherlands, Mango of Zimbabwe, Jinbonet of South Korea and campaigners Privacy International.
They claim that GCHQ carried out "targeted operations against internet service providers to conduct mass and intrusive surveillance."
The move follows a series of reports by magazine Der Spiegel which claimed to detail GCHQ's illicit activities.
These reportedly included targeting a Belgian telecommunications company, Belgacom, where staff computers were infected with malware in a "quantum insert" attack to secure access to customers.
Campaigners claim this was "not an isolated attack" and alleges violations of Britain's Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights.
"These widespread attacks on providers and collectives undermine the trust we all place on the internet and greatly endangers the world's most powerful tool for democracy and free expression," said Eric King, Privacy International's deputy director.
Meanwhile, critics said the German government is looking increasingly powerless against the capabilities of the NSA and British GCHQ.
The government's only answer had been to tell citizens to keep themselves safe online by encrypting their data, said Konstantin von Notz, Green MP and chairman of the German parliamentary inquiry into the NSA affair.
"And now we find out that the very ones who encrypt and use that are the ones being watched. That is perverse and insane," he told the broadcaster.
The news came on the day the German inquiry heard evidence from former NSA employee William Binney, who compared the agency's internet surveillance to the "totalitarian approach" usually seen in dictatorships.
"They want information about everything," Binney told the German parliamentary inquiry.
SEE ALSO: German IT expert hacks NSA homepage
NSA investigation: Germany arrests 'suspected US spy'.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:25
4 July 2014Last updated at 15:36 ET An employee of Germany's intelligence service has been arrested on suspicion of spying for the US, reports say.
The man is said to have been trying to gather details about a German parliamentary committee that is investigating claims of US espionage.
German authorities have asked the US ambassador for "swift clarification".
The US National Security Agency (NSA) was last year accused of bugging the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance programme.
The scale of the agency's global spy programme was revealed in documents leaked last year by a former intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden.
The revelations about the NSA put a strain on ties between Germany and the US and raised feeling in Germany against American surveillance.
The BBC's Steve Evans in Berlin says the new allegation of American spying on an ally may make it harder for the US to get German help in its efforts to oppose Russian activity in Ukraine, and also to control Iranian nuclear ambitions.
'Serious matter'German media say the man arrested this week is a 31-year-old employee of the federal service, the BND or Bundesnachrichtendienst.
The German federal prosecutor's office confirmed the man's arrest, but gave no other details.
A spokesman for Ms Merkel said she had been informed of the arrest, as had the members of the nine-strong parliamentary committee investigating the activities of foreign intelligence agencies in Germany.
"The matter is serious, it is clear," spokesman Steffen Seibert told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper,
Der Spiegel news magazine said the man was believed to have passed secret documents to a US contact in exchange for money.
However, one unnamed politician told Reuters news agency the suspect had offered his services to the US voluntarily.
"This was a man who had no direct contact with the investigative committee... He was not a top agent," the source said.
Germany is particularly sensitive to reports of espionage on its territory because many of its citizens from the formerly communist east of the country were spied upon by the Stasi secret police.
Interview with NSA Experts on US Spying in Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:18
For more than a year now, the world has closely followed revelations disclosed by former American intelligence worker Edward Snowden. The documents from the whistleblower's archive have fueled an at times fierce debate over the sense and legality of the National Security Agency's (NSA) sheer greed for data.
In its current issue, SPIEGEL conducted two interviews it hopes will contribute to the debate. The first is with two major critics of the NSA's work -- human rights activist and lawyer Jesselyn Radack, who represents Snowden, and former spy Thomas Drake. The second interview is with John Podesta, a special advisor to United States President Barack Obama.
SPIEGEL: Germany's federal prosecutor has opened a formal inquiry into the surveillance of Angela Merkel's mobile phone, but he did not open an investigation into the mass surveillance of German citizens, saying that there was no evidence to do so. Mr. Drake, as a former NSA employee, what's your take on this?Drake: It stretches the bounds of incredulity. Germany has become, after 9/11, the most important surveillance platform for the NSA abroad. The only German citizen granted protection by a statement by Barack Obama is Angela Merkel. All other Germans are obviously treated as suspects by the NSA.
SPIEGEL: Ms. Radack, do you have an explanation for the German federal prosecutor's position?
Radack: Of course. They don't want to find out the truth. Either they're complicit to some extent or they don't really care to investigate.
SPIEGEL: The federal prosecutor says that he has no chance of obtaining any evidence because everything is classified and that he doesn't expect the Americans to cooperate anyway.
Radack: As a government, you have the power to make people testify, to interview people, to call them in front of a grand jury or the equivalent. I think you should at least try to subpoena them, and if they ignore the subpoena, they don't get to have their little family vacation in Europe, because they would be on a wanted list.
SPIEGEL: Our newsmagazine recently released documents from the Snowden archive pertaining to the work of the NSA in Germany. They include a list that shows 150 different places, at least historically, where the NSA and its predecessors conducted espionage here in Germany, so-called Sigads.
Drake: Yes, those are activity designators for signals intelligence, so these are sites where data is collected, data is accessed, and it's being provided back to the NSA.
SPIEGEL: Are we talking about data that was gathered for the sake of the security of the United States and Germany?
Drake: Well, that has traditionally been the purpose, but it goes far beyond that. Just look at the technology, the network. All the important information, economic as well, crosses through Germany in some manner. It is either collected by the NSA itself or forwarded to it by the BND or companies that secretly pass it along.
SPIEGEL: The NSA argues that, in the war against terrorism, in order to find the needle in the haystack, we need lots of hay.
Radack: If you're looking for a needle in a haystack, you don't make the haystack bigger. The US government is fear mongering when it claims: "If you're against surveillance, the next terrorist attack is on you!"
SPIEGEL: What is the true reason for the data collection?
Radack: It's about population control. And economic espionage.
Drake: One of the big elephants in the room is Germany with its engineers. It's extraordinarily tempting to know what's going on here -- new products, new methodologies, new approaches.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Drake, was that your assignment when you worked for the NSA in Germany?
Drake: I personally didn't, but I knew that it happened.
SPIEGEL: On the other hand, Snowden's documents show that Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, cooperates closely with the NSA. Why does it do that if it harms Germany?
Drake: It's a sort of paradox in that relationship. The cooperation between the two services goes back to the Cold War. There was a deep intelligence sharing going on. The NSA has always been the master in that relationship, and most of the sharing is in one direction. It has never been equal. Then 9/11 happened.
SPIEGEL: The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Drake: Yes, and guess which country was actually declared as a target nation No. 1 afterwards? It was Germany. It was like Germany needs to be punished, because the hijackers lived here, trained here and communicated from here.
SPIEGEL: To punish? Was that the political agenda?
Drake: You would not have heard it particularly that way. But the conversation was always like: My gosh, we can't trust the Germans because guess who was living amongst them: some of the hijackers. Ironically, this actually bound the partnership with the BND even tighter, because the NSA wanted to have more control over what your guys were doing.
SPIEGEL: How close is the relationship between the two intelligence agencies?
Drake: Extraordinary close. They were not like the United Kingdom or Australia and other members of the "Five Eyes," the closest allies of the NSA. But it is fair to say, that the NSA relationship to the BND is similar to this.
SPIEGEL: You yourself worked as a spy for the NSA. What made you become a whistleblower?
Drake: It was only months after 9/11. Back then it became clear to me that in order to avoid another failure to protect people we just set aside the rules of law. The NSA violated our constitution by spying on its own people. Today, we have the greatest surveillance platform the world has ever seen. This is why I shudder. National security has become a state religion. They say they want to keep us safe, but from whom?
SPIEGEL: Terrorists, for example?
Radack: Oh, I've heard that a lot of times: This is all being done for security. The former NSA director Keith Alexander lied to Congress when he said they had thwarted 54 terrorist plots. Four months later, he was dragged back to the Senate Judiciary Committee and had to admit it had thwarted one plot. Maybe.
SPIEGEL: Information from US intelligence services allegedly helped lead to the arrest of members of the Sauerland terrorist group that was planning attacks in Germany.
Radack: I'm not denying this is possible, but the vast majority of this, 99.9 percent, is not about security. It's about controlling people and information.
Drake: Yes, this is where we get to the dark side of that whole surveillance apparatus. It takes the Stasi motto of knowing everything on a new level. In order to know it all, the NSA collects it all.
SPIEGEL: Can you still recall your first reaction to the Snowden affair?
Drake: None of it surprised me.
Radack: I thought: Finally, finally! Because for years I have been representing NSA whistleblowers who were saying the agency is monitoring all your e-mails, all your phone calls. They turn over every kind of personal data without any kind of warrant. And nothing happened. My second reaction was: Whoever did this is going to be completely nailed.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Drake testified in front of an investigative committee on NSA spying in Germany's federal parliament this week. Edward Snowden will not be able to because he hasn't been invited to Germany by the committee. However, Snowden doesn't want to testify while under asylum in Moscow. Can you explain why?
Radack: Members of the committee wanted an informal meeting in Moscow. But comprehensive testimony is only possible in Germany.
SPIEGEL: Some people believe Snowden will only be willing to cooperate if he is offered residency in Germany.
Radack: No. He has spoken in front of the Council of Europe, so he has done this before. Germany really needs to decide how serious it is about clarification.
SPIEGEL: Some members of the parliamentary investigative committee claim that your client doesn't really have much information to provide about NSA activities on German soil, anyway.
Radack: That is incorrect given that they haven't heard his evidence. It seems like the majority of the parliamentarians -- from both the conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrat -- don't want to be affiliated too closely with him. I think a lot of them are acting cowardly.
SPIEGEL: Would Germany even be a safe place for Snowden?
Radack: Germany does have an unfortunate history in terms of providing protection to informants from the NSA.
SPIEGEL: You are alluding to the case of Jens Karney, who was kidnapped in the middle Berlin in 1991 by US special forces.
Radack: Yes, but I nevertheless still think Germany seems like a good place for Edward Snowden to get asylum.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Drake, are you still in contact with former colleagues? How do they view Snowden's actions?
Drake: Right now I have no contact with anybody. They said internally that if you have any contact with Drake, you're risking your job. That's a chilling message. I suspect there is actually great sympathy for Snowden, but it is never shared. Because people go home at night, watch their TV shows, pay their mortgages and they don't want to have that disturbed. It's too uncomfortable to look in the mirror.
Radack: Sometimes people show up anonymously at our events and then whisper in my ear: "I work at NSA. I support everything you do."
About the Interview Subjects
Werner Schuering/ DER SPIEGEL
Jesselyn Radack, 43, has provided legal defense to several prominent whistleblowers. She previously worked as an advisor for the United States Justice Department. Today the attorney counts former NSA worker Edward Snowden among her clients.Richard Drake, 57, is also one of Radack's clients. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Drake exposed abuses at the NSA. In 2011, he was convicted by a US court and given probation on a misdemeanor charge relating to the case. All serious charges against him had been dropped. On Thursday, he testified before a committee in the German parliament investigating NSA spying in the country.
WEATHER APP-BND: Protection of the Constitution wanted to unmask agents with U.S. aid - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:37
BBC News - German Chancellor Angela Merkel begins China visit
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 06:07
6 July 2014Last updated at 00:23 ET German Chancellor Angela Merkel is beginning a three-day visit to China with trade issues high on the agenda.
The countries are important trading partners and Mrs Merkel is travelling with a large delegation of German business executives.
On Sunday she is visiting Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan province, where more than 150 German companies are active.
The visit is Mrs Merkel's seventh to China since taking office in 2005.
She will also hold talks with Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.
BBC Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans says the Chinese market is important for Germany while China is looking to Germany as the supplier of machinery and cars for its rising middle class.
In the past, the chancellor has spoken out against human rights abuses in China but it is not clear if she will voice her disapproval this time, he says.
At a joint business council in Beijing, the German delegation is expected to address sticking points such as fair market access for foreign companies and respect for intellectual property rights.
In an article in Welt am Sonntag, German intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen warned that small and medium-sized German firms were at risk of industrial espionage from Chinese government agencies.
"They are up against very powerful adversaries. The Chinese technical intelligence agency alone has over 100,000 employees," Mr Maassen said in an excerpt of an interview to be published on Sunday.
China is Germany's second largest export market outside Europe after the US.
It sold goods worth 67bn euros (£53bn; $91bn) to China last year, while imports from China topped 73bn euros.
Energetic Bear: Symantec reveals new malware that could sabotage energy infrastructure around the world
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:58
By Nathaniel MottOn June 30, 2014
Symantec has discovered new malware from a group called Dragonfly that ''could have caused damage or disruption to energy supplies in affected countries,'' including the United States, and was made to target ''energy grid operators, major electricity generation firms, petroleum pipeline operators, and energy industry industrial equipment providers,'' among other groups.
The security company claims that the malware has compromised the systems of more than 1,000 organizations in 84 countries, including Spain, Germany, Turkey, and Poland. It says that it notified ''affected victims and relevant national authorities'' before revealing it to the general public. It's unclear how affected organizations and countries will react to the news.
In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that a small-scale attack on just nine substations could be enough to cause a nationwide blackout. Given the fact that there are 55,000 of those stations in the country and that this malware is said to affect more than 1,000 organizations, the ease with which someone could cause so many problems is more than a little frightening.
Which isn't to say that this is a particularly new threat '-- Pando's contributing editor, Adam Penenberg, covered the many claims of an imminent ''cyber Pearl Harbor'' in October 2012:
Despite the FUD (''fear, uncertainty, doubt'') I probably need not point out that in the intervening decade and a half, the power grid did not short out except in brown outs during heat waves; planes did not fall from the sky; you can still drink tap water (unless you live in a county that allows fracking); the financial and banking crises were self-induced; and the only train accidents have been Amtrak's fault. Remember the ''millennium bug,'' when computers were supposed to go haywire at the moment the clock struck the year 2000? Someone made a TV movie out of it. But nothing happened.
But the revelation of malware designed specifically to attack the energy infrastructure of a number of countries shows that all that fear, uncertainty, and doubt might be spot-on. That's especially true given Symantec's claim that the malware, which is said to resemble the Stuxnet malware made by the US and Israel to disrupt Iran's nuclear efforts, might be state sponsored:
Dragonfly bears the hallmarks of a state-sponsored operation, displaying a high degree of technical capability. The group is able to mount attacks through multiple vectors and compromise numerous third party websites in the process. Dragonfly has targeted multiple organizations in the energy sector over a long period of time. Its current main motive appears to be cyberespionage, with potential for sabotage a definite secondary capability.
At least the group behind the malware hasn't selected a horrifying nom de cyberterrorism: Symantec has dubbed it Dragonfly, while others have decided to call it Energetic Bear. Thank goodness for that '-- otherwise people might be worried about the group's seeming ability to cripple the energy infrastructure of numerous countries, and we that would be unacceptable.
Still, there's some silver lining: maybe someone can convince Facebook to tweak its News Feed algorithms to make that sense of terror you might be feeling go away. Finally, a handy use of the company's disdain for the ethical norms followed during most psychological experiments.
[Image via Griffin's Guide]
'‹Industrial infection: Hackers put chokehold on energy firms with Stuxnet-like viruses '-- RT News
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:04
Published time: July 01, 2014 06:20Reuters / Kacper Pempel
Hackers are targeting energy companies in the US and Europe in an apparent case of industrial espionage, according to several security companies, which say the perpetrators seem to be based in Eastern Europe.
The group of hackers, known as 'Energetic Bear' or 'Dragonfly', are attacking hundreds of Western oil and gas companies, as well as energy investment firms, and infecting them with malware capable of disrupting power supplies.
Additional targets have included energy grid operators, major electricity generation firms, petroleum pipeline operators, and industrial energy equipment providers. The majority of the victims were located in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland, according to a Symantec report released on Monday.
The malware campaign is somewhat similar to Operation Olympic Games, an alleged cyberwarfare attacks mounted by the US and Israel that used a virus called Stuxnet to target the Iranian nuclear industry in July 2010. The attack was the first known major malware campaign to target industrial control system (ICS) equipment providers.
The US-Israeli operation was tailored against Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, but the Dragonfly attacks, while having signatures of a government-sponsored operation, are more ambitious, the IT security firm believes.
Espionage, potential sabotageThe hackers infect the industrial control software with a remote access-type (RAT) Trojan horse malware code '' called Havex RAT '' which gives them a ''beachhead in the targeted organizations' networks,'' as well as the ability to sabotage infected ICS computers. The malware also allows the hackers to monitor energy consumption in real time and to potentially cripple physical systems such as wind turbines, gas pipelines and power plants through that software.
Symantec says the Dragonfly hackers have been in operation since at least 2011, and initially targeted defense and aviation companies in the US and Canada. The shift in focus to US and European energy firms occurred in early 2013.
That campaign began with phishing emails to top executives in targeted firms. Then Dragonfly began using watering hole attacks, which compromise websites likely to be visited by those working in the sector, then redirect visitors to websites hosting an exploit kit. That kit then delivers malware to the victims' computers. Finally, the hackers began 'Trojanizing' legitimate software bundles belonging to three different ICS equipment manufacturers.
''Dragonfly bears the hallmarks of a state-sponsored operation, displaying a high degree of technical capability. The group is able to mount attacks through multiple vectors and compromise numerous third party websites in the process,'' Symantec wrote in the report published on its blog.
Clever, sometimes unprofessionalFinnish security company F-Secure has also been tracking the use of the Havex malware. ''The attackers behind Havex are conducting industrial espionage using a clever method. Trojanizing ICS... software installers is an effective method in gaining access to target systems, potentially even including critical infrastructure,'' the company said on its blog.
F-Secure noted that ''the group doesn't always manage the C&C's [command and control servers] in a professional manner, revealing lack of experience in operations.''
But its security analyst, Sean Sullivan, told Infosecurity that the group could well be state-sponsored.
''It fits the pattern of a nation state doing intelligence work, getting the lay of the land, in order to find exploitable systems for future 'need','' he argued.
Symantec, F-Secure and a third security company, CrowdStrike, all believe that cyber espionage is the main motive. ''Dragonfly has targeted multiple organizations in the energy sector over a long period of time. Its main motive appears to be cyber espionage, with potential for sabotage a definite secondary capability,'' Symantec said.
Russian trail?Symantec analyzed the compilation of timestamps on the malware used by the hackers.
''The group mostly worked between Monday and Friday, with activity mainly concentrated in a nine-hour period that corresponded to a 9am to 6pm working day in the UTC +4 time zone. Based on this information, it is likely the attackers are based in Eastern Europe,'' the Silicon Valley-based security company wrote.
CrowdStrike, also based in California, began tracking a group of hackers it called Energetic Bear in August 2012. Symantec believes that the group it calls Dragonfly and the group ''known by other vendors as Energetic Bear'' are the same.
In its 2013 Global Threat Report, CrowdStrike detailed the evidence that led it to believe Energetic Bear is a group of Russian hackers. Like Symantec, it noted the times of the attacks indicated Eastern Europe, but went further in its assessment.
''Targeted entities and countries are consistent with likely strategic interests of a Russia-based adversary. Several infected hosts were observed within the Russian Federation, but this could be the result of accidental compromise through large-scale SWC operations or deliberate efforts to conduct domestic internal monitoring,'' the report said.
But among victims of the hacker group identified by F-Secure, the majority of which are based in Europe, there is a Russian construction company ''that appears to specialize in structural engineering.''
crowdstrike heartbleed - Google Search
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:06
About 11,500 results
Community Tools | CrowdStrikeCrowdStrike Heartbleed Scanner is a free tool aimed to help alert you to thepresence of systems (such as web servers, VPNs, secure FTP servers, databases, ...*NEW* Community Tool: CrowdStrike Heartbleed Scanner scanner/- CachedApr 18, 2014 ... Since last week, several researchers and security companies have released freeweb-based scanners for the OpenSSL Heartbleed ...CrowdStrike Heartbleed Scanner - Update | CachedApr 22, 2014 ... This is a followup to our original blog post for the CrowdStrike HeartbleedScanner.Due to popular demand and acting on feedback we have ...CrowdStrike offers new free Heartbleed Scanner tool | CSO html- CachedApr 23, 2014 ... There are plenty of Heartbleed scanners out there, but CrowdStrike claims toprovide more comprehensive and accurate information about the ...CrowdStrike Releases Heartbleed Scanner | CachedApr 22, 2014 ...CrowdStrike has released a free tool to help organizations detect the presence ofsystems on their networks that are vulnerable to the OpenSSL ...Free Scanning Tool Promises To Find Heartbleed On Any CachedApr 22, 2014 ...CrowdStrike says tool identifies the flaw on web servers, VPNs, ... says can findthe Heartbleed vulnerability on any device that runs OpenSSL.CrowdStrike Heartbleed Scanner - CachedThe scanner has an option to automatically populate the list of targets andgenerate a port list that is enumerated from the list of listening TCP ...CrowdStrike Heartbleed Scanner v Solved - Windows 7 Help -a.html- CachedScan to see if you have an OpenSSL-enabled application running on yoursystem, listening for connections, that could potentially be vulnerable ...
Stuxnet-Like Malware From Russia Is Attacking U.S. Power Plants
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:41
Security researchers confirmed on Monday that a vicious new cyberattack has compromised the computer systems of over 1,000 organizations in 84 countries. Dubbed "Energetic Bear," the Stuxnet-like malware is largely targeting energy and utility companies. It's almost certainly from Russia.
This is scary stuff. Not only has the attack been going on for 18 months, it appears to be focused on targets in the United States and Europe. According to the Financial Times, the malware "allows its operators to monitor energy consumption in real time, or to cripple physical systems such as wind turbines, gas pipelines and power plants at will." This is exactly the type of attack that the government's been (very vocally) worried about lately.
The malware's capabilities give us more reasons to be worried. The two main components of the attack include the use of remote access tool type malware that gives the attackers the ability to access information on the victim's computer networks as well as to steal data, collect passwords, take screenshots, and even download and run files. In effect, it sounds like they could take control over entire utility systems. Symantec, the makers of the Norton suite, says the malware's "main motive appears to be cyberespionage" but doesn't mention any major shutdowns. The company now has fixes in place for its customers.
It gets worse, though. Symantec says that the attackers'--who they call Dragonfly'--is almost certainly "based in eastern Europe and has all the markings of being state-sponsored." Markers in the malware, like timestamps and Cyrillic, suggest that it originated in Russia. Like we needed another reason to be mad at Russia'... [Symantec, FT]
Image via Symantec
ICS Focused Malware | ICS-CERT
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:07
OVERVIEWThis advisory is a follow-up to the updated alert titled ICS-ALERT-14-176-02A that was published June 27, 2014, on the NCCIC/ICS-CERT web site. This advisory provides additional details regarding ICS Focused Malware Havex.
NCCIC/ICS-CERT is analyzing malware and artifacts associated with an industrial control system (ICS) focused malware campaign that uses multiple vectors for infection. These include phishing emails, redirections to compromised web sites and most recently, trojanized update installers on at least three ICSs vendor web sites, in what are referred to as watering-hole style attacks. Based on information ICS-CERT has obtained from Symantec and F-Secure, the software installers for these vendors were infected with malware known as the Havex Trojan (Backdoor.Oldrea). According to analysis, these techniques could have allowed attackers to access the networks of systems that have installed the trojanized software. Symantec describes the victims as Spain, US, France, Italy, and Germany in that order.
Symantec has posted a Security Response whitepaper that details this activity and provides indicators of compromise. Symantec also ties this campaign with previous watering hole activity, namely Trojan.Karagany and the Lightsout exploit kit.
The Trojan.Karagany was previously identified by Cisco as part of another watering hole attack targeting energy and oil sectors. This malware was analyzed and detailed by ICS-CERT in Analysis Report-14-30001 Cisco Watering-Hole Malware, located within the secure portal library.
Havex is a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) that communicates with a Command and Control (C&C) server. The C&C server can deploy payloads that provide additional functionality. ICS'‘CERT has identified and analyzed one payload that enumerates all connected network resources, such as computers or shared resources, and uses the classic DCOM-based (Distributed Component Object Model) version of the Open Platform Communications (OPC) standard to gather information about connected control system devices and resources within the network. The known components of the identified Havex payload do not appear to target devices using the newer OPC Unified Architecture (UA) standard.
In particular, the payload gathers server information that includes CLSID, server name, Program ID, OPC version, vendor information, running state, group count, and server bandwidth. In addition to more generic OPC server information, the Havex payload also has the capability of enumerating OPC tags. ICS-CERT is currently analyzing this payload; at this time ICS-CERT has not found any additional functionality to control or make changes to the connected hardware.
ICS-CERT testing has determined that the Havex payload has caused multiple common OPC platforms to intermittently crash. This could cause a denial of service effect on applications reliant on OPC communications.
OPC provides an open standard specification that is widely used in process control, manufacturing automation, and other applications. The technology facilitates open connectivity and vendor equipment interoperability. The original version of the OPC specification, referred to as OPC classic, was implemented using Microsoft's COM/DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) technology. In 2006, the OPC Foundation released a new standard, referred to as OPC Unified Architecture (UA), which does not use COM/DCOM. The known components of the identified HAVEX malware payload do not appear to target devices using the newer OPC UA standard.
ICS-CERT tested the payload against multiple OPC servers. An example of the information gathered can be seen below.
Program was started at 09:20:11
09:20:11.0828: Start finging of LAN hosts...
09:20:18.0109: Was found 3 hosts in LAN:
01) [\\vmware-host\Shared Folders]
02) [\\FEAE35F]
03) [\\SBWIN7]
09:20:18.0203: Start finging of OPC Servers...
09:20:39.0390: Thread 01 return error code: 0x800706ba
09:20:39.0390: Thread 02 return error code: 0x80070005
09:20:39.0390: Thread 03 return error code: 0x800706ba
09:20:39.0390: Thread 05 return error code: 0x80070005
09:20:39.0390: Thread 06 return error code: 0x80070005
09:20:39.0390: Was found 2 OPC Servers.
1) [Redacted Vendor Name]
CLSID: {Redacted Class ID}
UserType: Redacted Vendor Name
VerIndProgID: Redacted Vendor Name
OPC version support: +++
2) [Redacted Vendor Name]
CLSID: {Redacted Class ID}
UserType: Redacted Vendor Name
VerIndProgID: Redacted Vendor Name
OPC version support: ++-
09:20:39.0500: Start finging of OPC Tags...
09:20:39.0500: Thread 01 running...
09:20:39.0531: Thread 02 running...
09:20:51.0437: Thread 01 was terminated by ThreadManager(2)
09:20:51.0546: Thread 02 was terminated by ThreadManager(2)
09:20:53.0140: Thread 01 return error code: 0xfffffffe
09:20:53.0171: Thread 02 return error code: 0xfffffffe
1) Redacted Vendor Name
Saved in 'OPCServer01.txt'
These data are stored in a file that is created in the user's TEMP directory under a random name with an extension of ''.tmp.dat.'' When all information has been written to this file, an encrypted version of this file is created in the same directory with a random name and a ''.tmp.yls'' extension. The plain text file is then deleted.
In addition to more generic OPC server information, the Havex payload also has the capability of enumerating OPC tags. Specifically, the server is queried for tag name, type, access and id. OPC tag information that is collected is written to a separate file ''OPCServerXX.txt'' where XX is a number beginning from one and incrementing every time OPC tag information has been retrieved from an OPC server.
OPC Server[\\Redacted Vendor Name]
Server state: 1
Group count value: 0
Server band width: ffffffff
Redacted Vendor Info
None of the versions of the Havex malware payload that have been analyzed thus far contain any functionality to control or make changes to connected control system devices.
MITIGATIONSymantec and F-Secure reports include technical indicators of compromise that can be used for detection and network defense. ICS-CERT strongly recommends that organizations check their network logs for activity associated with this campaign. Any organization experiencing activity related to this report should preserve available evidence for forensic analysis and future law enforcement purposes. For more questions about incident handling or preserving data, please reference ICS-CERT Incident Handling guidelines.
ICS-CERT has provided a Havex_Karagany.xlsx file on the US-CERT portal containing SHA1 hashes of malware for both Havex and Karagany.
OPC specific recommendations include:
Enforce strict access control lists and authentication protocols for network level access to OPC clients and servers.Recommend DCOM/RPC communications are limited via the DCOMCNFG utility, because of well-known vulnerabilities inherent to RPC and DCOM.When using OPC.NET-based communications, ensure that the HTTP server enforces proper authentication and encryption of the OPC communications for both clients and servers.Leverage the OPC Security specification when possible.Avoid wide-scale use of local mirrored user accounts to facilitate DCOM authentication.Follow recommended guidelines for securing OPC communications via accounts that possess least-user privileges.When tunneling cannot be used, limit the range of DCOM/RPC communications via the DCOMCNFG utility, and pay special attention to the use of OPC ''callbacks'' across security perimeters.Vendor specific mitigation:
Digitally signing code provides a mechanism for detecting software tampering and helps assure recipients that the software does come from the vendor.Vendors who have not digitally signed their code should compare cryptographic hashes from their secure software repositories with the cryptographic hashes of files stored on public servers. These cryptographic hashes should also be made available to customers who are downloading the code, so that they can verify the integrity of their download. Vendors may also consider scanning installation files stored on public servers using current antivirus software. ICS-CERT tested 16 common antivirus software applications against the Havex malware and found that most antivirus were able to detect the malware.Additional mitigations to consider include:
Always keep your patch levels up to date, especially on computers that host public services accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.Maintain up-to-date antivirus signatures and engines, and apply them based on industrial control system vendor recommendations.Build host systems, especially critical systems such as servers, with only essential applications and components required to perform the intended function. Where possible remove or disable any unused applications or functions to limit the attack surface of the host.Implement network segmentation through V-LANs to limit the spread of malware.Exercise caution when using removable media (USB thumb drives, external drives, CDs).Consider the deployment of Software Restriction Policy set to only allow the execution of approved software (application whitelisting)Whitelist legitimate executable directories to prevent the execution of potentially malicious binaries.Consider the use of two-factor authentication methods for accessing privileged root level accounts or systems.When remote access is required, consider deploying two-factor authentication through a hardened IPsec/VPN gateway with split-tunneling prohibited for secure remote access. Be prepared to operate without remote access during an incident if required.Implement a secure socket layer (SSL) inspection capability to inspect both ingress and egress encrypted network traffic for potential malicious activity.Minimize network exposure for all control system devices. Control system devices should not directly face the Internet.Place control system networks behind firewalls and isolate or air gap them from the business network.Provide robust logging such as network, host, proxy, DNS and IDS logs.Leverage the static nature of control systems to look for anomalies.Use configuration management to detect changes on field devices. Produce an MD5 checksum of clean code to verify any changes.Prepare for an incident with a dedicated incident response team and an incident response plan. Test both your plan and your team.ICS-CERT and US-CERT remind organizations to perform proper impact analysis and risk assessment prior to taking defensive measures.Additional mitigation guidance and recommended practices are publicly available in the ICS'‘CERT Technical Information Paper, ICS-TIP-12-146-01B'--Targeted Cyber Intrusion Detection and Mitigation Strategies, that is available for download from the ICS-CERT web site (
ICS-CERT also provides a recommended practices section for control systems on the US-CERT web site. Several recommended practices are available for reading or download, including Improving Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity with Defense-in-Depth Strategies.
Organizations observing any suspected malicious activity should follow their established internal procedures and report their findings to ICS-CERT for tracking and correlation against other incidents.
Email: ics-cert@hq.dhs.govToll Free: 1-877-776-7585International Callers: (208) 526-0900
ICS-CERT continuously strives to improve its products and services. You can help by choosing one of the links below to provide feedback about this product.
DHS Raises Alarms over Malware Targeting Power Operations | Global Security Newswire | NTI
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:02
By Aliya Sternstein
The Homeland Security Department is sounding alarms about a hacker attack against U.S. and European energy companies that could disrupt power.
The group behind the campaign is affiliated with Russia, according to security researchers.
On Tuesday, DHS officials reposted and updated -- for the third time since Wednesday -- an alert to companies that operate "industrial control systems,'' which are machines that run critical commercial services.
Homeland Security "is analyzing malware and artifacts associated with an industrial control system focused malware campaign,'' DHS officials stated.
The so-called Havex "payload" seems to target machines running outdated versions of a widely used specification for connectivity called Open Platform Communications, or OPC, technology.
"Testing has determined that the Havex payload has caused multiple common OPC platforms to intermittently crash," DHS stated. "This could cause a denial-of-service effect," or outage, of "applications reliant on OPC communications."
Citing research from security companies Symantec and F-Secure, DHS said the Havex malicious software "could have allowed attackers to access the networks of systems that have installed" the malware.
The hacker group is alternatively dubbed Energetic Bear and Dragonfly. It has broken into the websites of three control system vendors and dropped the malware into legitimate software updates that its energy customers download. DHS has identified the three vendors on a secure website restricted to companies in key U.S. industries, officials said.
Security startup CrowdStrike first reported the emergence of Energetic Bear in January, describing the group as "an adversary with a nexus to the Russian Federation," that was going after "government and research targets, as well as a large number of energy sector targets."
Symantec, in a paper released Monday, said the prey include companies that operate power grids, electricity generation, and petroleum pipelines, as well as industrial equipment providers.
"Symantec describes the victims as Spain, U.S., France, Italy and Germany, in that order," the DHS alert states.
DHS officials have examined one malware sample that records sensitive operational data, including the kinds of computers and devices connected to a company's network. The spyware gathers information including server name, program IDs, vendor information, running state and server bandwidth, officials said. The malware does not appear to affect devices using newer versions of Open Platform Communications.
Reprinted with permission from The original story can be found here.
Ex-NSA Chief Pitches Banks Costly Advice on Cyber-Attacks - Bloomberg
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:53
By Carter Dougherty and Jesse HamiltonJune 20, 2014 10:54 AM EDTPhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and former commander of U.S. Cyber Command, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.
As the four-star general in charge of U.S. digital defenses, Keith Alexander warned repeatedly that the financial industry was among the likely targets of a major attack. Now he's selling the message directly to the banks.
Joining a crowded field of cyber-consultants, the former National Security Agency chief is pitching his services for as much as $1 million a month. The audience is receptive: Under pressure from regulators, lawmakers and their customers, financial firms are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into barriers against digital assaults.
Alexander, who retired in March from his dual role as head of the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command, has since met with the largest banking trade groups, stressing the threat from state-sponsored attacks bent on data destruction as well as hackers interested in stealing information or money.
''It would be devastating if one of our major banks was hit, because they're so interconnected,'' Alexander said in an interview.
A lesson in the vulnerabilities came yesterday, when it was disclosed that hackers disrupted high-speed trading at a large hedge fund and rerouted data that might be used to make money in rogue stock-market transactions. Paul Henninger, global product director for BAE Systems (BA/) Applied Intelligence, said that the eight-week incident at the unidentified firm had ''all the signatures of an organized crime attack.''
Rising LossesBanks that not long ago had 10 or 15 people repelling computer invaders now have 50 to 100 people ''that do nothing but respond to attacks and review intelligence,'' Joe Nocera, head of the financial-services cybersecurity group at PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, said in an interview.
The largest banks are allocating the most resources. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) has 1,000 people focused on the danger and will spend $250 million this year, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in an April letter to shareholders.
Financial executives responding to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey reported that incidents rose from 1,720 in 2012 to 4,628 last year. Losses from the attacks are up ''significantly,'' according to the report.
For several months beginning in fall 2012, major U.S. bank websites were hit by what is known as distributed denial-of-service attacks, in which hackers flood systems with information to shut them down. Clients of JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. (C) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) had trouble accessing their accounts. The banks turned to the NSA for help in analyzing and protecting against the attacks, the Washington Post reported at the time.
Wiper ThreatAlexander, 62, said in the interview he was invited to give a talk to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as Sifma, shortly after leaving the NSA and starting his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc. He has met with other finance groups including the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and The Clearing House.
At the sessions, Alexander discussed destructive computer programs such as Wiper, which the U.S. government said was notable because attacks using it appeared to originate from North Korea and Iran. ''I told them I did think they could defend against that,'' Alexander said.
Still, despite the banks' growing investments in computer security, Alexander said, ''many of them aren't really confident they're getting their money's worth.''
The ex-NSA chief is leasing office space from Promontory Financial Group LLC, a Washington consultancy that focuses on the banking industry. Eugene Ludwig, Promontory's founder and chief executive officer, joined Alexander at a meeting with Sifma, Wall Street's largest lobby group.
Sifma MeetingAlexander offered to provide advice to Sifma for $1 million a month, according to two people briefed on the talks. The asking price later dropped to $600,000, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiation was private.
Alexander declined to comment on the details, except to say that his firm will have contracts ''in the near future.''
Kenneth Bentsen, Sifma's president, said at a Bloomberg Government event yesterday in Washington that ''cybersecurity is probably our number one priority'' now that most regulatory changes imposed after the 2008 credit crisis have been absorbed.
Government Expertise''There are a lot of very high-caliber people that have served in public positions who bring a tremendous amount of expertise that our industry or other industries can benefit from. General Alexander is certainly one of those people,'' Bentsen said.
Former U.S. intelligence officials are part of the burgeoning Internet security industry. Michael Morell, who last year was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, now works for Beacon Global Strategies LLC and appeared at a Sifma event to warn financial firms about cybersecurity threats. CrowdStrike Inc., a security-technology company that does work for the largest banks, has former FBI officials on its staff.
The firm's general counsel, Steven Chabinsky, was a deputy assistant director in the FBI's cyber division. Cybersecurity is at the center of digital-dominated banking, he said in an interview.
''It's consumer confidence; it's consumer protection; it's the way money is moved,'' he said. ''It's the integrity of the entire global system.''
Military IntelligenceAlexander specialized in technology and intelligence during four decades in the military, including as commander of Army Intelligence and Security and deputy Army chief of staff, before being named to head the NSA in 2005. Defense Secretary Robert Gates nominated him in 2009 to also head the new Cyber Command, which consolidates resources from all the military branches.
Alexander had devoted many of his public statements to the growing threats to private infrastructure -- before his tenure at the NSA became embroiled in responses to revelations about the agency contained in files leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
''Offensive cyber programs and capabilities are growing, evolving and spreading before our eyes,'' he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2013. ''They are particularly targeting our telecommunications, information technology, financial, security and energy sectors. They are exploiting these targets on a scale amounting to the greatest unwilling transfer of wealth in history.''
Confidence-ShakingIn the interview, Alexander said that a successful major attack on a bank would shake consumer confidence even if the institution were able to recover quickly.
''If all your banking stuff was just wiped out'' and the bank had no record of how much money its customers had on deposit, ''they could go back to their last surviving record -- but that might not be today,'' Alexander said.
That scenario also has banking regulators and lawmakers pressing the industry to strengthen protections.
Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, who heads the federal agency overseeing national banks, said his examiners used to focus exclusively on financial risks. Now the regulators scrutinize cyber defenses to ensure the firms are meeting new expectations for being prepared, he said in an interview.
Front-Page IssueCurry said the recent data breaches at large retailers including Target Corp. (TGT) ''put the issue on the front page and in forefront of executives' and regulators' minds.''
Some state regulators also have been leaning on the banks they supervise.
''I don't want to be Chicken Little and say the sky is falling,'' Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's department of financial services, said in an interview. ''But we really need to focus on this issue.''
In Congress, Representative Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who chairs a House Financial Services subcommittee, held a March hearing on the security of customer data, saying ''recent breaches demonstrated an evolving sophistication of attacks.''
Alexander said in the interview that one obstacle to a stronger system is the legitimate concern banks have about privacy and liability when they give data to other firms and the government. The Senate Intelligence Committee next week will take up a bipartisan bill -- sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican -- which would set rules and protections for information-sharing.
Such a law would be an important tool to improve the nation's defenses, Alexander said.
''What I'm concerned about is we're going to have a 9/11 in cyberspace,'' he said. ''We don't need to suffer this kind of attack.''
To contact the reporters on this story: Carter Dougherty in Washington at; Jesse Hamilton in Washington at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at Lawrence Roberts, Anthony Gnoffo
July 3rd 2014: Dutch Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) officially started | Matthijs R. Koot's notebook
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 06:10
Today, the Dutch Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) was officially launched. My translation of the JSCU's tasking according to the covenant (.pdf, in Dutch):
Article 1: Task descriptionThe JSCU is a joint supporting unit of the AIVD and the MIVD that, commissioned by and under the responsibility of the AIVD and MIVD, is tasked with:
a. the collection of data from technical sources;b. making accessible data from technical sources such that the data are searchable and correlation within and between these sources is possible;c. supporting the analysis, notably in the form of data analysis, investigation into cyber threats and language capacity;d. delivering Sigint and Cyber capability in support of the intelligence requirements of the AIVD and the MIVD, potentially on-site;e. innovation and knowledge development on the task areas of the JSCU.
My translation of today's announcement (in Dutch) of the launch (I translated as literally as possible):
With the launch of the Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU), the General Intelligence & Security Service (AIVD) and the Military Intelligence & Security Service (MIVD) take an important step in better protecting the national security and our digital networks against threats, and at the same time better support our soldiers on missions. A successful cooperation requires proper arrangements. These arrangements are laid out in a covenant [.pdf, in Dutch] that is signed by the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Defense.
The joint unit is specialized in Signals Intelligence (Sigint) and Cyber. Sigint includes information collection from (tele)communications. Cyber is a collective term for various activities related to computer networks and data streams. Think of mapping the internet landscape in a (new) mission area, informing partners about a dangerous computer virus or hacking a terrorist website that threatens national security.
The government is committed to further cooperation between the AIVD and the MIVD. One major reason for this is the bundling of scarce knowledge and resources. Considering the speed of technical developments in the field of Sigint and Cyber, pooling of knowledge and resources within the JSCU is not only desirable, but a necessity.
The JSCU is a logical consequence and intensification of the ongoing cooperation on the area of Signals Intelligence in the National Sigint Organisation (NSO). Together with other specialist parts of the AIVD and the MIVD, the NSO is merged in the new partnership. The JSCU is not an independent entity, but part of the AIVD and MIVD.
Like the other tasks of the two services, the task performance of the JSCU is bound by the Intelligence & Security Act of 2002. Oversight is carried out by the Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD).
The announcement was accompanied by two infographics:
Earlier this week the Dutch government partially reversed budget cuts on intelligence & security service AIVD, citing increased threats. One category of threats concerns the promotion of jihad through social media by Dutch jihadists and the threat of Dutch persons returning from jihad in Syria. This is described in the report Transformation of jihadism in the Netherlands: swarm dynamics and new strength that accompanied the announcement that the budget cuts will be partially reversed. The AIVD states that since 2012, some 130 Dutch persons went to Syria, of which 14 got killed.
After the Parliamentary summer recess, which ends on September 1st 2014, the Dutch government will send a proposal to the Dutch Parliament for changing the Intelligence & Security Act of 2002. Notably, it is expected that the proposal will include a broadening of interception powers such that the AIVD and MIVD are permitted to perform undirected (i.e., bulk/mass) interception of cable communications. That would allow the Dutch intelligence services to carry out programs such as GCHQ's Tempora and NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO), that feed PRISM. Our legislative regime and oversight mechanism is different from that in the U.S. and the U.K., but one thing is the same: the oversight on existing SIGINT powers in the Netherlands is broken too. It is still unclear how that problem will be addressed by the government.
The Netherlands is a member of the SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR). Whether it should be expected that the Netherlands will participate in the NSA's RAMPART-A (.pdf, 2010) program, I don't know. In their article Bound by Silver Cords '-- The Dutch Intelligence Community in a Transatlantic Context (2012), Dutch scholars Beatrice de Graaf and Constant Hijzen suggest that, at least historically, the Dutch hold different political and cultural views. That may influence how the Dutch act in international cooperation in the sense that the Dutch intelligence services won't be eager to simply allow foreign intelligence services full, unrestricted access to Dutch cable communications, as the Germans allegedly allow.
UK ''Porn Filter'' Triggers Widespread Internet Censorship
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 19:07
Internet filters are now on the political agenda in many countries around the world. While China and Iran are frontrunners for political censorship, the UK is leading the way when it comes to porn and other content deemed unsuitable for children.
In addition to the mobile restrictions that have been in place for years already, last summer Prime Minister David Cameron announced a default filter for all Internet connections. This means that UK Internet subscribers are now required to opt-in if they want to view 'adult' content online.
These default filters have led to many instances in which perfectly legitimate sites can no longer be accessed. This very website, for example, was inaccessible on Sky Broadband after it was categorized as a ''file-sharing'' site. The false positive was eventually corrected after the BBC started asking questions, but that didn't solve the underlying problem.
In an attempt to make it easier to spot overblocking the Open Rights Group (ORG) has today launched a new site. The embedded tool runs probes on all the major broadband and mobile filters of UK ISPs, and allows people to check which sites are blocked and where.
The first results are quite scary. A review of the 100,000 most-popular sites on the Internet reveals that 20% are blocked by at least one of the filtering systems.
''We've been surprised to find the default filtering settings are blocking around a fifth of the Alexa top 100k websites. That's a lot more than porn, which accounts for around 4% of that list,'' ORG's Executive Director Jim Killock informs TorrentFreak.
The list of blocked domains includes many legitimate sites that aren't necessarily harmful to children. TalkTalk, for example, blocks all file-sharing related websites including and TorrentFreak also appears to be listed in this category and is blocked as well.
Linuxtracker, which offers free downloads of perfectly legitimate software, is blocked by Sky, TalkTalk and Three's filters, while the tool itself is off-limits on BT, EE and Virgin Media.
Perhaps even worse, the BT and TalkTalk filters also categorize social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as potentially dangerous to children, and the same applies to Reddit.
Reddit is blocked as well>>
Goldman says client data leaked, wants Google to delete email | Reuters
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:03
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORKWed Jul 2, 2014 3:32pm EDT
A view of the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc said a contractor emailed confidential client data to a stranger's Gmail account by mistake, and the bank has asked a U.S. judge to order Google Inc to delete the email to avert a "needless and massive" breach of privacy.
The breach occurred on June 23 and included "highly confidential brokerage account information," Goldman said in a complaint filed last Friday in a New York state court in Manhattan.
Goldman (GS.N) did not say how many clients were affected, and wants Google's (GOOGL.O) help in tracking down who might have accessed the data. The Wall Street bank also said Google "appears willing to cooperate" if there is a court order.
Google, Goldman and Goldman's law firm did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.
According to Goldman, the outside contractor had been testing changes to the bank's internal processes in connection with reporting requirements set forth by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Goldman said the contractor meant to email her report, which contained the client data, to a "" account, but instead sent it to a similarly named, unrelated "" account.
The bank said it has been unable to retrieve the report or get a response from the Gmail account owner. It said a member of Google's "incident response team" reported on June 26 that the email cannot be deleted without a court order.
"Emergency relief is necessary to avoid the risk of inflicting a needless and massive privacy violation upon Goldman Sachs' clients, and to avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs," the bank said.
"By contrast, Google faces little more than the minor inconvenience of intercepting a single email - an email that was indisputably sent in error," it added.
Goldman is based in New York, and Google in Mountain View, California.
The case is Goldman, Sachs & Co v. Google Inc, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 156295/2014.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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The NSA Is Targeting Users of Privacy Services, Leaked Code Shows | Threat Level | WIRED
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:04
If you use Tor or any of a number of other privacy services online or even visit their web sites to read about the services, there's a good chance your IP address has been collected and stored by the NSA, according to top-secret source code for a program the NSA uses to conduct internet surveillance.
There's also a good chance you've been tagged for simply reading news articles about these services published by Wired and other sites.
This is according to code, obtained and analyzed by journalists and others in Germany, which for the first time reveals the extent of some of the wide-spread tracking the NSA conducts on people using or interested in using privatizing tools and services'--a list that includes journalists and their sources, human rights activists, political dissidents living under oppressive countries and many others who have various reasons for needing to shield their identity and their online activity.
The source code, for the NSA system known as XKeyscore, is used in the collection and analysis of internet traffic, and reveals that simply searching the web for privacy tools online is enough to get the NSA to label you an ''extremist'' and target your IP address for inclusion in its database.
But the NSA's analysis isn't limited to tracking metadata like IP addresses. The system also conducts deep-packet inspection of emails that users exchange with the Tor anonymizing service to obtain information that Tor conveys to users of so-called Tor ''bridges.''
Legal experts say the widespread targeting of people engaged in constitutionally protected activity like visiting web sites and reading articles, raises questions about the legal authority the NSA is using to track users in this way.
''Under [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] there are numerous places where it says you shouldn't be targeting people on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment,'' says Kurt Opsahl, deputy general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. ''I can't see how this activity could have been properly authorized under FISA. This is suggesting then that they have come up with some other theory of authorizing this.''
The findings also contradict NSA longstanding claims that its surveillance targets only those suspected of engaging in activity that threatens national security.
''They say 'We're not doing indiscriminate searches,' but this is indiscriminate,'' Opsahl notes. ''It's saying that anyone who is looking for those various [services] are suspicious persons.''
He notes that the NSA actions are at clear odds with statements from former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and others in the government about the importance of privacy services and tools to protect First Amendment freedoms.
''One hand of the government is promoting tools for human rights advocates and political dissidents to be able to communicate and is championing that activity,'' he says. ''While another branch of the government is determining that that activity is suspicious and requires tracking. This may intimidate people from using these very important tools and have a chilling effect that could undermine the free expression of ideas throughout the world.''
The findings were uncovered and published by Norddeutscher Rundfunk and Westdeutscher Rundfunk'--two public radio and TV broadcasting organizations in Germany. An English-language analysis of the findings, along with parts of the source code for the XKeyscore program'--was also published by Jacob Appelbaum, a well-known American developer employed by the Tor Project, and two others in Germany who play significant roles in Tor.
Secrets Revealed in the Code
XKeyscore is the collection system the NSA uses to scoop up internet data and analyze it. It has been described in NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden as a crucial tool that the NSA can use to monitor ''nearly everything a user does on the internet.''
Embedded in the code they found rules describing what XKeyscore is focused on monitoring. The rules indicate that the NSA tracks any IP address that connects to the Tor web site or any IP address that contacts a server that is used for an anonymous email service called MixMinion that is maintained by a server at MIT. XKeyscore targets any traffic to or from an IP address for the server. The NSA is also tracking anyone who visits the popular online Linux publication, Linux Journal, which the NSA refers to as an ''extremist forum'' in the source code.
Tor was originally developed and funded by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in the late '90s to help government employees shield their identity online, but it was later passed to the public sector for use. Tor has since been completely rebuilt by developers, and is now overseen by the Tor Project, a non-profit in Massachusetts, though it is still primarily funded by government agencies.
Tor allows users to surf the internet as well as conduct chat and send instant messages anonymously. It works by encrypting the traffic and relaying it through a number of random servers, or nodes, hosted by volunteers around the world to make it difficult for anyone to trace the data back to its source. Each node in the network can only see the previous node that sent it the traffic and the next node to which it's sending the traffic.
In documents released by Edward Snowden, NSA workers discussed their frustration in spying on people who use Tor. ''We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time,'' one internal NSA document noted.
But the XKeyscore source code reveals some of the ways the NSA attempts to overcome this obstacle.
Tor isn't the only target of XKeyscore, however. The system is also targeting users of other privacy services: Tails, HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian,, and MegaProxy.
Tails is an operating system used by human rights activists, as well as many of the journalists who have access to the Edward Snowden documents, to protect sensitive computer activity. It runs from a USB stick or CD so that it's not stored on the system, and uses Tor and other privacy tools to protect user activity. At the end of each session, when the user reboots it, Tails erases any data pertaining to that session'--such as evidence of documents opened or chats'--except for data the user has specifically saved to an encrypted storage device. The NSA clearly regards Tails as a sinister tool, however, referring to it in one comment in the source code as ''a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums.''
The XKeyscore rule for monitoring Tails users indicates that it is designed to identify users searching for the software program, as well as anyone ''viewing documents relating to TAILs, or viewing websites that detail TAILs.''
How XKeyscore Works
The XKeyscore rules use features the NSA calls ''appids,'' ''fingerprints,'' and ''microplugins,'' to identify and tag activity online.
Appids, the German publication notes, are unique identifiers that help the system sort and categorize data and user activity, such as an online search. The microplugins are possibly used to extract and store specific types of data.
The rules indicate that the NSA is specifically targeting the IP address of nine servers operated by key Tor volunteers in Germany, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands and even the U.S. These servers are used by the Tor network as directory authorities. They generate, on an hourly basis, a directory of all the Tor nodes or relays on the Tor network, which change constantly as new servers are added by volunteers or taken out of the network. The Tor software consults these lists to direct traffic to the nodes. The XKeyscore system uses a fingerprint called ''anonymizer/tor/node/authority'' that targets any IP address that connects to the nine servers.
One of the servers is maintained by Sebastian Hahn, a 28-year-old a Tor volunteer and computer science student at the University of Erlangen. A German attorney told the media outlets that the targeting of Tor volunteers in Germany may violate restrictions against the US conducting secret intelligence activity against German citizens in Germany.
Another server is operated at MIT by Tor Project leader Roger Dingledine, an MIT alumnus. But in addition to serving as one of the Tor directory authorities, the server is also used to operate the MixMinion mail service and host a number of other web sites, including ones for online gaming libraries, which means the NSA may be collecting IP addresses for those users as well.
The XKeyscore rules indicate that in addition to tracking activity to these Tor directory servers, the NSA also records and stores any IP address that connects to the thousands of Tor relays on the network. These addresses are all publicly known, as they are listed in the directory distributed by the nine servers. But in addition to these, there are non-public ''bridges'' that volunteers in the Tor network maintain. These can be used by human rights activists and others in repressive regimes like Iran and China that censor internet traffic and block their citizens from using known Tor relays.
To obtain the non-public address of one of these bridges users send an email to the Tor Project or request an address via the Tor web site. To unmask these private bridges, however, XKeyscore records any connections to the server and uses a microplugin to then read the contents of the email that the Tor Project sends to requesters in order to obtain the address of the bridge.
The NSA also tracks the IP address of anyone who simply visits the Tor web site, though it specifically avoids fingerprinting users believed to be located in Five Eyes countries'--the spying partnership that includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US'--from others. This appears to be the only distinction made for Five Eyes users, however. The rules for fingerprinting visitors to the Tails web site or the web site for the Linux Journal do not include such exceptions in the version of source code the media outlets examined.
The EFF's Opsahl says the exception made for these users with IP addresses in these countries is odd since the constitution protects U.S. citizens from NSA surveillance no matter which country they're in, and people using or interested in using privacy services are likely to shield their real IP address when they visit these sites, making it difficult for the NSA to know exactly where they're really located.
XKeyscore additionally tracks the addresses for web sites that use Tor Hidden Services to hide their location on the internet. Sites that use Tor Hidden Services'--part of the so-called Dark Web'--have a special Tor URL that can only be accessed by those using the Tor browser and who know the specific address. Tor Hidden Services is used by activists to host forums discussing their activity, though it is also used by sites selling illegal drugs and other illicit goods. XKeyscore catalogs every one of these URLs it can discover by culling through what it calls ''raw traffic'' and storing the address in a database.
US wiretaps hit a ten-year high in 2013, and almost 90 percent were used to catch drug offenders | PandoDaily
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:09
By David HolmesOn July 4, 2014
The US has released its annual wiretap report for 2013, and as befits a country that many perceive to have become a surveillance state, federal and state wiretaps were up, hitting a ten-year high.
Judges authorized a total of 3,576 wiretaps last year, and while that's only a 5 percent increase over the previous year, it represents a surge in surreptitious surveillance by the government over the past few years.
The overwhelming majority of the taps were placed on mobile phones and landlines while only 21 authorizations were made for electronic communications '-- I guess the NSA has that one covered. (It's worth noting that the office that put out this report is not permitted to share data regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which is how the NSA does its business). What's perhaps most interesting about the report are the types of criminals targeted by the wiretaps: Were law enforcement officers going after corrupt officials? Murderers? Terrorists? Nope. 87 percent of the authorized interception attempts were intended to catch drug offenders. Apparently there's no corruption going on in America. Hooray! Happy Fourth of July!
Granted, This is nothing new: In looking over the past few years of wiretap reports, drug offenders have long attracted the lion's share of federal and state wiretaps. But that means the surge in overall wiretaps has nothing to do with a shift in how law enforcement chooses to mete out these resources. It really just represents an intensification of the country's war on drugs which has cost federal and state governments $1 trillion over the past four decades.
And what has that $1 trillion bought us? The world's highest documented incarceration rate, with almost half of those prisoners arrested for drug crimes. These convictions disproportionately impact African Americans, in terms of both the number of prisoners and time-served. The Sentencing Project advocacy group says that, on average, African Americans spend virtually the same amount of time in prison for drug offenses as whites do for violent offenses. Meanwhile, addiction rates in this country have remained steady since 1970.
Of course it's possible that by putting more drug enforcement resources into wiretaps, agents can go after higher-profile targets, as opposed to street-level dealers that fill prisons. Indeed, wiretaps played a crucial role in the capture of Joaquin ''El Chapo'' Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel and, according to Forbes of all places, the 67th most powerful person in the world. They are also presumably less racially-biased and more effective than tactics like New York's ''stop-and-frisk'' program '' a report found that out of 2.3 million stops, only 3 percent resulted in a conviction.
Unfortunately, the wiretap report doesn't break down who was arrested or convicted thanks to the wiretaps. It merely states that the surveillance resulted in 3,744 arrests and 702 convictions last year. But statistics from the FBI show that while the use of wiretapping has intensified, 82.2 percent of all US drug arrests in 2012 (the 2013 statistics aren't out yet) were for possession, not distribution. That's actually a slight increase over 2011 and 2010 when the percentage of possession arrests were 81.8 and 81.9 respectively. These statistics, combined with the fact that the number of total annual drug arrests has remained about the same since 2010, suggests that intensified wiretapping has had little effect on what kinds of drug offenders are arrested each year.
Court-authorized wiretapping designed to bust up drug rings is certainly more palatable to the American public than, say, the massive warrantless wiretapping conducted by the NSA. (You can probably blame television's ''The Wire'' for that). But at a total estimated cost of over $95 million last year, and an enormous percentage of those resources dedicated to fighting a $1 trillion drug war that many believe we cannot win, and that still others believe has caused more harm than good, the explosion in wiretapping over the past few years should continue to be a matter of public debate. After all, think of all the rehab centers and drug counselors the DEA could pay for with its $2.8 billion budget.
But don't hold your breath: After all, federal agents love toys more than treatment.
David Holmes is Pando's East Coast Editor. He is also the co-founder of Explainer Music, a production company specializing in journalistic music videos. His work has appeared at, ProPublica, the Guardian, the Daily Dot,, and Grist.
Pressure mounts over 1983 file on alleged Westminster paedophile ring
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:11
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has written to the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office asking what happened to a file circulating within Whitehall during the Eighties that detailed a number of VIPs who allegedly abused children. The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg rejected calls for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into historic child sex abuse allegations yesterday, saying the police should be in charge of getting to the bottom of what happened to vulnerable children in care homes.
The former Home Secretary Leon Brittan admitted receiving a file containing allegations of a child abuse network. He said he was given the file by the late Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983 and launched an investigation into the claims. But no action was taken and the dossier has now disappeared, according to the Home Office.
The son of Mr Dickens told the BBC his father claimed the file would ''blow the lid off'' the lives and the powerful.
At least 40 UK politicians complicit in alleged Westminster 'pedophile ring' '' report '-- RT UK
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 01:16
Published time: July 05, 2014 18:25The Palace of Westminster (Reuters / Kieran Doherty)
A whistleblower who kicked off UK police pedophile probe Operation Fernbridge believes as many as 40 British MPs and peers were involved in or turned a blind eye to child abuse.
Peter Mckelvie, a retired child protection team manager, who has spent more than 20 years compiling evidence of alleged child abuse by people in authority, believes ten current and former politicians are on the list and that there is enough evidence to arrest at least one senior politician, reports the Daily Telegraph.
MPs and peers from all three main political parties are on the list including Cyril Smith and Sir Peter Morrison, who are now dead.
McKelvie was behind bringing Peter Righton, a notorious pedophile, to justice when he worked for Hereford and Worcester child protection team and believes that up to 20 MPs and Lords should be investigated.
''I believe there are sufficient grounds to carry out a formal investigation into allegations of up to 20 MPs and Lords over the last three decades, some still alive and some dead. The list is there,'' he said.
And in a letter to his local MP Tony Baldry last month, McKelvie suggested that a further 20 may be implicated in covering up child abuse.
Although he does not suggest that any of the public servants either MPs or Lords colluded with each other.
It was Tom Watson MP who first raised the issue of child abuse by MPs and peers at Prime Minister's Questions in October 2012 as a result of information that McKelvie had passed to him.
Watson spoke of ''clear intelligence suggesting a powerful pedophile network linked to parliament and number 10.''
It was after Watson's intervention that the Metropolitan Police began Operation Fernbridge, an ongoing investigation about alleged child abuse at the Elms Guest House in Barns, South London.
It is understood that a Tory MP abused a child under the age of 10 at the guesthouse in the 1980s, but the alleged victim has so far refused to give a sworn witness statement to police.
Earlier this week it emerged that a separate file on an alleged Westminster pedophile network, which had been put together by the now deceased MP Geofrey Dickens, mysteriously gone missing after he handed it to the then Home Secretary Lord Brittan in 1983.
Labor MP Simon Danczuk, along with six other MPs, has written to the Home Secretary Theresa May demanding a public inquiry into the missing dossier and the people who had been named in it.
Mrs May said she has not ruled out an inquiry after the police finish their investigations and Prime Minister Cameron also tried to give reassurance that the issue would not be swept under the carpet.
''I've asked the permanent secretary at the Home Office to do everything he can to find answers to all of these questions and to make sure we can reassure people about these events. Its right these investigations are made. We mustn't do anything, of course, that could prejudice or prevent proper action by the police,'' he said.
Separately it was reported Friday by the Telegraph that a senior Tory who is being investigated as part of Operation Fernbridge, was stopped by customs officials with child pornography in the 1980s but was never arrested.
How the Establishment hid the monster in their midst | Mail Online
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 01:52
Sir Peter Hayman was a respected diplomat and army officer given an MBEBut he hid a secret life as a member of the Paedophile Information ExchangeThe group encouraged child abuse - but he was let off with a cautionTory MP Geoffrey Dickens raised issue of Sir Peter's abuse in CommonsThere were strenuous attempts by Whitehall and Whitehall to stop DickensHayman affair in spotlight amid pressure for alleged paedophile ring inquiryInvolves a missing dossier handed to former home secretary Leon BrittanAllegedly contained child abuse allegations involving Establishment figuresBy Richard Pendlebury and Stephen Wright
Published: 19:38 EST, 4 July 2014 | Updated: 09:51 EST, 5 July 2014
Pillar of the Establishment: But Sir Peter Hayman broke down and wept when confronted by police
Sir Peter Hayman's life was one decorated with worthy acronyms and exclusive memberships.
By the time of his retirement from 'the Diplomatic', the Stowe and Oxford-educated former Rifle Brigade officer had been a Home and Foreign Office mandarin, working closely with the intelligence services at the height of the Cold War: it has even been suggested he was a senior figure in MI6.
His final posting was as High Commissioner to Canada.
As a result of these labours he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) and an MBE.
Off duty he also belonged to the MCC and the Army and Navy private members' club (The Rag). Like Sir Peter, both were pillars of London's old-school-tie Establishment.
Yet unlike the MCC, there was no distinguishing neckwear at Sir Peter's rather more discreet third 'club', to which he seems to have devoted most physical energy and expense as a pensioner newly returned from post-colonial duties in Ottawa.
His membership number was '330' and this organisation of similarly minded if not gilded individuals was called the Paedophile Information Exchange. It had been formed almost exactly 200 years after the MCC.
PIE supported and encouraged illegal sexual relationships between adults and children. In other words, child abuse.
Sir Peter lived with his wife of 40 years in a lovely home in South Oxfordshire where, in a parallel existence, he was deputy chairman of the Conservative Association. He acted as a churchwarden's assistant, and opened the local fete.
Everyone there thought he was marvellous. Who was to know otherwise?
That was because his official PIE literature and graphic correspondence with fellow paedophiles was by squalid necessity sent to a flat at 95 Linden Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, some 50 miles away.
The ex-diplomat had rented it for that purpose '-- as well as extra-marital sexual liaisons '-- under the name of Peter Henderson. The fact that the flat was almost across the road from the Soviet embassy was simply an irony. How the KGB would have loved to have made blackmail use of his peccadillo.
Then Sir Peter made a mistake. He left a packet of paedophile material in an envelope on a London bus. It was addressed to Mr Henderson at Linden Gardens in Notting Hill. A fellow passenger was curious. The package came into the possession of the police.
Soon afterwards, in November 1978, they raided the Linden Gardens flat.
What they found was a huge trove of revolting paedophilia and other extreme pornography. Among it was a library of 45 substantial diaries in which Sir Peter had recorded in detail his sexual experiences and fantasies, the latter including sex with minors.
There was also substantial correspondence with other PIE members '-- 111 pages in one instance '-- in which they shared their otherwise secret desires and other graphic paedophile material.
Police later found that two of the dozen or so paedophiles in Sir Peter's epistolary circle had been writing to each other about their interest in the extreme sexual torture and murder of children.
Even the hardened cops of the Obscene Publications Squad were 'revolted' by the Linden Gardens haul.
When interviewed, Sir Peter '-- a man who had been deputy commandant of the British zone in Berlin and was later tasked to tear a strip off the Soviet ambassador to London after Moscow crushed the Prague Spring of 1968 '-- broke down and wept.
Decorated: Sir Peter, wearing his medals, with Lady Hayman, his wife of 40 years
He would surely be exposed and his reputation ruined. All those official laurels would be for naught.
And yet he wasn't.
Much to the anger and disbelief of the Obscene Publications Squad he was let off with a caution. The grounds for this decision certainly seem extraordinary to contemporary eyes. The Director of Public Prosecutions deemed that as the paedophile material sent through the post by Sir Peter and his friends had not been 'unsolicited' nor traded for profit, no offence had taken place worthy of prosecution.
The result? Save among a few officers at Scotland Yard, Sir Peter's reputation remained intact and might have remained so until his death in 1992 had he not been later exposed in parliament.
The Hayman affair came back into the spotlight this week, with David Cameron ordering an investigation into an alleged cover-up of a VIP paedophile ring which included leading figures in Westminster and Whitehall.
The matter was raised by campaigning MP Simon Danczuk, and centres on a dossier of child sex allegations involving senior Establishment figures, which was handed to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan by fellow Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens in November 1983.
Lord Brittan says that he passed the documents on to Whitehall officials. But no action was taken and the Home Office has admitted that the Dickens dossier was subsequently destroyed.
The peer faces increasing pressure to fully explain both his handling of the dossier and what it contained. Mark Sedwill, the current permanent secretary at the Home Office, has been given until Monday to explain what the department did with the information the dossier contained.
For his part, Dickens was always convinced there had been a high-level cover-up of VIP paedophilia. The rough treatment he received when in March 1981 he used the legal protection of parliamentary privilege to name Sir Peter Hayman in the Commons, and ask about the security risk his paedophile activities might have posed, is certainly instructive of the Establishment attitude of the time.
He would surely be exposed and his reputation ruined. All those official laurels would be for nothing. And yet he wasn't
In the immediate aftermath of Dickens' outing of Hayman, the letters page of the Times newspaper gave some flavour of the ranks closing against the campaigner, whom some clearly saw as a working-class oik from a far-flung constituency in the North of England. The fact that he was exposing a member of a paedophile ring which sexually exploited children seemed incidental.
'Until a week ago, only a few unfortunates in Huddersfield had heard of Mr Geoffrey Dickens and no one who has watched him performing his stunt can have supposed that he has one scintilla of Sir Peter Hayman's unselfish ability,' wrote R P T Davenport-Hines. 'Mischievous avidity for headlines is no substitute for talent or hard work.'
Mr Davenport-Hines is now an eminent historian.
In a similar vein one Julian Fellowes, himself the son of a senior British diplomat, wrote: 'Thoroughly revolted as I am by the Paedophiliac Society with all its professed aims, I feel I cannot be alone this week in being almost as disgusted by the spectacle of a Tory MP dangling his victim over the slavering jaws of the media.
'The feeblest student of human nature must surely be aware of how slight the connexion between pornography and practices need be.
'To flirt with fetishes is hardly rare in the best circles .'‰.'‰. now he has to have his life, public and private, more thoroughly smashed than if he had murdered his kinsman in broad daylight.
'It is particularly depressing that Salem-like justice should be meted out by a Conservative Party (MP)'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰ their one faintly convincing battle cry has always been the importance of championing the rights of the individual against the so-called good of the faceless, heartless state.'
What of the rights of the children featured in the pornography, some might wonder.
Today the Oscar winner and Downton Abbey creator is a Tory peer '-- Lord Fellowes of West Stafford. He is married to a lady-in-waiting.
Prior to Dickens naming Hayman, there had also been strenuous attempts by leading figures in Westminster and Whitehall to prevent him from doing so.
The then Attorney General Sir Michael Havers argued with him outside the Commons chamber for 20 minutes before the disclosure of Hayman's name in written questions.
Dickens later argued: 'I have had to consider a gentleman with a very distinguished career for which he was many times honoured, and his family.
'But I have also to consider the parents whose children are procured, sometimes for a bag of sweets, to perform sexual acts and pose for sexual photographs.'
Sir Peter pictured outside Reading Magistrates' Court where he faced a charge of gross indecency - for which he was let off with a caution
The parliamentary record Hansard shows that Liberal leader David Steel also spoke out in the House against Dickens' use of parliamentary privilege to name the paedophile diplomat in written questions.
'As a member of the Select Committee on Privileges I am naturally concerned that parliamentary privilege should at all times be defended,' said Steel. 'I submit it is difficult to defend if there is a sign on occasion it is being abused.
'I want to draw your attention to two questions which have appeared on the Order Paper today naming a retired public servant and asking for further inquiries into his activities.'
He added: 'I would like to suggest to you this is creating a dubious precedent of which we should be careful.'
The Times reported that the Liberals said Mr Steel was merely expressing the doubts felt by many MPs.
We know now, of course, that Mr Steel and his Liberal Party failed to recognise the paedophile activities of their own MP Cyril Smith, who is believed to have been named in the dossier Dickens later handed to Brittan. Police recently confirmed that Smith was also a visitor to the notorious Elm Guest House in South-West London, where paedophile parties were allegedly held.
At the time, Steel and the Liberals did nothing, and Smith took his secrets and good reputation to the grave.
To shouts of 'old school tie' from Labour MP Christopher Price, Sir Michael Havers had to explain to the House why Hayman had not been prosecuted along with other members of PIE in a trial which had ended at the Old Bailey the previous week with the former PIE chairman Tom O'Carroll being jailed for two years for conspiracy to corrupt public morals.
Hayman's alias of 'Mr Henderson' and his collection of paedophile material and diaries had been alluded to in O'Carroll's committal hearings, but his true identity was suppressed.
(O'Carroll's prosecution had been criticised by the National Council for Civil Liberties, to which PIE was affiliated. The NCCL's legal officer at the time was Harriet Harman, now Deputy Labour Leader. She refuses to apologise for the NCCL's links with PIE.)
The Hayman affair came back into the spotlight this week, amid growing pressure for an inquiry into an alleged cover-up of a paedophile ring in Westminster in the 1980s, involving a missing dossier handed to former home secretary Leon Brittan
Sir Michael explained that Hayman himself had escaped prosecution not because of 'special treatment', but because he had not sat on PIE's executive committee. Dickens claimed that police investigating PIE in 1978 had been 'absolutely staggered' that Hayman was not charged.
But the Establishment did then take some action '-- against the whistleblowers.
The DPP ordered the Metropolitan Police to carry out a leak inquiry into who had given Hayman's name to Dickens. It was assumed '-- probably correctly '-- that the 'culprit' was a member of the Obscene Publications squad who had seen the diplomat's collection at first hand.
Police quizzed Dickens for 45 minutes. He would not tell. A Tory MP even tried to table a motion to force Dickens to reveal his source.
Last night Barry Dickens, the son of Geoffrey Dickens, who died in 1995, said he was disgusted by the backlash against his father at the time of the Hayman affair.
'I find some of these views quite shocking,' he said. 'To defend the odious Peter Hayman, who used his diplomatic bag to carry pictures of children, and I understand in some cases babies in prams, being abused is quite sickening.
'Julian Fellowes has used flowery language to defend the indefensible and to praise the gutter. David Steel's Liberal Party was giving sanctuary to the child-abusing monster Cyril Smith. If they have a shred of decency, they will retract their remarks and apologise for attacking my father who was a man of proven integrity.'
Yesterday, Lord Fellowes told the Mail: 'My position today is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago '-- I abhor paedophilia in any form, but I think these matters should be decided in a court of law.'
Will we ever know the truth about Establishment paedophiles in the Eighties, and to what extent their activities were covered up?
The Mail can reveal that despite extensive inquiries over the past 20 months, no record of the Dickens dossier being passed to the Metropolitan Police in the mid-Eighties, let alone investigated, has been found by Yard detectives.
Operation Fairbank, the umbrella name for several historic child abuse inquiries relating to PIE, Elm Guest House and a children's home in South-West London in the Seventies, has been staffed by just seven detectives since it was launched in November 2012.
Compare this with 200 or so detectives tasked with probing alleged media crime around this time, and the 30 or so officers deployed on the post Jimmy Savile scandal inquiry, Operation Yewtree, it is not difficult to understand why sceptics believe the alleged Westminster paedophile ring which operated in the Eighties continues to be covered up.
Certainly there are grounds to suspect that PIE had established a foothold in the Home Office during this period.
A whistleblower has told police that PIE had received grants totalling £70,000 from the Home Office. This person told the Yard he witnessed a successful three-year grant renewal application for £35,000 in 1980, implying that a similar grant had been made in 1977.
PIE leader Steven Adrian Smith (who replaced the jailed Tom O'Carroll), even used a telephone number in the Home Office building as a contact point for the child-sex-supporting organisation, while he was working there as an electrical contractor on behalf of a firm called Complete Maintenance Ltd.
According to his own account, Smith stored paperwork in cabinets at the Home Office and received full security clearance from Scotland Yard.
Smith later went on the run while facing child porn charges. He fled to Holland where he claimed asylum, on the grounds that he was part of an 'oppressed' minority campaigning for changes in the UK law.
He cited PIE's long association with the NCCL. Smith won his asylum plea, but was arrested and jailed on his return to the UK in 1991.
Last night, a man in his 40s who alleges he was a victim of abuse at an institution probed by Scotland Yard, told us: 'The Government and all its agencies need to wake up and realise that without a proper independent inquiry into historic child sex abuse, the guilty will be left in peace whilst a mass group of traumatised survivors will continue unsupported and tortured by our experiences.'
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Rolf Harris's portrait of the Queen nowhere to be seen | Uk-news | The Guardian
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 13:47
Following Rolf Harris's initial arrest in November 2012 the painting's whereabouts became unknown. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features
Among the minor mysteries thrown up by the Rolf Harris case one has proved particularly intractable: what happened to the portrait he painted of the Queen in 2005?
The oil painting marking the monarch's 80th birthday, which saw her pose twice for the Australian-born artist and entertainer, took two months to complete. It was unveiled by her in the yellow drawing room of Buckingham Palace in 2006.
Showing the Queen in a relatively informal pose, smiling while wearing a turquoise dress and sitting in a chair, the artwork faced a slightly mixed critical reaction but nonetheless marked arguably the peak of Harris's national status. While mainly known over his 60-year entertainment career as a TV star who sketched at lightning speed, Harris first came to the UK to study art and is known to cherish his reputation as a serious painter, specialising in portraits.
After its unveiling the picture was hung in the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace until 2007, until it was passed to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, where it was on view until mid-2012.
But following Harris's initial arrest later that year the painting's whereabouts became unknown. The Walker gallery said at the time it had returned the picture to Buckingham Palace, but officials there stressed it was never part of the Royal Collection and was not with them.
The process of painting the picture was covered by BBC television, and there was a suggestion the corporation might possess the picture. But a BBC spokeswoman said she did not know its whereabouts. "We do not have it in our collection," she said.
The seeming conclusion is that Harris has the painting. However, a spokesman for his PR firm, Bell Pottinger, said he was unable to find out any information on this.
Jimmy Savile admitted getting knighthood was 'a relief because it got me off the hook' - People - News - The Independent
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:09
Do you want to see the gear?'' he asks, burrowing under the put-u-up to find his briefcase (we are in his London flat) from which he produces a transparent plastic folder. ''Read it all,'' he urges. ''Go on. Have a little dwell on that. That folder encapsulates it all.''
The folder encloses the letter from the Prime Minister offering him a knighthood, the envelope it came in, some bumf about keeping it secret till the proper date and then '' proudest of all '' telegrams from Charles and Diana, from Prince Philip, a handwritten letter from Angus Ogilvy and a very sweet homemade card with a stuck-on snapshot of Princess Bea, from the Duchess of York. He is almost bursting with pride as he shows them off.
Savile 'had an enthusiasm for dead bodies in general that can be unnerving'
''I was lying in bed here,'' he recalls, ''when I heard the little clink on the door and an hour later, when I got up, I picked up the letter '' there was only one letter on the floor '' and it said 'OHMS', so I thought it was from the Income Tax. And I thought, 'That's unusual' '' because I get my tax stuff up in Leeds. But what I got was: 'OHMS. Urgent. Personal. From the Prime Minister's Office' '' and there it was.''
The letter from Downing Street encloses a form which he had to sign to say he would accept the knighthood, and, rather than trust it to the post, he hopped in a taxi and delivered it himself to the policeman at the end of Downing Street. The policeman said ''Congratulations'', but Jimmy (he was still Jimmy in those days) said, ''I don't know what you're talking about.''
He didn't tell a soul. It was ''36 days of agony'' between hearing of his knighthood and its public announcement. ''Ooh, I can't tell you the agony, because the ramifications of not telling were just phenomenal. People would say, 'Now next week...' and I'd go, 'Hm?' For the first time in my life, I appeared to be indecisive, because I'm always totally positive.
Video: Savile had 'unrestricted hospital access'''And all my people, at Leeds Infirmary, at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville, were all ringing each other up saying 'Here. What's wrong with the Godfather?' They thought I was sickening for something. The last 48 hours were the worst '' grind, grind, grind. When it came out at midnight '' radio and teletext at the same time '' it was such a relief.''
Since then, he has had 900 letters, 700 phone calls of congratulations, and he promises he will reply to them all in the fullness of time when he has recovered from his daze.
He is still undecided whether he wants to be Sir James or Sir Jimmy, and looks at me a bit carefully (''Is she taking the mickey?'') when I call him ''Sir James''. But he certainly wants to be called one or the other; he is intensely proud of his honour. Alone among television stars, he has always insisted on having his OBE after his name on the programme credits.
Jimmy Savile wrote to Margaret Thatcher seeking donations for Stoke Mandeville
The only surprising thing about his knighthood is how long it has taken him to get it. He has been raising money for charity for at least 20 years '' more than £30m at last count '' and Stoke Mandeville's National Spinal Injuries Centre is almost entirely a result of his efforts. The day after I met him, he was going to open yet another £2m donation to the hospital '' a new magnetic resonance imager which for the first time will enable surgeons to see the spinal cord as well as the spinal column, with no side effects to the patient.
He raised the money, negotiated with Hitachi and the Japanese government to deliver it at unprecedented speed, and meanwhile got the hospital to knock down walls and rebuild areas to make room for it.
His official title at Stoke Mandeville (and at Broadmoor, and at Leeds Infirmary, where he performs similar benefactions) is ''voluntary helper'' '' but his help is quite breathtaking in its scope. In 1988, the Department of Health suspended the whole management board of Broadmoor and put Savile in charge of running the place, which he is still doing with every apparent success.
He raises money and also gives his own money, channelling nine-tenths of his income into two charitable trusts. He earns a BBC salary as presenter of Jim'll Fix It, and the World Service radio programme Savile's Travels, and is a paid consultant to Thomas Cook, the travel agents. But most of his income comes from personal appearances, for which he charges a minimum of five figures. ''I don't even get out of bed for less than £10,000,'' he says, explaining that if he charges a lot, the event is well organised, whereas if he doesn't, it isn't.
Hidden scandal: Jimmy Savile, when he was made OBE in 1972
''I went to a thing recently in a field with some lovely people, but when I got there, there was no raised platform and no microphone so how was the audience meant to see me? And they all go, 'Oh yeah. We never thought of that.' Now if they'd paid the ten grand, they'd have set to work with a great to-do, you see.'' This makes sense, but sometimes comes as a shock to people who imagine that because Savile is charitable he is also unworldly. He isn't.
Many businesses and organisations use him as a conduit to the Royal Family; he can pick up the telephone to most of them and has long worked with Prince Charles (''the most caring fellow I've ever met '' oh, unbelievable'') on the problems of the disabled. He is an habitu(C) of Highgrove and Buckingham Palace, of No 10 and Chequers, where he often spends Christmas or New Year '' though he carefully points out that he has been friendly with all the past four Prime Ministers because Stoke Mandeville is Chequers' local hospital.
Anyway, he is very, very well connected; many multinationals use him as a consultant and not just for PR purposes but for marketing advice. To the public, he remains the silver-haired, track-suited jester, but those who have worked with him take him very seriously indeed.
Still, his jester image may have made his knighthood slower than it would otherwise have been. ''I would imagine that I unsettled the establishment,'' he agrees, ''because the establishment would say, 'Yes, Jimmy's a good chap but a bit strange... a bit strange.' And I think maybe in the past I suffered from the vulgarity of success. Because if you're successful in what you do, you can become a pain in the neck to a lot of people, especially if you're doing it in a voluntary manner, right?''
Right. So being awarded a knighthood was a joy and an honour. More interestingly, he says it was also a relief. For the past several years, tabloid journalists have been saying that he must have a serious skeleton in his cupboard, otherwise he would have got a knighthood by now. ''Ooh ay, I had a lively couple of years, with the tabloids sniffing about, asking round the corner shops '' everything '' thinking there must be something the authorities knew that they didn't. Whereas in actual fact I've got to be the most boring geezer in the world because I ain't got no past. And so, if nothing else, it was a gi-normous relief when I got the knighthood, because it got me off the hook.''
The TV star is alleged to have abused girls on BBC premises after promising them audience tickets for his shows
What he says about tabloid journalists is true. There has been a persistent rumour about him for years, and journalists have often told me as a fact: ''Jimmy Savile? Of course, you know he's into little girls.'' But if they know it, why haven't they published it? The Sun or the News of the World would hardly refuse the chance of featuring a Jimmy Savile sex scandal. It is very, very hard to prove a negative, but the fact that the tabloids have never come up with a scintilla of evidence against Jimmy Savile is as near proof as you can ever get.
I wasn't sure whether Sir James actually knew what the particular skeleton in his closet was supposed to be, though I notice that he told The Sun five years ago that he never allowed children into his flat. ''Never in a million years would I dream of letting a kid, or five kids, past my front door. Never, ever. I'd feel very uncomfortable.'' Nor, he said, would he take children for a ride in his car unless they had their mum or dad with them: ''You just can't take the risk.''
Still, I was nervous when I told him: ''What people say is that you like little girls.'' He reacted with a flurry of funny-voice Jimmy Savile patter, which is what he does when he's getting his bearings: ''Ah now. Sure. Now then. Now then. First of all, I happen to be in the pop business, which is teenagers '' that's No 1. So when I go anywhere it's the young ones that come round me.
''Now what the tabloids don't realise is that the young girls in question don't gather round me because of me '' it's because I know the people they love, the stars, because they know I saw Bros last week or Wet Wet Wet. Now you, watching from afar, might say 'Look at those young girls throwing themselves at him', whereas in actual fact it's exactly the opposite. I am of no interest to them, except in a purely platonic way.
''A lot of disc jockeys make the mistake of thinking that they're sex symbols and then they get a rude awakening. But I always realised that I was a service industry. Like, because I knew Cliff [Richard] before he'd even made a record, all the Cliff fans would bust a gut to meet me, so that I could tell them stories about their idol. But if I'd said, 'Come round, so that I can tell you stories about me' or 'Come round, so that you can fall into my arms' they'd have said: 'What! On yer bike!' But because reporters don't understand the nuances of all that, they say, 'A-ha.'''
Jimmy Savile outside his motor home in 1969
This seems a perfectly credible explanation of why rumour links him to young girls. It still doesn't explain the great mystery of his non-existent love life. His name has only ever been linked to one woman, his mother, whom he called the Duchess.
He was devoted to her '' the more so, perhaps, because, as the youngest child of seven, he'd had a fairly scant share of her attention. ''I wasn't her favourite by any means; I was fourth or fifth in the pecking order.'' But when he became famous, he laid his fame and money at her feet, and they had l6 years before she died in 1973 where she had ''everything''. He once told Joan Bakewell: ''We were together all her life and there was nothing we couldn't do. I got an audience with the Pope. Everything. But then, I was sharing her. When she died she was all mine. The best five days of my life were spent with the Duchess when she was dead. She looked marvellous. She belonged to me. It's wonderful, is death.''
(Incidentally, he has an enthusiasm for dead bodies in general, which can be quite unnerving. The first time I ever met him, eight years ago, he raved on about all the bodies that came his way in the mortuary at Leeds Infirmary and how he wished he could take the healthy eyes from one and the good bones from another to repair his living patients at Stoke Mandeville. He sounded like Dr Frankenstein.)
But back to his love life. ''You must have had some sex at some time,'' I tell him, and Sir James looks pained.
''Well. I would have thought so. But it's rather like going to the bathroom. I've never been one to explain what I do when I go to the bathroom and I'm not a kiss-and-tell punter. All I can say is that I've never ever got anybody into trouble; I've never knowingly upset anybody; and I've always been aware that in my game there is a clear line between infatuation and actual, genuine liking. Other than that, you must draw your own conclusions.''
Well. One safe conclusion is that people who equate sex with going to the bathroom don't like it very much. His views on sex and love are cynical; he said in passing that ''sex was like what they say about policemen '' never there when you want one'' and that ''it so happens that it is illegal to have sex on tap '' unless you happen to be married, in which case you end up with a wife having a headache.''
He says that he has never been in love, never had a live-in girlfriend, never been even within shouting distance of getting married. He claims that he decided this as early as his twenties, soon after he was injured in a mining accident and became a disc jockey around the Mecca ballrooms of the North.
Jimmy Savile volunteering as a hospital porter in 1970
''I was too busy for that. The pop business was a tremendous, lively business and each day was a mushroom '' there was only that day and there was only that night. It's a very peculiar lifestyle but I realised that, in order to succeed, I would have to actually live the business. And I couldn't do that and live a normal human-being life as well '' it doesn't work. Look in any of the papers '' well-known people who try to lead normal lives, it invariably doesn't work out.
''Now bearing in mind that I'm not particularly paternal, and that I wasn't yer actual relationship-type person that must get married, must go through the normal thing, I thought: 'Because I choose to be in this business and because the track record of the business is that marriage doesn't work out, therefore I won't even think along those lines.'
''Now that makes you different, it makes you strange, and people then try to stick their theories on you to account for the fact that you're not married. But what they don't take into consideration is the awesome logic of it all.'' But surely this is the awesome logic of cutting off your nose to spite your face? It is logic carried to the point of insanity. Isn't it better to have even an imperfect relationship than no relationship at all?
''No! I don't agree. My life is the greatest life in the world. The greatest life in the world! You go to bed, you haven't a care in the world; you get up, you haven't a care in the world. It's fun '' do you understand? So why should I spoil a lot of fun?''
His six siblings are all married '' ''they're all nice and normal'' '' and he has whole tribes of nieces and nephews, about 47 of them at the last count. When I ask if he is a good uncle, he immediately starts talking about money: while the Duchess was alive she was his sole beneficiary; when she died, he made his brothers and sisters his beneficiaries, and if any of them die he may, or may not, include their children in his will. He says he speaks to most of his siblings most weeks, but it's physically impossible to keep up with all their children and grandchildren. ''We're a close family, but we're a very common-sense family. Our common sense is not to everybody's liking, but that's all there is to it.
''I quite envy people who have been in love,'' he admits, ''and I would be perfectly happy to fall in love today. But how could I, with my lifestyle? I don't have girlfriends because it's not fair, the same as I don't have plants because I'd never be back to water them, and I don't have cats and dogs, and I don't have kids because I'd never be there to see them.''
This is true. His lifestyle is unique and really unsharable with anyone else. In the week I met him, he'd been to Crewe to open a school for children with learning difficulties, to Liverpool to visit Broadmoor's sister hospital, Ashworth, to Leeds Infirmary to attend their gala, to Newcastle to do some radio programmes, and on to Glasgow to run an exhibition race for charity.
He'd come back to London overnight on the sleeper in order to meet me in London at 9am, and was then going on to a business meeting and to Stoke Mandeville to ''open'' their new machine.
He rarely spends two consecutive nights in the same bed, and he has beds '' you can hardly call them homes '' two in Leeds (one at the Infirmary) and one each in London, Scarborough, Peterborough, Bournemouth, Stoke Mandeville, and Broadmoor. The London pad, a service flat near the BBC, is probably typical or slightly more luxurious than most: it is a one-room cell with a fold-down double bed, a large television tuned to Teletext, a closet full of tracksuits, a blown-up photograph of the Yorkshire Dales, and an empty kitchen.
''But where do you keep your things?'' I ask him.
''What things? I have seven toothbrushes and seven telephones, one in each place.'' ''But you must have some things. Souvenirs, ornaments.'' ''Yeah, there's one,'' he says, pointing to a huge, staggeringly ugly silver-gilt trophy on top of the television. ''That's the Male Jewellery-Wearer of the Year Award from the British Jewellery Association. I have souvenirs in all my places.''
He seems genuinely delighted with the trophy, both as an objet and as an award. He enjoys a bit of a flash, like his Rolls-Royces (he is now on his 17th) and the gold and diamond Rolex watch on one wrist and diamond name-bracelet on the other. But all these he regards as tools of the trade '' ''I'm in a flash game. People like a bit of glamour, a bit of pizazz. They wouldn't like me to come on the bus.''
He is not an aesthete, not a gourmet, not a sensualist. His idea of relaxation is running in marathons and half-marathons, usually for charity. He eats whatever horrible snack or sandwich is most quickly available; he never drinks alcohol; he never wears anything other than tracksuits.
The only glimmers of self-indulgence are the fat Havana cigars he smokes regularly and the annual cruise he takes by way of holiday. Sir Jimmy Saville prepares for The Bupa Great North Run in 2006
But even on holiday, according to the Cunard PR Eric Flounders, who has often travelled with him, ''he gives all his time to other people. He is quite wonderful, actually. He never tells anyone not to bother him, and if he sees someone he thinks needs some particular attention, he goes out of his way to do it.'' Like his hero, the Prince of Wales, he tends to make a beeline for people in wheelchairs, though he himself insists he doesn't: ''I talk to everybody because I'm gregarious.''
He works incredibly hard but he says this is only because people ask him to: ''Left to meself, I would never move out of the chair. I'd smoke cigars, look out of the window, watch the Teletext, see if I can make a few quid, listen to some jazz on the radio. But the phone rings, and somebody says 'Can you? Will you?' and the mail comes '' I get 500 letters a week '' and being an obliging type of punter, I say 'Yes', if I can. So I finish up having a very hectic life, but that's at the diktat of other people '' I don't look for it. Left to meself, I'd just be wandering about.''
Incidentally, his business organisation consists of himself, his diary and the telephone. He has no agent, no manager, and never writes letters. Yet if he says he will open your fete on 14 July 1992, you can forget about it for two years and know that he'll be there on the day.
Savile said he had the backing of officers in West Yorkshire Police
It is a life of self-punishing austerity that seems like a long expiation for some lasting sense of guilt. His accountant, Harold Grumber, who has known him for 30 years, once said: ''The most important thing for Jimmy is peace of mind.''
It is a constant theme of his conversation '' his need to go to bed with a clean conscience, to feel that he has done his best. He says he is like a surgeon who can do five operations in a day and eight patients turn up: the trick is to do the five he can, and not allow himself to worry about the three that he can't. But he obviously does worry about them, hence his inability ever to refuse a request if he can possibly fit it in.
He is a prickly man, a self-righteous man who cares for humanity, but not much for individuals. He has ''thousands'' of acquaintances but no confidants. He is very keen on reason, very distrustful of emotion: he boasts often of his ''logic'' and his membership of Mensa. He has total recall '' ''I can remember everything''. His image '' the dyed hair, the tracksuits, the flash jewellery and above all the patter, which I would say is the most irritating thing about him '' is a deliberate smokescreen designed to make stupid people think he is stupid. Once he knows you well enough to drop the patter, he talks like the exceptionally hard-headed Yorkshire businessman he is '' albeit a businessman with a social conscience.
But his conversation is all facts, all specifics. He has no time for speculation, for introspection, and especially not for self-analysis, which he regards as ''soft''.
He became seriously annoyed when I kept asking about his childhood, and snapped: ''We had no time for psychological hang-ups. We were just survivors, all of us. None of that 'Oh, I was ignored as a child' '' what a load of cobblers! I don't know whether I was or I wasn't. All I know is that nothing particular wrong happened, and I had a good time.''
I ask whether he ever suffered from Bob Geldof's ''compassion fatigue'' and he says no, he wouldn't let himself, because that would be illogical.
But he admits that ''I'm constantly taking stock of what I'm doing so that I do it '' hopefully '' for the right reasons. I can't guarantee I'm doing it for the right reasons because nobody can guarantee that. But I do it by instinct and instinct tells me I've no reason to believe I'm doing it for the wrong reasons, therefore I just carry on and do it.
''And thank goodness, having no wives, no homes, no kids, no dogs, no plants to water, at least you've got blinkers on and you can attend to what comes in on the rag and bone [phone].''
Savile's litany of depraved crimes remained one of Britain's darkest secrets until his death
Why do so many people find him so insufferable? Partly, it is a class thing: he operates at a folksy level designed to please little old grannies in Scunthorpe, which goes down badly with the middle classes. Many showbiz stars can turn on the man-of-the-people stuff and then turn it off again when talking to journalists, but Savile never turns it off because it is entirely genuine.
It means, though, that he rarely talks to people as equals; he is either the licensed jester, as at Chequers or Buckingham Palace, or the patron, the glittering bestower of gifts. He spends a lot of time with people in extremis '' the recently bereaved at Leeds Infirmary, or more harrowing still, the patients and their families at Stoke Mandeville. (An awful lot of the patients at Stoke Mandeville are young people who have been disastrously injured in riding or sports accidents and now face the rest of their lives as paraplegics.)
Touring the Stoke Mandeville wards with him is a disconcerting experience: when he coos over a young woman paraplegic ''A-ha, now I can have my way with you, my dear!'' one can only pray that she appreciates the joke. I remember the most frightening thing anyone ever said to me was when I was being wheeled in for a back operation and the junior doctor remarked cheerily, ''We'll have you walking again in two weeks '' and if we don't we'll send Jimmy Savile to visit you.'' Much as I admire Sir James Savile, he is someone I never ever want to be visited by.
''You do seem to be almost saintly...'' I tell him. ''No, no, no, no, no,'' he exclaims, horrified. ''Why don't you, instead of saying 'saintly', say 'You do seem to be totally practical?'' But perhaps that is true of saints, too.
Lynn Barber: 'When this article was first published in The Independent on Sunday in 1990, many readers complained. How dared I ask Sir Jimmy Savile if he liked little girls? He was newly knighted'
'It had to be tackled'When this article was first published in The Independent on Sunday in 1990, many readers complained. How dared I ask Sir Jimmy Savile if he liked little girls? He was newly knighted. He was a friend of the Royal Family. He had raised millions for charity.
But when I was preparing for the interview, I was struck by how many people '' mainly journalists, but also friends, taxi drivers, ordinary members of the public '' said in almost identical words: ''You know he likes little girls?'' None of them could ever produce any evidence, or the names of girls he might have abused, but I felt the rumour was so widespread that it had to be tackled.
My first Fleet Street editor, Sir John Junor at the Sunday Express, had taught me that you could not be sued for libel if you framed something as a question and then made sure to print the interviewee's answer in full '' which is what I did with Jimmy Savile. Of course, I didn't know that he liked little girls '' all I knew was that it was a very widespread rumour that had not yet appeared in print. I thought perhaps it would stir up some responses from his victims, but it didn't as far as I know, nor any response from Savile himself. But I was quite proud of at least floating the idea.
When a short extract of the article was reprinted after Savile's death, I then got another wave of flak from readers, but this time saying that if I knew Savile was a paedophile, why hadn't I exposed him? Why was I so pusillanimous? But, of course, I didn't ''know'' that he was a paedophile, I only knew the rumours. And the laws of libel '' then as now '' would not allow me to say any more than that.
Lynn Barber's latest book of memoirs 'A Curious Career' (Bloomsbury, £16.99) is available now
Special Branch funded Paedophile Information Exchange, says Home Office whistleblower | UK | News | Daily Express
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:53
A number of allegations of child sex abuse emerged after MP Cyril Smith's death [REX]
The former civil servant has told detectives investigating the activities of paedophiles in national politics that the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch was orchestrating the child-sex lobbying group in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The whistleblower, who has spoken exclusively to the Sunday Express, says he was also warned off asking why such a notorious group was being handed government money.
It emerged late last year that PIE was twice gave amounts of £35,000 in Home Office funding between 1977 and 1980, the £70,000 total equivalent to over £400,000 in today's money.
Those details surfaced only after the whistleblower highlighted his concerns to campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson and his revelations have triggered an ongoing Home Office inquiry into why the cash was given to PIE which was abolished in 1985 after a number of prosecutions.
Until now, speculation about the grant has centred on Clifford Hindley, the late Home Office manager who approved the payments. However, the whistleblower told the Sunday Express he thought higher and more sinister powers were at play.
He has given a formal statement to that effect to detectives from Operation Fernbridge, which is looking into allegations of historic sex abuse at the Elm Guest House in south-west London.
At that time, questioning anything to do with Special Branch, especially within the Home Office, was a 'no-no'.
Mr X, whistleblower
PIE, now considered one of the most notorious groups of the era, had gained respectability in political circles. Its members are said to have included establishment figures, and disgraced Liberal MP Cyril Smith was a friend of founder member Peter Righton.
In 1981, Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens used Parliamentary privilege to name Sir Peter Hayman, the deputy director of MI6, as a member of PIE and an active paedophile. In 1983 Mr Dickens gave the Home Office a dossier of what he claimed was evidence of a paedophile network of ''big, big names, people in positions of power, influence and responsibility''. The Home Office says the dossier no longer exists.
Whistleblower Mr X, whose identity we have agreed to protect, became a very senior figure in local government before retiring a few years ago. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was a full-time consultant in the Home Office's Voluntary Services Unit run by Clifford Hindley.
In 1979 Mr X was asked to examine a funding renewal application for PIE, but he became concerned because the organisation's goal of seeking to abolish the age of consent ''conflicted'' with the child protection policies of the Department of Health and Social Security and asked for a meeting with Mr Hindley, his immediate boss.
Elm House in London where it is alleged child abuse incidents took place [MARK KEHOE]
Mr X recalled: ''I raised my concerns, but he told me that I was to drop them. Hindley gave three reasons for this. He said PIE was an organisation with cachet and that its work in this field was respected.
''He said this was a renewal of an existing grant and that under normal Home Office practice a consultant such as myself would not be involved in the decision-making process.
''And he said PIE was being funded at the request of Special Branch which found it politically useful to identify people who were paedophiles. This led me not to pursue my objections. At that time, questioning anything to do with Special Branch, especially within the Home Office, was a 'no-no'.
''I was under the clear belief that I was being instructed to back off and that his reference to Special Branch was expected to make me to do so.
''Hindley didn't give me an explicit explanation of what Special Branch would do with information it gleaned from funding PIE, but I formed the belief that it was part of an undercover operation or activity. I was aware a lot of people in the civil service or political arena had an interest in obtaining information like that which could be used as a sort of blackmail.''
He said he asked for a file the Home Office kept on PIE, but his request was refused. However, he was certain then Tory Home Office Minister Tim Raison, who died in 2011, must have signed the 1980 funding application.
Mr X has given a formal written statement to the inquiry set up last year into former Home Office links with PIE but has refused to meet the inquiry in person because he fears ''repercussions'' under the Official Secrets Act.
Yesterday Tom Watson said: ''The whole sorry business makes it absolutely imperative the Home Secretary bows to the will of the 114 MPs demanding a full, fearless public investigation into child sexual abuse.''
Special Branch was an integral part of the intelligence service gathering intelligence on spies and political threats to the state. In 2005 it merged with the anti-terrorism branch to form a Counter Terrorism Command.
David Cameron orders new inquiry into Westminster child abuse claims.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:30
David Cameron said anyone with information about alleged child abuse by MPs should go to the police. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
David Cameron has asked the Home Office's most senior civil servant to investigate what happened to a missing dossier of alleged paedophile activity involving politicians in the 1980s.
The request follows pressure from former ministers and campaigners to find the dossier, which was handed to the then home secretary, Leon Brittan, by the Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens.
Cameron said he understood the concerns that had been raised. "That's why I've asked the permanent secretary at the Home Office [Mark Sedwill] to do everything he can to find answers to all of these questions and to make sure we can reassure people about these events.
"So it's right that these investigations are made. We mustn't do anything, of course, that could prejudice or prevent proper action by the police. If anyone has information about criminal wrong-doing they should, of course, give it to the police," he said.
But Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who exposed the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith as a paedophile, said another internal inquiry was a case of trying to limit the damage, and would not win back the public's confidence.
The MP for Rochdale said: "[Cameron's] statement today represents little more than a damage limitation exercise. It doesn't go far enough. The public has lost confidence in these kind of official reviews, which usually result in a whitewash. The only way to get to the bottom of this is a thorough public inquiry."
Dickens, a longstanding campaigner against child abuse, passed the dossier of allegations to Brittan in 1983. Brittan has said he passed it on to his officials and raised concerns about some of the allegations with the director of public prosecutions.
Following claims last year by the Labour MP Tom Watson that a paedophile ring existed at Westminster, Sedwill commissioned a review into historical abuse claims against politicians. It found that the dossier had not been retained "in line with departmental policy" and concluded the Home Office "acted appropriately, referring information received during this period to the relevant authorities".
The Daily Telegraph has reported that the dossier included the name of a former Tory MP who was found with child pornography videos but no action was taken. It was claimed Customs officers stopped the politician at Dover while he was returning to the UK by car. He was found to have explicit videos of children "clearly under 12" but was not arrested or charged and the videos and paperwork have subsequently gone missing. The customs officer is said to have spoken to detectives on Operation Fernbridge, an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.
Watson, who has led calls for a comprehensive inquiry into historical child abuse, said he was writing to the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to ask her to examine the evidence relating to the unnamed politician.
The Metropolitan police said: "We are not prepared to give a running commentary on Operation Fernbridge, which is an ongoing operation."
It has emerged that four more cases of historical sex abuse have been referred to the police by Home Office officials in recent months following a review ordered last year covering the period from 1979-99.
A review of a database containing details of more than 746,000 files identified 13 items of information about alleged child abuse, including four cases involving Home Office staff. Nine of these items, including the four involving Home Office officials, were either already known to the police or were reported to them by the Home Office at the time. The remaining four have now been passed to the police for a "proper assessment", although the investigator who carried out the review said the information was likely to be of limited value.
A Home Office spokesman said: "In response to concerns raised in parliament and the media relating to the handling by the department of historical allegations of abuse, the permanent secretary commissioned an independent review of all relevant papers received by the department between 1979 to 1999 to identify any information received and the outcome.
"The review concluded the Home Office acted appropriately, referring information received during this period to the relevant authorities."
F-Russia / Ukraine / Syria
Shell in Donetsk
Shell plans to develop the Yuzov field in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. In June 2014 the company confirmed its intention to go on with the agreement as soon as the conflict gets de-escalated and the situation stabilizes. The information about the deal is classified. The Ukrainian government allegedly cannot refuse the extension of its term. The territory to be explored is 7886 square kilometers, including Slavyansk, situated right in the heart of deposit, Izium, a major part of Kramatorsk and a large number of smaller populated areas like, for instance, Krasny Liman, Seversk, Yasnogorsk, Kamyshevka etc.
Participants in the military industrial complex are routinely blamed for mismanagement, fraud, abuse, bribes, and waste. All of these unsavory actions, however, are typically viewed as aberrations, malfeasances to be covered-up, while retaining the basic system of state-private cooperation in the trade of military goods and services and the flow of bribes. These offenses are in reality expressions of a thoroughgoing, intrinsic rottenness in the entire setup.
In accordance with article 37.2 of the agreement, the local residents have to sell their land and property. In case of refusal they are to be coerced to do it and sent to gulags.
There are other actors involved in shale gas projects in Ukraine:
- Eurogas Ukraine, some of its shares are owned by British Macallan Oil & Gas (UK) Ltd, which belongs to US Euro Gas;
- Burisma Holdings, with Hunter Biden, the son of US Vice President being a member of board of directors.
Jihadist leader in Syria addresses militants with Hello Kitty notebook - MIDEAST
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 01:57
Footage showing a jihadist rebel leader fighting in Syria giving a fiery speech to militants while holding a pink notebook has gone viral on social media.In the video, which was posted on YouTube on July 2, Zahran Alloush, the head of Jaysh al-Islam, is seen speaking against the Islamic State (IS), formally the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Jaysh al-Islam and the IS are fighting with each other for the control of Ghouta, near Damascus.
The pink cover of the notebook featuring Hello Kitty, the fictional character who was appointed as Japan's cultural ambassador in 2008, starkly resembles the jihadists' khaki combat uniforms.
''You gather your men, take a notebook from your bag and everything ends at that moment,'' Turkish Twitter user @muhsin_ayhan joked on July 4.
US Senator McCain meets Syrian rebels in Turkey, calls for greater support against ISIL
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:14
Sevil ErkuşANKARA
US Senator John McCain shakes with members of the Syrian opposition during a meeting in the southern province of Gaziantep on July 1.
U.S. Senator John McCain met with members of the Syrian opposition in Gaziantep on July 1 amid a warning from fragmented rebels that they will lay down their arms in a week if they do not receive aid in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).Following his meeting with representatives from the Syrian National Council (SNC), the rebel interim government, civil society activists, and commanders from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the senator called for a strategy to provide greater support to Syrian opposition as parts of efforts to defeat ISIL.
McCain said he had been given firsthand accounts of the ''deteriorating security and humanitarian situation on the ground inside Syria, and how the recent offensive by ISIL in Iraq is shifting dynamics on the battlefield in favor of extremists in both countries.''
He added that the Syrian opposition was fighting a two-front war against the Bashar al-Assad regime on the one side and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist organizations like ISIL on the other.
''We need a strategy that can force al-Assad to leave power and defeat ISIL in both Syria and Iraq, and that strategy should start with greater support to these Syrian opposition forces, especially vital military training and assistance, such as anti-armor and anti-air capabilities and support for creating a safe zone in Syria,'' the senator said. ISIL renamed itself simply as the Islamic State (IS) after its leader declared a new Islamic state in lands seized last month across a swathe of Iraq and Syria.
Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba and the leader of the Free Syrian Army, Brig. Gen. Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir, held talks in Washington in May urging members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to authorize the supply of arms, particularly for anti-aircraft weapons. However, the Obama administration is worried that such weapons could fall into the hands of extremist opposition groups such as ISIL and the al-Nusra Front.
And yesterday, rebels from northern and eastern Syria threatened to lay down their arms in a week if the country's exiled opposition does not help them fight ISIL. ''We, the leaders of the brigades and battalions... give the National Coalition, the [opposition] interim government, the [rebel] Supreme Military Council and all the leading bodies of the Syrian revolution a week to send reinforcements and complete aid,'' the statement said. ''Should our call not be heard, we will lay down our weapons and pull out our fighters,'' it added.
''Our popular revolution [against al-Assad] ... is today under threat because of [ISIL], especially after it announced a caliphate,'' said the statement. The factions that signed the statement are local rebel groups based in Raqa, Deir ez-Zor and parts of Aleppo province where fighting against ISIL has been most intense, and which are now under ISIL control.
The statement comes days after U.S. President Barack Obama called on Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition.
Russia passes law to force websites onto Russian servers
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:36
By Alexei Anishchuk
MOSCOWFri Jul 4, 2014 2:38pm EDT
TweetShare thisEmailPrintRussian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the Presidential Council on Inter-Ethnic Relations in the Kremlin July 3, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Alexei Nikolskiy/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's parliament passed a law on Friday to force Internet sites that store the personal data of Russian citizens to do so inside the country, a move the Kremlin says is for data protection but which critics see an attack on social networks.
The law will mean that from 2016, all Internet companies will have to move Russian data onto servers based in Russia or face being blocked from the web. That would likely affect U.S.-based social networks such as Facebook, analysts say.
Coming after new rules requiring blogs attracting more than 3,000 daily visits to register with a communications watchdog and a regulation allowing websites to be shut without a court order, critics say the law is part of a wave of censorship.
"The aim of this law is to create ... (another) quasi-legal pretext to close Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all other services," Internet expert and blogger Anton Nossik told Reuters.
"The ultimate goal is to shut mouths, enforce censorship in the country and shape a situation where Internet business would not be able to exist and function properly."
Putin, an ex-KGB officer who has called the Internet a "CIA project", denied he was restricting web freedoms, saying his main concern was protecting children from indecent content.
Speaking to a business forum in May, he denied there were plans to ban Facebook and Twitter.
The Kremlin adopted a law earlier this year giving authorities power to block websites deemed either extremist or a threat to public order without a court ruling.
Among the websites blocked were those of Kremlin critics Alexei Navalny and Garry Kasparov because they "contained calls for illegal activity".
Last month a senior Twitter executive met the head of Russia's communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, after it was asked to block a dozen unspecified accounts. A Twitter spokesman later said it had not agreed to block any accounts in Russia.
Putin has adopted an increasingly conservative stance since he faced massive protests against his return to the Kremlin in 2012. Protesters used social networks to share critical views of the authorities and coordinate their moves.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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The U.S. Elite Run a Ukrainian Genocide While American Public Are Ignorant of It >> WTF RLY REPORT
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:52
By Eric Zuesse,Washington's Blog
On Wednesday, July 2nd, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko resumed unlimited war against the residents of southeastern Ukraine, whom he calls ''terrorists'' for their wanting not to be killed by his troops. European leaders (especially Merkel of Germany, Hollande of France, and Putin of Russia) urged him not to resume his bombing campaign against the southeast, but the U.S. (specifically President Obama) supports the bombings, and that's enough for Poroshenko; so, he did it. As the U.S. State Department said, ''he has a right to defend his country.'' Reuters reports that Poroshenko gave as his reason for the resumption, ''to rid Ukraine of 'parasites'.'' Adolf Hitler had given the same reason for ethnically cleansing his country.
Here are videos and photos of the Obama Administration's sponsored ethnic cleansing to reduce the population in the areas of Ukraine that had voted overwhelmingly ''the wrong way'' in Ukraine's final nationwide election, in 2010: the areas of Ukraine that overwhelmingly chose as Ukraine's President the man whom Obama's coup overthrew in February 2014. After this ethnic cleansing, maybe Ukraine can have another nationwide election, which will produce the type of outcome that the U.S. Government likes. But on 25 May 2014, we held in Ukraine an election where people voted only in the pro-American portion of Ukraine, and only leaders who were acceptable to the U.S. White House were allowed onto the ballot.
America's ''news'' media are not reporting on America's ethnic-cleansing program in Ukraine. It's happening in the dark, as far as the American public are concerned: they don't know about it. But, here it is: this, is what they are hiding from you.
Washington's people do not call this ethnic cleansing operation what it is; they instead call it Ukraine's ''Anti Terrorist Operation,'' or ''ATO'' for short. The people we're massacring are ''Terrorists.'' What they actually are is simply the residents in the parts of Ukraine that had voted overwhelmingly for Viktor Yanukovych on 7 February 2010 to become President, the final nationwide election in Ukraine. And here these millions of ''Terrorists'' are now, being bombed by us, and fleeing to refuge in Russia (you can see it, and hear it happening, right there: those ''Terrorists,'' fleeing our bombs) '-- it's part of our ethnic-cleansing operation, not of any Anti Terrorist Operation, at all. Because it is we, the United States itself, that are terrorizing them, to flee. And ''we'' '-- our Government, as if they really represented us (which they obviously do not) '-- are therefore mass-murdering them. This is what the U.S. ''news'' media have been hiding from us, by stenographically reporting Obama's lies, as if those lies represented truths instead of lies '-- just like Bush's lies about ''Saddam's WMD'' did, and the U.S. media did, before we invaded Iraq on 19 March 2003.
And the Government that Obama put in place in Kiev, which is a government by Ukrainian oligarchs whom Obama's agent Victoria Nuland selected and placed in control, is now advertising on the television stations that those oligarchs own, advertising that the people who live in Ukraine's southeast are destroying the country and must therefore be destroyed by patriotic Ukrainians. The government's Defense Minister announces publicly that concentration camps are being established in order to deal with any who don't flee. The message to those ''Terrorists'' is clear: flee, or else die. The government has even announced that the military volunteers who go to the southeast to do the killing are patriots, whose reward will be that they will receive the properties of everyone they kill.
A google-search of ''Ukraine'' at a typical U.S. news site yields little '-- and nothing at all about this slaughter that our Government is financing and put into place there. For example, at Huffington Post, the search produces articles about supposed ''aggression'' by Russia for its accepting Crimea back into the Russian Federation after all public opinion polls and a public referendum in that region, which had been Russian until 1954, showed massive public support there for rejoining Russia. (And a recent Gallup poll of Crimeans confirmed that they craved to rejoin Russia and are now delighted that they did.) HuffPo has only news-wire reports about Ukraine, mainly AP and Reuters, and typical headlines there are like ''Russia Resumes Military Buildup Near Ukraine Border,'' and ''Ukraine Vows To Punish Rebels Who Downed Plane.'' There's nothing about the genocide. For example, there's no mention that this ''plane'' had been carrying 49 troops to murder civilians in the southeast where a genocide is taking place to clear the land and terrify the residents to flee into Russia. It's a classic ethnic-cleansing campaign, and Obama put it into place. Americans don't know.
One article is a March 3rd poll, which showed ''Few Americans want the United States getting involved in policing the political turmoil in Ukraine.'' The presumption there was that ''we'' shouldn't fix ''their'' problems.'' Who knew that ''we,'' our own President, is the mastermind behind that ''turmoil,'' and of this actual ethnic cleansing campaign?
Similarly, has many such poll-results, all showing a widespread public assumption that Russia initiated the ''turmoil'' and that the U.S. are just nice guys regarding Ukraine.
To see what a lie that impression is '-- a deception of the U.S. public by not only the ''news'' media but by the U.S. Government that's behind this ''turmoil'' '-- click here and here and here and here and here, because you will then learn a great deal about this made-in-America horror story, which will only grow as the years roll by, just as is already happening in Iraq.
Remember Iraq? This one will be vastly worse. You'll see. Just click on those links. You'll see.
Because, if the American public doesn't start investigating this now, then the results for all of us will be far worse, especially because this one could end in a nuclear war. And here is a video exposing the lies of the Obama Administration and its stooge-regime in Kiev about the May 3rd massacre in Odessa that sparked Ukraine's civil war '-- our ethnic cleansing of the people who live in Ukraine's southeast.
Barack Obama's Ukrainian gambit is the most evil and worst part of his entire Presidency, and you will be shocked to learn about it, and how evil it is. Because the American press hasn't told you about it. But it's not too late for you to find out. (If you already know about it, please pass this article along to any of your friends who might not, and otherwise get the word out, by distributing this article far and wide, so that maybe this horror can be stopped if enough people learn of it.)
Washington's Blog
America Cleanses Southeastern Ukraine of Ethnic Russians | Global Research
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:54
The Western news media have not been showing the footage of this action by the U.S. Administration, but U.S. news media also covered up the Administration's constant lies about ''Saddam's WMD'' (which the U.N. had quietly verified were completely destroyed in 1998), and so Americans supported invading Iraq on the basis of outright lies, and we did so: the U.S. is no longer an authentic democracy, which requires an honest press. America is now doing something that might be even more shocking than that '-- outright modeled upon the Hitler-movement. The present news report is being distributed to all U.S. news media, so that we'll all get to see which U.S. media suppress this information, and which ones break the U.S. silence about it '-- the first-ever blatant ethnic-cleansing program carried out in any foreign country by U.S. Government agents or under U.S. control.
Here are photos of what we (our nation's appointed agents in Ukraine) have been doing since 18 February 2014, and which is being backed up by U.S. tax-dollars under the fake rubric of ''national security.'' These still-photos are all taken from live videos many of which the present reporter has previously provided the links to, and all of which have been checked thoroughly and verified to be authentic by this reporter, and none of these photos has been found to be doctored. The only organization that checks for doctored ''evidence'' regarding the situation in Ukraine is, a website that was recently established by an independent group of journalism students in order to defeat propaganda that is being created and spread by both sides (almost entirely by ''our'' side) in the Ukrainian civil war; these students are doing this so that honest news reporting can be separated out from that which is based upon, and spreading to the public, lies.
They are performing a terrific service in this matter, and all honest journalists owe them a debt of gratitude. So: here are these still shots, of what we, through our national government, have been doing, while the U.S. ''news'' media have been focused on other matters, and have speculated wildly in order to suggest a very different reality in Ukraine than these pictures show. Please note that all bombs that are being dropped in Ukraine come from government planes and helicopters; the residents in southeastern Ukraine have no control over the Ukrainian military; this is quite simply a war upon the people who live there, and their attempt to form their own local governments there does not empower them with any such military '-- they simply don't have that: (The above is a composite from videos that were taken at recent bomb-sites.)
(NOTE: This particular image appeared in, and is courtesy of, Britain's Independent.)
and see:
Here's how the Western ''news'' media covered that bombing:
And here is how Russian TV, which is the only TV network that is covering this in the English language, is reporting the events as of June 20th:
When one looks at that Russian TV report, and listens to the victims and sees the bombed houses, the only way to not believe it would be to be assuming lots of things that are not so, because that was about the prior 24-hour's events, and even if the doctoring of a still photo can be done fast (within 24 hours), and even if the creation of a fictional video can be very persuasive if done slow (as a major studio production with hired actors, etc.), this doesn't look like that at all, and appeared immediately after the event. Moreover, the present reporter has researched extensively the history and events leading up to today's reality in Ukraine, and the TV news report that is presented there on Russian TV fits 100% with that solidly documented background and history.
So, some of those prior news reports will be listed and linked-to here, to provide that background and history, so that a reader can understand not only why Russian Television is covering the American-run ethnic cleansing operation in southeastern Ukraine, but also why the U.S. aristocracy's ''news'' media (and those of allied aristocracies) do not.
To subscribe to, or otherwise pay for, ''news'' in the United States, is to purchase propaganda; it's to pay for the ''privilege'' of being deceived by the national (and/or local) aristocracy. True news can be found free online, and the reader can check its sources instantly by just clicking on its links.
TV, magazines and newspapers are so pass(C). If one wants lies, one doesn't have to pay to be deceived; one can just go to that operation's website. And if one wants truth, one can get it just by checking out the links. Any news story that doesn't have links isn't worth reading, because lies are then being intentionally made difficult to detect.
The only way to avoid being deceived is to spot-check an article's sources.
In the new economy, either the reader is in control, or the reader is a fool. No authentic democracy can be a nation of fools. The U.S. is no longer a democracy; the aristocracy has simply taken over. If the people don't fight back by boycotting liars, they are willing fools and don't care about their own country.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
Follow the Pipes
French LNG pipeline to offer Germany alternative to Russian gas
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:21
PARIS A pipeline under construction in the beetroot fields of northern France is set to link a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port of Dunkirk with Germany by 2016, offering Europe's biggest energy market an alternative to Russian gas.Germany is currently the world's biggest importer of Russian gas but the European Union in the wake of the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine has reiterated its call for EU member states to reduce their reliance on Russian energy.
The 300-kilometre-long Arc De Dierrey pipeline being built by grid operator GRTgaz will mainly carry gas from state utility EDF's new LNG terminal and improve transit to southern part of France.
But its potential as an alternative link for Germany and Switzerland have gained importance since the Ukraine crisis reignited concerns about the transit of Russian gas to Europe.
''Arc De Dierrey is the first step of a grand plan to unify the two French gas hubs,'' Olivier Aubert, head of supply at GRTgaz, said in an interview.
''But it will contribute to another service in the future, making France an entry point for gas in Europe. And the most important market, that we all have in mind, is Germany.''
Germany, which relies for 36 per cent of its gas imports on Russia, does not have direct access to an LNG terminal on its coast, although two other terminals, in Belgium and the Netherlands, can supply it with LNG. Liquefied Natural Gas, which is cooled to a liquid for transit by ship, can deliver gas from a diverse list of producers around the world.
In Europe it still struggles to compete with cheap, piped gas from countries such as Russia, but French LNG operators are among those betting that will change.
Faced with the prospect of declining North Sea production, GRTgaz' majority shareholder GDF Suez and EDF are upgrading France's three LNG terminals to increase the country's import capacity.
LNG prices have been swollen by rising Asian demand since 2011's Fukushima disaster in Japan but new projects are coming on stream in Australia and the United States in anticipation that global gas demand will continue to grow. ''It's totally possible that LNG becomes more competitive and on that day, the question will come up about exporting to central Europe,'' Aubert said.
''Germany is a first step,'' he said, but other countries further east could also be interested.
''That's the key point today for these countries which have access to Russian gas only through routes crossing Ukraine,'' he said.
The 635 million euro ($866 million) pipeline, whose construction started in March in the plains north of Paris, has received a 77-million-euro subsidy from the EU for its role in diversifying European energy procurement.
Turkmenistan's gas will flow to Europe via Turkey | SES T¼rkiye
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:06
Turkey and Turkmenistan pledge co-operation on the delivery of Turkmen gas to Europe through Turkey in an attempt to break Russian hegemony.
In an effort to reduce dependency on Russian natural gas and position itself as a key player amid rising European energy demands, Turkey recently agreed to increase its energy co-operation with Turkmenistan.
After a meeting last month in Ankara between President Abdullah Gul and his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Gul told reporters that Turkey is determined to deliver Turkmen gas to European markets.
While details of the agreement are unclear, the addition of Turkmen gas flowing through the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) is expected to benefit Turkey, which currently obtains about 60 percent of its natural gas from Russia. The TANAP pipeline is under construction and is scheduled to be operational by 2018.
Turkmenistan is the world's fourth-largest natural gas producing country, with 32 trillion cubic metres of natural gas reserves, which is equal to 12 percent of the world's natural gas. Hasan Ozertem, an analyst with the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), told SES T¼rkiye that Turkey has been eager to access Turkmen gas for a long time.
"The starting volume of Azerbaijani gas that will be flowing through TANAP will be 16 billion cubic metres annually in 2018. In 2026 the gas capacity is expected to hit 31 billion cubic metres. Now with the latest co-operation Turkey plans to fill the gap with the Turkmen gas," he said.
Turkmenistan, which has the capacity to produce 80 billion cubic metres annually, is considered one of the most important countries that could loosen Russia's grip in the energy field while reducing European dependence on Russia in supplying their energy demands.
Taner Yildiz, Turkey's natural gas and energy minister, commenting on co-operation with Turkmenistan on May 29th, said Ankara will play an important role in carrying Caspian Sea energy resources to Europe through TANAP, including the potential addition of Turkmen gas.
"Turkey has an obligation to use its geographical advantages the right way," Yildiz said. "The countries located on the east side of Turkey possess 65 percent of the world's entire energy resources while the Western consumers constitute 65 percent of the world's total consumption."
Turkey has the obligation to spread these resources to the entire region, he added.
Yildiz also said that the latest developments in Ukraine became a threat to the concept of unifying energy resources in the region.
"We have been improving our efforts on that issue," he said.
Energy experts agreed that the main obstacle that could prevent the flow of Turkmen gas through Turkey to Europe is the unpredictable attitudes of Russia and Iran.
Russia, in order to not protect its hegemony in supplying energy to Europe, is expected to seek to restrain Turkmenistan's co-operation with Turkey by exploiting the undetermined status of the Caspian Sea, experts said.
"In order to deliver the Turkmen gas to Europe through TANAP, an underwater pipeline should be built below the Caspian sea," Ozertem said. "I have doubts that Russia will allow the construction of such a pipeline."
Experts agreed that after the Russian annexation of Crimea, the conditions and equilibrium in the region has changed significantly in Turkey's favour.
"Turkey will remain at the centre of the interests of European countries and will also be a potential partner of Russia as well," Sinan Ogan, the head of Turkish Centre for International Relations and Strategic Analysis (TURKSAM), told SES T¼rkiye, adding that if Russia's South Stream pipeline is not permitted to transmit gas through Bulgaria, it would inevitably pass through Turkey.
South Stream's plans include transporting Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then to Western Europe. The EU contends that the project violates EU laws on competitors' access to the pipeline and has challenged agreements between Russia and six members of the bloc that would host onshore sections of the project: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Slovenia.
Recently, Bulgaria Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski ordered the suspension of the South Stream pipeline project on the recommendation of the EU.
Hanife Cetin, an expert on energy studies with TURKSAM, pointed out that Western countries have been pushing hard to break the dominance of Russian natural gas and have been trying to sanction Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine.
"We have been witnessing that Russia, in the pursuit of new markets and new vendors, headed toward the East. Moscow approached China and declared that it doesn't lean on Western countries," she told SES T¼rkiye.
"Russia was trying to accomplish the South Stream project with the European Union countries in Eastern Europe. However the European Union's rejections have prevented the project from taking effect. In return, Russia has adopted a prepaid system for the natural gas it has been exporting to Ukraine, as a warning to both Ukraine and the European Union," Cetin said.
All of these political and strategic developments increased Turkey's importance, she said, adding that Iran will also use Turkey as a conduit to transfer its energy resources to Europe when sanctions against Iran are lifted.
In addition to the transfer of Iranian, Iraqi and Israeli gas, in the long run, the traffic will include delivery of gas from Cyprus, she added.
"Therefore, although Turkey couldn't yet reach full capacity, in the near future its volume will grow significantly," Cetin said.
Ogan said there is a great opportunity for pipelines through Turkey to be part of the solution to Europe's growing energy demands.
"Turkey undertakes an important mission in enriching the projects like TANAP," Ogan said.
How will co-operation with Turkmenistan in the energy sector be beneficial? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:07
Trans-Anatolian gas pipelineLocationCountryTurkeyGeneral informationTypeNatural gasOwnerTANAP project companyPartnersSOCARBOTAŞTPAOOperatorSOCARConstruction started2014Expected2018Technical informationLength2,000 km (1,200 mi)Maximum discharge16—10^9 m3 (570—10^9 cu ft) per yearThe Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) is a proposed natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Europe. If constructed, it would transport gas from the second stage of the Shah Deniz gas field.
History[edit]The project was announced on 17 November 2011 at the Third Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in Istanbul.[1] On 26 December 2011, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a consortium to build and operate the pipeline.[2][3][4]
In spring 2012, the process of conducting the technical-economic feasibility study was launched.[5] On 26 June 2012, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a binding intergovernmental agreement on the pipeline.[6][7]
Description[edit]The pipeline is expected to cost US$7 billion. The construction is planned to start in 2014 and to be completed by 2018.[7]
The planned capacity of the pipeline would be 16 billion cubic metres (570 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per year at initial stage and would be increased later up to 23 billion cubic metres (810 billion cubic feet) by 2023, 31 billion cubic metres (1.1 trillion cubic feet) by 2026, and at the final stage 60 billion cubic metres (2.1 trillion cubic feet) to be able to transport additional gas supplies from Azerbaijan and, if the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, from Turkmenistan.[7][8][9] Its capacity would be increased by adding parallel loops and compressor stations according to the increase of available supplies.[9] It is not decided yet if the pipeline will use 48-or-56-inch (1,200 or 1,400 mm) pipes.[10]
The pipeline will run from Georgian''Turkish border to Turkish European border.[3] The exact route of the pipeline is not clear. However, it was announced that one branch from Turkey would go to Greece and the other to Bulgaria.[11] It would be connected with Trans Adriatic Pipeline.[10][12]
Project company[edit]SOCAR (80%), BOTAŞ (15%), and TPAO (5%) are the founding members of the consortium.[2][3][4] SOCAR has the right to sell a part of its shares to minority partners.[5]BP has agreed to acquire 12% stake in this project.[10] The TANAP project company will be headquartered in the Netherlands.[7]
See also[edit]References[edit]^Demirmen, Ferruh (2011-12-19). "BP-SOCAR duo deliver 'coup de grace' to Nabucco". Retrieved 2011-12-25. ^ ab"Turkey, Azerbaijan sign pipeline deal". Las Vegas Sun. The Associated Press. 2011-12-27. Retrieved 2011-12-27. ^ abc"SOCAR "pegged" 80% for itself in Trans''Anatolian gas pipeline". 2011-12-127. Retrieved 2011-12-27. ^ abPeker, Emre (2011-12-25). "Turkey, Azeris to Form Gas Link Venture Next Year, Anatolia Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-12-25. ^ abSocor, Vladimir (2012-04-04). "Interest Growing All-Round in Trans-Anatolia Pipeline Project". Eurasia Daily Monitor9 (70) (Jamestown Foundation). Retrieved 2012-05-24. ^"Turkey, Azerbaijan sign gas pipeline deal". Bloomberg Businessweek. Associated Press. 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-06-28. ^ abcdSocor, Vladimir (2012-06-27). "Aliyev, Erdogan Sign Inter-Governmental Agreement on Trans-Anatolia Gas Pipeline to Europe". Eurasia Daily Monitor9 (122) (Jamestown Foundation). Retrieved 2012-06-29. ^Blank, Stephen (2012-05-04). "Russia Again Seeks to Quash the Trans-Caspian Pipeline". Eurasia Daily Monitor9 (85) (Jamestown Foundation). Retrieved 2012-05-24. ^ abSocor, Vladimir (2012-09-11). "Azerbaijan Drives the Planning on Trans-Anatolia Gas Pipeline Project". Eurasia Daily Monitor9 (164) (Jamestown Foundation). Retrieved 2012-09-12. ^ abcSocor, Vladimir (15 January 2014). "SCP, TANAP, TAP: Segments of the Southern Gas Corridor to Europe". Eurasia Daily Monitor11 (8) (Heritage Foundation). Retrieved 18 January 2014. ^Agayev, Zulfugar (2011-12-23). "Pipeline to Ship Azeri Gas to Central Europe, Balkans, WSJ Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-12-25. ^"One sure winner emerges in southern gas corridor race". Euractiv. 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
Turkey seizes and destroys 52-kilometer smuggled fuel pipe at Syrian border
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:10
Cengizhan ‡atalANKARA
Turkish authorities discovered 11 pipelines measuring 15,400-meters in 12 different areas in the Narlıca district.
A 52-kilometer-long pipe used to smuggle fuel between the Turkish and Syrian border in the Narlıca district of the southern province of Hatay has been seized by the Turkish authorities, the Chief of Staff announced in a statement.The authorities discovered 11 pipelines measuring 15,400-meters in 12 different areas in the Narlıca district, along with 50 60-liter plastic jerry cans, 3,000-liters worth of fuel and two rafts that were used to smuggle contraband to Turkey, the statement released on July 3 read.
The news marked the third instance of a smuggling pipeline being discovered by the authorities, as border troops had already discovered 5,000- and 32,000-meter-long pipelines on July 1 and 2, respectively.
All pipes and rafts discovered in the area have been destroyed after being inspected by the chief prosecutor's office in the region, the Chief of Staff stated.
The region suffers from a high rate of contraband being smuggled from Syria to Turkey, the authorities added.
Due to the numerous attacks sustained from the Syrian side, the border posts have been reinforced with additional employees and armored vehicles.
Hungary Says Will Not Suspend South Stream Pipeline
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:14
Natural Gas & LNG- Jul 1, 2014Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday his country would not give up on Russia's controversial South Stream gas pipeline project as it was key to securing the country's energy supplies.
The crisis in Ukraine has made the planned pipeline bringing Siberian gas to the European Union -- bypassing Ukraine -- a new focus of tensions between Moscow, Brussels and Washington.
"We will not allow ourselves to get into a situation that our gas supplies depend on Ukraine," Orban told reporters after talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.
"Hungary will build up South Stream as it will secure our energy supplies," he said.
Orban said that while his country supported Ukraine, Hungary was "responsible for our citizens and energy supplies".
The premier added: "Those who say we should not build South Stream must offer an alternative as we can not live without energy."
The South Stream pipeline is a major project to reduce Moscow's reliance on Ukraine as a transit country following disputes with Kiev in 2006 and 2009 that led to interruptions of gas shipments to Europe.
The European Union has called on all 28 member states to stand united in resisting pressure from the Kremlin over the project, saying the pipeline breaches the bloc's competition rules.
But the EU appears deeply divided on the project with several member states, who depend on Russian gas transported via Ukraine, supporting it.
EU member Bulgaria earlier this month suspended work on building its section of the multi-billion-euro project following pressure from the EU and the United States.
Serbia, an EU candidate with strong relations with Russia, has remained committed to the South Stream pipeline and began working on the project in November.
With a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres per year, the main pipeline will stretch nearly 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) from Russia under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia and ending in Italy.
Source : AFP
Published on Global Energy World: Jul 1, 2014
World Bank approves $400mln for Turkey's gas storage
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:10
ANKARA '' Anadolu Agency
After an eight-year grace period, the loan will finance the running of a gas storage facility at Tuz G¶l¼ (Salt Lake) '' one of the largest hyper-saline lakes in the world, and the second largest lake in Turkey. AA Photo
The World Bank has announced $400 million of additional financing for the first gas storage facility in Turkey's underground salt formation.The $400 million will be given to Turkey and will be paid back over 16 years. After an eight-year grace period, the loan will finance the running of a gas storage facility at Tuz G¶l¼ (Salt Lake) '' one of the largest hyper-saline lakes in the world, and the second largest lake in Turkey.
Turkey is second in the world after China in terms of its rising energy demand and consequently the country aims to upscale renewable energy by 30 percent by 2023.
The World Bank´s funding aims to help Turkey meet its increasing power demand by implementing critically needed gas storage and network infrastructure facilitating large-scale renewable energy generation.
Turkey´s Tuz G¶l¼ underground gas storage facility is located in an underground salt formation close to the salt lake in south-central Turkey and upon completion, will have a storage capacity of about 960 million cubic meters of working gas and 460 million cubic meters of cushion gas (the portion of gas which is required to remain in the cavern to maintain its integrity).
The facility will have the capacity to deliver 40 million cubic meters of gas per day for up to 20 days, and can be refilled at the rate of 30 million cubic meters per day over a period of 25 days.
Currently, Turkey generates 43 percent of its energy needs from natural gas, a quarter from both coal and hydro-electricity and 7 percent from renewables.
TAPI pipeline: Officials to finalise contract award in Ashgabat next week
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:22
US lobbyi­ng to win lucrat­ive contra­ct for its energy giants.
US lobbying to win lucrative contract for its energy giants. CREATIVE COMMONS
ISLAMABAD: Officials of Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are set to meet in Ashgabat next week to push ahead with a planned transnational gas pipeline connecting the four countries and reach a settlement on the award of the multi-billion-dollar project to US companies.
''The US is pushing the four countries to grant the lucrative pipeline contract to its energy giants. Two US firms '' Chevron and ExxonMobil '' are in the race to become consortium leaders, win the project and finance the laying of the pipeline,'' a senior government official said while talking to The Express Tribune.
Washington has been lobbying for the gas supply project, called Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Tapi) pipeline, terming it an ideal scheme to tackle energy shortages in Pakistan. On the other side, it pressed Islamabad to shelve the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline because of a nuclear standoff with Tehran.
In 1997, US-based Unicol, which was the consortium leader to finance the Tapi pipeline, pulled out following directives of the US State Department, which feared that the royalty generated from the scheme would land in Taliban's hands.
Unicol withdrew after Pakistan signed a gas framework agreement to secure cheaper supplies, leaving the country in the lurch.
According to officials, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will lead a delegation at the meeting of the TAPI pipeline steering committee on July 8 in Ashgabat.
Before this meeting, a technical group will hold talks on July 6 and 7 to settle technical issues pertaining to bid documents. At present, bid documents are being prepared in consultation with the Asian Development Bank, which is playing the role of transaction adviser. The documents will be given to the two companies only for taking part in the tender.
Chevron is lobbying in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to clinch a deal, backed by the US State Department. However, other companies could also become part of the consortium that will be led either by Chevron or ExxonMobil.
A technically capable and financially sound company will be selected as the consortium leader, which will design, finance, construct, own and operate the gas pipeline that will start from Turkmenistan.
Officials pointed out that Chevron and ExxonMobil had not yet resolved the issue of gas extraction contracts for fields in Turkmenistan. They want the contracts against financing for building the pipeline, but Turkmenistan does not give onshore exploration rights to foreign companies and is offering offshore drilling concessions to the US firms.
To facilitate the two companies, Turkmenistan, however, offers to swap the gas extracted from offshore fields with that of onshore fields for export to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India under the TAPI project.
China wants to join TAPI
Officials revealed that China had also expressed interest in becoming part of the TAPI pipeline project. ''Once the gas extraction contract issue is resolved, we will hold negotiations with Beijing,'' an official said.
''The extension of the pipeline to China through Gwadar will give a boost to economic activities in Balochistan. Bangladesh has also expressed interest and if it formally joins, the pipeline will connect a wider region,'' the official added.
Cheaper source
Pipelines are a cheaper source of gas compared to liquefied natural gas (LNG), which costs in the range of $16 to $18 per million British thermal units (mmbtu). Pakistan faces an acute shortage of gas, particularly in winter, as domestic resources fall way short of meeting its needs and it is weighing all options to secure energy supplies.
Under the TAPI project, Pakistan will receive 1.365 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistan, India will also receive the same 1.365 bcfd and Afghanistan will get 0.5 bcfd.
Turkmenistan will export natural gas through a 1,800km pipeline that will reach India after passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2014.
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Iraq says footage purporting to show Islamic State leader is false | Reuters
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:46
BAGHDADSat Jul 5, 2014 12:35pm EDT
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government said on Saturday that a video posted online purporting to show the reclusive leader of the militant group Islamic State praying in the northern city of Mosul was falsified.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters that the footage posted on the Internet on Saturday allegedly showing Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi at Mosul's grand mosque was "indisputably" not him.
"We have analyzed the footage ... and found it is a farce," he said.
Maan said government forces had recently wounded Baghdadi in an air strike and that he had been transferred by Islamic State militants to Syria for medical treatment. He declined to give further details and there was no way to confirm the claim independently.
The 21-minute video came after reports on social media that Baghdadi would make his first public appearance since his Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) changed its name to the Islamic State and declared him caliph - a title held by successors of the Prophet Mohammad.
Mosul, northern Iraq's biggest city, was overrun on June 10 early in an offensive that saw vast parts of Iraq's majority Sunni regions fall to the Islamic State and allied groups.
The Iraqi government has in the past made claims to have captured wanted Sunni militants only to announce later that the men were still at large.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Makes First Ever Public Appearance, Orders All Muslims To ''Obey'' Him'...
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:23
King of the Cavemen. More on this story.
Baghdad (AFP) '' The leader of the Islamic State jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, purportedly ordered all Muslims to obey him in a video released Saturday on social media.
The hitherto elusive Baghdadi, who on June 29 proclaimed a ''caliphate'' straddling Syria and Iraq, made his appeal in a sermon delivered on Friday in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
''I am the wali (leader) who presides over you, though I am not the best of you, so if you see that I am right, assist me,'' he said, wearing a black turban and robe.
''If you see that I am wrong, advise me and put me on the right track, and obey me as long as I obey God in you.''
AFP was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of the video purportedly showing Baghdadi, of whom there were previously only two known photographs.
The video is the first ever official appearance by Baghdadi, according to Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on Islamist movements, though the jihadist leader may have appeared in a 2008 video under a different name.
''God gave your mujahedeen brothers victory after long years of jihad and patience'... so they declared the caliphate and placed the caliph in charge,'' he said.
ISIS Issues Passport For ''Caliphate'' | Weasel Zippers
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:23
Passport to Bizarroland'...
Via Al Arabiya:
Militant members and sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have circulated pictures of what they said was the passport of the so-called ''caliphate'' declared last week by the militant group.
The ''State of the Islamic Caliphate'' appears to be inscribed at the top of the purported passport. At the bottom, it says: ''The holder of the passport if harmed we will deploy armies for his service.''
ISIS reportedly said the new document will be distributed to 11,000 citizens living in cities bordering Iraq and Syria.
Keep reading'...
Islamic State's 'caliph' lauds Iraq rebellion - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:47
The newly elected leader of the Islamic State has made his first public appearance since proclaiming a caliphate, justifying the Sunni-led rebellion against the Iraqi government.
In a video posted on social media, the newly elected 'caliph', Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is seen delivering a Friday sermon and leading prayers in the grand mosque of Mosul.
Baghdadi, who delivers a 15-minute-long sermon wearing a black turban and robe, spoke on the blessings of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the legitimacy of fighting in the path of God against oppression.
Quoting verses from the Quran on jihad, Baghdadi spoke on the need of establishing sharia rule and how God had helped the "jihadists" in establishing the so-called caliphate.
"The establishment of a caliphate is an obligation," he said. "The religion cannot be in place unless the sharia is established."
The Islamic State, which has swept across much of northern and western Iraq, has tapped into the grievances among the country's Sunni community with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, and his Shia-led government.
Baghdadi's purported descent from Prophet Muhammad's grandson was also mentioned in the video to comply with the requirement that a caliph be a member of the Prophet's Quraish tribe.
He also called on the people to obey him as long as he followed the "commands of God" and said he would not treat his subjects as other kings and rulers do.
"If you see that I am wrong, advise me and put me on the right track, and obey me as long as I obey God in you," he said.
Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the authenticity of the Baghdadi sermon video.
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said it was a bold statement by Baghdadi, suggesting to the Iraqi government he was free to travel wherever he wanted in the territory of the self-declared caliphate.
Qaradawi's rejection
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the prominent Sunni religious leader, denounced Baghdadi's caliphate announcement as violating Islamic law.
He said in a statement on Saturday that the declaration was "void under sharia".
"The declaration issued by the Islamic State is void under sharia and has dangerous consequences for the Sunnis in Iraq and for the revolt in Syria," he said.
"We look forward to the coming caliphate."
Since proclaiming a caliphate, numerous figures from the Sunni community have dismissed the Islamic State's assertions.
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian Salafist leader, called the group "deviant", while the pan-Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir rejected the claims as "empty speech without substance".
Hizb ut-Tahrir said the Islamic State had no real "authority" in implementing Islamic rule.
Since proclaiming the caliphate, the Islamic State has promised to sweep away with state borders and redraw the map of the Middle East.
The group already dominates territory stretching from Aleppo in Syria to towns close to Baghdad.
Chorus of appeals
Maliki, who has held the post since 2006, has rejected a chorus of calls for him to step aside, with even some of his former allies blaming his failure to promote reconciliation for fuelling the discontent.
Iyad Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister, on Saturday urged Maliki to give up his bid for a third term in power or risk the dismemberment of the country.
"If he stays on, I think there will be significant problems in the country and a lot of troubles. I believe that Iraq would go the route of dismemberment," he said.
Meanwhile, Maliki has removed the chief of the army's ground forces and the head of the federal police from their posts, according to Iraq's military spokesman.
Lieutenant-General Qassim al-Moussawi said Maliki signed the papers to retire Lieutenant-General Ali Ghaidan, commander of the army's ground forces, and Lieutenant-General Mohsen al-Kaabi, the federal police chief.
Last month, Maliki retired three generals who had been deployed in the north and ordered legal proceedings against them.
In another conflict-related development, an Iranian pilot was killed while fighting in Iraq, in what is thought to be the first military casualty that Iran, Middle East's biggest Shia power, officially has acknowledged.
Since the start of the conflict, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has promised to provide Iraq with whatever it needs to counter the Sunni-led rebels.
Al Jazeera's Khan said there were no reports of a plane being shot down in Iraq, so the pilot probably died while fighting on the ground.
Reports of the Iranian pilot's death came as the Sunni-led rebels claimed to have demolished Shia shrines and mosques in northern Iraq.
Ahmed Chalabi, Discredited WMD Figure, Floated for Iraq PM - NBC
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:37
Iraq is looking for someone to put the country back together again '-- if that's even possible '-- and one of the most disgraced names from the war era is suddenly part of the discussion.
Ahmed Chalabi, the Shiite politician whose discredited information about weapons of mass destruction was part of the Bush administration's justification for invading in 2003, is being talked about as a candidate for the prime minister post.
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Chalabi, 69, a former Iraqi exile leader who lived for years in the United States and Britain, has won at least the partial support of a bloc of parliament loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric.
He has met with American officials in recent weeks, although U.S. officials downplay the importance of those meetings. And he is allied with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme Shiite leader.
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The people who have watched the country most closely during the war years freely admit it's a head-scratcher. Iraq's three factions, the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds, all have reason not to trust Chalabi.
At the same time, they say, his particular set of skills '-- glad-handing, deal-making, leveraging his immense charm, constant personal reinvention '-- may be just right to take advantage of the chaos that has enveloped Iraq in recent weeks.
''He's sort of really charming and delightful, in a way that's hard to comprehend,'' said Aram Roston, who in 2009 published a book about Chalabi, ''The Man Who Pushed America to War.''
''And there's nobody else,'' said Roston, now a correspondent for Buzzfeed, who has written about Chalabi's chances. ''Weirdly enough, Chalabi really is more competent than most of these people.''
U.S. officials have stopped short of calling for the resignation of Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, a Shiite who has marginalized Sunnis and Kurds since American troops left three years ago.
But his job is increasingly in doubt since a vicious Sunni militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), rampaged across the Iraqi north last month, captured strategically important cities and vowed to build a vast Islamic caliphate.
U.S. officials have said that Iraq must find a political path that gives the Sunnis and Kurds more of a voice. Time is short: The Kurds are talking more about breaking away entirely, and the Kurds and Sunnis both walked out of a parliament meeting this week.
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Sensing weakness in Maliki, political rivals, including Chalabi, have begun positioning themselves to replace him.
''We want to put anybody in there but Maliki,'' said Rick Brennan, senior political scientist for the Rand Corp. consulting firm, who served as an adviser to top American commanders in Iraq from 2006 to 2011. ''But because of the internal fighting, Sunni and Shia, nobody can figure out who that person is.''
Brennan said that he does not see Chalabi as a viable candidate, citing his inability to pull together a coalition in parliamentary elections in 2010. He said he doubted Chalabi's abilities as a power broker, describing him as ''a cheerleader from outside and trying to get press.''
Chalabi's chances are limited by the antipathy many Sunnis feel for him in Iraq. He was in charge of de-Baathification, the process that banned loyalists of Saddam Hussein and other Sunnis from serving in government. He has called for that process to be rolled back.
A decade ago, Chalabi was a Washington favorite. He was a guest of President George W. Bush at the 2004 State of the Union address.
But the intelligence that he and his Iraqi National Congress peddled as evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and of Iraqi ties to al Qaeda, was ultimately discredited. The United States later tried to prove that he was spying for Iran.
Deepening his falling out with the United States, Chalabi appeared to boast about his mistakes in a 2004 interview with a British newspaper, saying that ''we are heroes in error'' because Saddam was gone no matter what.
An American representative for Chalabi did not return a request for comment. U.S. officials have said repeatedly that the decision on who will lead Iraq belongs to Iraqis alone.
A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, told reporters this week that American officials had met with Chalabi ''as part of our normal outreach to different Iraqi leaders.'' Chalabi holds a seat in parliament.
''We don't support any one person or any one candidate,'' she said. ''What we've said is we will work with the government of Iraq when it's formed if they govern in an inclusive way, no matter who it is.''
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
First published July 5 2014, 8:58 AM
Ahmad Chalabi: from pariah to Iraq's next prime minister?
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:47
He was a presidential patron, then a pariah; an alleged fraud, then an economic saviour. And, perhaps more remarkably, he was groomed by Washington, lured by Iran, and is now being courted by both as a man who could rescue Iraq.
The mercurial career of Ahmad Chalabi has been central to much of the turmoil that Iraq has gone through in the past 20 years. From guerrilla leader in exile in the Kurdish north to the pinup boy of the Pentagon's war plans, Chalabi was more responsible than any other Iraqi for the ousting of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago.
His Iraqi National Congress (INC) fed much of the false information about Saddam Hussein's links to al-Qaida and non-existent weapons of mass destruction. And for many years before that, Washington had funded the group's subversive efforts.
Chalabi's numerous foes say he has been just as instrumental in the years of chaos that have followed, turning within a year of the US invasion towards Iran, with whom he has since forged deep ties at the expense of the government that brought him there. Along the way, he has led a purge of former Ba'athists, alienated Iraq's Sunnis, manoeuvred incessantly in the byzantine corridors of Iraqi politics, and yet somehow emerged as a figure who could steward the country through its greatest test.
Throughout the past month, Chalabi's name has consistently been touted as a potential prime minister to replace the besieged incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki. With every town and border post that fell to the Isis jihadists, and as Kirkuk and the disputed territories were effectively annexed by the Kurds, Maliki's position has become ever more untenable. Chalabi, meanwhile, has been mooted as one of the few who could stop Iraq's slide towards disintegration.
Iraq has very much had a "back to the future" feel since the jihadists rode into town: political torpor, ethnic tension and '' albeit a decade older '' familiar faces. Solutions remain elusive, though. "None of us like the guy," said a senior cabinet minister, who '' like many others '' asked not to be identified. "But I realise, and so do my friends, that he has more capacity than all of us."
Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Council, on whose ticket Chalabi ran in a national election held on 30 April, conceded that the 69-year-old was one of his lead candidates for prime minister should Maliki be forced out. "We need men like him," he said. "The country cannot afford to let good people go to waste."
The hardline Shia Sadrist movement is backing Chalabi too, as are the Kurds with whom he has forged abiding ties over the past two years. By convention in post-Saddam Iraq, Shias take the prime minister's chair, Sunnis claim parliamentary speaker, and the Kurds take the presidency.
The trouble for the staunchly Shia, though liberal, Chalabi is the political arithmetic. Together, Hakim and the Sadrists can only muster 63 seats, far fewer than Maliki's State of Law list, which won 92 seats. State of Law, and in particular the Dawa party from which Maliki hails, are demanding that whoever leads the country must come from their ranks. Most see Chalabi as an imposter.
"I saw the prime minister yesterday and the subject of Chalabi came up," said one senior MP. "Maliki responded: 'Don't talk to me about the guy in the red underpants'." Chalabi swims most days, in red swimming trunks.
Though the numbers seem to be against him, Chalabi has renewed traction among regional and global stakeholders. Even the US is paying attention. In what has been perceived as a nod to the scale of the crisis facing Iraq, the US ambassador to Baghdad met Chalabi in the middle of June. The gathering is thought to have been the first discussion between a senior State Department official and the man they once championed since a bitter falling-out between both sides in June 2004.
At the time, the US alleged that Chalabi's security chief, Aris Habib, had told Iran that the US had cracked an Iranian communications code. They alleged that Chalabi had gleaned the information from a drunken US official. When told of the news, George W Bush told Pentagon officials: "I want Chalabi off the payroll." Within days, the $330,000 per month paid by the Defence Intelligence Agency to Chalabi's Iraq National Congress was cancelled. The snub severed co-operation going back at least a decade, costing the US government at least $33m, most of which was paid directly to the INC. Only months before turning on him, Laura Bush had hosted Chalabi while her husband delivered the 2004 State of the Union address.
Chalabi rolls easily with his fluctuating fortunes, knowing that a powerful patron is never far away. His interests have since spanned the full arc of Iran's regional causes. In the early days of the uprising in Syria, he was a regular visitor to the Assad regime's security overlord, Mohamed Nassif. He also advised the the Wefaq opposition party in Bahrain as the Shia insurrection against the Sunni minority monarchy raged.
His main backing, though has come from the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, who acts as puppet master in Baghdad, as well as Damascus and southern Lebanon. Through Suleimani, Chalabi has power and influence that far outweigh his political fortunes. Suleimani visited Baghdad within days of Chalabi's detente with the US embassy.
The son of an establishment Baghdad family, Chalabi left Iraq as a child in 1956, spending much of his time between the US and the UK, along with stints in academia in Lebanon and finance in Jordan from the early 1970s. Along the way, he received a doctorate in mathematics and founded Petra Bank in Amman, which failed more than a decade later.
"In all of Iraq, nobody knows how to punch above their weight or play the convoluted game of Iraqi politics better than Ahmad Chalabi," said Ramzy Mardini, a Jordan-based political analyst for thinktank The Atlantic Council. "His enduring survival is beyond our comprehension. Unlike Ayad Allawi [another former exile], Ahmad Chalabi is close to Iran. This is the key relationship that makes Chalabi's candidacy something of a realistic prospect should Maliki be ousted. If Iran has a redline against a candidate, [he doesn't] have a shot in making it in the end.
"If Iraqi politics were Game of Thrones, Chalabi would play Lord Baelish, a consummate puppet master behind the scenes, constantly plotting his path to power. For him, chaos isn't a pit, but a ladder and Chalabi knows the ways and means of exploiting a crisis to suit his interests and elevation in Iraq's political circles. He apparently has good relations with everyone, except Maliki."
The next month will determine how willing Chalabi's patrons are to throw in their lot with him. Maliki, apparently emboldened after a private talk with the office of Iraq Shia Islam's highest authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said on Friday that he was not going anywhere. Some of those touting Chalabi as leader are now saying he would be a better fit for finance minister.
"His lesson is that you are never finished here if you know how to manoeuvre," said the cabinet minister. "He can't be written off."
Ahmed Chalabi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:36
Ahmed Abdel Hadi Chalabi[1] (Arabic: أحمد اÙجÙبي'Ž) (born 30 October 1944) is an Iraqi politician. He was interim oil minister in Iraq[2] in April''May 2005 and December''January 2006 and deputy prime minister from May 2005 until May 2006. Chalabi failed to win a seat in parliament in the December 2005 elections, and when the new Iraqi cabinet was announced in May 2006, he was not given a post. Once dubbed the "George Washington of Iraq"[3] by American supporters, he has fallen out of favor and is currently under investigation by several U.S. government sources. He was also the subject of a 2008 biography by investigative journalistAram Roston, The Man Who Pushed America to War; The Extraordinary Life, Adventures, And Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi[4] and a 2011 biography by 60 Minutes producer Richard Bonin, "Arrows of the Night: Ahmad Chalabi's Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq".[5]
Chalabi is a controversial figure, especially in the United States, for many reasons. In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), with the assistance of lobbying powerhouse BKSH & Associates,[6] provided a major portion of the information on which U.S. Intelligence based its condemnation of the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, including reports of weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda. Most, if not all, of this information has turned out to be false and Chalabi a fabricator.[7] That, combined with the fact that Chalabi subsequently boasted, in an interview with the British Sunday Telegraph, about the impact that their alleged falsifications had on American policy, led to a falling out between him and the U.S. government. Furthermore, Chalabi has been found guilty of the Petra banking scandal in Jordan (see below). In January 2012, a French intelligence official stated that they believed Chalabi to be an Iranian agent.[8]
Initially, Chalabi enjoyed close political and business relationships with some members of the U.S. government, including some prominent neoconservatives within the Pentagon. Chalabi is said to have had political contacts within the Project for the New American Century, most notably with Paul Wolfowitz, a student of nuclear strategist Albert Wohlstetter, and Richard Perle. He also enjoyed considerable support among politicians and political pundits in the United States, most notably Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post, who held him up as a notable force for democracy in Iraq.[9] He was a special guest of First Lady Laura Bush at the 2004 State of the Union Address.[10]
Background[edit]Chalabi is the son of a prominent Shi'a family, one of the wealthy power elite of Baghdad, where he was born. Chalabi left Iraq with his family in 1956 and spent most of his life in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the mid-1960s, he studied with cryptographerWhitfield Diffie at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from which he received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics.[11] In 1969, he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago under the direction of George Glauberman,[12] after which he took a position in the mathematics department at the American University of Beirut. He published three mathematics papers between 1973 and 1980, in the field of abstract algebra. His Erdős number is 6.[13]
In 1971, Chalabi married Leila Osseiran, daughter of Lebanese politician Adil Osseiran. They have four children.[14]
In 1977, he founded the Petra Bank in Jordan. In May 1989, the Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan, Mohammed Said Nabulsi, issued a decree ordering all banks in the country to deposit 35% of their reserves with the Central Bank.[15] Petra Bank was the only bank that was unable to meet this requirement. An investigation was launched which led to accusations of embezzlement and false accounting. The bank failed, causing a $350 million bail-out by the Central Bank.[16] Chalabi fled the country before the authorities could react. Chalabi was convicted and sentenced in absentia for bank fraud by a Jordanian military tribunal. He faces 22 years in prison, should he again enter Jordan. Chalabi maintains that his prosecution was a politically motivated effort to discredit him. In May 2005, it was reported that King Abdullah II of Jordan had promised to pardon Chalabi, in part to ease the relations between Jordan and the new Iraqi government of which Chalabi was a member.[citation needed] According to one report, Chalabi proposed a $32 million compensation fund for depositers affected by Petra Bank's failure. The website for Petra Bank contains a press release stating that Chalabi would refuse the pardon.[17] Although he has always maintained the case was a plot to frame him by Baghdad, the issue was revisited later when the U.S. State Department raised questions about the INC's accounting practices. According to The New York Times, "Chalabi insisted on a public apology, which the Jordanians refused to give."[14]
Chalabi was also part of a three-man executive council for the umbrella Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), created in 1992 for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Although the INC received major funding and assistance from the United States, it never had any influence or any following to speak of in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. The INC's influence gradually waned until the December 2005 elections, in which it failed to win a single seat in Parliament.[citation needed]
He was involved in organizing a resistance movement among Kurds in northern Iraq in the early mid-1990s. When that effort was crushed and hundreds of his supporters were killed, Chalabi fled the country. Chalabi lobbied in Washington for the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act (passed October 1998), which earmarkedUS$97 million to support Iraqi opposition groups, virtually all of which was funneled through the INC.[citation needed]
Invasion of Iraq[edit]Before the war, the CIA was largely skeptical of Chalabi and the INC, but information allegedly from his group (most famously from a defector codenamed "Curveball") made its way into intelligence dossiers used by President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to justify an invasion of Iraq. "Curveball", Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, fed officials hundreds of pages of bogus "firsthand" descriptions of mobile biological weapons factories on wheels and rails. Secretary of StateColin Powell later used this information in a U.N. presentation trying to garner support for the war, despite warnings from German intelligence that "Curveball" was fabricating claims. Since then, the CIA has admitted that the defector made up the story, and Powell apologized for using the information in his speech.[18] A later congressionally appointed investigation (Robb-Silberman) concluded that Curveball had no relation whatsoever to the INC, and that press reports linking Curveball to the INC were erroneous.[19]
The INC often worked with the media, most notably with Judith Miller, concerning her WMD stories for The New York Times starting on 26 February 1998.[20] After the war, given the lack of discovery of WMDs, most of the WMD claims of the INC were shown to have been either misleading, exaggerated, or completely made up while INC information about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein's loyalists and Chalabi's personal enemies were accurate. Another of Chalabi's advocates was American Enterprise Institute's Iraq specialist Danielle Pletka. Chalabi received advice on media and television presentation techniques from the Irish scriptwriter and commentator Eoghan Harris prior to the invasion of Iraq.[21]
As U.S. forces took control during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, Chalabi returned under their aegis and was given a position on the Iraq interim governing council by the Coalition Provisional Authority. He served as president of the council in September 2003. He denounced a plan to let the UN choose an interim government for Iraq. "We are grateful to President Bush for liberating Iraq, but it is time for the Iraqi people to run their affairs," he was quoted as saying in The New York Times.[22]
In August 2003, Chalabi was the only candidate whose unfavorable ratings exceeded his favorable ones with Iraqis in a State Department poll.[23] In a survey of nearly 3,000 Iraqis in February 2004 (by Oxford Research International, sponsored by the BBC in the United Kingdom, ABC in the U.S., ARD of Germany, and the NHK in Japan), only 0.2 percent of respondents said he was the most trustworthy leader in Iraq (see survey link below, question #13). A secret document written in 2002 by the British Overseas and Defence Secretariat reportedly described Chalabi as "a convicted fraudster popular on Capitol Hill."[24]
In response to the WMD controversy, Chalabi told London's Daily Telegraph in February 2004, "We are heroes in error. As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat."[25]
During the period from March 2000 to September 2003, the U.S. State Department paid nearly $33 million to the Iraqi National Congress, according to a General Accounting Office report released in 2004.[26] Subsequently, Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress was paid about $335,000 per month by the Defense Intelligence Agency until 28 May 2004.
Falling out with the U.S. in 2004''2005[edit]As Chalabi's position of trust with the Pentagon crumbled, he found a new political position as a champion of Iraq's Shi'ites (Chalabi himself is a Shi'ite). Beginning 25 January 2004, Chalabi and his close associates promoted the claim that leaders around the world were illegally profiting from the Oil for Food program. These charges were around the same time that UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi indicated that Chalabi would likely not be welcome in a future Iraqi government. Up until this time, Chalabi had been mentioned formally several times in connection with possible future leadership positions. Chalabi contends that documents in his possession detail the misconduct, but he has yet to provide any documents or other evidence. The U.S. has sharply criticized Chalabi's Oil for Food investigation as undermining the credibility of its own.
Additionally, Chalabi and other members of the INC have been being investigated for fraud involving the exchange of Iraqi currency, grand theft of both national and private assets, and many other criminal charges in Iraq. On 19 May 2004 the U.S. government discontinued their regular payments to Chalabi for information he provided. Then on 20 May, Iraqi police supported by U.S. soldiers raided his offices and residence, taking documents and computers, presumably to be used as evidence. A major target of the raid was Aras Habib, Chalabi's long-term director of intelligence, who controls the vast network of agents bankrolled by U.S. funding.
In June 2004, it was reported that Chalabi gave U.S. state secrets to Iran in April, including the fact that one of the United States' most valuable sources of Iranian intelligence was a broken Iranian code used by their spy services. Chalabi allegedly learned of the code through a drunk American involved in the code-breaking operation. Chalabi has denied all of the charges, and nothing has ever come of the charges nor do the Iraqi or U.S. governments currently seem very interested in pursuing them.[27]
An arrest warrant for alleged counterfeiting was issued for Chalabi on 8 August 2004, while at the same time a warrant was issued on murder charges against his nephew Salem Chalabi (at the time, head of the Iraqi Special Tribunal), while they both were out of the country. Chalabi returned to Iraq on 10 August planning to make himself available to Iraqi government officials, but he was never arrested. Charges were later dropped against Ahmed Chalabi, with Judge Zuhair al-Maliki citing lack of evidence.
On 1 September 2004, Chalabi told reporters of an assassination attempt made on him near Latifiya, a town south of Baghdad. Chalabi reported he was returning from a meeting with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, where a few days earlier a cease-fire had taken effect, ending three weeks of confrontations between followers of Muqtada al-Sadr and the U.S. military, at the time.[citation needed]
He regained enough credibility to be made deputy prime minister on 28 April 2005. At the same time he was made acting oil minister,[28] before the appointment of Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum in May 2005. On protesting IMF austerity measures, Al-Uloum was instructed to extend his vacation by a month in December 2005 by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and Chalabi was reappointed as acting oil minister. Al-Uloum returned to the post in January 2006.[29]
In November 2005, Chalabi traveled to the U.S. and met with top U.S. government officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. At this time Chalabi also traveled to Iran to meet with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Political activity in Iraq, 2005''present[edit]The Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmed Chalabi, was a part of the United Iraqi Alliance in the 2005 legislative election. After the election, Chalabi claimed that he had the support of the majority of elected members of United Iraqi Alliance and staked claim to be the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iraq; however, Ibrahim al-Jaafari later emerged as the consensus candidate for prime minister.[30]
Prior to the December 2005 elections, the Iraqi National Congress left the United Iraqi Alliance and formed the National Congress Coalition, which ran in the elections but failed to win a single seat in Parliament, gaining less than 0.5% of the vote. Other groups joining the INC in this list included: Democratic Iraqi Grouping, Democratic Joint Action Front, First Democratic National Party, Independent List, Iraqi Constitutional Movement, Iraqi Constitutional Party, Tariq Abd al-Karim Al Shahd al-Budairi, and the Turkoman Decision Party.
Chalabi attended the 2006 Bilderberg Conference meeting outside of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
In October 2007, Chalabi was appointed by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to head the Iraqi services committee, a consortium of eight service ministries and two Baghdad municipal posts tasked with the "surge" plan's next phase, restoring electricity, health, education and local security services to Baghdad neighborhoods.[31] "The key is going to be getting the concerned local citizens'--and all the citizens'--feeling that this government is reconnected with them.... [Chalabi] agrees with that," said Gen. David Petraeus. Chalabi "is an important part of the process," said Col. Steven Boylan, Petraeus' spokesman. "He has a lot of energy."[31] In April 2008, journalist Melik Kaylan wrote about Chalabi, "Arguably, he has, more than anyone in the country, evolved a detailed sense of what ails Baghdadis and how to fix things."[32]
After the invasion Chalabi had been placed in charge of "deBaathification"'--the removal of senior office holders judged to have been close supporters of the deposed Saddam Hussein. The role had fallen into disuse but in early 2010 Chalabi was accused of reviving this dormant post to eliminate his political enemies, especially Sunnis. The banning of some 500 candidates prior to the general election of 7 March 2010 at the initiative of Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress was reported to have badly damaged previously improving relations between Shias and Sunnis.[33]
On 26 January 2012, the New York Times reported Western intelligence officials expressing concern that Chalabi was working with the leading opposition group in Bahrain, Al Wefaq National Islamic Society. A French intelligence official said, "When we hear that some members of the opposition are in touch with Hezbollah or with shady figures like the Iraqi Ahmed Chalabi, of whom we think he is acting on behalf of Iran, then this worries us". The connection between Chalabi and Al Wefaq was acknowledged by Jawad Fairooz, secretary general of Wefaq and a former member of Parliament in Bahrain. Fairooz said, "Mr Chalabi has helped us with contacts in Washington like other people have done and we thank them."[34]
References[edit]^Sometimes transcribed as Ahmad al-Jalabi.^Chalabi Named Iraq Oil Minister^The New Republic, Are Foreign Rebel Leaders Duping The American Right, Again?, 11 August 2003^The Man Who Pushed America to War; The Extraordinary Life, Adventures, And Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi^Miller, Laura (5 December 2011). ""Arrows of the Night": The man behind the Iraq War". Salon. Retrieved 13 January 2013. ^Adam Roston, Chalabi's LobbyThe Nation 3 April 2008^The Scribe: Michael Isikoff & David Corn: "Hubris." Cherrypicking intelligence, burying dissent, influence of Iranian intelligence, the President with an agenda, government experts who didn't speak up^Souad Mekhennet, In Bahrain, Worries Grow of Violent Shiite-Sunni Confrontation, 25 January 2012, New York Times, [1]^"Iraqi minister: Chalabi will be arrested: One-time U.S. confidant to face bank fraud charges in Jordan."CNN. 22 January 2005. Accessed 20 January 2008.^Special Guests of Mrs. Bush at the State of the Union^Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau, Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption, MIT Press, 1998, p. 108.^Dissertation title: On the Jacobson Radical of a Group Algebra, see Ahmed Chalabi at the Mathematics Genealogy Project^Jerry Grossman. "The Erd¶s Number Project". Oakland University. 5 April 2013. Accessed 8 April 2013.^ abDexter Filkins. "Where Plan A left Ahmad Chalabi". The New York Times. 3 November 2006. Accessed 20 January 2008.^Aram Roston (1 January 2009). The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures, and Obessions of Ahmad Chalabi. Nation Books. pp. 52''. ISBN 978-0-7867-4429-9. ^Jeremy Scott-Joynt (17 April 2003). "Chalabi's chequered finances". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2013. ^Response to press reports about the resolution of Petra bank case at the Wayback Machine (archived January 5, 2007). INC Press Statement. Undated. Page dated 5 January 2005 archived at Wayback Machine Internet Archive. Accessed 20 January 2008.^Citation needed^Miller, Greg; Drogin, Bob (1 April 2005). "Intelligence Analysts Whiffed on a 'Curveball'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 3 August 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007. ^William J. Broad and Judith Miller. "The Deal on Iraq: Secret Arsenal: Hunt for the Germs of War -- A special report.; Iraq's Deadliest Arms: Puzzles Breed Fears". New York Times. 26 February 1998. Accessed 20 January 2008.^"Iraq: Reduced To A State Of Nature In The Name Of Progress". Editorial. Irish Political Review. December 2006. Accessed 20 January 2008.^David Sanger [2] THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: THE EXILE; A Seat of Honor Lost to Open Political Warfare, 21 May 2004.^Larry Diamond. Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq. New York: Times Books, Henry Holt & Co., 2005. p. 45.^Smith, Michael (24 September 2004). "Ministers were told premier was seen as stooge". The Daily Telegraph (London). ^Michael Smith. "Ministers were told premier was seen as stooge". The Daily Telegraph. 23 September 2004. Accessed 20 January 2008.^"State Department: Issues Affecting Funding of Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation". Report to Congressional Requsters. United States General Accounting Office. April 2004. Accessed 20 January 2008.^James Risen and David Johnston. " The Reach of War: The Offense; Chalabi Reportedly Told Iran That U.S. Had Code". New York Times. 2 June 2004. Accessed 20 January 2008.^Chalabi Named Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Acting Oil Minister^Iraqi oil minister Al Uloum back at work after quitting^Iraq's Shiite ticket picks prime minister^ abNancy A. Youssef. "Chalabi back in action in Iraq". McClatchy Newspapers. 28 October 2007. Accessed 20 January 2008.^Perseverance Pays Off in Baghdad, Melik Kaylan, The Wall Street Journal, 12 April 2008^The Economist, 30 January 2010^Souad Mekhennet (25 Janıary 2012). "In Bahrain, Worries Grow of Violent Shiite-Sunni Confrontation". New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2012. PersondataNameChalabi, AhmedAlternative namesShort descriptionIraqi politicianDate of birth30 October 1944Place of birthKadhimiya, IraqDate of deathPlace of death
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Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, experts warn.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:14
The outcome of the Iraq and Syrian conflicts may rest on who controls the region's dwindling water supplies, say security analysts in London and Baghdad.
Rivers, canals, dams, sewage and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages, says Michael Stephen, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute thinktank in Qatar, speaking from Baghdad.
''Control of water supplies gives strategic control over both cities and countryside. We are seeing a battle for control of water. Water is now the major strategic objective of all groups in Iraq. It's life or death. If you control water in Iraq you have a grip on Baghdad, and you can cause major problems. Water is essential in this conflict,'' he said.
Isis Islamic rebels now control most of the key upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates, the two great rivers that flow from Turkey in the north to the Gulf in the south and on which all Iraq and much of Syria depends for food, water and industry.
''Rebel forces are targeting water installations to cut off supplies to the largely Shia south of Iraq,'' says Matthew Machowski, a Middle East security researcher at the UK houses of parliament and Queen Mary University of London.
''It is already being used as an instrument of war by all sides. One could claim that controlling water resources in Iraq is even more important than controlling the oil refineries, especially in summer. Control of the water supply is fundamentally important. Cut it off and you create great sanitation and health crises,'' he said
Isis now controls the Samarra barrage west of Baghdad on the River Tigris and areas around the giant Mosul Dam, higher up on the same river. Because much of Kurdistan depends on the dam, it is strongly defended by Kurdish peshmerga forces and is unlikely to fall without a fierce fight, says Machowski.
Last week Iraqi troops were rushed to defend the massive 8km-long Haditha Dam and its hydroelectrical works on the Euphrates to stop it falling into the hands of Isis forces. Were the dam to fall, say analysts, Isis would control much of Iraq's electricity and the rebels might fatally tighten their grip on Baghdad.
Securing the Haditha Dam was one of the first objectives of the American special forces invading Iraq in 2003. The fear was that Saddam Hussein's forces could turn the structure that supplies 30% of all Iraq's electricity into a weapon of mass destruction by opening the lock gates that control the flow of the river. Billions of gallons of water could have been released, power to Baghdad would have been cut off, towns and villages over hundreds of square miles flooded and the country would have been paralysed.
Iraqi men move a boat that was stuck on the banks of the Euphrates River after supplies were blocked by anti-government fighters who control a dam further upstream.In April, Isis fighters in Fallujah captured the smaller Nuaimiyah Dam on the Euphrates and deliberately diverted its water to ''drown'' government forces in the surrounding area. Millions of people in the cities of Karbala, Najaf, Babylon and Nasiriyah had their water cut off but the town of Abu Ghraib was catastrophically flooded along with farms and villages over 200 square miles. According to the UN, around 12,000 families lost their homes.
Earlier this year Kurdish forces reportedly diverted water supplies from the Mosul Dam. Equally, Turkey has been accused of reducing flows to the giant Lake Assad, Syria's largest body of fresh water, to cut off supplies to Aleppo, and Isis forces have reportedly targeted water supplies in the refugee camps set up for internally displaced people.
Iraqis fled from Mosul after Isis cut off power and water and only returned when they were restored, says Machowski. ''When they restored water supplies to Mosul, the Sunnis saw it as liberation. Control of water resources in the Mosul area is one reason why people returned,'' said Machowski.
Increasing temperatures, one of the longest and most severe droughts in 50 years and the steady drying up of farmland as rainfall diminishes have been identified as factors in the political destabilisation of Syria.
Both Isis forces and President Assad's army are said to have used water tactics to control the city of Aleppo. The Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates, 60 miles east of the city, was captured by Isis in November 2012.
The use of water as a tactical weapon has been used widely by both Isis and the Syrian government, says Nouar Shamout, a researcher with Chatham House. ''Syria's essential services are on the brink of collapse under the burden of continuous assault on critical water infrastructure. The stranglehold of Isis, neglect by the regime, and an eighth summer of drought may combine to create a water and food crisis which would escalate fatalities and migration rates in the country's ongoing three-year conflict,'' he said.
''The deliberate targeting of water supply networks ... is now a daily occurrence in the conflict. The water pumping station in Al-Khafsah, Aleppo, stopped working on 10 May, cutting off water supply to half of the city. It is unclear who was responsible; both the regime and opposition forces blame each other, but unsurprisingly in a city home to almost three million people the incident caused panic and chaos. Some people even resorted to drinking from puddles in the streets,'' he said .
Water will now be the key to who controls Iraq in future, said former US intelligence officer Jennifer Dyer on US television last week. ''If Isis has any hope of establishing itself on territory, it has to control some water. In arid Iraq, water and lines of strategic approach are the same thing''.
A satellite view showing the two main rivers running from Turkey through Syria and Iraq. Credits: MODIS/NASAThe Euphrates River, the Middle East's second longest river, and the Tigris, have historically been at the centre of conflict. In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein drained 90% of the vast Mesopotamian marshes that were fed by the two rivers to punish the Shias who rose up against his regime. Since 1975, Turkey's dam and hydropower constructions on the two rivers have cut water flow to Iraq by 80% and to Syria by 40%. Both Syria and Iraq have accused Turkey of hoarding water and threatening their water supply.
''There has never been an outright war over water but water has played extremely important role in many Middle East conflicts. Control of water supply is crucial'', said Stephen.
It could also be an insurmountable problem should the country split into three, he said. ''Water is one of the most dangerous problems in Iraq. If the country was split there would definitely be a war over water. Nobody wants to talk about that,'' he said.
Some academics have suggested that Tigris and Euphrates will not reach the sea by 2040 if rainfall continues to decrease at its present rate.
Iraqi Kurdish president asks parliament to prepare for independence vote
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:14
By Isabel Coles
ARBIL IraqFri Jul 4, 2014 6:16am EDT
1 of 6. Shi'ite volunteers patrol the area as they secure it against the predominantly Sunni militants from the Islamic State, previously called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the desert region between Kerbala and Najaf, south of Baghdad, July 3, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani
ARBIL Iraq (Reuters) - The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region asked its parliament on Thursday to plan a referendum on Kurdish independence, signaling his impatience with Baghdad, which is fighting to repel Sunni insurgents and struggling to form a new government.
The move came despite U.S. pressure for Kurds to stand with Baghdad as Iraq faces an onslaught by Sunni Muslim militants, led by an al Qaeda offshoot, which has seized large parts of the north and west and is threatening to march on the capital.
Iraq's 5 million Kurds, who have governed themselves in relative peace since the 1990s, have expanded their territory by as much as 40 percent in recent weeks as the sectarian insurgency has threatened to split the country.
Kurdish President Massoud Barzani asked lawmakers to form a committee to organize a referendum on independence and pick a date for the vote.
"The time has come for us to determine our own fate and we must not wait for others to determine it for us," Barzani said in a closed session of the Kurdish parliament that was later broadcast on television.
"For that reason, I consider it necessary ... to create an independent electoral commission as a first step and, second, to make preparations for a referendum."
Barzani's call came days after Kurds and Sunnis walked out of the newly elected Iraqi parliament's first session in Baghdad, complaining that the majority Shi'ites had failed to nominate a prime minister.
Many Kurds have long wanted to declare independence and now sense a golden opportunity, with Baghdad weak and Sunni armed groups in control of northern cities such as Mosul and Tikrit.
Top U.S. defense officials, who have deployed advisers to the region to assess the state of the Iraqi military, said the security forces were able to defend Baghdad but would have difficulty going on the offensive to recapture lost territory, mainly because of logistical weaknesses.
"If you're asking me will the Iraqis at some point be able to go back on the offensive to recapture the part of Iraq that they've lost, I think that's a really broad campaign quality question," General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. "Probably not by themselves."
Dempsey said "the future is pretty bleak" for Iraqis unless they can bridge the sectarian differences within their government. The absence of an inclusive government, he said, was a factor in the security forces' failure to stand up to ISIL.
"They didn't collapse in the face of a fight. They collapsed in the face of a future that didn't hold out any hope for them," Dempsey said.
Unless the Iraqi government bridges internal sectarian differences and "gets the message out that it really does intend to allow participation by all groups, everything we're talking about (doing to help) makes no difference," he said.
Many see the Shi'ite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, as the main obstacle to resolving the crisis and hope he will step aside.
Maliki himself said a political solution went hand-in-hand with the campaign to recapture areas held by insurgents.
''There is no security without complete political stability,'' he said in a televised address on Wednesday. ''We will proceed with our political projects but we will be on high alert and ready for the momentum of the battle."
Security forces are battling fighters led by the Islamic State, which shortened its name from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant this week and named its leader "caliph," the historical title of successors of the Prophet Mohammad who ruled the Muslim world.
Rising concern and pressure from the United States, Iran, the United Nations and Iraq's own Shi'ite clerics has done little to end the paralyzing divisions between Iraq's main ethnic and sectarian blocs.
Mithal al-Alusi, a prominent Sunni politician, said he did not think Maliki was prepared to step aside. ''Mr. Maliki wants to continue and he believes ... that without him nothing can be done in Iraq,'' he said.
In the system put in place after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, the premiership is traditionally given to a Shi'ite, while the speaker of the house has been a Sunni and the president, a largely ceremonial role, has been a Kurd.
In his weekly televised address, Maliki said he hoped parliament could get past its "state of weakness" and reach consensus in its next session, planned for Tuesday. But it is far from clear when leaders in Baghdad might do so.
All the main blocs are beset by internal divisions, and none has yet decided who to put forward for its designated position.
Dia al-Asadi, secretary general of the Al-Ahrar bloc, a Shi'ite faction loyal to powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and opposed to Maliki, told Reuters that only Maliki's own State of Law coalition would support his staying on as prime minister.
''There is objection by almost all of the other groups - the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the other Shi'ites," he said.
Each of the blocs has said it wants to know who the others will choose for their posts before naming its own - meaning the nominations will have to be done as a package.
Maliki's government, bolstered by civilian volunteers and Shi'ite militias, has managed to stop the militant advance short of the capital, but has been unable to take back the cities that government forces abandoned.
The army failed last week to take back Tikrit, 160 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad, and remained on the outskirts of the city on Thursday, according to the prime minister's military spokesman Lieutenant General Qassim Atta.
In the northeasterly province of Diyala, 14 militants were killed in fighting with security forces, local police said.
The head of the region's police, Jamil Al-Shimmeri, said security forces had taken back control of the village of Showhani near the town of Muqdadiya, 80 km northeast of Baghdad.
Insurgents have been present in Diyala for the past several weeks, following their rapid seizure of Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, to the north.
U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. military had six assessment teams on the ground evaluating the state of Iraqi forces and had established Iraqi-U.S. joint operations centers in Baghdad and Arbil to coordinate activities.
Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said Saudi Arabia had deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area, but Iraq denied the report.
Al-Arabiya broadcast footage of what it said were Iraqi soldiers in the desert area east of the city of Karbala after pulling back from the border. But the army spokesman said the border was still under the full control of Iraqi forces.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles in Arbil, Isra' al-Rubei'i,; Raheem Salman, Maggie Fick and Alexander Dziadosz in; Baghdad and David Alexander in Washington; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Lisa Shumaker)
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Iraq's Kurds push for independence referendum
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:20
The president of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq has asked his parliament to prepare for a referendum on independence, potentially paving the way for the break-up of the country.
Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, called on parliament on Thursday to form an independent electoral commission that would start organising a referendum on independence for the semi-autonomous region.
"It will strengthen our position and will be a powerful weapon in our hands," he said.
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from the regional capital Erbil, said the move was in line with the Kurds' march for self-determination.
Barzani's latest call is expected to anger Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, who is struggling to keep a grip on the country.
On Friday, Barzani issued a defiant statement to Baghdad that there was no going back on autonomous Kurdish rule in the oil city of Kirkuk.
The US has urged Barzani to stick with Baghdad, though Barzani said during a meeting last month with John Kerry, US secretary of state, that it was "very difficult" to imagine Iraq staying together.
The Kurdish region has long been at odds with Iraq's federal government on numerous issues, especially over what Kurdish politicians say are delayed and insufficient budget payments to the region.
But the issue is significantly complicated by the Kurds' control of Kirkuk and a chunk of other northern territory that they want to absorb, over the Maliki government's strong objections.
Speaking on Wednesday, Maliki accused the Kurds of "exploiting current events in order to impose a reality" and called the latest moves unacceptable.
Though calls for a referendum on independence are not new - Kurds strongly backed independence in a 2005 non-binding vote - the drastic change in the situation on the ground means the Kurds now see a fully sovereign state as within their grasp.
State within grasp
Iraq's five million Kurds, who have ruled themselves within Iraq in relative peace since the 1990s, have expanded their territory by up to 40 percent in recent weeks as a Sunni-led rebellion seized vast stretches of western and northern Iraq.
Saudi Arabia, who shares an 800km long border with Iraq sent 30,000 troops to guard its border after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area.
Massoud Barzani: Flying the Kurdish flagState news agency SPA said King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz ordered all necessary measures to protect the kingdom against potential "terrorist threats".
In Thursday's other developments, Sunni fighters released 32 Turkish lorry drivers captured in Mosul during a offensive across the north and west of the country.
Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Silopi, a Turkish district close to Iraq border, said the drivers were freed earlier in the day and were expected to fly back from Erbil.
Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, said the drivers were well but did not provide any details on the circumstances leading to their release.
Speaking in Ankara, he said efforts were under way to secure the release of the Turks still in captivity.
Fighters from the recently declared Islamic State seized the men on June 9. Three days later, they captured another 49 people from the Turkish consulate in Mosul.
"The critical process continues," he said. "Our prayers and our efforts will go on for the rest of them and God willing, we will share such good news about them too as soon as possible."
ISIS Seizes Largest Syria Oil Field, Key Nearby Towns | News From
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:48
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to make major gains in eastern Syria today, taking the largest oil field in Syria, al-Omar, after a major fight with rival al-Qaeda faction Jabhat al-Nusra.
Thr al-Omar field has seen production drop to around 20,000 barrels per day, but remains Syria's largest, and also its most significant source of natural gas for energy generation.
Nusra took the field in November, but lost it in these new battles. They also lost the nearby towns of Mayadin and Shuhail to ISIS as well, with the local tribes agreeing to back ISIS.
The takeover adds to ISIS control over the Deir Ezzor Province, which apart from a handful of towns and one military afield has entirely fallen to rebels, mostly ISIS.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
Islamic State seizes oil field and towns in Syria's east
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:47
Islamic State seizes oil field and towns in Syria's eastTop News
Islamic State seizes oil field and towns in Syria's east
Thu, Jul 03 10:26 AM EDT
By Sylvia Westall
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Militants from the Islamic State group seized control of Syria's largest oil field from rival Islamist fighters on Thursday, strengthening its advance across the eastern Deir al-Zor province, an opposition monitoring group said.
The capture of the al-Omar oil field gives Islamic State control of crude reserves which could be useful to its advancing fighters, and underlines how the al Qaeda offshoot has eclipsed its militant rivals by capturing territory and assets across Syria and Iraq in the past few weeks.
It has declared an Islamic 'caliphate' on lands it has seized in both countries, and urged Muslims worldwide to flock there and wage holy war.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic State "took leadership" of the oil field from Nusra Front, the official wing of al Qaeda in Syria.
A video posted on the Internet showed a group of armed men dressed in black outside what they said was the entrance to al-Omar oil field.
One fighter said they had not faced any resistance from Nusra Front and that they had captured the field on the fifth day of Ramadan, or Thursday.
"God is greatest and thanks to God. Islamic State! God is greatest!" the men chanted. It was not possible to independently verify the contents of the video.
(See a map on the battle for control in Syria:
Nusra Front, which had captured the oil field from the Syrian government in November, had claimed to be producing around 10,000 barrels of oil a day from the field, which has a capacity of 75,000.
Syria is not a significant oil producer and has not exported any oil since late 2011, when international sanctions took effect to raise pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.
Before sanctions, Syria exported 370,000 barrels per day, mainly to Europe.
Nusra Front fighters also withdrew from two towns in Deir al-Zor on Thursday, leaving most of the border province under the control of advancing forces of the Islamic State, the Observatory said.
It said the Nusra Front pulled out of Mayadin and Shuhail, the group's regional stronghold, while local tribal fighters had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which has also swept through Sunni Muslim provinces in Iraq.
The Observatory, a British-based monitoring group, said the Islamic State, previously called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now controls an area of Syria five times the size of neighboring Lebanon.
It has followed al Qaeda's hardline ideology, but has alienated Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahri and other Islamists with its extreme violence.
The jihadi group, which claims authority over Muslims worldwide, has seized weapons from arms depots in Syria and Iraq, money from bank vaults in cities it has overrun, and controls other oil fields and farmlands.
In Deir al-Zor province only the regional capital and airport - still held by President Bashar al-Assad's forces - and a few villages remain outside the Islamic State's control, the Observatory said.
Earlier this week the Islamic State seized the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi frontier from the Nusra Front, securing both sides of the border crossing.
(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Gareth Jones)
Islamic State seizes oil field and towns in Syria's eastTop News
Islamic State seizes oil field and towns in Syria's east
Thu, Jul 03 10:26 AM EDT
By Sylvia Westall
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Militants from the Islamic State group seized control of Syria's largest oil field from rival Islamist fighters on Thursday, strengthening its advance across the eastern Deir al-Zor province, an opposition monitoring group said.
The capture of the al-Omar oil field gives Islamic State control of crude reserves which could be useful to its advancing fighters, and underlines how the al Qaeda offshoot has eclipsed its militant rivals by capturing territory and assets across Syria and Iraq in the past few weeks.
It has declared an Islamic 'caliphate' on lands it has seized in both countries, and urged Muslims worldwide to flock there and wage holy war.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic State "took leadership" of the oil field from Nusra Front, the official wing of al Qaeda in Syria.
A video posted on the Internet showed a group of armed men dressed in black outside what they said was the entrance to al-Omar oil field.
One fighter said they had not faced any resistance from Nusra Front and that they had captured the field on the fifth day of Ramadan, or Thursday.
"God is greatest and thanks to God. Islamic State! God is greatest!" the men chanted. It was not possible to independently verify the contents of the video.
(See a map on the battle for control in Syria:
Nusra Front, which had captured the oil field from the Syrian government in November, had claimed to be producing around 10,000 barrels of oil a day from the field, which has a capacity of 75,000.
Syria is not a significant oil producer and has not exported any oil since late 2011, when international sanctions took effect to raise pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.
Before sanctions, Syria exported 370,000 barrels per day, mainly to Europe.
Nusra Front fighters also withdrew from two towns in Deir al-Zor on Thursday, leaving most of the border province under the control of advancing forces of the Islamic State, the Observatory said.
It said the Nusra Front pulled out of Mayadin and Shuhail, the group's regional stronghold, while local tribal fighters had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which has also swept through Sunni Muslim provinces in Iraq.
The Observatory, a British-based monitoring group, said the Islamic State, previously called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now controls an area of Syria five times the size of neighboring Lebanon.
It has followed al Qaeda's hardline ideology, but has alienated Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahri and other Islamists with its extreme violence.
The jihadi group, which claims authority over Muslims worldwide, has seized weapons from arms depots in Syria and Iraq, money from bank vaults in cities it has overrun, and controls other oil fields and farmlands.
In Deir al-Zor province only the regional capital and airport - still held by President Bashar al-Assad's forces - and a few villages remain outside the Islamic State's control, the Observatory said.
Earlier this week the Islamic State seized the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi frontier from the Nusra Front, securing both sides of the border crossing.
(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Gareth Jones)
ISTANBUL: Turkey's Erdogan asks Parliament to approve talks with Kurds - World Wires -
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:45
ISTANBUL -- Turkey's powerful prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, launched parliamentary debate this week on a new law that would open formal negotiations with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party to end a 30-year armed rebellion.
He tied the move to resolve the long-standing grievances of the country's biggest ethnic minority to his campaign to become Turkey's first directly elected president, making it clear that he was pitching for Kurdish votes in hopes of winning a majority in the first round of the Aug. 10 contest.
''Turkey has no choice other than a resolution, peace and fraternity,'' Erdogan said, referring to the Kurds, who compose about one-fifth of the country's 78 million population, as he accepted the nomination of his AK Justice and Development Party on Tuesday. ''If God permits, we will never, and we can never, let the resolution process stall during our presidency.''
The Parliament, in which Erdogan's AK has an absolute majority, began debating the legislation Wednesday with an eye to voting by the end of July. Lawmakers were to have been on recess this month, which coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The legislation was welcomed by Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, as a ''historic development,'' and Kurdish legislators in the Parliament welcomed the bill as leading to serious negotiations between the government and the party.
While tied to Turkey's internal politics, Erdogan's move comes not a moment too soon in the context of growing impatience by the PKK and tectonic shifts in neighboring Iraq.
Erdogan and Ocalan first announced plans for a formal negotiating process in March 2013, and the PKK began withdrawing its armed guerrilla units from Turkey the following month.
But top PKK commanders publicly doubted Erdogan's intentions and never fully withdrew. If the process hadn't proceeded now, the PKK not only might have resumed its violent attacks but, in light of the changes in Iraq, also might have reverted to its demands to separate Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey from the rest of the country, and join a greater Kurdistan.
In Iraq, after federal security forces abandoned the north of the country, leaders of the largely autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government this week announced a referendum to create an independent state, which might exert a magnetic effect on Kurds in Turkey.
For the past year, the Turkish government has held regular negotiations with Ocalan, sending top intelligence officials to see him on Imrali, a prison island in the Bosporus Strait. But some politicians have criticized the government for negotiating with a group that Turkey, as well as the United States and the European Union, considers a terrorist organization. A Turkish prosecutor at one point began an investigation of Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkish intelligence, over his secret talks with PKK officials.
The new legislation would authorize the government to negotiate openly with Ocalan and with PKK leaders based in Kurdistan and elsewhere abroad.
It also would give the government new powers to improve the lot of Kurds in Turkey, who accuse the government of denying them basic rights and mistreating them in prison.
Erdogan spoke emotionally Tuesday about bringing torturers to account for crimes committed against Kurds in prisons and to support Kurds who ''were banned from speaking their mother tongue.''
Meanwhile, a court in Diyarbakir, the major Kurdish city in southeast Turkey, has released 30 suspects held in a major case against the Kurdistan Communities Union, the PKK's civilian wing, leaving just two in custody.
Turkey has been widely criticized for jailing a large number of journalists, many of whom were Kurds associated with the Kurdistan Communities Union.
The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said a journalist was among the 30 people released in Diyarbakir. It estimated that at least 10 more journalists are in jail, some of them Kurds.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said 21 journalists were being held in prison in Turkey, down from 95 in April 2011, and that the government hadn't yet reformed its anti-terrorism laws and criminal code, under which many journalists have been incarcerated.
It's still an open question whether the ''resolution process,'' once launched, will resolve the conflict, which has cost in excess of 30,000 lives.
''It's all about process, not content,'' said Gareth Jenkins, a longtime observer of Turkish politics who's based in Istanbul. ''It's still a huge problem, which has not been solved.''
One of the major challenges is whether Kurds will be satisfied with being allowed to use the Kurdish language and vague promises of more power for local authorities. And there's still the question of how and whether Ocalan will be allowed to leave his prison cell after 13 years and enter Turkish politics.
Iraq seeks to recover over $40 billion from US
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:34
Iraq is trying to recover nearly $41 billion after the US has refused to deliver the F16 aircrafts the Iraqi government had paid for, Anadolu news agency quoted an Iraqi official as saying.
A member of the Security and Defence Committee in the Iraqi parliament, Hakim Al-Zamli, said: "The US has not complied with the agreement concluded with the Iraqi government to prepare and deliver the F16 aircrafts and Apache helicopters, as well as other weapons and materiel to combat terrorism, despite receiving more than $41 billion from the Iraqi government."
He added, "The US is not serious and is deliberately delaying the arming of the Iraqi army to combat terrorism in the country."
Al-Zamli denied US intelligence reports claiming that ISIS militants in the Islamic State impose a significant threat to Baghdad and described the claims as "exaggerated". "The US security chiefs know that ISIS elements have tried to enter Baghdad, but their attempts have been foiled," he said.
The Iraqi government had contracted Washington to purchase 18 F16 aircrafts and 24 Apache helicopters on its behalf within a strategic framework agreement concluded between the two sides in 2008.
The US justifies the delay citing fears that the weapons might fall into the hands of ISIS militants.
Iraq bought Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia last month; ten of them already arrived in Baghdad and have begun implementing sorties in preparation to participate in supporting the Iraqi security forces in their battles against the Islamic State.
Sunni groups led by the Islamic State have seized large areas in northern and western Iraq since 10 June, in addition to the areas they control in the north and east of Syria.
While Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki describes these groups as extremist terrorists, Sunni figures marginalised by Iraqi politics describe what is happening as "a Sunni revolt against Al-Maliki's unfair and sectarian Shiite government".
Hobby Lobby
NYTimes confirms insurance companies pissed and worried about having to pay
When The Taliban Meets Hobby Lobby : The New Yorker
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:29
Tehrik-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, is a closely held, profit-making enterprise organized on religious principles. One of its principles, announced as public policy in July, 2012, is that children should not be inoculated against polio, because the vaccines violate God's law. So sincere are the Taliban's religious beliefs that its followers have assassinated scores of public-health workers who have attempted to administer polio vaccines in areas under Taliban control or influence.
This year, three out of five of the world's new polio cases have been found in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani Taliban and groups like it have run a de-facto state since about 2008. The great majority of the polio victims are children under two years old.
If the Pakistani Taliban, aided by clever lawyers, organized a closely held American corporation, and professed to run it on religious principles, might its employees be deprived of insurance coverage to inoculate their children against polio? And would the Supreme Court, by the five-to-four decision issued on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, endorse such a move?
In setting up stateside to enjoy the freedom proclaimed by the Court, the Taliban would have to overcome its awkward position as a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization under American law. Shooting health workers with whom the Taliban disagrees would also be out of the question, since such acts would bring into play other strands of American law, such as the prohibition on homicide. (Residents of the F.A.T.A., governed by tribal codes that legitimize revenge killing, do not enjoy the same protection.) But these are obstacles that the Taliban's lawyers, if they were good ones, might well overcome. The Taliban could inspire American followers to put together a corporate charter separately and independently, without any financial or military links to the banned mother organization. And the American offshoot could learn to hire lobbyists rather than gunmen.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court's conservative majority, sought to evade such thought exercises by predicting, without evidence, that there will not be ''a flood of religious objections regarding a wide variety of medical procedures and drugs, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions.''
Why not? Is it because the justices do not intend to extend their reasoning to companies that hold religious views less proximate to their own Christian beliefs? Or because the judges believe that they can enforce what they imagine to be a rational or permissible resistance to reproductive rights for women, while blocking what they might see as irrational resistance to transfusions and vaccines? As it happens, it is not just the Taliban who are paranoid about vaccines; many American groups, secular and religious, evince such skepticism. Some groups believe, for example, that certain childhood vaccines may cause autism, even though there is no scientific basis for such beliefs.
Perhaps the Supreme Court's majority cannot fully imagine that religiously motivated litigants'--Muslim, Christian Scientist, Hindu, or other'--as qualified and as American as the Hobby Lobby owners might ultimately use Monday's ruling to enforce beliefs far outside of the decades-long campaign of Christian evangelicals and Catholics to limit the reproductive rights of women. If so, that is another failure of their reasoning, one that exposes what really seems to have gone on in this decision: four longtime adherents to the deeply rooted conservative movement to limit or ban abortion in the United States, joined by a fifth willing to defer to them, saw in the Hobby case an opportunity to advance their cause incrementally, and they reasoned to achieve that end'--not, as their opinion claims, to construct a sustainable framework of religious resistance to public-health laws.
Because campaigners against reproductive rights have successfully mainstreamed their views within institutions like the Supreme Court, those views no longer seem radical even to many of their opponents. The Taliban have not similarly legitimized their philosophy because they are so indiscriminately violent and repressive, among other reasons. (Some religiously motivated radicals have assassinated abortion providers in the United States, but the gunmen are not commonly referred to here as terrorists.)
And yet, the impact on children, living and unborn, of the Taliban public policy on vaccines is not, arguably, different in category from the impact that the Hobby Lobby decision will likely have on the families of those who work at companies whose owners claim to run them on Christian principles, in one respect: the extrapolation of religious beliefs into public policy will damage the over-all health of affected families. The health consequences of failing to vaccinate children may be more predictable than the health consequences of blocking access to effective contraception. But, in both cases, there is no doubt that the consequences will be harmful. The difference lies partly in our cultural setting'--and, in the case of the ongoing campaign to restrict the reproductive rights of American women, in our capacity for outrage.
Photograph: Anastasia Taylor-Lind/VII
Cory Gardner: Women should be able to buy the pill without a prescription - The Denver Post
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 13:26
Congressman Cory Gardner says he wants to get "the politics out of contraception." (Denver Post file photo)
The least loved institution in America today is the U.S. Senate, and one of the reasons it is reviled is a zero-sum approach to women's medical care. It's time we changed that and adopt modern policies that make sense instead of using women's medical issues as an election-year power play. One of the most rational ways for Washington to break this gridlock is to approve oral contraception for over-the-counter purchases by adults.
Since "the pill" was first approved 44 years ago, it's been one of the most proven and tested pharmaceuticals of our time. It is safe, reliable, effective, and presents very few risks or complications for the more than 10 million women who use it. When other drugs have that kind of track record, we approve them for purchase without a prescription; the Food and Drug Administration has already reclassified over 100 different treatments. Name-brand drugs like Advil, Pepcid, Claritin, Prilosec and many others were once sold by prescription only, but moved to over-the-counter sale (OTC) once they'd been proven safe and unlikely to be abused.
When treatments go over-the-counter, two things happen: they get dramatically cheaper and consumers save time and hassle by avoiding unnecessary doctors' appointments just to get the pharmaceuticals they already know they need.
Fewer unneeded doctors' appointments mean fewer missed workdays and child-care expenses, more productivity and more time with family. This is particularly true for rural families like mine where doctors are not always nearby.
Women in my hometown of Yuma drive one hour to see their obstetrician/gynecologist in Fort Morgan, even if it's just to get a prescription renewed. With over 50,000 pharmacies in America and no appointment required, the increase in convenience and access would aid every adult woman who uses oral contraceptives, whether it's the first time they get them or when they run out and need a refill far from home.
The inevitable cost savings from a switch to OTC status should not be underestimated. Almost all therapies that move to OTC drop in price dramatically. Many insurers and state Medicaid programs have covered common OTC therapies for this economic reason. For those without coverage, these OTC costs are usually cheaper than a co-pay for a prescription drug.
Since January 2011, an obscure provision of Obamacare has blocked insurers from covering OTC medicine without a prescription. If Democrats are serious about making oral contraception affordable and accessible, we can reverse that technical provision.
Driving the price down for a safe medicine is a better way to provide access to adults who want it than President Obama's insurance mandate. Many women don't have access today in spite of the Obamacare mandate, and it violates religious liberty in the process. If a new generation of senators puts partisanship aside, we can protect the liberties of women to have easy access to affordable oral contraception at the same time we protect the rights of those with conscience objections.
Moving oral contraceptives to OTC status is not a new idea: A committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended the switch in 2012, citing a scientific trial that proved pharmacists and women themselves could effectively screen potential patients without the inconvenience and cost of a doctor's visit.
Since it makes so much sense, you might wonder why this change has not happened yet. It's because too many people in Washington would rather play politics with contraception instead of actually making life easier for women. Too many Democrats prefer to attack Republicans on the issue of contraception rather than actually make contraception more available and affordable and too many Republicans are afraid to break the mold.
In Colorado's Senate race, Sen. Mark Udall began his campaign for re-election with nasty, deceptive ads attacking my record on this subject rather than say anything about his own accomplishments over his long career in politics. Between Sen. Udall's campaign and Sen. Harry Reid's super-PAC, the Washington establishment has already spent $1.5 million on attack ads trying to use contraception as a wedge to divide our state. They argue that I, and others, would ban contraception when they know that charge is completely untrue. They ignore the massive new layers of bureaucracy and higher costs imposed by the president's partisan health care law, forcing women to deal with that problem instead of repealing and starting over with common-sense, bipartisan reform.
Instead of accusing me falsely, Sen. Udall should stop using the debate over women's medical care for his own political benefit and instead work with me to pursue health policies that make health care cheaper and easier for Colorado women.
Getting the politics out of contraception will improve the lives of women all over the country. It's time for a new generation of thinking in Washington '-- one that puts solving problems ahead of scoring political points.
Colorado Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is running for U.S. Senate.
Seven reasons birth control pills shouldn't require a prescription - Vox
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 13:25
Monday morning's Supreme Court ruling dealt a blow to contraceptive access. The ruling allows some for-profit corporations to provide insurance that doesn't cover birth control, essentially opting out of Obamacare's mandate.
In the short-term, political efforts will surely focus on bridging the coverage gap created by the decision. But in the long term, advocates for access to contraception should turn to something else: making birth control available over the counter.
1. Birth control is safe.(Tim Boyle/Getty Images News)
"Oral contraceptives have been out for many, many years in this country. Although no drug is perfectly safe '-- even aspirin has its side effects '-- oral contraceptives are a relatively safe drug."saysGerald Joseph, a vice president at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "The benefits far outweigh the risks."
"The benefits far outweigh the risks."
Since the birth control pill became mainstream, the main change has been a trend toward "low-dose" formulations; most pills contain lower levels of hormones than earlier versions. The morning-after pill is a strong single dose of the same hormones, and it's available over the counter.
Blood clots are one of the chief medical concerns with birth control. But pregnancy itself comes with blood clot risk that's twice as high as the risk associated with contraceptives.
Health risks are higher among certain women '-- those who are obese or who smoke, for example. Doctors and pharmacists believe that women are capable of self-screening for risk factors, and they have data to back them up.
2. Moving the pill over the counter would improve access.(BSIP/Universal Images Group)
Obamacare requires that plans cover birth control pills without a co-payment. That's a solid strategy for improving access, but it may not be enough: multiple factors influence whether a woman has access to contraception, and affordability is only one of them.
If a woman is unable to schedule a doctor's appointment - she can't get the time off of work, or find a babysitter, or she doesn't have access to a car or other transportation - that's a barrier to birth control, because a prescription is required to get the pill. Making insurance more generous can't fix that.
One of the primary problems with oral contraceptives is the "drop-out" rate. Women receive birth control and start taking it, but the need to fill a prescription every month (or every several months) and to get the prescription renewed after a year leads to women abandoning the pill '-- and may have more unintended pregnancies as a result.
Allowing women to buy birth control at the pharmacy without a prescription would broaden access. Drugstores typically keep longer hours than clinics and doctor offices, and they're often more conveniently located, too.
3. Doctor groups support over-the-counter birth control.(Karen Bleier/AFP)
Doctors used to require a pelvic exam to check for cervical cancer or sexually transmitted infections before prescribing contraceptives. Though these screenings are still important, medical guidelines no longer mandate these exams before a woman starts taking birth control.
And in 2012, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists '-- an interest group representing women's physicians '-- declared public support for making birth control available over the counter.
"over the past 20 years, the unintended pregnancy rate has hovered around 50 percent. we've done little to change that."
"We have taken this step because of the unintended pregnancy rate in the United States," Joseph says. "Over the past 20 years the unintended pregnancy rate in our country has hovered around 50 percent and in all those years, we've done very little to improve that statistic."
Obstetricians and gynecologists aren't the only health care providers who support the move. Asurveyof over 2,700 pharmacists found that 85 percent were interested in providing contraceptive services and 98 percent considered it an important public health issue.
4. So do Republicans.Bobby Jindal (Jason Sullivan/Getty Images News)
Obamacare's mandate that all employers offering insurance must cover birth control for female employees has been controversial from the start. That controversy tended to break along partisan lines: Democrats endorse the rule as a win for women's health and Republicans condemn it as an infringement on religious freedom.
Over-the-counter birth control isn't plagued by the same problem.
Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, wrote an editorial in favor of moving contraceptives over the counter in 2012, describing it as "common-sense" and a policy "that could yield a result everyone can embrace: the end of birth-control politics."
Given the Supreme Court decision, we probably won't declare the end of "birth-control politics" anytime soon. But last week, Rep. Cory Gardner, a GOP Congressman running for Senate in Colorado, also penned a column in support of making birth control accessible over the counter.
"Fewer unneeded doctors' appointments mean fewer missed workdays and child-care expenses, more productivity and more time with family," Gardner writes. "With over 50,000 pharmacies in America and no appointment required, the increase in convenience and access would aid every adult woman who uses oral contraceptives, whether it's the first time they get them or when they run out and need a refill far from home."
Among Republicans, over-the-counter birth control is seen as a palatable alternative to requiring employers and insurers to include contraceptives in their benefits '-- something that would stand in for the contraceptive mandate. But the existence of the contraceptive mandate doesn't change the merit of over-the-counter birth control policy.
5. Most other countries already offer birth control without prescriptions.Source: K. Grindlay et al, Contraception 88 (2013)
Most of the worldlives in countries that offer birth control without a prescription.
most of the world lives in countries that offer birth control without a prescription.
The nations where birth control is available over the counter tend to be low- and middle-income, but there's a trend toward expanding contraceptive access in high-income countries.
In 2009, the British National Health Service launched an initiative in London to make birth control pills available at pharmacies without a prescription to women over 16. The project was successful, and NHS recommended scaling it up nationally.
In Australia, pharmacists can dispense interim pills to women who need contraceptives but have expired prescriptions.
And in Washington state, a pilot program authorized pharmacists to provide birth control pills to women without a prescription from a physician. The effort was considered a success: both women and pharmacists thought it was a safe, effective, and acceptable.
6. Moving the pill over the counter should bring down prices.(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News)
Right now, women aren't very sensitive to the price of birth control. Insurers cover some pills without a co-pay, as required by Obamacare. If a woman wants a brand that isn't in the "co-pay free" tier, she'll probably pay a flat fee for her prescription (which might be higher for brand-name pills compared to generics).
But, generally speaking, insured women don't need to worry about the price of individual pill brands, because most brand-name pills will be subject to the same copay (while generics may have a lesser copay).Allowing contraceptives to be sold over the counter would change all that. Contraceptive manufacturers would be required to compete for consumers on cost, which should bring down prices overall.
Lower prices would be good for women who want to buy contraceptives over the counter, good for women seeking contraceptives with a prescription, and good for the health care system as a whole.
7. "Over-the-counter" and "no co-pay" birth control don't have to be mutually exclusive.(Scott Olson/Getty Images News)
Obamacare made contraception available without co-pays, but that doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for oral contraceptives on drug store aisles. Even when health reform is fully implemented, some people will still be uninsured '-- consider, for example, the low-income women in states not expanding Medicaid. For the uninsured, the need for a prescription presents an access barrier.
if prescribed, women can get the morning-after pill without a co-pay. or, they can buy it at the drugstore.
Health insurance could continue to cover the birth control '-- including IUDs '-- without co-pay, while over-the-counter access gives women an option to purchase the pill on her own dime.There's actually some precedent for this. Obamacare makes therapeutic aspirin '-- when it'sprescribedto reduce the risk of heart attacks, for example '-- available without co-pay.Of course, anyone can walk into a drugstore and buy a bottle of the exact same aspirin; the fact that some adults get it free with a prescription doesn't change that.
The morning-after pill works the same way: if prescribed, women can get it without a co-pay. Or, they can pick it up at the drugstore and pay for it themselves. Birth control pills should work the same way.
House Republicans should pass bill allowing over-the-counter birth control sales |
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 13:19
(iStock)Monday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court against the Obama administration's contraception mandate may have been a defeat for liberals, but Democrats are already treating it as a political gold mine.
Democrats hope to recreate the "War on Women" narrative that helped them in the 2012 election ahead of the 2014 midterms. And in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling, they now have an opening to respond with legislation to expand contraception access. If Republicans oppose the Democrats' legislative solutions, the GOP will be attacked as being anti-women.
There is one way that House Republicans can stay a step ahead, however. That is following the lead of Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., and more recently, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. (who is now running for U.S. Senate). That is, they should support a bill to allow oral contraceptives to be purchased over the counter.
To start, allowing contraceptives to be purchased without prescriptions is good policy. It would bring down prices and expand access.
Making oral contraceptives available over the counter would also be safe, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Philosophically, it's consistent with limited government principles. It removes unnecessary government regulations and increases choice.
It doesn't impose new burdens on businesses or religious institutions, nor does it require an increase in government health care spending.
And politically, it would also be beneficial to Republicans. It would make it a lot more difficult for Democrats to portray the GOP as being only interested in obstructing Democrats rather than supporting their own ideas, and harder to accuse Republicans of being broadly against access to birth control.
Instead, it would allow Republicans to go on offense, and show that Democrats are the ones who want to play politics with birth control.
If Democrats oppose the move, they'll have to explain why they want to force women to go through their doctors to obtain birth control and make it harder for uninsured women to gain access.
For another case for making birth control available over the counter, see Adrianna McIntyre of Vox.
Agenda 21
Unveiled: New £200 'smart' meters every household must pay for (but may not work) | Mail Online
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:42
Minister and Bob Geldof to launch £11bn scheme to make us all use 'green' meters... which other EU nations rejectedProject will be launched this week despite fears they will not work and they pose a security risk to power suppliesEnergy companies will begin the mass installation of smart meters next year and expense will be passed on to customersBy David Rose and Martin Beckford
Published: 19:39 EST, 5 July 2014 | Updated: 02:03 EST, 6 July 2014
A Government plan to put 'smart meters' into every British home '' costing households £200 each '' will be launched this week despite fears they will not work and that they pose a security risk to power supplies.
The £11'‰billion project, introduced to meet EU green targets, is supposed to cut down energy consumption and reduce bills.
But official reports seen by The Mail on Sunday reveal that: trials show consumers with smart meters save far less energy than predicted; five countries considering such a plan have decided it would cost more money than it saves; the meters do not work in a third of British homes, including high-rise flats, basements and those in rural areas: hackers and cyber-terrorists could break into the system causing chaos in the national grid, or carry out large-scale fraud by fiddling bills.
Energy companies will begin the mass installation of smart meters next year at a cost of at least £200 per home, and have admitted the expense will be passed on to customers.
How it works: This diagram explains how the new smart meters will work, or more precisely, how they won't
Sir Bob Geldof will launch an expensive publicity drive, featuring 'out of control' cartoon characters called Gaz and Leccy, on Tuesday. Last night he confirmed he was being paid for the campaign, but refused to reveal how much, saying it was 'none of your f***ing business'.
The cost of his appearance will also be added to bills.
Last night Margaret Hodge, chairman of the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee, said: 'This is a typical Government project '' they set up a big scheme but don't think about the costs to the consumer because it's being driven by the energy companies. This expensive equipment is already out-of-date, because we could get the information on our smartphones.
'The Government should really think about the technology they are using and make sure that the consumer benefits.'
The National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, said in a report: 'Significant risks remain, including potential consumer resistance to smart meters, technical issues, the readiness of suppliers, network operators and the supply chain for large-scale installation and the robustness of data security and privacy arrangements.'
Smart meters work by recording gas and electricity consumption every 30 minutes. Consumers are also given monitors called In-Home Displays, which let them see how much power they are using at any time and how much it is costing them.
Sir Bob Geldof will launch an expensive publicity drive for the new green meters scheme
Supporters say extra information will encourage people to use less energy, cutting their bills and helping the environment. They will also be able to see times when it is cheaper to run appliances, and will be allowed to switch energy supplier more quickly.
Energy firms benefit because they will no longer have to send meter-readers into homes, and will be able to disconnect customers more easily if they do not pay their bills.
Smart meters are being introduced under a 2009 EU proposal. The UK scheme was the brainchild of Labour leader Ed Miliband when he was Energy Secretary in the last government.
The plans for this country have been devised following years of discussions by Whitehall committees, endlessly updated calculations and advice costing £44'‰million from three consultancy firms.
Each home gas and electricity meter and energy monitor will 'talk' to another device called a Communications Hub, using a wireless communication method called ZigBee, which was designed not for mass consumers, but university labs.
ZigBee does not work in buildings with thick walls, or in multi-storey flats '' that make up 30 per cent of homes.
Scientists are trying to develop a new, low-frequency version that will '' but project insiders say it may take years to iron out its bugs.
Once it has the information from the meters, the hub will send it by mobile phone-type signals to gigantic computer switching centres, which will then pass the data on to the relevant gas and electric supply firm.
Doubts remain about whether the ambitious scheme will really save consumers money.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) believes the technology will enable customers to learn more about how much power they use and so work out how to cut their bills.
It estimates bills will fall by £26 a year by 2020 and £43 a decade later as consumers cut their electricity usage by 2.8 per cent and gas by two per cent.
But an early study of 743 Dutch households with the meters found they only used 0.9 per cent less gas and 0.6 per cent less electricity than those with old meters.
The European Commission itself has pointed out that of the 19 EU countries that have carried out an analysis of the likely costs and benefits, five have concluded that electric smart meters will lose money and three are not introducing the scheme. For gas smart meters, 12 of the 19 countries ended up with 'negative' results.
Here, the National Audit Office pointed out that households would have to keep their energy use down year after year for costs to materialise. Yet 'the evidence on longer-term behaviour change' is 'limited'.
Experts say if smart metering is to save families money, they must change their behaviour by using less power or by running appliances at different times of day. Merely having a smart meter only saves the energy firms money, as they no longer have to send people out to do readings.
Overall DECC says the project will cost £10.9'‰billion but create benefits worth £17.1'‰billion for consumers and suppliers.
However the NAO has stated that the economic benefits 'are subject to a wide range of uncertainty', and pointed out that the hoped-for savings have been reduced by £2.1'‰billion recently thanks to better calculations.
In addition, it is by no means guaranteed that all consumers will end up with smart meters in their homes, let alone use them.
One supplier told the NAO that 'up to 20 per cent of customers will refuse to have smart meters installed' and two firms fear added costs from dealing with 'reluctant customers'.
If fewer people sign up, energy usage will not fall and so the predicted savings will not arrive.
The proposed smart meters will not work in a third of British homes, according to the National Audit Office spending watchdog.
The meters need to communicate through a form of wireless communication.
Yet the UK has chosen a little-known ten-year-old system called ZigBee rather than the better-known wi-fi or Bluetooth.
ZigBee does not work in high-rise blocks, because the meters tend to be located in basements too far from people's flats, and will also struggle in buildings with thick walls.
Critics say Britain has developed by far the most complicated form of smart metering in the world, greatly increasing the costs and risks.
Elsewhere in Europe, the energy networks are responsible, allowing them to send meter readings directly through power lines. In Italy a simpler system has cost just £1.5'‰'‰billion.
In Britain the retailers are running the scheme and in addition to the actual meters, ministers have insisted that every home be given another box '' known as an In-Home Display '' that lets users see what they are currently spending on power.
Paul Nickson, British Gas commercial director for smart metering, admitted: 'There is not a technical solution for high-rise buildings.' Trials may lead to smart meters in flats being connected by cables.
The NAO said: 'Suppliers are still developing a home area network radio system for up to 30 per cent of premises.'
A wireless network that works for all but five per cent of homes will not be finished until at least 2016.
The meter readings are sent from homes to the energy companies by mobile phone signal, but this means the system will not work in some rural areas.
The Government's latest Impact Assessment admitted the wireless coverage may be 'difficult to achieve' in remote or mountainous districts.
In addition, not all of the energy firms have developed 'viable' systems that work for customers who pay for their energy in advance, the NAO said.
The Government insists smart meters will be safe from hackers and cyber-terrorists.
But a risk assessment carried out by the energy watchdog, Ofgem, identified 'a range of threats such as cyber, viruses and malicious software. The potential impacts'... range from fraudulent transactions for financial gain'... to compromise of critical operations such as remote disablement.'
This means that criminals could break into the system and try switch off the supply to millions of homes at once, leaving the national grid crippled.
The dangers were considered so great that in 2012 the Government spy agency GCHQ and its cyber protection offshoot, the Communications-Electronics Security Group, dramatically intervened, delaying the entire project.
Experts from the CESG and the body that protects major assets, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, joined a top-level body called the Security Technical Experts Group that has held monthly meetings to assess the risks.
The final guide to how these security controls will work is still months from completion.
One project insider said the security systems should have been planned from the start, but instead, were a 'desperately late add-on'.
He warned: 'You just shouldn't do things this way round. The security spec is a sticking plaster. The risk is that as soon as holes are plugged, others will open up.'
Idan Edry, a former military intelligence officer who is now a senior executive at the Israeli firm Nation E, a world leader in energy cyber security, said he has studied the UK system carefully, 'and I can tell you, it has nothing like enough protection'.
It would leave customers exposed to being hacked: thieves could steal millions from pre-paid energy accounts. More seriously, it created millions of portals into the energy supply system for cyber terrorists, who could use them to cripple large parts of the network.
Last month the National Audit Office said the security challenges 'should not be underestimated'.
Another difficulty may occur at this stage in rural areas where the phone signal is patchy.
Energy computer specialist Nick Hunn, who has advised the Government, said combining so many new and untried technologies at once was 'risky and unprecedented'.
He added: 'Systems like wi-fi, Bluetooth and 3G took ten years to have their problems fixed and become stable. The Department of Energy and Climate Change expects it to work perfectly on day one. It's a recipe for disaster.'
Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said it was a typical Government scheme - it didn't consider the costs to the consumer because it was driven by the big energy companies
The DECC says smart metering will cost £11'‰billion, to be passed on from energy firms to consumers. At least £3 a year is already being added to bills to cover the suppliers' cost of buying the meters.
A recent European Commission report states 'a smart metering system could cost on average £158 to £198 per customer'.
The Government's latest Impact Assessment puts the cost of installing dual fuel meters at £214.80, which will be added to bills.
It claims this will be offset by massive savings. In all, the 'benefits' of the meters will amount to £17'‰billion '' a net £6'‰billion saving.
Overall, DECC says, electricity use will fall by 2.8 per cent, and gas by 2 per cent. However, customers will not be forced to have smart meters and if many people refuse the meters, the hoped-for savings in money and carbon emissions will be lost.
Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics at Edinburgh University and one of the country's leading energy experts, said last night: 'I've been asking, where is the evidence that people will make major changes to their way of living?
'It's just not there. We're about to add to people's bills for the sake of benefits that will not justify the cost.'
Alex Henney, a former director of London Electricity and a global electricity consultant, likened smart meters to the computerized NHS records fiasco, which wasted £12'‰billion, saying: 'The smart meter rollout bears all the hallmarks of the next great government IT crash.'
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Baroness Verma, said last night: 'Smart meters will give consumers control over their energy use and help them reduce their bills.'
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United Nations News Centre - Should international refugee law accommodate climate change?
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:09
3 July 2014 '' Can the United Nations help to protect people seeking safety abroad if their homes and jobs are destroyed by prolonged drought, rising sea levels or other climate change-related phenomena in the same way as if they were displaced by war or human rights abuses? The short answer, today anyway, is no.
The more considered '' and thus far, thorny '' response challenges the legal notion of what it is to be a refugee, and raises questions about how much political will there is to even begin a global discussion on an issue that UN experts say was unimaginable a few decades ago.
Ioane Teitiota, a Kiribati national, lost his asylum appeal in New Zealand this past May in a case In the case of cross-border movement, we're looking at a gaping legal holethat would have made him the world's first-ever ''climate change refugee.'' Mr. Teitiota moved there in 2007 with his family, claiming his island home was sinking and becoming too dangerous to live on. His lawyers argued that Mr. Teitiota was being ''persecuted passively by the circumstances in which he's living, which the Kiribati Government has no ability to ameliorate.''
New Zealand's Court of Appeal ruled that while climate change is a major and growing concern for the international community, the phenomenon ''and its effect on countries like Kiribati is not appropriately addressed under the Refugee Convention.'' That 1951 treaty defines a refugee as a person who ''has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.''
"The Baths", unusual rock formations at a tourist resort in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. UN Photo/Marvin Weill
''We don't have, in international law, or any kind of mechanisms to allow people to enter a State against the will of the State, unless they're refugees. And even then, they don't technically have the right to enter, but they cannot be punished for entering,'' the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Fran§ois Cr(C)peau, told the UN News Centre. His mandate has been awarded by the Human Rights Council and his work is supported by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
''Therefore, people like Mr. Teitiota do not find any solutions in international law as it presently stands. The solution for especially slow onset environmental issues, such as sinking islands, or low lying coastal lands that are being slowly eroded and overcome because of climate change-induced factors, don't have a framework,'' he added. ''The only thing that can happen is negotiations with neighbouring States for transfer of populations.''
Jos(C) Riera, Senior Advisor in the UN refugee agency's (UNHCR) Division of International Protection, concurred, ''In the case of cross-border movement, we're looking at a gaping legal hole.''
Except in contexts of conflicts and persecution, there is no lead UN agency that has at its core the protection of people forced to flee owing to disasters, including those triggered by climate change, and which could coordinate an international response.
Villagers of Okau in Wely Municipality meet with the Magistrate of Weloy and the Assistant Anthropologist of Yap District. The large doughnut-shaped stone money is a mark of village prestige. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata
''The truth is there is no one agency in the system because no one could have imagined this situation 60 years ago,'' Mr. Riera told the UN News Centre. ''But there are massive protection challenges raised by climate and environment-related migration, displacement and planned relocation.''
''We need States to at least come to an agreement that [climate change-related displacement] is a phenomenon that has to be dealt with, and also for them to come up with the solutions.''
They are not going to make commitments at the UN in official fora which could backfire in the next election campaign
The UN agency coordinates the Advisory Group on Climate Change and Human Mobility, which also includes OHCHR, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), UN University (UNU), and non-UN partners, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Among the targeted recipients of the Group are climate negotiators at the UN climate change convention talks, the last of which will be in Paris in 2015.
''We see our role not as [leading and waving] the institutional flag, but to make available to State Parties [to the Convention] the research that is coming on board as it relates to migration, displacement and planned relocation,'' Mr. Riera added.
A young boy in Malaita, Solomon Islands, plays with his homemade wooden truck. UN Photo/W Stone
''And to be the little pebble in their shoe; serving as a reminder that if we really want to make progress on addressing some of these issues, if we're really keen on sustainable development and if the post-2015 sustainable development agenda is to be the wise and forward-looking [framework] everyone wants it to be, then the issues surrounding human mobility cannot be swept under the rug.''
UNHCR is also a standing invitee to the Nansen Initiative, launched in October 2012 by the Governments of Switzerland and Norway, and which aims to build consensus on a protection agenda to address the needs of people displaced across international borders by natural hazards, including the effects of climate change.
''We are very encouraged by the Nansen Initiative,'' Mr. Riera said, describing it as a ''State-led conversation on how to protect affected populations.''
The effects of climate change are already being felt in all continents and across the oceans, the UN reported earlier this year, and warned that the world, for the most part, is ill-prepared for the risks. The report, 'Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability', from Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks.
''Climate change over the 21st century is projected to increase displacement of people. Displacement risk increases when populations that lack the resources for planned migration experience higher exposure to extreme weather events, in both rural and urban areas, particularly in developing countries with low income,'' the report's authors wrote, noting also the indirect impact climate change has on increased risk of violent conflicts, such as civil war and inter-group violence.
By the end of 2013, an estimated 51.2 million people worldwide were considered to be forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations, according to UNHCR. The majority of them concentrated in ''climate change hotspots'' around the world.
Satellite image of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the northern Caribbean. UN Photo/USGS/NASA
In the Secretary-General's 2012 report to the UN General Assembly on human rights and migration, Mr. Cr(C)peau cited research which predicts that up to 250 million people might be displaced by climate change by the year 2050.
He wrote that while it is hard to predict precisely the patterns of where climate-change induced migrants will move, current research indicates that much climate related displacement is likely to take place within national borders and that those most acutely vulnerable will often not be in a position to migrate internationally, or will travel only as far as their resources will allow. As a result, he calls for planned and facilitated migration policies, and the strong involvement of all partners, including civil society.
For people living in low-lying island States, the situation is particularly urgent, the Special Rapporteur wrote, as there is scientific evidence that the islands will become uninhabitable as a result of inadequate supply of potable water, along with other environmental concerns.
Mr. Cr(C)peau questions whether a country can legally even exist if it is absorbed, merged and voluntarily or involuntarily dissolved, concluding that the situation of a State abandoned by its population due to the effects of climate change is simply so new ''that no clear international legal framework appears to apply.''
''It's going to take a lot of imagination and political will to be able to negotiate transfers of populations which would be on the massive scale,'' Mr. Cr(C)peau told the UN News Centre. ''If you wanted to transfer a population of one small island with a few thousand people '' that can be negotiated. But I don't think we're yet at the level of destination States accepting hundreds of thousands or millions of people.''
''The political climate in most countries in the global North is such that discussing migration is actually very toxic. They are not going to make commitments at the UN in official fora which could backfire in the next election campaign, which is one, two, three, or four years from now.''
A view of the ravaged village of Vilufushi, on the southeastern Kolhumadulu Atoll, where 17 have died and 28 are still missing after the tsunami swept across their island.UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Yet for some small islands, these issues are already on the table and will likely get more attention in the coming months. Preparations are well under way for the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in the Samoan capital, Apia, starting 1 September. The week-long meeting is meant to give countries an opportunity to demonstrate solidarity and partnership with small island developing nations. It is also expected to launch new and concrete partnerships, such as in areas of sustainable tourism and disaster risk reduction.
''It will also allow those small island States that feel that they least contributed to climate change, to try to take a principled stand in the climate change negotiations, and play up this notion of common but differentiated responsibilities,'' Mr. Riera said, referring to the common goal of curbing emission gases through different roles among the richer and less economically developed Governments.
The UN is also preparing for a final round of climate change talks in Paris next year to hammer out a legally-binding climate treaty. Ahead of the talks, Mr. Ban will convene a climate summit at UN Headquarters this September, during the high-level opening of the General Assembly.
Ultimately, the outcomes of these conferences depend solely on the Governments of UN Member States.
''The important word in the United Nations is 'nations'. The UN in itself is nothing more than an international cooperation forum. It's the nations that can get together and do something,'' said Mr. Cr(C)peau. ''States can use the vessel to do something, but the vessel in itself can do nothing if the States are opposed to it. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is constantly urging the States to do something on a number of issues. Sometimes they do it, sometimes they don't.''
Climate change could make red hair a thing of the past if Scotland gets sunnier - Daily Record
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 01:09
REDHEADS could become extinct as Scotland gets sunnier, experts have claimed.
The gene that causes red hair is thought to be an evolutionary response to the lack of sun in Scotland.
Redhead colouring allows people to get the maximum vitamin D from what little sun there is.
Only one to two per cent of the world's population has red hair but in Scotland the figure is about 13 per cent, or 650,000 people.
However, the figure could fall dramatically '' and even see redheads die out completely in a few centuries '' if predictions that the country's climate is set to become much sunnier are true.
Dr Alistair Moffat, boss of genetic testing company ScotlandsDNA, said: ''We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and the north of England is adaptation to the climate. We do not get enough sun and have to get all the vitamin D we can.
''If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.''
Another scientist, who asked not to be named because of the theoretical nature of the work, said: ''I think the gene is slowly dying out. Climate change could see a decline in the number of people with red hair in Scotland.''
Canadian comic Shawn Hitchins, who led a ginger pride march in Edinburgh last year, said: ''It seems like everyone is coming up with new ways to eradicate the gingers.''
Antarctic sea ice hits second all-time record maximum in a week.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:15
Mark Serreze demonstrates a classic example of making up technical sounding gibberish to confuse laymen.
Originally posted on Talking About the Weather:
A graph of the latest all-time record of Southern Hemisphere sea ice area, expressed as an anomaly, courtesy of The Cryosphere Today.
Antarctic sea ice has hit its second all-time record maximum this week. The new record is 2.112 million square kilometers above normal. Until the weekend just past, the previous record had been 1.840 million square kilometers above normal, a mark hit on December 20, 2007, as I reported here, and also covered in my book.
Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, responded to e-mail questions and also spoke by telephone about the new record sea ice growth in the Southern Hemisphere, indicating that, somewhat counter-intuitively, the sea ice growth was specifically due to global warming.
''The primary reason for this is the nature of the circulation of the Southern Ocean '' water heated in high southern latitudes is carried equatorward, to be replaced'...
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BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes - Telegraph
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 20:05
''Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.''
The Trust said that man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics.
In April the BBC was accused of misleading viewers about climate change and creating 'false balance' by allowing unqualified sceptics to have too much air-time.
In a damning parliamentary report, the corporation was criticised for distorting the debate, with Radio 4's Today and World at One programmes coming in for particular criticism.
The BBC's determination to give a balanced view has seen it pit scientists arguing for climate change against far less qualified opponents such as Lord Lawson who heads a campaign group lobbying against the government's climate change policies.
Andrew Montford, who runs the Bishop Hill climate sceptic blog, former children's television presenter Johnny Ball and Bob Carter, a retired Australian geologist, are among the other climate sceptics that have appeared on the BBC.
The report highlighted World at One edition in September of a landmark UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research project which found concluded with 95 per cent certainty that the climate is changing and that human activity is the main cause.
The programme's producers tried more than a dozen qualified UK scientists to give an opposing view but could not find one willing to do so '' so they went to Mr Carter in Australia.
Pitted against Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Mr Carter described the findings of the most authoritative report ever undertaken into the science of climate change '' put together by hundreds of scientists around the world '' as ''hocus-pocus science''.
Is The Cloward-Piven Strategy Being Used To Destroy America? | Zero Hedge
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:41
Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog,
In the mid-sixties at the height of the ''social revolution'' the line between democratic benevolence and outright communism became rather blurry. The Democratic Party, which controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, was used as the springboard by social engineers to introduce a new era of welfare initiatives enacted in the name of ''defending the poor'', also known as the ''Great Society Programs''. These initiatives, however, were driven by far more subversive and extreme motivations, and have been expanded on by every presidency since, Republican and Democrat alike.
At Columbia University, sociologist professors Richard Cloward and Francis Fox Piven introduced a political strategy in 1966 in an article entitled 'The Weight Of The Poor: A Strategy To End Poverty'. This article outlined a plan that they believed would eventually lead to the total transmutation of America into a full-fledged centralized welfare state (in other words, a collectivist enclave). The spearpoint of the Cloward-Piven strategy involved nothing less than economic sabotage against the U.S.
Theoretically, according to the doctrine, a condition of overwhelming tension and strain could be engineered through the overloading of American welfare rolls, thereby smothering the entitlement program structure at the state and local level. The implosion of welfare benefits would facilitate a massive spike in poverty and desperation, creating a financial crisis that would lead to an even greater cycle of demand for a fully socialized system. This desperation would then ''force'' the federal government to concentrate all welfare programs under one roof, nationalize and enforce a socialist ideology, and ultimately, compact an immense level of power into the hands of a select few.
Cloward and Piven claimed that this could be accomplished at a grassroots level through community activism, and, that it would facilitate a more compassionate federal authority, however, there are numerous problems with these assertions.
The Cloward-Piven Strategy has nothing to do with grassroots activism, and accomplishes nothing tangible for the downtrodden poverty class. In fact, I would dare to say that Cloward and Piven as well as most social engineers are well aware that the concept ultimately only serves to give even more dominance to the establishment and pilfer even more freedom from the masses.
Cloward-Piven is not limited to the destabilization of state and local welfare programs. It can easily be used against federal level entitlements, and in reality, is much more effective against an entity with the proven tendency towards exponential debt spending. Though the federal government may be able to borrow fiat dollars through the Federal Reserve to prolong welfare rolls while the states cannot, a more volatile threat arises when debt monetization begins to wear down the purchasing power of the currency. Weakened purchasing power results in reduced consumer activity, less industrial growth, less GDP, and obviously, more poverty. The dollar has lost approximately 98% of its purchasing power since 1972, and after 50 years of the so-called ''War on Poverty'', nearly one third of the American population now repeatedly slips under the official poverty line.
In the past decade alone, the number of people dependent on food stamps and EBT for their survival in the U.S. has doubled from 25 million people to nearly 50 million people. Those who receive some kind of payment from the government, including those on social security, disability, and veterans benefits, are approximately 100 million. Americans on social security do not consider themselves welfare recipients because they paid into the system, however, the point remains that if the federal money tap shuts down due to overwhelming participation, the checks will stop whether you paid into the system or not.
In the end, it is the Federal Government itself that is most vulnerable to the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and I believe the goal is to set fire to ALL social structures in the U.S., then assimilate them into a new globalist system.
The tactic of overwhelming the welfare structure REQUIRES the complicity of the government itself. A grassroots activist movement cannot and will never compel federal and state governments to expand welfare initiatives if they do not wish to. If welfare programs are not expanded beyond their capacity to be maintained, they cannot be overwhelmed. Therefore, government must cooperate with the Cloward-Piven Strategy by generating more and more welfare programs to be exploited. That is to say, the elitists who control our government, regardless of their claimed political party, must WANT to arrange circumstances to allow for Cloward-Piven to be successful.
Another key component of Cloward-Piven is the existence of an immense number of poverty stricken people. Without a significant portion of the population under the poverty level, there is no mass of people to use as a weapon. Again, grassroots activists would be hard pressed to actually create the kind of poverty levels they would need for exploitation. But wait! Government, along with the aid or direction of central bankers, is able to create any level of poverty it wishes at any time by simply pretending to bungle everything it does. Once again, Cloward-Piven (much like Saul Alinsky's repertoire of propaganda scams) is far more useful to the power elite than it is to the common citizen. As former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, famously said:
''You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before...''
In light of the Cloward-Piven Strategy, which is at its very core a method to artificially induce crisis, the otherwise insane policy actions of the Obama Administration and preceding puppet presidents now become perfectly logical. Obama, after all, has been a long time proponent of the methods of Saul Alinsky, the left wing gatekeeper equivalent to Neo-Con godfather Leo Strauss. Cloward and Piven were also both avid followers of Alinsky, who promoted lies, misdirection, subversion, and abandonment of conscience in order to win social power at any cost (special note '' Alinsky also dedicated his book 'Rules For Radicals' to Lucifer...yeah, to the friggin' devil).
Under Obama's watch alone, our real national debt including unfunded liabilities and entitlements has risen to nearly $200 trillion. Our ''official'' national debt has gone from $10 trillion to $17 trillion in the short time Obama has been in office. Real unemployment including U-6 measurements stands at around 20% of all Americans. Personal wealth and savings have plummeted. Wages remain in stasis while prices on necessary goods continue to rise.
In my articles 'The Socialization Of America Is Economically Impossible' and 'Obamacare: Is It A Divide-And-Conquer Distraction?', I examined much evidence suggesting that Obamacare was actually designed to fail, and that the bumbling of the Obama White House when dealing with the program was purely deliberate. When coupled with Obama's handling of the current illegal immigration conflict, I would say that the Cloward-Piven Strategy is in full force.
Why fight tooth and nail against all common sense and history, why lie openly to millions of registered voters to get the program in place, only to allow it to derail because of a poorly designed website!? Because, Obama and his handlers know full well that it will end up costing the country billions that we cannot afford, and aid in a resulting crash.
Why the sudden surge of illegal immigrants into the U.S.? Why not! The White House has made it clear that it has every intention of keeping them within America by allowing the border patrol to ship the detained across the country where they are then released. Obama's threat to use executive action to force through his own version of the immigration bill is the icing on the cake. Amnesty is essentially guaranteed, I believe, in the near term, which is why tens of thousands of Central American parents are willing to send their children on a journey where they could very well be kidnapped by sex traffickers or killed. If the White House really wanted to stop this humanitarian crisis, the President would state publicly and clearly that America is not a drive through welfare center, that there will be no free goodies at the second window, and that there will be no chance of amnesty, instead of diverting more agents to the border to ensure more illegals are shipped into the interior.
The president does not wish to stop the flood of immigrants exactly because Cloward-Piven requires their presence. Not only would this officially add millions of people to welfare rolls, but I would venture to suggest that Obama will likely include automatic sign-up to universal healthcare as part of his amnesty measures.
If there wasn't enough strain on the social welfare structure before, there certainly will be now.
I would remind readers, though, that in the final analysis this is NOT about Obama. I have seen other commentators including Glenn Beck discuss Cloward-Piven in the past, but always through the blinders of the false left/right paradigm. Obama could not have attained the levels of destabilization he has without standing on the shoulders of those political errand boys who came before him. Ronald Reagan, for instance, was also responsible for signing the Immigration Reform And Control Act of 1986 into law, which was supposed to trade the amnesty of 3 million illegals for greater border security. This new "more comprehensive" security was never implemented by Reagan. Both Republican and Democratic regimes have made our current calamity possible, and the leaderships behind both parties are nothing more than paid mascots for international financiers and globalists who have a very different vision of what America should be.
If we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of making the developing crisis about a singularly unimportant man such as Obama, then the elites get exactly what they want '' an angry and desperate citizenry out for the blood of a middleman and out for the blood of each other, while they sit back, relax, and wait to swoop in as our financial saviors with strings attached.
For those na¯ve enough to assume that Cloward-Piven is just a well intentioned activist method, it is important to understand that even if that were so, the effect of the Cloward-Piven Strategy will never achieve the goal its creators claimed to support. In my view, it is probable that they never really intended for it to produce wealth equality or an increased quality of life.
The tactic can only decrease wealth security by making all citizens equally destitute. As we have seen in numerous socialist and communist experiments over the past century, economic harmonization never creates wealth or prosperity, it only siphons wealth from one area and redistributes it to others, evaporating much of it as it is squeezed through the grinding gears of the establishment machine. Socialism, in its very essence, elevates government to the role of all-pervasive parent, and casts the citizenry down into the role of dependent sniveling infant. Even in its most righteous form, Cloward-Piven seeks to make infants of us all, whether we like it or not.
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Cloward''Piven strategy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:43
The Cloward''Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of "a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty". Cloward and Piven were a married couple who were both professors at the Columbia University School of Social Work. The strategy was formulated in a May 1966 article in the liberal[1] magazine The Nation titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty".[2]
The two stated that many Americans who were eligible for welfare were not receiving benefits, and that a welfare enrollment drive would strain local budgets, precipitating a crisis at the state and local levels that would be a wake-up call for the federal government, particularly the Democratic Party. There would also be side consequences of this strategy, according to Cloward and Piven. These would include: easing the plight of the poor in the short-term (through their participation in the welfare system); shoring up support for the national Democratic Party-then splintered by pluralistic interests (through its cultivation of poor and minority constituencies by implementing a national "solution" to poverty); and relieving local governments of the financially and politically onerous burdens of public welfare (through a national "solution" to poverty)[citation needed].
The strategy[edit]Cloward and Piven's article is focused on forcing the Democratic Party, which in 1966 controlled the presidency and both houses of the United States Congress, to take federal action to help the poor. They stated that full enrollment of those eligible for welfare ''would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments'' that would ''deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor. To avoid a further weakening of that historic coalition, a national Democratic administration would be constrained to advance a federal solution to poverty that would override local welfare failures, local class and racial conflicts and local revenue dilemmas.''[3] They wrote:
''The ultimate objective of this strategy'--to wipe out poverty by establishing a guaranteed annual income'--will be questioned by some. Because the ideal of individual social and economic mobility has deep roots, even activists seem reluctant to call for national programs to eliminate poverty by the outright redistribution of income.[3]''Michael Reisch and Janice Andrews wrote that Cloward and Piven "proposed to create a crisis in the current welfare system '' by exploiting the gap between welfare law and practice '' that would ultimately bring about its collapse and replace it with a system of guaranteed annual income. They hoped to accomplish this end by informing the poor of their rights to welfare assistance, encouraging them to apply for benefits and, in effect, overloading an already overburdened bureaucracy."[4]
Focus on Democrats[edit]The authors pinned their hopes on creating disruption within the Democratic Party. "Conservative Republicans are always ready to declaim the evils of public welfare, and they would probably be the first to raise a hue and cry. But deeper and politically more telling conflicts would take place within the Democratic coalition," they wrote. "Whites '' both working class ethnic groups and many in the middle class '' would be aroused against the ghetto poor, while liberal groups, which until recently have been comforted by the notion that the poor are few... would probably support the movement. Group conflict, spelling political crisis for the local party apparatus, would thus become acute as welfare rolls mounted and the strains on local budgets became more severe.''[5]
Reception and criticism[edit]Howard Phillips, chairman of The Conservative Caucus, was quoted in 1982 as saying that the strategy could be effective because "Great Society programs had created a vast army of full-time liberal activists whose salaries are paid from the taxes of conservative working people."[6]
Liberal commentator Michael Tomasky, writing about the strategy in the 1990s and again in 2011, called it "wrongheaded and self-defeating", writing: "It apparently didn't occur to [Cloward and Piven] that the system would just regard rabble-rousing black people as a phenomenon to be ignored or quashed."[7]
Impact of the strategy[edit]In papers published in 1971 and 1977, Cloward and Piven argued that mass unrest in the United States, especially between 1964 and 1969, did lead to a massive expansion of welfare rolls, though not to the guaranteed-income program that they had hoped for.[8] Political scientist Robert Albritton disagreed, writing in 1979 that the data did not support this thesis; he offered an alternative explanation for the rise in welfare caseloads.
In his 2006 book Winning the Race, political commentator John McWhorter attributed the rise in the welfare state after the 1960s to the Cloward''Piven strategy, but wrote about it negatively, stating that the strategy "created generations of black people for whom working for a living is an abstraction."[9]
According to historian Robert E. Weir in 2007, "Although the strategy helped to boost recipient numbers between 1966 and 1975, the revolution its proponents envisioned never transpired."[10]
Some commentators have blamed the Cloward''Piven strategy for the near-bankruptcy of New York City in 1975.[11][12]
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck referred to the Cloward-Piven Strategy often on his Fox News television show, Glenn Beck, during its run from 2009 to 2011, reiterating his opinion that it had helped to inspire President Barack Obama's economic policy. On February 18, 2010, for example, Beck said, "you've got total destruction of wealth coming ... It's the final phase of the Cloward-Piven strategy, which is collapse the system."[13]
Richard Kim, writing in 2010 in The Nation (in which the original essay appeared), called such assertions "a reactionary paranoid fantasy ..." but says that "the left's gut reaction upon hearing of it--to laugh it off as a Scooby-Doo comic mystery--does nothing to blunt its appeal or limit its impact."[14]The Nation later stated that Beck blames the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" for "the financial crisis of 2008, healthcare reform, Obama's election and massive voter fraud" and has resulted in the posting of much violent and threatening rhetoric by users on Beck's website, including death threats against Frances Fox Piven.[15] For her part, Piven vigorously continues to defend the original idea, calling its conservative interpretation "lunatic".[16]
References[edit]^Peters, Jeremy W. (November 7, 2010). "Bad News for Liberals May Be Good News for a Liberal Magazine". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2010. ^Cloward, Richard; Piven, Frances (May 2, 1966). "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty". (Originally published in The Nation). ^ abCloward and Piven, p. 510^Reisch, Michael; Janice Andrews (2001). The Road Not Taken. Brunner Routledge. pp. 144''146. ISBN 1-58391-025-5. ^Cloward and Piven, p. 516^Robert Pear (1984-04-15). "Drive to Sign Up Poor for Voting Meets Resistance". The New York Times. ^Glenn Beck and Fran Piven, Michael Tomasky, Michael Tomasky's Blog, The Guardian, January 24, 2011^Albritton, Robert (December 1979). Social Amelioration through Mass Insurgency? A Reexamination of the Piven and Cloward Thesis. American Political Science Review. JSTOR 1953984. ^McWhorter, John, "John McWhorter: How Welfare Went Wrong", NPR, August 9, 2006.^Weir, Robert (2007). Class in America. Greenwood Press. p. 616. ISBN 978-0-313-33719-2. ^Chandler, Richard, "The Cloward''Piven strategy", The Washington Times, October 15, 2008^Frances Fox Piven: Glenn Beck Seeks 'Foreign, Dark-Skinned, Intellectual' Scapegoats, Kyle Olson,, February 8, 2010^Beck, Glenn (February 18, 2010). "Study Says We're Toast". ^Kim, Richard (April 12, 2010). "The Mad Tea Party". The Nation. ^"Glenn Beck Targets Frances Fox Piven". The Nation. February 7, 2011. ^Piven, F.F. (2011) Crazy Talk and American Politics: or, My Glenn Beck Story, The Chronicle of Higher Education (The Chronicle Review) 57(25), B4-B5.
The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty | Common Dreams
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:42
From the Monday, May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation
How can the poor be organized to press for relief from poverty? How can a broad-based movement be developed and the current disarray of activist forces be halted? These questions confront, and confound, activists today. It is our purpose to advance a strategy which affords the basis for a convergence of civil rights organizations, militant anti-poverty groups and the poor. If this strategy were implemented, a political crisis would result that could lead to legislation for a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.
The strategy is based on the fact that a vast discrepancy exists between the benefits to which people are entitled under public welfare programs and the sums which they actually receive. This gulf is not recognized in a society that is wholly and self-righteously oriented toward getting people off the welfare rolls. It is widely known, for example, that nearly 8 million persons (half of them white) now subsist on welfare, but it is not generally known that for every person on the rolls at least one more probably meets existing criteria of eligibility but is not obtaining assistance.
The discrepancy is not an accident stemming from bureaucratic inefficiency; rather, it is an integral feature of the welfare system which, if challenged, would precipitate a profound financial and political crisis. The force for that challenge, and the strategy we propose, is a massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.
The distribution of public assistance has been a local and state responsibility, and that accounts in large part for the abysmal character of welfare practices. Despite the growing involvement of federal agencies in supervisory and reimbursement arrangements, state and local community forces are still decisive. The poor are most visible and proximate in the local community; antagonism toward them (and toward the agencies which are implicated with them) has always, therefore, been more intense locally than at the federal level. In recent years, local communities have increasingly felt class and ethnic friction generated by competition for neighborhoods, schools, jobs and political power. Public welfare systems are under the constant stress of conflict and opposition, made only sharper by the rising costs to localities of public aid. And, to accommodate this pressure, welfare practice everywhere has become more restrictive than welfare statute; much of the time it verges on lawlessness. Thus, public welfare systems try to keep their budgets down and their rolls low by failing to inform people of the rights available to them; by intimidating and shaming them to the degree that they are reluctant either to apply or to press claims, and by arbitrarily denying benefits to those who are eligible.
A series of welfare drives in large cities would, we believe, impel action on a new federal program to distribute income, eliminating the present public welfare system and alleviating the abject poverty which it perpetrates. Widespread campaigns to register the eligible poor for welfare aid, and to help existing recipients obtain their full benefits, would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments. These disruptions would generate severe political strains, and deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the white working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor. To avoid a further weakening of that historic coalition, a national Democratic administration would be con-strained to advance a federal solution to poverty that would override local welfare failures, local class and racial conflicts and local revenue dilemmas. By the internal disruption of local bureaucratic practices, by the furor over public welfare poverty, and by the collapse of current financing arrangements, powerful forces can be generated for major economic reforms at the national level.
The ultimate objective of this strategy--to wipe out poverty by establishing a guaranteed annual income--will be questioned by some. Because the ideal of individual social and economic mobility has deep roots, even activists seem reluctant to call for national programs to eliminate poverty by the outright redistribution of income. Instead, programs are demanded to enable people to become economically competitive. But such programs are of no use to millions of today's poor. For example, one-third of the 35 million poor Americans are in families headed by females; these heads of family cannot be aided appreciably by job retraining, higher minimum wages, accelerated rates of economic growth, or employment in public works projects. Nor can the 5 million aged who are poor, nor those whose poverty results from the ill health of the wage earner. Programs to enhance individual mobility will chiefly benefit the very young, if not the as yet unborn. Individual mobility is no answer to the question of how to abolish the massive problem of poverty now.
It has never been the full answer. If many people in the past have found their way up from poverty by the path of individual mobility, many others have taken a different route. Organized labor stands out as a major example. Although many American workers never yielded their dreams of individual achievement, they accepted and practiced the principle that each can benefit only as the status of workers as a whole is elevated. They bargained for collective mobility, not for individual mobility; to promote their fortunes in the aggregate, not to promote the prospects of one worker over another. And if each finally found himself in the same relative economic relationship to his fellows as when he began, it was nevertheless clear that all were infinitely better off. That fact has sustained the labor movement in the face of a counter pull from the ideal of individual achievement.
But many of the contemporary poor will not rise from poverty by organizing to bargain collectively. They either are not in the labor force or are In such marginal and dispersed occupations (e.g., domestic servants) that it is extremely difficult to organize them. Compared with other groups, then, many of today's poor cannot secure a redistribution of income by organizing within the institution of private enterprise. A federal program of income redistribution has become necessary to elevate the poor en masse from poverty.
Several ways have been proposed for redistributing income through the federal government. It is not our purpose here to assess the relative merits of these plans, which are still undergoing debate and clarification. Whatever mechanism is eventually adopted, however, it must include certain features if it is not merely to perpetuate in a new guise the present evils of the public welfare system.
First, adequate levels of income must be assured. (Public welfare levels are astonishingly low; indeed, states typically define a "minimum" standard of living and then grant only a percentage of it, so that families are held well below what the government itself officially defines as the poverty level.) Furthermore, income should be distributed without requiring that recipients first divest themselves of their assets, as public welfare now does, thereby pauperizing families as a condition of sustenance.
Second, the right to income must be guaranteed, or the oppression of the welfare poor will not be eliminated. Because benefits are conditional under the present public welfare system, submission to arbitrary governmental power is regularly made the price of sustenance. People have been coerced into attending literacy classes or participating in medical or vocational rehabilitation regimes, on pain of having their benefits terminated. Men are forced into labor on virtually any terms lest they forfeit their welfare aid. One can prize literacy, health and work, while still vigorously opposing the right of government to compel compliance with these values.
Conditional benefits thus result in violations of civil liberties throughout the nation, and in a pervasive oppression of the poor. And these violations are not less real because the impulse leading to them is altruistic and the agency is professional. If new systems of income distribution continue to permit the professional bureaucracies to choose when to give and when to withhold financial relief, the poor will once again be surrendered to an arrangement in which their rights are diminished in the name of overcoming their vices. Those who lead an attack on the welfare system must therefore be alert to the pitfalls of inadequate but placating reforms which give the appearance of victory to what is in truth defeat.
How much economic force can be mobilized by this strategy? This question is not easy to answer because few studies have been conducted of people who are not receiving public assistance even though they may be eligible. For the purposes of this presentation, a few facts about New York City may be suggestive. Since practices elsewhere are generally acknowledged to be even more restrictive, the estimates of unused benefits which follow probably yield a conservative estimate of the potential force of the strategy set forth in this article.
Basic assistance for food and rent: The most striking characteristic of public welfare practice is that a great many people who appear to be eligible for assistance are not on the welfare rolls. The average monthly total of New York City residents receiving assistance in 1959 was 325,771, but according to the 1960 census. 716,000 persons (unrelated or in families) appeared to be subsisting on incomes at or below the prevailing welfare eligibility levels (e.g $2,070 for a family of four). In that same year, 539,000 people subsisted on incomes less than 80 per cent of the welfare minimums, and 200,000 lived alone or in families on incomes reported to be less than half of eligibility levels. Thus it appears that for every person on welfare in 1959, at least one more was eligible.
The results of two surveys of selected areas in Manhattan support the contention that many people subsist on incomes below welfare eligibility levels. One of these, conducted by Greenleigh Associates in 1964 in an urban-renewal area on New York's upper West Side, found 9 per cent of those not on the rolls were in such acute need that they appeared to qualify for emergency assistance. The study showed, further, that a substantial number of families that were not in a "critical" condition would probably have qualified for supplemental assistance.
The other survey, conducted in 1961 by Mobilization for Youth, had similar findings. The area from which its sample was drawn, 67 square blocks on the lower East Side, is a poor one, but by no means the poorest in New York City. Yet 13 per cent of the total sample who were not on the welfare rolls reported incomes falling below the prevailing welfare schedules for food and rent.
There is no reason to suppose that the discrepancy between those eligible for and those receiving assistance has narrowed much in the past few years. The welfare rolls have gone up, to be sure, but so have eligibility levels. Since the economic circumstances of impoverished groups in New York have not improved appreciably in the past few years, each such rise increases the number of people who are potentially eligible for some degree of assistance.
Even if one allows for the possibility that family-income figures are grossly underestimated by the census, the financial implications of the proposed strategy are still very great. In 1965, the monthly average of persons receiving cash assistance in New York was 490,000, at a total cost of $440 million; the rolls have now risen above 500,000, so that costs will exceed $500 million in 1966. An increase in the rolls of a mere 20 per cent would cost an already overburdened municipality some $100 million.
Special grants: Public assistance recipients in New York are also entitled to receive "nonrecurring" grants for clothing, household equipment and furniture-including washing machines, refrigerators, beds and bedding, tables and chairs. It hardly needs to be noted that most impoverished families have grossly inadequate clothing and household furnishings. The Greenleigh study, for example, found that 52 per cent of the families on public assistance lacked anything approaching adequate furniture. This condition results because almost nothing is spent on special grants in New York. In October, 1965, a typical month, the Department of Welfare spent only $2.50 per recipient for heavy clothing and $1.30 for household furnishings. Taken together, grants of this kind amounted in 1965 to a mere $40 per person, or a total of $20 million for the entire year. Considering the real needs of families, the successful demand for full entitlements could multiply these expenditures tenfold or more and that would involve the disbursement of many millions of dollars indeed.
One must be cautious in making generalizations about the prospects for this strategy in any jurisdiction unless the structure of welfare practices has been examined in some detail. We can, however, cite other studies conducted in other places to show that New York practices are not atypical. In Detroit, for example, Greenleigh Associates studied a large sample of households in a low-income district in 1965. Twenty per cent were already receiving assistance, but 35 per cent more were judged to need it. Although the authors made no strict determination of the eligibility of these families under the laws of Michigan, they believed that "larger numbers of persons were eligible than receiving." A good many of these families did not know that public assistance was available; others thought they would be deemed ineligible; not a few were ashamed or afraid to ask.
Similar deprivations have been shown in nation-wide studies. In 1963, the federal government carried out a survey based on a national sample of 5,500 families whose benefits under Aid to Dependent Children had been terminated. Thirty-four per cent of these cases were officially in need of income at the point of closing: this was true of 30 per cent of the white and 44 per cent of the Negro cases. The chief basis for termination given in local department records was "other reasons" (i.e., other than improvement in financial condition, which would make dependence on welfare unnecessary). Upon closer examination, these "other reasons" turned out to be "unsuitable home" (i.e., the presence of illegitimate children), "failure to comply with departmental regulations'' or "refusal to take legal action against a putative father." (Negroes were especially singled out for punitive action on the ground that children were not being maintained in "suitable homes.") The amounts of money that people are deprived of by these injustices are very great.
In order to generate a crisis, the poor must obtain benefits which they have forfeited. Until now, they have been inhibited from asserting claims by self-protective devices within the welfare system: its capacity to limit information, to intimidate applicants, to demoralize recipients, and arbitrarily to deny lawful claims.
Ignorance of welfare rights can be attacked through a massive educational campaign Brochures describing benefits in simple, clear language, and urging people to seek their full entitlements, should be distributed door to door in tenements and public housing projects, and deposited in stores, schools, churches and civic centers. Advertisements should be placed in newspapers; spot announcements should be made on radio. Leaders of social, religious, fraternal and political groups in the slums should also be enlisted to recruit the eligible to the rolls. The fact that the campaign is intended to inform people of their legal rights under a government program, that it is a civic education drive, will lend it legitimacy.
But information alone will not suffice. Organizers will have to become advocates in order to deal effectively with improper rejections and terminations. The advocate's task is to appraise the circumstances of each case, to argue its merits before welfare, to threaten legal action if satisfaction is not given. In some cases, it will be necessary to contest decisions by requesting a "fair hearing" before the appropriate state supervisory agency; it may occasionally be necessary to sue for redress in the courts. Hearings and court actions will require lawyers, many of whom, in cities like New York, can be recruited on a voluntary basis, especially under the banner of a movement to end poverty by a strategy of asserting legal rights. However, most cases will not require an expert knowledge of law, but only of welfare regulations; the rules can be learned by laymen, including welfare recipients themselves (who can help to man "information and advocacy" centers). To aid workers in these centers, handbooks should be prepared describing welfare rights and the tactics to employ in claiming them.
Advocacy must be supplemented by organized demonstrations to create a climate of militancy that will overcome the invidious and immobilizing attitudes which many potential recipients hold toward being "on welfare." In such a climate, many more poor people are likely to become their own advocates and will not need to rely on aid from organizers.
As the crisis develops, it will be important to use the mass media to inform the broader liberal community about the inefficiencies and injustices of welfare. For example, the system will not be able to process many new applicants because of cumbersome and often unconstitutional investigatory procedures (which cost 20c for every dollar disbursed). As delays mount, so should the public demand that a simplified affidavit supplant these procedures, so that the poor may certify to their condition. If the system reacts by making the proof of eligibility more difficult, the demand should be made that the Department of Health, Education and Welfare dispatch "eligibility registrars" to enforce federal statutes governing local programs. And throughout the crisis, the mass media should be used to advance arguments for a new federal income distribution program.
Although new resources in organizers and funds would have to be developed to mount this campaign, a variety of conventional agencies in the large cities could also be drawn upon for help. The idea of "welfare rights" has begun to attract attention in many liberal circles. A number of organizations, partly under the aegis of the "war against poverty," are developing information and advocacy services for low-income people [see "Poverty, Injustice and the Welfare State" by Richard A. Cloward and Richard M. Elman, The Nation, issues of February 28, 1966 and March 7, 1966]. It is not likely that these organizations will directly participate in the present strategy, for obvious political reasons. But whether they participate or not, they constitute a growing network of resources to which people can be referred for help in establishing and maintaining entitlements. In the final analysis, it does not matter who helps people to get on the rolls or to get additional entitlements, so long as the job is done.
Since this plan deals with problems of great immediacy In the lives of the poor, it should motivate some of them to involve themselves in regular organizational activities. Welfare recipients, chiefly ADC mothers, are already forming federations, committees and councils in cities across the nation; in Boston, New York, Newark, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, to mention a few. Such groups typically focus on obtaining full entitlements for existing recipients rather than on recruiting new recipients, and they do not yet comprise a national movement. But their very existence attests to a growing readiness among ghetto residents to act against public welfare.
To generate an expressly political movement, cadres of aggressive organizers would have to come from the civil rights movement and the churches, from militant low-income organizations like those formed by the Industrial Areas Foundation (that is, by Saul Alinsky), and from other groups on the Left. These activists should be quick to see the difference between programs to redress individual grievances and a large-scale social-action campaign for national policy reform.
Movements that depend on involving masses of poor people have generally failed in America. Why would the proposed strategy to engage the poor succeed?
First, this plan promises immediate economic benefits. This is a point of some importance because, whereas America's poor have not been moved in any number by radical political ideologies, they have sometimes been moved by their economic interests. Since radical movements in America have rarely been able to provide visible economic incentives, they have usually failed to secure mass participation of any kind. The conservative "business unionism" of organized labor is explained by this fact, for membership enlarged only as unionism paid off in material benefits. Union leaders have understood that their strength derives almost entirely from their capacity to provide economic rewards to members. Although leaders have increasingly acted in political spheres, their influence has been directed chiefly to matters of governmental policy affecting the well-being of organized workers. The same point is made by the experience of rent strikes in Northern cities. Their organizers were often motivated by radical ideologies, but tenants have been attracted by the promise that housing improvements would quickly be made if they withheld their rent.
Second, for this strategy to succeed, one need not ask more of most of the poor than that they claim lawful benefits. Thus the plan has the extraordinary capability of yielding mass influence without mass participation, at least as the term "participation" is ordinarily understood. Mass influence in this case stems from the consumption of benefits and does not require that large groups of people be involved in regular organizational roles.
Moreover, this kind of mass influence is cumulative because benefits are continuous. Once eligibility for basic food and rent grants is established, the dram on local resources persists indefinitely. Other movements have failed precisely because they could not produce continuous and cumulative influence. In the Northern rent strikes, for example, tenant participation depended largely on immediate grievances; as soon as landlords made the most minimal repairs, participation fell away and with it the impact of the movement. Efforts to revive tenant participation by organizing demonstrations around broader housing issues (e.g., the expansion of public housing) did not succeed because the incentives were not immediate.
Third, the prospects for mass influence are enhanced because this plan provides a practical basis for coalition between poor whites and poor Negroes. Advocates of low-income movements have not been able to suggest how poor whites and poor Negroes can be united in an expressly lower-class movement. Despite pleas of some Negro leaders for joint action on programs requiring integration, poor whites have steadfastly resisted making common cause with poor Negroes. By contrast, the benefits of the present plan are as great for whites as for Negroes. In the big cities, at least, it does not seem likely that poor whites, whatever their prejudices against either Negroes or public welfare, will refuse to participate when Negroes aggressively claim benefits that are unlawfully denied to them as well. One salutary consequence of public information campaigns to acquaint Negroes with their rights is that many whites will be made aware of theirs. Even if whites prefer to work through their own organizations and leaders, the consequences will be equivalent to joining with Negroes. For if the object is to focus attention on the need for new economic measures by producing a crisis over the dole, anyone who insists upon extracting maximum benefits from public welfare is in effect part of a coalition and is contributing to the cause.
The ultimate aim of this strategy is a new program for direct income distribution. What reason is there to expect that the federal government will enact such legislation in response to a crisis in the welfare system?
We ordinarily think of major legislation as taking form only through established electoral processes. We tend to overlook the force of crisis in precipitating legislative reform, partly because we lack a theoretical framework by which to understand the impact of major disruptions.
By crisis, we mean a publicly visible disruption in some institutional sphere. Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognized disruption to public attention. Public trouble is a political liability, it calls for action by political leaders to stabilize the situation. Because crisis usually creates or exposes conflict, it threatens to produce cleavages in a political consensus which politicians will ordinarily act to avert.
Although crisis impels political action, it does not itself determine the selection of specific solutions. Political leaders will try to respond with proposals which work to their advantage in the electoral process. Unless group cleavages form around issues and demands, the politician has great latitude and tends to proffer only the minimum action required to quell disturbances without risking existing electoral support. Spontaneous disruptions, such as riots, rarely produce leaders who articulate demands; thus no terms are imposed, and political leaders are permitted to respond in ways that merely restore a semblance of stability without offending other groups in a coalition.
When, however, a crisis is defined by its participants--or by other activated groups--as a matter of clear issues and preferred solutions, terms are imposed on the politicians' bid for their support. Whether political leaders then design solutions to reflect these terms depends on a twofold calculation: first, the impact of the crisis and the issues it raises on existing alignments and, second, the gains or losses in support to be expected as a result of a proposed resolution.
As to the impact on existing alignments, issues exposed by a crisis may activate new groups, thus altering the balance of support and opposition on the issues; or it may polarize group sentiments, altering the terms which must be offered to insure the support of given constituent groups. In framing resolutions, politicians are more responsive to group shifts and are more likely to accommodate to the terms imposed when electoral coalitions threatened by crisis are already uncertain or weakening. In other words, the politician responds to group demands, not only by calculating the magnitude of electoral gains and losses, but by assessing the impact of the resolution on the stability of existing or potential coalitions. Political leaders are especially responsive to group shifts when the terms of settlement can be framed so as to shore up an existing coalition, or as a basis for the development of new and more stable alignments, without jeopardizing existing support. Then, indeed, the calculation of net gain is most secure.
The legislative reforms of the depression years, for example, were impelled not so much by organized interests exercised through regular electoral processes as by widespread economic crisis. That crisis precipitated the disruption of the regionally based coalitions underlying the old national parties. During the realignments of 1932, a new Democratic coalition was formed, based heavily on urban working-class groups. Once in power, the national Democratic leadership proposed and implemented the economic reforms of the New Deal. Although these measures were a response to the imperative of economic crisis, the types of measures enacted were designed to secure and stabilize the new Democratic coalition.
The civil rights movement, to take a recent case, also reveals the relationship of crisis and electoral conditions in producing legislative reform. The crisis in the South took place in the context of a weakening North-South Democratic coalition. The strains in that coalition were first evident in the Dixiecrat desertion of 1948, and continued through the Eisenhower years as the Republicans gained ground in the Southern states. Democratic party leaders at first tried to hold the dissident South by warding off the demands of enlarging Negro constituencies in Northern cities. Thus for two decades the national Democratic Party campaigned on strongly worded civil rights planks but enacted only token measures. The civil rights movement forced the Democrats' hand: a crumbling Southern partnership was forfeited, and major civil rights legislation was put forward, designed to insure the support of Northern Negroes and liberal elements in the Democratic coalition. That coalition emerged strong from the 1964 election, easily able to overcome the loss of Southern states to Goldwater. At the same time, the enacted legislation, particularly the Voting Rights Act, laid the ground for a new Southern Democratic coalition of moderate whites and the hitherto untapped reservoir of Southern Negro voters.
The electoral context which made crisis effective in the South is also to be found in the big cities of the nation today. Deep tensions have developed among groups comprising the political coalitions of the large cities--the historic stronghold of the Democratic Party. As a consequence, urban politicians no longer turn in the vote to national Democratic candidates with unfailing regularity. The marked defections revealed in the elections of the 1950s and which continued until the Johnson landslide of 1964 are a matter of great concern to the national party. Precisely because of this concern, a strategy to exacerbate still further the strains in the urban coalition can be expected to evoke a response from national leaders.
The weakening of the urban coalition is a result of many basic changes in the relationship of local party leadership to its constituents. First, the political machine, the distinctive and traditional mechanism for forging alliances among competing groups in the city, is now virtually defunct in most cities Successive waves of municipal reform have deprived political leaders of control over the public resources--jobs, contracts, services and favors--which machine politicians formerly dispensed to voters in return for electoral support. Conflicts among elements in the urban Democratic coalition, once held together politically because each secured a share of these benefits, cannot now be so readily contained. And as the means of placating competing groups have diminished, tensions along ethnic and class lines have multiplied. These tensions are being intensified by the encroachments of an enlarging ghetto population on jobs, schools and residential areas Big-city mayors are thus caught between antagonistic working-class ethnic groups, the remaining middle class, and the rapidly enlarging minority poor.
Second, there are discontinuities in the relationship between the urban party apparatus and its ghetto constituents which have so far remained unexposed but which a welfare crisis would force into view. The ghetto vote has been growing rapidly and has so far returned overwhelming Democratic majorities. Nevertheless, this voting bloc is not fully integrated in the party apparatus, either through the representation of its leaders or the accommodation of its interests.
While the urban political apparatus includes members of new minority groups, these groups are by no means represented according to their increasing proportions in the population. More important, elected representation alone is not an adequate mechanism for the expression of group interests. Influence in urban politics is won not only at the polls but through the sustained activity of organized interests--such as labor unions, home-owner associations and business groups. These groups keep watch over the complex operations of municipal agencies, recognizing issues and regularly asserting their point of view through meetings with public officials, appearances at public hearings and the like, and by exploiting a whole array of channels of influence on government. Minority constituencies--at least the large proportion of them that are poor--are not regular participants in the various institutional spheres where organized interest groups typically develop. Thus the interests of the mass of minority poor are not protected by associations which make their own or other political leaders responsive by continuously calling them to account. Urban party organizations have become, in consequence, more an avenue for the personal advancement of minority political leaders than a channel for the expression of minority-group interests. And the big-city mayors, struggling to preserve an uneasy urban consensus, have thus been granted the slack to evade the conflict-generating interests of the ghetto. A crisis in public welfare would expose the tensions latent in this attenuated relationship between the ghetto vote and the urban party leadership, for it would thrust forward ghetto demands and back them with the threat of defections by voters who have so far remained both loyal and quiescent.
In the face of such a crisis, urban political leaders may well be paralyzed by a party apparatus which ties them to older constituent groups, even while the ranks of these groups are diminishing. The national Democratic leadership, however, is alert to the importance of the urban Negro vote, especially in national contests where the loyalty of other urban groups is weakening. Indeed, many of the legislative reforms of the Great Society can be understood as efforts, however feeble, to reinforce the allegiance of growing ghetto constituencies to the national Democratic Administration. In the thirties, Democrats began to put forward measures to circumvent the states in order to reach the big-city elements in the New Deal coalition; now it is becoming expedient to put forward measures to circumvent the weakened big-city mayors in order to reach the new minority poor.
Recent federal reforms have been impelled in part by widespread unrest in the ghetto, and instances of more aggressive Negro demands. But despite these signs that the ghetto vote may become less reliable in the future, there has been as yet no serious threat of massive defection. The national party has therefore not put much pressure on its urban branches to accommodate the minority poor. The resulting reforms have consequently been quite modest (e.g., the war against poverty, with its emphasis on the "involvement of the poor," is an effort to make the urban party apparatus somewhat more accommodating).
A welfare crisis would, of course, produce dramatic local political crisis, disrupting and exposing rifts among urban groups. Conservative Republicans are always ready to declaim the evils of public welfare, and they would probably be the first to raise a hue and cry. But deeper and politically more telling conflicts would take place within the Democratic coalition. Whites--both working-class ethnic groups and many in the middle class--would be aroused against the ghetto poor, while liberal groups, which until recently have been comforted by the notion that the poor are few and, in any event, receiving the beneficent assistance of public welfare, would probably support the movement. Group conflict, spelling political crisis for the local party apparatus, would thus become acute as welfare rolls mounted and the strains on local budgets became more severe. In New York City, where the Mayor is now facing desperate revenue shortages, welfare expenditures are already second only to those for public education.
It should also be noted that welfare costs are generally shared by local, state and federal governments, so that the crisis in the cities would intensify the struggle over revenues that is chronic in relations between cities and states. If the past is any predictor of the future, cities will fail to procure relief from this crisis by persuading states to increase their proportionate share of urban welfare costs, for state legislatures have been notoriously unsympathetic to the revenue needs of the city (especially where public welfare and minority groups are concerned).
If this strategy for crisis would intensify group cleavages, a federal income solution would not further exacerbate them. The demands put forward during recent civil rights drives in the Northern cities aroused the opposition of huge majorities. Indeed, such fierce resistance was evoked (e.g., school boycotts followed by counter-boycotts), that accessions by political leaders would have provoked greater political turmoil than the protests themselves, for profound class and ethnic interests are at stake in the employment, educational and residential institutions of our society. By contrast, legislative measures to provide direct income to the poor would permit national Democratic leaden to cultivate ghetto constituencies without unduly antagonizing other urban groups, as is the case when the battle lines are drawn over schools, housing or jobs. Furthermore, a federal income program would not only redeem local governments from the immediate crisis but would permanently relieve them of the financially and politically onerous burdens of public welfare--a function which generates support from none and hostility from many, not least of all welfare recipients. We suggest, in short, that if pervasive institutional reforms are not yet possible, requiring as they do expanded Negro political power and the development of new political alliances, crisis tactics can nevertheless be employed to secure particular reforms in the short run by exploiting weaknesses in current political alignments. Because the urban coalition stands weakened by group conflict today, disruption and threats of disaffection will count powerfully, provided that national leaders can respond with solutions which retain the support of ghetto constituencies while avoiding new group antagonisms and bolstering the urban party apparatus. These are the conditions, then, for an effective crisis strategy in the cities to secure an end to poverty.
No strategy, however confident its advocates may be, is foolproof. But if unforeseen contingencies thwart this plan to bring about new federal legislation in the field of poverty, it should also be noted that there would be gains even in defeat. For one thing, the plight of many poor people would be somewhat eased in the course of an assault upon public welfare. Existing recipients would come to know their rights and how to defend them, thus acquiring dignity where none now exists; and millions of dollars in withheld welfare benefits would become available to potential recipients now--not several generations from now. Such an attack should also be welcome to those currently concerned with programs designed to equip the young to rise out of poverty (e.g., Head Start), for surely children learn more readily when the oppressive burden of financial insecurity is lifted from the shoulders of their parents. And those seeking new ways to engage the Negro politically should remember that public resources have always been the fuel for low-income urban political organization. If organizers can deliver millions of dollars in cash benefits to the ghetto masses, it seems reasonable to expect that the masses will deliver their loyalties to their benefactors. At least, they have always done so in the past.
(C) 1966 The Nation
A revealing speech by US Fed chief Yellen
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:03
By Nick Beams4 July 2014The US Federal Reserve will continue to pump ultra-cheap money into the financial system and boost the speculative activities of banks and finance houses, despite the risk that this policy is creating financial bubbles that could burst and cause even more damage than the crash of 2008.
That was the essential content of the message delivered in a speech by Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) forum on Wednesday and in a subsequent question and answer session conducted with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.
While she did not mention either by name, Yellen's speech constituted a reply to two recent criticisms of the Fed. The Bank for International Settlements annual report, issued last Sunday, pointed to the disconnect between booming financial markets and the underlying economy. And former Fed governor Jeremy Stein argued that higher interest rates should be considered to help deflate potential asset bubbles.
Describing monetary policy as a ''blunt instrument,'' Yellen said the ''primary role'' in preventing financial instability had to be so-called macro prudential regulation and supervision.
She insisted that if the Fed had used interest rates to try to head off the US housing bubble in the mid-2000s'--the immediate cause of the 2008 crisis'--there would have been serious damage to the US economy. ''A very significant tightening, with large increases in unemployment, would have been necessary to halt the housing bubble,'' she said.
''Macro prudential policies, such as regulatory limits on leverage and short-term funding, as well as stronger underwriting standards, represent far more direct and likely more effective methods to address '... vulnerabilities.''
Consequently, Yellen saw no need for the Fed to deviate from its primary focus on price stability and maximum employment'--the rationale for the present policies of boosting financial markets.
The fundamental flaw in Yellen's attempted assurances that the Fed could contain financial turbulence by regulatory means was quickly apparent in the question and answer session with Lagarde.
''You've beautifully demonstrated the efforts that have been undertaken from a macro prudential point of view in terms of the universe that you have under your jurisdiction,'' Lagarde told Yellen. ''But this universe, being restricted and well supervised at it is, has generated the creation of parallel universes.''
The response of the financial markets to regulation had been to create a shadow banking system, ''outside the realm of central bankers,'' Lagarde said. ''What can be done about them in order to make sure that there is no creation of significant risk threats out there which are not covered by macro prudential tools?'' she asked.
Yellen's reply was highly revealing.
''I think you're pointing to something that is an enormous challenge,'' she told Lagarde. ''And we simply have to expect that when we draw regulatory boundaries and supervise intensely within them, that there is a prospect that activities will move outside those boundaries and we won't be able to detect them.''
In other words, the financial system is out of the control of those who are supposed to regulate it.
Responding to Yellen's assertion of the need to look outside the perimeter of supervision ''to see where threats are emerging,'' Lagarde said she was ''obsessed'' by what was not known from history ''and that will be the risk of tomorrow.''
The issue, however, is not simple ignorance, important as that is. There is also the wilful ignorance of growing problems, because to deal with them would mean confronting powerful financial interests.
Yellen claimed she and others did not recognise that risks to financial stability had risen to ''dangerous levels'' in the mid-2000s, and, while there was concern about rising house prices, there was no appreciation of how serious the fallout would be for the financial system and the economy as a whole.
In fact, there were warnings about the danger of rising debt levels, but these were simply shoved aside because hundreds of billions of dollars were still being accumulated on Wall Street. As the saying goes, there were none so blind as those who did not want to see.
Yellen's discussion with Lagarde also showed how the impossibility of any rational control of the financial system is rooted in the very structure of the capitalist nation-state system.
As IMF managing director, with nominal responsibilities for the global capitalist system, Lagarde pointed to the problems of ''spillover'' effects flowing from the policies adopted by the Fed.
The continued lowering of interest rates and the policy of quantitative easing has caused major problems for central bankers in countries around the world as they try to control the pressures generated by an inflow of dollars from the US financial system seeking higher rates of return. This has led to property bubbles as well as the appreciation of currencies, creating problems in export markets and industries that compete with imports, such as manufacturing.
In the past year, movements on the downside have also shown their destructive potential. Fears of the consequences of ''tapering'''--the winding back of the quantitative easing program'--and the prospect of even marginal increases in US interest rates have seen significant outflows of volatile finance capital from ''emerging markets'' around the globe.
Asked whether the Fed was conscious of spillover effects, Yellen said it certainly paid attention to them but, as with other central banks, ''the mandates that we're given by our Congresses or the relevant legislatures tend to focus on domestic goals.''
In other words, while the financial system is globally integrated, each of the central banks, and above all the Fed, carries out policies in the interests of its own national state and the dominant financial interests in that state. Whatever the expressions of concern for global stability, they all operate according to the maxim, each for their own and the devil takes the hindmost.
The issue, which was neither addressed in Yellen's remarks nor in the question and answer session, was how the situation had been arrived at where the world's major economic and financial authorities have increasingly lost control of the system they are supposed to regulate.
No accounting was given of past decisions. But they have played a decisive role. The decision by then Fed chairman Alan Greenspan to open the financial spigots following the October 1987 stock market crash, determined the policy response to every financial problem and crisis that followed, leading to the collapse of 2008. Now a new disaster is being prepared.
Yellen's speech and her conversation with Lagarde bring to mind the acute observation made by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto.
''Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.''
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More banking scandals to come, admits UK Treasury Minister
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:27
Andrea Leadsom, who previously worked in banking and finance for 25 years, warned that there were more "cringeworthy announcements" to come and that there was "still a lot of baggage" in the financial industry.
Ms Leadsom, who held senior roles at Barclays and Invesco Perpetual before becoming an MP, told the parliamentary magazine TheHouse there was still a long way to go change the City's culture. Asked whether it is learning the lessons of the financial crisis, she replied: "I would say that at the top echelons of the banks, absolutely. But I think there's quite a long way to go to really change the culture. I think it did become very transaction-oriented and I think it will take time to recover that. I think we are still going to see a lot of cringeworthy announcements."
She admitted that when she heard about the Libor interbank lending rate scandal, she thought: ''Well, if Libor is rigged, then what wasn't rigged?''
Mrs Leadsom said: "We've had a number of issues over bank wrongdoing. There are inquiries going on, there are some pretty serious allegations out there, we've still got PPI going on. There are still things happening and redress under way. So it's quite difficult to just forget about that and move on. There's still a lot of baggage.''
Shortly after she was appointed Treasury Economic Secretary in April, TheIndependent revealed that she had previously used trusts to reduce her potential tax bill and offshore banking arrangements for her buy-to-let property company.
In the interview, Ms Leadsom declined to say whether she would vote in favour of the HS2 project - even though it is championed by her Treasury boss George Osborne. It would affect her South Northamptonshire constituency and while she is a backbencher, she opposed the Bill paving the way for the scheme. ''I'm absolutely firmly committed to getting decent compensation and mitigation for my constituents and I think there's a long way to go yet,'' she said.
She also departed slightly from the party line on Europe, saying that there might be case for leaving the EU. The founder of the Conservative Fresh Start project aimed at getting a better deal for the UK, she said: "Obviously [if there's] a nonsense reform that doesn't achieve anything, then it might be. But at the moment I've spent four years working extremely hard trying to find things that would make it worth staying in."
Ms Leadsom dismissed calls by Tory Eurosceptics for David Cameron to set out his shopping list of demands for the renegotiation of Britain's membership terms.
Defending the controversial Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, she said: ''Overwhelmingly, it's achieving its aspiration of helping people to get their first home. I get many more letters from people saying 'I'm desperate to get a mortgage, why have you done this mortgage market review?' rather than people saying 'oh, you know, property prices are ridiculously high'."
World Bank email leaks reveal internal row over 'light touch' $50bn loans | Business | The Guardian
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:18
Strong safeguards and conditions on World Bank loans and guarantees were put in place after a series of environmentally destructive projects in the 1980s and 1990s such as the Narmada dam in India. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters
Environmentalists and human rights campaigners have sounded the alarm at radical plans to ease conditions for World Bank loans, enabling more than $50bn (£29bn) of public money a year to be made available for large power, mining, transport and farming projects.
Leaked emails seen by the Observer reveal that senior figures at the bank feared that light-touch regulation would lead to an increase in "problem projects". Critics are also worried that the door could be opened to large-scale environmental destruction and a lack of protection for communities affected by projects.
Ana Revenga, the bank's vice-president for poverty reduction, says in one of the emails: "It might appear that the bank is interested in lending more, hence lowering standards '... [It] would likely entail an increase in the number of problem projects and cancellations." The email exchanges indicate that the bank may expand the use of "biodiversity offsetting" '' which lets developers destroy nature in one place if they compensate elsewhere. Many social and environmental safeguards appear to have been dropped under the plans, which have not been made public but are at an advanced stage.
The bank group, which loans and guarantees around $50bn a year to over 100 countries to alleviate poverty, is the world's largest development institution, with Britain as its largest donor. It has been consistently criticised for its damaging lending policies and because it is dominated by industrialised countries.
Strong safeguards and conditions on its loans and guarantees were put in place after a series of environmentally destructive projects in the 1980s and 1990s such as the Narmada dam in India and the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people to make way for palm plantations in Indonesia.
But the World Bank group, which includes the International Finance Corporation, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association, is in the process of a reorganisation and wants to harmonise safeguards and standards between its private and public lending groups.
The emails show the bank's managers are keen to increase its overall lending and feel that the present standards are too onerous and deter prospective borrowers. According to the comments from the bank's vice-presidents, this could mean a reduction in bank oversight and accountability, with client countries being made to monitor their own projects and a gutting of the bank's inspection panel '' an independent complaints mechanism for communities who believe that they have been, or are likely to be, adversely affected by projects.
Comments sent to bank management by the senior staff, who include heads of the bank's legal and finance offices as well as regional chiefs in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, make clear that the bank also plans to pass responsibility for monitoring projects to private equity fund managers or commercial banks.
The emails show that there is concern among the bank's presidents that environmental standards could fall if the plans are implemented. "Some of the language would severely weaken the protections that currently exist for diversity and natural habitats. There is particular cause for concern," says Zloubida Allaoua, vice-president for sustainable development. "Why so little said about the important and immediate environmental issues facing countries, apart from climate change?", asks Mohamed Qureshi, director of startegy.
Several vice-presidents fear that the proposed changes will lead to extra costs and problems. "It is far from certain that the [draft] would streamline and simplify environmental and social standards ... it could add significant costs", says Marialisa Motta, director of finance and private sector development.
Civil society groups who have seen the comments by vice-presidents are alarmed. "Despite (a) guarantee that this review process would not lead to any weakening of environmental and social safeguards, from what we understand the plan eviscerates protections for the poor and the environment. This is completely unacceptable," said Stephanie Fried of the Ulu Foundation.
A World Bank spokesman said: "We do not comment on leaks. A vigorous and healthy internal discussion is an important part of our deliberative process. Our work on reviewing our environmental and social safeguards is ongoing. We will submit in the coming weeksour views to our board's committee on development effectiveness. We will then engage in further public consultation to get additional views".
Central Bankers Fire Back at Their Own Club Over Bubbles.
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:43
Central bankers are firing back at their own central bank.
Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi rebuffed a warning from the Bank for International Settlements that monetary authorities risked raising interest rates ''too slowly and too late'' to counter emerging asset bubbles.
''Monetary policy faces significant limitations as a tool to promote financial stability,'' Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, said on July 2, three days after the BIS published its advice. So-called macroprudential regulation should have the ''primary role,'' she said.
Draghi, the European Central Bank president, delivered what he called the ''bottom line'' the next day. ''The first line of defense against financial stability risk should be the macroprudential exercise,'' he said. ''I don't think that people would agree with the raising of interest rates now.''
Piling on, Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said tightening monetary policy to curb asset values risked hurting the economy and so ''should be seen as one of the last lines of defense'' for stability. The BOE is already seeking to cool its property sector with measures to limit riskier mortgages and prevent an unsustainable buildup of consumer debt.
In Sweden, the Riksbank cut interest rates yesterday by a bigger-than-expected 50 basis points to ward off deflation, noting it is for ''other policy areas to manage'' rising household debt and housing markets.
''The message from the Fed as well as the ECB and Riksbank this week was that macroprudential policies will address any risks to financial stability while monetary policy remains loose for as long as it take to get a solid recovery and as long as inflation remains low,'' Bank of America Corp. strategists said in a report to clients today. ''The bottom line is that data, not asset prices, is what we think will drive monetary policies for now.''
It's not the first time staff at the Basel, Switzerland-based BIS, which is owned by central banks and serves as a counterparty for them, has broken with their bosses. In 2003, BIS economists Claudio Borio and William R. White warned policy makers might need to raise rates to combat asset-price bubbles.
That advice was rejected too.
To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Kennedy in London at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at Zoe Schneeweiss
JPMorgan Said to Have Unwittingly Helped BNP's Transfers.
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:43
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) unwittingly helped BNP Paribas SA (BNP) violate U.S. sanctions as the French bank hid billions of dollars in transactions involving Sudan and Cuba, according to court documents and people with knowledge of the matter.
BNP Paribas turned to JPMorgan on the basis of legal advice from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, said two people who asked not be named because the identities of the bank and the law firm haven't been disclosed. The Paris-based lender relied on a legal memo that suggested using a U.S. bank might protect it from sanctions penalties, according to the statement of facts filed by prosecutors in New York.
JPMorgan is referred to as ''U.S. Bank 1'' while Cleary Gottlieb is identified as ''U.S. Law Firm 1'' in the court filings, the people said. Cleary Gottlieb later said such transactions may be illegal. Neither JPMorgan nor Cleary Gottlieb are accused of wrongdoing.
BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, agreed June 30 to plead guilty to processing almost $9 billion in banned transactions involving Sudan, Iran and Cuba from 2004 to 2012. The company, which will pay a record $8.97 billion in penalties, will also be temporarily barred from handling some U.S. dollar transactions.
Photographer: Ron Antonelli/BloombergThe JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters in New York City. Close
The JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters in New York City.
OpenPhotographer: Ron Antonelli/BloombergThe JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters in New York City.
BNP Paribas shares fell 1.7 percent to 50.39 euros at 1:27 p.m. in Paris. They've gained 1.7 percent since the close of trading on June 30, the day the settlement was announced.
Satellite BanksIn 2011, JPMorgan paid $88.3 million to settle an unrelated civil probe into transactions involving Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Investigators at the Treasury Department cited incidents in which JPMorgan managers and supervisors ''recklessly failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care'' in their sanctions obligations. The bank said at the time that none of the alleged violations was intentional.
BNP Paribas used a network of non-U.S. banks, including at least nine Arab banks, to disguise U.S. dollar transactions, according to court papers. ''To the U.S. bank, it appeared that the transaction was coming from the satellite bank rather than a Sudanese bank,'' according to the statement of facts filed in court, which BNP Paribas admitted to as part of its settlement.
BNP Paribas would transfer funds from a Sudanese bank to an account maintained by one of the satellite banks, according to the filing. The satellite bank would then transfer the money to the beneficiary by submitting the funds through JPMorgan without any mention of Sudan, according to the statement of facts, which identified the bank only as ''U.S. Bank 1.''
U.S. BankJoe Evangelisti, a spokesman for JPMorgan, and Cesaltine Gregorio, a BNP Paribas spokeswoman, declined to comment on the transactions. Sonja Steptoe, a spokeswoman for Cleary Gottlieb, and Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, also declined to comment.
The plan to use JPMorgan was put together by BNP Paribas executives in Paris and Geneva in the fall of 2004 after transactions involving overseas clients caught the attention of U.S. and state regulators, according to the statement of facts. BNP Paribas signed documents with the regulators in September of that year promising to improve its compliance systems.
Shortly thereafter, senior BNP Paribas executives met in Geneva to discuss how ''embargoes against sensitive countries,'' specifically Sudan, Libya and Syria, would affect the bank's business, according to the statement of facts. They discussed using an unaffiliated U.S. bank to process payments involving countries subject to U.S. sanctions, the document states. Until then such transactions were being handled by BNP Paribas's New York branch.
'Vast Majority'Following that meeting, BNP Paribas employees in Geneva were instructed to have U.S. dollar payments involving sanctioned entities cleared through ''U.S. Bank 1'' instead of BNP Paribas's New York unit.
''From 2004 through 2007, the vast majority of BNPP Geneva's transactions involving Sudanese Sanctioned Entities were cleared through U.S. Bank 1 using a payment method that concealed from U.S. Bank 1 the involvement of Sanctioned Entities in the transactions,'' according to the document.
In switching to JPMorgan, BNP Paribas executives relied on the legal opinion, which incorrectly suggested that U.S. authorities might not be able to punish BNP Paribas for prohibited transactions if no U.S. branch of the bank was involved, according to the statement of facts.
'Compliance 101'''You can't do something indirectly if you can't do it directly,'' Douglas Jacobson, a lawyer specialized in international trade with Jacobson Burton PLLC in Washington, said in an interview. ''This certainly on its face here is not consistent with what I would call sanctions compliance 101.''
In 2006, BNP Paribas enlisted a second law firm, Clifford Chance LLP, which warned the bank that removing identifying information from dollar payments sent to the U.S. in order to avoid economic sanctions was possibly illegal, according to the filing. Matt Hyams, a Clifford Chance spokesman, declined to comment.
That same year, Cleary Gottlieb informed BNP Paribas in two other opinions that U.S. sanctions could apply even if transactions were processed through JPMorgan rather than BNP Paribas's New York branch.
The firm also said that U.S. authorities had become sensitive to the use of ''cover payments'' by foreign banks that omitted details about the nature of transactions. Cleary Gottlieb advised BNP Paribas executives to ''ensure that they have adequate procedures in place to guard against any abuses of cover payment messages that could cause U.S. operations to engage in prohibited transactions.''
Cuban TransactionsFrom July 2006 until BNP Paribas ended its banking relationship with Sudanese clients in June 2007, BNP Paribas processed $6.4 billion in illicit dollar transactions, according to the statement of facts.
A similar process was used by the firm to process Cuban transactions and bank employees were trained to remove any mention of the country before submitting them to JPMorgan. From October 2004 until early 2010, BNP Paribas processed more than $1.7 billion in Cuban-related illicit transactions.
Some of those transactions were processed through JPMorgan, according to the statement of facts.
In February 2006, JPMorgan rejected a transaction submitted on behalf of a Cuban credit facility after ''back office employees had inadvertently made reference to Cuban entities,'' the document states. Two other payments were also blocked by BNP Paribas's New York branch. BNP Paribas resubmitted all three transactions after eliminating the references to the Cuban entity, according to the document.
'Cavalier Approach'''BNPP's handling of these blocked payments was indicative of the bank's cavalier -- and criminal -- approach to compliance with U.S. sanctions laws and regulations,'' according to the statement of facts.
After the payments were blocked, a senior BNP Paribas attorney in Paris, wondering whether a U.S. investigation could be triggered, asked Cleary Gottlieb for advice. Cleary Gottlieb answered in a March 6, 2006, memo, saying the transactions violated U.S. sanctions -- regardless of whether they were processed by JPMorgan or BNP Paribas's New York facility. Cleary Gottlieb advised BNP Paribas to ''consider discontinuing participation in any such U.S. dollar facility,'' the statements of facts said.
A subordinate of the senior BNP Paribas attorney forwarded the Cleary Gottlieb memo to a bank compliance officer, drawing a reprimand from his boss who said ''we now no longer have control,'' according to the document.
The senior attorney then wrote to Cleary Gottlieb: ''please suspend any further work on this file.''
To contact the reporters on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at; Greg Farrell in New York at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at Heather Smith
IKEA's ''Minimum Wage''
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:39
IKEA has announced it will be raising the ''minimum wage'' of its US employees to $10.76 per hour, an increase of about 17% from the current minimum. The news comes in the midst of another ''national discussion'' (often code for anti-economic hysteria) about minimum wage ''reform'' (always code for an increase).
Economic criticisms of the public minimum wage are readily available, but IKEA's decision is different. It does have some interesting economic implications, but there are a lot of other issues in this story worth discussing, not the least of which is the language used to report it. That is, I have to wonder why people use the term ''minimum wage'' to refer to the internal policy of a private firm. Maybe it's just a convenience of language, but regardless of its true cause, this usage gives a rhetorical advantage to proponents of government-mandated minimum wages.
That is, using ''minimum wage'' to describe both entrepreneurs' decisions and government regulation obscures the distinction between them, i.e. that one is chosen by employers and the other forced on them under penalty of law (often through the influence of larger competitors). Using the same term opens the door to falsely conflating policies, making it seem like private and political decision making are the same or similar. If private firms declare their own minimum wages, a government minimum wage loses its distinctiveness, and seems like just another benign entry on a long list of possible wage policies. It's all too easy'--as news outlets reporting this story demonstrate'--to compare IKEA's minimum wage to the federal minimum wage, as if each is just a different but harmless way to improve people's welfare.
Confusing the language of public and private decisions in turn reinforces the common idea that wages are set at the discretion of business, with high wages due simply to the good nature of employers, and lower wages to greed and disregard for employee well-being. If this were true, it might make sense to consistently increase the minimum wage; after all, we want people to be better off, don't we?
Language aside, however, economists might criticize IKEA's decision as a foolish attempt by private firms to imitate public policy; essentially, the company is needlessly giving itself a choice between earning losses and experiencing the usual problems of unemployment and discrimination that result from trying to hold wages artificially high. While there is probably some truth in this kind of criticism, there's more than one way to think about what IKEA is doing, and why higher wages may not be the end of the world for the furniture giant.
First, remember that minimum wages are most relevant for people earning relatively low wages, e.g. low-skill and teenage workers, so not every job is threatened by raising the minimum. In IKEA's case, the new policy will leave wages unchanged for about half of its employees in the US.
But what about the other half? Will IKEA be obliged to let a large portion of its workers go? Not necessarily. What matters isn't the actual wage rates IKEA pays, but the relation between wages and productivity. If wages are indeed higher than the value of the marginal product of labor, IKEA may simply try to squeeze extra productivity out of its workers to compensate'--they may even be expecting to do so. This would be one way to mitigate potential negative effects of higher wages.
It's possible though that raising its ''minimum wage'' might not have much negative impact on IKEA at all. That is, higher wages'--despite whatever motivation is ultimately behind them'--might just reflect a changing labor market in the furniture industry.
Consider wages from an entrepreneurial perspective. Remember, economic theory claims that wages tend to equal marginal productivity, not that they actually do in any given time and place. In the real world, entrepreneurs are constantly going through the process of matching wages to productivity, often no easy task. Perfect information about worker productivity (especially future productivity!) is not given to entrepreneurs. Instead, they have to discover it, or more accurately, they anticipate it and pay wages accordingly. The pricing of labor therefore includes speculation and trial-and-error, involving a never-ending process of entrepreneurial appraisal and judgment. Over time, wages will adjust to equal marginal productivity, but it's difficult to know how accurate an entrepreneur's judgments are at any given time. Furthermore, the data of the market are constantly changing, requiring entrepreneurs to start their appraisals anew.
Returning to IKEA, it's not immediately clear whether their employees are already earning wages equal to their marginal productivity. It's possible, for instance, that the firm has been under-pricing labor due to entrepreneurial error, and that higher wages will more closely reflect the value workers are providing to consumers. If this is the case, increasing the ''minimum wage'' might be just another way for IKEA to recognize their workers are more valuable than previously thought. In other words, there are many ways for entrepreneurs to adjust to new information and changing markets, and a wage policy like IKEA's may be one of them.
Now, an added complication is that IKEA plans not simply to raise wages, but to link them to calculations of a ''living wage.'' Given that changes in the cost of living are not directly related to the productivity of IKEA employees, it seems impossible that fluctuating wages would even roughly match actual productivity. Assuming the company can't find a way to coordinate changes in the living wage with employee productivity, indexing wages does seem like the kind of decision that will hurt IKEA over time. Still, if it does turn out to be a strategic error, the burden will fall on IKEA, which will be able to change its wage policy if necessary, unlike employers subject to government minimum wages.
$20,000 per person: Activists push for guaranteed minimum income for Canadians
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:36
A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income '-- whether or not they have a job.
Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.
More Related to this Story''For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty,'' Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.
''That's essentially what we're striving to achieve.''
More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.
The idea is hardly new '-- the Canadian and Manitoba government conducted an experiment with the issue in the 1970s '-- but it has enjoyed a resurgence lately.
Switzerland is expected to hold a non-binding referendum this fall on whether to guarantee every citizen an annual income of Cdn $35,900.
And in the United Sates, the idea has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum.
Proponents on the left argue it represents an opportunity for greater redistribution of wealth, while those on the right see it as a chance to cut back on bureaucracy and return control to people's lives.
The two sides disagree, however, on whether there would be accompanying tax hikes and whether other social programs would remain place.
Almaz Zelleke, a professor at New York University, said guaranteed income has rarely had this much attention in the United States since President Richard Nixon tried to introduce such a program for families in the 1960s. That effort was ultimately thwarted by Congress.
At the conference, Zelleke gave a presentation laying out how a guaranteed income could be offset by taxes and work from a practical, fiscal standpoint. But even she admitted it would be a challenge to get such a plan on the agenda in Washington, D.C.
''To be very honest, it's not on the agenda of any mainstream political party in the United States,'' she said in an interview, but added a recent surge in media attention has, helpfully, ''generated discussion among people who understand that there are problems with the welfare state.''
In Canada, the town of Dauphin, Man., was famously the subject of a government pilot project where residents were provided with a guaranteed minimum income from 1974-1978.
The goal of the program, which cost $17 million, was to find out whether providing extra money directly to residents below a certain household income level would make for effective social policy.
The community's overall health improved and hospital rates declined during the period, according to a 2010 study by Evelyn Forget, a professor at the University of Manitoba.
Former Conservative senator Hugh Segal, who officially resigned from his post this month, argued for years in favour of the idea, saying it would provide more effective services at a reduced cost.
Quebec's new minister of employment and social solidarity was also once a prominent advocate.
Francois Blais, a former political science professor, published a book in 2002 called ''Ending Poverty: A Basic Income for All Canadians,'' though Philippe Couillard's Liberal government has made no commitments on the issue.
At the federal level, Rainer conceded it's far from the agenda of the current Conservative government, but said there's a ''little bit of traction'' among opposition parties.
Liberal Party delegates passed two resolutions related to guaranteed minimum income at a meeting in Montreal this year '-- a move Rainer called ''pretty significant.''
The Green Party also endorses the notion in its party platform.
''The idea is not new, it's not really radical,'' Rainer said, pointing out that seniors and families with children receive a form of guaranteed income from the government.
''Where it does become more radical is when you get into the area of the working age population, and the idea that people should receive some income whether they are in the labour market or not. That's a fairly radical idea in our culture, because most of us were brought up to believe that in order to survive you have to work.''
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New Campaign Pushes for 'Basic Income Guarantee' in Canada
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:36
A sign in the UK promoting basic income. (Photo: flickr / cc / russEll shAw hIggs)Canadian academics and activists are engaged in that country's first national campaign for a basic guaranteed income, which they say would "help prevent poverty, reduce inequality, enhance individual freedom, boost human creativity, stimulate entrepreneurship, promote citizenship, increase efficiency in public services and reduce government intrusion in private life."
Last weekend's 15th International Basic Income Earth Network Conference, held in Montreal, marked the public debut of a campaign to raise awareness about and support for the concept of a basic income in Canada, which is home to about 35 million people. The Basic Income Canada Network's BIG Push campaign suggests that an annual income of between $20-25,000 would be sufficient for a working-age adult.
"A basic income guarantee is a feature of a society in which people are not just isolated individuals but rather are selves in relation to one another, where people are treated with fairness and equality." ''Kelly Ernst, BICN
"A basic income guarantee is a feature of a society in which people are not just isolated individuals but rather are selves in relation to one another, where people are treated with fairness and equality. It is a society that understands we are not alone in any endeavour we undertake," wrote Kelly Ernst, secretary general of Basic Income Canada Network (BICN), in a blog post.
While Canadians are no strangers to the concept of basic income'--the "Mincome" experiment that took place in the province of Manitoba during the 1970s had positive effects on health and education'--there is still widespread skepticism about the idea, particularly around how such a policy would impact work and labor practices.
"Where it does become more radical is when you get into the area of the working age population, and the idea that people should receive some income whether they are in the labour market or not," BIG Push campaign director Rob Rainer told the Canadian Press. "That's a fairly radical idea in our culture, because most of us were brought up to believe that in order to survive you have to work."
Several countries, including Brazil, already implement some sort of basic income program (or pilot program). Later this year, voters in Switzerland will have their say on a proposal to give every citizen $2,800 a month. The idea has also gained some traction in the United States, from thinkers across the political spectrum. The movement in Canada hopes to capitalize on that broad appeal.
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Federal student loan interest rates increase by nearly 1 percent this month
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:19
By Gabriel Black3 July 2014On July 1 the interest rates on federal student loans grew by almost one percent. The rate increase, which is expected to be repeated next year, will further bar millions of potential students from acquiring an education.
The interest rate on the Stafford loan, the major federal student loan for undergraduates, rose from 3.86 percent to 4.66 percent (for both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans). The PLUS loan, which is available to parents of undergraduates, rose from 6.41 percent to 7.21 percent. Graduate students who use the Stafford loan saw their rate increase from 5.41 percent to 6.21 percent. All of these rates increases affect loans issued after the rate hike.
The rate increase is the result of a bipartisan move by Congress last year to peg the interest rates of student loans to financial markets, rather than a fixed rate. The move, finalized in 2013, makes interest rates on federal student loans track the US government's 10-year borrowing cost. Each year, on July 1st, the rate is readjusted.
In July of 2013, the student loan rate for subsidized Stafford loans was set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent due to the expiration of a 2007 law that reduced the rates of student loans during the financial crisis. The Obama Administration and Congress used the expiration of the law to pass the measure tying student loan interest rates to the government's borrowing costs, setting the stage for rates to rise significantly over subsequent years.
The Obama administration claimed that this move would reduce borrowing costs for students. But as a result of the scaling back of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program, interest rates are going up throughout the economy. As borrowing costs continue to rise, they will send student loans to new heights, possibly near their cap at 8.25 percent for undergraduates, 9.5 percent for graduates, and 10.5 percent for parents'--approaching the rates charged on credit cards.
Mark Kantrowitz of, a site that helps students plan and pay for college, told that rates could roughly double in the next four years. ''The real concern is that the interest rates have nowhere else to go but up,'' he said.
The growing burden of student loan debt is part of a larger crisis facing young people throughout the United States and the world. As the economy remains stagnant, with no hope of relief, hundreds of millions of young people around the world struggle to find a job, let alone a career that pays decently.
More and more graduates are stuck in low-paying service jobs, or a labyrinth of unpaid internships, with no means to pay off their loans. Meanwhile, costs at colleges have skyrocketed, driving tuition up more than 80 percent in the past decade in school systems such as the University of California.
Student debt has soared in recent years. The total level of US student loan debt hit more than $1 trillion in 2011, surpassing the total amount of credit card debt and home mortgage debt. The class of 2014 had an average debt load of $33,050, more than triple the level in 1993.
At the beginning of 2013 total student loan debt was $1.2 trillion, almost 8 percent of America's Gross Domestic Product. Between 2003 and 2012, the portion of 25-year-olds with student debt rose from 25 percent to 43 percent.
For millions of young people this debt is a crushing burden that weighs on them for years after leaving college. Rory O'Sullivan, the deputy director of the Young Invincibles, an organization that educates young people about financial issues, told CBS that roughly 1 in 7 debtors default on their loans within their first three years of graduation. O'Sullivan added that ''We expect the rates to continue to go up over time, so the problem is only going to get worse.''
Last month, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that will extend the federal Pay As You Earn (PAYE) student loan program to graduates who borrowed money before 2007 and those who have not borrowed since 2011. Largely a public relations move in advance of the mid-term congressional elections, the executive order will allow some students to pay their student loans over twenty years, rather than ten, but with a larger sum owed over that period.
Meanwhile the government, and the private loan servicers who are contracted to collect federal student loans, will make a killing. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in the next decade the federal government will make $127 billion from interest accrued on student loans.
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Record 92,120,000 Americans Not Working, Not Looking
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:23
The number of Americans 16 and older who did not participate in the labor force climbed to a record high of 92,120,000 in June, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
This means that there were 92,120,000 Americans 16 and older who not only did not have a job, but did not actively seek one in the last four weeks.
That is up 111,000 from the 92,009,000 Americans who were not participating in the labor force in April.
In June, according to BLS, the labor force participation rate for Americans was 62.8 percent, matching a 36-year low. The participation rate is the percentage of the population that either has a job or actively sought one in the last four weeks.
In December, April, May, and now June, the labor force participation rate has been 62.8 percent.
Before December, the last time the labor force participation rate sank as low as 62.8 percent was in February 1978, when it was also 62.8 percent. At that time, Jimmy Carter was president.
June Full-Time Jobs Plunge By Over Half A Million, Part-Time Jobs Surge By 800K, Most Since 1993
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:36
Zero Hedge
Is this the reason for the blowout, on the surface, payroll number? In June the BLS reports that the number of full-time jobs tumbled by 523K to 118.2 million while part-time jobs soared by 799K to over 28 million!
Looking at the breakdown of full and part-time jobs so far in 2014, we find that 926K full-time jobs were added to the US economy. The offset: 646K part-time jobs.
Something tells us that the fact that the BLS just reported June part-time jobs rose by just shy of 800,000 the biggest monthly jump since 1993, will hardly get much airplay today. Because remember: when it comes to jobs, it is only the quantity that matters, never the quality.
'... just in case there is any confusion why there is zero real wage growth (for two months in a row now), and why it will take a few more months before experts start tossing the word stagflation a little more casually.
Source: BLS
Zero Hedge
French burqa ban upheld: a victory for democracy and a setback for human rights
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:34
At risk. EPA/Yoan ValatThe European Court of Human Rights has upheld a French ban on the wearing of face veils in public. The French Senate voted on the ban in 2010 and people who wear the burqa or niqab in public risk being fined. The anonymous woman who appealed the ban argued she was making a free choice to wear the burqa, and that the law banning it infringed her right to privacy and her right to freedom of religion, under Articles 8 and 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The Court's judgement held that whilst there had been an interference with her rights under Articles 8 and 9, this limitation of rights was necessary to protect the ''rights and freedoms of others''.
Ultimately, the court sympathised with the French government's position that seeing a person's face whilst walking along the street was an essential part of ''living together'' in society.
A step too farThe court had previously ruled that the Turkish ban on the hijab in universities was not a violation of Article 9, reasoning that it was necessary to protect against extremist movements and promote secular education. The UK House of Lords followed this decision when a pupil at Denbeigh High School was expelled from school after she broke school uniform policy by wearing a jilbab, rather than the uniform-mandated hijab.
In 2009 the European Court held that the display of the cross in Italian classrooms violated a child's right to a secular education. This decision caused a political uproar in Italy, where all school classrooms had been displaying the cross for decades, and the decision was later overturned in the Grand Chamber (the European Court's appeals body).
There, it was held that the display of the cross was allowed in classrooms as it was an essentially passive symbol. This has led some commentators to surmise that the Court has a mildly secular leaning.
But the French ban goes much further than any of the above cases. It applies to any public space, not just an institution such as a school or university where there may be good educational reasons to limit religious freedom.
The European Court of Human Rights knows best?Where the judgement is particularly problematic is in its treatment of the margin of appreciation doctrine, which holds that the court will not interfere where the state party is ''best placed'' to determine the appropriate limits of a particular right.
For example, if one country that is signed up to the court has lax laws on pornography and another country imposes tighter censorship, both laws can still be compatible with the protection of free speech provisions in the ECHR. However this is not a blank cheque; states have to show that any restrictions on rights are necessary for their society, and the court has frequently held that restrictions of rights in some countries go well beyond the margin of appreciation.
In the burqa ban judgement, the court held that the ban was within France's margin of appreciation as it ''constituted a choice of society''. It further stated that the democratic nature of the decision meant that different social interests had been correctly balanced. This in essence condoned the idea that a majority can legitimately remove minority rights under the aegis of democratic decision making.
This raises further questions about the relationship between democratic decisions and the protection of rights. In 2005, the court ruled that the UK's blanket ban on prisoner voting was a violation of the right to participate in elections. But in 2011, the British Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to reject this ruling. In principle, if democratic decision-making is allowed to restrict one minority's rights, there's no reason it can't restrict another's.
''Living together''In the burqua ban case, the court argued that the objective behind the ban '' the promotion of ''living together'' '' was a legitimate social aim. This is weak reasoning. The court has rejected many other cases involving seemingly nebulous social aims. For example it has consistently ignored claims from states that laws limiting the rights of the LGBT community are representative of the morals of society.
This case is symptomatic of a deeper problem with the court. When it was set up in 1950, it was designed to safeguard democracy against the external threats of totalitarian fascism and communism; the political consensus behind the court's continued operation is based on the narrative of protecting democracy. This makes it politically difficult for the court to rule against states when they make democratic decisions restricting rights.
To make matters worse, along with other European institutions, the court is now the target of popular political rage and many Eurosceptics deride it as anti-democratic.
Upholding the burqa ban was a weak legal decision, but it will prevent a row between the court and the French government. After it's row with the UK government over prisoner voting this may be a blessing in disguise.
Sign in to Favourite1 CommentTagsFrance, Human rights, European Convention on Human Rights, Human rights law
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Fri, 04 Jul 2014 21:04
Verene Shepherd heeft flink onder vuur gelegen sinds haar deelname aan de Zwarte Piet-discussie. - Foto: ANP
Er is in Nederland te weinig kennis van het eigen koloniale verleden en de slavernij. 'Daardoor worden intolerantie en racisme gevoed.' Dat zegt Verene Shepherd tijdens een persconferentie vrijdag.
Tijdens de persconferentie werden de voorlopige bevindingen van een werkgroep die onderzoek doet naar Zwarte Piet gepresenteerd . De werkgroep van 'Experts inzake Mensen van Afrikaanse Afkomst' waar Verene Shepherd deel van uitmaakt, doet onderzoek naar mensenrechtenschendingen. De werkgroep spreekt niet namens de Verenigde Naties (VN), maar mag wel onderzoek doen namens de VN.
Relatie'Ik zeg niet dat jullie je kerstviering moeten afschaffen', aldus Shepherd tijdens de persconferentie. 'Ik zeg alleen dat de relatie tussen Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet problematisch is.'
De relatie van een ondergeschikte, een knecht, met de uiterlijke kenmerken van mensen van Afrikaanse afkomst, en een blanke meester moet veranderen, volgens de onderzoekster.
KennisVolgens Shepherd hebben mensen blijkbaar te weinig kennis van de geschiedenis van het Nederlandse koninkrijk en het slavernijverleden als ze niet inzien waarom de figuur van Zwarte Piet kwetsend is. Dit gebrek aan kennis is de voedingsbodem voor intolerantie, racisme en haat volgens de werkgroep.
De werkgroep noemde het verbazingwekkend dat zoveel mensen het Sinterklaasfeest niet als racistisch ervaren. Voorzitter Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France benadrukte wel dat de Nederlandse overheid stappen in de goede richting zet om racisme te bestrijden.
HaatbrievenVorig jaar kwam Shepherd onder vuur te liggen toen ze nog voor de start van het onderzoek Mark Rutte opriep een einde te maken aan de Sinterklaastraditie omdat ze deze racistisch vond. Shepherd heeft sindsdien behoorlijk wat brieven gekregen van Nederlanders met een 'onbeschofte' en 'ronduit vijandige toon'.
'Deze brieven maken duidelijk dat mensen mij niet kennen,' zei ze daar over. Shepherd studeerde af aan de Britse Cambridge Universiteit in slavernij en uitbuiting van mensen van Afrikaanse afkomst. Ook publiceerde ze boeken over slavernij en doceert ze sinds 1988 aan de Universiteit van West-Indi op Jamaica.
IntochtDonderdag oordeelde de rechtbank van Amsterdam nog over het verlenen van een vergunning voor de intocht van Sinterklaas met Zwarte Pieten in 2013. Tegenstanders van Zwarte Piet wilden deze aanvechten.
Volgens de rechter was er met het verlenen van de vergunning geen sprake van discriminatie, maar kan Zwarte Piet wel leiden tot een negatieve stereotypering van mensen. Burgemeester Van der Laan moet de vergunning nu herzien. - UN working party surprised the Dutch don't see Zwarte Piet problem
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:19
UN working party surprised the Dutch don't see Zwarte Piet problemFriday 04 July 2014
A UN working party in the Netherlands to look at the position of people of African origin in the country said on Friday it is 'surprised' that so many people do not understand the 'problem' with Zwarte Piet.
'We understand that Zwarte Piet is part of a long cultural tradition, but we do believe attention should be paid to this subject in education,' the working party's chairwoman Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France told a news conference on Friday.
The current discussion is a good step forward, broadcaster Nos quoted the committee as saying.
The five-strong group have been in the Netherlands for the past few days and have had talks with a number of people, including social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher. They will now write up a report and present it to the UN later this year.
One member of the team is Verene Shepherd, a social historian and expert on slavery, who generated a media storm last year when she said Zwarte Piet was a throwback to slavery and should be stopped.
During the press conference, Shepherd said she was surprised how little Dutch people knew about their slavery past.
'This lack of knowledge about history feeds intolerance and racism and contributes to the fact that people do not understand the feelings of those of African descent towards Zwarte Piet,' she said.
Shepherd also said the university where she works was forced to close her email account because of the hate mails she received last year.
Yesterday Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan was told by a court in the capital to reconsider the licensing of the Sinterklaas parade through the city last year, which became mired in controversy because of the Zwarte Piet character.
The administrative court says the mayor has six weeks to look again at the decision to allow the parade to go ahead last year and determine if the correct one was taken.
The administrative court said in its ruling the Zwarte Piet character is a negative stereotype which is insulting to black people.
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Nederland krijgt uitnodiging slavernijclaim | | Het laatste nieuws het eerst op
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:19
Het samenwerkingsverband van Caribische landen Caricom stuurt Nederland als oud-kolonisator van Suriname binnenkort een aanklacht voor zijn rol in de slavernijperiode.
Tegelijkertijd nodigt de organisatie Nederland uit om daar in een conferentie met andere betrokken landen over te komen praten. Ook Groot-Brittanni, Frankrijk, Spanje en Portugal zullen zo'n uitnodiging ontvangen.
De conferentie zal eind 2014 of begin 2015 worden gehouden. Als de Europese landen niet ingaan op het onderhandelingsverzoek, zullen de voormalige kolonin naar de rechter stappen.
VerantwoordelijkHet besluit om de regeringen formeel aan te schrijven is genomen door de leiders van de Caribische Gemeenschap (Caricom) die afgelopen week bijeen waren in Antigua en Barbuda. Zij hebben ook afgesproken om op de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties het onderwerp van de herstelbetalingen aan te kaarten.
In maart van dit jaar maakten de Caribische staatshoofden al bekend, dat ze de Europese landen verantwoordelijk houden voor slavernij en genocide op de inheemse bevolking.
AchterstandenDe Caribische bevolking heeft volgens hen nog steeds last van de gevolgen. Het gaat onder meer om achterstanden op het gebied van gezondheidszorg en onderwijs. De herstelbetalingen zijn bedoeld om hier verbetering in te brengen.
Voor de zaak heeft Caricom het Britse advocatenkantoor Leigh Day ingehuurd. Dit kantoor heeft in 2012 succes geboekt in een schadevergoedingszaak van slachtoffers van de Britse onderdrukking van de Mau Mau-opstand in de jaren 50 in Kenia.
The Netherlands: Ritalin prescriptions soar, nearly 4.5% of Dutch children take the drug
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:20
Ritalin prescriptions soar, nearly 4.5% of Dutch children take the drugFriday 04 July 2014
The Dutch health council is concerned at the soaring rate of prescriptions for Ritalin, a medicine used on children who have been diagnosed with hyperactivity.
Almost 4.5% of Dutch children aged four to 18 are taking methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, but many of them do not benefit and may not actually have ADHD, the council says.
The number of Ritalin prescriptions has quadrupled in recent years, the council says in a report drawn up for junior health minister Martin van Rijn.
'We need to pay far more attention to what healthcare providers, schools and employers are doing to solve the problems facing young people,' the council says.
The council says the pressure on young people and growing intolerance of what could be considered abnormal behaviour is driving up demand. And while the medication does have a short-term effect, in the long term it leads to sleeping problems, headaches and other issues.
Van Rijn has told the council he agrees the increasing number of prescriptions for Ritalin is a problem. 'We have to be alert to the trend,' he said. 'And we do not know all there is to know about the effect of the drug, particularly in the long term.'
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UK police make one million stop and searches of young people - World Socialist Web Site
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 01:49
By Robert Stevens5 July 2014A report by the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children has revealed that more than one million police stop and searches were carried out on children and young people under the age of 18 in England and Wales over the last five years.
Between 2009 to 2013, 1,136 stop and searches were carried out on children under 10 years old, despite the fact that they are under the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales.
The real figure will be much higher.
Figures were provided by 26 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. In some police forces young people accounted for up to 28 percent of all stops recorded. The total of 1,136 children stopped excludes figures for the Metropolitan Police, the largest police force in the UK, which covers the Greater London area and a population of over 8 million people.
The Metropolitan Police did not provide any total figures for the 2009-2013 period. It did reveal that 136 stops of children occurred between 2011 and 2013, with six of them involving children under five.
Some police forces are stopping and detaining children, even though it was revealed that 20 of the 43 forces did not have separate custody facilities for children and young people.
The figures revealed by some of the individual forces reveal the blanket use of stop and search powers. Overall about a million people a year are stopped'--equivalent to two percent of the adult population. From 2009 to 2013 West Yorkshire Police carried out 177,695 stops and checks (nearly 100 a day) on adults and children. More than 50,000 (more than 27 per day) of these were children'--the highest number outside London.
Police are allowed by law to stop someone only if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something that could be used to commit a crime. But under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, introduced in 1994, police officers can also stop and search someone without suspicion that they believe is involved in any wrongdoing, if approved by a senior officer. Such practises can be justified on the pretext such as a concern that serious violence could take place.
Section 60 has been used by police on a far wider basis, including against peaceful protesters. For example, in November 2011 police issued a brochure prior to a demonstration by students in London stating that they intended to use Section 60. The brochure read that the law ''gives police the right to search people in a defined area at a specific time'' and ''provides powers to require the removal of disguises at public order events.''
The figures follow a House of Commons debate in April that noted growing opposition and anger to the arbitrary use of stop and search powers. Conservative Party Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to acknowledge the results of a recent inquiry by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary which found that 27 percent of stop and searches had no reasonable grounds for suspicion. On this basis more than 250,000 of the more than one million overall searches conducted last year could have been illegal.
Figures also uncovered that only about 10 percent of more than a million searches lead to an actual arrest. Black people were six times more likely to be stopped than whites.
An analysis of 2,493 stop and searches carried out in Bolton, in Greater Manchester, between April 2013 and March 2014 found that just 192'--equivalent to 7.7 percent'--resulted in an arrest. More than 1,400 led to no further action.
Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, an area just outside Greater London, told parliament that one of his constituents had been stopped 50 times between the ages of 13 and 18.
May stated in parliament, ''It is very clear that in a large number of cases the reasonable grounds for suspicion were not there and one can only therefore assume, given that black people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person, that it is precisely the fact that they are a black person that has led to that stop and search taking place.''
Despite this feigned concern about the arbitrary use of stop and search powers, there are no proposals to end such flagrant abuses of democratic rights. The government proposed only a review, to be headed by the professional standards body, the College of Policing, into stop and search training for all forces. It also proposes that individual police officers could face disciplinary action if they ''misuse'' stop and search powers'--or be prevented from using them altogether.
In a July 2013 debate in parliament, Labour Party MP Diane Abbott pointed out that the systematic use of stop and search powers by the police was a central factor behind the riots which broke out in the capital in 2011. She said, ''[N]o single police activity causes more unhappiness and antagonism between the police and young black people than stop and search. That goes all the way back to the 1980s and the Brixton riots. Even after the 2011 riots, when I spoke to young people in Hackney about what triggered the riots, they said, 'Stop and search'.''
Despite this Abbott stated that the issue came down to one of better police training, stressing, ''Stop and search is an important weapon for the police but proper training should stop its being used in a way that is detrimental to community relations.''
In her latest parliamentary response to the home secretary, Abbott said, ''Given that successive governments have failed to act, she [May] gets some credit from some of us for taking things as far as she has.''
Labour would proceed no differently. They introduced the Terrorism Act 2000 as part of a raft of anti-democratic measures legislated during 13 years in office to 2010. This legislation has been used over and over again to curtail basic democratic rights, including stopping and searching hundreds of thousands of people without any pretext.
By 2008/09 more than a quarter of a million searches were made under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, more than double that of the previous year. Despite growing opposition to these laws, by 2009/10 a total of 101,248 stops and searches (more than 277 a day) were made under the Terrorism Act. Figures were released showing that only one in every 200 stops led to an arrest and none of these were terror-related.
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Denmark signs military agreement with France - The Local
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:03
Defence minister Nicolai Wammen. Photo: Jens N¸rgaard Larsen/Scanpix
Published: 04 Jul 2014 11:24 GMT+02:00Updated: 04 Jul 2014 11:24 GMT+02:00
A closer alliance with the French military is a natural choice for Denmark, the defence minister said.
The Danish and French militaries will be working closer together in the future.
Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen announced on Thursday that he has signed a new defence agreement with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
''We already have a good relationship with France, but the agreement gives us the opportunity to strengthen the tight bonds between our countries even more,'' Wammen said. ''It is a clear advantage for the Danish military because we can learn a lot from the Frenchmen.''
Danish and French forces have worked together on numerous occasions, including the recent effort in Mali.
Wammen said the purpose of the agreement was to find areas of cooperation in which the two countries can learn from each other. Denmark's Herculus military transport aircraft will be brought up to French air-drop standards to make future cooperation easier and the French and Danish navies will train together in both Arctic and tropical waters, according to the deal.
Wammen said the purpose of the agreement was to find areas of cooperation in which the two countries can learn from each other.
''As a country with limited resources and an active foreign policy, it is naturally valuable to have a close relationship with a country like France,'' Wammen said.
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Today's headlines
Roskilde Festival 2014
Food and hygge are two important elements of the Roskilde Festival experience. Photo: Bobby Anwar
The music is still going strong and so are the fans, fuelled on by the seemingly endless array of food options at northern Europe's largest festival. READ
This was the scene at Aalborg University last year - even more students will be in the hall this autumn. Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix
Well over 90,000 students have sought admission to Denmark's universities. The record number of applicants will find out later this month if they been accepted. READ
Roskilde Festival 2014
Sweden's Jenny Wilson performs at Arena as the Roskilde Festival rolls on. Photo: David Leth Williams/Scanpix
The Local is at the Roskilde Festival. We'll be periodically checking in with updates from Denmark's biggest party. READ
The Local List
If you even think about leaving the house looking like this guy, you have been in Denmark too long. Photo: Colourbox
Admit it, you do 'Danish' things you never thought you would. Take a look at our list and if more than a few of them ring true with you, then you just may have been here too long. READ
Tour de France 2014
Jakob Fuglsang (L) finished seventh last year overall. Photo (left to right): Barto59/Wikicommons and AFP/Lionel Bonaventure
Most if not all Danish eyes will be on 29-year-old Astana rider, Jakob Fuglsang for the 101st edition of the Tour de France which will feature around 200 super-fit matchstick men all prepared to endure endless bruising, fatigue, pain, cramps, mountains and whatnot in their quest for the Yellow Jersey. READ
Tom Hoel, the plank master. Photo: Submitted
Fitness instructor Tom Hoel set the world record by holding a plank for three hours and eight minutes. Now he wants thousands of Danes to join him in setting a new record. The Local spoke with the Plank Master READ
Roskilde Festival 2014
White last played the Orange stage in 2012 but returns with a recently-released album. Photo: Leon Neal/Scanpix
Festival organisers pulled a major coup by getting the rock icon to replace hip-hop artist Drake on two days' notice. READ
Most Danish personal net worth is in their property. Photo: Colourbox
Denmark's record levels of personal debt are well-known, but a new analysis shows that average net worth is increasing while debt levels stabalise. That puts the nation in a better position than its neighbours, the national mortgage banks association argues. READ
Holm was cleared of the charges. Photo: Bax Lindhart/Scanpix
Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg will face trial in September. Photo: Simon Klose/WikiCommons
The Swedish co-founder of Pirate Bay has been in Danish custody since November. His court appearances have been behind closed doors, but thanks to a freedom of information request, the charges against are finally made known. READ
Second Employee Alleges Chase Bank Surveyed Staff's LGBT Loyalty
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:26
Each year JP Morgan Chase sends its employees a survey asking questions related to management and other non-controversial issues. A longtime Chase employee told Professor Robert George of Princeton that the survey this year included the following questions for the first time:
Are you:
1) A person with disabilities;
2) A person with children with disabilities;
3) A person with a spouse/domestic partner with disabilities;
4) A member of the LGBT community.
5) An ally of the LGBT community, but not personally identifying as LGBT.
This employee was alarmed to receive the final question. If he answered no, he feared, he would be opened up to criticism that may affect his employment. Only a few months ago Brendan Eich was hounded out of the CEO role at Mozilla for not supporting LGBT marriage.
The employee told Professor George he fears for his job:
This survey wasn't anonymous. You had to enter your employee ID. With the way things are going and the fact that LGBT rights are being viewed as pretty much tantamount to the civil rights movement of the mid 50s to late 60s, not selecting that option is essentially saying "I'm not an ally of civil rights;" which is a vague way to say "I'm a bigot." The worry among many of us is that those who didn't select that poorly placed, irrelevant option will be placed on the "you can fire these people first" list.
After posting the item on the law blog Mirror of Justice, Professor George received skeptical emails and Facebook postings, so he came back to Mirror of Justice with a second source.
This source told him, ''I just wanted to confirm the Chase employee survey. It did have the last two options about being an LBGT ally. I have worked for Chase for [a number of] years and was blown away by this question. I have no idea what they were thinking when they asked that. If this is posted, please spare my identity.''
Breitbart News contacted the media relations office of JP Morgan Chase, and spokesman Loretta Russo said, ''We do not comment on internal surveys.''
Burger King gay Whopper: Because we're all cheap processed meat on the inside?
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:11
Part noble gesture (proceeds from the sandwich will help fund scholarships for LGBT high school graduates), part calculated targeting of the pink dollar (the buying power of gay consumers was estimated to be $743 billion in 2010), the Proud Whopper will be sold for a limited time in the city.
Its slogan attempts to convey the message that we're all human beings of equal worth regardless of gender and sexuality, but draws odd comparisons with the burger itself.
It seems to suggest we're all the same inside just like one of the brand's Whoppers, i.e. identical due to mass production and made from meat that would probably make you shudder if you saw it pre-flame grilling. The Whoppers are part of Burger King's new 'Be Your Way' campaign
Nonetheless, the promotion is already proving popular on social media, with people now beginning to dutifully Instagram pictures of the wrappers and use the #BeYourWay hashtag.
A video was also made for the sandwich, with Burger King senior vice president Fernando Machado commenting: "I hope when they see what we're trying to do here, people will galvanize around this message of equality."
Rebel leader Kony "hibernates,"evades jungle hunt - Yahoo News
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:31
NZACKO, Central African Republic (AP) '-- The African troops hoped the latest defector from the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group would have fresh insight into the location of infamous warlord Joseph Kony.
But Sam Opio, a senior rebel commander who defected last week, shook his head and said he hadn't seen rebel leader Kony since 2010.
He is not alone. All recent defectors have denied seeing or communicating with Kony in the last few years, complicating the work of U.S.-backed Ugandan troops who are hunting down rebels in the dense, often-impenetrable jungles of Central Africa that cover the size of France. An Associated Press reporter recently trailed soldiers tracking a small group of rebels.
Ugandan commanders lead the chase for Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court over many atrocities, from Obo, a tactical base set up in the middle of a sprawling bush in the southeastern part of Central African Republic. Their mandate '-- to kill or capture Kony '--sets a high bar for foot soldiers who may also be at a disadvantage against a man who has spent all of his adult life in the bush.
"He's like a myth," Ugandan Lt. Col. John Kagwisa, the intelligence officer for military operations against the rebels, said of Kony. "His (fighters) see him as some kind of god, their spiritual god. They say that Kony can see what you're doing in the bush even if you're many miles away."
Kony has gone into what Ugandan commanders call "hibernation."
View gallery
In this Wednesday, June 25, 2014 photo, Ugandan troops patrol the town of Zemio in Central African R '...
In Central African Republic, a sparsely populated but chaotic country with a history of political upheaval, Kony has a wide theater in which to operate and stay ahead of his pursuers. He now eschews any use of hi-tech devices, leaving soldiers heavily reliant on any human intelligence they can glean from defectors or civilians who encounter rebels scattered through Congo and Central African Republic.
Ugandan military commanders leading the mission say that it's likely most of the defectors haven't seen or heard from Kony in years. Kony now uses personal couriers to send out his orders, so even senior commanders for the Lord's Resistance Army may spend years without seeing their boss, they said.
"Where is he now? My guess is as good as yours. That's how elusive he is," said Ugandan Col. Michael Kabango, commander of Ugandan troops in Central African Republic.
Despite the challenges, commanders say the daily slog in the jungle is justified because it keeps rebels on the run and unable to regroup. Hundreds of rebels have defected since 2008.
Kony, known to his victims for years, shot to international notoriety in 2012 after the advocacy group Invisible Children made a popular online video highlighting his crimes. Earlier this year the U.S. sent more troops and military aircraft to support operations against the rebel group, beefing up some 100 special forces who had been deployed in 2011.
View gallery
In this Wednesday, June 25, 2014 photo, a Ugandan soldier displays weapons, including machine guns a '...
More than 500 rebels have been killed, 200 have defected and 86 have been captured since 2008, substantial numbers given that LRA membership has been falling drastically because of the group's diminished ability to orchestrate new abductions. At the peak of its powers the Lord's Resistance Army was notorious for taking girls as sex slaves and boys as fighters, one of the reasons the group attracted global attention. The U.S. has offered up to $5 million in rewards for information leading to Kony's capture.
Fewer than 500 rebels remain active in the bush, and now no longer an effective fighting force, they are focusing on survival, Ugandan commanders say. But the military also warns that, until Kony is caught or killed, victory can't be declared against a warlord whose brutal insurgency against the Ugandan government was originally based on a wish to rule the East African country according to the Ten Commandments.
Kony, who was ousted from Ugandan territory in 2006, is said to be a ruthless enforcer of discipline, demoting officers of questionable loyalty and executing those likely to defect. He recently made his son one of his deputies, a move seen by watchdog groups as indicative of Kony's growing concern for his safety, and avoids any direct confrontations with African troops searching for him.
"It is very frustrating indeed," said Kabango, the Ugandan commander. "If anybody knew where he is, we could have picked him up. It's not that obvious."
Kony is said to move back and forth between Central African Republic, Congo and a disputed enclave known as Kafia Kingi, which is controlled by Sudan's military. Sudan isn't cooperating with Uganda on operations against the rebels, and Kony is believed to seek safe haven in Kafia Kingi whenever his pursuers come close to getting him. Ugandan commanders can't fly reconnaissance missions over Kafia Kingi or even deploy ground troops there.
Kasper Agger, a researcher in Africa for the U.S.-based watchdog group Enough Project, said that it's crucial to get Kony because "he remains the center of gravity" in the Lord's Resistance Army and maintains control of his group, however degraded.
Local leaders in Central African Republic have been cooperative with Ugandan soldiers who spend their days searching for junior rebel fighters, and defectors are warmly welcomed by Ugandan and U.S. troops.
Defector Opio, putting on fatigues and now disarmed of his AK-47 rifle, said he offered to surrender after realizing that the Lord's Resistance Army "is very thin on the ground" amid an international hunt for its fugitive leaders.
"To me, the LRA has no future," he said after surrendering last week. "That's why I also decided to come out."
Politics & GovernmentUnrest, Conflicts & WarJoseph KonyCentral African Republic
War on Ca$h
Minimum Wage: / Asscher: loon niet meer cash betalen
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 13:10
Het salaris mag niet meer volledig contant worden uitbetaald. Op die manier kan de ontduiking van het minimumloon effectiever worden aangepakt, schrijft minister van Sociale Zaken Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) in een brief aan de Tweede Kamer.
Per 1 januari 2015 moet het gedeelte van het salaris dat overeenkomt met het minimumloon giraal worden overgemaakt. Ook mogen werkgevers huisvesting of ziektekostenpremies niet meer met het minimumloon verrekenen. Deze bekende constructie om de regels te omzeilen pakt het kabinet nu aan.
De ministerraad heeft vrijdag ingestemd met het wetsvoorstel Aanpak Schijnconstructies, waardoor een aantal van deze ongewenste constructies voortaan niet meer mogelijk zijn. De nieuwe wet is volgens Asscher een belangrijk wapen in de strijd tegen uitbuiting en oneerlijke concurrentie op de arbeidsmarkt.
"Fatsoenlijk werk is in ons land niet altijd een vanzelfsprekendheid. Schijnconstructies zijn het onkruid van onze arbeidsmarkt en een klap in het gezicht van hardwerkende werknemers en eerlijke ondernemers", zegt Asscher daarover. "De concurrentie met China zullen we nooit winnen op loonkosten, wel op slimheid en toegevoegde waarde, dat moet het doel zijn."
De Inspectie SZW krijgt verder meer mogelijkheden om de regels te handhaven. Ook worden boetes die de inspectie oplegt voortaan openbaar gemaakt. Daarvan moet een preventieve werking uitgaan. Verder wordt een zogeheten ketenaansprakelijkheid voor de uitbetaling van loon ingevoerd, wat ervoor moet zorgen dat werknemers niet langer de dupe kunnen worden van foute onderaannemers of tussenpersonen, omdat de opdrachtgever aansprakelijk wordt voor het loon.
Daarvan gaat ook een preventieve werking uit. "Als je als opdrachtgever een tussenpersoon in de arm neemt, moet je goede afspraken maken en weten welk vlees je in de kuip hebt. We laten niet meer toe dat de werknemer de rekening gepresenteerd krijgt en kan fluiten naar zijn geld", aldus Asscher.
Sydney Opal card travel history can be accessed by police | ZDNet
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 04:58
Summary: Customer information and travel history on registered Opal cards can be accessed by New South Wales police, the Transport for NSW has confirmed.
Travel and customer information recorded as part of the new smart ticketing system for New South Wales transport could be used by police as part of criminal investigations, the New South Wales Department of Transport has confirmed.
The Opal smart card ticketing system began rolling out on Sydney transport last year, with the service expected to be available across all trains, ferries and buses later this year. Last week, NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said that there were 340,000 Opal cards issued for more than 20 million journeys using the cards.
From September 1, the government will start to retire some of the multi-trip cards, including weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly tickets to encourage commuters to switch to the Opal card.
Initially, to obtain an Opal card, commuters had to sign up an account on the Opal website with their address, an email, and payment information to top up the card.
Opal also records a commuter's travel history, which is used to determine what discounts apply for weekly travel.
Although the card itself doesn't record this information, Transport New South Wales is collecting a wealth of information on the times and locations for where people travel in the state using their Opal card. This information could ultimately be used for the investigation of a crime where a person's location at the time of a crime may be required.
A spokesperson for Transport for NSW said that the agency complies with the law regarding access to personal information.
"Transport for NSW and law enforcement agencies operate under the existing lawful mechanisms for law agencies to access data '-- using a warrant, subpoena or summons under the Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act 1998," the spokesperson said.
"Opal's Privacy Policy has been developed in accordance with the Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act 1998."
Not all information may be handed out via warrant, however, with police having the power in some instances for accessing the travel history if there is reasonable evidence that an offence has occurred.
The spokesperson said that customers who wish to opt out of being tracked will have the option of travelling anonymously with an unregistered card "in the coming months."
"Customers who want to travel anonymously will be able to do so by obtaining unregistered Opal cards using cash and adding value using cash. Opal cards will be made available in the coming months through retail stores and at pop-up kiosks."
NSW Police had been approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of writing.
It comes as the Federal Government has delayed a decision on the implementation of any new mandatory data retention regime for telecommunications companies as it plans to introduce new legislation boosting the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
Gazprom seeks HK listing, may use yuan in China gas deal
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:29
Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:19pm IST
* Gazprom already added listing in Singapore
* Sees rebates to Europe at some $1 bln this year (Adds background about Hong Kong, context)
By Denis Pinchuk
MOSCOW, June 26 (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom has held talks about a Hong Kong listing and may use the yuan currency in a recently agreed gas deal with China as it looks to strengthen its foothold in energy-hungry Asia.
Moscow has looked east for new business and energy deals as relations with the West deteriorate. China and Russia signed a $400 billion gas supply deal in May, linking Russia's huge gas fields to Asia's booming market for the first time.
Gazprom listed its American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) on the Singapore stock exchange last week, giving it greater access to Asian investors. Its American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) are already listed in London.
"We are in talks to add a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The next step is upgrading the level of our listing in Singapore," Gazprom Chief Financial Officer Andrei Kruglov said at a briefing for reporters on Thursday.
He said Gazprom was preparing to receive payments in Chinese yuan for supplying gas to China. The Kremlin-controlled company plans to sell 38 billion cubic metres of gas a year to the world's most populous country from 2018.
Gazprom would be the third Russian company to list in Hong Kong, joining aluminium producer United Company Rusal Plc and mining company IRC.
Rusal raised $2.2 billion when it floated 11 percent of its shares in Hong Kong in January 2010 at HK$10.80 each. The IPO received heavy scrutiny from Hong Kong's financial regulators partly due to the company's debt load and retail investors were eventually barred from taking part in the IPO.
Gazprom has said it will invest $55 billion in pipeline infrastructure and gas field developments to secure gas shipments to China, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has floated the idea of a Gazprom recapitalisation to finance it.
But Kruglov said the company wanted to increase gas tariffs, which have been capped by the state to cool inflation, and may do without a recapitalisation to fund its Chinese ambitions.
Another Gazprom official said on Thursday that Gazprom expected back payments to European customers as a result of contract revisions to total around $1 billion in 2014.
Gazprom has been in a dispute with some European buyers over prices, as its long-term contracts are traditionally linked to the oil price, while buyers have been pressing for a greater emphasis on spot gas prices to cut bills.
It has agreed to amend some contracts, lower the price and make what it calls "retroactive payments" to European companies.
The latest such deal was with Italy's Eni.
Kruglov said Gazprom's core earnings this year were likely to be "at least" $55 billion, down from $63 billion in 2014. "It is a conservative scenario," he said.
"It could be that they expect a decrease in gas exports to Europe," said analyst Alexander Fak at Moscow-based Sberbank CIB. He said the brokerage had forecast Gazprom's core earnings at $58-$59 billion.
Gazprom said this month it expected gas exports to Europe of 158.4 billion cubic metres, down from 162 bcm in 2013. (Additional reporting by Denny Thomas; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Megan Davies; editing by Jason Neely and Tom Pfeiffer)
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Another global financial crisis in the making, Bank for International Settlements warns
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:00
By Nick Beams30 June 2014The Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements has stated that the current policies of central banks and monetary authorities could lead to another financial crisis, potentially bigger than that of 2008.
The warning is contained in the latest annual report of the bank, sometimes referred to as the central bankers' bank, issued yesterday.
The report expressed concerns that the present low-interest rate regime, initiated to try to overcome the effects of the 2008 crash, has pushed financial markets to new highs while lowering the rate premium for many risky loans.
The BIS noted that markets had been ''exuberant over the past year,'' particularly in advanced economies. They were ''dancing mainly to the tune of central bank decisions,'' with volatility reaching historical lows and ''market participants ... hardly pricing in any risks.''
''Overall, it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets' buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally,'' the bank stated.
The ''disconnect'' is most clearly expressed in the United States, where the Federal Reserve's policy of pumping trillions of dollars into financial markets has seen stock market indexes reach record highs, while the underlying economy stagnates and reverses. Last week, it was revealed that the US economy contracted almost 3 percent in the first quarter of 2014, but stock markets climbed even further in the belief that the on-going stagnation would lead to the provision of still more ultra-cheap money.
The BIS noted that despite an increase in economic growth, the world economy had not shaken off its dependence on monetary stimulus. Regardless of the euphoria in financial markets, investment remained ''weak.'' On a global scale, the total debt of private non-financial sectors had risen by 30 percent since the global financial crisis, pushing up the ratio of this debt to global output.
Moreover, a concentration on short-term growth figures ran the risk of ignoring the long-term dangers created by present monetary policies.
''Focusing our attention on the shorter-term output fluctuations is akin to staring at the ripples on the ocean while losing sight of the more threatening underlying waves,'' the BIS head of economics Claudio Borio warned in a press briefing on the report.
The report stated that when viewed through the ''financial cycle lens,'' the current configuration of macroeconomic and financial developments raised a ''number of risks.''
In countries that had been experiencing ''outsized financial booms,'' the risk was that ''these will turn to bust and possibly inflict financial distress.'' Indicators that had proved accurate in the past, such as the behaviour of credit and property prices, were exhibiting ''worrying signs.'' Though the BIS did not name the US, it is the leading example of a country with an 'outsized financial boom.'
There were also dangers in so-called emerging market economies because of the disparity between the size of these markets and huge global investor portfolios, which the report likened to the effect of an ''elephant in a paddling pool.'' It was ''far from reassuring'' that flows to these countries had increased ''on the back of an aggressive search for yield,'' meaning they could reverse rapidly.
The report said that data indicating a sound financial position, together with so-called macro-prudential measures by financial authorities designed to try to prevent the build-up of risks, did not provide reassurance. ''Time and again,'' it noted, ''in both advanced and emerging market economies, seemingly strong balance sheets have turned out to mask unsuspected vulnerabilities that surface only after the financial boom has given way to bust.''
The BIS warned that any crisis in emerging markets would have a major impact on the more advanced economies. Since the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the share of emerging market economies had risen to around one third of global gross domestic product and their weight in the international financial system had increased.
''The ramifications would be particularly serious if China, home to an outsize financial boom, were to falter. Especially at risk would be the commodity-exporting countries that have seen strong credit and asset price increases and where post-crisis terms of trade gains have shored up high debt and property prices.''
The BIS did not specifically name Australia but the description matches its economy exactly. Other commodity exporting countries that would suffer a major impact include Brazil and South Africa.
According to the report, it was ''somewhat unsettling'' to see growth patterns similar to those that preceded the crisis of 2008. Property prices in Britain had been ''unusually buoyant,'' while segments of the corporate lending market in the US were ''even frothier than they were before the crisis.''
While it did not name the US Federal Reserve, the BIS report criticised its policy of quantitative easing on two fronts. While the benefits of ''unusually easy money'' policies may appear quite tangible in the short term, especially if assessed on the basis of the response of financial markets, ''the costs ... will become apparent only over time and with hindsight. This has happened often enough in the past.''
The BIS then took aim at the Fed's policy of informing financial markets of its intentions. ''Seeking to prepare markets by being clear about intentions may inadvertently result in participants taking more assurance than the central bank wishes to convey. This can encourage further risk-taking, sowing the seeds of an even sharper reaction.''
In other words, the very policies being implemented, supposedly with the aim of preventing a financial crisis, may well be creating the conditions for one. The report noted that any policy model which relied too much on the increase of debt, as ''financial booms sprinkle the fairy dust of illusory riches'' over time ''sows the seeds of its own demise.''
The BIS report is the latest in a series of warnings that the present financial boom is sowing the seeds for another crisis. It has a significant degree of credibility because the bank was one of the few official bodies that pointed to the unsustainable financial conditions leading up to the crisis of 2007''2008.
But the BIS, as with all the other economic authorities in the global capitalist economy, has no policies that can bring about a return to what were once considered ''normal'' patterns of economic growth.
Its central criticism of the easy money policies of the Fed and other central banks is that they have diverted attention from what it insists are necessary ''structural reforms,'' especially in labour markets. In other words, what is needed to pump life-blood back into the sclerotic arteries of the global capitalist system is an intensification of the offensive against the working class that began after 2008.
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Stop The JerkTech | TechCrunch
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:22
''Go disr*pt yourself'' is what I have to say to founders of startups like ReservationHop and Parking Monkey.
They're emblematic of a compassionless new wave of self-serving startups that exploit small businesses and public infrastructure to make a buck and aid the wealthy. Let's call these parasites #JerkTech. It's one thing to outcompete a big, stagnant company with new technology. It's another to screw over the little guys just because you can sell what's usually free.
So what do these tools do? ReservationHop places phony reservations at the hottest San Francisco restaurants, and then sells them for $5 or $10 apiece on its site. That makes it harder for the common man to get a reservation, since if they call the restaurant directly, they'll find all the spots taken.
And if ReservationHop doesn't sell the spots it stole? Tough luck for the restaurant, which just had a table go empty or wasted a half hour because the fake Dick Jerkson that ReservationHop put as the name on the res never showed up.
And then there's Monkey Parking. It lets drivers who are parked in public street parking spots auction off their space to another apesh*tter who's the highest bidder when they leave. And Monkey Parking takes a cut. Yes, it might reduce circling for parking that causes pollution. But it's essentially co-opting city infrastructure and profiting by reserving it for people with smartphones. Got a flip phone? Your problem, not the monkey's. Plus it dangerously promotes cell phone use while driving.
Sweetch is another parking scalping app where you pay $5 to take over a spot from another user, and get $4 back for selling it off when you leave. Sweetch keeps the difference, or all of it if you don't camp out in the spot until another Sweetchbag buys it. Thankfully the city of San Francisco is fighting Sweetch and Monkey Parking with cease-and-desist orders.
All of these apps are essentially tools for scalping a public good or open resource. They don't deserve to take something that's supposed to be free and first-come-first-serve so they can sell it.
Don't concert ticket re-sale sites like StubHub encourage and take a cut from scalping? Yes, and I'm not a big fan of them for that reason. If the demand for a band's ticket is high, they're the ones that should be making the mark-up, not some sleazy guy with 20 computers who bought 40 tickets the second they went on sale to turn around and flip them. But at least that guy has to bet his own money that he can resell a private commodity he bought.
There are ways to disrupt with building JerkTech. Take Uber. I don't always agree with with its aggressive execution, but the taxi industry had been content giving the people a crummy service for too long. With unreliable scheduled pick-ups, run-down cars, and road-ragey drivers talking on the phone the whole time, they were inviting someone to change things. Uber is far from perfect, but it's giving people a better experience by updating an (albeit regulated) private industry.
If you weren't aware, San Francisco's tech scene already has some serious problems. Between techies belittling the homeless and women, being sexist and discriminatory in the work place, or comparing criticism of the 1% to Crystalnacht before bragging ''I could buy a six-pack of Rolexes'', the rest of the country and world is building up a decent argument for hating us.
I don't want to go all Uncle Ben on you but wielding disruptive tech does come with great responsibility. Build scalable businesses, but not by pillaging the local community. Get it straight, it's not about ''changing the world'', it's about ''making the world a better place''. Or at the very least ''earning money without making the world a worse place''. That doesn't start by prioritizing your JerkTech startup, wealth, and fame over common decency.
Google reverses decision to delete British newspaper links
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:30
Fri Jul 4, 2014 2:52am EDT
A Google search page is reflected in sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir
(Reuters) - Google Inc on Thursday reversed its decision to remove several links to stories in Britain's Guardian newspaper, underscoring the difficulty the search engine is having implementing Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling.
The Guardian protested the removal of its stories describing how a soccer referee lied about reversing a penalty decision. It was unclear who asked Google to remove the stories.
Separately, Google has not restored links to a BBC article that described how former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive Officer E. Stanley O'Neal was ousted after the investment bank racked up billions of dollars in losses.
The incidents underscore the uncertainty around how Google intends to adhere to a May European court ruling that gave its citizens the "right to be forgotten:" to request the scrubbing of links to articles that pop up under a name search.
Privacy advocates say the backlash around press censorship highlight the potential dangers of the ruling and its unwieldiness in practice. That in turn may benefit Google by stirring debate about the soundness of the ruling, which the Internet search leader criticized the ruling from the outset.
Google, which has received more than 70,000 requests, began acting upon them in past days. And it notified the BBC and the Guardian, which in turn publicized the moves.
The incidents suggest that requesting removal of a link may actually bring the issue back into the public spotlight, rather than obscure it. That possibility may give people pause before submitting a "right to be forgotten" request.
"At least as it looks now, there are definitely some unworkable components," said Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgins. "We've seen a number of situations in the past few days, where somebody in an effort to get a certain thing forgotten has brought more attention to it than ever was there before."
"It does make you think that maybe if you're actually trying to make an episode of your history be forgotten, this channel maybe isn't the best way."
Google's objective is to protect the reliability and effectiveness of its search franchise. It remains uncertain how it adjudicates requests, or how they intend to carry them out going forward.
"Their current approach appears to be an overly broad interpretation," a spokeswoman for the Guardian said. "If the purpose of the judgment is not to enable censorship of publishers by the back door, then we'd encourage Google to be transparent about the criteria it is using to make these decisions, and how publishers can challenge them."
Google, which controls more than 90 percent of European online searches, said it was a learning process.
''This is a new and evolving process for us. We'll continue to listen to feedback and will also work with data protection authorities and others as we comply with the ruling,'' the company said in a statement.
Notifying media outlets about scrubbed links has the effect of enhancing transparency, privacy advocates say. It might also prompt European courts to re-examine aspects of the ruling, including how it affects media outlets' coverage.
"It's terra incognito for everyone," said Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "If sites that receive the notices choose to publicize them in ways that end up boomeranging against the people requesting, that might cause the courts to examine what those sites are doing."
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco and Aurindom Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Lisa Shumaker)
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Matt Cutts [the grand gentleman], Google's Head of Webspam, is going on indefinite leave. Publishers likely won't miss him.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:25
By James RobinsonOn July 3, 2014
Matt Cutts, Google's Head of Webspam, announced on his personal blog today that he is taking at least four months of personal leave. Pando readers will know Cutts as the man who heads the team that, with a single algorithm tweak, can wipe a business off the face of Google search.
''When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years,'' Cutts writes. ''And now, almost fifteen years later I'd like to be there for my wife more. I know she'd like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work.''
''I've been talking about doing this with my wife for a while now, and it feels like the right time.''
Cutts will not check a single work email, he swears. Things on his agenda include taking a cruise, going ballroom dancing, spending time with his in-laws and doing a half ironman. Good for him!
Whether or not this is a gentle push into the night, or a suspension by another name, few people will be mourning a few Cutts-free months. Just yesterday, on a post on Product Hunt, Jason Calacanis accused Cutts personally of killing his startup Mahalo and putting 80 Americans out of work.
''Matt Cutts killing the business really pissed me off as well. he just smiled and told me ''you don't have a penalty'' with a shit-eating grin'.... they targeted us for destruction,'' Calacanis wrote.
Google's Panda and Penguin algorithms, which Cutts' team controls, monitor for spam content and links. The company won't even hint at the rules which govern these algorithms or its motive for making changes, while the algorithms have massive commercial impact. Under Cutts, there has been a litany of strange coincidences. As Pando has reported, when Google bought Nest, its competitor Vivint was banished from search and had to spend four months figuring out what it did wrong, and Google hit eBay's search standing after eBay had published a report critical of the value of Google's search ads. (Cutts has taken the time in the past to brand our reporting ''silly.'')
Conversations I've had with web publishers, none of whom would speak on the record for fear of retribution from Cutts' webspam team, speak to a litany of frustration at a lack of transparency and potential bullying from Google.
''The very fact I'm not able to be candid, that's a testament to the grotesque power imbalance that's developed,'' the owner of one widely read, critically acclaimed popular website told me after their site ran afoul of Cutts' last Panda update.
''That guy Cutts, he just gives these vague speeches. It is hermetic. If you're an ordinary human being, it is designed to be unresponsive. The fact that they won't explain their rules, won't offer any methods for redress, they treat people like roadkill.''
Befitting Google's reputation for being completely impersonal in the face of publisher concerns and enquiry, in his place Cutts directed people to visit a series of company help sites.
Cutts denied in his post that this leave was bought on by any specific event. We've reached out to Google for comment, but its office are closed already for the holiday weekend.
[image via Matt Cutts on Google Plus]
FTC Approves Final Settlement With Facebook | Federal Trade Commission
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:59
Facebook Must Obtain Consumers' Consent Before Sharing Their Information Beyond Established Privacy SettingsFor Your Information
August 10, 2012Following a public comment period, the FTC has accepted as final a settlement with Facebook resolving charges that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.
The settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including by giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining their express consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings, by maintaining a comprehensive privacy program to protect consumers' information, and by obtaining biennial privacy audits from an independent third party.
The Commission vote to approve the final order and letters to members of the public who commented on it was 3-1-1 with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting and Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen not participating. The Commission issued a statement authored by Chairman Jon D. Leibowitz and Commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill. The Commission statement affirmed that, based on the extensive investigation of the staff, there is a strong reason to believe that the settlement is in the public interest, and that the Order's provisions make clear that Facebook will be liable for a broad range of deceptive conduct. As set forth in his separate statement, Commissioner Rosch dissented from the acceptance of the final consent order, questioning whether Facebook's express denial of liability provided "a reason to believe" that the settlement was "in the interest of the public" and expressing concern that the final consent order may not unequivocally cover all representations made in the Facebook environment. (FTC File No. 092-3184; the staff contact is Laura Berger, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-460-8364; see press release dated November 29, 2011.)
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
(FTC File No. 092-3184)
MEDIA CONTACT:Office of Public Affairs202-326-2180
Music Biz Alarm: All Albums Down 14% 1st Six Months 2014, Streaming Way Up: Kids Don't Want to Own the Music.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:09
HomeMusicMusic Biz Alarm: All Albums Down 14% 1st Six Months 2014, Streaming...Hello people over 30. You had record collections, tapes, CDs. Then you downloaded music into your computers or devices. Well, guess what? Kids today don't want any of that. They're happy to pay an annual fee and ''stream'' it all. They are not buying CD or downloading anything. What the heck am I supposed to do with twenty boxes of 45s and a room full of CDs????
According to Nielsen, during the first six months of 2014, sales of all albums both physical and digital were down 14.9%. And sales just of digital downloads (from iTunes mostly) were down 11.6%.
But dig this: sales of CDs were down 19.6%.
What was up? Streaming jumped 50%. And sales of vinyl LPs were up 40%.
I'd say this is crazy. But how many times have I played music on my computer or phone via Spotify because it was right here, and convenient? A lot. Too much.
And listen, this is felt everywhere. There are almost no CD players made now. They're like Gramaphones. And when I walked into the last little record shop on West 8th St. in Greenwich Village, and asked for Chrissie Hynde's new album, the clerk asked if I could spell her name. SPELL Chrissie Hynde. Chrissie woulda punched him.
Nielsen: from reading their stats I gleaned a few other things: Katy Perry is the current biggest pop star. Justin Bieber does not exist in the music world. Country music remains huge. Only physical CD in the top sold more than 400,000 copies'' the ''Frozen'' soundtrack, with 1.7 million.
And vinyl? Among the top 10 was the only legacy act'' The Beatles with ''Abbey Road.''
The most played record on radio? ''Happy'' by Pharrell Williams.
All of this why Apple is pushing iTunes radio. All these streaming music businesses better get their acts together and start paying artists and writers properly. If streaming is the future, it's not going to the rape of the people who made the product. Or I'm going to have lots of stories to write for a new generation.
AuthorRoger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News. He writes for Parade magazine and has written for Details, Vogue, the New York Times, Post, and Daily News and many other publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals.
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Apple's CarPlay coming to nine new automakers' vehicles | The Verge
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 16:29
Nine new automakers have committed to supporting Apple's CarPlay in future models of their vehicles. Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Mazda, and Ram are joining the existing 20 companies that have already announced their plans to integrate CarPlay, Apple's iOS-powered dashboard for vehicles. Integrating smartphones with car dashboards has emerged as a new focus for Apple, as well as competitors like Google, though the car is less a battleground than it is an extension of their mobile operating systems, since a vehicle might be able to work with multiple types of phones.
Even though CarPlay's features are basic, it still offers an experience far better than what you'd find on the average car's dashboard. That's something that'll be worth looking for when buying a new car, and it'll be increasingly important for smartphone makers to ensure that their phones for with most popular vehicles. Just last week, Google announced a similar effort, called Android Auto, and it's supposed to become available on certain cars by the end of the year. Apple's CarPlay will be supported byb vehicles from five automakers, including Honda and Mercedes-Benz, this year.
AP News : Venture capitalist snaps up bitcoins worth $19M
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:20
By MICHAEL LIEDTKEPublished: YesterdaySAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is betting that bitcoins will bring more financial stability to countries with shaky economies, even though the digital currency faces an uncertain future itself.
The financier revealed Wednesday that he snapped up nearly 30,000 bitcoins in a recent U.S. government auction and plans to trade them on a platform catering to markets looking for alternatives to their own volatile currencies.
Unlike most forms of money, bitcoins aren't backed by any government. Bitcoins also provide their owners with anonymity and enable transactions that can be completed over the Internet without the involvement of banks. That has turned bitcoins into a financial vehicle for money laundering and illegal drug sales, too.
The bitcoins that Draper bought were auctioned off after the U.S. government seized them last year in a crackdown on Silk Road, a website that stockpiled the currency while selling illegal drugs.
Draper prevailed over 44 other bidders registered for the auction, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The price he paid isn't being revealed, but the bitcoins currently have a market value of about $19 million.
Pouring millions into risky investments is something that Draper has been doing in his nearly 30 years as one of the best-known venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
Enough of Draper's hunches have paid off to enrich him and the people who entrust money with his venture capital firm, Draper Associates, in Menlo Park, California.
The firm's investment portfolio includes an early stake in satellite maker Skybox Imaging, which Google Inc. last month agreed to buy for $500 million.
Draper occasionally also has made a splash in politics. After striking it rich during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Draper poured more than $20 million of his own money into an unsuccessful attempt to provide $4,000 for each child in California to attend private schools. This year, he has been pushing a proposal that would divide California into six separate regions, including a region that would be called Silicon Valley.
His latest vision foresees bitcoins helping less-prosperous countries build stronger economies.
"Using Bitcoin could benefit you more than any other currency out there," Draper said Wednesday during a press conference.
In an effort to circulate more bitcoins in the targeted markets, Draper is working with Vaurum, an exchange that is part of his investment portfolio. Vaurum says it already has set up trading systems in several emerging markets where bitcoins have been scarce.
Half of Americans can't go without phone: Study
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:02
Artur Debat | Moment Mobile | Getty Images
What's just as important as deodorant, nearly as critical as the toothbrush, and far more paramount than coffee? Our smartphones, apparently.
According to a new study commissioned by Bank of America, a whopping 47 percent of Americans surveyed admitted they wouldn't last a day without their smartphone.
Read MoreGadgets to make those summer days more fun
A total of 91 percent of the 1,000 respondents called their phones "very important" -- the same percentage who said their car and deodorant are very important too.
And of those ages 18 to 24, 88 percent said they view their mobile phones as more important than the Internet, deodorant, and their toothbrush.
"It's a little depressing that these numbers are so high," said Dr. Andrew L. Russell, director of the Program in Science and Technology Studies at Stevens Institute of Technology, "but the way we live now, it doesn't surprise me."
'-- By Rebecca Ungarino,
No-IP's Formal Statement on Microsoft Takedown | No-IP Blog - Managed DNS Services
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 01:35
Reading Time: 2 minutes, 41 secs*******UPDATE*******
Is your service down because of this outage? The solution we have available at the moment is for you to create a new hostname on a domain that has not been seized by Microsoft. The following domains are free and working
To create a new hostname, login to your No-IP account and click on the Hosts/Redirects tab. Click a ''Add a Host''. Type in your hostname and also choose one of the working domains.
We apologize for this outage. At this point it is completely out of our hands, but please understand that we are fighting for you.
Thank you
We want to update all our loyal customers about the service outages that many of you are experiencing today. It is not a technical issue. This morning, Microsoft served a federal court order and seized 22 of our most commonly used domains because they claimed that some of the subdomains have been abused by creators of malware. We were very surprised by this. We have a long history of proactively working with other companies when cases of alleged malicious activity have been reported to us. Unfortunately, Microsoft never contacted us or asked us to block any subdomains, even though we have an open line of communication with Microsoft corporate executives.
We have been in contact with Microsoft today. They claim that their intent is to only filter out the known bad hostnames in each seized domain, while continuing to allow the good hostnames to resolve. However, this is not happening. Apparently, the Microsoft infrastructure is not able to handle the billions of queries from our customers. Millions of innocent users are experiencing outages to their services because of Microsoft's attempt to remediate hostnames associated with a few bad actors.
Had Microsoft contacted us, we could and would have taken immediate action. Microsoft now claims that it just wants to get us to clean up our act, but its draconian actions have affected millions of innocent Internet users.
Vitalwerks and No­-IP have a very strict abuse policy. Our abuse team is constantly working to keep the No-­IP system domains free of spam and malicious activity. We use sophisticated filters and we scan our network daily for signs of malicious activity. Even with such precautions, our free dynamic DNS service does occasionally fall prey to cyber scammers, spammers, and malware distributors. But this heavy-handed action by Microsoft benefits no one. We will do our best to resolve this problem quickly.
About No­-IPFor over 14 years, No­-IP has been offering the best and most affordable Dynamic and Managed DNS solutions. Our robust Anycast Network with points of presence in 18 different world­class facilities across the globe guarantees our 100% Uptime, because let's face it, there are no upsides to downtime. No­IP is the preferred choice for users on the Internet for dynamic DNS compared to smaller, less reliable alternatives. Our DNS Experts will ensure that your website is fast, reliable and always available.
ContactNatalie GoguenMarketing Manager5905 South Virginia Street, Suite 200Reno, NV
Support requests will not be answered via email. Please open a support ticket if you need assistance.
Ex-Merrill Lynch CEO story excised from Google search
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:36
The story by BBC Economics Editor Robert Peston, one of the U.K.'s best-known financial journalists, was first published in 2007, and has been removed from "certain searches" by European Google users, the BBC reported. This follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice in May, which allows members of the public to request "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" data be deleted from Google searches.
The ruling was met with concerns that it could lead to criminals and bankrupts excising details of their past mistakes.
This particular story is not overly critical of O'Neal, and is actually still available under searches for his name, which suggests that it is not him who has requested its removal.
Google kills its successful social network. Yes, we mean Orkut ' The Register
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:22
Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps
Google is killing off Orkut, the web giant's original and arguably most successful social network, which remains popular in Brazil and India but never really gained traction in the West.
Worse still, the Mountain View company announced the move during the World Cup football tournament '' taking place in Brazil.
In a carefully worded blog post titled "Tchau Orkut" '' which means "bye" or "farewell" in Portuguese '' Google told users of the network that "YouTube, Blogger and Google+" had "outpaced Orkut's growth".
The more astute readers among you might note that the ad giant did not say that its, er, "network thingy" Google+ had jumped ahead of Orkut, however. Instead Mountain View, perhaps unsurprisingly, lumped Google+ together with YouTube and Blogger as "communities" that it wants to make "as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them".
The demise of Orkut, meanwhile, will be swift.
Google said the kill switch would come on 30 September this year. It said:
Until then, there will be no impact on current Orkut users, to give the community time to manage the transition. People can export their profile data, community posts and photos using Google Takeout (available until September 2016). Starting today, it will not be possible to create a new Orkut account.
Google added that an archive of all public communities would live on its search index and be fully accessible via its archives. "If you don't want your posts or name to be included in the community archive, you can remove Orkut permanently from your Google account," the company added.
Mountain View said:
It's been a great 10 years, and we apologise to those still actively using the service. We hope people will find other online communities to spark more conversations and build even more connections for the next decade and beyond.
In recent years, Orkut, perhaps inevitably, lost its social networking crown in India and Brazil - where it had commanded the most loyal users - to Facebook.
Google's decision to axe Orkut came just days after the company confirmed it was retiring its Quickoffice app, which had only been released about a year ago.
Interestingly, Google did not once explicitly suggest Google+ as an alternative. The reason? It is not providing a connection tool.
Google explained on its support page that there was no way of migrating the data over to Google+ from Orkut. Instead, it simply advised that users who want their profiles and communities to live on should create new Google+ pages.
But nothing else will be transferred, which will undoubtedly frustrate the hell out of folk who have painstakingly built up a social following on Orkut only to discover they have to start again. From scratch. On Google+. ®
Integrated tiered storage for Big Data and HPC
Aereo | Protect My Antenna
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:56
On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that could deny you the right to use an antenna of your choice to access live over-the-air broadcast television. This is a massive setback for consumers.Make your voice heardContact your lawmakers and tell them how disappointing it is to you that the nation's highest court has issued a decision that could take away your right to use a cloud-based antenna to access live over-the-air broadcast television.
The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over-the-air programming belongs to the American public and you should have a right to access that programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud.
Ask your elected officials to take action to protect your right use an antenna to access live free-to-air broadcasts, including a modern antenna located in the cloud.
Enter your zip code to find your representatives and send an email, Tweet or Facebook post. Take action today.
Learn MoreSince the dawn of television, American consumers have had the right to use an antenna to watch over-the-air broadcast television. And since that time, new technologies have emerged that have enhanced the television watching experience. From VCRs to DVRs, from rabbit-ear to cloud-based antennas, innovations in technology and equipment have made consumer access to free broadcast television simpler and more convenient.
Using an antenna to watch TV is still meaningful for more than 60 million Americans across the United States. And when new technology enables consumers to use a smarter, convenient antenna, consumers and the marketplace win. Broadcast television should not be available only to those who can afford to pay for a cable or satellite bundle.
The Supreme Court's decision is troublesome for consumers and the future of technology and innovation. Find more information about Aereo's journey below.
Background InformationBrief of Dish Network L.L.C. and Echostar Technologies L.L.C. as Amici Curiae in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of the American Cable Association in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of Competition Law Professors, Southwestern Law Student Andrew Pletcher, and Professor Michael M. Epstein, in Association with the Amicus Project At Southwestern Law School, as Amici Curiae in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association, and Engine Advocacy in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of Small and Independent Broadcasters in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of Amici Curiae of Law Professors and Scholars in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Union in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of Computer & Communications Industry Association and Mozilla Corporation as Amici Curiae in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)Brief of 36 Intellectual Property and Copyright Law Professors as Amici Curiae in Support of Aereo(April 2, 2014)The Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union in Support of Aereo (Second Circuit)(November 13, 2012)Intellectual Property and Copyright Law Professors in Support of Aereo Amicus Brief (Second Circuit)(October 26, 2012)Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Consumer Electronics Association Amicus Brief in Support of Aereo (Second Circuit)(October 26, 2012)CCIA & Internet Association Amicus Brief in Support of Affirmance (Second Circuit)(October 25, 2012)Electronic Frontier Foundation & Public Knowledge Amicus Brief (District Court)(May 23, 2012)NetCoalition and CCIA Amicus Brief (District Court)(May 22, 2012)An Inside LookHear from the individuals behind Aereo's creation and operation as they give you an inside look at Aereo and its technology:
Symposium: Preferring substance over form and nature over manner, Supreme Court finds that Aereo runs afoul of the purposes of the Copyright Act : SCOTUSblog
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 16:18
Eleanor M. Lackman is a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP. She filed anamicusbrief on behalf of the Copyright Alliance and several professors in support of the networks.
In American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., the question before the Court was whether Aereo infringed the broadcasters' exclusive right of public performance by offering a service that permitted customers to view television programs over the Internet ''near live'' '' i.e., at around the same time as the programs are broadcast over the public airwaves. Aereo's primary defense was that, as a result of its architecture, the transmissions sent to each customer were individual ''private'' performances. The Court, in a six-to-three decision, rejected that argument and concluded that the ultimate purpose of Aereo's system '' picking up broadcast signals and retransmitting them to subscribers '' was no different than the nature of what cable systems do when they retransmit broadcast signals to subscribers. Congress had expressly targeted the latter activity in the 1976 Copyright Act, and the majority indicated that had Aereo been in existence at the time, Congress would have found Aereo's activities to be within the scope of the activity that Congress found to be public performances under the copyright laws.
While even the dissent ''share[d] the Court's evident feeling that what Aereo is doing (or enabling to be done) to the Networks' copyrighted programming ought not to be allowed[,]'' the aspect of the case that proved thorniest and most controversial was whether and to what extent the Court's ruling would have an impact on other technologies that may host or carry copyrighted works. This issue formed the center of the oral argument before the Court in April, and it runs through both the majority and dissenting opinions. The Court took efforts to limit its holding to just the technology at bar, but the question remains as to whether the opinion is as narrow as the Court hoped. Notably, the court in the decision that inspired Aereo's architecture (known as the Cablevision decision) also said that the holding was limited to its facts. It may be the end of Aereo, but if history repeats itself, Aereo may live on.
The way the Court framed the issue in the case speaks volumes about the fundamental problem that the Court saw in Aereo: it was ''technologically complex,'' and more so than it needed to be in order to perform its function of delivering live broadcast television over the Internet and mobile devices. Aereo explained that it was designed to follow Cablevision, which held that individualized transmissions of programming from a ''remote storage DVR'' maintained by a cable operator could not be public performances because they were not ''public.'' Rather, each stream from the buffers at Aereo's facility was viewable by only one subscriber and therefore was private.
The question of whether an activity violates the right of public performance inherently involves two questions: whether it is a ''performance,'' and whether it is ''public.'' In Cablevision, the Second Circuit '' apart from noting that the contours of the various exclusive rights under Section 106 of the Copyright Act differ '' did not address Cablevision's argument that the customer, rather than Cablevision, ''performs'' the work. Instead, it found no violation of the right on the ground that the playback did not involve the transmission of a performance ''to the public.'' As several lawsuits involving Aereo and an Aereo competitor wound their way through the lower courts, the discussion and focus in those cases similarly centered on the ''public'' part of ''public performance.''
The Aereo Court took on both issues. In assessing whether Aereo ''performs'' at all under the Copyright Act, the Court set up a dichotomy: cases in which an entity performs or transmits, and cases in which an entity ''merely supplies equipment that allows others to do so.'' Without any express answers in the Act on this question, the Court found the language of the Act to be unclear. However, when ''read in light of its purpose, the Act is unmistakable: An entity that engages in activities like Aereo's performs.''
The way that the Court chose to analyze the issue demonstrates that the Court's identified ''purpose'' applicable in this case was quite specific and tailored to certain events in history. In particular, the Court observed that in two Supreme Court decisions prior the 1976 Act, the Court had held that passive, community antenna television (CATV) systems (the precursors of modern cable systems) did not ''perform'' broadcasted works when it merely transmitted broadcast signals to viewers. But then the 1976 amendments to the Copyright Act ''completely overturned'' those holdings. Relying on the House Report, the Court observed that under the new Act, both the broadcaster and the viewer ''perform.'' The Act also confirmed that a transmission of a performance from one place to another was a performance. More importantly here, the amendments expressly addressed cable television transmissions, including all acts in the chain from the initial rendition to receipt by the public. The Act further set up a statutory licensing scheme in Section 111 of the Act to regulate cable companies' performances of copyrighted works.
Under this framework, the Court found that Aereo was ''not simply an equipment provider,'' but that it (and apparently its subscribers, too) perform or transmit. That Aereo ''may serve a 'viewer function''' and ''may even emulate equipment a viewer could use at home'' was irrelevant. The ''overwhelming likeness'' to the cable companies informed the Court's conclusion. The Court noted the dissent's cited technological differences between cable companies and Aereo and rejected those differences, finding that the system ''is for all practical purposes a traditional cable system.'' The many similarities, ''considered in light of Congress' basic purposes in amending the Copyright Act,'' convinced the majority that Aereo ''is not just an equipment supplier and that Aereo 'perform[s].'''
The Court then turned to the question of whether Aereo's series of one-to-one transmissions are private transmissions. While the court in Cablevision and the lower courts in Aereo found that sending each transmission to only one subscriber constituted a ''private'' performance, the Court could not see how '' in terms of the Act's purposes '' the technological differences distinguished Aereo from cable systems: ''They do not render Aereo's commercial objective any different from that of cable companies.'' Pointing to the language of the Transmit Clause in the Act, the Court noted the myriad ways in which a public performance can be effectuated, including by a series of transmissions. In elaborating on this point, however, the Court appeared to waver on whether a performance is to the public if it comes from the ''same work'' or the ''same contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds[.]'' In dicta, the Court also suggested that the public's ''relationship to the underlying work'' is relevant: if the subscriber has a prior relationship to the work, then the performance might not be ''public,'' while transmission ''to large numbers of paying subscribers who lack any prior relationship to the works'' is a public performance. While the architecture of cloud-based ''lockers'' must have been on the Court's mind when describing the ''relationship'' distinction, what may constitute a ''relationship'' '' be it a cable subscription, a prior purchase of the specific work, or something else '' is left unexplained.
In concluding, the Court confirmed that its holding was narrow. While rejecting the reasoning of Cablevision, the Court indicated that it was not opining on remote time-shifting technologies such as the RS-DVR: ''The subscriber may instead direct Aereo to stream the program at a later time, but that aspect of Aereo's service is not before us.'' Neither was the question of ''whether the public performance right is infringed when the user of a service pays primarily for something other than the transmission of copyrighted works, such as the remote storage of content.'' It expressly curtailed any application of its holding to ''those who act as owners or possessors of the relevant product.''
The Court also warned that its reliance on the history of the enactment of the Transmit Clause did ''not determine whether different kinds of providers in different contexts also 'perform[,]''' but it suggested that the transmission of a performance may not occur at all unless the provider communicates ''contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds of a work.'' And if there were ever any doubt in a future case, courts could avoid ''inappropriate or inequitable applications'' of the Transmit Clause by applying the doctrine of fair use. As to those entities that did not wish to wait for the courts to assess whether a new service violated the Copyright Act, they should go to Congress.
In a strong dissent, Justice Scalia (joined by Justices Thomas and Alito) took aim at the Court's approach, asserting that it ''distort[ed]'' and ''ben[t] and twist[ed]'' the Act's terms, and finding the approach ad hoc, too reliant on analogies to the function of other technological services, and highly unpredictable in its application. While finding problems with Aereo, the dissent proposed that the Court should have looked at the question as one of direct versus secondary liability, a principle that arises from common law. The approach '' concerned about ''the distinction between direct and secondary liability'' '' bears echoes of the Sony VCR case as well as what appeared to be motivating the Second Circuit in Cablevision (i.e., the analogy to the traditional DVR). Yet the very language of Sony suggests that this is not the proper approach: ''As the District Court correctly observed, however, 'the lines between direct infringement, contributory infringement and vicarious liability are not clearly drawn . . . .'''
Under the dissent's framework, a bright-line rule would exist: the party that ''chooses the content'' is the direct infringer. In a conclusion reminiscent of the holdings in the congressionally overturned CATV cases, the dissent concluded that Aereo did not choose the content and therefore did not ''perform.'' Rather, the subscribers do. However, particularly in the context of the definition of ''transmit,'' analogizing Aereo to an ISP or stand-alone equipment provider arguably creates odd results: by the same logic, someone who purchases a ticket to a stage play performs the play, and an entity that provides interactive radio streaming of thousands of songs performs while one that provides non-interactive radio streaming does not.
Activities that ''ought not to be allowed'' need not trouble interested parties, according to the dissent. While the Copyright Act was clear that Aereo was legal, Aereo exploited what appeared to be a '''loophole' in the law.'' And, the dissent concluded, when ''good lawyers [ ] identify and exploit [loopholes],'' it is ''the role of Congress to eliminate them if it wishes.''
While the Court intended for its holding to be narrow, some broad principles come out of Aereo. First, the nature of a service and its objectives will carry more weight than complex architecture designed to try to exploit perceived loopholes in the law. Second, while the Court suggested that some bright-line rules exist, each new service should be assessed on its facts. And finally, the analysis of whether a given technology violates the copyright laws should include consideration of the general purposes of the statute. When aggregated, these principles send a message that technological growth should be driven by something other than copyright avoidance, making the ruling a win for not merely the networks, but for creators and consumers of copyrighted works and new technology alike.
Posted in American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, Aereo symposium
Recommended Citation: Eleanor Lackman, Symposium: Preferring substance over form and nature over manner, Supreme Court finds that Aereo runs afoul of the purposes of the Copyright Act, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 26, 2014, 4:23 PM),
PayPal Shuts Down Secure Messaging Service ProtonMail's Crowdfunding Account | TechCrunch
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:42
In another example of why Bitcoin is probably best for online transactions, the mercurial PayPal has shut down ProtonMail's account, freezing $270,000 in limbo until ''questions'' are ''answered'' regarding the cash. PayPal is quite good at shutting down popular funding efforts including, most notably, Wikileak's donation provider a few years ago.
Writes Andy Yen, co-founder of the platform:
While the $275,000ProtonMail has raised in the past 2 weeks is a large amount, it pales in comparison to many othercrowdfunding campaigns that have raised sums in excess of $1,000,000 so we can't help but wonder whyProtonMail was singled out. When we pressed the PayPal representative on the phone for further details, he questioned whetherProtonMail is legal and if we have government approval to encrypt emails. We are not sure which government PayPal is referring to, but even the 4th Amendment of the US constitution guarantees:''The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures'....''It seems PayPal is trying to come up with ANY excuse they can to prevent us from receiving funds.
ProtonMail, you'll recall, is a secure mail program designed to encrypt messages in the browser before they reach the mail server. They raised $284,008 on Indiegogo so far. Folks interested in avoiding the black hole of PayPal can send pledges to ProtonMail's Bitcoin wallet and get the same perks. This also points to the urgent need for BTC adoption by both major crowdfunding organizations because PayPal is dangerous.
Paypal had this comment:
PayPal recently made changes to the way it handled accounts of people who were using crowdfunding sites to support their ideas. In response to customer feedback we established a streamlined process to specifically support crowdfunding campaigns. This process involves engaging crowdfunding campaign owners early on to clearly understand their campaign goals and help them ensure their campaigns are compliant with our policies and government regulations.In the case of ProtonMail, a technical problem this week resulted in PayPal applying restrictions to the account. We have contacted ProtonMail today to solve this and can confirm that ProtonMail is able to receive or send funds through PayPal again. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.
AP News : Venture capitalist snaps up bitcoins worth $19M
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:20
By MICHAEL LIEDTKEPublished: YesterdaySAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is betting that bitcoins will bring more financial stability to countries with shaky economies, even though the digital currency faces an uncertain future itself.
The financier revealed Wednesday that he snapped up nearly 30,000 bitcoins in a recent U.S. government auction and plans to trade them on a platform catering to markets looking for alternatives to their own volatile currencies.
Unlike most forms of money, bitcoins aren't backed by any government. Bitcoins also provide their owners with anonymity and enable transactions that can be completed over the Internet without the involvement of banks. That has turned bitcoins into a financial vehicle for money laundering and illegal drug sales, too.
The bitcoins that Draper bought were auctioned off after the U.S. government seized them last year in a crackdown on Silk Road, a website that stockpiled the currency while selling illegal drugs.
Draper prevailed over 44 other bidders registered for the auction, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The price he paid isn't being revealed, but the bitcoins currently have a market value of about $19 million.
Pouring millions into risky investments is something that Draper has been doing in his nearly 30 years as one of the best-known venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
Enough of Draper's hunches have paid off to enrich him and the people who entrust money with his venture capital firm, Draper Associates, in Menlo Park, California.
The firm's investment portfolio includes an early stake in satellite maker Skybox Imaging, which Google Inc. last month agreed to buy for $500 million.
Draper occasionally also has made a splash in politics. After striking it rich during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Draper poured more than $20 million of his own money into an unsuccessful attempt to provide $4,000 for each child in California to attend private schools. This year, he has been pushing a proposal that would divide California into six separate regions, including a region that would be called Silicon Valley.
His latest vision foresees bitcoins helping less-prosperous countries build stronger economies.
"Using Bitcoin could benefit you more than any other currency out there," Draper said Wednesday during a press conference.
In an effort to circulate more bitcoins in the targeted markets, Draper is working with Vaurum, an exchange that is part of his investment portfolio. Vaurum says it already has set up trading systems in several emerging markets where bitcoins have been scarce.
Microsoft Darkens 4MM Sites in Malware Fight
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:16
Millions of Web sites were shuttered Monday morning after Microsoft executed a legal sneak attack against a malware network thought to be responsible for more than 7.4 million infections of Windows PCs worldwide.
A diagram showing how crooks abused's services to control malware networks. Source: Microsoft.
In its latest bid to harness the power of the U.S. legal system to combat malicious software and cybercrooks, Microsoft convinced a Nevada court to grant the software giant authority over nearly two dozen domains belonging to, a company that provides dynamic domain name services.
Dynamic DNS services are used to map domain names to numeric Internet address that may change frequently. Typically, the biggest users of dynamic DNS services are home Internet users who wish to have a domain name that will always point back to their home computer, no matter how many times their ISP changes the numeric Internet address assigned to that computer.
In this case, however, the attackers responsible for leveraging these two malware families '-- remote-access Trojans known as ''njrat'' and ''njw0rm'' '-- were using's services to guarantee that PCs infected with this malware would always be able to reach the Internet servers that the attackers were using to control them.
Microsoft told the court that miscreants who were using these two malware strains were leveraging more than 18,400 hostnames that belonged to On June 26, the court granted Microsoft the authority to temporarily seize control over 23 domains owned by '-- essentially all of the domains that power's free dynamic DNS services.
Microsoft was supposed to filter out the traffic flowing to and from those 18,400+ hostnames, and allow the remaining, harmless traffic to flow through to its rightful destination. But according to marketing manager Natalie Goguen, that's not at all what happened.
''They made comments that they'd only taken down bad hostnames and were supposedly redirecting all good traffic through to users, but it's not happening, and they're not able to handle our traffic volumes,'' Goguen said. ''Many legitimate users that use our services have been down all day.''
Goguen said while Microsoft claimed that there were more than 18,000 malicious hostnames involved, could only find a little more than 2,000 from that list that were still active as of Monday morning. Meanwhile, some four million hostnames remain offline, with customer support requests piling up.
''So, to go after 2,000 or so bad sites, [Microsoft] has taken down four million,'' Goguen said.
Microsoft told the Nevada court that despite numerous reports released by Internet security firms over the past year about large volumes of malicious activity emanating from's service, the company ''consistently failed to take sufficient steps to correct, remedy, or prevent the abuse and to keep its domains free from malicious activity.''
But according to Goguen, the first time Microsoft brought its concerns to was at 7 a.m. on June 30, when the company's CEO received a knock on the door of his family home and was served with a copy of the court order granting Microsoft authority over the 23 domains.
''We work with law enforcement all the time, and our abuse department responds to abuse requests within 24 hours,'' Goguen said. ''It's pretty sad that Microsoft had to take such extreme measures to go about this.''
Goguen isn't the only one who believes Microsoft swatted a fly with the equivalent of an atom bomb. Some of Microsoft's previous legal sneak attacks targeted ''bulletproof'' hosting providers '-- those that promise to keep sketchy (and high-paying) customers online despite pressure from security firms and law enforcement. But according to Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of security firm CrowdStrike, treating like one of these shady providers is a mistake.
''They have always been very responsive to security researchers and law enforcement,'' Alperovitch said of ''I do not consider them a bullet-proof or abuse-proof host.''
Meanwhile, Goguen said is considering its legal options for responding to the outage and to Microsoft's allegations that the company somehow turns a blind eye to abuse complaints.
''We're speaking with our lawyers about this, but right now we're doing everything we can to fix this, and we need our users to understand that.''
In tandem with the action against, Microsoft also named and accused two men '-- software developers thought to reside in Kuwait and Algeria '-- of authoring and selling the njrat and njw0rm.
The complaint against no-ip, the accused malware authors, and the rest of Microsoft's various legal filings in this case are available at this link.
Capabilities of the ''njrat'' malware, as described in Microsoft's court filing.
Tags: CrowdStrike, Dmitri Alperovitch, microsoft, Natalie Gogun, njrat, njw0rm,, outage
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 at 1:02 am and is filed under A Little Sunshine. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Closer Look: Beijing Plans 10,000 Rapid-Charging Stations, but They Won't Support Tesla -
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:01
07.02.2014 18:56
Proposal would blanket capital with electric-car chargers, but technical disputes mean Tesla cars cannot use them
By staff reporter Wu Jing
(Beijing) '' Authorities in Beijing released a plan for promoting electric cars on June 27, calling for the construction of 10,000 rapid-charging stations throughout the city by 2017.
But ongoing efforts to revise China's standards for charging technology are plagued with technical disputes, and incompatibilities between those standards and the technology used by Tesla Motors Inc. mean that the charger network won't support the company's electric car models.
Proposal would blanket capital with electric-car chargers, but technical disputes mean Tesla cars cannot use them
By staff reporter Wu Jing
(Beijing) '' Authorities in Beijing released a plan for promoting electric cars on June 27, calling for the construction of 10,000 rapid-charging stations throughout the city by 2017.
But ongoing efforts to revise China's standards for charging technology are plagued with technical disputes, and incompatibilities between those standards and the technology used by Tesla Motors Inc. mean that the charger network won't support the company's electric car models.
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FCC: Wireless Services: Amateur Radio Service: Amateur Licensing: Club Stations
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:09
A club station license allows members of an amateur radio club to have a station operating under a club call sign. The license is granted only to the trustee of the club. It conveys no operating privileges.
To be granted a club station license, a club must have:A nameA document of organizationManagementA primary purpose devoted to amateur service activities consistent with the FCC RulesAt least four personsA license trustee designated by an officer of the clubTrustee must hold an amateur service operator license grant. (See Section 97.5(b)(2) of the FCC Rules)A club may apply for a club station license grant by filing with a Club Station Call Sign Administrator (CSCSA), an amateur radio organization that has agreed to provide voluntary, uncompensated and unreimbursed services for processing applications. If you are an amateur radio operator and would like to obtain a club station license, contact one of the CSCSAs below:
After the club station license has been granted, your club station license trustee may file an application for the vanity call sign under the request-by-list provision for the class of operator license the trustee holds. A club requesting a vanity call sign after Feb. 14, 2011 may hold only one vanity call sign grant. A club that has been assigned more than one vanity call sign must surrender all of the vanity call signs it has been assigned before it can obtain another vanity call sign.
'Stop war': Thousands protest in Japan over military expansion law change
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:45
Published time: June 30, 2014 18:43Edited time: June 30, 2014 19:19Protesters holding placards shout slogans at a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's military role in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo June 30, 2014 (Reuters / Yuya Shino)
Thousands gathered outside the Japanese prime minister's office to protest constitutional changes that would expand Japan's military role and allow overseas deployment. It comes one day after a man set himself on fire in protest against a proposed law.
Protest organizers have estimated that 10,000 people '' including students, pensioners, and women '' attended the rally outside Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office in Tokyo. However, police put the number of participants at ''several thousand.''
The demonstration comes on the eve of a cabinet meeting, where lawmakers are expected to endorse a resolution that would expand the use of Japan's military by reforming the constitution.
Chanting ''Don't destroy the Constitution'' and ''We absolutely oppose reinterpretation of the Constitution,'' as well as ''We don't need the right to collective self-defense,'' demonstrators expressed their opposition to what they say is a ''historical turning point,'' the Japan Times reported.
Protesters are angered by the fact that Abe's government is making changes to the constitution '' not by the democratic process of referendum, but by changing the interpretation of it in a Cabinet meeting.
"Protect the constitution!" the demonstators shouted, according to AP. "Stop war. Stop Abe. Abe quit right now!"
The change will significantly widen Japan's military options, as it will end the ban on "collective self-defense," or aiding a friendly country under attack.
Since the end of World War II, the Japanese constitution has forbidden the use of military force against other nations. It may only use its armed forces in self-defense. Japan's military has not engaged in combat since 1945.
But the prime minister says the change is needed because of regional tensions '' particularly China's military expansion, and missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.
The move, however, is opposed by at least half the population, according to the latest polls.
A recent survey published on Monday by Nikkei Asia Review shows that 50 percent of respondents oppose dropping the ban, while 34 percent support the change.
In a dramatic act of protest, a middle-aged man set himself on fire on Sunday to express his opposition to the government's plans to change Japan's pacifist constitution.
As the activist finished his speech, he doused himself in what appeared to be gasoline and set himself ablaze in front of hundreds of onlookers. A video showing the protest appeared on YouTube.
Abe's cabinet could finalize a resolution as early as Tuesday, as his ruling Liberal Democratic party [LDP] has secured the support of its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, which has a strong pacifist tradition and was previously against the change.
The milestone is Prime Minister Abe's political judgment that the public supports adoption of a more assertive defense policy. This means that one of the cornerstones of international relations in the Pacific region that the US laid after World War II has been overturned. Asians are taking more responsibility for Asian security.
North Korean missile launches and nuclear tests have been influential in reshaping Japanese official and public attitudes about defense. Now, if North Korea threatens South Korea and the US by threatening to shoot a missile at US bases in Japan, Japan can act in self-defense as an Alliance member without waiting to be damaged first.
This is a particularly bad day for North Korea because its strategists can no longer presume that Japan would wait to be attacked before engaging North Korea in combat.
South Korea-North Korea: The Republic of Korea issued a short, formal statement rejecting North Korea's special proposal as insincere. It said in part, "If North Korea truly wants peace on the Korean Peninsula, it should not only stop its slander and provocative threats, but also show sincerity on resolving the nuclear issue, which is a fundamental threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula."
Comment: The North Koreans knew their proposal would be rejected and the South Koreans knew they knew. This pattern of exchange sometimes is the prelude to a provocation, justified by South Korea's rejection. The North Koreans won't stage an event that would embarrass Chinese President Xi during his visit to Seoul on Thursday, but they probably will use the exchange to coach Chinese leaders that the South rejects peace proposals.
Take Your Meds Slave!
in-voluntary email
In the morning to you and thank you for your courage.
Most importantly, I've donated a few times to the show. I try to do $100 every two months. I should be gearing up for another soon.
I can add some insight on the mental illness topic when the clip said “brought in voluntarily”.
I've sent in emails that you've read on the show regarding drugs such as Fentanyl and antipsychotic. About a decade ago I wasn't in such a good way.
That being said, I went into a hospital for something and being in the state that I was they told me that I had to go to the psych unit (that was not what I came in for). I was against the idea. After they treated me for what I came in for, a psychiatrist came down and interviewed me. After the interview was over, they asked me to sign a form tat said that I was going to the psychiatric unit voluntarily. When I asked what they would do if I didn't sign the form saying that I went in voluntarily, they said that I would be admitted involuntarily. That's why they put up stats like 95% of patients are there voluntarily.
In the same way that you tell people to opt out of cell phones, I tell people to opt out of “meds”. I was on medication from them for years and I didn't realize until I lost my health insurance and therefore couldn't get my medication that I realized that it was turning me into a zombie.
Statins could help reduce women's risk of breast cancer.
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 01:43
Analysing a mammogram. High levels of cholesterol have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA
Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs could help prevent breast cancer, research suggests.
A study of more than 600,000 British women found that the risk of breast cancer was almost doubled in those with abnormally high levels of blood fats.
The research is still at an early stage and the findings do not prove that cholesterol helps trigger breast cancer.
But if future work demonstrates a causal link it opens up the possibility of using cheap cholesterol-lowering statins to reduce women's risk of the disease.
Cardiologist Rahul Potluri, from the University of Aston, said: "We found that women with high cholesterol had a significantly greater chance of developing breast cancer.
"This was an observational study so we can't conclude that high cholesterol causes breast cancer, but the strength of this association warrants further investigation.
"A prospective study that monitors the risk of breast cancer in women with and without high cholesterol is needed to confirm what we observed. If the connection between high cholesterol and breast cancer is validated, the next step would be to see if lowering cholesterol with statins can reduce the risk of developing cancer."
A total of 664,159 women from across the UK whose health records were stored on a large database took part in the study.
Almost 23,000 (3.4%) had hyperlipidaemia, meaning their blood contained abnormally high levels of lipid fats '' cholesterol and triglycerides.
Some 530 women with the condition were among the 9,312 who developed breast cancer.
Statistical analysis showed they were 1.64 times more likely to have the disease than women without hyperlipidaemia.
Previous research has shown a clear association between obesity and breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
A US study last year found that a cholesterol product called 27HC fuelled human breast tumours in genetically engineered laboratory mice.
Scientists also discovered higher levels of 27HC in both healthy breast tissue and tumour cells in women with breast cancer.
"We have a general principle that obesity is linked to breast cancer and a study in mice suggested that this may be because of cholesterol," said Dr Potluri, who presented his findings at a European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona.
"We decided to investigate whether there was any association between hyperlipidaemia, which is high cholesterol essentially, and breast cancer."
He added: "While our study was preliminary, our results are promising. We found a significant association between having high cholesterol and developing breast cancer that needs to be explored in more depth.
"Caution is needed when interpreting our results because while we had a large study population, our analysis was retrospective and observational with inherent limitations. That said, the findings are exciting and further research in this field may have a big impact on patients several years down the line.
"Statins are cheap, widely available and relatively safe. We are potentially heading towards a clinical trial in 10 to 15 years to test the effect of statins on the incidence of breast cancer. If such a trial is successful, statins may have a role in the prevention of breast cancer, especially in high risk groups, such as women with high cholesterol."
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the Breast Cancer Campaign charity, said: "These are interesting results that report a link between increased fat in the blood and an increased risk of breast cancer.
"However, this is just the first step in understanding more about how cholesterol relates to the risk of breast cancer, and more research is needed to determine whether statins could help prevent breast cancer.
"We do know that being overweight, particularly after menopause, can increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. We would encourage women to maintain a healthy weight and to discuss any concerns, such as their breast cancer risk, weight or cholesterol levels with their GP."
Hillary 2016
Damage control - Clinton says she's donated college speaking fees
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:48
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton says she's donated to her family's foundation the huge sums she has earned in speaking fees at colleges for the last year and half.Some students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have called for Clinton to return the $225,000 she is receiving for speaking at the university's foundation dinner this fall.In an interview this week with ABC News, Clinton responded to criticism about such fees by saying the money had gone to the Clinton Foundation for what she called its "life-changing and life-saving work."Clinton's wealth has been under scrutiny since an interview last month in which she described her family as "dead broke" and in debt when husband Bill Clinton left the White House in January 2001. She later called that description "inartful."
Fox News: Clinton's 9th largest donor
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:24
To many, it seems contrary to intuition that Fox News could be one of the Clinton family's largest donors for more than two decades. Check your intuition at the door. It's true. According to Federal Election Commission and Center for Responsive Politics data, since 1992, 21st Century Fox News Corp. has donated more than $3 million to Clinton family accounts. Overall, this lands Fox as the Clinton family's 9th largest donor over the course of the family's political involvement.
WSJ list:
Clinton book sells 26,000 copies in its 3rd week
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 10:59
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton's book "Hard Choices" is on track to be one of the year's top nonfiction books despite another slip in sales.Nielsen BookScan says "Hard Choices" sold 26,000 copies during its third week of publication.Clinton's memoir about her years as secretary of state was published June 10 and sold more than 80,000 copies the first week and nearly 50,000 the second week. The numbers don't include e-book sales, which comprise around 30 percent of the overall market."Hard Choices" has been the No. 1-selling nonfiction hardcover on The New York Times' list for three straight weeks but has slipped on, ranking No. 57 as of Thursday night.Clinton's "Living History" was published in 2003 and sold more than 1 million copies.
Coping with the high costs of raising an autistic child
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:32
Coping with the high costs of raising an autistic childTop News
Coping with the high costs of raising an autistic child
Tue, Jun 24 08:28 AM EDT
By Chris Taylor
NEW YORK (Reuters) - (The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)
When Linda Mercier's son Sam was around two years old, she knew something wasn't right.
Sam was becoming withdrawn, not speaking or playing with other kids, and focused on specific tasks like lining up his toys. Eventually the mystery was solved: He was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.
That was the beginning of a very long road, one that has involved significant time, effort - and money, plenty of it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars so far, Mercier estimates, on tutors, therapists and lost wages.
The good news: Sam is now high-functioning, and in many respects a completely normal 13-year-old. The downside: The price tag to get to this point has been massive.
"Only a parent of a child with special needs can ever understand the struggles, and the financial commitment, of raising and recovering an autistic child," says Mercier, a business owner from Winnipeg, Canada. "It's an endless battle - and an expensive one."
Indeed: A new study in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics has pegged the total lifetime cost of supporting an individual with an ASD at an astonishing $1.4 million in the United States. If there is also intellectual disability, the total rises even more, to $2.4 million.
Such costs typically include an ongoing mix of special education programs, medical care and lost wages. After all, many parents of autistic children reduce their work hours, or even quit their jobs altogether, to help their child full-time.
The study is the most recent to tabulate just how crushing these figures really are.
"I can believe it," says Mercier, when told of the million-dollar-plus price tag. "Easy."
Even the study's lead author admits to being taken aback by the final number.
"I was really surprised," said Dr. David Mandell, director of the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania. "The old estimates were from 8 or 9 years ago, and at first I was skeptical they needed updating."
New studies are providing more current cost estimates. "What we found was shocking," Mandell said. "This is a huge hit on families."
Journalist Ron Suskind knows about that financial hit first-hand. His son Owen, now 23, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum about 20 years ago, a journey Suskind has recounted in the book "Life, Animated."
Owen has made remarkable strides, thanks to what Suskind calls "affinity therapy," or tailoring treatment depending on the child's particular way of understanding the world.
In Owen's case, his preferred frame of reference is Disney movies. Using that template, Suskind and his wife got to work unlocking Owen's full potential. But it did not come cheaply.
The organization Autism Speaks estimates that it takes around $60,000 a year to support someone with an ASD, Suskind says, adding that treatment for Owen cost about $90,000 a year.
"When we first got the diagnosis, the doctor asked me what I did for a living, and I said 'newspaper reporter.' He said, 'I'm so sorry to hear that. You know, private equity is a nice way to go.'"
The costs are so prohibitive that many affected families actually pick up and move to states that offer a superior array of therapeutic services. Suskind calls it a "Grapes of Wrath"-style migration, of families ultimately headed for locales like New York or Massachusetts. (To choose the right place for your family, check out Autism Speaks' state-by-state resource guide:
There is also a measure before Congress that aims to mitigate the financial burden for families: So-called ABLE accounts would be patterned after 529 college-savings plans, but specifically geared toward those with disabilities. The tax-advantaged savings could be put toward expenses like education, housing, therapy and rehab.
One piece of advice from Mandell: Don't automatically think that you have to drop out of the workforce in order to manage your child's case full-time.
It's the natural human instinct to want to do so, of course. No one knows your child and his or her needs like you do, and navigating multiple layers of city, state and federal services can indeed be a full-time job.
But when one parent drops out of the workforce, just as out-of-pocket expenses start to mount up, "it can become very financially difficult," Mandell says.
He urges families to take a long-term view of caregiving. "In some cases it might be better for the mother to stay in the workforce, and then hire additional support to provide case-management services," he says.
For Linda Mercier, the towering costs hit her family budget every single day. It meant cutting back wherever possible, taking second jobs and foregoing trips to visit family. All well worth it, of course, since Sam has been such an inspiring success story.
But there's no question that raising a child with an ASD is a sobering financial reality.
"I would tell other parents of special-needs children that there is hope," says Mercier. "It can get a lot better, and it does. But it takes a whole lot of money to get there."
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at Editing by Beth Pinsker, Lauren Young and Dan Grebler)
Coping with the high costs of raising an autistic childTop News
Coping with the high costs of raising an autistic child
Tue, Jun 24 08:28 AM EDT
By Chris Taylor
NEW YORK (Reuters) - (The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)
When Linda Mercier's son Sam was around two years old, she knew something wasn't right.
Sam was becoming withdrawn, not speaking or playing with other kids, and focused on specific tasks like lining up his toys. Eventually the mystery was solved: He was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.
That was the beginning of a very long road, one that has involved significant time, effort - and money, plenty of it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars so far, Mercier estimates, on tutors, therapists and lost wages.
The good news: Sam is now high-functioning, and in many respects a completely normal 13-year-old. The downside: The price tag to get to this point has been massive.
"Only a parent of a child with special needs can ever understand the struggles, and the financial commitment, of raising and recovering an autistic child," says Mercier, a business owner from Winnipeg, Canada. "It's an endless battle - and an expensive one."
Indeed: A new study in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics has pegged the total lifetime cost of supporting an individual with an ASD at an astonishing $1.4 million in the United States. If there is also intellectual disability, the total rises even more, to $2.4 million.
Such costs typically include an ongoing mix of special education programs, medical care and lost wages. After all, many parents of autistic children reduce their work hours, or even quit their jobs altogether, to help their child full-time.
The study is the most recent to tabulate just how crushing these figures really are.
"I can believe it," says Mercier, when told of the million-dollar-plus price tag. "Easy."
Even the study's lead author admits to being taken aback by the final number.
"I was really surprised," said Dr. David Mandell, director of the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania. "The old estimates were from 8 or 9 years ago, and at first I was skeptical they needed updating."
New studies are providing more current cost estimates. "What we found was shocking," Mandell said. "This is a huge hit on families."
Journalist Ron Suskind knows about that financial hit first-hand. His son Owen, now 23, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum about 20 years ago, a journey Suskind has recounted in the book "Life, Animated."
Owen has made remarkable strides, thanks to what Suskind calls "affinity therapy," or tailoring treatment depending on the child's particular way of understanding the world.
In Owen's case, his preferred frame of reference is Disney movies. Using that template, Suskind and his wife got to work unlocking Owen's full potential. But it did not come cheaply.
The organization Autism Speaks estimates that it takes around $60,000 a year to support someone with an ASD, Suskind says, adding that treatment for Owen cost about $90,000 a year.
"When we first got the diagnosis, the doctor asked me what I did for a living, and I said 'newspaper reporter.' He said, 'I'm so sorry to hear that. You know, private equity is a nice way to go.'"
The costs are so prohibitive that many affected families actually pick up and move to states that offer a superior array of therapeutic services. Suskind calls it a "Grapes of Wrath"-style migration, of families ultimately headed for locales like New York or Massachusetts. (To choose the right place for your family, check out Autism Speaks' state-by-state resource guide:
There is also a measure before Congress that aims to mitigate the financial burden for families: So-called ABLE accounts would be patterned after 529 college-savings plans, but specifically geared toward those with disabilities. The tax-advantaged savings could be put toward expenses like education, housing, therapy and rehab.
One piece of advice from Mandell: Don't automatically think that you have to drop out of the workforce in order to manage your child's case full-time.
It's the natural human instinct to want to do so, of course. No one knows your child and his or her needs like you do, and navigating multiple layers of city, state and federal services can indeed be a full-time job.
But when one parent drops out of the workforce, just as out-of-pocket expenses start to mount up, "it can become very financially difficult," Mandell says.
He urges families to take a long-term view of caregiving. "In some cases it might be better for the mother to stay in the workforce, and then hire additional support to provide case-management services," he says.
For Linda Mercier, the towering costs hit her family budget every single day. It meant cutting back wherever possible, taking second jobs and foregoing trips to visit family. All well worth it, of course, since Sam has been such an inspiring success story.
But there's no question that raising a child with an ASD is a sobering financial reality.
"I would tell other parents of special-needs children that there is hope," says Mercier. "It can get a lot better, and it does. But it takes a whole lot of money to get there."
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at Editing by Beth Pinsker, Lauren Young and Dan Grebler)
TRUVADA-Governor Cuomo Announces Plan to End the AIDS Epidemic in New York State | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:22
Printer-friendly versionThree-pronged Plan Focuses on Improved HIV Testing, Preventing the Spread of the Disease, and Better Treatment for People Who Have It
Albany, NY (June 29, 2014)Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a three-point plan to ''bend the curve'' and decrease new HIV infections to the point where the number of people living with HIV in New York State is reduced for the first time. The end of the AIDS epidemic in New York will occur when the total number of new HIV infections has fallen below the number of HIV-related deaths.
The ''Bending the Curve'' three-point program includes:
Identifying persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
Linking and retaining persons diagnosed with HIV to health care and getting them on anti-HIV therapy to maximize HIV virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission; and
Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk persons to keep them HIV negative.
"Thirty years ago, New York was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis -- today I am proud to announce that we are in a position to be the first state in the nation committed to ending this epidemic,'' said Governor Cuomo. ''New York State has reached an important milestone in controlling the AIDS epidemic, and through this comprehensive strategy, we are decreasing new HIV infections to the point where by 2020, the number of persons living with HIV in New York State will be reduced for the first time.''
The first report of AIDS occurred 33 years ago on Thursday, July 3, 1981, with some of the first AIDS cases occurring in New York. The momentum to bring the HIV/AIDS epidemic to a close already exists in New York State. New York has eliminated HIV transmission via blood products; virtually ended mother to child HIV transmission; and decreased new HIV diagnoses due to injection drug use by 96% since the mid-1990s.
While the nation as a whole has seen no decrease in the number of HIV diagnoses, over the last decade, New York State has achieved a 40 percent reduction in new HIV cases and significant decreases in HIV incidence across all categories of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and risk. Although the number of new HIV infections has been declining for a number of years, the total number of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS has continued to increase. This is because people with HIV can now live a normal life span and the number of HIV/AIDS deaths is also decreasing.
In 2014, there were 3,000 newly diagnosed HIV infections, down from 14,000 newly diagnosed AIDS cases in 1993. The goal is to reduce the number of new HIV infections to just 750 by 2020; about the same as the number of tuberculosis cases in New York State each year.
''Bending the Curve'' will precipitate a dramatic downward trend in new HIV infections beyond the current trend. Though this effort will result in increased HIV medication expenses, it is well worth the investment given the human cost, and over time the initiative will pay for itself. Each averted HIV infection saves almost $400,000 in lifetime medical costs, and by 2020, ''Bending the Curve'' will save the State an additional $317 million and prevent more than 3,400 new cases of HIV.
This plan would not have been possible without the support of our legislative leaders, and several key policies in support of ''Bending the Curve'' have already been enacted this year in the budget, including:
The removal of the requirement for written informed consent to get an HIV test, allowing HIV tests to be ordered through a verbal consent like any other medical test.Allowing data collected by the health department to be shared with health care providers to find persons with HIV who have fallen out of care.A 30% cap of the proportion of an HIV patient's income that can be spent on rent, keeping persons with HIV stably housed, which improves their ability to stay on their medication.
Additionally, the New York State Department of Health Medicaid Program has successfully negotiated supplemental rebates with the three pharmaceutical companies representing 70% of the HIV market, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead; this agreement will further decrease the costs to the state for ensuring all HIV-infected persons are on appropriate medications. Additional pharmaceutical companies may join the agreement.
Housing Works CEO Charles King said, "This step by Governor Cuomo, setting a clear goal to end the AIDS crisis in New York State, is absolutely courageous. In doing so, the Governor is reshaping the way we think about the AIDS epidemic and is setting a new standard for leaders of other jurisdictions in the United States and, indeed, around the world."
New York City Human Resources Administration Chief Special Services Officer Dan Tietz said, "On this LGBT Pride Day, I greatly applaud Governor Cuomo for boldly leading in our three decade long fight to end the AIDS epidemic. We have the science and means to bring HIV infections below epidemic levels and with the Governor's and Mayor Bill de Blasio's smart leadership, we can end AIDS in New York by 2020. HRA is now implementing the 30% rent cap, agreed to by the Mayor and Governor in February, which is another part of this effort to save lives and money. Today's game-changing action will push other leaders in the U.S. and beyond to take the necessary steps to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic for all."
Harlem United CEO Steven C. Bussey said, ''While we are heartened by the progress we have made in confronting the AIDS epidemic in New York State, we know that we still face an epidemic of crisis proportions for many communities. Governor Cuomo's announcement to create a plan to end AIDS demonstrates the leadership and political will needed to end the epidemic as we know it in New York State.''
Treatment Action Group Executive Director Mark Harrington said, ''The goal is ambitious, but grounded in reality. NYS has always been a leader and center of innovation in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We have seen an almost 40% decrease in new HIV diagnoses in the last decade, with fewer new infections each year, while nationally there has been no decline in the number of new HIV infections diagnosed each year. With continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the State's successful Medicaid reform, we've gained the momentum necessary to put more people living with, and at risk for, HIV into primary care and the support services necessary to achieve success.''
Gay Men's Health Crisis CEO Kelsey Louie said, ''We applaud the Governor for his decisive leadership and commitment to end AIDS as an epidemic on this 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a rallying cry to fight back against social injustice. The plan to end AIDS can hopefully result in a dramatic decrease in new infections among MSMs and transgender women, especially within the low income communities of color, some of our hardest hit populations.''
Acting Executive Director of AIDS Community Research Initiative of America Benjamin Bashein said, "ACRIA applauds Governor Cuomo for his bold plan to end AIDS in New York State. We now have the knowledge and the means to dramatically reduce new infections and promote optimal health for those with HIV. Governors Cuomo's leadership will make New York a model for ending AIDS across the country and around the globe."
Fear, cash shortages hinder fight against Ebola outbreak.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 03:54
By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRAWed Jul 2, 2014 7:05pm EDT
Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Umaru Fofana
ACCRA (Reuters) - West African states lack the resources to battle the world's worst outbreak of Ebola and deep cultural suspicions about the disease remain a big obstacle to halting its spread, ministers said on Wednesday.
The outbreak has killed 467 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February, making it the largest and deadliest ever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
West African health ministers meeting in Ghana to draw up a regional response mixed appeals for cash with warnings of the practices that have allowed the disease to spread across borders and into cities.
Abubakarr Fofanah, deputy health minister for Sierra Leone, a country with one of the world's weakest health systems, said cash was needed for drugs, basic protective gear and staff pay.
Sierra Leone announced on Wednesday that President Ernest Bai Koroma, his vice president and all cabinet ministers would donate half of their salaries to help fight the outbreak, though the total amount of the donations was not disclosed.
"In Liberia, our biggest challenge is denial, fear and panic. Our people are very much afraid of the disease," Bernice Dahn, Liberia's deputy health minister, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Accra meeting.
"People are afraid but do not believe that the disease exists and because of that people get sick and the community members hide them and bury them, against all the norms we have put in place," she said.
Authorities are trying to stop relatives of Ebola victims from giving them traditional funerals, which often involve the manual washing of the body, out of fear of spreading the infection. The dead are instead meant to be buried by health staff wearing protective gear.
Neighboring Sierra Leone faces many of the same problems, with dozens of those infected evading treatment, complicating efforts to trace cases.
The Red Cross in Guinea said it had been forced to temporarily suspend some operations in the country's southeast after staff working on Ebola were threatened.
"Locals wielding knives surrounded a marked Red Cross vehicle," a Red Cross official said, asking not to be named. The official said operations had been halted for safety reasons. The Red Cross later said only international staff were removed.
A Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) center in Guinea was attacked by youths in April after staff were accused of bringing the disease into the country.
Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea and kills up to 90 percent of those it infects. Highly contagious, it is transmitted through contact with blood or other fluids.
WHO has flagged three main factors driving its spread: the burial of victims in accordance with tradition, the dense populations around the capital cities of Guinea and Liberia and the bustling cross-border trade across the region.
Health experts say the top priority must be containing Ebola with basic infection control measures such as vigilant handwashing and hygiene, and isolation of infected patients.
Jeremy Farrar, a professor of tropical medicine and director of The Wellcome Trust, an influential global health charity, said people at high risk should also be offered experimental medicines, despite the drugs not having been fully tested.
"We have more than 450 deaths so far, and not a single individual has been offered anything beyond tepid sponging and 'we'll bury you nicely'," Farrar told Reuters in an interview. "It's just unacceptable."
(Additional reporting by Misha Hussain in Dakar and Umaru Fofana in Freetown; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Joe Bavier, Toni Reinhold)
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'Humdinger': Swine flu virus which killed half-million modified to 'incurable' '-- RT News
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 05:35
Published time: July 02, 2014 10:07Edited time: July 02, 2014 11:37AFP Photo / Noah Seelam
A controversial flu researcher has modified the flu virus responsible for the 2009 pandemic to allow it evade the human immune system. His lab's previous works include recreating the Spanish flu and making a deadly bird flu strain highly transmittable.
The yet-to-be-published research by Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka and his team is meant to give scientists better ways to fight influenza outbreaks, but gives chills to some people in academia, who are fearful that accidental release of the strain would result in a global disaster, according to a report by the Independent.
At his level-3 biosafety lab at Wisconsin University's Institute for Influenza Virus Research in Madison, Kawaoka experimented with the H1N1 flu strain that was responsible for the pandemic in 2009, dubbed the swine flu pandemic by the media. The work resulted in a mutated strain that is able to evade the human antibodies, effectively rendering humans defenseless against the virus.
''He took the 2009 pandemic flu virus and selected out strains that were not neutralized by human antibodies. He repeated this several times until he got a real humdinger of a virus,'' a scientist familiar with Kawaoka's research told the British newspaper.
''He's basically got a known pandemic strain that is now resistant to vaccination. Everything he did before was dangerous but this is even madder. This is the virus,'' he added.
H1N1 flu had caused serious outbreaks and two recorded pandemics, the first being the notorious Spanish flu of 1918. Kawaoka's newest work is partially derived from his experience in recreating the deadly strain.
The first H1N1 pandemic left between 50 and 100 million people dead, according to estimates. The 2009 pandemic death toll is debated, with some estimates putting the number as high as 560,000, most of them in Africa and Southeast Asia.
The professor assured the newspaper that the mutant virus is well under control in his lab and that making a strain that can beat human immune system will help epidemiologists be prepared for a contingency of a similar mutation occurring naturally.
''Through selection of immune escape viruses in the laboratory under appropriate containment conditions, we were able to identify the key regions [that] would enable 2009 H1N1 viruses to escape immunity,'' he said in an email.
''Viruses in clinical isolates have been identified that have these same changes in the [viral protein]. This shows that escape viruses emerge in nature and laboratory studies like ours have relevance to what occurs in nature,'' he added.
The research was approved by Wisconsin's Institutional Biosafety Committee, although a minority of the 17-member board is critical of Kawaoka's line of study. One such vocal critic at the committee is Thomas Jeffries, who argues that an accidental release of the virus from the safe lab is possible, citing the recent incident at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which potentially exposed some 80 people to anthrax bacteria.
"I think we can sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we have more control over a situation in a laboratory than we do," he told Wisconsin State Journal last week. "Accidents do happen."
When The Independent approached Jeffries for comments on Kawaoka's new research, he said he was not made aware of details of the study at the time the approval was given.
''What was present in the research protocols was a very brief outline or abstract of what he was actually doing'...there were elements to it that bothered me,'' Professor Jeffries said.
Rebecca Moritz, who is responsible for overseeing Wisconsin's work at the institute, said it is needed to create new vaccines.
''The work is designed to identify potential circulating strains to guide the process of selecting strains used for the next vaccine'...The committee found the biosafety containment procedures to be appropriate for conducting this research. I have no concerns about the biosafety of these experiments,'' she said.
Kawaoka said he presented preliminary results of his research to the World Health Organization and they had been ''well received.''
''We are confident our study will contribute to the field, particularly given the number of mutant viruses we generated and the sophisticated analysis applied,'' he explained.
''There are risks in all research. However, there are ways to mitigate the risks. As for all the research on influenza viruses in my laboratory, this work is performed by experienced researchers under appropriate containment and with full review and prior approval by the [biosafety committee],'' he added.
Flu virus strains are notorious for changing rapidly, with new strains emerging and causing seasonal flu epidemics. Scientists have to try and predict what kind of flu they would have to face each year and have a vaccine ready. When they succeed, an outbreak causes much less damage that it could have otherwise.
Research of 'gain of function' by viruses like the works of Kawaoka is focused on exploring how a virus can become deadlier and more transmittable or resistant to existing vaccines. Critics of such studies say they are too dangerous, both due to the risk of accidental or even deliberate release.
For instance some people in the academia called on Kawaoka to withhold parts of his research on H5N1 bird flu. Normally the virus is highly lethal, but does not transmit well, but a series of experiments with ferrets resulted in an easily transmittable strain. The experiments were simple enough for any person with expertise in microbiology to replicate, which critics said some group of would-be bioterrorists would eventually do.
What This Camera Captured Is One Of The Creepiest, Weirdest Things In White House History
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 05:16
While Americans struggling under a disastrous economy and rampant federal regulation might have plenty of reason to blame the Obama administration, many contend it is not the president but his closest advisor, Valerie Jarrett, who deserves the credit '' or blame '' for these and other policies.
NBC News recently devoted a segment to the influential woman, during which she discussed a number of issues including Obama's sagging approval numbers and the assertion that Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch is a staunch advocate for immigration reform.
''We're going through some tough times now,'' she admitted. ''But I'll tell you something that I learned very early in the first campaign is that you can't look at the daily polls. If we listened to the polls, he would've abandoned the race in the middle of the primary season.''
She also shared her assertion that, after two dinner meetings with Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch, she is convinced he is ''committed to immigration reform.''
What caught the most attention, especially among her conservative detractors, is not what she said but what NBC's cameras caught in an otherwise innocuous panning shot of her office. Though the network did not mention it, several sources picked up on an odd picture frame holding a headshot of Jarrett.
NBC News
Upon closer inspection, it is clear three figurines are bowing in front of her as though she is their god. Significant conversation resulted among right-wing blogs and other media outlets wondering whether the frame depicted a genuine reflection of her own perceived importance, or if it was simply a lighthearted gag gift as The Blaze posited.
Shortly after the story began gaining traction, Jarrett responded via her Twitter account.
That comment in turn sparked even more criticism from administration opponents.
Photo credit: World Economic Forum (Creative Commons)
Get the news the mainstream media doesn't report. Sign up to get our daily newsletter and like us on Facebook - Nieuwe Revu ordered to pay damages to princess over hockey photo
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:06
Nieuwe Revu ordered to pay damages to princess over hockey photoMonday 30 June 2014
Populist news magazine Nieuwe Revu has been ordered to pay damages of '‚¬1,000 to princess Amalia after it published pictures of her on a hockey pitch.
A judge in Amsterdam ruled on Monday the publication breached the princess's privacy. The case was taken to court by the state information service RVD which says the magazine had not kept to the media code introdued by the royal family.
The magazine ran published two photographs of the princess, the oldest daughter of king Willem-Alexander in April. It argued it had published the photographs because it wanted to test the code, which, it says, have no place in a modern democracy.
The king welcomed the ruling, the RVD said. 'The court has honoured the wish of the king and queen to protect their family against breaches of privacy so that their children, like their peers, can enjoy their youth undisturbed as much as possible,' the RVD quoted the king as saying.
The damages will go to charity.
The media code was established in 2005 to enable the young princesses to have as normal a life as possible but also extends to other members of the family.
In the code, journalists agreed not to take photographs of the royal family outside official engagements. In return, the family agreed to pose for photographs at twice-yearly sessions; once in the summer and once at the start of their skiing holiday.
In 2009, the RVD took legal action against the American press agency AP for distributing photos of crown prince Willem-Alexander and his family.
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JPMorgan CEO Dimon Will Undergo Treatment for Throat Cancer - Bloomberg
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:10
Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), told employees and shareholders in a memo that he's beginning treatment for throat cancer and will continue to run the company ''as normal.''
''The good news is that the prognosis from my doctors is excellent, the cancer was caught quickly and my condition is curable,'' Dimon said, according to a statement today from the company. ''The cancer is confined to the original site and the adjacent lymph nodes on the right side of my neck. Importantly, there is no evidence of cancer elsewhere in my body.''
Dimon, 58, has led New York-based JPMorgan since the end of 2005, making him the longest-tenured CEO among the six largest U.S. banks. He steered the lender through the financial crisis without posting a quarterly loss and acquired Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual Inc.'s banking operations as those firms collapsed.
Dimon will soon begin radiation and chemotherapy treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York, he said in the statement. The treatment should take about eight weeks, he said.
''While the treatment will curtail my travel during this period, I have been advised that I will be able to continue to be actively involved in our business, and we will continue to run the company as normal,'' he wrote. ''Our board has been fully briefed and is totally supportive.''
The stock slipped 0.8 percent to $57.10 in extended trading as of 7:17 p.m. in New York.
About 27,000 cases of throat cancer are diagnosed annually with an estimated 6,100 deaths attributed to the disease each year in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.
Throat cancer includes tumors discovered in a variety of areas including the larynx, the part of the throat between the base of the tongue and the trachea, and the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat behind the nose. Prognosis depends on factors including the location and size of the tumor and the age and general health of the patient.
Treatment options include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation and chemotherapy, which is drugs that stop the cancer's growth or kill the tumor cells, according to the cancer institute.
Since Dimon became CEO, JPMorgan has emerged as the largest U.S. bank with a stock that's climbed 45 percent during his tenure. After sailing through the 2008 financial crisis, he overcame street protests, congressional hearings on the bank's derivatives bets and an investor campaign to split his dual roles as CEO and chairman.
The bank posted its first quarterly loss under his leadership last year as it agreed to pay $23 billion in penalties and settlements in 2013. Full-year net income fell 16 percent to $17.9 billion, while analysts estimate the firm to rebound to $21 billion of earnings this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Moore in New York at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Eichenbaum at David Scheer, Christine Harper
Congress Quietly Deletes a Key Disclosure of Free Trips Lawmakers Take -
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 03:06
It's going to be a little more difficult to ferret out which members of Congress are lavished with all-expenses-paid trips around the world after the House has quietly stripped away the requirement that such privately sponsored travel be included on lawmakers' annual financial-disclosure forms.
The move, made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee, reverses more than three decades of precedent. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on the yearly financial form dating back its creation in the late 1970s, after the Watergate scandal. National Journal uncovered the deleted disclosure requirement when analyzing the most recent batch of yearly filings.
"This is such an obvious effort to avoid accountability," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "There's no legitimate reason. There's no good reason for it."
Free trips paid for by private groups must still be reported separately to the House's Office of the Clerk and disclosed there. But they will now be absent from the chief document that reporters, watchdogs, and members of the public have used for decades to scrutinize lawmakers' finances.
Related: Nancy Pelosi Says Decision to Delete Reporting Requirement for Free Trips 'Must Be Reversed'
"The more you can hide, the less accountable you can be," Sloan said of lawmakers. "It's clear these forms are useful for reporters and watchdogs, and obviously a little too useful."
House Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, did not return a call for comment; ranking member Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., referred questions to committee staff. The committee declined to comment.
The change occurs as free travel, which critics have criticized as thinly veiled junkets, has come back into vogue. Last year, members of Congress and their aides took more free trips than in any year since the influence-peddling scandal that sent lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison. There were nearly 1,900 trips at a cost of more than $6 million last year, according to Legistorm, which compiles travel records.
Now none of those trips must be included on the annual disclosures of lawmakers or their aides.
The tabs for these international excursions can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. One trip to Australia earlier this year cost nearly $50,000. Lawmakers are often invited to bring along their husbands or wives, fly in business class, and stay in plush four-star hotels. In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, lobbyists were banned from organizing or paying for these travels. But some of the nonprofits underwriting them today have extremely close ties to lobbying groups, including sharing staff, money, and offices.
The only indication that these trips no longer need to be disclosed on annual reports came in the instructions booklet issued to lawmakers in 2014. The guidelines for the new electronic filing system tell lawmakers and staff they "are no longer required to report privately sponsored travel" on the form.
Perhaps because the ethics committee's edict was issued so quietly, disclosure remained uneven.
For instance, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who led a GOP delegation of lawmakers to Israel last summer paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, which is closely tied to the pro-Israel lobby, did not include the trip on his annual form. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who led a similar trip for Democrats, did include it on his form. But some of the rank-and-file members who went on the trip with Hoyer did not.
Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the consumer group Public Citizen who closely tracks the international travels of lawmakers and the actions of the Ethics Committee, said he was "completely unaware" of the change until contacted by National Journal.
"There's seems to be no reason I could imagine why the Ethics Committee would minimize the amount of information that gets reported," Holman said.
Holman took solace in the fact that the post-Abramoff reform law included mandatory disclosure of such trips on the clerk's website. But he said he was still was concerned about their absence from the annual reports, which he called "a critical element for understanding the finances of our elected representatives."
"It's always good to have more disclosure than less," he said. "It just seems a little odd that the Ethics Committee would pass such a rule change."
Haiti - Virus strikes hard in crowded shantytowns
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:15
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Within a dense cluster of flimsy shacks made mostly of plastic tarp and wooden planks, a young mother cradles her sick, whimpering toddler while trying to guard against a fierce tropical sun.Delimene Saint Lise says she's doing her best to comfort her 2-year-old daughter and control her spiking fever during what has quickly become a familiar agony in their makeshift community of shanties by a trash-clogged canal in the Haitian capital."For the last three days, her body gets very hot and she's hurting all over," Saint Lise said as she sat on a mattress inside their sweltering home with flapping plastic walls in the capital's dusty Delmas section. "I know because I had this awful illness before her."This latest scourge in Haiti is chikungunya. It's a rarely fatal but intensely painful mosquito-borne virus that has spread rapidly through the Caribbean and parts of Latin America after local transmission first started in tiny French St. Martin late last year, likely brought in by an infected air traveler.Haiti is proving to be particularly vulnerable because so many people live like Saint Lise and her neighbors, packed together in rickety housing with dismal sanitation and surrounded by ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the illness."Chikungunya has been merciless in Haiti. Lack of basic infrastructure, poor mosquito control measures, and deep social and economic disparities hampered prevention and treatment efforts," says a new report on Haiti's epidemic by the Igarape Institute, a Brazil-based think tank.Since the virus was first documented in Haiti in May, there have been nearly 40,000 suspected cases seen by health workers, the Pan American Health Organization says. The only places with higher numbers are the neighboring Dominican Republic and Guadaloupe.But there are many signs that the actual number is far higher in Haiti, a country of 10 million people that struggles with many burdens, from crushing poverty, lack of access to clean water and the fact that some 146,000 people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake still live in makeshift homes.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is now assisting Haiti's health ministry to confirm new cases. But statistics are notoriously unreliable in Haiti, and public health experts say the number of people with the illness is unknown. Many poor Haitians don't bother seeking care at clinics so their cases go unrecorded, said Dr. Gregory Jerome of Zanmi Lasante, the Haitian program of the Boston-based nonprofit organization Partners in Health.It's clear the "attack rate of this infection is very high all over the country," Jerome said. And it's not just impoverished districts. People in wealthier areas such as the tree-lined Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville and the scenic southern coastal town of Jacmel are complaining of cases.Instances of local transmission have been reported in about 20 nations or territories in the region, from the Virgin Islands, Dominica, Martinique and Puerto Rico to El Salvador in Central America and French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname on the northern shoulder of South America.In Haiti, it's gotten so bad so quickly that many people are resigned to catching the virus known in Creole as "kaze le zo," or "breaking your bones," for joint pain so intense some patients can barely walk or use their fingers for days. There is no vaccine and the only treatment is basic medication for the pain and fluid replacement for dehydration.Painful symptoms of chikungunya generally dissipate within a week and people develop immunity after getting infected. But some patients can develop severe and even life-threatening complications including respiratory failure. It can also contribute to the deaths of people with underlying health issues. Just last week, former Haitian President Leslie Manigat died after a long period of illness and a deputy secretary of his political party said his condition might have been complicated by a recent bout with the virus.Outbreaks of chikungunya have long made people miserable in Africa and Asia. In the Western Hemisphere, where the illness is new and advancing rapidly, health officials are working to educate the public and knock down the mosquito population. U.S. states are warily monitoring "imported" cases among residents who recently traveled to the Caribbean and were bitten by an infected mosquito.Haiti's government has stepped up fumigation and education campaigns. Public service announcements about the illness appear regularly on radio and TV stations broadcasting World Cup games. Officials also recently distributed free pain-relief medicine at public health facilities, especially because there were signs of predatory price increases by pharmacies and freelance pill vendors.But Dr. Gretta Lataillade Roy, head of a small public clinic in Delmas who was ill with the virus last month, said the free pain-relief medication ran out at her facility within 48 hours as a surge of patients showed up. Most people with the virus are now opting to suffer at home, she said, and high prices for acetaminophen are back.Many health clinic workers have been falling ill with chikungunya after being bitten by infected mosquitoes, resulting in temporary staff shortages.Although other mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue exist in Haiti, simple precautions to deter bites are often not taken because many people can't afford bug repellant and window screens. The Igarape group's recent survey of 2,807 randomly sampled households suggested that treated mosquito nets, another recommended precaution, are seldom used.Complicating matters, nearly one in five respondents told researchers they believe rumors that chikungunya was intentionally brought to Haiti by businessmen as a way to make money or possibly as a form of social and political control."There are some difficulties in many parts of the population to accept the reality that the virus is transmitted by a vector," said Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelete, the Pan American Health Organization's representative in Haiti.In Delmas, Saint Lise and her neighbors say they've heard on the radio that mosquitoes spread the strange virus. But they say they are skeptical in part because the government has not been fumigating around their camp."They say it's the mosquitoes doing this," said Eliamese Derisier, whose 6-month-old son is struggling with the virus in a tent next door to Saint Lise's family. "But I'm not sure if I believe them."---David McFadden on Twitter:
Chikungunya - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:15
Chikungunya (//CHI-kÉn-GUUN-yÉ; Makonde for "that which bends up") virus (CHIKV) is an arthropod-borne virus, of the genus Alphavirus, that is transmitted to humans by virus-carrying Aedesmosquitoes.[1]
CHIKV is transmitted similarly to dengue fever and causes an illness with an acute febrile phase lasting two to five days, followed by a longer period of joint pains in the extremities; this pain may persist for years in some cases.[2][3]
The best means of prevention is overall mosquito control and in addition, the avoidance of bites by any infected mosquitoes.[4] There is no specific treatment but medications can be used to reduce symptoms.[4] Rest and fluids may also be useful.[5]
Signs and symptoms[edit]The incubation period of chikungunya disease ranges from one to twelve days, typically two to three. The majority of those infected will develop symptoms.[6] Symptoms include a fever up to 40 °C (104 °F), a petechial or maculopapularrash of the trunk and occasionally the limbs, and arthralgia or arthritis affecting multiple joints.[7] Other nonspecific symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, conjunctivitis, slight photophobia and partial loss of taste.[8] Ocular inflammation from chikungunya may present as iridocyclitis. Retinal lesions may also occur.[9] Pedal edema (swelling of legs) is observed in many patients, the cause of which remains obscure as it is not related to any cardiovascular, renal or hepatic abnormalities.
Typically, the fever lasts for two days and then ends abruptly. However, other symptoms'--namely joint pain, intense headache, insomnia and an extreme degree of prostration'--last for a variable period; usually for about five to seven days.[7] Patients have complained of joint pains for much longer time periods; some as long as two years, depending on their age.[10][11] Recovery from the disease varies by age. Younger patients recover within 5 to 15 days; middle-aged patients recover in 1 to 2.5 months. Recovery is longer for the elderly. The severity of the disease as well as its duration is less in younger patients and pregnant women. In pregnant women, no untoward effects are noticed after the infection.
Chronic disease[edit]Observations during recent epidemics have suggested chikungunya may cause long-term symptoms following acute infection. During the La Reunion outbreak in 2006, greater than 50% of subjects over the age of 45 reported long term musculoskeletal pain[12] with up to 60% of patients reporting prolonged arthralgia 3 years following initial infection.[13] A study of imported cases in France reported that 59% of patients still suffered from arthralgia two years after acute infection.[14] Following a local epidemic of chikungunya in Italy, 66% of patients reported myalgia, arthralgia, or asthenia at one year postacute infection.[15] Long-term symptoms are not an entirely new observation; long-term arthritis was observed following an outbreak in 1979.[16] Common predictors of prolonged symptoms are increased age and prior rheumatological disease.[12][13][15][17] The cause of these chronic symptoms is currently not fully known. Markers of autoimmune or rheumatoid disease have not been found in patients reporting chronic symptoms.[13][18] However, some evidence from human patients and animal models suggest that chikungunya may be able to establish chronic infections within the host. Viral antigen was detected in a muscle biopsy of a patient suffering a recurrent episode of disease three months after initial onset.[19] Additionally, viral antigen and RNA were found in synovial macrophages of a patient during a relapse of musculoskeletal disease 18 months post initial infection.[20] Several animal models have also suggested that chikungunya virus may establish persistent infections. In a mouse model, viral RNA was detected specifically in joint-associated tissue for at least 16 weeks post-inoculation, and was associated with chronic synovitis.[21] Similarly, another study reported detection of a viral reporter gene in joint tissue of mice for weeks post-inoculation.[22] In a non-human primate model, chikungunya virus was found to persist in the spleen for at least 6 weeks.[23]
Virology[edit]Chikungunya virus is an alphavirus with a positive sense single-stranded RNA genome of approximately 11.6kb. It is a member of the Semliki Forest Virus complex and is closely related to Ross River Virus, O'Nyong Nyong virus and Semliki Forest Virus.[25] In the United States it is classified as a Category C priority pathogen[26] and work requires Biosafety Level III precautions.[27]
Human epithelial, endothelial, primary fibroblasts and monocyte-derived macrophages are permissive for chikungunya virus in vitro and viral replication is highly cytopathic but susceptible to type I and II interferon.[28]In vivo, chikungunya virus appears to replicate in fibroblasts, skeletal muscle progenitor cells and myofibers.[19][29][30]
Type 1 interferon[edit]Upon infection with chikungunya, the host's fibroblasts will produce type 1 (alpha and beta) interferon.[31] Mice that lack the interferon alpha receptor die in 2''3 days upon being exposed to 102 chikungunya PFU, while wild type mice survive even when exposed to as much as 106 PFU of the virus.[31] At the same time, mice that are partially type 1 deficient (IFN α/β +/'') are mildly affected and experience symptoms such as muscle weakness and lethargy.[32] Partidos et al. 2011 saw similar results with the live attenuated strain CHIKV181/25. However, rather than dying, the type 1 interferon deficient (IFN α/β ''/'') mice were temporarily disabled and the partially type 1 interferon deficient mice did not have any problems.[33]
Several studies have attempted to find the upstream components of the type 1 interferon pathway involved in the host's response to chikungunya infection. So far, no one knows the chikungunya specific pathogen associated molecular pattern.[34] Nonetheless, IPS-1'--also known as Cardif, MAVS, and VISA'--has been found to be an important factor. In 2011, White et al. found that interfering with IPS-1 decreased the phosphorylation of interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) and the production of IFN-β.[34] Other studies have found that IRF3 and IRF7 are important in an age-dependent manner. Adult mice that lack both of these regulatory factors die upon infection with chikungunya.[35] Neonates, on the other hand, succumb to the virus if they are deficient in one of these factors.[36]
Chikungunya counters the Type I interferon response by producing NS2, a non-structural protein that degrades Rpb and turns off the host cell's ability to transcribe DNA.[37] NS2 interferes with the JAK-STAT signaling pathway and prevents STAT from becoming phosphorylated.[38]
Diagnosis[edit]Common laboratory tests for chikungunya include RT-PCR, virus isolation, and serological tests.
Virus isolation provides the most definitive diagnosis, but takes one to two weeks for completion and must be carried out in biosafety level 3 laboratories.[39] The technique involves exposing specific cell lines to samples from whole blood and identifying chikungunya virus-specific responses.RT-PCR using nested primer pairs is used to amplify several chikungunya-specific genes from whole blood. Results can be determined in one to two days.[39]Serological diagnosis requires a larger amount of blood than the other methods, and uses an ELISA assay to measure chikungunya-specific IgM levels. Results require two to three days, and false positives can occur with infection via other related viruses, such as o'nyong'nyong virus and Semliki Forest virus.[39]Prevention[edit]The most effective means of prevention are protection against contact with the disease-carrying mosquitoes and mosquito control.[4] These include using insect repellents with substances such as DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide; also known as N,N'-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide or NNDB), icaridin (also known as picaridin and KBR3023), PMD (p-menthane-3,8-diol, a substance derived from the lemon eucalyptus tree), or IR3535. Wearing bite-proof long sleeves and trousers also offers protection.
In addition, garments can be treated with pyrethroids, a class of insecticides that often has repellent properties. Vaporized pyrethroids (for example in mosquito coils) are also insect repellents. Securing screens on windows and doors will help to keep mosquitoes out of the house. In the case of the day-active Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, however, this will have only a limited effect, since many contacts between the mosquitoes and humans occur outside.
Vaccine[edit]There are currently no approved vaccines available. A phase IIvaccine trial used a live, attenuated virus, developing viral resistance in 98% of those tested after 28 days and 85% still showed resistance after one year.[40] However, 8% of people reported transient joint pain and attenuation was found to be due to only two mutations in the E2 glycoprotein.[41] Alternative vaccine strategies have been developed and shown efficacy in mouse models but have so far not reached clinical trials.[42][43]
Treatment[edit]Currently there is no specific treatment.[4] Efforts to improve the symptoms include the use of NSAIDs such as naproxen, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and fluids.[4]Aspirin is not recommended.[44]
Chronic arthritis[edit]In those who have more than two weeks of arthritis, ribavirin may be useful.[4] The effect of chloroquine is not clear.[4] It does not appear to help acute disease but there is tentative evidence that it might help the chronic arthritis.[4]Steroids do not appear useful either.[4]
Epidemiology[edit]Chikungunya virus is an alphavirus closely related to the o'nyong'nyong virus,[45] the Ross River virus in Australia, and the viruses that cause eastern equine encephalitis and western equine encephalitis.[46]
Three genotypes of this virus have been described: West African, East/Central/South African and Asian genotypes.[47]
Chikungunya is generally spread through bites from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, but recent research by the Pasteur Institute in Paris has suggested chikungunya virus strains in the 2005-2006 Reunion Island outbreak incurred a mutation that facilitated transmission by Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).[48]
Concurrent studies by arbovirologists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, confirmed definitively that enhanced chikungunya virus infection of A. albopictus was caused by a point mutation in one of the viral envelope genes (E1).[49][50] Enhanced transmission of chikungunya virus by A. albopictus could mean an increased risk for chikungunya outbreaks in other areas where the Asian tiger mosquito is present. A recent epidemic in Italy was likely perpetuated by A. albopictus.[51]
In Africa, chikungunya is spread via a sylvatic cycle in which the virus largely resides in other primates in between human outbreaks.[46]
On 28 May 2009 in Changwat Trang of Thailand where the virus is endemic, the provincial hospital decided to deliver by Caesarean section a male baby from his chikungunya-infected mother, Khwanruethai Sutmueang, 28, a Trang native, to prevent mother-fetus virus transmission. However, after delivering the baby, the physicians discovered the baby was already infected with the virus, and put him into intensive care because the infection had left the baby unable to breathe by himself or to drink milk. The physicians presumed the virus might be able to be transmitted from a mother to her fetus, but without laboratory confirmation.[52]
History[edit]The word chikungunya is thought to derive from a description in the Makonde language, meaning "that which bends up", of the contorted posture of patients afflicted with the severe joint pain and arthritic symptoms associated with this disease.[53] The disease was first described by Marion Robinson[54] and W.H.R. Lumsden[55] in 1955, following an outbreak in 1952 on the Makonde Plateau, along the border between Mozambique and Tanganyika (the mainland part of modern day Tanzania).
According to the initial 1955 report about the epidemiology of the disease, the term chikungunya is derived from the Makonde root verb kungunyala, meaning to dry up or become contorted. In concurrent research, Robinson glossed the Makonde term more specifically as "that which bends up". Subsequent authors apparently overlooked the references to the Makonde language and assumed the term derived from Swahili, the lingua franca of the region. The erroneous attribution of the term as a Swahili word has been repeated in numerous print sources. Many other erroneous spellings and forms of the term are in common use including "chicken guinea", "chicken gunaya", and "chickengunya".[citation needed]
Since its discovery in Tanganyika, Africa, in 1952, chikungunya virus outbreaks have occurred occasionally in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, but recent outbreaks have spread the disease over a wider range.
The first recorded outbreak of this disease may have been in 1779.[56] This is in agreement with the molecular genetics evidence that suggests it evolved around the year 1700.[57]
In December 2013, chikungunya was confirmed on the Caribbean island of St. Martin with 66 confirmed cases and suspected cases of around 181.[58]This outbreak is the first time in the Western Hemisphere that the disease has spread to humans from a population of infected mosquitoes.[59] By January 2014, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported that cases were confirmed on the British Virgin Islands, Saint-Barth(C)lemy, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.[60] In April 2014, chikungunya was also confirmed in the Dominican Republic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[61] By the end of April, it had spread to 14 countries in all, including St. Lucia, and Haiti where an epidemic was declared.[62][63]
By the end of May 2014, over ten imported cases of the virus had been reported in the United States by people traveling to Florida from areas where the virus is endemic.[64]
On June 2014 six cases of the virus were confirmed in Brazil, two in the city of Campinas in the state of S£o Paulo. The six cases are Brazilian army soldiers who had recently returned from Haiti, where they were participating in the reconstruction efforts.United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti.[65] The information was officialy released by Campinas municipality health secretary that has taken the appropriate actions.[66]
On June 11, 2014, a case was reported in Forsyth County, North Carolina.[67]
On June 16, 2014, Florida had a cumulative 42 cases.[68]
On June 17, 2014, Mississippi State Department of Health officials confirmed they are investigating the first potential case in a Mississippi resident who recently travelled to Caribbean nation of Haiti. [69]
On June 19, 2014, the virus had spread to Georgia, USA. [70]
On June 24, 2014, a case was reported in Poinciana/Polk County, FL.[68]
On June 25, 2014, The Arkansas Health Department confirmed one person from the Natural State is carrying Chikungunya. [71]
On June 26, 2014, a case was reported in Jalisco, Mexico.[72]
Society and culture[edit]Biological weapon[edit]Chikungunya was one of more than a dozen agents the United States researched as potential biological weapons before the nation suspended its biological weapons program.[73]
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Bill Clinton, Canadian movie mogul launch peanut supply chain in Haiti - Business - CBC News
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:02
Enterprise will improve nut yields in coming yearsThe Canadian PressPosted: Jun 29, 2014 10:26 PM ETLast Updated: Jun 29, 2014 11:53 PM ET
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Sunday toured a peanut depot in central Haiti that's part of a new enterprise aimed at helping roughly 12,000 small farmers.
Clinton visited the site in Haiti's Central Plateau with Canadian philanthropist Frank Giustra, a mining mogul who also founded Lions Gate Entertainment. The pair announced the launch of the Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation at the storage and service depot in Tierra Muscady.
It's one of a network of depots in central and northern Haiti designed to provide storage, a market, training, and supplies for peanut farmers. Five of 35 planned peanut depots are now open.
Clinton said the idea is to "empower farmers to meet the nutritional needs of people." His Clinton Foundation said the enterprise will help improve peanut yields in Haiti in coming years and increase income for farmers.
The project has potential to "scale up Haiti's peanut supply chain to meet the growing regional demand for peanuts without relying on imports," Giustra said.
Peanuts will be sold to regional buyers including the non-profit Partners in Health, which last year partnered with a health care company to open a factory in Haiti's Central Plateau to produce a peanut-based nutritional supplement for children with severe malnutrition.
Monster Presents ''Headphones for Haiti'': A Creative Initiative To Benefit The People and Arts Community Of Haiti and Spur Job Creation
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:24
New York, NY (PRWEB) June 25, 2014
Monster, the world leader in high-performance personal audio, today announced the launch of a creative new charitable initiative, ''Headphones for Haiti,'' to benefit the people, economy, and arts community of the Caribbean nation. This initiative is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship within the arts and culture community of Haiti and help spur job creation and improve the quality of life as Haiti continues to rebuilds from the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Monster's ''Headphones for Haiti'' campaign will also serve as a way to generate positive awareness about the art, culture and people of Haiti.
To kick off the initiative, the company has teamed up with the Enigma Performing Arts Center of Haiti (EPAC HAITI), for a unique ''Headphones for Haiti'' fundraising event. Monster donated 100 pairs of its Inspiration' headphones to be used as ''blank canvases'' that have been hand-painted by ten renowned Haitian Master Painters, including Joseph Eddy Pierre, whose renowned mixed media works, focusing on trans-cultural experiences, are in great demand at galleries worldwide and Frantz Zephirin, St. Jean Saint Juste, Richard Barbot, Mario Benjamin, Patricia Brintle, Joseph Eddy Pierre, Yael Talleyrand, Pascal Merisier aka "Pasko", Levoy exil, Harold Dessalines, Pascale Monnin, Philippe Dodard and Patrick Ganthier aka "Killy".
Each Haitian Master Painter was given ten Monster headphones, which they have transformed into unique, personalized works of art. Ten of the hand-painted headphones will also have accompanying canvas paintings by the artists, to be auctioned at a celebratory launch event in New York City on June 25, 2014. The additional hand-painted headphone creations will be auctioned on eBay ( from June 23 to July 1, 2014. All money raised at both the New York silent auction and the online auction will be used to help fund construction of the major new EPAC HAITI performing arts center. The ''Headphones for Haiti'' project is part of Monster Cares', Monster's charitable division that was created to support local charities with education, music, sports and technology.
Head Monster Noel Lee noted: ''The people of Haiti continue to show their strength of purpose and resilience and are rebuilding their country's economy, infrastructure and arts community. Monster is proud to help support this rebirth '' especially in the artistic community. As a country steeped in art and culture, where four out of every sixteen citizens are artists it was an obvious choice to donate 100 Monster Inspiration headphones. We created this headphone out of a desire to help music lovers elevate both their listening experience and their self-expression, with an artistic and emotional signature that strives to allure, inspire, and mystify, while also offering truly great audio performance. We're especially pleased and honored by the opportunity to donate our headphones so they can be used by Haiti's Master Painters to create pieces of art to help the people of Haiti, and to benefit an artistic project like EPAC HAITI, which is so important and vital to helping rebuild the country.''
EPAC HAITI: Helping Restore Haiti's Arts Community and Boost the Island's Economy
The EPAC HAITI Performing Arts Center, designed by world-renowned Pritzker-Prize winning architect Kevin Roche, is a groundbreaking project that will inspire and transform generations of young people, while providing a much-needed boost to the Haitian economy and creating over 4,000 jobs for Haitian workers. Haiti is a country steeped in art and culture, where four out of every sixteen citizens are artists. EPAC HAITI will be a true national cultural center that will educate, employ, entertain, while also creating a major tourist attraction in Haiti. The EPAC HAITI project enjoys full support of the Haitian artist community and see this project as a life line.
ABOUT MONSTERFor the past 35 years, Monster has been a catalyst for innovation and big ideas. Discovering that cables in hi-fi systems influenced the sound, Head Monster Noel Lee developed Monster Cable® - an immediate hit. Monster engineered the sound of Beats® headphones, and has since become the world's leading manufacturer of high-performance headphones, all featuring Pure Monster Sound® technology. Today, the company offers advanced connectivity solutions for professional musicians, home entertainment, computing, mobile and gaming, as well as high performance AC Power and conditioning products. Monster continues to lead in innovation with over 662 patents worldwide and 100 pending, offering more than 5,000 products in over 160 countries. Monster also prides itself in helping those who are in less-than-fortunate circumstances through Monster Cares®. Above all, Monster does what it does Because The Music Matters.
Explore the world of Monster at To become a fan of Monster® products, please follow us on Facebook ( or Twitter (
ABOUT EPAC HAITIEPAC HAITI is a state of the art performing arts and convention center that will be built in the country of Haiti. World-renowned Pritzker prize winning architect Kevin Roche designed the center. Soon EPAC HAITI will be a national Haitian cultural hub and entertainment destination for Haiti's people and tourist. With this initiative, EPAC HAITI will promote economic development by creating over 4,000 jobs and provide the highest caliber of arts education in the Caribbean. The center will include a 3,000 seat concert hall, a state of the art convention center, a school for performing arts, museum, gallery, Imax movie theater, a 500 seat theatrical theater, artisans market, TV studio and many more. EPAC HAITI was founded by Haitian-Americans Youdy Sanon (the entrepreneur) and Kishner Deprinvill (the photographer and film maker). Their passion envisions a modern and respected Haitian society driving by its rich cultural heritage.
ABOUT THE ARTISTSJOSEPH EDDY PIERRE: Much of Joseph Eddy Pierre's art deals with identity, trans-cultural existence, and African-Diasporic rituals. Working in mixed media, with an emphasis on painting and installation, Joseph Eddy Pierre's art is layered, luscious, and often dense. Joseph quality of work is in demand throughout galleries worldwide.
ANNICK DUVIVIER: A former student of the renowned Haitian painter Ralph Allen, Annick Duvivier studied Fine Art and Illustration at Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic. Many of her works have been shown in exhibitions throughout Haiti, Dominican Republic, United States and Europe. Annick is one of the most in demand young master painters around.
ABOUT EBAY GIVING WORKSFounded in 1995 in San Jose, Calif., eBay Inc. is a global commerce platform and payments leader connecting millions of buyers and sellers. As we help to drive the next generation of commerce, we believe in the power of our employees, technologies and global networks to also enable positive social and environmental change in the world. Integrated into eBay's regular buying and selling platform, eBay Giving Works is a program that allows fundraising for charity by giving consumers the ability to shop, sell and donate to the charity of their choice. Since 2003 the program has raised over $470 million for 30,000 nonprofits in the US, UK, CA and DE. The eBay Giving Works program is part of a portfolio of programs, resources, and tools across eBay Inc that are intended to enable and inspire online charity donations at a scale never seen before. Learn more at
Headphones for Haiti
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:24
EPAC HAITI, INC. has partnered with Monster, Inc. and top Haitian master painters to create a limited and exclusive line of hand painted headphones from Monster's Inspiration line of headphones. Each headphone is one of a kind and hand painted by some of the most revered Haitian master painters whose works are recognized and are in high demand around the world. Here's your chance to own a pair!
Frantz ZephirinHis style is unique among the painters of the Northern School. He describes himself as a "Historic Animalist". Expand to see more 'º'º
JOSEPH EDDY PIERREMuch of Joseph Eddy Pierre's art deals with identity, trans-cultural existence, and African-Diasporic rituals. Expand to see more 'º'º
Levoy ExilExil's paintings are mystical and abstract and often depict Haitian Vodou Loas, suns and stars, birds, and Marassas. Expand to see more 'º'º
Mario BenjaminMario is one of Haiti's leading contemporary artists. Using videos and multimedia, and paintings and other mixed media he addresses issues of identity, ethnicity and race. Expand to see more 'º'º
Patricia BrintlePatricia's approach to painting is varied and reflects her feelings at the moment. Expand to see more 'º'º
Pierre Pascal Merisier AKA Pask¶Pask¶ has a plural training. He was the recipient of a grant from the French government to study printmaking in Montpellier. Expand to see more 'º'º
Yael TalleyrandI don't make art about anything in particular; I am more interested in ways of making art and ways of communicating through it. Expand to see more 'º'º
Philippe DodardPhilippe's works have been exhibited throughout Europe and the Americas. He received the first prize in drawing at the Junior Seminary of St-Martial's College in 1966. Expand to see more 'º'º
Pascale MonninPascale Monnin, is a wonderful artist. She received an intensive art education in Geneva, studying sculpture, painting and printmaking. Expand to see more 'º'º
Richard BarbotRichard Barbot is what you call a complete artist with proficient skills as a musician and a painter. Expand to see more 'º'º
EPAC HAITI, INC. has partnered with Monster, Inc. and top Haitian master painters to create a limited and exclusive line of hand painted headphones from Monster's Inspiration line of headphones. Each headphone is one of a kind and hand painted by some of the most revered Haitian master painters whose works are recognized and are in high demand around the world. Monster donated about 100 headphones and 10 will be auctioned live on June 25th, 2014 through a silent auction at Open House Gallery in New York City. The remaining headphones will be auctioned on eBay. Monster's support on this initiative fosters the fusion of technology and art. The goal is to create a positive awareness towards the country of Haiti and its rich art culture. The funds raised will go towards the construction fund of EPAC Haiti and the launch of EPAC Haiti's performing arts social programs targeting children living in remote locations in Haiti. This initiative does not purport to raise the full amount needed to build EPAC HAITI.
EPAC Haiti represents the evolution and transformation of a new and successful Haiti. EPAC envisions a modern and respected Haitian society driven by its rich cultural heritage. Our goal is to exploit the wealth of Haitian art culture by building a world class performing arts and convention center in the heart of Haiti.
EPAC plans to be the voice and platform for Haiti's youth and artist community; artists will showcase their talents deeply rooted in their cultural lineage to the entire world. EPAC Haiti will be a cultural hub and entertainment destination for Haiti's people and Haiti's tourism sector. The center will include a 3,000 seat concert hall, a state of the art convention center, a school for performing arts, art studios, dance studios, museum, gallery, a 500 seat theatrical theater, artisans market, and much more. With this initiative, EPAC will promote economic development by creating jobs and providing the highest caliber of arts education in the Caribbean.
EPAC Haiti, at the core, will initially launch as a social preforming arts development program in Haiti. EPAC will adopt town-by-town and develop art programs that empower education and harness the talents of Haitian youths. We look to transcend the mindsets and open the eyes of participating youths to new experiences and innovative ideas. The end result is to expand the endless possibilities for those living in locations where typically they would not have direct access to our programs.
Frantz ZephirinZephirin was born in Cap Haitien, Haiti on December 17, 1968. By his reckoning, he is the 24th of 48 children sired by his architect father (with 19 different women). As a toddler he sat and watched his uncle, the Haitian painter Antoine Obin, as he worked. By the age of seven, Frantz was filching paint in bottle caps to do his own paintings. Within a year he was selling paintings to the tourists from cruise ships that docked in Le Cap in those days and by age thirteen, lying about his age, he was selling work to galleries. Eventually he moved to Port-au-Prince and became associated with the Galerie Monnin.
His style is unique among the painters of the Northern School. He describes himself as a "Historic Animalist." He is entirely self-taught. Unlike many Haitian painters, he usually titles his paintings. Zephirin counts among his influences Leonardo da Vinci, James Darwin and the Lost Continent of Atlantis. His work is shown internationally. In October 1996 he was awarded the gold medal in the Third Biennal of Caribbean and Central American Painting, sponsored by The Museum of Modern Art of the Dominican Republic. This competition featured 144 artists from 37 countries in the region. He was one of five Haitians to be included in the V Biennal in Cuenca, Ecuador in 1996. Two of his paintings are featured in the wonderful show "Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou" that toured the USA in 1997 and 1998. One of his paintings is featured on the cover of the bestseller "The Immaculate Invasion" by Bob Shacochis. His work was shown by the American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore) in the exhibits "Holy H20" in 2005 and "Home & Beast" in 2006-2007. Zephirin lives outside of Port-au-Prince, but travels extensively.
After a very close call with the earthquake, Zephirin immediately went back to work recording his visions of a violently transformed world. His painting ''The Resurrection of the Dead'' was the arresting image chosen for the January 25th cover of the New Yorker magazine. Since the earthquake Zephirin has been featured in stories in the New York Times, Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Times of London, the Guardian and the BBC - website and broadcast. During March through May, 2010, Zephirin has been exhibiting his work in the exhibit Haiti Art Naif: Memories of Paradise? at the art center Denkmalschmiede Hofgen in Gimma, Saxony, Germany. A portion of the sales of Zephirin's work will be donated to Haitian earthquake relief.
Levoy ExilLevoy Exil was born in 1944, in Fermathe, Haiti. He is a master Haitian artist and painter; He is one of the main contributors to the Saint Soleil art movement.
Exil's paintings are mystical and abstract and often depict Haitian VodouLoas, suns and stars, birds, and Marassas. His painting style is primitive and dreamlike and employs the Pointillism technique of applying small, distinct dots in a pattern to reveal an image. There are rarely unused portions of the canvas in his works and he draws from African, Haitian, and Vodou influences.
Along with Prospere Pierre-Louis, Dieuseul Paul, Denis Smith, and Louisiane Saint Fleurant he formed the renowned Cinq Soleil (Five Suns) art movement. The Five Suns group formed out of the Saint Soleil movement, of which Levoy Exil was a member and master painter.
His work is well regarded by collectors and has been exhibited in France, Rome, the United States, and parts of Asia. Haitian Art historian, Seldon Rodman, referenced Exil's paintings in his book ''Where Art is Joy: Haitian Art: The First Forty Years.''
In 2010, Exil was featured in a CNN article after the earthquake that struck Haiti. Later that year the Smithsonian Institution sponsored the Folklife Festival in Washington DC which featured presentations and artwork by Levoy Exil and other prominent Haitian artists.
Mario BenjaminMario Benjamin was born in 1964 in Port-au-Prince to an architect father and a pharmacist mother. Mario is one of Haiti's leading contemporary artists. Using videos and multimedia, paintings and other mixed media, he addresses issues of identity, ethnicity, and race. As an artist, he aims to challenge the preconceived notions of the driving influences and interest of Haitian artists. Benjamin is a self-taught artist but has frequented museums and galleries in the United States of America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, exposing him to international contemporary trends in art. In 1984 he participated in Festival Arts in Haiti and since then has represented Haiti in numerous prestigious biennials including: Havana in 1997, Johannesburg in 1997, Sao Paolo in 1998, Venice in 2001, 2007, and 2011, The Gwangju Biennial in 2008, Dakart in 2010, and The Contemporary Art Biennial of Martinique in 2014. He lives and works in Haiti.
Patricia BrintleSelf-taught artist, Patricia Brintle, was born and raised in Haiti and immigrated to the United States in 1964. Although she has made the US her residence, her colorful style reflects her native land. Her approach to painting is varied and reflects her feelings at that moment. Brintle's work is influenced both by personal and social experiences. Most of her portraits focus on the expression of the eyes and tell in one look the story of the person on the canvas.
She favors bright, vivid and vibrant colors and uses much symbolism in her work. Her medium is as varied as her subjects but she prefers acrylics because of its diversity. Brintle is a member of the United Haitian Artists and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. She exhibits in New York, Florida, Connecticut, Illinois, and California. She is represented by Agora Gallery in Chelsea NY, Medalia Gallery in NY, Nader Haitian Art in NY, Artists Haven Gallery in FL, Gallore Gallery in CT, Nicole Gallery in Chicago, and the Bridgeman Art Library in London, UK.
Pierre Pascal Merisier AKA Pask¶Pask¶ has a plural training. After studying painting and drawing in the art workshops of the Ecole Sainte Trinit(C) (1994-1996), he started attending the workshop Kay Tiga in 1997. He then progressively got trained in linocut, monotype, and ceramics (with Lissa Jeannot).
In 2006, he was the recipient of a grant from the French government to study printmaking in Montpellier.
In 2010, after the earthquake, he participated in a show selling artwork at the restaurant L'Espace-Temps in Carcassonne, France to benefit Haiti.
Yael TalleyrandI am a 20 year old, Haitian-based artist.
I wrote a normal artist bio/statement but cannot get myself to post it for I am really uncomfortable with referring to myself in the third person. And to be honest, the reason why I make art is to ultimately not have to communicate verbally.
I don't make art about anything in particular; I am more interested in ways of making art and ways of communicating through it. The human figure is the one common thing between all of my pieces. My art and my overall experience with life is really people oriented. It's always been interesting for me to talk about the different ways there are to feel about others, and the things there are to appreciate, hate or learn about them. Having spent years far away from people my age that I could interact with, had a huge impact on my ability to pick up on social cues as well as my interpretation or even awareness of certain clich(C)s. Images and symbols, however, seemed to me like a clearer way of getting a message across, because when you remove the connotation or the context, all human emotions are pretty universal. I even find that I am able to convey way more in a sketch than with sentences. It took me a lot of time to realize that most things I made art about, I had a really hard time having conversations about. And when I expressed things visually, people were more open to understanding what I was saying since they were able to have their own perception of it, rather than being limited by words. Starting to view art as more of a tool for communication enabled me to stop trying to pick a major, or a specific medium, but rather, considering being able to use different media, as being fluent in multiple languages. Just'... Just go look at the images.
Philippe DodardPhilippe Dodard (born 1954) is a Haitian graphic artist and painter. Born in Port-au-Prince, Dodard worked as an advertising illustrator. His works have been exhibited throughout Europe and the Americas.
He received the first prize in drawing at the Junior Seminary of St-Martial's College in 1966. He studied at the PotoMitan Art School with Jean-Claude "Tiga" Garoute, Patrick Vilaire, and Frido Casimir. In 1973, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts. Then he worked as layout artist and founded a studio of audiovisual graphic arts. In 1978, he received a scholarship to the International School in Bordeaux, France, enabling him to specialize in Pedagogic Graphic Design. Two years later he received a scholarship from the Rotary International Foundation and left on tour with the Group Study Exchange of Haiti to give conferences on Haitian culture. His artwork has evolved to include large sculptures, fine iron works and fine jewelry design. Philippe Dodard is a leading contemporary artist of the Caribbean and the African Diaspora. His artistic evolution was a series of steps, leading to major solo and international exhibitions including, Arte Americas (2008), the Venice Biennale (1999), Biennale of Latin American Drawings, Santo Domingo (1997), and the Biennale of Caribbean and Central America Art, Dominican Republic (1996). Dodard attained international prominence by rejecting the 'primitive', 'na¯ve' classification that dogged Haitian art. His paintings'-- Eternit(C) de Mes Songes, Parole d'Ile (2005), Fl>>te Enchant(C)e (1999), the Kosovo series, Femme aux Trois visages (1989), and Syncretism (1991)'--are not any kind of works, states Michelle Frisch, Director of the Marassa Gallery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. ''They were like mnemonic devices . . . created at a moment of Philippe's coming to term with the forces that texture the Caribbean ethos.'' Dodard superbly blended Haitian, Caribbean and African iconographical elements to create deep complex forms. His recent choice of themes, Initiation, Consternation and Baron-Samedi reflects his transformation into ''a human Poto-Mitan,'' the channeling pole at the center of the Vodun temple through which the spiritual forces descend to the oumphor (temple). Dodard's strong graphic ink wash paintings inspired Donna Karan's Spring 2012 Collection. The MOCA exhibition brings together dresses from the Donna Karan Spring 2012 Collection with Dodard's paintings.
Pascale MonninPascale Monnin is a wonderful artist. She was born in Haiti in 1974, then she moved to Switzerland in 1977. She received an intensive art education in Geneva, studying sculpture, painting, and printmaking. In 1994 she returned to live in Haiti, where her uncle and aunt opened the Gallerie Monnin. Her paintings, prints, and instillations are pure magic. These ambiguous universes she creates, are infused with themes of death, life, and the dream state. The naive art scene of Haiti, mixed with the voodoo culture, and Pascale's European background, are the perfect ingredients for soulful art.
Haiti: EU signs new support for government reforms in Haiti
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:21
Source: European CommissionToday the EU will approve a direct payment to the government of Haiti of '‚¬34 million in order to support ongoing reforms to modernise the state administration and the public finance management. This will be done through, for instance, better internal and external controls and anti-corruption measures. The reforms will also improve access to primary education and reinforce its quality, including by providing vocational training to teachers.
European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, commented:''Today's payment is a sign that the government of Haiti has made progress in reforming its public finances. The new EU funding will help to ensure that the necessary financial resources and institutional capacity are in place for further reforms. This will enable the government to better fulfil its responsibilities for the people of Haiti, through policies in the social sector and by meeting the needs of the population.''
Mr. Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, Director-General of the European Commission DG Development and Cooperation '' EuropeAid will sign the disbursement of '‚¬34 million in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince in the presence of Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe, the Minister of Education, Nesmy Manigat, and the Secretary of state for finance, Ronald Decembre.
The payment forms part of a so-called 'State Building Contract' under which the EU plans to provide '‚¬100 million to the budget of the government of Haiti until 2016. The support programme will be complemented by '‚¬12 million of technical assistance to support those Haitian institutions that are involved in the reforms. Moreover, a permanent dialogue between the EU and the government on the progress and results of modernising the state will be established in the areas of public finances, (budgetary control), state modernisation and education.
In Haiti, the EU has continuously worked on strengthening the institutions of the state to reinforce good governance and the ability of designing and implementing sound policies. Moreover, the EU has supported, among other things, road and water/sanitation infrastructure as well as addressing low education levels and food insecurity with a view of strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable.The total of EU development funding to Haiti from 2008 to 2013 amounted to '‚¬889 million. Since the earthquake of 2010 which killed an estimated 265,000 people and destroyed parts of the physical infrastructure, the EU's cooperation has helped with the reconstruction of the country, as well as its longer-term development.
It has also provided humanitarian aid in several sectors including basic services in the camps for internally displaced persons, protection, support to their relocation and reintegration, fight against cholera, disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness, as well as food security.
For 2014-2020 EU funding of '‚¬420 million is foreseen for Haiti under the 11th European Development Fund, with a focus on four sectors: support to state reform; education; urban development and infrastructure; food security.
Some results of EU cooperation with Haiti (between 2008 and 2013)
The EU has rehabilitated 100 km of roads between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien (the second biggest city of the country), significantly improving the security of this section of the highway and opening up isolated areas of the country's central region.
Food security has been improved for 750,000 people through the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, support to agricultural and livestock production, processing systems and marketing training. In addition, 3,000 farmers have benefited from micro grants to increase their production (in six districts of the country).Budget support helped to maintain basic state functioning after the earthquake and has helped to advance public finance management reforms.
Out There
The scramble for Mars - President Obama and Congress can't even agree on the route to the red planet
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:22
WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) --The partisan divide between Democrat and Republican lawmakers has extended from Washington to the surface of Mars.While both sides of the political aisle want NASA to pursue a manned Mission to Mars, President Obama and congressional Republicans have very different ideas about how to get there.
President Obama believes the path to Mars is through NASA's proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission, the process of capturing an asteroid and extracting its solar radiation to create a fueling station between Earth and Mars.
In addition to providing a path to Mars, the ARM program would only cost $3 billion, overwhelmingly less than former President George W. Bush's $100 billion scrapped moon mission. President Obama pulled the plug on that mission after $10 billion had been spent.
"ARM achieves deep space operations experience much sooner, and at much lower cost than lunar exploration," explained Louis Friedman, co-founder of the Planetary Society. "ARM would move U.S. astronauts beyond the Moon, creating opportunities to proceed farther into interplanetary space, toward Mars."
"First, ARM would extend human space flight to a lunar distant retrograde orbit. Sorties into true interplanetary space to a near-Earth asteroid would follow, preparing for journeys to the Mars system (perhaps landing on Phobos or Deimos.) The Martian surface -- the goal -- would then be clearly visible, and clearly achievable."
House Republicans, however, want NASA to establish an American moon base. Newt Gingrich famously became the butt of jokes for suggesting this during the last presidential election cycle, but a base on the moon is a very real hope to some in the aeronautics community.
Proponents of a moon base say it would allow NASA to test landing technologies and surface operations, as well as make America the first country to test extraterrestrial physical energy resources, such as the water contained in lunar dust.
"I frankly don't think anyone would be pushing asteroid redirect if the U.S. embraced a return to the moon," John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Institute told the National Journal.
"The rest of the world is focused on going to the moon. We're the only country that's out of sync with that."
House Republicans are so enamored with the idea of a moon base, they say they won't expand funding for Mars exploration until it scraps the ARM plan, a claim Friedman warns is a red herring.
"I don't think there's an iota of indication [that funding would be raised with a renewed moon focus]. There are people who will talk about that idea," Friedman said.
"The idea of actually appropriating extra money, we haven't seen anything like that."
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
VIDEO-Hillary says exorbitant university speaking fees go to charity '-- the Clinton Foundation - Washington Times
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 13:43
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** FILE ** Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her ... more >Related StoriesHillary Clinton said Friday that the hundreds of thousands of dollars she charges to speak at colleges all goes to charity: the Clinton Foundation.
''All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation,'' Ms. Clinton told ABC News anchor Ann Compton.
SEE ALSO: Bill Clinton: Hillary 'not out of touch,' dead broke comment 'factually true'
The 2016 Presidential contender reportedly charges around $200,000 or more for each speaking engagement.
Students facing a tuition hike at the University of Nevada Las Vegas plan to protest an October appearance by Ms. Clinton, if she does not return her speaking fee of $225,000 back to the university.
Ms. Clinton made no indication that she would meet the student's demands, saying that her speeches bring new ideas to people across the country that will help balance income inequality.
''It's been my experience that they're not worried about my speaking or my household, they're worried about heir own,'' Ms. Clinton said in the interview adding, ''And that's the kind of debate I think I'm furthering as I go around the country speaking.''
The Clintons have continued to take fire over their finances in the last month after the former Secretary of State said that she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were ''dead broke'' when they left the White House in 2001.
Ms. Clinton is currently traveling overseas, promoting her new memoir, ''Hard Choices.''
(C) Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:04
VIDEO- Arrest Of American "Double Agent" Spy In Germany Has Berlin Demanding Answers! - YouTube
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 05:01
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton explains State Dept.'s use of social media on BookTV | Twitchy
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 04:02
Being interviewed about her book ''Hard Choices'' on C-SPAN, Hillary Clinton was not once asked about the hard choices regarding Benghazi during her BookTV appearance.
She did, however, speak to the importance of the Internet and social media, such as at the dawn of the ''Arab Spring.'' Not mentioned: the U.S. Embassy Cairo's Sept. 11 preemptive apology condemning ''the efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,'' or the embassy's ''Twitter smack-talking'' to the Muslim Brotherhood very soon after.
Here's Hillary Clinton's take on social media under her watch as secretary of state.
VIDEO- CNN: EATING MARIJUANA CAN KILL YOU! (Who Is Behind This Reefer Madness Propaganda About Edibles?) - YouTube
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 03:08
VIDEO- Colorado Teen Arrested On Terrorism Charges! - YouTube
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 03:00
VIDEO- German Intelligence Employee Arrested Accused Of Spying For The United States! - YouTube
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:53
VIDEO-Greece suffers power cuts as electricity workers strike | euronews, world news
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:32
Parts of Greece have been experiencing power cuts '' after electricity workers began a 48-hour strike on Thursday over privatisation plans.
The Greek parliament is debating a bill that would allow the government to sell off 30 percent of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), the country's biggest electricity producer.
A series of strikes have been planned over the move, sparking fears of power outages.
Shop owner Zoi Regavi told euronews: ''Recently I was in hospital and I saw so many sick people in need of support from machines. How can someone cut off the power to them?''
Restaurant owner Thomas Mpellos was concerned about the heat, saying: ''It's summer and temperatures are high. Without power, the air conditioners won't work.''
Greece needs to liberalise its power sector in order to comply with the terms of its international bailout and qualify for more rescue loans.
Euronews' Akis Tatsis reported from Athens: ''The employees of the Public Power Corporation demonstrating in central Athens stress that this is just the start of their fight to stop the part-privatisation. But the Greek government appears committed to it despite harsh criticism from opposition parties.''
VIDEO-New Threats from Al Qaeda Bomb Makers | Video - ABC News
Sat, 05 Jul 2014 19:55
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VIDEO- noAgenda July 4th JLD Project Come Together Parody - YouTube
Sat, 05 Jul 2014 17:17
VIDEO: US 'double agent' suspected in Germany
Sat, 05 Jul 2014 05:07
The German foreign ministry has summoned the American ambassador to ask for what it called a "swift clarification" following the arrest of a German man suspected of spying for the United States.
Local media says the suspect was an employee of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, who worked as a double agent for two years.
Emily Thomas reports.
VIDEO: UK imams speak out against jihad
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:31
More than 100 imams in the UK have appealed to British Muslims not to travel to Syria and Iraq.
In an open letter they said they had come together as a unified voice, to urge people not to fall prey to sectarian divisions or social discord.
Frank Gardner reports.
VIDEO: 'I feared Harris would rape me'
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:31
A woman who gave evidence in court against disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris has said she feared she would be raped when she was sexually abused by him while on holiday in Malta.
The woman, who was 18 when she met Harris, said she did not speak out at the time as she did not think anyone would believe her.
She gave evidence at Harris' trial, but the attack in Malta was not the subject of a prosecution because at the time of the incident the offence was outside the jurisdiction of a UK court.
Her identity has been disguised to protect her anonymity.
VIDEO-Edward Snowden should have right to legal defence in US, says Hillary Clinton | World | The Guardian
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:29
Link to video: Hillary Clinton: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has right to legal defence in USThe former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said Edward Snowden should have the right to launch a legal and public defence of his decision to leak top-secret documents if he returns to the United States.
"If he wishes to return knowing he would be held accountable and also able to present a defence, that is his decision to make," Clinton said in a video interview with the Guardian on Friday.
Snowden, who is currently in Russia where he has been afforded temporary asylum, has been charged with three separate violations of the US Espionage Act. These charges include stealing government property and sharing classified documents with the Guardian and the Washington Post.
The broadly worded law makes no distinction between a spy and a whistleblower and affords Snowden almost no recourse to a defence.
The former NSA employee is likely to face a number of additional charges should he return to the US.
When Clinton was asked if she believed the Espionage Act '' passed in 1917 '' should be reformed in order to allow Snowden a defence, she claimed not to know what the whistleblower had been charged with as they were "sealed indictments".
"In any case that I'm aware of as a former lawyer, he has a right to mount a defence," she said. "And he certainly has a right to launch both a legal defence and a public defence, which can of course affect the legal defence.
"Whether he chooses to return or not is up to him. He certainly can stay in Russia, apparently under Putin's protection, for the rest of his life if that's what he chooses. But if he is serious about engaging in the debate then he could take the opportunity to come back and have that debate. But that's his decision."
Amid the ongoing and substantial aftershocks following the Snowden revelations, Keir Starmer, Britain's former director of public prosecutions, has drafted new legal guidelines seeking to protect journalists in the UK who break the law in pursuit of investigations that have genuine public interest.
"Defining of the public interest is always very, very difficult. We did go through a consultation exercise on that and I think we've got it about right," he told the Guardian in October.
Snowden's legal team have stated that lack of recourse to a public interest defence is a key obstacle to the whistleblower returning to the US.
Ben Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "The laws would not provide him any opportunity to say that the information never should have been withheld from the public in the first place.
"And the fact that the disclosures have led to the highest journalism rewards, have led to historic reforms in the US and around the world '' all of that would be irrelevant in a prosecution under the espionage laws in the United States."
In an exclusive streamed video interview with the Guardian, Clinton also expressed regret that a proposal two years ago by General Sir David Richards '' then the most senior British military officer '' to train 100,000 moderate rebels to fight the Assad regime in Syria was rejected by David Cameron, who deemed it too risky. The proposal was similar to one that Clinton, as secretary of state, proposed to US president Barack Obama, which was also rejected.
"I'm not aware of the specifics about any proposal to the British government but like our government I knew there was debate because I was advocating for trying to vet, train and arm Syrian moderates," Clinton said.
"In the debate you couldn't say conclusively if you do this you'll get that result, but I thought it was a good bet. Now what we see is our government and others beginning to train moderates to try to stem the tide of the extremism, because it's not just Isis it's a whole range of these al-Qaida wannabe offshoots that we have to worry about."
Clinton, who is on a two-day tour of the UK promoting her new memoir Hard Choices '' an account of her four years as secretary of state '' said she had not yet decided whether or not she intends to run for president in 2016.
"I really want to feel my way towards a decision," she told the Guardian. "I understand what I think needs to be done '... I'm just going to bide my time."
VIDEO-Russian scientists raising funds to rebuild Tesla Tower, satisfy world energy hunger '-- RT News
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:27
Published time: July 04, 2014 15:56Reuters/Sheng Li
Two Russian physicists are fundraising to realize their project for wireless energy transmission once proposed by brilliant 20th-century scientist Nikola Tesla. Solar panels and an upgraded Tesla Tower could solve global energy hunger, they say.
Leonid and Sergey Plekhanov, graduates of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, claim they have spent years scrutinizing the Nikola Tesla's patents and diaries and they believe that with his most ambitious project '' transcontinental wireless energy transmissions '' Tesla came very close to unprecedented scientific discovery that could be brought to fruition.
The enthusiasts say they need about $800,000 to reconstruct the famous Wardenclyffe Tower once created by Tesla himself to implement his ideas and find a commercial application for his ideas on long-distance wireless energy transmission.
The Plekhanov brothers are raising money through IndieGogo kickstarter. The campaign will last until July 25. So far the project has managed to collect only 2 percent of the desired sum (about $18,000 out of the desired $800,000 as we publish this article).
According to the authors of the project, as of today all human civilization's electric energy needs could be covered with a single installation of solar panel measured approximately 316 by 316 kilometers (100,000 square kilometers altogether) positioned in a desert somewhere near the equator.
They believe the only stumbling block to such a project is the delivery of electric energy to final consumers, as the loss of energy directly depends on the distance of transmission.
The Plekhanov brothers believe that only experimental verification of the theory could help the original idea become reality. They also say that their ''creative interpretation" of the physical model proposed by Tesla has already been confirmed by ''numerical simulation in Ansoft HFSS software.''
The original Wardenclyffe Tower (also dubbed the ''Tesla Tower''), was constructed by Nikola Tesla in Shoreham, about 100 kilometers from New York, in 1901''17. It never became fully operational.
The 57-meter-high tower was made of wood and copper and after a number of experiences to perform trans-Atlantic wireless power transmission, as well as commercial broadcasting and wireless telephony, the tower was disassembled in 1917.
Leonid and Sergey Plekhanov believe the construction of their ''Planetary Energy Transmitter'' would be much lighter than that of Tesla's, decreased from over 60 to mere 2 tons '' all because of the modern materials used for the framework and up-to-date conducting materials. Naturally, the installation would be equipped with advanced electronics.
''We've conducted the fundamental research studies, implemented the computational models and designed all the parts of the experiment. We will be able to perform energy transmission and measure the results. Will it be 'global' as Tesla suggested? Based on the research that we've already done '' we believe it will be, and we going to prove it experimentally,'' the scientists wrote.
The scientists are going to repeat Tesla's experiment in the fall of 2014.
And if the experiment works, the scientists say that a free energy world with limitless global energy transmission is possible.
Still, there are a number of considerations regarding the huge solar panel installation proposed by the Plekhanovs. Besides the fact that the very production of solar panels, at least on the modern level of technology, is really damaging for the environment, the efficiency of such power generation is still very low.
Besides that, such production is very expensive. A square meter of solar panel costs approximately $200. A simple multiplication of the sum by the proposed 100,000 square kilometers give us a stunning sum of $20 trillion, more than the gross GDP of either the US or EU. That's without infrastructure. And even if the cost of production falls by several times, it would still be unspeakably expensive, experts say.
VIDEO-'They send us junk': Kiev troops complain of poor ammunition, stale food, old maps '-- RT News
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 22:27
Published time: July 04, 2014 13:20Ukrainian soldiers look on at a Ukrainian checkpoint near the eastern town of Slaviansk May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)
While Ukrainian authorities expect troops to spare no effort in bringing the south-eastern regions back under Kiev's control, soldiers on the ground appear to doubt if the government is doing all it takes to provide for those it sends to warzones.
'Thanks, Ukraine Air Force': Bombarded villagers accuse Kiev of killing civilians
''This is the armor our troops are using. This is the kind of junk they send us,'' says a Ukrainian National Guard soldier, demonstrating a bullet-proof breastplate with a bullet hole in it.
That's one of the episodes in a video by Ukrainian and circulating online, in which the National Guard unit stationed near Slavyansk - home to some of the heaviest fighting in the conflict - bemoan their poor ammunition, while cursing the country's president for it.
''I think he made it himself from a can. F****** businessman,'' a man in the video says.
The National Guard was formed in mid-March to bolster the country's defenses, as its southeastern regions were getting ever more unstable, questioning Kiev's authority.
People who have since then enrolled in the military entity appear to have expected better support from the government than what they've been receiving.
They show journalists sacks with mold-covered loaves of bread.
''We had to cut most of the bread from these eight loaves. They only have a small edible part in the middle, but there are a lot of people here,'' one of them says.
Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov does not want any hardships to get in the way of the military units fulfilling its mission.
''No matter how hard it gets, everyone should do what they're supposed to do. If that happens, we will win very quickly,'' he said in an online address earlier this week. Avakov believes the military operation could be over in a fortnight.
But while the authorities are pushing for more action, fighters on the ground are confused as to where they stand '' often, literally.
''I need a GPS navigator - not these maps from 1985,'' a National Guard member says. ''We went over there and didn't find anything that's marked on that map. There were supposed to be two lakes over there.''
President Poroshenko fed the great expectations among those willing to enroll in the army in his election campaign.
''This will be our priority - army volunteers will get the equivalent of $85 per day, and solid life insurance as well,'' he said two days before the election.
The promise never turned into anything real, says a woman from Odessa, whose husband is serving in the Ukrainian army.
''They say they've paid the salaries, but we didn't get any money,'' she told Ruptly video agency. ''My husband didn't get it. And they keep promising it will happen tomorrow. My two-year-old daughter woke up this morning and said that she's hungry. What am I supposed to tell her?''
Two weeks ago the organizational strife in the Ukrainian military forces reached its peak when a whole National Guard unit found itself to be non-existent on Kiev's books. As a result the fighters were denied food and service pay.
Some in the government troops now complain they have a certain sense of insecurity and it's not inspired by their adversaries on the battlefield.
Apart from being not well-equipped, the hastily created Ukrainian army units, could appear to be also not well-trained. The recent heavy shelling of the village of Kondrashovka, which resulted in seven casualties and an entire street being destroyed might have been a ''pilot error,'' according to a commander of pro-Kiev Azov Battalion.
VIDEO-Joan Rivers: Obama is gay, Michelle is a tranny - YouTube
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 21:31
VIDEO- Occult Message in Speech by Christine Lagarde of IMF - YouTube
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 21:29
VIDEO- John Cleese rants - Soccer vs Football - YouTube
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 21:28
VIDEO-Apollo Astronaut: Climate Alarmism Is the 'Biggest Fraud in the Field of Science' | CNS News
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:12
Climate alarmism is "the biggest fraud in the field of science" and the 97% consensus claim is nonsensical, Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham tells MRCTV in a preview of his presentation at the upcoming Heartland Institute climate conference, July 7-9.
"Since about 2000, I looked farther and farther into it," Col. Cunningham (USMC, Ret.) tells MRCTV in an exclusive interview. "I found that not one of the claims that the alarmists were making out there had any bearings, whatsoever. And, so, it was kind of a no-brainer to come to the conclusion."
Cunningham rejects the notion of man-made climate, not only as fact - but also as even qualifying as an actual "theory":
"In the media, it was being called a theory. Obviously, they didn't know what it means to be a theory."
"If we go back to the warmist hypothesis -not a theory, but, a hypothesis - they've been saying from the very beginning that carbon dioxide levels are abnormally high, that higher levels of carbon dioxide are bad for humans, and they thought warmer temperatures are bad for our world, and they thought we were able to override natural forces to control the earth's temperature. So, as I've looked into those, that's the problem that I've found, because I didn't find any of those to be correct - and, they certainly were not a theory, it was just their guess at what they wanted to see in the data they were looking at."
Cunningham urges Americans to look at the data and decide for themselves, instead of taking anyone else's word for it:
"You go out and take a look at it and you find out that a lot of it is pure nonsense and wishful thinking on the part of the alarmists who are looking for more and more money to fall into their hands."
"Don't believe it just because your professor said it. You gotta go take a look at it. Go back and look at the history of temperature and carbon dioxide, and you look at the value of carbon dioxide, and how it's a benefit today."
Astronaut Walter Cunningham in the Apollo era.
Cunningham notes that, while climate alarmists are concerned that the atmosphere currently contains 400 parts per million of CO2, that's only a tenth of the level his spacecraft had to reach before causing concern. In his Apollo craft, an alarm would go off when CO2 reached 4,000 parts per million and, in today's space shuttle, the trigger is 5,000. And, in submarines where crewmen may be on three-month missions, CO2 has to reach 8,000 parts per million before the alarm is activated.
"In one area after another, we find these people overly concerned about, one, the danger they're trying to push on us and, secondly, the claim that we can somehow or other control the earth's temperature by affecting it," Cunningham says.
"I can't say we don't have any impact, at all, but it'd be so miniscule and so tiny, that it wouldn't be worth any effort."
So, what does dictate the Earth's temperature? Cunningham says it's well-established that "principle controllers" are natural forces like sun, ocean temperature, and even volcanic activity.
Thus, he calls climate alarmism "the biggest fraud in the field of science":
"The case is, to me, really, it's laughable to find somebody who claims to be a serious scientist - that he would buy into this. So, I would really question anybody who claims to be a scientist doing this - so, what they do is try to control the nomenclature."
"To me, it's almost laughable, it's the biggest fraud in the field of science, certainly in my lifetime, maybe the biggest one in centuries."
"If you go back and you look at the data that has been well-documented over the years, you can look and see, for example, that right now both carbon dioxide and temperature are simultaneously at one of the lowest levels in at least the last 600-800 million years. The last time they were both together at this low a level, more or less, was 300 million years ago, and if you go back go back about 500-600 million years ago, carbon dioxide was 15 times higher than what it is now. So, what I'm getting at is this, the history shows you that most of this is just plain nonsensical today."
"And, the amazing thing to people like me... is that there are people that believe the nonsense they're being fed."
The media are largely to blame for public misconceptions - not because they're intentionally misleading the public, but because they "just don't want to go into the time and trouble to find out." "If they do go into it and look at it for themselves, they become a lot more neutral in their presentation," he says.
Worst of all, Cunningham says, media are promoting the "nonsensical" claim that there's scientific consensus accepting the hypothesis of man-made climate:
"When they're out propagating this so-called 97% of scientists believe we're controlling the temperature - I mean, that's the most nonsensical, stupid number in the world - and all they have to do is do a little research on Google - I'm not going to do it for them - go in there and take a look and you find out that's a ridiculous statement that people are making - and even the president makes a statement like that."
"If you have a totally anonymous survey of real scientists involved in this field, I would almost guarantee you that you going to have a majority that are not going to agree with the alarmists."
"I can only tell you that, even back in the days of Apollo, we didn't have to face this kind of nonsense," Cunningham concludes.
Editor's Note: Watch the Heartland Institute's 9th International Conference of Climate Changestreaming live July 7-9, 2014 from Las Vegas, Nevada on
VIDEO-Russia attacks U.S. oil and gas companies in massive hack - Jul. 2, 2014
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:14
Russian hacker spies are attacking energy companies. It's the latest sign the Cold War has gone cyber. NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
That much is clear after a security firm reported this week that Russian hackers have launched unprecedented, highly-sophisticated attacks on Western oil and gas companies.
The cyber operation nicknamed Energetic Bear is the latest example of an ongoing battle between all-seeing American and British cyber spies on one side -- and intellectual-property-stealing hackers in China and Russia on the other.
The report by Symantec(SYMC, Tech30) described how hackers have sneaked malware into computers at power plants, energy grid operators, gas pipeline companies and industrial equipment makers. Most of the targets were in the United States and Spain. The rest were across Europe.
The malware was used to steal documents, usernames and passwords. In the best-case scenario, the hackers only took valuable and sensitive information. At worst, they gained the ability to hijack controls -- and even sabotage the nation's energy supply.
Related story: What China's hacker spies are after
Another security company, Crowdstrike, first spotted the Energetic Bear operation in 2012. Crowdstrike thinks the hackers at Energetic Bear work for -- or alongside -- Russian government intelligence services at the behest of state-owned gas enterprises, including Gazprom(GZPFY)and Rosneft.
Neither the Russian embassy, nor those energy companies, responded to requests for comment.
Why should you care? If a nation breaks into Exxon-Mobil(XOM) or BP(BP) and figures out where they've discovered vast oil or natural gas reserves, it could beat them to the punch and start drilling first. If it steals blueprints to the power grid or key pipelines, it could disable them to cause economic chaos -- or shut it down during a war.
"The Russians are engaged in aggressive economic and political espionage," Crowdstrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said.
Related story: Is Russia trying to stop Europe fracking?
Security researchers said Energetic Bear is notable for its military precision and planning.
And Energetic Bear hackers aren't limited to attacking the energy sector. Their malware has also been spotted inside the networks of European and U.S. defense contractors and health care providers, as well as manufacturers, construction companies and universities doing research in the field of nuclear energy.
"We haven't seen anything at this scale with industrial control systems," said Kevin Haley, Symantec's director of security.
First Published: July 2, 2014: 8:18 AM ET
VIDEO-Cryptome Global Archives by John Young and Deborah Natsios '-- Kickstarter
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 06:44 Since 1996. Twitter: @cryptomeorgPledges can be be any amount $1 to unlimited.
July is dump spy docs timeJuly 20, 1604: Dump gunpowderJuly 4, 1776: Dump royaltyJuly 22, 2010: Dump ban of declaration of independence.
City of Redactions, Deborah Natsios Cryptome:
A third of Cryptome media interviews have never been used.Cryptome Kickstarter aims to help other disclosers grow, multiply, offset manipulation by officially-vetted outlets.
Cryptome Archive USB current to 26 June 2014. Evolution continues. Donations: Attacked and Censored by ISP and Network Solutions:
Whistleblower site @Cryptomeorg pulled OFFLINE due to malware infection: Founder cries foul (by me @TheRegster)
By sites and outlets is not meant only online, current leader of dirty work posing as clean.
Besides pastes, drops, torrent, implants, hides, Cryptome has over a dozen sites for dispersed distribution, more coming. Got means-methods?
Cryptome has been dispersed. Files will appear expectedly and unexpectedly at diverse locations online and off.
NetSol rushed to reactivate Cryptome. No deal. Henceforth only SM will be used to exchange information. To hell with arrogant dirty ISPs.
If 5,000 Cryptome readers pledged $20, this goal would be reached. For our 5-year plan that comes to about 1-cent a day. Thanks.
Greenwald's No Place to Hide is on NY Times Top 15 best sellers. Help Glenn spread Snowden's free public gift:
Best to support leakers really struggling, unrecognized, all of them unpaid,and quite a few going into debt to keep up the fight. The few leaker successes owe a debt to those not yet acclaimed which enhance the chances of survival for all of them and us doing nothing.
Cryptome Kickstarter to share swarming leaks: online and off, tools and pitfalls, successes and failures, open v secret, shy v ego, 0 v $.
Cryptome Swarming Leaks: Security, Privacy, Submissions, Funding, Staffing, Media, Stings, Betrayals, Hit & Runs. WikiLeaks among students
USG FOIA Ask Me Anything: Expect: How About Never, Is Never Good for You?
Free Snowden from Journalist and Lawyer Protectionism Blockade
"Cryptome is Ahab, and Greenwald's stash of hidden Snowden documents is the whale."
Risks of (NSA) Spying Within Architecture (not fully outed by Snowden):
Davos Hungers, Gorges Privacy, Obeses Spying:
Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance -- open, secret and classified documents -- but not limited to those. Documents are removed from this site only by order served directly by a US court having jurisdiction. No court order has ever been served; any order served will be published here -- or elsewhere if gagged by order. Bluffs will be published if comical but otherwise ignored. Email: Mail: Cryptome, 251 West 89th Street, New York, NY 10024 Telephone for messages: 212-873-8700Anonymity Is Public Right Not Just for Spies Support Tor Project:
National Security: What's It Good For?
National Security: If You Want Peace Oppose Militarists Planning War
Donate to Public Intelligence and National Security Archive for opposing secrecy:
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In 1995 Cryptome nominated crypto-hero Phil Zimmermann for $10,000 Chrysler Design Award. He got it. More in 1998, none got:
Support Freedom of the Press Foundation for opposing secrecy. Cryptome donated $1,000.00.
Cellphone Selfie by NSA? Celular selfie pela NSA? Mobilin­ Selfie NSA?
WARNING: Unlawful to prevent lawful and unlawful spying on Cryptome, Kickstarter and all other sites. Stay offline.
Got NSA Implants? Fik NSA implantater?Oes gennych mewnblaniadau NSA?
Who's watching your DROP BOX? Qui observe votre DROP BOX? Wer ist gerade Ihr DROP BOX?
US Army INSCOM Dossiers Scan of 30,000 Pages Since 2001 FOIA:
Deborah Natsios will prepare series of videos on the physical architecture of spying following the premier shown here, Meet Me At Your Riser. Also on YouTube:
Cryptome has been primarily funded for 18 years by its operators with modest funding by donations for copies of its archives. Outside support would be appreciated but the site will continue in any event.
Cryptome publishes documents prohibited worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance -- open, secret and classified documents -- but not limited to those.
Crowdfunding for Cryptome, oldest radical secrets-leaking site online:
Cryptome, the original WikiLeaks, launches $100,000 Kickstarter:
A Radical Pro-Transparency Website Is Raising Money To Annoy Glenn Greenwald:
No 1 Cryptome publication, over 11M hits, terrifying, launched unending war on terrorism:
No 2 Cryptome publication, Bin Laden Trial Transcripts:
No 3 Cryptome publication, Eyeball Series, begun after 9/11:
No 4 Cryptome publication, Protest Photo Series:
No 5 Cryptome publication, NSA TEMPEST Documents:
No 6 Cryptome publications, Nuclear Power Plants and WMD Series:
No 7 Cryptome publication: Eyeballing Iraq Kill and Maim: Media-redacted horror of families of dead and disfigured.
No 8 Cryptome publications: US Army INSCOM dossiers, 30K pages scanned over 13 years (still coming):
A2 sends: Great to see your doing a KickStarter. I will support it a little when I have some money. Anyway, I've been a fan since being a teenager at Cryptome. Over the years I have used it to leak stuff in the public interest. It annoys me that Wikileaks got so much attention and Cryptome didn't - how many thousands of documents must they have been sent from darkest Africa, Israel, Russia and China by now but not put up? All this irritating imitators springing up XYZleaks and fragmenting the whistleblower system. Anyway, as the only site doing what your doing, please build into your new plans some kind of accession plan. I hate to be morbid but we are all getting older. Try to find someone with as little ego as possible (we don't need another Assange) or a way to distribute / automate leaks that can't be shut down. Also the idea of a better search and library with some tagging would be really good - I've often pointed people towards you but they never found what they are looking for. Keep up the good fight.Wellspring of public cryptography, Cryptome, WikiLeaks, unauthorized disclosure, Cypherpunks Archive 1992-98: (83MB)
Video, Heading to Sabu Sentencing:

Clips & Documents

Deutschland Blitzkrieg
Deutschland wants answers on US double agent.mp3
Double agent in Germany.mp3
Verene Shepard AGAIN-xmas.mp3
Hillary 2016
Hillary Clinton explains State Dept.’s use of social media .mp3
Hillary on Snowden-WRONG ANSWER.mp3
Hobby Lobby
Colorado teen ratted out by pastor.mp3
JCD Clips
americans doing business in russia.mp3
amy goodman in sweden.mp3
colorado pot and banking.mp3
DHS on PBS with kicker.mp3
jay rockefeller is a dick.mp3
niagara falls is a scam.mp3
obama will do things without congress.mp3
polka party in medina.mp3
pot and hemp diatribe with michael elliot.mp3
republican weekly pitch.mp3
southstream deal.mp3
stellara drug.mp3
storm troopers numerology.mp3
Just Take Your Meds
Stelara Commercial.mp3
Magic Numbers
LaGarde occult numerology speech -july 20.mp3
Obama Nation
Joan Rivers Obama Gay-Michelle Tranyy.mp3
Obama Crack Pies.mp3
The Fix is In
John Cleese explains football.mp3
The War on Weed
Fake Pot may fund terrorism.mp3
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