639: Tangible Things

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 14m
July 31st, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Dan Horwitz Builder of Battery Cars-Knight of Porn Valley, Aidan Clarke-Sir Snrkl, Sir Philip Meason-Baron of Wales

Associate Executive Producers: Nicholas McFall, Judy Schwarz, Sir David Koss, Iron Bound Designs

Cover Artist: 20wattbulb

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Woodstock
1:16:21
No Agenda being listened to by Jeopardy Producers?
Guest producer
Suggest a new chapter
PR
classicnoagenda.com
In the Morning!
Having heard the recent comments from producers regarding the early shows, I've been inspired to dust off an old project that I've been meaning to launch for a couple of years now: Classic No Agenda.com.
I'm re-publishing the shows starting from episode one as a podcast. I'm taking the synopses from the cagematch site as well as tagging each episode with the subjects and topics to make the early shows more searchable. I'm also modifying the shows themselves to include a dvorak.org/na jingle to the beginning and end of each episode.
I'll be releasing a new episode every Tuesday to fill that gap and provide the 'third show' that used to be a subject of debate years ago. I'm going to commit to the first 25 episodes but if we don't get any positive feedback, I may cut it off at that time. After all, the whole point of this is to drive more donations so if that isn't happening after six months, I could be forced to call it quits.
The first episode has been published at classicnoagenda.com and it is available in iTunes. I'm still working on making the tags searchable but that is a Wordpress thing and I'll get it figured out before too long.
Thank you for your courage and keep up the good work. We need you guys.
Ramsey Cain
NoAgendaNovels.com
ITM Adam
I thought you'd like to know that I've published another No Agenda Short Story (or giblet)...
Here's the blurb:
A ninety-year-old man lies in a critical condition after being foiled in his attempt to murder a Republican candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Hospital porter Gordon Gunderson finds himself drawn to the old man, but why would someone so old and frail try to assassinate a public figure? And what does it have to do with an event in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947?
I'm also making The Foot on the Shore (my severed foot story) free in the Kindle store between Thursday and Saturday this week.
Thank you for your courage and keep up the good work.
Scott McKenzie
noagendanovels.com
TODAY
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How to use YOUR No Agenda
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Essentially
Adam - You and John routinely help each other and call each other out
with language and presentation habits you wish to break.
Lately you've begun crutching your dialogue with the word
"essentially". This usage of the word is weak; it's used to signal
the listener to not challenge, but just accept the point or comparison
being made.
John has started doing it a bit as well, so I'll clue him in too.
Thanks a bunch.
The word 'Share' / Sharing /
Sharing [draft] [#digitalkeywords] // Culture Digitally
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:18
The following is a draft of an essay, eventually for publication as part of the Digital Keywords project (Ben Peters, ed). This and other drafts will be circulated on Culture Digitally, and we invite anyone to provide comment, criticism, or suggestion in the comment space below. We ask that you please do honor that it is being offered in draft form '-- both in your comments, which we hope will be constructive in tone, and in any use of the document: you may share the link to this essay as widely as you like, but please do not quote from this draft without the author's permission. (TLG)
Sharing '-- Nicholas A. John, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
''Sharing,'' in digital contexts, can simply refer to the transfer of data from one place to another, or to making some data available to other people or machines. This is certainly how the term was used in describing the various arrangements by which data was transported between the entities and programs exposed by Edward Snowden in the summer of 2013. However, while ''data sharing'' would not appear to be a controversial term in any way, the same certainly cannot be said of ''file sharing,'' despite its equally deep roots in the field of computing. File sharing, assert certain representatives of the state and the entertainment industry, is not sharing, but rather theft. Critical voices of quite a different ilk might point out that Facebook, Google and the rest do not ''share'' information about users with third parties, which is the language used in such companies' privacy statements; rather, and more linguistically accurately, they sell it. Both of these objections to the use of the word ''sharing'' '' despite their quite different political motivations '' are equally revealing. What they reveal is that, for many people, sharing is a cherished notion which must not be sullied; some things may properly be described as sharing, but others most certainly may not.
In discussing ''sharing'' as a digital keyword, though, we must look beyond these criticisms of the word's use and search for a richer understanding of its workings as a metaphor that saturates our usage of information and communication technologies (ICTs) today. For the next few pages, we shall not be concerned with whether this or that activity is really sharing. What is important is that it is called sharing. ''Sharing'' is an important digital keyword not only because of its roots in computing (time sharing, disk sharing, file sharing, etc.), but because it bears the promise that today's network and mobile technologies '' because they make it easier for us and encourage us to share extensively '' will bring about a better society. Given the myriad creative ways in which precisely these technologies are used to challenge the powerful and offer alternative ways of doing things, this is a promise that should not be too perfunctorily dismissed. Nor, of course, should it be naively accepted.
As a keyword of the digital age, ''sharing'' is the constitutive activity of Web 2.0, or the interactive, user-generated internet. It is what we do on social network sites (SNSs); it is the name given to the act of distributing data (photos, links, videos, tweets, etc.) through electronic networks; it is what we do when leaving a review on Amazon (''Share your thoughts,'' says the site) or uploading a movie to YouTube; it is the act of updating our status on Facebook or checking in on Foursquare; all of these, and more, come under the extremely broad umbrella of ''sharing.''
The word ''sharing'' has a history, even within the context of social network sites. To understand something of this history, I analyzed the emergence and development of the word ''sharing'' in 44 different SNSs from 1999 to 2010 (since when I have not noted any significant changes). [1] The overall trend in the usage of the word is from the specific to the far more general, and the introduction of the word to describe existing activities that had previously been called something else (posting, sending, updating, etc.). We have also witnessed the introduction of a communicative logicof sharing, in addition to its distributive logic.
In the early 2000s, when we shared something on a social network site, the object of our sharing was clearly defined: we were invited to share web links and photos and the like. However, from 2007 (and not before), on their home pages SNSs started urging us to share what I call ''fuzzy objects of sharing,'' which included things such as ''your life,'' ''your world,'' or ''the real you.'' I call these fuzzy objects of sharing because it is not explicitly clear what it is that we are meant to share. I understand what it means to share photos or videos, but what exactly does it mean to ''share your world''? When the object of sharing is fuzzy, the act of sharing online becomes far broader and includes many more behaviors. Sharing your world implies letting other people know as much as possible about what you are doing, thinking, and, importantly, feeling. Its vagueness '' or fuzziness '' enables its comprehensiveness.
Another innovative use of the term ''share'' in SNSs, which also reflects its increasing generalization, was that it began to be used without any object at all, but simply on its own, sometimes as part of the site's self-description (in texts that might read, ''On this site you can share with your friends''), and sometimes in the form of an imperative (''Share!''). This represents an important stage in the short history of the keyword, ''share,'' in the context of Web 2.0, as it indicates to us that SNSs users were now assumed to know what sharing is without having to be told what to share. Significantly for a historically-informed understanding of this keyword, none of the SNSs that I analyzed used the word ''share'' without an object prior to 2005 (which is to suggest that if this book had been published on the 30th anniversary of Williams' text, the inclusion of ''sharing'' as a digital keyword would not have felt quite so natural as it does now, on the 40th anniversary).
Thirdly, in the second half of the 2010s, as ''sharing'' became the word to describe our participation in SNSs (and recall that Facebook opened its doors to all comers in October 2006), a number of sites started replacing words such as ''update,'' ''post,'' and ''send'' with ''share.'' The functionality of these sites had not changed, but their rhetoric did. This reflects the ascension of ''sharing'' to its current position as the constitutive activity of Web 2.0: not only did SNSs feel that users were now familiar enough with them that they could talk of sharing without indicating what is to be shared, they recognized that if they were not describing themselves in terms of sharing, they had better start to do so; they recognized that ''sharing'' is the name of the game, and if they want to position themselves within the booming SNS industry, they had better be in the business of sharing. Hence, for instance, on the photo-sharing SNS, Fotolog, the tag line, ''Make it easy for friends/ family to see what's up with you'' was replaced with, ''Share your world with the world.''
''Sharing,'' though, is not just the keyword for social network sites. It refers to the range of digitally-mediated communication. Thus, for instance, mobile service provider, T-Mobile, ran an ad campaign with the tag line, ''Life's for Sharing.'' As noted above, this usage of the word ''sharing'' can be dismissed as ideological. Commercial enterprises are trying to entice us to use their services by cloaking them in a language of altruism and concern for others, runs the argument, whereas ''sharing'' (and here the scare marks become particularly pertinent) only serves the companies' bottom line and makes us even more narcissistic. But if we dig deeper into this keyword, we can see it as bearing the promise of the digital era, as the new meanings of sharing just outlined merge with the older and almost exclusively positively valenced meanings of the term. Sharing, as I shall attempt to briefly show, then becomes the model for a digitally-based readjustment of our interactions with things (sharing instead of owning) and with one another (sharing as the form of communication on which our relationships '' especially, but not exclusively, romantic ones '' are based). In order to make this point, though, we need to go back further than the invention of social network sites.
In its non-metaphorical sense, to share is to divide. The ploughshare rents the earth asunder; ''share'' and ''shear'' were once the same word, with their roots in the Old English, ''scearu.''[2] When a child shares their candies, she divides them between her and her friends; when a child shares a toy with another, he gives that child joint access to the toy; also, if I own shares in a publicly-owned company, I own part of that company. Sharing, then, at least from the 16th century, is about distribution '' both dividing stuff up, and giving more than one person access to the same thing, while the word would seem to be agnostic about the object of sharing. There are rules and norms for sharing which are not wildly divergent from those that govern gifting '' there is an implicit expectation of reciprocity, for instance (''if you don't ever share your candies with me, I'll stop sharing mine with you''). Similarly to gifting, sharing also creates and sustains social ties.[3] Some things we share actively and voluntarily; other things we share passively and by necessity '' including infrastructures, public spaces, or even our planet.[4]
More recently '' that is, within the last 100 years or so '' in addition to referring to distribution, sharing has taken on a more abstract communicative dimension. Here, sharing is a category of speech, a type of talk, that is particularly characterized by openness and honesty, and with which we might also associate such values as trust, reciprocity, equality and intimacy, among others. This is the sharing for which AA members are thanked after telling the group about their struggles with the bottle; it is the sharing referred to by Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (1995) in their characterization of the modern, or pure, relationship as based on ''a couple sharing emotions,'' and as no longer based on a family ''sharing the work'' (p. 48); it is the sharing described by Donal Carbaugh (1988) in his ground-breaking work on Donahue in the mid-1980s. This type of sharing '' which clearly resonates with assumptions about the self, and how it must communicate itself and with others, that characterize our so-called therapeutic culture '' has its roots in the Oxford Group, an early-20th century Christian group that gave birth to the pre-WWII Moral Rearmament movement and to Alcoholics Anonymous. Sharing, in the Oxford Group, was the public confession of sins, or to put it in terms that show its current relevance, the public declaration of weakness for the sake of redemption. Sharing thus understood is the communication of a deep personal truth, and, in the Oxford Group, was perceived as the bedrock of man's relationship with God, but also, and perhaps primarily, with other people (especially one's spouse). Even to the religious leaders of the Oxford Group the psychological aspects of sharing were quite clear: sharing made you feel better; it contributed to your well-being.
Today, the category of speech we call ''sharing'' tends to involve the communication of emotions and the word itself functions as what speech act theorists call a metalinguistic performative verb, or illocutionary force indicating device '' meaning that it tells us what kind of speech is about to follow. Put simply, if someone tells us they have something they would like to share with us, we will get ready to hear something personal, something of emotional import, and not, for instance, that the toothpaste has run out. This sense of sharing '' as the type of communication on which contemporary friendships and intimate relationships are based '' is part of the metaphor of sharing in the context of SNSs and in its digital sense more generally.
The final sense of sharing that informs its multi-layered meaning as a digital keyword harks back to its distributive logic, and is found in the neologism, ''the sharing economy.'' The sharing economy incorporates elements of both production (think Wikipedia and Linux) and consumption (think Couchsurfing and Zipcar), and is constructed as a predominantly online and technological phenomenon. An analysis of 63 newspaper articles about ''collaborative consumption'' published between May 2010 and April 2012, for instance, shows technology to be central to this phenomenon, both in enabling new ways of distributing goods (searchable and geo-tagged databases make it easier to locate and therefore borrow your neighbor's power drill) and, interestingly, in driving new/old sharing behaviors. Here, a causal argument is sometimes posited that sharing online (updating statuses, tweeting, etc.) leads people to want to share offline. Regardless of the empirical accuracy or otherwise of this claim, sharing is represented as a more moral and environmentally-friendly alternative to capitalist models of production and consumption. It plays heavily on interpersonal relations, promising to introduce you to your neighbors, for instance, or to reinstate the sense of community that has been driven out by the alienated lifestyle characteristic of the city. It conceptualizes sociality in terms of mutuality, openness, trust, commonality, and, to a degree, equality.
This, then, is the final component of sharing as a digital keyword. It is an important component, both because it relates us back to our most intuitive sense of what sharing is '' distributing stuff among people in a fair way '' and also because it helps to infuse the notion of sharing with its utopianism. Indeed, whatever we may think of sharing online, we would be hard pushed to think of any kind of good society in which (offline) sharing did not feature prominently '' in both its distributive and communicative senses. More than this: those who say that what we do on Facebook is ''not really sharing'' are trying to protect the word from the deleterious influences of commercialism.[5]
As I hope is clear by now, my objective here is not to call the tech companies out for hypocrisy, and I am not overly concerned with what is and is not considered ''really sharing.'' In trying to understand ''sharing'' as a keyword, I am far more interested in the ways in which the term works as a metaphor, how it ''organize[s] our thoughts and actions,'' as Lakoff and Johnson put it (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 40). When we call our digital interactions ''sharing,'' this encapsulates the promise of our generation's technologies, just as the telegraph, the radio and the television came with their promises too. The promise of sharing is (at least) twofold. One the hand, there is the promise of honest and open (computer-mediated) communication between individuals; the promise of knowledge of the self and of the other based on the verbalization of our inner thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, there is the promise of improving what many hold to be an unjust state of affairs in the realms of both production and consumption; the promise of an end to alienation, exploitation, self-centered greed, and breathtaking wastefulness. For some the incongruity is too much, but these are the associations with sharing that tech companies seek to be identified with, and that utopianists '' the vast majority of whom do not have a stake in the success or failure of this or that platform '' think will be realized as a result of the deeper embedding of social media in our everyday lives. For them, the internet really does promise improved sociability and really is the technological key to a better society through the spread of the (technology-driven) sharing economy. The concept of sharing represents both a set of values and a set of practices such that the latter, it is claimed, will help us achieve the former. As a keyword for the digital age, ''sharing'' bears the promise for a better society, while requiring us always to keep in mind the political economy of the structures '' digital and otherwise '' through which we carry out our various practices of sharing.
Notes
1. The methodology for and detailed results from this research can be found in (John, 2013a).
2. Even this sense of sharing may be metaphorical, as perhaps the earliest use of the word was to refer to the groin, where the trunk of the body divides into two legs.
3. This is described superbly in Tamar Katriel's ethnography of how Israeli children share candies (Katriel, 1987).
4. For brevity's sake, I am eliding two senses of sharing '' sharing as dividing, and sharing as having in common. Both of these senses fall within what I call the distributive logic of sharing (for more, see John, 2013b).
5. I do not have the space here to explore the idea that the high-tech entrepreneurs behind today's tech behemoths also feel a commitment to an ethos of sharing (normatively understood). If I did I would discuss Yuval Dror's work on how some high-tech companies (including Facebook) claim that they are not in it for the money (Dror, 2013) and Fred Turner's exploration of the link between Google and the antiestablishmentarianism of the Burning Man festival (Turner, 2009). I would also most likely discuss Barbrook and Cameron's polemic against the ''Californian ideology'' (Barbrook & Cameron, 1996).
References
Barbrook, R., & Cameron, A. (1996). The Californian Ideology. Science as Culture, 6(1), 44-72.
Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (1995). The normal chaos of love. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Carbaugh, D. A. (1988). Talking American: Cultural discourses on Donahue. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Pub. Corp.
Dror, Y. (2013). 'We are not here for the money': Founders' manifestos. New Media & Society, 1461444813506974.
John, N. A. (2013a). Sharing and Web 2.0: The emergence of a keyword. New Media & Society, 15(2), 167-182. doi: 10.1177/1461444812450684
John, N. A. (2013b). The Social Logics of Sharing. The Communication Review, 16(3), 113-131. doi: 10.1080/10714421.2013.807119
Katriel, T. (1987). ''Bexib¹dim!'': Ritualized sharing among Israeli children. Language in society, 16(03), 305-320.
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Turner, F. (2009). Burning Man at Google: a cultural infrastructure for new media production. New Media & Society, 11(1-2), 73-94.
-Contributed by Nicholas John, -
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged digital culture, digital keywords, draft, sharing | Comments Off
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Weird
definition of weird - Google Search
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:26
About 30,100,000 results
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adjective
suggesting something supernatural; uncanny.noun
a person's destiny.verb
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bandcamp
Mrs Sir DH Slammer went to high school with a guy that now works for Booze Allen Hamilton and is assigned to the State Department image PR team. Unfortunately he isnt assigned to Marie Harpf but he knows the person that is. We have planted the subconscious idea that he should get Marie to say on microphone "and one time, at band camp"
If this wonderful amazing fabulous event does occur then the Slammer family takes full credit. I pray every night for this.
Thanks
Sir DH Slammer
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Ham radio operators help rescue injured hiker at Fourth of July Trailhead area - 7NEWS Denver TheDenverChannel.com
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:41
Flash Flood Watch issued July 29 at 7:26AM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, San Juan, San Miguel
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 10:11PM MDT expiring July 30 at 6:00PM MDT in effect for: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Jefferson, Larimer, Lincoln, Morgan, Park, Summit, Washington, Weld
Flash Flood Watch issued July 29 at 5:05AM MDT expiring July 30 at 6:00PM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Saguache, Teller
Flash Flood Watch issued July 29 at 5:05AM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Chaffee, Conejos, Lake, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache
Flash Flood Watch issued July 29 at 5:05AM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, Saguache
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 11:56PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 11:56PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 11:31PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Chaffee, Costilla, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Las Animas, Pueblo, Saguache
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 11:31PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Conejos, Crowley, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Kiowa, Lake, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, Teller
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 9:26PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Chaffee, Kiowa, Lake, Prowers, Saguache
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 9:26PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Baca, Bent, Conejos, Crowley, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Mineral, Otero, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, Teller
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 2:35PM MDT expiring July 30 at 12:00AM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Las Animas, Mineral, Otero, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, Teller
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 1:41PM MDT expiring July 30 at 6:00PM MDT in effect for: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Jefferson, Larimer, Lincoln, Morgan, Park, Summit, Washington, Weld
Flash Flood Watch issued July 28 at 1:41PM MDT expiring July 30 at 6:00PM MDT in effect for: Park
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Vaccine$
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Ebola Virus Could Spread Worldwide, Experts Warn
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:50
Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone. The virus has also spread to Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria Reuters
The deadly virus of Ebola could spread worldwide, experts have warned.
The revelation came as infected Liberian passenger Patrick Sawyer brought the virus into Nigeria on a flight to Lagos on 20 July, spreading to the fourth African country. Sawyer died in a Nigerian hospital five days later.
The virus, which first spread in Liberia in January, has also hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and now Nigeria.
Experts fear that the other passengers who flew with Sawyer and might have contracted Ebola, could now spread it around the world.
Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, told the Daily Mail: "If the disease gets going in Nigeria, it would be cause for concern.
"Nigeria has close links with the UK and many other countries."
International airports in Nigeria are now screening passengers arriving from foreign countries for symptoms of Ebola. However, experts have said this might be fruitless because the virus cannot be diagnosed immediately, as it has an incubation period of between two to 21 days.
The news of Sawyer's death came just days after a top Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone, Sheik Umar Khan, died after contracting the virus.
In Liberia, high-profile doctor Samuel Brisbane also died of Ebola. Kent Brantly, an American doctor from Texas, became infected after he had moved to the country to help contain the virus. He is now being treated and believed to be stable.
The outbreak, which is the deadliest in recorded history, has killed at least 672 people in West Africa since January. Another 1,200 are believed to have been infected.
Liberia announced on Monday it had closed most of its border crossings, in a bid to curb the virus.
Humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) - which has deployed some 300 staff in West Africa to treat patients affected by Ebola - warned the outbreak is out of control and curbing it will require "a massive deployment of resources by governments in West Africa and aid organisations".
"We have reached our limits," said Dr Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations. "Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites."
A cure for the deadly virus is yet to be found.
Ebola forces Liberia to shut border crossings
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:02
The Liberian government has closed most of the West African nation's border crossings and introduced stringent health measures to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola virus that has killed at least 660 people across the region.
The new measures, announced by the government on Sunday, came as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone struggle to contain the worst outbreak yet of the virus.
Speaking at a task force meeting, Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the government was doing everything to fight the virus, including inspecting and testing all outgoing and incoming airline passengers.
"All borders of Liberia will be closed with the exception of major entry points. At these entry points, preventive and testing centres will be established, and stringent preventive measures to be announced will be scrupulously adhered to," she said.
Ebola can kill up to 90 percent of those who catch it, although the fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60 percent. The outbreak has placed a great strain on the health systems of some of Africa's poorest countries.
Highly contagious, especially in the late stages, its symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea as well as internal and external bleeding.
Under the new measures, public gatherings such as marches and demonstrations will also be restricted.
"No doubt, the Ebola virus is a national health problem. And as we have also begun to see, it attacks our way of life, with serious economic and social consequences," Sirleaf said in a statement.
But despite efforts to fight it, the virus continues to spread. Samuel Brisbane, a senior Liberian doctor, who was also treating infected patients, has died after contracting the virus, authorities said on Sunday.
In Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, a Liberian man who tested positive died on Friday.
A 33-year-old American doctor working for the relief organisation Samaritan's Purse in Liberia tested positive for the disease on Saturday.
The charity said on Sunday that a second American, who was helping a team treating Ebola patients at a case management centre in Monrovia, had also tested positive.
356
Second US Citizen Infected With Ebola In Liberia
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:26
Update, one which many will say has been long overdue: Liberia Shuts Border Crossings to Slow Ebola Spread. From Bloomberg:
Liberia Shuts Border Crossings to Slow Ebola Spread: AllafricaOnly major border crossings at Roberts International Airport, James Spriggs Payne Airport, Foya Crossing, Bo Waterside Crossing, Ganta Crossing to remain open, AllAfrica.com says, citing Liberian govt statement.At those entry points, testing centers to be set up; ''stringent'' preventive measures to be announcedNew travel policy by Liberia Airport Authority on inspection, testing of all passengers to be strictly observedThere will be restrictions on public gatherings incl. solidarity marches, demonstrationsHotels, restaurants, entertainment centers, video clubs to play 5-min. film on Ebola awareness, preventionGovt vehicles to be commandeered, as needed, to support health delivery systemAll govt facilities, public places to install/provide public access for hand-washing* * *
It was a few short hours ago when we reported that as part of the escalating Ebola epidemic in West Africa a US doctor, Kent Brantly had himself succumbed to the deadly virus. Moments ago we found out that a second US doctor from the same aid organization in Liberia, Nancy Writebol, has been infected with Ebola.
Writebol in a June 2011 photo from the Rafiki missionary foundation
From CBS:
Two U.S. citizens are now reported to be infected with the deadly and incurable Ebola virus in West Africa.
The first American reported to have contracted the disease is an American doctor working with Ebola patients in Liberia, who tested positive for the deadly virus, North Carolina-based Samaritan's Purse issued said in a news release on Saturday.
The second person who reportedly tested positive for Ebola is a woman employed by an aid organization in Liberia who is a married mother of two.
In a statement on Sunday, Samaritan's Purse said: "Nancy Writebol is employed by SIM in Liberia and was helping the joint Samaritan's Purse/SIM team that is treating Ebola patients at the Case Management Center in Monrovia."
Writebol's age and hometown have not been released at this time.
What is most disturbing is that the two physicians have contracted the lethal disease despite apparently taking much needed precations to avoid infection as the following photos below demonstrate.
Dr. Kent Brantly assists two ELWA Hospital staff in transporting an Ebola patient from the triage unit to the isolation unit in the rain on Tuesday July 22, 2014, in Liberia.
Dr. Kent Brantly (right) collects a blood sample from a suspected Ebola patient in the ELWA isolation ward in Liberia
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Tuberculosis Patient Who Refused Care Is Arrested - ABC News
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:27
A California man who disappeared after refusing treatment for tuberculosis, which can be contagious and spreads by coughing or sneezing, was found and arrested on charges of refusing to comply with health officials, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Eduardo Rosas Cruz, 25, was arrested late Monday in Kern County, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said. Before Rosas Cruz can be sent back to San Joaquin County, he has to be medically cleared, which could take weeks, Taylor said.
Authorities last week obtained an arrest warrant for Rosas Cruz, saying he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in March after going to San Joaquin General Hospital's emergency room with a severe cough.
Medical staff at the hospital told him to stay in a Stockton motel room, where a health worker would deliver his medication and watch him take it. But he left, officials said.
The criminal complaint charges Rosas Cruz with one misdemeanor count of refusing to comply with a tuberculosis order.
Rosas Cruz is a transient and comes from an area of Mexico known for a drug-resistant strain of TB, authorities said.
He was arrested on the San Joaquin County warrant during a traffic stop in Lamont, a community about 15 miles southeast of Bakersfield, said Ray Pruitt, a spokesman for the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Officers took him to the Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield.
Rosas Cruz needs to undergo testing to determine if he is still contagious, health officials have said. If untreated, tuberculosis can be deadly.
The goal of prosecuting a tuberculosis patient through the criminal courts is not to punish him, but to protect the public, Taylor said.
In court papers filed in support of the warrant, public health officials said Rosas Cruz resisted treatment from the start. He also used crack cocaine and methamphetamine, officials said. He could develop the drug-resistant strain if he hasn't already, they said.
By law, health officials can't force a patient to be treated for tuberculosis, but officials can use the courts to isolate the patient from the public. That is when officials offer treatment.
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Israel / Palestine
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Maybe sparked by Silicon Valley to increase Social Network 'Engagement'
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Turkish Freedom Flotilla II Being Organized For Gaza Will Have Military Protection
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:38
July 28, 2014 - Media report says activists - the same behind 2010's 'Mavi Marmara' - scheduled to take off with Turkish military protection. Amid Israel's Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas attacks from Gaza, a "Freedom Flotilla" is being organized in Turkey to bring humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave with the protection of the Turkish military, according to an unconfirmed media report. The flotilla, called "Freedom Flotilla II," is being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the same organization that was behind the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010. Israel Navy commandos boarded the ship, were attacked, and killed nine of the attackers. IHH chairman Bulent Yildrim was quoted by The Middle East Monitor as telling Gulf Online last week that the activists would set sail as soon as they receive the necessary permit from the authorities in Ankara and that the Turkish military would provide protection to the ship. Diplomatic officials said Jerusalem was following the reports carefully, but stressed that it was not clear whether the flotilla would ultimately set sail. So far there has only been a declaration of intent, with no firm date set, one official said. Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser at the in the office of the American defense secretary on Islamic affairs, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday that the real issue in the ongoing conflict is that Turkey and Qatar are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in their goals. "[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood long before he was prime minister," Rhode said. It should now be clear to all that Erdogan "is now out of the bag," Rhode said, adding that US President Barack Obama does not speak to the Turkish leader anymore despite previously describing him as one of his closest friends among the world's leaders. "Erdogan is doing whatever he can to help Hamas," he said, asserting that it will only hurt the Palestinian people in the end.
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Chinese military ''hacked'' Israel's Iron Dome
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:23
Iron Dome
The technology behind Iron Dome, the missile defense system Israel has been using since 2011, was allegedly stolen by Chinese military hackers.
That claim was made by Cyber Engineering Services to Brian Krebs of security news site Krebs On Security, and it identifies Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as the three defense companies that were compromised during the cyber assault. The perpetrators, Cyber Engineering Services says, are the same ones behind a spate of attacks that have come to light in the past few years, all attributed to Unit 61398, a Shanghai-based arm of the Chinese army. The five Chinese military officers indicted by the US earlier this year for allegedly hacking energy firms in the country also belong to the same unit.
The hacks took place from October 2011, some six months after Iron Dome became operational, and continued up until August 2012. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said that many hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza, particularly during the current military operation and a series of clashes in 2012, have been scuppered by the system, which is thought to be one of the most effective missile-defense technologies in the world.
Many of the cyber breaches bear the hallmarks of similar attacks on private corporations or media outlets that we have seen in the past. For instance, IAI was thwarted by an e-mail phishing attack, reports Krebs On Security, after which the hackers spent four months installing malicious software (including trojans and keyloggers) to expand their reach. Several different systems were analyzed by the hackers as a result of the infiltration, amounting to at least 700 files of 762MB in total. Cyber Engineering Services estimates that those 700 files, in the form of e-mails, PFDs, scripts, spreadsheets and more, represent just a small amount of the total intellectual property stolen by hackers.
Although Iron Dome data was targeted and breached, the hackers also focused extensively on Arrow III missiles, drone technology and ballistic rockets. Joseph Drissel, founder of Cyber Engineering Services, told Krebs On Security that much of this IP does not in fact belong to the Israeli companies. Rather, the firms were obligated to protect it under US government regulations, having been provided with the data from US defense companies, including Boeing.
This could potentially have something to do with why the claims have not come to light until now. A representative from IAI told Krebs On Security that the report'--still not publicly available'--was "old news" and that all the relevant procedures following the revelation were followed. Nevertheless, it's not something a private company responsible for the defense of a nation, either in the US or Israel, would likely want to admit to.
It's not totally clear, however, how Cyber Engineering Services came to point the finger of blame at the Chinese military. Most of the hacks we know Unit 61398 perpetrated have been against the US, but they have equally been directed against private companies, often related to national infrastructure or big industry. The arrests made by the US earlier this year were off the back of a report published by Mandiant, which revealed that the secretive unit had been within company networks for years sometimes'--in one case, four years and ten months.
Iron Dome has a reputation as one of the leading pieces of defense kit in the world, with a number of other countries thought to have either acquired it or engaged in talks with Israel to do so. Further development by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has led to a teaser for a follow-up system, Iron Beam. While Iron Dome will only shoot down rockets heading for populated areas (using algorithms to instantly identify these) to conserve on ammunition, Iron Beam would use a high-energy laser that could stand to respond more indiscriminately, using a thermal radar to track and map all projectiles in range.
This story originally appeared on Wired UK.
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Hamas May Not Have Kidnapped Israeli Teens -- NYMag
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:50
Photo: Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesWhen the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay," he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region.
But now, Israeli officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas's handiwork after all. (Update: The comments from the Israeli spokesperson in question indicate that the group thought to be responsible, a "lone cell," may not have been under direct orders from Hamas's leadership, but was loosely affiliated with the group. The headline of this post has been changed to reflect that discrepancy. See below for more.)
BuzzFeed reporter Sheera Frenkel was among the first to suggest that it was unlikely that Hamas was behind the deaths of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. Citing Palestinian sources and experts in the field, Frenkel reported that kidnapping three Israeli teens would be a foolish move for Hamas. International experts told her it was likely the work of a local group, acting without concern for the repercussions:
[Gershon Baskin] pointed out that Hamas has earlier this month signed an agreement to form a unity government with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, bridging, for the first time in seven years, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza.
''They will lose their reconciliation agreement with Abbas if they do take responsibility for [the kidnappings],'' Baskin added.
Today, she may have been proven right:
Repeated inconsistencies in Israeli descriptions of the situation have sparked debate over whether Israel wanted to provoke Hamas into a confrontation. Israeli intelligence is also said to have known that the boys were dead shortly after they disappeared, but to have maintained public optimism about their safe return to beef up support from the Jewish diaspora. Writing for Al Jazeera, Musa al-Gharbi argued that Israel was deliberately provoking Hamas:
All the illegal and immoral actions related to Operation Brother's Keeper were justified under the premise of finding and saving the missing teens whom the Israeli government knew to be dead '-- cynically exploiting the tragedy to whip up public outcry in order to provoke and then confront Hamas. This pattern of deception continues under the ongoing military offensive in Gaza. For example, last week in collaboration with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Abbas, in its efforts to alienate Hamas, Israel announced abad-faith cease-fire proposal, which Hamas was not consulted on and never agreed to but whose violation supposedly justified Israel's expansion and intensification of the military campaign into Gaza.
Despite continued negotiations, the violence shows no signs of letting up, and after Thursday night's massive protests in the West Bank, there is still no ceasefire agreement. On Friday, it became clear that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's attempts to broker a seven-day truce were rejected by Israeli officials. Instead, Israel will apparently widen its ground operation in the Gaza Strip, despite international outcry about the civilian death toll. According to unnamed officials, the proposed truce was too generous to Hamas's demands.
Hamas, meanwhile, still hasn't weighed in on the agreement, whose details are being kept secret, but continued to launch rockets into Israel. International peace talks are set to resume in France this weekend, and we're keeping our fingers crossed.
Updated, July 26, 11:44 a.m.: This claim was also reported by BBC's Jon Donnison, who spoked to Israel Police Foreign Press Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld:
Update, July 28, 9:21 a.m.: Rosenfeld, the Israeli spokesperson, is seeking to clarify that while the lone cell did not receive direct orders from Hamas, it was still affiliated. ''The kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area,'' he claimed in comments to The Daily Beast. ''The security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.''
But Donnison, the BBC journalist, is not backtracking from his earlier reporting:
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Gaza-conflict leidt tot brandbom en bedreigingen in Oost - AT5 Echt Amsterdams Nieuws
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:12
De spanningen op de Gazastrook hebben ook hun uitwerking op de sfeer op het Krugerplein.
Meerdere bewoners aan het plein hebben een Palestijnse vlag over het balkon gehangen. Leah Rabinovitch, een Mexicaanse met Joodse roots, hing een paar weken terug een Israelische vlag op. Sindsdien is er sprake van ruzie, bedreigingen en is er zelfs een brandbom gegooid.
Er werden meerdere dreigbrieven gestuurd naar 'de bewoner van de tweede verdieping(Leah, red)' met teksten als 'Hai Hitler! Hitler komen terug. Joden moet dood.' En dat is niet het enige. 'In de afgelopen vier weken is er een raam ingegooid en zelfs een brandbom naar ons raam gegooid. Dat laatste gebeurde op dezelfde ochtend dat het conflict in Palestina escaleerde', vertelt Leah.
Verkeerde balkonDe molotovcocktail leek voor het balkon van Leah bedoeld te zijn maar kwam juist terecht bij de benedenburen, die op hun beurt weer een Palestijnse vlag hebben opgehangen. De onderbuurvrouw wil dat Leah nu haar vlag weghaalt.
'Ik heb de volgende dag aangebeld en gevraagd of ze de vlag weghaalt. Tot het weer rustig is. Ik heb mijn vlag een week weggehaald in de hoop dat zij dat ook zou doen. Maar ze werkt niet mee', vertelt ze. Leah ziet op haar beurt niet in waarom ze dat moet doen.
'Moet ik me schamen omdat ik Joods ben? Ik denk het niet. Ik wil niet dat iemand bang is vanwege hun nationaliteit of afkomst. Niemand verdient dat.'
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Well-deserved: Gaza attacks reduce demand for Israeli gas | Al Bawaba
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:29
Stover added that the current Tamar pipeline has on several occasion reached its full capacity due to high demand in Israel.
More >,Create alert for TASETASE,,,"The third quarter estimate also included a reduced assumption for natural gas sales in Israel as a result of the ongoing conflict," said Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) in its guidance for the next quarter published with its second quarter results.
Talking to analysts after the results were published Noble Energy COO David Stover who becomes CEO later this year said, "The Tamar field showed strong performance in the first half of 2014 and was unable to operate for just a total of 30 minutes. We see higher sales in the third quarter although as said with a slight moderation in our estimates as a result of the regional situation."
Stover added that contrary to reports on the subject no agreement to sell gas to Spanish company Union Fenosa will be signed before the end of the year. According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in May, Tamar will supply 4.4 BCM of gas annually, about 50% of the gas in Tamar, over 15 years - worth an overall $20 billion. Noble has also signed an MOU with BG to supply 7 BCM annually from Leviathan. Both deals will be delivered by pipeline (built by the customers) to the companies' Egyptian FLNG installations for sale to Asia.
Stover added, "We are close to signing deals for Leviathan with other customers."
If Noble Energy and its partner Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) fulfill their development plan then gas production from Israel's fields will increase from its current 1 BCM annually to 3.6 BCM by 2017/2018 when the Leviathan field will come on-stream.
Stover added that the current Tamar pipeline has on several occasion reached its full capacity due to high demand in Israel and that gas can only be supplied to other customers on an ad-hoc basis until the compression project allows the system to increase capacity by 25%.
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Prime Minister Erdogan 'glad' to return award given by American Jewish Congress - POLITICS
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:37
ISTANBUL
Turkey's ambassador to Washington has written a letter to the American Jewish Congress after the organization asked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to return an award he was given in 2004, saying the leader would be ''glad'' to return the honor.''In view of the foregoing as well as the regrettable stance adopted by the present leadership of the American Jewish Congress vis- -vis the recent attacks on the innocent civilians in Gaza, Prime Minister Erdoğan will be glad to return the award given back in 2004,'' said the letter from Ambassador Serdar Kılı§.
The president of the American Jewish Congress, Jack Rosen, penned an open letter to Erdoğan on July 24, asking him to return the award it gave him in 2004 and accusing the Turkish leader of ''dangerous rhetoric'' and ''inciting violence against the Jewish people.''
''Your request for the return of the aforementioned award actually constitutes an unfortunate testimony to the unsusceptible stance adopted by the present leadership of the American Jewish Congress regarding the Israeli government's ongoing policies of occupation and atrocity,'' said Kılı§'s letter.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also commented on Erdoğan's words and said his comparison of Israel's offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza to the Nazis was ''anti-Semitic in tone.''
The letter said Erdoğan's stance on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian con¬‚ict through peaceful means, as well as focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of the Jewish community in Turkey, remained as strong as ever.
''However, [Erdoğan] should not be expected to turn a blind eye to the policies of occupation, blockade and destruction that the Israeli government has been implementing against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The indiscriminate killing of more than 1,000 innocent civilians, including women and children, and the bombing of hospitals and U.N. schools during the recent attacks on Gaza constitute a grave violation of not only international law, but also the most fundamental human values,'' the letter said.
''Attempts to depict Prime Minister Erdoğan's legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government's attacks on civilians as expressions of anti-Semitism is an obvious distortion and an effort to cover up the historical wrongdoings of the Israeli government. It should be noted in this respect that Prime Minister Erdoğan has publicly declared to the entire world that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity,'' the letter added.
Kılı§ called on the organization to publicly condemn the ''Israeli government's policies that have caused public outrage around the world and led to protests by hundreds of thousands of people, including numerous members of Jewish communities.''
July/29/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
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F-Russia
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SANCTIONS-PDF-Background Conference Call on Ukraine | The White House
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:33
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 29, 2014
Via Telephone
3:58 P.M. EDT
MS. LUCAS MAGNUSON: Hi, good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for your patience. Welcome to the call to explain the sanctions that we just rolled out -- that the President just spoke to. This call will be on background. All information will be attributable to senior administration officials.
With that, I will turn it over to senior administration official number one. SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call. I'll just make a few comments to give an overview, and then hand it over to my colleagues to go into more details about what both the United States and Europe did today.
First of all, you have seen since the shoot-down of MH17 the United States make very clear that we believe there needs to be greater costs imposed on Russia for its actions. That includes the shoot-down of MH17 from Russian-backed separatist-controlled areas, and it also includes the continued efforts by Russia to arm and support the separatists who are inside of Ukraine.
And we have put out a substantial amount of information in the last several days. We believe that military equipment -- including artillery, armored vehicles and air defense equipment -- recently departed from the deployment area west of Rostov, and we're concerned that this would continue the flow of support to the separatists. We have seen Russia continue to accumulate a significant amount of equipment at a deployment site in southwest Russia that includes tanks of a type that are no longer used by the Russian military, as well as armored vehicles, multiple rocket launchers, artillery, and air defense systems. We saw additional towed artillery departed this site this week, and we are concerned that it will be transferred to separatist fighters.
I'd also note that after recapturing several Ukrainian cities last weekend, Ukrainian officials discovered caches of weapons that they assert came from Russia, and that includes MANPADS, mines, grenades, MREs, vehicles, and a pontoon bridge.
And we've also seen a buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border.
So all of that is in addition to the flow of heavy weapons and support that we've seen from Russia into Ukraine over the last several weeks, and it has not abated since the tragic shoot-down of MH17.
The President has focused, since the beginning of this crisis, on coordinating with a broad, international coalition, specifically with our European allies in particular. And since the shoot-down of MH17, he has spoken many times to
European leaders, including several conversations with Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands, given the Dutch lead in the investigation, and most recently yesterday doing a videoconference call with his counterparts from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy.
And we have very much encouraged the Europeans to take additional steps to impose sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy. And today, the Europeans followed through on that commitment. And this is entirely consistent with the conversations that the President had with European leaders in Brussels at the G7, at the EU. We have been working this issue for several weeks, if not months now, and today we see the coordinated action that is a result of that leadership by the President.
Let me just say a few things. My colleagues will get into the additional sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department. I do just want to note that today's actions include steps by a range of U.S. agencies. So, for instance, USDA is suspending all bilateral export credit and development finance for Russia. OPIC has suspended consideration of any new financing and insurance transactions in Russia. And as a result of the sanctions imposed today, the Export-Import Bank is imposing a hold on all new transactions for exports to Russia. So these are very broad actions across the U.S. government.
But with that, I'll turn it over to my colleague from Treasury.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. And let me just give a quick overview of the actions we've taken today, and of course we'll be available for questions should people want to go into more detail. These actions today of course build on a series of actions that we've rolled out over the last month to respond to the provocations from Russia. We have targeted leaders who have been responsible for the Russian intervention. We've targeted cronies or oligarchs. We've targeted separatist leaders and groups, and others responsible for the violence and instability. And we've also taken a number of steps that target sectors of the Russian economy and go after key firms within those sectors. You're seeing more of that today.
Today, we have expanded the list of financial institutions that are sanctioned under Executive Order 13662 to include three additional major Russian state-owned banks. These are VTB Bank, Bank of Moscow, and Russian Agricultural Bank. As with our actions two weeks ago, we are prohibiting U.S. persons from dealing in any new equity from these banks or of these banks, and issuing or handling any new debt of longer than 90-day maturity.
As a practical matter, this will close those banks off from the U.S. as sources of medium- or long-term financing. And I would note that these three, as well as the two banks that we designated under this measure two weeks ago, hold a very extensive amount of U.S. dollar-denominated debt.
Second, we designated today a Russian defense technology firm under Executive Order 13661. The name is United Shipbuilding Corporation. It's been designated for operating in the Russian arms and defense sector, and it expands on the list of eight firms that we designated just two weeks ago. As a result of this action, any assets that it holds or tries to move through the U.S. financial system will be blocked, and any transactions with U.S. persons are prohibited.
I want to stress the significance of the steps we've taken today, and you'll shortly hear about additional actions from my colleague at the Commerce Department. Executive Order 13662 authorized Secretary Lew to identify sectors of the Russian economy and then to select specific targets for action. This is a broad, powerful and flexible tool. We've used it today in that way, and we have made very clear that we can and will continue to increase pressure if Russia does not change course.
We've already seen substantial impact on the Russian economy from the actions we've taken to date. And we've seen the Russian ruble depreciating nearly 8 percent just since the beginning of the year, despite heavy intervention by the Russian Central Bank. The Russian Central Bank has spent over $30 billion this year in an effort to stabilize the ruble and, as you can hear, quite unsuccessfully.
Third, the IMF expects as much as a $100 billion of capital flight from Russia this year. And we've seen Standard & Poor's downgrade Russia's sovereign credit rating to BBB-, one notch above junk status. Those four indicators that I just cited are before the actions that we announced today and the actions that the EU is preparing to announce.
With that, I want to turn it over to my colleague from the Commerce Department.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. So the Commerce Department has announced two actions today. First, in line with the Treasury announcement on the action on United Shipbuilding Corporation, we are adding them to our entity list.
We already have eight Russian defense enterprises that have been sanctioned by Treasury on our entity list. To remind everyone the consequence of a foreign party being on the Commerce entity list, is it imposes an export license requirement for all items in the U.S. economy going to that entity regardless of their significance and regardless of whether they're exported directly from the United States or re-exported from a foreign country. It also includes the re-export of foreign-made end items if they include U.S. content that's over 25 percent of the value of that foreign-made item. So it's really the trade equivalent -- or a complement to the Treasury's financial sanctions in that respect.
I'd also remind everyone that we had previously announced defense-related export licensing policy. We are not approving any licenses for military items to any end-user in Russia or dual-use items to any military end-user in Russia or end use.The other piece of our announcement today is that we are going to impose export license requirements on a universe of technologies if they're to be exported or re-exported to Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale oil production activities.
And these are designed not to impact Russian current production but to impact their ability to produce in more technologically challenging future projects. And we'll have a regulation that will be published in the Federal Register in the next few days that will impose this export license requirement for energy-related technologies in, as I said, deepwater, Arctic offshore, and shale projects.
And so those are the Commerce actions that are being announced today. From that, I guess I turn it over to my colleague from the State Department.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The European Union today announced a series of measures of its own, including some strong sanctions. I'd commend you the statement by Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, that came out a few hours ago.
The European Union sanctions are the result of obviously the work of all 28 members and the commission, but follow a period of many weeks of close consultations between the United States, the European Union, a number of member states, and other governments as part of the President's instructions that we coordinate our sanctions and the international reaction to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
So the European Union steps are strong. They are significant. They represent a new step for Europe, and one which we and the Europeans have taken together. Those steps include financial sanctions -- that is, the Europeans have limited access to European capital markets for Russian-state banks. That is their equivalent to some of the steps that we have taken both on July 16th and today. The Europeans have imposed an embargo on trade and arms with Russia, which is forward-looking.
You heard my colleague mention that we have a similar restriction on arms exports to Russia in place. They have established an export ban for dual-use goods for military end-users, which is something also similar to what we have. And finally, the European Union has curtailed Russian access to sensitive technology by restricting the export of such technologies in the field of the oil sector. Again, that is very similar to what we have done.In the world of sanctions, which is a complicated world -- made more so by the differences between our legal systems -- this represents a high degree of coordination, and one which we think helps advance our common policy of sending a message to Russia about its behavior in Ukraine.
So we welcome the European Union statement today. We're glad we've worked with them. We think that the cooperation has had the right impact, both on Russia and around the world in that it shows our determination to respond to what the Russians have been doing in Ukraine.
Q Hi, guys. Thanks for doing the call. Appreciate it. I wonder if you could elaborate on the last part, the impact of these energy, technology sanctions, and particularly on the cooperation between Russian firms and ExxonMobil, BP, other Western firms. What kind of impact will this have on the kind of projects that they've been doing? Or is this strictly a more theoretical thing in terms of teaser things they might want to do down the road?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The intention of the oil technology licensing restrictions is not to affect current oil production or Russian sales right now, but it does have and will have a cumulative impact on development of future fields, particularly the exotic fields -- Arctic, deep sea, and shale. And the impact of these restrictions will grow over time. I think my colleague from Commerce can talk about more specific impacts of projects.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, the thing to keep in mind on this is, in these three areas -- the deepwater, the Arctic offshore, and the shale -- the Russians are generally just at the beginning stages of trying to develop that kind of exploration and production. So certainly, to the extent they're looking to get commodities, software, technology for those forward-looking projects, this will have a significant impact, with the U.S. and the Europeans having very similar restrictive policies for those items.
Q Similar to Peter's question, can you give us a sense of what portion of the energy industry -- it sounds like you've covered that -- and what portion of the financial industry are going to be affected by this? When you mentioned these few banks, does this affect 25 percent of their financial sector, or 10 percent? Just some sense of the portion. Or is this just nibbling at the very edges?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So let me talk to the financial side. With the three banks we've designated today, all of which are in the top six of Russia's overall banks, we've hit 30 percent of the Russian banking sector in terms of assets. And all of this has of course been focused on the state-owned side. We have not been targeting private Russian banks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If you combine the three banks we've designated today and the two banks which the United States designated on July 16th, I believe that we have hit five of the six largest state-owned banks in Russia.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd just add to that that what you're also seeing is there's a direct impact that comes from the target of our sanctions, but then there's a broader impact on the investment climate in Russia. Essentially, Russia is not a very good bet right now for international investors. And that broader chilling impact has effects related to capital flight, which has been substantial this year; with respect to growth rates, which have been revised down. So you have the immediate impact from the sanctions, but then when people see the collective movement of the United States and Europe into these key sectors, including the financial sector, that also shapes the environment for the Russian economy generally.
Q The story was somewhat similar about the banks as to targeting the largest state banks. Can we get a sense, though, what percentage of the consumers are affected by the state banks? I know Bank of Moscow clearly has a fairly large consumer reach, but are you making an effort not to touch the average Russian, or do you want the average Russian to feel some of this pain to pressure the government?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You've seen the actions that we've taken here are very carefully constructed. These are not prohibitions that would attach to a Russian account holder moving money and dollars, or moving money abroad. These prohibitions are targeting the banks themselves and their long-term stability.
So it's not a blocking. What it is, is a prohibition on them obtaining medium- or long-term debt financing, or issuing any new equity. And between the action that we took and the EU took -- that we've taken and that the EU has taken -- basically they're out of business in the longer-term debt market, because all of that is supplied in the euro and the dollar. And the banks we've named today, just to give you a sense: VTB Bank currently holds $21 billion in foreign debt -- 80 percent of that is in dollars; Russian Agricultural Bank, 90 percent is in dollars; and for Bank of Moscow, 100 percent of their current debt is denominated in dollars.
So you're talking about a real vulnerability, especially when the EU and U.S. act in concert as we've done today.
Q Just a basic question. What exactly do we want the Russians to do, to see these things scaled back? I mean, what's our -- specifically at this point, what are we demanding? And if they continue on their current course, is there another round in the offing or is this really the big one?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, when we were at the G7 meeting, and in subsequent conversations that the Europeans have had with President Putin, we've been very clear about what are the conditions that need to be met by Russia. Number one, they needed to recognize the Poroshenko government as the legitimately elected government of Ukraine. Number two, they needed to stop the provision of arms and materiel across the border into Ukraine. They needed to stop their buildup of military forces along that border. And they needed to use their significant influence on the separatists to bring them into a political dialogue with the government in Kyiv.
And President Poroshenko put forward a peace plan, along with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande's support, that made clear that the Ukrainian government was prepared to abide by a cease-fire and engage in discussions with the separatists in eastern Ukraine about decentralization; that Russia could be a part of that dialogue as well. But we saw both the separatists and Russia fail to live up to those terms.
So there still is an off-ramp available to Russia and to President Putin. And the basic elements of that off-ramp have been very clear for the last several weeks: Stopping the flow of weapons and support to the separatists; pressing them to come to the table in peaceful dialogue; de-escalating the Russian buildup along the border; and engaging in a political settlement inside of Ukraine with the government of Kyiv that addresses the interests of all of the people of Ukraine. And that continues to be available to Russia, and we will continue to hold that door open. So that's the first question.
On the second question, these are the very powerful sectoral sanctions that you've heard us describe for a number of months now. We always have additional targets that we could add to these sanctions; however, I think today's step is a very substantial move by the United States and Europe together, and we will certainly want the impact of these sanctions to sink in and to test Russia's willingness and capacity to take the path of de-escalation.
So again, we always have additional sanctions available to us, but I think this is the very significant step that you've heard us describe as the United States and Europe moving into sectoral sanctions together. We, of course, have moved into sectors with our last round of sanctions, and now the Europeans have joined us there. And again, I think this will send a powerful message about Russia's behavior in supporting these separatists, and a powerful message to the people of Ukraine that the international community is supporting their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Q Hi. You just actually answered the question I had about whether or not you were talking about -- there was some kind of talk of an off-ramp with Putin, but I think you just answered it. SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. We'll take -- got time for like two more questions.
Q Thanks. At the outset, you described the military buildup along the border and inside Russia in a way that obviously raises the question of whether expanded military action may be ahead. So I want to ask whether there are any non-economic sanctions, measures that the U.S. and/or its allies are taking to deal with the possibility of military escalation in eastern Ukraine.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. Let me just say a couple of things here.
First of all, this is continuing a pattern that we've seen of Russian buildup along its border of arms and heavy weapons and materiel flowing across the border, and frankly, even Russian leadership among the separatists. As we've pointed out, a number of the separatist leaders are actually Russians, not simply ethnic Russians, but Russian citizens with Russian addresses. And we pointed out earlier in the week the artillery that we've seen fired across the border, as well. So this has been a disturbing pattern of Russian support for the separatists.The economic cost of the sanctions we believe are the most significant tool that we have to shape Russian decision-making, and so that's why we focused our efforts with Europe on what we can do to impose a cost on Russia and to isolate it internationally.
But we also have other elements of our policy that are focused on support for the Ukrainian government, and that includes very significant economic assistance as Ukraine reforms and stabilizes its economy. That includes support to the Ukrainian military, and we have ramped up our non-lethal support in areas like night-vision goggles, body armor, communications equipment. And we regularly discuss with the Ukrainians what their needs are in that respect, again, not with the intent of seeking to overnight bring the Ukrainian military into parity with the Russian military -- that's not going to happen -- but rather with the intent of filling some immediate needs for the Ukrainians while also having a longer-term conversation with them about how we can help train and equip their security forces in a way that helps them modernize and professionalize over time.
So again, I think our immediate focus is on sending a message to Russia about the cost of its actions. And the fact of the matter is Russia finds itself today more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War, suffering the economic impacts of these sanctions, the political and diplomatic isolation that comes with its decision-making in Ukraine. And that to us is the most powerful incentive we have to try to shape their calculus.
I'd also add the Europeans moved in a very strong fashion today, but this is hardly just the United States and Europe. Canada has been very strong in imposing sanctions on Russia. Japan has joined us through the G7 and has imposed some of their own sanctions. The Australians have been very outspoken since the shoot-down of MH17. So increasingly, this is a global chorus of voices that are speaking in opposition to what Russia is doing to its Ukraine policy.
Q Hey, guys, just a quick question on the big three banks, including VTB. I know you've talked a little bit about the effect on consumers, but does it mean at all that credit cards could stop working tomorrow for Russians? Or are they affected at all, especially Visa, MasterCard and American Express, that kind of thing?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think your question goes to impacts we saw earlier when we designated -- froze the assets of and prohibited all transactions with Rossiya Bank, which is a bank controlled by and owned by Russian cronies that we had designated. The actions we've taken with respect to these five major state-owned banks is not asset-blocking and it would not prohibit the provision of credit card services. It goes to their ability to obtain medium- and short-term debt financing prospectively from the U.S. and from Europe.
MS. LUCAS MAGNUSON: All right. Thanks, everyone, for joining. That concludes the call. Just as a reminder, all this information is on background attributable to senior administration officials. And have a nice day. Thank you.
END 4:28 P.M. EDT
Court orders Russia to pay $50 billion for seizing Yukos assets
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:33
Court orders Russia to pay $50 billion for seizing Yukos assetsTop News
Court orders Russia to pay $50 billion for seizing Yukos assets
Mon, Jul 28 16:38 PM EDT
By Megan Davies, Jack Stubbs and Thomas Escritt
MOSCOW/LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - An international arbitration court ruled on Monday that Russia must pay $50 billion for expropriating the assets of Yukos, the former oil giant whose ex-owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky fell foul of the Kremlin.
Finding that Russian authorities had subjected Yukos to politically-motivated attacks, the panel made an award to a group of former Yukos shareholders that equates to more than half the entire fund Moscow has set aside to cover budget holes.
Russia, whose economy is on the brink of recession, said it would appeal the ruling by the Dutch-based panel, which judges private business disputes. It also said the "politically biased decision" was based on "current events" - an apparent reference to Moscow's dispute with the West over Ukraine.
Independent lawyers said it would be difficult to enforce the award to shareholders in the GML group, who had claimed $114 billion to recover money they lost when the Kremlin seized Yukos a decade ago.
Tim Osborne, director of GML, hailed the ruling. "The award is a slam dunk. It is for $50 billion, and that cannot be disputed," he said. "It's now a question of enforcing it."
The ruling hit back at decisions made under President Vladimir Putin's rule during his first term as president to nationalize Yukos and jail Khodorkovsky, who had criticized him. The hardline approach was seen by Kremlin critics at the time as a stark message to oligarchs to stay out of politics.
Khodorkovsky, who used to be Russia's richest man, was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion in 2005. Yukos, once worth $40 billion, was broken up and nationalized, with most assets handed to Rosneft (ROSN.MM), an energy giant run by an ally of Putin.
After 10 years in jail, Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in December and he now lives in Switzerland.
Announcing it would appeal, the Russian Finance Ministry denounced the award. "Instead of an objective, impartial consideration of the case, the arbitration court ruled based on current developments and as a result adopted a politically biased decision," it said in a statement on its website.
Moscow's relations with the West are at their worst since the Cold War due to its annexation of Crimea and over a rebellion by separatists in Ukraine after a pro-Russian president was forced out of office.
Russia argued that the court in the Hague had ignored tax violations by Yukos and said it was senseless and speculative to value the company so long after the events. Lawyers, however, said there were only limited grounds on which to appeal.
The panel of judges, which has been reviewing the case since 2005, concluded that officials under Putin had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos.
"Yukos was the object of a series of politically motivated attacks by the Russian authorities that eventually led to its destruction," the court said. "The primary objective of the Russian Federation was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets."
ECONOMIC IMPACT
Khodorkovsky was not a party to the GML action but welcomed its success. "It is fantastic that the company shareholders are being given a chance to recover their damages," he said in a statement, adding that he would not seek to benefit financially from the outcome.
Russia faces a tightening of international sanctions originally imposed after it annexed Crimea in March. The United States has said it has evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine earlier this month, which it blames on the pro-Moscow rebels.
Russia denies the charges and has blamed the Ukrainian military for the tragedy in which 298 people died.
Credit Suisse economist Aleksei Pogorelov said the ruling could have significant economic effects. "This decision affects the assessment of the long-term financial stability of Russia and could become the basis for arguments for revising Russia's ratings by international rating agencies," he said Credit.
$50 billion represents about 2.5 percent of Russia's total annual economic output or 57 percent of its Reserve Fund, which is earmarked to cover shortfalls in the state budget.
The ruling hit Russian stocks. The RTS index (.IRTS) of Russian shares closed down 3 percent.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is expected to announce a separate decision on Thursday on Yukos's multi-billion-dollar claim against Russia, ruling on "just satisfaction" or compensation, a Yukos spokeswoman said.
The application in the Strasbourg court, which is on behalf of all Yukos shareholders, argued the company was unlawfully deprived of its possessions by the imposition of bogus taxes and a sham auction of its main asset.
Bruce Misamore, former chief financial officer for Yukos, said he hoped the ECHR would take "strong note" of the size of the award by the Dutch court in assessing the just satisfaction claim and described Monday's ruling as a "landmark".
One lawyer, who declined to be named, said the timing of both rulings coming together was probably a coincidence.
RECLAIMING ASSETS
GML may now face a battle to claim the money from Russia.
"The question is whether Russia will pay that award, which I very much doubt," said Jan Kleinheisterkamp, an Associate Professor of Law at the London School of Economics. "This means that ultimately the shareholders will start to chase Russian assets abroad, which is a very tedious and usually not very fruitful business."
Antonios Tzanakopoulos, a law professor at Britain's Oxford University, said if assets were to be seized, they would have to be commercial, meaning it would not be possible to get a court order on an embassy building or a docked Russian warship.
Russia must pay the compensation to subsidiaries of Gibraltar-based Group Menatep, a company through which Khodorkovsky controlled Yukos. Group Menatep now exists as the holding company GML, and Khodorkovsky is no longer a shareholder in GML or Yukos.
"We didn't go into this for a pyrrhic victory to make a point ... We still believe that we will ultimately collect on this award," said Osborne.
Former Russian presidential adviser Andrei Illarionov said if Russia avoided payment it could face asset arrests around the world.
Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro-Advisory consultancy in Moscow, said GML may try to target revenues from Russia's energy exports.
The ruling leaves Russia with few options to fight back, experts said. The arbitration court's rules call decisions on awards "final and binding". "The Kremlin's lawyers will be looking at any way to appeal this," said Weafer.
Tzanakopoulos said any appeal would effectively amount to a new arbitration procedure, which both parties would have to agree to. Russia would be likely to challenge enforcement claims in the many national courts around the world where such proceedings would be launched, he said.
A LONG SHOT
Experts said fighting the decision could be a lengthy and uphill process. "Appeals are difficult - it is a private arbitration," said a Moscow-based lawyer who declined to be named, adding that any counter-action would be a "long shot".
Any funds claimed will be shared among the shareholders. The biggest ultimate beneficial owner is Russian-born Leonid Nevzlin, a business partner who fled to Israel to avoid prosecution. He has a stake of around 70 percent.
Khodorkovsky ceded his controlling interest in Menatep, which owned 60 to 70 percent of Yukos, to Nevzlin, after he was jailed. "I am very pleased the international tribunal in the Hague decided that Russia violated international laws and illegally nationalized Yukos," said Nevzlin.
The other four ultimate beneficial owners, each of whom owns an equal stake, are Platon Lebedev, Mikhail Brudno, Vladimir Dubov and Vasilly Shaknovski.
Rosneft, which is not a defendant in the case, said it expected no claims to be made against the company and that the ruling would not have a negative impact on its "commercial activity and assets".
Rosneft bought the bulk of Yukos assets through auctions after the company was declared bankrupt. Its shares were down 2.6 percent.
(Reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva, Vladimir Soldatkin, Megan Davies, Oksana Kobzeva, Lidia Kelly, Denis Pinchuk, Dasha Korsunskaya and Alessandra Prentice in Moscow, Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv, Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsche in Amsterdam, Editing by Elizabeth Piper, Will Waterman and David Evans)
Court orders Russia to pay $50 billion for seizing Yukos assetsTop News
Court orders Russia to pay $50 billion for seizing Yukos assets
Mon, Jul 28 16:38 PM EDT
By Megan Davies, Jack Stubbs and Thomas Escritt
MOSCOW/LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - An international arbitration court ruled on Monday that Russia must pay $50 billion for expropriating the assets of Yukos, the former oil giant whose ex-owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky fell foul of the Kremlin.
Finding that Russian authorities had subjected Yukos to politically-motivated attacks, the panel made an award to a group of former Yukos shareholders that equates to more than half the entire fund Moscow has set aside to cover budget holes.
Russia, whose economy is on the brink of recession, said it would appeal the ruling by the Dutch-based panel, which judges private business disputes. It also said the "politically biased decision" was based on "current events" - an apparent reference to Moscow's dispute with the West over Ukraine.
Independent lawyers said it would be difficult to enforce the award to shareholders in the GML group, who had claimed $114 billion to recover money they lost when the Kremlin seized Yukos a decade ago.
Tim Osborne, director of GML, hailed the ruling. "The award is a slam dunk. It is for $50 billion, and that cannot be disputed," he said. "It's now a question of enforcing it."
The ruling hit back at decisions made under President Vladimir Putin's rule during his first term as president to nationalize Yukos and jail Khodorkovsky, who had criticized him. The hardline approach was seen by Kremlin critics at the time as a stark message to oligarchs to stay out of politics.
Khodorkovsky, who used to be Russia's richest man, was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion in 2005. Yukos, once worth $40 billion, was broken up and nationalized, with most assets handed to Rosneft (ROSN.MM), an energy giant run by an ally of Putin.
After 10 years in jail, Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in December and he now lives in Switzerland.
Announcing it would appeal, the Russian Finance Ministry denounced the award. "Instead of an objective, impartial consideration of the case, the arbitration court ruled based on current developments and as a result adopted a politically biased decision," it said in a statement on its website.
Moscow's relations with the West are at their worst since the Cold War due to its annexation of Crimea and over a rebellion by separatists in Ukraine after a pro-Russian president was forced out of office.
Russia argued that the court in the Hague had ignored tax violations by Yukos and said it was senseless and speculative to value the company so long after the events. Lawyers, however, said there were only limited grounds on which to appeal.
The panel of judges, which has been reviewing the case since 2005, concluded that officials under Putin had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos.
"Yukos was the object of a series of politically motivated attacks by the Russian authorities that eventually led to its destruction," the court said. "The primary objective of the Russian Federation was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets."
ECONOMIC IMPACT
Khodorkovsky was not a party to the GML action but welcomed its success. "It is fantastic that the company shareholders are being given a chance to recover their damages," he said in a statement, adding that he would not seek to benefit financially from the outcome.
Russia faces a tightening of international sanctions originally imposed after it annexed Crimea in March. The United States has said it has evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine earlier this month, which it blames on the pro-Moscow rebels.
Russia denies the charges and has blamed the Ukrainian military for the tragedy in which 298 people died.
Credit Suisse economist Aleksei Pogorelov said the ruling could have significant economic effects. "This decision affects the assessment of the long-term financial stability of Russia and could become the basis for arguments for revising Russia's ratings by international rating agencies," he said Credit.
$50 billion represents about 2.5 percent of Russia's total annual economic output or 57 percent of its Reserve Fund, which is earmarked to cover shortfalls in the state budget.
The ruling hit Russian stocks. The RTS index (.IRTS) of Russian shares closed down 3 percent.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is expected to announce a separate decision on Thursday on Yukos's multi-billion-dollar claim against Russia, ruling on "just satisfaction" or compensation, a Yukos spokeswoman said.
The application in the Strasbourg court, which is on behalf of all Yukos shareholders, argued the company was unlawfully deprived of its possessions by the imposition of bogus taxes and a sham auction of its main asset.
Bruce Misamore, former chief financial officer for Yukos, said he hoped the ECHR would take "strong note" of the size of the award by the Dutch court in assessing the just satisfaction claim and described Monday's ruling as a "landmark".
One lawyer, who declined to be named, said the timing of both rulings coming together was probably a coincidence.
RECLAIMING ASSETS
GML may now face a battle to claim the money from Russia.
"The question is whether Russia will pay that award, which I very much doubt," said Jan Kleinheisterkamp, an Associate Professor of Law at the London School of Economics. "This means that ultimately the shareholders will start to chase Russian assets abroad, which is a very tedious and usually not very fruitful business."
Antonios Tzanakopoulos, a law professor at Britain's Oxford University, said if assets were to be seized, they would have to be commercial, meaning it would not be possible to get a court order on an embassy building or a docked Russian warship.
Russia must pay the compensation to subsidiaries of Gibraltar-based Group Menatep, a company through which Khodorkovsky controlled Yukos. Group Menatep now exists as the holding company GML, and Khodorkovsky is no longer a shareholder in GML or Yukos.
"We didn't go into this for a pyrrhic victory to make a point ... We still believe that we will ultimately collect on this award," said Osborne.
Former Russian presidential adviser Andrei Illarionov said if Russia avoided payment it could face asset arrests around the world.
Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro-Advisory consultancy in Moscow, said GML may try to target revenues from Russia's energy exports.
The ruling leaves Russia with few options to fight back, experts said. The arbitration court's rules call decisions on awards "final and binding". "The Kremlin's lawyers will be looking at any way to appeal this," said Weafer.
Tzanakopoulos said any appeal would effectively amount to a new arbitration procedure, which both parties would have to agree to. Russia would be likely to challenge enforcement claims in the many national courts around the world where such proceedings would be launched, he said.
A LONG SHOT
Experts said fighting the decision could be a lengthy and uphill process. "Appeals are difficult - it is a private arbitration," said a Moscow-based lawyer who declined to be named, adding that any counter-action would be a "long shot".
Any funds claimed will be shared among the shareholders. The biggest ultimate beneficial owner is Russian-born Leonid Nevzlin, a business partner who fled to Israel to avoid prosecution. He has a stake of around 70 percent.
Khodorkovsky ceded his controlling interest in Menatep, which owned 60 to 70 percent of Yukos, to Nevzlin, after he was jailed. "I am very pleased the international tribunal in the Hague decided that Russia violated international laws and illegally nationalized Yukos," said Nevzlin.
The other four ultimate beneficial owners, each of whom owns an equal stake, are Platon Lebedev, Mikhail Brudno, Vladimir Dubov and Vasilly Shaknovski.
Rosneft, which is not a defendant in the case, said it expected no claims to be made against the company and that the ruling would not have a negative impact on its "commercial activity and assets".
Rosneft bought the bulk of Yukos assets through auctions after the company was declared bankrupt. Its shares were down 2.6 percent.
(Reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva, Vladimir Soldatkin, Megan Davies, Oksana Kobzeva, Lidia Kelly, Denis Pinchuk, Dasha Korsunskaya and Alessandra Prentice in Moscow, Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv, Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsche in Amsterdam, Editing by Elizabeth Piper, Will Waterman and David Evans)
BP's Faustian Pact with Russia goes horribly wrong with Yukos verdict '' Telegraph Blogs
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:46
Photo: PA
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has thrown the book at the Russian state, or more specifically at Vladimir Putin and his Siloviki circle from the security services.
The $51.5bn ruling against on the Kremlin unveiled this morning has no precedent in international law. The damages are 20 times larger than any previous verdict.
Lawyers for the Yukos-MGL-Khodorkovsky team tell me that they cannot pursue the foreign bond holdings of the Russian central bank if the Kremlin refuses to pay up when the deadline expires on January 15, as seems likely. Moscow has already dismissed the case as ''politically motivated''.
Nor can they go after embassies and other sovereign assets that enjoy diplomatic immunity, though they are eyeing a list of Russian state targets that slipped through the net.
What they can certainly do '' and have every intention of doing '' is attacking the assets of state-owned companies that act as instruments of the Russian government. Above all, they intend to pursue Rosneft, the venture built from the expropriated assets of Yukos.
That means they also intend to pursue BP (indirectly), since BP owns a fifth of Rosneft shares as a legacy from the TNK-BP debacle.
Rosneft is the world's biggest traded oil company with production of 4m barrels a day. It is run by Mr Putin's close friend Igor Sechin, a former KGB operative in Africa, a loyalist in Mr Putin's political machine in St Petersburg, and the architect of Russia's energy strategy for the last decade.
The Court's ruling made it clear that Rosneft is not a commercial company with a (passive) state shareholder. It said the Rosneft was ''the vehicle'' used to expropriate Yukos and has acted as an instrument of the state.
Mr Putin himself said at the time that the purpose was to reverse the giveaway privatisation of Russia's natural resources and sovereign heirlooms in the bandit era of the 1990s. ''The State, resorting to absolutely legal market mechanisms, is looking after its own interest,'' he said.
The lawyers will have to file asset seizure claims in each national jurisdiction under the New York Convention, arguing the case one country at a time. These national courts are likely to give a high-weight to findings of the tribunal. The ruling was unanimous, and its language was blistering.
"Yukos was the object of a series of politically motivated attacks by the Russian authorities that eventually led to its destruction. The primary objective of the Russian Federation was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets," it said.
All three judges '' a Canadian, a Swiss, and an America citizen picked by the Russians themselves '' seemed deeply irritated that Russia had failed to furnish any fact witnesses or send anybody from the finance ministry to testify on concrete issues.
The Kremlin sent theorists to debate hypothetical points. This cuts no ice in a court. It treated the procedure with barely concealed contempt, and received a hot retort. Russia's external debt (state, banks, and companies) rises to $770bn at a stroke. The foreign currency debt will rise to $610b. Refusal to pay will at some point become a sovereign default.
The noose is tightening on Rosneft. Its shares are down 16pc since early July. It can still export oil but it cannot raise debt with a maturity beyond 90 days from any US body, and is effectively shut out of the global financial system.
It has $44bn of debt, largely in US dollars. It must roll over $26bn by the end of next year. It has large cash reserves but it is also trying to fund $21bn of capex investment this year to keep output up.
Alex Fak from Sberbank said Rosneft can no longer roll over debts under US sanctions. Nor is it receiving any new ''prepayment'' funds under deals with western Companies (like BP, which forked over $1.5bn earlier this year and is now a major creditor, effectively letting Rosneft borrow on its credit rating).
Rosneft is not in immediate trouble. But it may need help from the Russian state at some stage, and is highly dependent on the price of oil.
If oil were to fall to $80 for a sustained period '' and Saudi Arabia and the US could theoretically together bring this about, the latter by releasing supplies from the strategic petroleum '' it would face a squeeze. Some analysts say this may happen anyway if Libya and Iran come back on stream.
The question for BP is why it joined the wolf pack tearing apart the Yukos carcass a decade ago, and took part in bids for Yukos assets in very close association with Rosneft, despite warnings that was acquiring ''stolen assets'' and might one day find it had no legal protection.
A cursory reading of the ruling by tribunal makes it crystal clear that no responsible company should have had anything to do with this episode. Nor has it stopped. BP has sunk deeper into the morass, becoming a creditor, and pledging to go ahead with a joint venture with Rosneft to extract shale in the Volga Urals even after the US placed Mr Sechin on its sanctions list.
BP's Robert Dudley was more or less obliged to pay homage to the Kremlin at the St Petersburg Economic Forum in May, knowing that failure to attend or to make the right noises would leave the company vulnerable to an attack '' and there have been many before, both against BP itself and Shell, among others.
When asked if BP was still committed to Russia, he said: "We work in a world today where politicians all too often only can look eighteen months out before the next election, and there are countries like Russia in agreements with China that are looking out 25, 40, or even 50 years. That's what we have to do as companies. These kinds of relationships that we have with Russia and Rosneft are not transactional, they are strategic partnerships based on mutual benefit and trust," he said.
"Those were very correct words from Mr Dudley," said Igor Sechin, glowering down at him across the hall.
Let us not be pious. BP has been dealing with difficult and fractious regimes for much of its history. Like other oil majors, it has to drill in such places because that is where the last oil reserves are.
Even so, it is far from clear that there has ever been a proper accounting of the serial political misjudgements that led BP to bet so much of its corporate future on the Putin regime. The management misread Russia. They misread the fundamental nature of Putinism.
They have been in denial ever since, but events unfolding now on so many fronts at once risks washing over them like a tidal wave. There is ''non-insignificant'' risk '' to borrow from lawyers '' that BP may lose its Rosneft stake as the sanctions war escalates.
For Russia, the Yukos verdict brings its travails to a header sooner. The country needs massive investment and technology from the West just replace depleting reserves and to cut fracking costs to a viable level. The chances of that are vanishing by the day.
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BP fears sanctions over stake in Russian oil firm will hit profits | Business | The Guardian
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:07
BP has a 20% stake in Rosneft. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images
BP has warned investors that its finances and corporate image could be hurt by western sanctions against Russia.
The British oil and gas group is exposed to Russia via its 20% stake in Kremlin-controlled oil company Rosneft, a significant contributor to its profits which could be hit by EU curbs on exports of oil production equipment to Russia. BP revealed on Tuesday that it made $1.6bn (£950m) from its interest in Rosneft in the first six months of 2014, on top of a $700m dividend from Rosneft in July.
In a statement issued before news emerged of EU sanctions, BP acknowledged that its reputation was at stake over its ties to a company that generates over 4% of the world's crude and over 8% of Russian GDP.
"Further economic sanctions could adversely impact our business and strategic objectives in Russia, the level of our income, production and reserves, our investment in Rosneft and our reputation," BP said.
Earlier this month the US added Rosneft to its sanctions list by putting restrictions on its access to dollar funding. Igor Sechin, the chairman of Rosneft and a close friend of Vladimir Putin, has been on the US sanctions list since April, which means he is banned from entering the US and his assets have been frozen.
As EU leaders have struggled to keep a united front amid the conflict in eastern Ukraine, BP has stuck to a business-as-usual policy with Russia. In May BP and Rosneft struck a deal to exploit potential shale reserves in the Urals at a ceremony attended by Putin at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, a Russian Davos that was shunned by many western business leaders.
BP's exposure to Russia was highlighted on Monday when a tribunal in the Hague ruled that Rosneft had been the prime beneficiary from a "devious and calculated expropriation" by the Russian government against Yukos, once Russia's largest private oil company, broken up by Moscow after its boss fell foul of Putin. Rosneft went on to acquire Yukos's best assets at rock-bottom prices. Shareholders have vowed to pursue Rosneft for a $50bn damages claim and indicated they may also pursue BP.
Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive, dismissed "speculation" about the ruling. "The arbitration does not concern BP and neither is Rosneft actually a party to it," he said, adding that he did see BP's dividend from Rosneft at risk.
Dudley served as chief executive of TNK-BP, the previous incarnation of BP's Russian business. TNK-BP was an acrimonious but highly profitable venture with a quartet of Russian oligarchs. Dudley was expelled from Russia in 2008 and the venture came to an end last year, when Rosneft took over TNK-BP handing BP almost $17m in cash as well as the UK firm's current stake.
Dudley said BP intended to stay the course in Russia, but added it had been a good decision to reduce its involvement.
Analysts say BP is more exposed to political volatility in Russia than any of its competitors, a factor that has weighed on its share price. BP shares had "hugely underperformed" compared with its main rivals, said financial analyst Jasper Lawler, a financial analyst at CMC Markets. He noted that BP's share price had risen by 2% since early June, while Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron had each increased by more than 9%.
Dudley said BP could have left Russia in 2013, but chose not to. "We absolutely stand by strategically what we have done. We are very, very long-term investors. We work in countries that have ups and downs." The BP chief executive saidHe added that he had taken legal advice on sanctions, and that he had not come under any diplomatic pressure about travelling to Russia.
American sanctions against Rosneft, which have frozen the Russian firm out of US capital markets, had not had any impact on BP, Dudely said.
BP's earnings from Rosneft have been a significant contributor to its bottom line. Profits for the second quarter, stripping out the effects of oil price movements, were up $3.6bn in the second quarter, compared with $2.7bn the previous year.
BP said it had also benefited from improved performance at many recently built refineries, including in the Gulf of Mexico, Azerbaijan and Angola, while an upgrade of BP's Whiting refinery in Indiana, in the US, contributed $7.9bn to its cash flow. BP shares were up during early trading on Tuesday, but later fell 1.6% to 489p as concern on the impact of western sanctions against Russia mounted.
FROZEN ASSETS-Pussy Riot members ask Strasbourg court to recover $336,000 from Russia | Russia Beyond The Headlines
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:09
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Source: RIA Novosti
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the group Pussy Riot, have asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to recover $202,000 from Russia in the form of compensation for the moral damages that the criminal proceedings caused them.
The sum was announced in the girls' objections to the position of the Russian authorities regarding their application to the ECtHR. Last week the document (Vedomosti has the text) was sent to the court.
This is the concluding stage of communication, explains Pavel Chikov, chairman of the association Agora, whose lawyers are representing the girls in the court.
The Russian government will have the opportunity to comment on the amount of compensation requested, after which the court will begin preparing its decision, which could happen by the end of the year, saysChikov.
The young women are also asking for $13,400 to cover court costs, making the total sum of the claim $336,000.
First published in Russian at Vedomosti.
Hague court orders Russia to pay $50 billion in Yukos case - former Yukos owners
Pussy Riot members take Kremlin to European court of human rights | Music | The Guardian
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:07
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (left) and Maria Alyokhina argue that Russia violated four articles of the European human rights convention. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Two members of the feminist group Pussy Riot are suing the Russian government in the European court of human rights (ECHR) over their imprisonment for a 2012 "punk prayer" protest at a Moscow cathedral.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were given an amnesty in December after serving 21 months in prison and pre-trial confinement, are demanding '‚¬120,000 (£71,000) each in compensation, plus '‚¬10,000 in court fees. They argue that the investigation and prosecution violated their rights and amounted to torture.
"They didn't get fair trial here in Russia so they want to get it finally in the European court of human rights," said Pavel Chikov, the head of the human rights legal group Agora, which is representing the two women.
"Plus they want this case to set a precedent that Russians can speak publicly on sensitive political issues, even if this speech is not supported by majority. This is a case about freedom of expression and fair trial first of all."
Pussy Riot came to the world's attention with their protest on 21 February 2012, when they attempted to perform their song Mother of God, Drive Putin Out in Christ the Saviour cathedral near the Kremlin. Three members of the group were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in a prison colony in a trial that was widely and sympathetically covered by western media.
The vast majority of Russians, however, were disapproving of Pussy Riot's actions. According to surveys during the trial, 86% of Russians thought its members should be punished. Most favoured a large fine or forced labour.
Yekaterina Samutsevich was given a suspended sentence in October 2012, while Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova served time in far-flung prison colonies, where they went on hunger strike in protest against the harsh conditions they faced. Tolokonnikova also corresponded with the left-wing philosopher Slavoj Žižek in an exchange of letters due to be published in September. They were released in December in what was largely viewed as a gesture of goodwill by the Kremlin before the Sochi Olympics.
The activists, who initiated the complaint in 2012, argue that Russia violated four articles of the European convention on human rights guaranteeing the rights to freedom of expression, liberty and security and a fair trial, and prohibiting torture.
The ECHR's questions to the Russian government on the case earlier this year suggested that the harsh schedule of trial hearings, the glass cage in which the defendants were kept and the heightened security measures could be considered inhumane treatment.
Transport from the court to pre-trial detention took up to four hours, and the women were accompanied by law enforcement officers with dogs at all times.
"People saw them in a glass cage all the time next to police dogs, and the whole thing proved to everyone that they were guilty before they were found guilty by the court," Chikov said. "The practice in Russia where people are put in glass or metal cages in the courtroom has nothing to do with a fair trial and violates the presumption of innocence."
In a 35-page response in June, the Russian government called the complaint "obviously unfounded", arguing that the glass cage is a practice used in other countries and that the imprisonment was a "side-effect" of its desire to protect Russian Orthodox worshippers' freedom of belief.
"Deliberately provocative behaviour in a place that is dedicated to the spiritual needs of believers and is a symbol of the Russian Orthodox community clearly undermines tolerance and cannot be seen as a normal, sincere exercise of the rights of the convention," it said.
Chikov said that he expects to win the suit, after which his clients will seek to overturn their criminal conviction in the Russian courts. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have pledged to give any compensation they receive to human rights organisations, including their own group dedicated to prison system reform.
Russia-Ukraine tensions pose credit default risks: IMF - The West Australian
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:41
AFPRussia-Ukraine tensions pose credit default risks: IMFWashington (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday that an escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine would raise the risks for banks exposed to those countries.
Hit by US and European Union economic sanctions against Moscow, Russian businesses in particular could see financing and revenue dry up, pushing them to fall behind in servicing debts.
"As Russian and Ukrainian credit quality deteriorates, banks with credit exposures will be faced with increased risks of default," the IMF said in a report on financial spillovers in the global economy.
Austrian banks are the most exposed relative to their bank asset size. And any problems affecting them could spread through credit channels in the rest of emerging Europe, the report said.
In addition, French, Italian and Swedish banks have relatively larger exposures compared with banks in other advanced economies, said the report, which did not identify any bank by name.
While the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists has remained confined to eastern Ukraine, escalation could have global repercussions, the report warned.
"An escalation of tensions through intensification of sanctions and retaliations may lead to larger spillovers across Europe, central Asia, and beyond."
Last Thursday the IMF lowered its 2014 growth forecast for the global economy, to 3.4 percent from 3.7 percent, citing geopolitical risks in Ukraine and the Middle East. It slashed Russia's growth forecast by 1.1 percentage points to a mere 0.2 percent.
In the new spillover report, the IMF highlighted the "significant risk" of sharp disruptions in the supply of Russian natural gas to Europe, with Russia providing about one-third of Europe's gas needs and half of that transiting Ukraine.
Most central, eastern, and southeastern European countries are heavily reliant on Russian gas, which represents between 40 and 100 percent of total gas consumption, the report said.
In the 18-nation eurozone, Austria, Finland and Germany also are largely dependent on Russian gas imports.
Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, depends on Russian gas for 40 percent of its gas consumption, of which almost three-quarters comes through Ukraine.
The IMF noted that the Ukraine crisis has not had much effect on gas prices, but that metals prices jumped soon after it began.
Russia produces about 40 percent of the world's palladium and between 12 and 14 percent of nickel, both of which are "central" to certain industries, it said. After Russia seized Crimea in early March, prices for both jumped around 10 percent by the end of April.
In the oil market, where Russia produces more than 10 percent of the world's crude oil, prices have been relatively stable in spite of heightened tensions.
"However, crude oil prices could suddenly spike amid rising geopolitical tensions, depending on market conditions such as the size of oil inventories," the IMF cautioned.
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Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis - Europe - World - The Independent
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:26
The Independent can reveal that the peace plan, being worked on by both Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, hinges on two main ambitions: stabilising the borders of Ukraine and providing the financially troubled country with a strong economic boost, particularly a new energy agreement ensuring security of gas supplies.
More controversially, if Ms Merkel's deal were to be acceptable to the Russians, the international community would need to recognise Crimea's independence and its annexation by Russia, a move that some members of the United Nations might find difficult to stomach.
Sources close to the secret negotiations claim that the first part of the stabilisation plan requires Russia to withdraw its financial and military support for the various pro-separatist groups operating in eastern Ukraine. As part of any such agreement, the region would be allowed some devolved powers.
At the same time, the Ukrainian President would agree not to apply to join Nato. In return, President Putin would not seek to block or interfere with the Ukraine's new trade relations with the European Union under a pact signed a few weeks ago.
Second, the Ukraine would be offered a new long-term agreement with Russia's Gazprom, the giant gas supplier, for future gas supplies and pricing. At present, there is no gas deal in place; Ukraine's gas supplies are running low and are likely to run out before this winter, which would spell economic and social ruin for the country.
Vladimir Putin at a natural gas pipeline in Vladivostok in Russia's far east in 2011 (Getty)As part of the deal, Russia would compensate Ukraine with a billion-dollar financial package for the loss of the rent it used to pay for stationing its fleets in the Crimea and at the port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea until Crimea voted for independence in March.
However, these attempts by Ms Merkel to act as a broker between President Putin and the Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, were put on the back-burner following the shooting down of the MH17 plane in eastern Ukraine.
But insiders who are party to the discussions said yesterday that the ''German peace plan is still on the table and the only deal around. Negotiations have stalled because of the MH17 disaster but they are expected to restart once the investigation has taken place.''
Video: More pressure on Putin over Ukraine''It is in everyone's interests to do a deal. Hopefully, talks will be revived if a satisfactory outcome can be reached to investigations now taking place as to the causes of the MH17 catastrophe.''
Closer trading ties with the EU have been one of the big ambitions of Mr Poroshenko's presidency. He has been a staunch supporter of the country's pro-European movement even though he is unaffiliated to any political party. He was one of the backers of the 2004 Orange Revolution and served as Foreign Minister under Yulia Tymoshenko.
Pro-Kremlin activists in Crimea's capital Simferopol (Getty)A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they had no knowledge of such negotiations taking place. However, the spokesman said he thought it highly unlikely that either the US or UK would agree to recognising Russian control over Crimea. There was no one available at the German embassy's press office yesterday.
Reaching a solution to the ongoing dispute is pertinent for the Germans as Russia is their single biggest trading partner. Under Ms Merkel, the Russo-German axis has strengthened significantly and, until the plane shooting, her government had been staunchly against punitive sanctions for commercial but also diplomatic reasons.
Such strong trade ties between the two countries have also served to strengthen Ms Merkel's hand and the Russian speaker has emerged as the leading advocate of closer relations between the EU and Russia. ''This is Merkel's deal. She has been dealing direct with President Putin on this. She needs to solve the dispute because it's in no one's interest to have tension in the Ukraine or to have Russia out in the cold. No one wants another Cold War,'' said one insider close to the negotiations.
Some of Germany's biggest companies have big operations in Russia, which is now one of Europe's biggest car markets, while many of its small to medium companies are also expanding into the country. Although Russia now provides EU countries with a third of their gas supplies through pipelines crossing the Ukraine, Germany has its own bilateral gas pipeline direct to Russia making it less vulnerable than other European countries.
Ukrainian troops take up a position near the eastern city of Debaltceve, in the region of Donetsk (Getty)However, Russia is still the EU's third-biggest trading partner with cross-border trade of $460bn (£272bn) last year, and the latest sanctions being introduced by the EU towards Russian individuals and banks will hurt European countries more than any other '' particularly Germany, but also the City of London.
Central to the negotiations over any new gas deal with Gazprom is understood to be one of Ukraine's wealthiest businessmen, the gas broker, Dmitry Firtash. Mr Firtash '' who negotiated the first big gas deal between the Ukraine and Russia between 2006 and 2009 '' is now living in Vienna fighting extradition charges from the Americans. But he has close relations with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders '' he supported Mr Poroschenko '' and has been acting as a go-between behind the scenes at the highest levels.
Ukraine's pipelines will lose 50% of value when South Stream starts - Naftogaz head '-- RT Business
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:40
Published time: July 29, 2014 11:29Edited time: July 30, 2014 07:39AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky
The South Stream gas pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine, may halve the value of Ukraine's gas transportation system (GTS), according to Andrey Kobolev, head of Ukraine's national oil and gas company Naftogaz.
After the Russian''led South Stream project is complete and working at full capacity, the value of Ukraine's GTS may fall as much 50 percent from the present estimate of $25-$35 billion, RIA Novosti quotes the head of the company.
''We have no wish to lose it, and it's unreasonable," Kobolev said on a Ukrainian local TV channel.
Construction of the South Stream pipeline in Bulgaria and Serbia was suspended following pressure from the EU to comply with competition law. After a while construction resumed.
"They [Gazprom] are ready to invest their own 15 billion euro in South Stream construction '... This gas pipeline will take away from the Ukrainian transit potentially up to 60 billion cubic meters. Currently the transit carries 86 billion cubic meters," Kobolev said.
Previously 110-120 billion cubic meters were fed through Ukraine, but now the Nord Stream pipeline has taken a share of it, Kobolev explained, and concluded that once South Stream is operational Ukraine could be in a very difficult situation.
The Ukrainian GTS needs an upgrade as soon as possible, Kobolev added.
On July 24 Ukraine's Parliament rejected the second reading of a bill that would allow EU and US companies to buy up to 49 percent of the oil and gas company Naftogaz and co-manage the national pipelines.
After that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he was resigning, but on Monday he said he reversed his decision and returned to the office. He said that the Rada will reconsider the bill to outline operators of the GTS involving US and European investors at the next extraordinary meeting on July 31.
Ukraine is Russia's major gas conduit to Europe. Currently the Ukraine pipeline delivers 175 million cubic meters of gas daily from Russia to neighboring European countries, which is about half of Russia's total gas supplies to the EU or 15 percent of total EU natural gas consumption.
After Nabucco West failure, with eyes on AGRI, Romania starts work on gas pipeline to the Republic of Moldova | Romania-Insider.com
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:06
xTo get in touch with our editorial team, email editor@romania-insider.com.
Romania and its neighbor the Republic of Moldova recently started work on the gas pipeline connecting the Romanian city of Iasi to the Moldavian Ungheni. The inauguration of work on the pipeline took place on Tuesday, August 27, when the Republic of Moldova celebrates its Independence Day. The ceremony was attended by Prime Ministers of both countries, as well as by G¼nther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy.
The gas pipeline is meant to diversify Republic of Moldova's gas sources, which currently solely relies on Russian Gazprom. Once the pipeline is done, in the end of 2013, Romania will sell the Republic of Moldova gas at market prices, according to Romanian Energy Minister Constantin Nita. The average gas price is of USD 400-450 per 1,000 cubic meters, according to Nita.
The gas pipeline will cost some EUR 20 million to build, with a second EUR 10 '' 20 million stage scheduled for creating a gas compression station. Romania will invest some EUR 12 million in the first stage of the project, to build the pipeline on its territory (in picture).
The 43.2-kilometer pipe, out of which 32.8 kilometers on Romania's territory will connect the two countries' gas networks, and comes soon after the planned Nabucco West pipeline project was halted. Romania was supposed to be part of this pipeline, as much of the 1,300 kilometers of the gas pipe would have crossed Romanian territory '' some 475 kilometers.
OMV announced earlier in June that the gas pipeline project Nabucco West was not selected by the Shah Deniz II consortium as their preferred gas transportation route to Europe. This means that gas from the Caspian bedding Shah Deniz II will not travel to Europe via the Nabucco pipe, the pipe which was supposed to connect Bulgaria to Austria via Romania.
When this announcement was made, Romanian officials said the country will focus on the AGRI project, the Interconnector Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania-Hungary, a proposed project to transport Azerbaijani natural gas to Romania and further to Central Europe.
editor@romania-insider.com
(photo source: gov.ro)
Montenegro 'Interested' in South Stream Pipeline - EconMin - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:53
Montenegro's Economy Minister Vladimir Kavaric announced that his country desired to be included in the South Stream gas pipeline project.
"South Stream is part of the diversification opportunities for our energy sources and also an opportunity to increase competitiveness of our economy. We have not yet received an official invitation, but there were negotiations with representatives of [Russian energy concern] Gazprom on that issue," Kavaric was quoted by Montenegro's leading daily Vjesti as saying.
The minister explained that Gazprom representatives had held talks with Gazprom authorities over Montenegro's gas demand.
Kavaric's statements follow comments from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said on Sunday Budapest was still willing to "cooperate" with Gazprom on the project, despite the EU's stance on the need to reduce European gas dependence on Russia.
They also come a week after Serbia, which is one of the countries to host the pipeline, was advised by the European Commission to freeze the project until discrepancies with Russia on pipeline were smoothed out.
Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic, for his part, insisted that South Stream was "a good deal" for his country, as its construction would inject some EUR 350 M into local companies, regardless of whether the pipes would become operational or not.
In June Bulgaria, the country where South Stream enters the EU, halted activities on the pipeline after the EU Commission insisted it do so.
Brussels argues issues of competition and flawed public procurement, but also violation of the EU's Third Energy Package prescribing liberalization of energy production and supplies, are underpinning the construction.
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US says Russia breached nuclear treaty | World news | theguardian.com
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:32
The Obama administration in Washington has accused Russia of conducting missile tests in violation of a 1987 nuclear treaty, calling the breach "a very serious matter" and bringing into the public sphere allegations that have simmered for some time.
The treaty confrontation comes at a highly strained time between the US president and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over Russia's intervention in Ukraine and granting of asylum to Edward Snowden, who exposed widespread surveillance and collection of innocent people's data by US intelligence agencies.
An administration official said Obama had notified Putin of the US objections in a letter Monday. The finding is to be included in a US state department annual report on compliance with arms control treaties due for release on Tuesday.
The US is accusing Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that Ronald Reagan signed with Mikhail Gorbachev during the Soviet era.
"This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now," an administration official said in a statement.
"We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner."
Another official said the US was prepared to hold high-level discussions on the issue immediately.
The US has raised the matter with Russia in the past through diplomatic channels but has not previously made the accusation publicly. Russian officials say they have looked into the allegations and consider the matter closed. The New York Times first reported the US conclusion on Monday evening.
In raising the issue now the US appears to be placing increased pressure on Russia and trying to further isolate it from the international community. The European Union and the United States plan to announce new sanctions against Russia this week in the face of US evidence that Russia has continued to assist separatist forces in Ukraine.
The public finding comes in the wake of congressional pressure on the White House to confront Russia over the allegations of cheating on the treaty. The treaty banned all US and Russian land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 miles (480km) and 3,400 miles (5,470km).
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report
Moscow may walk out of nuclear treaty after US accusations of breach | World news | theguardian.com
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:31
Vladimir Putin in Moscow: the US government had hoped to persuade Putin to stop the tests of the R-500 missile. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Russia may be on the point of walking out of a major cold war era arms-control treaty, Russian analysts have said, after President Obama accused Moscow of violating the accord by testing a cruise missile.
There has been evidence at least since 2011 of Russian missile tests in violation of the 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, which banned US or Russian ground-launched cruise missiles with a 500 to 5,500-mile (805 to 8,851km) range. But the Obama administration has been hesitant until now of accusing Moscow of a violation in the hope that it could persuade Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to stop the tests or at least not deploy the weapon in question, known as the Iskander, or R-500.
Washington has also been reticent because of the technical differences in definition of what constitutes the range of a missile under the INF treaty. That ambiguity now seems to have dropped away. According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence analyst and columnist for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Russia has indeed broken the treaty by testing the R-500 which has a range of more than 1,000km.
"Of course, this is in gross violation of the 1987 treaty, but Russian officials including Putin have said this treaty is unfair and not suitable for Russia," Felgenhauer said. "The United States doesn't have [medium-range missiles] but other countries do have them, such as China, Pakistan and Israel, so they say this is unfair and wrong."
Russian press reports have suggested the missile may even be in deployment, with state news agency RIA Novosti reporting in June that the "Russian army currently uses its Iskander-M and Iskander-K variants." Felgenhauer said he doesn't believe the missile has been deployed, although he said it's entirely possible that Russia will leave the treaty amid tensions with the US.
"The present situation of a new cold war in Europe '' and not even cold, at least not in Ukraine right now '' it's a situation in which Russia can abrogate the 1987 treaty, and the possibilities are rather high," Felgenhauer said.
Russian officials have previously criticised the 1987 treaty, including former defence minister Sergei Ivanov. In 2013, Ivanov, then presidential chief of staff, said of the treaty: "We are fulfilling it, but it can't last forever."
According to Kremlin-linked analyst Sergei Markov, Russia has a far greater need for medium-range cruise missiles than the |US, because military rivals including China are located near its borders and because Moscow lacks the Americans' long-range bombing capabilities.
"Russia would be happy to leave this agreement, and I think Russia is using the Ukraine crisis to leave the agreement," Markov said.
As for Russia's complaints about US aegis missiles, Felgenhauer said they reflect the genuine belief among Kremlin top brass that the US missile defence has a secret attack capability and poses a threat to Russia.
"This was a normal Soviet practice that missile interceptors had the in-built capability to be used as an attack missile," Felgenhauer said.
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EU increases Syria humanitarian aid by 50 million euros - INTERNATIONAL
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:38
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
The European Commission said Tuesday it would release a further 50 million euros ($67 million) in humanitarian aid for Syria as the crisis there deepens. This brings the total amount of aid this year to 150 million euros, which the EU says is aimed at helping the most vulnerable people in a conflict that has so far cost more than 170,000 lives and displaced half the population of 23 million. The Commission, the European Union's executive arm, said it also approved proposals to increase assistance for neighbouring countries dealing with an "unprecedented flow of refugees." This extra 125 million euros for refugees is in addition to 75 million euros already made available under the EU's European Neighbourhood Instrument. The Syrian conflict amounts to the "world's largest humanitarian crisis," the Commission said in a statement, with some 9.3 million people inside the country and a further 2.8 million refugees "in need of vital assistance."
Since the conflict began in March 2011, more than a million Syrians have taken refuge in tiny neighbouring Lebanon. Others are in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq, which have all struggled with the influx of arrivals. Meanwhile, more than 120,000 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe, crossing land borders or making risky trips across the Mediterranean.
July/29/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
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IMF's Lagarde says Ukraine may need more aid - Vanguard News
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:11
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said Tuesday that Ukraine may need more international aid if its crisis with the pro-Russia separatist rebellion is prolonged.
''As it stands and under current circumstances and the set of our assumptions, which includes a conflict that eventually is resolved in a not-too-distant future, no additional financing is needed,'' Lagarde said at a news conference at IMF headquarters in Washington.
But ''if any of those parameters changes'... additional financing might very well be needed'' in 12 months, said Lagarde, managing director of the 188-nation institution.
In late April, the IMF approved a $17 billion line of credit to Ukraine, part of a $27 billion international financial lifeline to the country's economy reeling from the rebellion blamed by the West on neighboring Russia, an accusation Moscow denies.
''If any those key parameters changes, we will have to revisit the whole strategy because we're talking about a different situation,'' Lagarde said.
The first installment of the aid, worth $3.19 billion, was disbursed in early May.
The Ukraine crisis has escalated since the bailout began, with the pro-Russia separatists advancing their control of eastern Ukraine '-- the industrial engine of the economy '-- and the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over the area in mid-July.
The IMF, which makes loan payouts conditional on a country's progress in achieving drastic economic reforms, is supposed to disburse its next aid installment to Kiev in late August but must be careful given the recent political crisis in the government, Lagarde said.
''All, of course, has to be supported by the government,'' she said.
The Ukrainian parliament is set to hold a special session Thursday to decide whether to accept or reject the sudden resignation last Thursday of the prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
''If elections were called during the year we would certainly seek the endorsement by the political leaders,'' Lagarde said.
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Russia, MH17 and the West: A web of lies | The Economist-PUUUUUTINNN!
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:02
IN 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the Russian people might at last have the chance to become citizens of a normal Western democracy. Vladimir Putin's disastrous contribution to Russia's history has been to set his country on a different path. And yet many around the world, through self-interest or self-deception, have been unwilling to see Mr Putin as he really is.
The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the killing of 298 innocent people and the desecration of their bodies in the sunflower fields of eastern Ukraine, is above all a tragedy of lives cut short and of those left behind to mourn. But it is also a measure of the harm Mr Putin has done. Under him Russia has again become a place in which truth and falsehood are no longer distinct and facts are put into the service of the government. Mr Putin sets himself up as a patriot, but he is a threat'--to international norms, to his neighbours and to the Russians themselves, who are intoxicated by his hysterical brand of anti-Western propaganda.
The world needs to face the danger Mr Putin poses. If it does not stand up to him today, worse will follow.
Crucifiction and other stories
Mr Putin has blamed the tragedy of MH17 on Ukraine, yet he is the author of its destruction. A high-court's worth of circumstantial evidence points to the conclusion that pro-Russian separatists fired a surface-to-air missile out of their territory at what they probably thought was a Ukrainian military aircraft. Separatist leaders boasted about it on social media and lamented their error in messages intercepted by Ukrainian intelligence and authenticated by America (see article).
Russia's president is implicated in their crime twice over. First, it looks as if the missile was supplied by Russia, its crew was trained by Russia, and after the strike the launcher was spirited back to Russia. Second, Mr Putin is implicated in a broader sense because this is his war. The linchpins of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic are not Ukrainian separatists but Russian citizens who are, or were, members of the intelligence services. Their former colleague, Mr Putin, has paid for the war and armed them with tanks, personnel carriers, artillery'--and batteries of surface-to-air missiles. The separatists pulled the trigger, but Mr Putin pulled the strings.
The enormity of the destruction of flight MH17 should have led Mr Putin to draw back from his policy of fomenting war in eastern Ukraine. Yet he has persevered, for two reasons. First, in the society he has done so much to mould, lying is a first response. The disaster immediately drew forth a torrent of contradictory and implausible theories from his officials and their mouthpieces in the Russian media: Mr Putin's own plane was the target; Ukrainian missile-launchers were in the vicinity. And the lies got more complex. The Russian fiction that a Ukrainian fighter jet had fired the missile ran into the problem that the jet could not fly at the altitude of MH17, so Russian hackers then changed a Wikipedia entry to say that the jets could briefly do so. That such clumsily Soviet efforts are easily laughed off does not defeat their purpose, for their aim is not to persuade but to cast enough doubt to make the truth a matter of opinion. In a world of liars, might not the West be lying, too?
Second, Mr Putin has become entangled in a web of his own lies, which any homespun moralist could have told him was bound to happen. When his hirelings concocted propaganda about fascists running Kiev and their crucifixion of a three-year-old boy, his approval ratings among Russian voters soared by almost 30 percentage points, to over 80%. Having roused his people with falsehoods, the tsar cannot suddenly wriggle free by telling them that, on consideration, Ukraine's government is not too bad. Nor can he retreat from the idea that the West is a rival bent on Russia's destruction, ready to resort to lies, bribery and violence just as readily as he does. In that way, his lies at home feed his abuses abroad.
Stop spinning
In Russia such doublespeak recalls the days of the Soviet Union when Pravda claimed to tell the truth. This mendocracy will end in the same way as that one did: the lies will eventually unravel, especially as it becomes obvious how much money Mr Putin and his friends have stolen from the Russian people, and he will fall. The sad novelty is that the West takes a different attitude this time round. In the old days it was usually prepared to stand up to the Soviet Union, and call out its falsehoods. With Mr Putin it looks the other way.
Take Ukraine. The West imposed fairly minor sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea, and threatened tougher ones if Mr Putin invaded eastern Ukraine. To all intents and purposes, he did just that: troops paid for by Russia, albeit not in Russian uniforms, control bits of the country. But the West found it convenient to go along with Mr Putin's lie, and the sanctions eventually imposed were too light and too late. Similarly, when he continued to supply the rebels, under cover of a ceasefire that he claimed to have organised, Western leaders vacillated.
Since the murders of the passengers of MH17 the responses have been almost as limp. The European Union is threatening far-reaching sanctions'--but only if Mr Putin fails to co-operate with the investigation or he fails to stop the flow of arms to the separatists. France has said that it will withhold the delivery of a warship to Mr Putin if necessary, but is proceeding with the first of the two vessels on order. The Germans and Italians claim to want to keep diplomatic avenues open, partly because sanctions would undermine their commercial interests. Britain calls for sanctions, but it is reluctant to harm the City of London's profitable Russian business. America is talking tough but has done nothing new.
Enough. The West should face the uncomfortable truth that Mr Putin's Russia is fundamentally antagonistic. Bridge-building and resets will not persuade him to behave as a normal leader. The West should impose tough sanctions now, pursue his corrupt friends and throw him out of every international talking shop that relies on telling the truth. Anything else is appeasement'--and an insult to the innocents on MH17.
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MH17
State Department spokeswoman tweeted about fashion chaos of MH17 disaster | Mail Online
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 03:47
By Francesca Chambers
Published: 11:15 EST, 18 July 2014 | Updated: 11:45 EST, 18 July 2014
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State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted about a fashion column in the aftermath of the MH17 disaster as Americans desperately waited to see if any loved ones were among the 298 dead.
Psaki began her daily briefing with reporters yesterday by talking about the presidential elections in Afghanistan and other State Department business instead of the implications of the Malaysian Airline flight, believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists.
Business as usual: State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, pictured here conducting her daily briefing for reporters on June 16, 2014, is under fire for not taking more seriously an attack on a plane that killed nearly two dozen Americans
'With a Malaysian airliner shot down and Israel launching a land, sea and air incursion into Gaza, the timing would seem poor, if it weren't such a great piece in the Washington Post,' the publication sarcastically said.
The only plane-related tweet had Psaki sent from her official State Department Twitter account as of Friday morning was from nearly 24 hours ago.
'On reports of tragic Malaysian plane crash: at this time US do not have any confirmation of cause, individuals on plane or any addl details,' Psaki said on twitter a little after noon on Thursday.
After Psaki began her briefing yesterday by talking about everything but the Malaysian Airlines plane, Fox News host Shep Smith said it was 'highly inappropriate' for the State Department official to kick off her briefing by discussing 'routine matters.'
'That's the State Department, Shep. I'm not surprised,' Griffen told him.
She later answered questions about the plane but had no information of substance to offer reporters.
Jen Psaki sent this tweet from her official State Department account last night
Retired Four Star Army General Barry McCaffery told NBC News after the briefing he was 'astonished' at Psaki's 'inability' to 'say anything sensible at all' about the situation.
'One would think the U.S. embassy in the Netherlands almost immediately, within an hour or so, would know whether U.S. passengers were aboard,' McCaffrey said.
At a press conference early this afternoon President Barack Obama announced that at least one American was aboard the plane and that most of the passengers were from the Netherlands.
The president said he could not yet say for sure why the plane was shot down or if it was the target of the attack, however he said the U.S. is now 'confident' that Russian-backed separatists controlling parts of Ukraine took the plane down.
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Social media users could be charged for sharing Wikileaks story
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:17
Julian Assange, Wikileaks publisher, described the Victorian Supreme Court suppression order as 'unprecedented'.
Social media users could land themselves in legal hot water if they share Wikileaks' reporting of a secret suppression order made by the Victorian Supreme Court.
The wide-ranging suppression order was published on the group's website on Wednesday and was quickly shared on websites including Twitter and Google+.
Fairfax Media's report of Wikileaks' action created a strong response on social media, and was shared thousands of times within minutes of the exclusive report's publication.
It is against the law for Australian media organisations to publish the contents of the suppression order.
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Media lawyer Peter Bartlett, from Minter Ellison, said anyone who tweets a link to the Wikileaks report, posts it on Facebook, or shares it in any way online could also face charges.
Using a hashtag such as "Wikileaks" is not in breach of the order but any mention on social media of the information detailed in it, such as people's names, is banned.
Mr Bartlett said it would be difficult to prosecute Wikileaks and its publisher, Julian Assange, given they are outside Victoria. Mr Assange remains at the Ecuador embassy in London where he has been given political asylum to avoid being extradited to the United States in relation to the leaking of secret US documents.
However, any Victorian social media users, or the person who gave the documents to Wikileaks, may be easier to find and prosecute.
"Unless someone within Australia somehow authorised or was deemed to have published that suppression order on Wikileaks it would be difficult to find someone to prosecute," Mr Bartlett said.
"The person within the state of Victoria who has sent the suppression order to Wikileaks themselves has breached the suppression order so if police could find that person they could prosecute them."
Mr Bartlett said he did not know of any person being prosecuted for sharing a court order on social media.
A case involving former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs sparked debate in England about the effectiveness of court orders given the prevalence of social media.
Giggs went to court to try to stop The Sun newspaper from publishing details of his extra-marital affair. The court initially banned the publication of his identity but the court's order was then widely disseminated through social media and tweeted by about 500,000 people.
Giggs' case against the newspaper was eventually thrown out of court and no one was charged in relation to the tweets.
A Victorian Supreme Court spokeswoman would not comment on the Wikileaks publication or if the court would refer the matter to police.
Australia bans reporting of multi-nation corruption case involving Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:15
(on 2014-07-29)Today, 29 July 2014, WikiLeaks releases an unprecedented Australian censorship order concerning a multi-million dollar corruption case explicitly naming the current and past heads of state of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, their relatives and other senior officials. The super-injunction invokes ''national security'' grounds to prevent reporting about the case, by anyone, in order to ''prevent damage to Australia's international relations''. The court-issued gag order follows the secret 19 June 2014 indictment of seven senior executives from subsidiaries of Australia's central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The case concerns allegations of multi-million dollar inducements made by agents of the RBA subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia in order to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries.
The suppression order lists 17 individuals, including "any current or former Prime Minister of Malaysia", ''Truong Tan San, currently President of Vietnam", "Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (also known as SBY), currently President of Indonesia (since 2004)", "Megawati Sukarnoputri (also known as Mega), a former President of Indonesia (2001''2004) and current leader of the PDI-P political party" and 14 other senior officials and relatives from those countries, who specifically may not be named in connection with the corruption investigation.
The document also specifically bans the publication of the order itself as well as an affidavit affirmed last month by Australia's representative to ASEAN Gillian Bird, who has just been appointed as Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The gag order effectively blacks out the largest high-level corruption case in Australia and the region.
The last known blanket suppression order of this nature was granted in 1995 and concerned the joint US-Australian intelligence spying operation against the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.
WikiLeaks' publisher Julian Assange said about the order:
"With this order, the worst in living memory, the Australian government is not just gagging the Australian press, it is blindfolding the Australian public. This is not simply a question of the Australian government failing to give this international corruption case the public scrutiny it is due. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop must explain why she is threatening every Australian with imprisonment in an attempt to cover up an embarrassing corruption scandal involving the Australian government."
"The concept of 'national security' is not meant to serve as a blanket phrase to cover up serious corruption allegations involving government officials, in Australia or elsewhere. It is in the public interest for the press to be able to report on this case, which concerns the subsidiaries of the Australian central bank. Who is brokering our deals, and how are we brokering them as a nation? Corruption investigations and secret gag orders for 'national security' reasons are strange bedfellows. It is ironic that it took Tony Abbott to bring the worst of 'Asian Values' to Australia."
Keywords: Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Supreme Court of Victoria, Justice Hollingworth, DFAT, AFP, DPP, Thomas Brady, Peter Sinclair Hutchinson, John Leckenby, Steven Kim Wong, Christian Boillot, Clifford John Gerathy, Myles Andrew Curtis, Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Pak Lah, Puan Noni, Mahathir Mohamed, Daim Zainuddin, Rafidah Aziz, Hamid Albar, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, SBY, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Laksamana Sukardi, Truong Tan San, Nguyen Tan Dung, Le Duc Thuy, Nong Duc Manh, Note Printing Australia Pty Ltd, Securency, Gillian Elizabeth Bird, Reserve Bank of Australia, super-injunction, suppression order, censorship, corruption, bribery
Read the Australia-wide censorship order for corruption case involving Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Hacked Army emails
Hacked e-mail correspondence of US Army Attache Assistant in Kiev Jason Gresh and a high ranking official from Ukrainian General Staff Igor Protsyk. This was published in MArch 2014
It appears that they are planning to conduct a series of attacks on Ukrainian military bases in order to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.
Particularly, Jason Gresh writes to Igor Protsyk that it’s time to implement a plan that implies “causing problems to the transport hubs in the south-east of Ukraine in order to frame-up the neighbor. It will create favorable conditions for Pentagon to act”, says Jason Gresh.
In his turn, Protsyk writes to some Vasil and tells him to arrange an attack on an airbase of 25 aviation brigade of Ukrainian air force stationed in Melitopol.
This Vasil is responsible for arranging the details of the attack, gathering of the gunmen and providing them with a map of sites that are chosen to be attacked.
From: Василь Лабайчук
To: kolyarny@gmail.com
CC: igor.protsyk@gmail.com
Subj: Потрібно терміново пошуміти
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 09:20:46 -0700
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Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 09:20:46 -0700
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Subject: =?KOI8-U?B?8M/U0qbCzs8g1MXSzabOz9fPINDP29XNptTJ?=
From: =?KOI8-U?B?98HTyczYIOzBwsHK3tXL?=
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Олег, потрібно терміново пошуміти від імені москалів на аеродромі у Мелітополі. Це треба зробити до 15 березня. Сам розумієш чому.
Перш за все тобі треба зв'язатися з Пашком Тарасенко. Ти його повинен знати, він із місцевої Свободи і володіє темою.
До тебе приїдуть 10-12 хлопців з Центру. Найкращі бійці Тризуба. Головним там Мишко, ти його теж повинен знати. Подробиці дізнаєшся у нього. Треба людей зустріти та забезпечити усім необхідним.
Дійте обережно. Розмовляти тільки російською мовою. 25 бригада зараз виконує бойові завдання, тому не чините великої шкоди літакам. Там є багато металолому, з ним можна робити усе. Пошкоджені літаки вам вкажуть. Необхідно, щоб усе було як дійсна атака сусідського спецназу. Але без трупів.
Дай мені ще раз твій рахунок. Гроші прийдуть вчасно, не хвилюйся.
Дивись додаток. Це приклад дій. Рішення приймай особисто.
(карта действий с пометками в аттаче - в пост не выкладывал, т.к. большая -- sporaw)
From: Igor Protsyk
To: krivonis.te@gmail.com
Subj: Активні дії у Мелітополі
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From: Igor Protsyk
To: krivonis.te@gmail.com
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Василь, потрібно дуже швидко провести активні дії у Мелітополі. Там 25 авіатранспортна бригада. Треба замарати наших заклятих друзів та добрих сусідів. Гадаю, що ти зрозумів мене.
Тільки дійте уважно та обережно. 25 бригада зараз на бойових завданнях, так що не чините літакам великої шкоди. Там є вже пошкоджені літаки, ось з ним можна робити усе. Їхни бортові номери вам дадуть. Пам'ятай, треба, щоб усе було як дійсна атака російського спецназу.
Комбриг там розумна людина. Подробиць він знати не буде, але у крайньому разі до нього можна звернутися. Ми його попередимо.
--
COL Igor PROTSYK
Chief, Bilateral Military Cooperation Division
Main Directorate for Military Cooperation and PKO
General Staff, Armed Forces of Ukraine
tel +38044 481-5407
cell +38067 407 97 40
e-mail: i.v.protsyk@mil.gov.ua
e-mail: protsyk@ukr.net
From: "Gresh, Jason P"
To: igor.protsyk@gmail.com,i.v.protsyk@mil.gov.ua
Subj: Peninsula
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2014 17:57:09 +0200
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Subject: Peninsula
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2014 17:57:09 +0200
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From: "Gresh, Jason P"
To: ,
X-FEAS-SYSTEM-WL: 10.47.98.102
Ihor,
Events are moving rapidly in Crimea. Our friends in Washington expect more decisive actions from your network.
I think it's time to implement the plan we discussed lately. Your job is to cause some problems to the transport hubs in the south-east in order to frame-up the neighbor.
It will create favorable conditions for Pentagon and the Company to act.
Do not waste time, my friend.
Respectfully,
JP
Jason P. Gresh
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
Assistant Army Attaché
U.S. Embassy, Kyiv
Tankova 4, Kyiv, Ukraine 04112
(380-44) 521 - 5444 | Fax (380-44) 521 - 5636
http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/
http://usembassykyiv.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/usdos.ukraine
http://www.youtube.com/user/USEmbassyKyiv
http://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassykyiv
Does This Soldier's Instagram Account Prove Russia Is Covertly Operating In Ukraine
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:22
A Russian soldier has posted pictures to Instagram that show him operating military equipment inside Ukraine, including manning a missile launcher system of the type used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.instagram.com
Alexander Sotkin, 24, first posted a photo from a base in southern Russia, on June 23, a day after Russia began building up its forces there. Kiev accused Moscow of attacking its positions across the border with mortar fire and unguided Grad missiles.instagram.com
A week later, Sotkin, whose socialmediaprofiles say he is a communications specialist stationed near the Ukrainian border, posted a photo to Instagram from the village of Krasna Talychka in rebel-controlled territory in east Ukraine.''sitting around at night'... we're working our faces are sweaty #army #exercises2014 #night #comms''instagram.com
It's not entirely clear what Sotkin was doing in Ukraine, or how long he was there. He took this photo in Russia on July 3, seemingly while in an armored personnel carrier.''the local population here are organizing a concert, but some of us are on guard ðŸ-- #fail #army #exercises2014 #comms #selfie #apc #boredom #summer #julyinstagram.com
But in the early hours of July 5, Sotkin posted another photograph from the village of Krasnyi Derkul on the Ukrainian side of the border. Ukraine accused rebels of firing mortars a border point there at that time.''time to sleep! ðŸ'¤ðŸ'¤ðŸ'¤ðŸŒ'›º¸ #army #exercises2014 #night #sleep #selfie''instagram.com
According to Sotkin's photo map, the photos were taken about 9 miles from the base in Voloshino, Russia, where he appears to be stationed.By July 7, he appeared to be back in Russia for good. ''I still don't understand what we're doing here, so we're continuing to go slightly crazy, listen to #swedishhousemafia and wait for new news from Ukraine!'' he wrote.#army #summer #fuckedup #comms #boredom #exercises2014 #without
On Sunday, Sotkin posted another photo in which he claimed to be working on a BUK missile launcher. Ukrainian and U.S. officials say rebels used a BUK to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 two weeks ago, killing all 298 on board.''sitting around, working on a buk, listening to music, basically a good sunday''
To operate a BUK, the rebels would have needed trained communications specialists like Sotkin to operate a sophisticated radar station, which can be stationed independently of the surface-to-air missile launcher.Alexander Natruskin / Reuters
Nothing directly links Sotkin to the Malaysia Airlines attack. Ukraine has, however, accused Russia of firing surface-to-air missiles across the border at its aircraft, most recently in an attack that downed two fighters last week.youtube.com
Sotkin isn't the only soldier whose social media posts suggest Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Last week, a VK user named Vadim Grigoriev posted several images of Russian artillery positions. One was captioned ''We pounded Ukraine all night.''View this embed 'º
Grigoriev then appeared on Russian state TV and claimed his account had been hacked.youtube.com
The U.S. released satellite images on Sunday that it said proved Russia was shelling Ukrainian positions across the border. Russia's defense ministry said that the claims were untrue because the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine posted the pictures to Twitter.''These materials were posted to Twitter not by accident, as their authenticity is impossible to prove '' due to the absence of the attribution to the exact area, and an extremely low resolution. Let alone using them as 'photographic evidence','' defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told state newswire Itar-TASS.Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Instagram's geolocating tool, however, is highly accurate. The only plausible way it could have misplaced Sotkin's photos on the map is if he had used a trick called GPS ghosting to make his iPad think he was elsewhere.Though Sotkin, as a communications specialist, could credibly have the ability to do this, the obviously compromising nature of his posts makes it far more likely that he did not realize that Instagram posts all photos to the map by default.instagram.com
A Russian lawmaker announced plans on Tuesday to ban all soldiers from posting to social media while on active duty.instagram.com
''In the conditions of the informational warfare that the foe is waging, even the most insignificant details can become weapons used against us,'' Vadim Soloviev told pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia.
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Iraq
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U.S. approves $700 million sale of Hellfire missiles to Iraq | Reuters
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:26
WASHINGTONWed Jul 30, 2014 9:17am EDT
TweetShare thisEmailPrintA fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Stringer
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of 5,000 Hellfire missiles to Iraq as Baghdad tries to fend off militant Islamist forces.
The deal is valued at $700 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Tuesday.
Iraq had requested 5,000 of the air-to-ground missiles, which are manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp and enable helicopters to battle tanks and other armored vehicles. Much smaller Hellfire shipments have already been sent to Iraq.
Parts, training and logistical support are part of the new deal.
Iraq's U.S.-trained and -funded army has unraveled as Sunni insurgents have taken swathes of northern and western Iraq.
(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
Tweet thisLink thisShare thisDigg thisEmailPrintReprintsComments (1)
Amazing! The US has gone right back into the business of arming another future enemy. The more things change, the more they stay the same. We learned absolutely nothing from our escapade we had with Saddam Hussein.
US judge signs order to seize Kurdish oil from tanker off Texas - ENERGY
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:37
HOUSTON - Reuters
A US court has moved to seize a cargo of crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan that Baghdad says was sold without its permission after the central Iraqi government filed suit to restrain exportThe SCF Altai tanker is seen anchoring near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was cleared by the US Coast Guard to unload its cargo at sea off Texas.
Acting on a request from the central government in Iraq, a U.S. judge has signed an order telling the U.S. Marshals Service to seize a cargo of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan aboard a tanker off the Texascoast, court filings showed July 29.The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying some 1 million barrels of crude worth about $100 million, arrived near Galveston Bay on July 26 but has yet to unload its disputed cargo.
The ship, which is too large to enter ports near Houston and dock, was given clearance by the U.S. Coast Guardon July 27 to transfer its cargo offshore to smaller boats that would deliver it to the U.S. mainland.
But Iraq's central government, in a court filing on July 28, laid claim to the cargo that it says was sold by the regional government of Kurdistan without permission from Baghdad, which has said such deals amount to smuggling.
To carry out the order from Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the Marshals Service may need to rely on companies that provide crude offloading services.
The judge's order said the vessel would be allowed free movement after the cargo is unloaded.The U.S. State Department has expressed fears that independent oil sales from Kurdistan could contribute to the breakup of Iraq, has said the oil belongs to all Iraqis, and warned potential buyers of legal risks.
But it has also made clear it will not intervene in a commercial transaction.
The filings on July 28 did not name the end-buyer of the cargo in the United States.
AET Offshore Services, a company in Texas that had been hired to unload the tanker for the buyer, asked in a separate court filing whether Iraq's claims were valid.
Piecemeal oil exports have gone from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey and Iran by truck in the past, which Baghdad also opposed.
But the opening of a new pipeline to Turkey earlier this year, which could supply the Kurds with far greater revenues, has met much fiercer opposition from Baghdad.One cargo of Kurdish crude was delivered in Houston in May to an unidentified buyer, and four other cargoes of Kurdish crude have been delivered this year in Israel.
Ramped up attemptsWashington has pressured companies and governments not to buy crude from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), but it has stopped short of banning purchases by U.S. firms.The KRG has renewed its push for an independent state amid the latest violence roiling Iraq. Its relationship withBaghdad has deteriorated over what it sees as Maliki's role in stoking the crisis and the long-running dispute over oil sales.Baghdad's military retreat from the north under a lightning assault led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last week allowed the KRG's Peshmerga forces to seize control of long-disputed Kirkuk and its oil reserves - the potential economic lynchpin of a sovereign Kurdish entity.Baghdad has threatened to sue anyone that buys Kurdish oil.The KRG's pipeline is currently pumping around 120,000 barrels per day to Ceyhan.The region's natural resources minister is aiming to export 400,000 bpd by year-end.
July/29/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
Oil pumping in Iraqi Kurdistan's pipeline halted as tanks at Turkish port full
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:02
July 30, 2014ISTANBUL/LONDON,½ Iraqi Kurdistan's attempts to export oil independently of Baghdad hit another obstacle on Wednesday, as a Turkish energy official and industry sources said the autonomous region's pipeline to the Mediterranean has been shut for the past week.The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not launched any oil tankers from the Turkish port of Ceyhan in over a month as Baghdad has moved to block the vessels from unloading at foreign ports.
The latest set-back comes as Iraqi Kurdistan's increasingly bitter legal and diplomatic struggle with Baghdad over oil sales threatens to spill over into the United States.
Arguing all oil sales outside its control are illegal, Baghdad this week tried to get a Texas court to seize 1 million barrels of oil aboard the United Kalavrvta tanker, which has been anchored off the port of Galveston since the weekend.
But after a U.S. judge on Tuesday said she lacked jurisdiction given the ship's distance from the shore, the KRG hit back at Baghdad, filing a letter with the Texas court arguing its sales are allowed under the Iraqi constitution.
"The federal government cannot win, because our crude is legally produced, shipped, exported, and sold in accordance with the rights of the Kurdistan Region as set forth in the Iraqi constitution," KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami said.
The United Kalavrvta tanker holds more than 1 million barrels of crude worth more than $100 million at international prices. It was still anchored off Galveston on Wednesday, according to Reuters AIS Live ship tracking.
Baghdad has cut the KRG's budget since the start of the year over the oil sales dispute, heaping pressure on the region of roughly 5 million people that has enjoyed relative stability since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
PIPELINE STOPPED
The dispute over exports reflects Iraqi Kurds' emboldened steps toward seizing greater political and economic autonomy, with oil sales seen as central to the Kurdish dreams of independence despite Baghdad's opposition.
Arbil has begun selling its oil via a new pipeline through Turkey in May, but so far has only successfully sold and delivered onewww.Ekurd.net tanker filled with oil from the line. Baghdad has threatened oil traders and put diplomatic pressure on governments not to buy the Kurdish crude.
One Kurdish tanker, the United Leadership, has been anchored off Morocco for almost two months. Another, the United Emblem, has sailed to Asia, and is now anchored off Malaysia.
Unable to deliver its crude, storage tanks for Kurdish crude at the Turkish Mediterranean port have Ceyhan have backed up and are now at capacity, forcing the KRG to shut-off its pipeline.
"There is no flow at the moment and it has been stopped about a week ago because the storage tanks at Ceyhan are full, even the back-up ones," one source familiar with the matter said.
Washington has publicly opposed direct oil sales by the autonomous region, fearing they could contribute to the break-up of Iraq as it struggles to contain the Sunni Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State.
The Kurdish region's President Massoud Barzani has called on his parliament to ready a referendum on independence after the latest violence in the country.
Kurds have also succeeded in cementing their control of land and oil reserves around the resource-rich city of Kirkuk, while Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Arab who has been an adversary of Iraqi Kurds, has fallen out of favour in Washington.
The United has stopped short of banning U.S. companies from buying the oil while warning them of potential legal risks.
Washington has been pushing the KRG and Baghdad to agree a system that would allow both sides to sell crude, splitting revenues between the autonomous region and the central government. But the two sides remain far apart.
By Humeyra Pamuk and Orhan Coskun - Reuters
Copyright ½, respective author or news agency, Reuters
Top
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Wiesenthal Centre to Mayor of The Hague, "Your Authorization of ISIS Gathering May Have Violated The Netherlands' Anti-Terrorism Legislation" | Simon Wiesenthal Center
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:37
Wiesenthal Centre to Mayor of The Hague, "Your Authorization of ISIS Gathering May Have Violated The Netherlands' Anti-Terrorism Legislation"CENTRE SIMON-WIESENTHAL '' EUROPETEL : + 33-147237637 '' FAX : + 33-147208401EMAIL : csweurope@gmail.com
"The Dutch people today, sadly, face two forms of terrorism. The first from those who brought down the Malaysian aircraft over Ukraine.; the second from the potential danger at home from ISIS. The second you can stop if you wish."Paris, 28 JulyIn a letter to The Hague Mayor, Jozias Van Aartsen, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed "shock at your authorization, on two occasions, of demonstrations in the Hague, - ironically branded as the 'City of Peace and Justice' calling for the Death of Jews."Samuels noted, "The World Mayor Association in Hanover established a code for their candidates, led by the duty to protect all their citizens. I, therefore wonder Mr. Van Aartsen, how you feel about endangering your Jewish citizens?"Samuels attached his 25 July letter to Prime Minister Rutte, "Summing up our distress that the Mayor of the Dutch capital has opened his city to public demonstrations by terrorist wannabes - the first occasion on 4 July, perhaps ingenuously; the second, on 24 July, inexcusably."The letter continued, "Now emboldened, there is little doubt that so-called ISIS will convene for a third time, to the cries of 'Mautal-Yahud' (Death to the Jews) and 'Khaybar Khaybar' (the genocidal chant extolling Mohammed's massacre of the Jews in Arabia).""Mr. Mayor, will you stop that third time and those that will follow, before enthusiastic young demonstrators turn words into actions, threats into violence?" challenged Samuels, continuing, "Mr. Mayor, as head of the municipal police, how are you dealing with the Arabic speaking police officer who betrayed his duty to translate the murderous slogans against your Jewish citizens, captured on the film link attached to my letter? How can any of your citizens now trust in the protection of their city's law enforcement?"The Centre argued, "Mr. Mayor, your authorization of these gatherings puts you in violation of the Netherlands anti-terrorism legislation."The letter lamented, "The Dutch people today, sadly, face two forms of terrorism.- The first from those who brought down the Malaysian aircraft over Ukraine.- The second from the potential danger at home from ISIS"."Mr. Mayor, you can stop the second, if you so wish. If you do not, you will share responsibility for the consequences," concluded Samuels.The letter was also sent to the Netherlands Interior Minister and to the members of the Dutch Parliamentary Committee for the Interior.For further information please contact Dr. Shimon Samuels on 00(33)609770158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.
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Ottomania
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Oil pumping in Iraqi Kurdistan's pipeline halted as tanks at Turkish port full
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:02
July 30, 2014ISTANBUL/LONDON,½ Iraqi Kurdistan's attempts to export oil independently of Baghdad hit another obstacle on Wednesday, as a Turkish energy official and industry sources said the autonomous region's pipeline to the Mediterranean has been shut for the past week.The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not launched any oil tankers from the Turkish port of Ceyhan in over a month as Baghdad has moved to block the vessels from unloading at foreign ports.
The latest set-back comes as Iraqi Kurdistan's increasingly bitter legal and diplomatic struggle with Baghdad over oil sales threatens to spill over into the United States.
Arguing all oil sales outside its control are illegal, Baghdad this week tried to get a Texas court to seize 1 million barrels of oil aboard the United Kalavrvta tanker, which has been anchored off the port of Galveston since the weekend.
But after a U.S. judge on Tuesday said she lacked jurisdiction given the ship's distance from the shore, the KRG hit back at Baghdad, filing a letter with the Texas court arguing its sales are allowed under the Iraqi constitution.
"The federal government cannot win, because our crude is legally produced, shipped, exported, and sold in accordance with the rights of the Kurdistan Region as set forth in the Iraqi constitution," KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami said.
The United Kalavrvta tanker holds more than 1 million barrels of crude worth more than $100 million at international prices. It was still anchored off Galveston on Wednesday, according to Reuters AIS Live ship tracking.
Baghdad has cut the KRG's budget since the start of the year over the oil sales dispute, heaping pressure on the region of roughly 5 million people that has enjoyed relative stability since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
PIPELINE STOPPED
The dispute over exports reflects Iraqi Kurds' emboldened steps toward seizing greater political and economic autonomy, with oil sales seen as central to the Kurdish dreams of independence despite Baghdad's opposition.
Arbil has begun selling its oil via a new pipeline through Turkey in May, but so far has only successfully sold and delivered onewww.Ekurd.net tanker filled with oil from the line. Baghdad has threatened oil traders and put diplomatic pressure on governments not to buy the Kurdish crude.
One Kurdish tanker, the United Leadership, has been anchored off Morocco for almost two months. Another, the United Emblem, has sailed to Asia, and is now anchored off Malaysia.
Unable to deliver its crude, storage tanks for Kurdish crude at the Turkish Mediterranean port have Ceyhan have backed up and are now at capacity, forcing the KRG to shut-off its pipeline.
"There is no flow at the moment and it has been stopped about a week ago because the storage tanks at Ceyhan are full, even the back-up ones," one source familiar with the matter said.
Washington has publicly opposed direct oil sales by the autonomous region, fearing they could contribute to the break-up of Iraq as it struggles to contain the Sunni Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State.
The Kurdish region's President Massoud Barzani has called on his parliament to ready a referendum on independence after the latest violence in the country.
Kurds have also succeeded in cementing their control of land and oil reserves around the resource-rich city of Kirkuk, while Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Arab who has been an adversary of Iraqi Kurds, has fallen out of favour in Washington.
The United has stopped short of banning U.S. companies from buying the oil while warning them of potential legal risks.
Washington has been pushing the KRG and Baghdad to agree a system that would allow both sides to sell crude, splitting revenues between the autonomous region and the central government. But the two sides remain far apart.
By Humeyra Pamuk and Orhan Coskun - Reuters
Copyright ½, respective author or news agency, Reuters
Top
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Turkey Arrests 11 More Police Officers
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:25
Turkey's state-run news agency says an Istanbul court has ordered 11 more police officers formally arrested and jailed pending trial for allegedly illegally wiretapping Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials.
The Anadolu Agency says the officers were jailed early Wednesday, raising the number of officers formally detained for illegal wiretaps to 31.
The policemen were among dozens policemen detained on July 22 in raids on their homes.
The government says the officers are associated with a moderate Islamic movement led by a U.S.-based cleric, which it accuses of attempting to topple the government. It says the movement is behind a corruption probe against four former government ministers and a series of leaked recordings suggesting corruption by Erdogan and family members.
The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has denied any involvement.
ABC News
Some 103 people detained in Turkey as a result of operation against Gulen's supporters
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:30
Baku, Azerbaijan, July 23
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:
In Turkey, Tthe number of detained as a result of the operation carried out against Fethullah Gulen [Islamic public figure currently residing in the U.S.], has hit 103 people, Anadolu agency reported on July 23.
The personnel purges against the supporters of Fethullah Gulen were resumed in Turkey's defense and law enforcement agencies on July 22.
The former Istanbul Police Department Intelligence Bureau chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer and former head of Istanbul police, Ertan Ercikti are among the detained.
Gulen, the founder of the Hizmet public movement, as well as, the Turkish Journalists and Writers Foundation, are accused of being involved in a huge wiretapping scandal by the Turkish government.
Following the case, Prime Minister Erdogan accused Gulen and representatives of his movement of standing behind the wiretapping of the phone conversations.
Erdogan also stressed that the Gulen movement, which he earlier called a "parallel structure", proved with its anti-state activities that it is not a religious movement but a politicized and illegal structure.
Turkish PM called on Gulen not to intervene in Turkey's internal affairs and accused the U.S. of supporting him.
A criminal case has been initiated in Turkey against Fethullah Gulen for his coup attempt and espionage against Turkey.
Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Gulen will be extradited from the U.S., adding that Turkey has launched the legal procedure for extradition of Gulen.
Edited by CN
Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency
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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister says women shouldn't laugh out loud - The Washington Post
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:29
One of Turkey's top officials says women should refrain from laughing out loud in public.
A woman ''should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times,'' Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday during an Eid el-Fitr meeting, which marked the end of the Muslim period of fasting, Ramadan.
"A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent," Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Arinc as saying.
Arinc is a founding member of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP), whose moderate Islamist politics are steadily transforming a country founded upon secularism. The comments point to AKP's appeal to conservative Turks. Erdogan, who is running for president, enjoys support among middle-class, observant Muslims.
The laughter comment in particular sparked an outcry on Turkish social media, including from Erdogan's top challenger in the polls, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. He tweeted, "We need to hear the happy laughter of women,'' according to a translation from the Guardian.
Another target of Arinc's disdain included soap operas (which is notable, given the immense popularity of Turkish soap operas throughout the Middle East). He also blasted what he perceived to be a culture of excess within Turkey, English-language Hurriyet Daily News reported, criticizing everything from talking on cellphones instead of face-to-face (women ''spending hours on the phone to swap recipes") to driving unnecessarily (even if the ''river Nile was filled with petrol,'' there wouldn't be enough gas for all the cars on the roads).
Elahe Izadi is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. Before that, she covered Congress for National Journal and race and class for WAMU 88.5.
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Wes Clark 7
Notice to Congress -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Lebanon
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:22
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 29, 2014
NOTICE
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO LEBANON
On August 1, 2007, by Executive Order 13441, the President declared a national emergency with respect to Lebanon pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions of certain persons to undermine Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions; to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation; to reassert
Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon; or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty. Such actions contribute to political and economic instability in that country and the region.
Certain ongoing activities, such as continuing arms transfers to Hizballah that include increasingly sophisticated weapons systems, serve to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in Lebanon, and continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
For this reason, the national emergency declared on August 1, 2007, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond August 1, 2014. In accordance with section 202(d) of the National
Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to Lebanon declared in Executive Order 13441.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
BARACK OBAMA
Germany evacuates embassy in Libya - The Local
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:55
Black smoke billowing from a storage depot of fuel that was hit by a rocket the night before near the airport in Tripoli on July 28th. Photo: EPA/SABRI ELMHEDWI
UPDATE: Germany pulled its embassy staff out of Tripoli on Monday, a day after advising all its citizens currently in Libya to leave the strife-torn country immediately.
"We have evacuated," a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office confirmed, adding that the German Embassy was still open.
A handful of staff are still working there. The Foreign Office did not say how many diplomats had been pulled out.
"The situation is extremely unpredictable and uncertain," the Foreign Office said on Sunday. "German nationals are at increased risk of kidnapping and attacks."
Two weeks of fighting between militias in Libya's capital Tripoli have left 97 people dead.
The United States evacuated its Libyan embassy staff under air cover Saturday as they faced a "real risk" from fierce fighting around Tripoli airport, Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The airport was closed on July 13th following clashes between armed groups in the area.
Britain later updated its advice to warn against travel to Libya, and told those already there to leave.
"British nationals in Libya should leave now by commercial means." Britain's embassy will remain open but with reduced staff, and its ability
to provide consular assistance "is very limited," the Foreign Office said.'High terror threat'
The British ministry warned of a high threat of terrorism, noting that a number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in recent months.
It told those still in Libya, believed to number between 100 and 300, to avoid demonstrations or large crowds and to "keep a low profile".
The US announcement that it was evacuating its embassy came hours after Libya's interim government warned that the clashes between militia vying for control of the strategic airport were threatening to tear the country apart.
Czech, Maltese and Austrian foreign ministries have ongoing advice not to travel to Libya.
Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway have all also advised against travel, while Sweden has also told its citizens to leave the second city of Benghazi.
Spain's foreign ministry "very strongly" recommends that all Spaniards leave Libya "immediately" and Switzerland has warned citizens that it would find it difficult to rescue them should the situation deteriorate.
Belgium on July 16th told nationals to leave the country "immediately" and Turkish citizens were advised to leave on July 24th, a day before its government suspended operations at the Tripoli embassy.
Austria, Italy and Portugal have all warned nationals against travelling around the country, with Austria saying that the risk of terrorist attack was particularly high in Benghazi.
Libya: western countries urge citizens to leave as civil war intensifies | World | The Guardian
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:13
Fighters from the Misrata brigade fire at Tripoli airport on Saturday amid turmoil in the Libyan capital. Photograph: AP
Western countries urged their citizens to leave Libya yesterday, as the country descended further into civil war and British diplomats came under fire.
As fighting raged across the country leaving 59 dead, Britain warned against travel to Libya, and told those already there to leave. "British nationals in Libya should leave now by commercial means," the Foreign Office said. Britain's embassy would remain open but with reduced staff.
France, Germany and the Netherlands issued similar warnings. "The situation is extremely unpredictable and uncertain," the German foreign ministry said. "German nationals are at increased risk of kidnapping and attacks."
Earlier on Sunday, a vehicle carrying a British diplomat was ambushed and sprayed with gunfire on the outskirts of Tripoli.
The armoured vehicle was evacuating British diplomats to neighbouring Tunisia and was attacked close to Camp 27, the base of an Islamist militia on the western outskirts.
Gunmen fired four rounds, all of them stopped by bullet-proof glass, and the vehicle, a white 4x4 with red diplomatic plates, was able to speed away. Ambassador Michael Aron later tweeted: "Shots were fired at our vehicles but all staff safe."
British security officers then warned a second convoy that was evacuating EU staff on the same coastal highway and it turned back, some of the staff later leaving Tripoli on an Italian air force transport plane.
On Saturday, the United States embassy had evacuated staff in the early hours of morning along the same road, with US jets orbiting above ready to strike militia. The decision had been taken after consultations with Washington. Memories are still fresh of the fate of the last ambassador, Chris Stevens, who died along with three staff when the US consulate in Benghazi was stormed by a militia two years ago.
With the American exit, the international community has more or less given up on a diplomatic solution. The Italian air force said it stood ready for more airlifts but EU ambassadors holding a crisis meeting on Sunday said no final decision on a total pullout had been reached.
Such an evacuation would be a severe loss of face, particularly for London and Paris, which led the Nato bombing of Gaddafi three years go and proclaimed at the time they had delivered democracy to Libya.
At Mitiga airport on Sunday waiting for the Italian air force flight, one foreign official said apportioning blame for why it all went wrong must wait for another time. "Today the priority is getting out."
Those evacuating leave behind a city in turmoil. For two weeks Tripoli has echoed to the drumbeat of artillery, tank fire and rockets as rival militias trade fire, much of it landing on innocent civilians. One rocket strike on a house killed 23 Egyptian workers on Sunday, and thousands more are fleeing their homes.
Similar scenes are taking place in the eastern capital, Benghazi, where air force jets allied with a former general, Khalifa Hiftar, pounded Islamist militia bases in battles that left 36 dead.
The battles are part of a wider struggle between Islamists and their opponents, triggered by elections in late June for a new parliament, the house of representatives, that saw steep losses for Islamist parties.
Those parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction party, will almost certainly lose control of the legislature, and their militias fear they will be dissolved.
In Tripoli, an alliance of Islamist and Misratan militias is focused on dominating the city and ejecting a militia from Zintan, which is allied with Hiftar.
The Zintanis hold the airport and a wedge-shaped area in the south and west, all of it now the scene of ferocious violence. Rockets and artillery are directed at the airport and half a dozen districts, with the Zintanis replying in kind. But much of the firing is wild, hitting homes and apartments.
Petrol is scarce, power is more off than on and the internet has been cut. In the absence of security forces, anarchy has broken out. Several banks have been raided by gangs armed with anti-tank rockets, blowing open safes to steal millions of dinars, and kidnappings are rampant.
Tripoli's main medical warehouse has been ransacked by one militia group, leaving hospitals running out of drugs at a time when they most need them.
Seraj, a hotel worker, said he drove from hospital to hospital looking for drugs for his friend, each time being told they had run out. "We tried four hospitals, all give the same answer, no drugs. I can't go to more hospitals, there is no petrol."
Meanwhile, the government has collapsed. On Thursday night, the prime minister, Abdullah al Thinni, was refused permission to board his own plane and leave the city for the east, by the militia that controls Mitiga, Tripoli's second airport. The main international airport is now a battered ruin.
Chiner$
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Texas T. to leave port first time since 70's
U.S. Oil Exports Ready to Sail
A tanker of oil from Texas set sail for South Korea late Wednesday night, the first unrestricted sale of unrefined American oil since the 1970s.
How that $40 million shipment avoided the nearly four-decade ban on exporting U.S. crude is a tale involving two determined energy companies, loophole-seeking lawyers, and an unprecedented boom in American drilling that could create a glut of ultralight oil.
The Singapore-flagged BW Zambesi is the first of many ships likely to carry U.S. oil abroad under a new interpretation of the federal law that bars most sales of American oil overseas. Analysts say future exports appear wide open: as much as 800,000 barrels a day come from just one of the many U.S. oil fields pumping light oil.
Though U.S. policy on oil exports hasn't changed, production of this kind of oil, known as condensate, is surging. This early shipment "is the wedge that's pushing the door open" for more ultralight oil exports, said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of consulting firm IHS.
Under rules Congress imposed after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, companies can export refined fuels like gasoline and diesel but not oil itself except in limited circumstances that require a special license. Such licenses, often for oil destined for Canada, are issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security, the unit inside the U.S. Commerce Department.
Until recently, domestic oil production had been declining and exporting oil wasn't a hot issue. All that changed as new techniques for tapping oil from shale formations have sparked an oil boom in Texas, North Dakota and elsewhere. Since the end of 2011, U.S. oil production has jumped by about 48%, to about 8.4 million barrels a day, according federal data.
That has been good news for companies including Enterprise Products Partners LP in Houston, a $47.7 billion company that processes, ships and stores oil and gas. Last summer, the company noticed a troubling trend: ultralight oil flowing from South Texas was flooding the market and pushing down prices. It predicted volumes would swell and prices could fall further as oil companies ramped up drilling and production.
Energy companies and lobbyists had started advocating for ending or at least relaxing the ban; Exxon Mobil Corp., the nation's biggest oil company, openly supported lifting export restrictions in December.
But neither Congress nor the Obama administration appeared willing to do more than study a change, which some lawmakers fear would result in higher gasoline prices in the U.S.
The industry embarked on a subtle, behind-the-scenes review of the regulations, discovering an opening for exports under existing definitions of the law. Enterprise and its lawyers found language that they believed would allow them to argue that the processing to remove some volatile elements from oil would be enough to make the resulting petroleum qualify as exportable fuel, even though it is a far cry from the traditional refining process.
The processing, which peels off fuels like propane and butane, is commonly done in oil fields across the U.S. Companies that manufacture the equipment involved say it costs between $500,000 and $5 million, a fraction of the expense of building a refinery.
When Enterprise made its case to the government, it said the equipment that its customers use to treat oil for shipment on its pipelines chemically alters the condensate in a way that makes it an exportable fuel. However, several industry executives say the equipment is not special.
"Early this year, we became very confident, extremely confident, that this was indeed a petroleum product that could be exported," Bill Ordemann, a senior vice president at Enterprise, said in an interview.
In late February, Enterprise representatives gave a private presentation to Commerce Department officials and answered a battery of questions.
Oil executives who have met with Commerce say five to 10 department officials are involved in the talks and decisions on export rulings. When energy companies began to plead their cases with the department in earnest, an official asked one company representative how to spell condensate, said a person at the meeting.
"I look for practical solutions. I looked over the regulations, said, 'What is my client trying to do, what windows do we have?' " said Jacob Dweck, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP hired by Enterprise to press its case.
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. executives also were looking for a way around the ban. Pioneer, which drills across Texas, hired a former deputy secretary of the Commerce Department to represent it.
Ted Kassinger, a partner at law firm O'Melveny & Myers, zeroed in on existing oil field equipment and asked whether it might meet federal regulatory criteria. "We suddenly realized we had existing infrastructure that, at least in part, goes through a distillation process and is producing a product that's not crude oil," he said.
Jeff Navin, a partner at Washington, D.C.-based policy consultants Boundary Stone Partners, said that the final decisions rested on specific language in the export ban that didn't define a refined product but rather said oil had to pass through a "distillation tower," traditionally found at refineries, before it could be exported.
"So the question became, 'What constitutes a distillation tower?' " said Mr. Navin, a former acting chief of staff to the Energy Secretary. "The more narrowly you define that question, the easier it is to get the administration to side with you."
Commerce gave Enterprise the green light for exports at the end of March and Pioneer received its ruling soon after. Both companies said their applications weren't coordinated.
The decisions mean unrefined ultralight oil can now be exported from the U.S. in some cases, because the processed condensate that comes from field-level equipment is considered chemically altered enough to skirt the ban.
The White House was caught off guard by the news of the department's actions, which weren't coordinated with other parts of the administration, according to senior White House counselor John Podesta.
Pioneer said its ruling is narrowly drawn to fit its own operations. But Enterprise said its ruling isn't specific to its own operations or processing equipment. Any company that processes condensate in a manner that adheres to Commerce's ruling can sell it to Enterprise for export, the company said.
As many as 10 other companies have since applied for their own rulings on oil exports, according to people familiar with the matter. All those requests are on hold for now.
The 400,000 barrel shipment leaving the U.S. from Enterprise's terminal in Texas City, south of Houston, was purchased by GS Caltex Corp., a South Korean refiner. Oil traders and executives say negotiations are already under way for additional sales to Asian buyers.
— Amy Harder, Eric Yep and Alison Sider contributed to this article.
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Producer morgen on china
I agree with you totally about china...
The Chinese corporate culture is totally money hungry, it is all about making more money, it has been proven time and time again, that they are totally fine with killing each other, and anyone else. After living in China for 2 years now, I have huge trust issues with the the Chinese race in general. you can call me racist if you want but they are all dishonest self interested dickheads.
look into the planned worlds tallest building, where the concrete supplier was using beach sand in the foundation concrete or the new apartment buildings that just fell over. they are careless to the point of stupidity.
I am very worried about any world where they are a major power.
Thank you for your courage
Morgan
Architect
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Argentina Goes Into Default - The Wire
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:28
Axel Kicillof, Argentina's economy minister.
The nation of Argentina was declared in default on billions of dollars of foreign-currency obligations today, as they were unable to reach deal with American investors on a missed interest payment. This is the second time in 13 years, the country has gone into default.
According to the ratings agency Standard and Poor's Argentina has about about $200 billion in foreign-currency debt, including $30 billion of restructured bonds.
As Quartz explains, Argentina has spent most of the last decade restructuring its debt, following a 2001 default, but a small group of investors, led by New York-based hedge funds are demanding full repayment of that debt. The creditors won a judgement requiring Argentina to pay them $1.5 billion, but the Argentina's Economy Minister, Axel Kicillof, says paying that debt "would trigger bond clauses requiring the country to offer similar terms to other bondholders." However, a U.S. judge ruled that they can't not make a required $539 payment to those other bondholders, unless they also payout the money owed to the hedge funds. So nobody got paid anything, and South America's third-largest economy is now in (probably) in default.
The situation could be temporary, as they could still negotiate a settlement over the $1.5 billion payment. However, Kicillof has been unable to work out a deal through a court appointed mediator. Negotiations will continue over the next several days, though Argentina's president Cristina Kirchner has made it a political point of pride to not pay the "vulture funds" what the courts say they are owed.
Argentina also maintains that they are not in default, because the $539 million interest payment was delivered to an escrow account. However, that money has not been distributed to creditors.
Related
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Burma Pipeline Carries 1.87bln cm of Gas to China in First Year
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:18
The Chinese-backed Shwe gas pipeline is seen in Arakan State. (Photo: Ko Soe / The Irrawaddy)
BEIJING '-- China imported 1.87 billion cubic meters of gas through the China-Burma gas pipeline in its first year of operation, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said on Monday, as the pipeline slowly ramps up to full capacity.
The multibillion-dollar gas pipeline stretches over 2,400 km (1,500 miles) from the Indian Ocean through Burma to the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, allowing China to bypass the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
The pipeline should be able to carry up to 12 billion cubic meters of gas a year at full capacity, while a parallel oil pipeline due to come online later this year will carry up to 440,000 barrels of oil a day.
The gas pipeline brings gas to China from the Shwe fields off the coast of Burma's western Arakan State.
CNPC, which owns the pipelines, said in a statement posted on its website that the gas pipeline also supplied 60 million cubic meters of gas to Burma.
Burmese officials have said previously that it would take about a year to fill the pipeline to full capacity.
In June, Burma announced revenues of $3.3 billion from gas exports in the last fiscal year, down from the previous two years, due to increased domestic needs. Revenues are expected to grow as exports to China through the pipeline increase.
China's dream to connect with Indian Ocean dashed; trying to revive canceled project
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:18
India has been worried about China's efforts to access the Indian Ocean because it has military implications. China has built a port in Sri Lanka. Its plans to lay a 1215-km long rail line connecting Kunming on China's border to Kyaukphyu in Myanmar is a matter of concern for New Delhi.
China's dream of getting access to the Indian Ocean with a new railway line passing through Myanmar has been dashed. The Myanmar government has cancelled the $20 billion project after differences over costs and environmental impact, according to reports from that country.
'We have also seen that at a time when China-Myanmar relations are experiencing more opportunities, there also emerge some challenges,' China's official Xinhua news agency Yang Houlan, the country's ambassador in Myanmar, as saying.
India has been worried about China's efforts to access the Indian Ocean because it has military implications. China has built a port in Sri Lanka. Its plans to lay a 1215-km long rail line connecting Kunming on China's border to Kyaukphyu in Myanmar is a matter of concern for New Delhi.
On the other hand, Chinese officials are now trying to persuade the Myanmar Railway to reconsider the project, which has been cancelled.
The official Xinhua indicated there was only a problem of coordination between the two countries concerning the project. It quoted a Myanmar official saying, 'I understand that it needs time to continue coordination'.
Chinese Ambassador Yang Houlan rejected reports that it was China which had abandoned the project. He was obviously referring to a report in Myanmar's Irrawaddy newspaper, which said China had shown little interest in implementing the project for which a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2011.
'We just made a memorandum of understanding between the two parties. Now, we haven't made any new agreement to start operations, so what I can say is that we aren't working on this project,' the Irrawaddy quoted a railway official as saying.
'Actually, the cost proposed by China for the project was not sufficient to construct the long railroad, and, also, there are other environmental impact issues that we would have to consider along the railroad,' the official told the Irrawaddy.
There are also reports of protests against the rail road in some parts of Myanmar, and the local government also had concerns about environmental impact of the 1215-km long project.
Citing other reasons for Myanmar to continue with the project, the ambassador China is biggest source of investment and trading partner for Myanmar. The two countries have established Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation Partnership, and have agreed to cooperate in the area of economic development.
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Dozens 'killed and injured in terror attack' in China's Xinjiang - Yahoo News
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:29
A clash in Xinjiang, home to China's mostly Muslim Uighur minority, left nearly 100 people dead or wounded, an exile group said Wednesday after what authorities called a "terror attack" on a police station and township.
Dozens of civilians and assailants were killed and injured in the attack by a gang armed with knives and axes, Chinese state media reported late Tuesday.
"Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob," the official news agency Xinhua said.
It did not give a precise breakdown of the casualties from the incident on Monday -- the day before Muslims in China marked the Eid festival -- and information in Xinjiang is often difficult to verify independently.
Xinjiang's government web portal Tianshan on Wednesday described the violence as a "terror attack" that killed or wounded "several tens" of Uighur and Han.
The Han are China's largest ethnic group, whose members have migrated in large numbers to Xinjiang in recent decades.
Separately, prosecutors in Xinjiang on Wednesday brought charges of separatism against prominent Uighur academic Ilham Tohti detained earlier this year.
Detention of the outspoken economics professor in January prompted condemnation from the United States, European Union and international rights groups including Amnesty International.
Washington on Wednesday renewed calls for his release.
"We are concerned about reports that China has indicted prominent economics professor Ilham Tohti," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, adding "we call on Chinese authorities to release" Tohti and six students held with him.
Monday's violence came when "Uighurs rose up to resist China's extreme ruling policy and were met with armed repression resulting in dead and injured on both sides", Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for exile group World Uyghur Congress said in an e-mail.
"Nearly 100 people were killed and wounded during the clash," he said, citing local Uighur sources.
It took place in Shache county, or Yarkand in the Uighur language, near the edge of the Taklamakan desert in the west of the vast region.
According to Xinhua, it was "organised and premeditated".
The Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, cited unnamed sources as saying police had intensified security checks in the Kashgar area, which includes Yarkand, because of a trade fair, and clashed with "thugs" found in possession of explosive materials.
Some escaped and later "incited" others to attack the local government facilities and police station, the report said, adding they also hijacked a coach and held passengers hostage.
In a bylined commentary late Tuesday, Xinhua said the assailants were "committing blasphemy against Islam, 'the religion of peace'."
"Police shooting dead of the mobsters was decisive and well justified," it added.
- 'Strike first' -
Beijing commonly blames separatists from Xinjiang for carrying out terror attacks which have grown in scale over the past year and spread outside the restive and resource-rich region.
Among the most shocking incidents were a market attack in Urumqi in May in which 39 people were killed, and a deadly rampage by knife-wielding assailants at a train station at Kunming in China's southwest in March, which left 29 dead.
They came after a fiery vehicle crash at Tiananmen Square, Beijing's symbolic heart, in October last year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Xinjiang in late April, ordered a crackdown after a stabbing spree and explosion at an Urumqi railway station left three people dead and 79 wounded on the last day of his trip.
During the visit he had called for a "strike first" strategy to fight terrorism and called the Kashgar area China's "front line in anti-terrorist efforts".
Rights groups and analysts accuse China's government of cultural and religious repression which they say fuels unrest in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.
The government, however, argues it has boosted economic development in the area and that it upholds minority rights in a country with 56 recognised ethnic groups.
Beijing has also suggested that extremists in Xinjiang are influenced by radical groups outside China, though many foreign analysts are sceptical, pointing instead to Uighur dissatisfaction.
Deadly clashes involving Uighurs and local police and security personnel are not unusual.
Last month, regional authorities said that police shot dead 13 people after they drove into a police building and set off an explosion.
And in June last year at least 35 people were killed when, according to state media, "knife-wielding mobs" attacked police stations, drawing fire from security personnel.
Unrest, Conflicts & WarPolitics & GovernmentChinaXinjiangXinhua
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SnowJob
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The NSA's Cyber-King Goes Corporate
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:34
Keith Alexander, the recently retired director of the National Security Agency, left many in Washington slack-jawed when it was reported that he might charge companies up to $1 million a month to help them protect their computer networks from hackers. What insights or expertise about cybersecurity could possibly justify such a sky-high fee, somewondered, even for a man as well-connected in the military-industrial complex as the former head of the nation's largest intelligence agency?
The answer, Alexander said in an interview Monday, is a new technology, based on a patented and "unique" approach to detecting malicious hackers and cyber-intruders that the retired Army general said he has invented, along with his business partners at IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., the company he co-founded after leaving the government and retiring from military service in March. But the technology is also directly informed by the years of experience Alexander has had tracking hackers, and the insights he gained from classified operations as the director of the NSA, which give him a rare competitive advantage over the many firms competing for a share of the cybersecurity market.
The fact that Alexander is building what he believes is a new kind of technology for countering hackers hasn't been previously reported. And it helps to explain why he feels confident in charging banks, trade associations, and large corporations millions of dollars a year to keep their networks safe. Alexander said he'll file at least nine patents, and possibly more, for a system to detect so-called advanced persistent threats, or hackers who clandestinely burrow into a computer network in order to steal secrets or damage the network itself. It was those kinds of hackers who Alexander, when he was running the NSA, said were responsible for "the greatest transfer of wealth in American history" because they were routinely stealing trade secrets and competitive information from U.S. companies and giving it to their competitors, often in China.
Alexander is believed to be the first ex-director of the NSA to file patents on technology that's directly related to the job he had in government. He said that he had spoken to lawyers at the NSA, and privately, to ensure that his new patents were "ironclad" and didn't rely on any work that he'd done for the agency -- which still holds the intellectual property rights to other technology Alexander invented while he ran the agency.
Alexander is on firm legal ground so long as he can demonstrate that his invention is original and sufficiently distinct from any other patented technologies. Government employees are allowed to retain the patents for technology they invent while working in public service, but only under certain conditions, patent lawyers said. If an NSA employee's job, for instance, is to research and develop new cybersecurity technologies or techniques, then the government would likely retain any patent, because the invention was directly related to the employee's job. However, if the employee invented the technology on his own time and separate from his core duties, he might have a stronger argument to retain the exclusive rights to the patent.
"There is no easy black-and-white answer to this," said Scott Felder, a partner with the law firm Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, adding that it's not uncommon for government employees to be granted patents to their inventions.
A source familiarly with Alexander's situation, who asked not to be identified, said that the former director developed this new technology on his private time, and that he addressed any potential infractions before deciding to seek his patents.
But Alexander started his company almost immediately after stepping down from the NSA. As for how much the highly classified knowledge in his head influenced his latest creation, only Alexander knows.
In the interview, Alexander insisted that the cybersecurity technology he's inventing now is distinct enough from his work at the NSA that he can file for new patents -- and reap all the benefits that come with them. A patent prohibits any other individual, company, or government agency from using the underlying invention without a license from the patent holder.
But even if Alexander's new technology is legally unique, it is shaped by the nearly nine years he spent running an intelligence colossus. He was the longest-serving director in the history of the NSA and the first commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, responsible for all cybersecurity personnel -- defensive and offensive -- in the military and the Defense Department. From those two perches, Alexander had access to the government's most highly classified intelligence about hackers trying to steal U.S. secrets and disable critical infrastructure, such as the electrical power grid. Indeed, he helped to invent new techniques for finding those hackers and filed seven patents on cybersecurity technologies while working for the NSA.
Alexander used his influence to warn companies that they were blind to cyberthreats that only the NSA could see, and that unless they accepted his help, they risked devastating losses. Alexander wanted to install monitoring equipment on financial companies' websites, but he was rebuffed, according to financial executives who took part in the discussions. His attempts to make the NSA a cyber-watchdog on corporate networks were seen as a significant intrusion by government into private business.
Few, if any, independent inventors have seen such detailed, classified information about the way hackers work and what classified means the government has developed to fight them, all of which gives Alexander a competitive advantage in his new life as a businessman. That insider knowledge has raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, where Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has publicly questioned whether Alexander is effectively selling classified information in exchange for his huge consulting fee. (Bloomberg reported that the figure dropped to $600,000 after the $1 million figure raised hackles in Washington and among computer-security experts.)
Alexander said that his new approach is different than anything that's been done before because it uses "behavioral models" to help predict what a hacker is likely to do. Rather than relying on analysis of malicious software to try to catch a hacker in the act, Alexander aims to spot them early on in their plots. Only the market will tell whether his approach is as novel as he claims. (One former national security official with decades of experience in security technology, and who asked to remain anonymous, said the behavioral-model approach is highly speculative and has never been used successfully.)
The former NSA chief said that IronNet has already signed contracts with three companies -- which he declined to name -- and that he hopes to finish testing the system by the end of September.
"We've got a great solution. We've got to prove that it works," Alexander said. "It will be another way of looking at cybersecurity that gives us greater capabilities than we've had in the past."
Asked why he didn't share this new approach with the federal government when he was in charge of protecting its most important computer systems, Alexander said the key insight about using behavior models came from one of his business partners, whom he also declined to name, and that it takes an approach that the government hadn't considered. It's these methods that Alexander said he will seek to patent.
Alexander said that if he determines that he needs to use technology or methods that the NSA has patented, he will pay for a license, including for anything he helped to invent while he was in office and for which he doesn't own the rights. During his time at the NSA, Alexander said he filed seven patents, four of which are still pending, that relate to an "end-to-end cybersecurity solution." Alexander said his co-inventor on the patents was Patrick Dowd, the chief technical officer and chief architect of the NSA. Alexander said the patented solution, which he wouldn't describe in detail given the sensitive nature of the work, involved "a line of thought about how you'd systematically do cybersecurity in a network."
That sounds hard to distinguish from Alexander's new venture. But, he insisted, the behavior modeling and other key characteristics represent a fundamentally new approach that will "jump" ahead of the technology that's now being used in government and in the private sector.
Alexander said he was persuaded to start a security business and apply for patents after hearing from potential customers, including company executives, who said they were worried about hackers who could steal or even erase the proprietary data on their companies' computers. Alexander said they were particularly worried about threats like the Wiper virus, a malicious computer program that targeted the Iranian Oil Ministry in April 2012, erasing files and data.
That will come as a supreme irony to many computer security experts, who say that Wiper is a cousin of the notorious Stuxnet virus, which was built by the NSA -- while Alexander was in charge -- in cooperation with Israeli intelligence. The program disabled centrifuges in a nuclear plant in Iran in a classified operation known as Olympic Games. The United States has never acknowledged its involvement.
The United States isn't the only government capable of building data-erasing malware. Iran is building a formidable cyber-army, U.S. intelligence officials say, and is believed to be behind a 2012 attack on an oil company in Saudi Arabia that erased data from more than 30,000 computers. Iranian hackers also launched a series of cyberattacks on major U.S. bank websites the same year, intelligence officials say. The strike took Washington by surprise because it was so sophisticated and aggressive. The hackers hijacked data centers consisting of thousands of computers each and used them to flood the bank websites with digital traffic, causing them to crash.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP
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Et Tu, Taibbi? No one seems to have noticed the most worrying line in Pierre Omidyar's new blog post | PandoDaily
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:55
By Paul CarrOn July 28, 2014
Much ado today about Pierre Omidyar's nine month update on his strategy for First Look Media. Gone is the grand plan to create a stable of digital magazines, and in its place a greater focus on building tools for journalists. Omidyar insists, however, that his two already announced blogs '-- John Cook's The Intercept and Matt Taibbi's unnamed project '-- will continue as planned.
We've seen this playbook before of course. A couple of years ago I wrote about ebook publisher, The Atavist's plans to pivot into a platform to allow others to publish. (They too promised they would maintain a commitment to also publishing their own material.) My thoughts on that move '-- outlined in a post subtly titled ''Platforms are for Pussies'' are equally relevant today'...
Every day another independent publisher pulls this same move: ''we're going to refocus on being a platform''. Evan Ratliff's Atavist has all but abandoned its original publishing model in favor of its ebook ''platform'', GOOD magazine has fired its entire editorial staff and will instead focus on being ''a platform for social good'' and now Punch! wants to help other publishers make it impossible for readers to click on articles about Mitt Romney.
ENOUGH.
I mean, I get it. Editorial is expensive. Christ, it's so expensive'... But it gets worse: Not only is editorial expensive, but nobody wants to pay for it. Readers, we're told, don't want to pay for it (I'll deal with that bullshit another time). And investors certainly don't want to pay for it'... No investor of sound mind thinks he or she will make money from a magazine, any more than they think investing in restaurants or airlines is a smart move.
A platform, on the other hand'... well, that's the answer to everything. Noone ever went broke building a platform. For one thing, a platform doesn't need to commission editorial: some other sap takes care of that '-- either clients (Atavist, Punch!) or Joe User (GOOD magazine).
Of course, in the case of first look, Omidyar is both sole investor and publisher. And apparently he's just realized that, even with a $250 million dollar budget and a big pile of NSA leaked documents acquired along with Glenn Greenwald, creating a serious journalistic enterprise is hard. A platform, on the other hand, is something Omidyar has built before and clearly believes he can build again. Someone else can take care of actually fixing American journalism and delivering on all the promises he made in his weirdly Pierre-centric launch video.
But while others discuss Pierre's pivot, and what it means for Greenwald's future at the project, there's another pivot tucked away in the announcement that most people seem to have missed. Here's the line (emphasis mine):
''[W]e've partnered with the talented Matt Taibbi to plan and launch this fall a new digital magazine with a satirical approach to American politics and culture.''
''A satirical approach to American politics and culture.''
Now compare that with Taibbi's original plan on joining First Look, as reported in the New York Times back in February'... (again, emphasis mine)
Mr. Taibbi will start his own publication focusing on financial and political corruption, he said in an interview on Wednesday. First Look is financed by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who is worth $8.5 billion, according to Forbes. Mr. Omidyar has pledged $250 million to the project.
Even the Times couldn't resist pointing out the juxtaposition. Were we really supposed to believe that Taibbi would be allowed to investigate financial corruption, and Wall Street hi-jinx, when his boss is one of the richest men in America?
As Pando has written before, Omidyar has long been a critic of government wrongdoing, but when it comes to corporate America, he takes a firm ''don't ask, don't tell'' position. He once said that leakers of corporate documents should face the full force of the law, and that he'd be glad to hand one over to the cops should they approach him with stolen Wall Street secrets.
Today we have the answer: Apparently Taibbi will still be going after politicians and popular culture, but he'll have to find another outlet for his rightly celebrated take-downs of billionaires like the one who pays his salary.
(I emailed Taibbi a couple of hours ago for clarification. No reply as of press time.)
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Lawfare 'º Senator Leahy's NSA Reform Bill: A Quick and Dirty Summary
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:25
As Wells reported this morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy unveiled his version of the NSA reform bill today. Leahy's bill is important because, well, it's not just Leahy's bill. It's the bill. It represents a compromise between the intelligence community, the administration more generally, civil liberties groups, industry, and fairly wide range of senators. And it will be the legislative vehicle that's going to move forward with the sometimes nose-holding support of most of the major parties. It thus warrants close attention.
Leahy's 97-page bill is decidedly tougher in its requirements on NSA than was the 43-page bill the House of Representatives passed back in May, the perceived laxness of which had drawn vociferous objections from civil libertarians. Leahy's bill, by contrast, has civil libertarian hearts aflutter. On Sunday, even before the bill's public release, the New York Times editorial page issued a ringing endorsement, commending it as ''a breakthrough in the struggle against the growth of government surveillance power.'' The ACLU also has endorsed the bill, in rather strong terms:
To put this in historical context: If the Senate passes the bill, it will be the first time since passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 that the chamber has taken action to constrain the intelligence community, and the first time Congress has a real shot at restoring the crucial privacy protections lost in the Patriot Act. To quote Joe Biden during the signing of the healthcare bill, ''This is a big f'--ing deal.''
But the administration also makes significant gains here. Most importantly, it codifies an authority that is now highly contested, and it pushes back a scheduled sunset of that authority that is approaching rather quickly.
In this post, we refrain from opining on the bill's merits and instead describe what it would do, how it differs from the House bill, and where in the bill lie the major advances that make the various parties with stakes in NSA reform all line up behind it.
Like the House bill, the Senate bill bans bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 101 of Leahy's Senate bill would, like its House counterpart, accomplish this by requiring that FISA business records applications'--whether for tangible things, call detail records, or something else'--be based on a ''specific selection term.'' And Section 101 would incorporate the same language the House bill set forth with respect to ordering production of information within two hops of a specific selection term: the government would be able to use (1) a specific selection term to order production of a first set of call detail records, the first hop; or (2) ''call detail records with a direct connection to such specific selection term'' to order production of a second set of call detail records, the second hop.
But ''specific selection term'' has a much narrower meaning in the Senate bill than in the House bill. Section 107 would define ''specific selection term'' generally as a term that ''specifically identifies a person, account, address, or personal device'''--which matches the House language. But the Senate definition goes on to require not only that a specific selection term ''limit the scope of information or tangible things,'' as the House bill would require, but that it should ''narrowly limit the scope of tangible things sought to the greatest extent reasonably practicable, consistent with the purpose for seeking the tangible things'' (emphasis added). What's more, the Leahy bill would exclude terms that do not narrowly limit in such a manner as specific selection terms. Examples of impermissible specific selection terms include terms ''based on a broad geographic region, including a city, State, zip code, or area code, when not used as part of a specific identifier,'' as well as terms ''identifying an electronic communication service provider . . . or a provider of remote computing service, when not used as part of a specific identifier . . . unless the provider is itself a subject of an authorized investigation for which the specific selection term is used as the basis of production.''
The tighter definition of ''specific selector requirement'' created a problem for the government: What happened, say, if the government knew a terrorist was staying a hotel and making calls from it, but didn't know which guest he was? Under these standards, it would not be able seek call detail records for all of the guests in the hotel. This is hardly bulk collection in the sense that worries Glenn Greewald and others, but would seem to be precluded by a law that restricts collection to the identification of individual accounts or people.
The Senate bill offers a novel solution to this problem, one based on minimization procedures. The House version directs the government to ''adopt minimization procedures that require the prompt destruction of all call detail records'' determined not to be ''foreign intelligence information,'' and Leahy's bill retains that common-sense requirement. Section 103 of the Senate bill, however, adds further minimization procedures for ''orders in which the specific selection term does not specifically identify an individual, account, or personal device.''
In other words, the government could get a block of call records from all guests at the hypothetical hotel, but in such cases, the law would require procedures that would ''prohibit the dissemination'' and ''require the destruction within a reasonable time period'' of ''any tangible thing or information therein that has not been determined to relate to a person'' belonging to a certain list'--including ''a subject of an authorized investigation,'' ''a foreign power or a suspected agent of a foreign power,'' or a person ''reasonably likely to have information about the activities of a subject of an authorized investigation.''
Section 101 goes on to introduce specific procedures for applications to obtain call detail records. As compared to the House bill, the Leahy bill would raise the bar on what such applications must state. In both versions, there are two general requirements: (1) ''reasonable grounds to believe'' the call detail records are relevant to an investigation; and (2) ''a reasonable, articulable suspicion'' that a specific selection term is associated with a foreign power.
The House and Senate agree as to the first requirement, both requiring that applications would have to state ''reasonable grounds to believe that the call detail records sought to be produced based on [a] specific selection term . . . are relevant to [an authorized] investigation.'' They differ, however, as to the second. Whereas the House version would require that there are ''facts giving rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion,'' the Senate would demand simply ''a reasonable, articulable suspicion.'' More importantly, whereas the House version would require that there must be a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a specific selection term is ''associated with a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,'' the Senate bill would require the specific selection term to be ''associated with a foreign power engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor; or an agent of a foreign power engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor'' (emphasis added). This would effectively limit call records acquisition to counterterrorism'--something the current 215 program is but the House bill would not have required in the future.
Not only would the Senate bill provide a higher application threshold than the House bill for call detail records, it would also contain more specific prohibitions than the House bill does concerning what a ''call detail record'' may include. Although both the House and Senate bills would specify that a call detail record may not include the address of a subscriber or customer, Section 107 of Leahy's bill clarifies that the term ''address'' is not confined to a mailing address: it can also be ''a physical address or electronic address, such as an electronic mail address, temporarily assigned network address, or Internet protocol address.''
Under current FISA, persons ordered to produce tangible things must also comply with ''nondisclosure orders,'' which may be challenged in certain circumstances. Section 104 would make it easier to challenge or set aside such nondisclosure orders. First, the provision would nix FISA's current ban on challenging a nondisclosure order for a one-year period after the issuance of the relevant production order. Second, the section would eliminate the Attorney General and FBI's ability to issue a certification'--which is treated as conclusive by a judge considering a petition to modify or set aside a nondisclosure order'--that disclosure may endanger the national security of the United States or interfere with diplomatic relations. Under current FISA, such a certification can all but end a judge's consideration of a challenge to a nondisclosure order.
Like the House bill, the Leahy bill contains protections for those ordered to produce tangible things or provide information, such as internet service providers. Section 105 immunizes such persons from liability, while Section 106 requires the government to compensate such persons for ''reasonable expenses incurred'' in complying with production orders.
Section 108 outlines the Inspector General's duties to audit the minimization procedures used in making production orders and to report the results of the audit.
Critically for the government, Title VII of the bill amends the Patriot Act sunset date from the middle of next year to the end of the 2017, harmonizing the business records sunset with those of the Section 702 authorities.
Put simply, there are wins and losses here for all sides (except industry, for which Title I is almost all win). Civil libertarians get a tighter definition of ''specific selection term'' over the House's version'--and various tightenings of other provisions as well. They get an end to bulk collection and a substantive rollback of the metadata collection. The administration, meanwhile, gets codification of its authority to do contact chaining using call records. And it gets relief from the fast-approaching 2015 sunset of the Section 215 authority. Industry, for its part, gets an important absence'--perhaps the biggest loss for the government in the entire legislation: The bill contains no requirement that telecommunications carriers retain call record data.
Title II deals with pen register and trap and trace devices under FISA. In similar fashion as Title I handles call records, Section 201 would ban bulk collection from such programs by imposing the requirement that ''a specific selection term . . . be used as the basis for the installation or use of the pen register or trap and trace device.'' Section 202 would demand privacy protections beyond those for which the House bill would provide.
Title V applies the ''specific selection term'' requirement to various other provisions in the U.S. Code that would otherwise permit the FBI to issue bulk collection national security letters. In Section 501, the Senate bill would, like the House bill, replace bulk collection with specific selection term requirements in four areas: (1) counterintelligence access to telephone toll and transactional records, 18 U.S.C. § 2709(b); (2) access to financial records for certain intelligence and protective purposes, 12 U.S.C. § 3414(a)(2); (3) disclosures to FBI of certain consumer records for counterintelligence purposes, 15 U.S.C. § 1681u; and (4) disclosures to governmental agencies for counterterrorism purposes of consumer reports, 15 U.S.C. § 1681v.
Section 502 of the Senate bill then goes further than the House bill by establishing circumstances under which persons issued national security letters may be subject to nondisclosure requirements. In brief, the bill would more or less forbid disclosure in instances in which the FBI certifies that failing to forbid disclosure could result in ''a danger to the national security of the United States''; ''interference with a criminal, counterintelligence investigation''; ''interference with diplomatic relations''; or ''danger to the life or physical safety of any person.'' However, the bill would permit persons subject to nondisclosure requirements to request judicial review.
Title III briefly touches upon Section 702 collection. Section 301 of the Senate bill tracks the House bill closely and would prohibit the use in trials, investigations, or regulatory proceedings of information obtained through procedures deemed by a FISA Court to be ''deficient.'' An exception to the rule would arise where the government ''corrects any deficiency'' and a FISA Court allows its use under minimization procedures. Curiously missing in Title III, however, is language present in the House version relating to minimization procedures for 702 collection. Whereas the House bill emphasized the need to ''minimize the acquisition, and prohibit the retention and dissemination, of any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are determined to be located in the United States at the time of acquisition,'' the Senate bill is silent.
The absence of any substantial change to 702 is a significant win for the administration.
Title IV of the Leahy bill offers three key reforms to the FISA Court system. First, Section 401 clarifies the role of a FISA Court-appointed amicus curiae. Civil libertarians had criticized the House bill for authorizing only an amicus presentation by non-government counsel, rather than creating a public advocate who could intervene on his own.
The Senate version also falls short of a full public advocate model but it goes further than the House bill, which made the appointment of amicus solely a function of the FISA Court's judgment in any given case. The Senate bill, by contrast, would require the FISA Court to consult with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to ''jointly appoint not fewer than 5 attorneys to serve as special advocates.'' The bill then would require that the court ''shall designate'' one of the special advocates as an amicus to assist the court ''in the consideration of any certification . . . , or any application for an order or review that . . . presents a novel or significant interpretation of the law.'' But there's an escape hatch, one on which Steve Vladeck has written with respect to the House bill: the court can avoid designating an amicus by ''issu[ing] a written finding that such appointment is not appropriate.'' The language, in other words, still leaves the appointment of outside counsel up to the FISA Court, but it creates a stronger presumption in favor of outside involvement and involves the PCLOB institutionally in the appointment of special advocates.
Moreover, Section 401 affords the special advocate substantial duties and powers not present in the House bill. For instance, the amicus ''shall advocate, as appropriate, in support of legal interpretations that advance individual privacy and civil liberties'' and ''shall have access to all relevant legal precedent'' and any other materials that are relevant to the special advocate's duties. Moreover, the advocate ''may request that the court appoint technical . . . experts, not employed by the Government'' to ''assist'' the advocate. Both the special advocate and any experts appointed to assist the special advocate would have access to classified information, so long as they would be eligible for such access and access would be consistent with national security.
This is a mixed bag, in other words. Civil libertarians have gotten stronger presumptions of amicus participation, and they have won an institutionally stronger amicus in a number of ways. But the advocate is still an amicus and cannot intervene on his or her own authority.
Second, Section 401 would establish additional procedures for appellate review of FISA Court decisions. The Senate bill would require review by the FISA Court of Review in instances where an order addresses a ''question of law'' that potentially challenges the ''need for uniformity,'' as well as where such review ''would serve the interests of justice.'' In turn, the FISA Court of Review would be permitted to certify ''a question of law to be reviewed by the Supreme Court of the United States'' in any decision that approves a government application. Upon certification, the Court of Review would be able to designate a special advocate to provide briefing.
This is a big deal. For a number of reasons, the FISA Court has tended to be the final word on a lot of questions it considers. This will change that, involving more often the largely-dormant FISA Court of Review and potentially involving the justices in FISA interpretations from which they have always stayed away.
Finally, Section 402 of the Leahy bill would, like the House version, require the DNI to perform declassification review of any opinion that ''includes a significant construction or interpretation of law, including any novel or significant construction or interpretation of the term 'specific selection term.'' The DNI would be obliged to ''make publicly available to the greatest extent practicable'' all such opinions.
Finally, Title VI lays out a whole series of new disclosure obligations on the part of the government and gives companies permission to publish data about their interactions with the intelligence sector. Sections 601 and 602 require governmental disclosure of extensive data on the number of orders and certifications sought and received'--and estimates of the number of people targeted and affected by surveillance'--under a number of different FISA authorities. Section 603 gives companies ordered to produce material the ability to publish aggregated data on the number of orders they received. The disclosures contemplated by Title VI would add a significant amount of data to the public discussion'--significantly more than would the analogous provisions in the House bill. But at the same time, the bill would also exempt the FBI from several disclosure requirements. Still, Leahy's Title VI represents a significant win for civil libertarians and for industry, the latter of which has been itching to publish more data by way of alleviating overseas anxieties about the degree of its cooperation with NSA.
In short, the trade throughout this bill seems to be institutionalization of governmental authority in exchange for regulation the government will regard as burdensome and a great deal of transparency. Whether this works ultimately in favor of the government or the civil libertarians probably depends on whether industry ends up maintaining call records'--in which case the institutionalization of governmental access to them will probably prove more important than the added hurdles attached to that access. If, on the other hand, industry stops maintaining these records, government will have won the authority to access records that no longer exist.
definiton of tangible things - Google Search
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:46
About 2,510,000 results
Tangible | Define Tangible at Dictionary.comTangible definition, capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; materialor substantial. See more. ... (often plural) a tangible thing or asset. [C16: from ...tangible - definition of tangible by The Free DictionaryDefinition of tangible in the Online Dictionary. ... in the free online Englishdictionary and encyclopedia. tangible asset. ... (often plural) a tangible thing orasset.Tangible - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster ...easily seen or recognized. : able to be touched or felt. Full Definition ofTANGIBLE. 1. a : capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch :palpable.Tangible dictionary definition | tangible defined - YourDictionarytangible definition: The definition of tangible is being touchable or real. (adjective) An ... Tangible is defined as a real thing that can have value. An example of ...What is tangible product? definition and meaningwww.businessdictionary.com/definition/tangible-product.html- Cached - SimilarDefinition of tangible product: A physical item that can be perceived by the senseof touch. Examples of a tangible product include cars, food items, computers, ...Rule 34. Producing Documents, Electronically Stored Information ...(B) any designated tangible things; or ... The Committee, however, believes thatno amendment is needed, and that the proper meaning of ''designated'' as ...What is tangible and intangible? - Yahoo Answershttps://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid...- Cached - SimilarTangible things are objects (you can physically touch them). Intangible ... It justmeans it has no physical existence like emotions. Hope this ...What does tangible mean? definition, meaning and pronunciation ...www.audioenglish.org/dictionary/tangible.htm- SimilarProper usage and pronunciation (in phonetic transcription) of the word tangible.Information about tangible in the AudioEnglish.org dictionary, synonyms and ...tangible - Macmillan Dictionarywww.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/tangible- Cached - SimilarWhat is tangible? tangible meaning and more by Macmillan Dictionary. ...business tangible properties or tangible assets are real things that a companyhas, ...What is TANGIBLE PROPERTY? - The Law DictionaryDefinition of TANGIBLE PROPERTY: Property which may be touched; such as isperceptible to the senses; corporeal property, whether real or personal.Searches related to definition of tangible things
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NSA: Less need now for Snowden deal - POLITICO.com
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:48
A top National Security Agency offficial says there's less need now for the U.S. Government to cut a deal with leaker Edward Snowden than there was after his wave of surveillance disclosures began more than a year ago.
"As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less," NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett said during an appearance Saturday at the Aspen Security Forum. "It's been over a year since he had access to our networks and our information so the need for us to understand that greater level of detail is lesser and lesser."
Ledgett was the first U.S. official to public discuss the possibility of amnesty or leniency for Snowden, telling "60 Minutes" in an interview aired last December that it was "worth having conversations about" such a deal if it could stem the tide of leaks. The discussion Saturday was framed slightly differently, focusing on obtaining a better idea of what Snowden copied from NSA systems and reportedly gave to journalists.
Ledgett's remarks signal that lawyers for Snowden might have a weaker bargaining position over time. However, the NSA official also suggested that the damage Snowden did to NSA operations will also diminish with time because terrorist groups and foreign militaries change their communication methods from time to time anyway.
"So, as time goes on, his information becomes less useful," said Ledgett, who was recently promoted after handling the NSA's response to the Snowden revelations.
The NSA official acknowledged that the impact of Snowden's leaks on the spy agency's ability to gather information was hard to measure, but he insisted it was serious.
"When people say there are no damages with the disclosures, they are categorically wrong,'' he said. ''Our hope is that they're not catastrophically wrong.....In some of these cases, our ability [to gather information] is a fingernail's breadth."
Still, Ledgett, said NSA is bringing in a lot of data and will continue to do so.
"It's not the end of the world. It's not the end of the SIGINT system," he said, using military lingo for NSA's main task, "signals intelligence."
Read more about: National Security Agency, Signals Intelligence, Edward Snowden, Rick Ledgett
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The Judges Approving the NSA's Surveillance Requests Keep Buying Verizon Stock | VICE United States
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:45
Drawing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court at an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) event in Germany last year. Photo via Flickr user mlcastle, original drawing by Lindsay Young
When the National Security Agency would like to take a look at all of the metadata of phone calls made by people using Verizon, a program revealed last summer by Edward Snowden, they must obtain approval from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (better known as the FISA Court), which typically grants such requests. VICE has obtained disclosures that reveal for the first time since this program was made public that FISA Court judges have not only owned Verizon stock in the last year, but that at least one of the judges to sign off on the NSA orders for bulk metadata collection is a proud shareholder of the company complying with these requests.
On May 28 last year, Judge James Zagel, a FISA Court member since 2008, purchased stock in Verizon. In June of this year, Zagel signed off on a government request to the FISA Court to renew the ongoing metadata collection program.
He's not the only one. We filed a request to the courts for the personal finance statements for all of the FISA Court judges. About a month ago, federal judges began turning in their disclosures, which cover the calendar year of 2013. The disclosures show that FISA Court Judge Susan Wright purchased Verizon stock valued at $15,000 or less on October 22. FISA Court Judge Dennis Saylor has owned Verizon stock, and last year collected a dividend of less than $1,000. The precise amount and value of each investment is unclear'--like many government ethics disclosures, including those for federal lawmakers, investments amounts are revealed within certain ranges of value.
The FISA Court continually rotates with respect to how it deals with requests from the government. In essence, each judge takes turns overseeing surveillance asks from the Feds. Judge Roger Vinson, the judge who signed off on the order disclosed by Snowden last year, requested an extension for filing his personal finance statement. While it's not clear how the rotation schedule works, it's certainly plausible Judge Saylor or Judge Wright will soon be asked to renew the next request by the NSA for metadata from telecom companies.
Do the investments constitute a conflict of interest? Federal judges are bound by an ethics law that requires them to recuse themselves from cases in which they hold a financial stake in the outcome, or in cases in which their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned."
In the past, revelations about stock ownership have invalidated certain court decisions. For example, after an eye-opening investigation from the Center for Public Integrity, which revealed that a federal judge who participated in a mortgage foreclosure-related decision owned stock in Wells Fargo, a case was re-opened. The FISA Court is different. For one thing, FISA proceedings are ex parte, meaning Verizon isn't even a party for the NSA requests. However, telecom companies certainly have a stake in how they comply with government orders, and some ethicists say judges would be well served if they simply steer clear of these types of investments.
"I think prudence would suggest that a FISA judge would not acquire investments in these telecommunication stocks," says Professor William G. Ross, an expert on judicial ethics at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in Alabama. "I'm not saying there is a conflict of interest, which my impression says there's probably not," Ross says, adding, "this is between what's improper and what's prudent."
District court clerks told VICE that judges typically do not offer responses on the record for these types of inquiries. Judge Saylor's office could not offer a comment, and a request for comment was also sent to the other judges.
Last year, Gawker reported that many FISA Court judges have owned various telecommunication stocks over the years. But the ethics forms we obtained show that since the Snowden revelation, FISA Court judges have been specifically purchasing and holding stock in the company that is the only named telecom giant known for its compliance with the NSA's bulk data orders.
Lee Fang, a San Francisco''based journalist, is an investigative fellow at the Nation Institute and co-founder of Republic Report.
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Banking union faces legal challenge in Germany
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:31
BRUSSELS - Germany's constitutional court is once again to be a testing ground for the eurozone's reponse to the financial crisis as a group of academics has filed a case arguing that the banking union is illegal.
The five academics argue that the Banking union - a new supervisory and bank resolution system for eurozone banks - breaches German law as it was not agreed with the right treaty changes, reports Die Welt am Sonntag.
Markus Kerber, a finance professor at Berlin Technical University (TUB), told the paper that the banking union had "no legal basis in the EU treaties and so represents a breach of constitutional rights."
The supervisory system - under which the European Central Bank will, from November, oversee the financial health of around 120 banks with the power to shut them down - is the "pinnacle of Brussels power-grabbing to date", says Kerber.
The complainants, who filed their papers last week, also find that a conflict of interest has arisen because the ECB council, which also makes interest rate decisions, has a veto right on banking supervision decisions.
The challenge also calls into question the Single Resolution Mechanism, which sets out to deal with failing banks, as well as the '‚¬55bn fund meant to cover the costs of the process.
Kerber and his allies say that EU leaders did everything to avoid a treaty change because the ensuing national ratifications would have been too politically risky.
He accused German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of "misleading" the public about the risks of the banking union and said the parliament was "fast asleep".
Germany's constitutional court has been the scene of several challenges concerning further economic and monetary integration in the eurozone. Its rulings normally allow the action to go ahead but with some caveats.
Each challenge, however, represents renewed uncertainty for policy-makers and the markets while the case makes its way through the court.
The banking union is seen by some as the most far-reaching integration step since the introduction of the euro.
The court earlier this year rejected a challenge - in which Kerber was also involved - to the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
It found the fund to be legal so long as the Bundestag, the German parliament, exercised enough oversight on it.
But the court also referred a decision on Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) a never-used 2012-announced plan to buy the government debt of troubled eurozone countries, to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The German judges asked several questions about the legality of the scheme - widely credited with easing the eurozone crisis - and outlined how the EU court would have to interpret OMT in order for the German court to find it acceptable.
The ECJ still has to rule on the matter.
Report: Germany to reject EU-Canada trade deal - The Globe and Mail
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:34
Germany is to reject a multi-billion free trade deal between the European Union and Canada which is widely seen as a template for a bigger agreement with the United States, a leading German paper reported on Saturday.
Citing diplomats in Brussels, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Berlin objects to clauses outlining the legal protection offered to firms investing in the 28-member bloc. Critics say they could allow investors to stop or reverse laws.
More Related to this StoryThe German government could not sign the agreement with Canada ''as it has been negotiated now'', reported the paper quoting German diplomats in Brussels.
It also said the clauses in the Canada deal were similar to those in the U.S. agreement, which is still under negotiation.
''The free trade treaty with Canada is a test for the agreement with the United States,'' said one senior official at the Commission in Brussels, according to the paper.
If the deal with Canada is rejected ''then the one with the United States is also dead'', added the official.
Asked about the report, a spokesman for Germany's Economy Ministry referred to correspondence which outlined Germany's concerns about investor protection in talks with both countries.
''The German government does not view as necessary stipulations on investor protection, including on arbitration cases between investors and the state with states that guarantee a resilient legal system and sufficient legal protection from independent national courts,'' wrote Deputy Economy Minister Stefan Kapferer.
In the letter, dated June 26, Kapferer took a similar position on investor protection in the still-to-be-agreed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement with the United States.
Brussels argues that without these clauses, companies from Canada will not invest in Europe.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso signed a deal in principle last October, leaving officials to work out the final details. Sources said last month that the lower-level talks had run into trouble.
In Ottawa, a spokeswoman for Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast did not directly address the report that Germany would reject the deal. Instead, Shannon Gutoskie said Canada and the European Union were making ''excellent progress'' as they worked to complete the text.
Gutoskie said German governments had long preferred treaties with tough investor-protection provisions.
''Germany's bilateral investment treaties contain investor-protection clauses that are far more stringent than those in the Canada-EU agreement,'' she said.
The Sueddeutsche said EU states will this week receive the treaty for officials to examine in detail before it is signed. All EU members have to sign the agreement for it to take effect.
The deal with Canada could increase bilateral trade by a fifth to 26 billion euros a year and the more ambitious one with the United States, if agreed, could encompass a third of world trade and almost half the global economy.
Both accords seek to go far beyond tariff cuts and to reduce transatlantic barriers to business, but the talks are extremely complicated.
Follow us on Twitter: @GlobePolitics
Kommentar: Deutsches Jahrhundert? - Inland - FAZ
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:41
'žDas deutsche Jahrhundert'' nannte der Historiker Eberhard J¤ckel sein Buch, das im Jahre 1996 erschien. Der Autor blickte zur¼ck und kam zu dem Schluss, dass kein anderes Land Europa und der Welt seinen Stempel so stark aufgedr¼ckt habe wie Deutschland. Selbst der Aufstieg der Vereinigten Staaten zur Weltmacht sei doch nur durch Deutschland hervorgerufen worden.
Autor: Reinhard M¼ller, Jahrgang 1968, in der politischen Redaktion verantwortlich f¼r 'žZeitgeschehen'' und f¼r 'žStaat und Recht''. Folgen:
Soeben wurde von der amerikanischen Zeitschrift 'žNewsweek'' wieder ein deutsches Jahrhundert ausgerufen. Dabei ist das Jahrhundert noch recht jung. Gemeint sind aber nicht die heute gelegentlich beobachteten Parallelen zu 1914 und dem, was darauf folgte, sondern der Erfolg des Landes (was wiederum an 1914 erinnert), gekr¶nt vom souver¤n-sympathischen Sieg bei der FuŸball-Weltmeisterschaft. Die sportliche Leistung best¤tigt offenbar einen gesamtgesellschaftlichen Erfolg, der sich in Wirtschaftsdaten niederschl¤gt und den ausw¤rtige Beobachter auch an pers¶nlichen Erfahrungen dingfest machen.
In vielerlei Hinsicht steht Deutschland heute vorbildlich da: Es ist das mit Abstand st¤rkste Land Europas, mit vergleichsweise geringer Arbeitslosigkeit und einem starken Mittelstand; es ist der Anker der Eurozone. Die meisten Deutschen erfreuen sich eines beachtlichen Wohlstands. Zwar mag die Schere zwischen Arm und Reich auseinandergehen. Aber die hohen Sozialleistungen schaffen inneren Frieden. Der F¶deralismus funktioniert und sorgt daf¼r, dass das Geld auch regional vergleichsweise vern¼nftig verteilt ist. Aus Wettbewerbsgr¼nden kann man ¼ber den Finanzausgleich den Kopf sch¼tteln; zudem ist die Forderung des Grundgesetzes nach gleichwertigen Lebensverh¤ltnissen eine Ursache von Spannungen '' sie d¤mpft aber Konflikte dieses aus alten und stolzen L¤ndern und Regionen bestehenden Staates. Im Ergebnis ist es deshalb nicht nur in der 'žcoolen'' Hauptstadt (mit ihren vielen Harz-IV-Empf¤ngern) lebenswert, sondern an sehr vielen Orten im Lande.
Das alles wird getragen von einer soliden Infrastruktur, in physischer wie in rechtlicher Hinsicht. Die B¼rger k¶nnen grunds¤tzlich darauf vertrauen, dass Pfeiler halten, Maschinen funktionieren, der Krankenwagen schnell kommt und ein wirksamer Rechtsschutz zur Verf¼gung steht. Das geht zweifellos mit B¼rokratie einher; sie ist eine deutsche St¤rke wie eine deutsche Schw¤che. Obwohl eher das Verwalten als das strategische Gestalten als deutsche Eigenschaft gilt, also das Merkelsche Auf-Sicht-Fahren, so zeigte es in zwei radikalen Kehrtwenden Gr¶Ÿe: Der Atomausstieg wurde von einer auf die andere Sekunde beschlossen, und abrupt wurde die Wehrpflicht abgeschafft. Zwar war beides politisch fragw¼rdig, rechtlich zweifelhaft und, jedenfalls zun¤chst, teuer. Aber international scheint sich dieser Eindruck zu verfestigen: Wenn ¼berhaupt jemand, dann schaffen das nur die Deutschen.
Tats¤chlich h¤ngt die hiesige Lebensqualit¤t auch mit dem deutschen –kofimmel zusammen, mit einer in den Ausw¼chsen zu Recht bel¤chelten, aber doch nachhaltigen Lebensweise '' in einer Zeit, in der auch L¤nder mit hohem, aber r¼cksichtslosem Wachstum merken, dass es auf Dauer so nicht weitergehen kann. Auch das Ende der Wehrpflicht mitsamt den Nachwuchssorgen der Bundeswehr ist ein Zeichen knapper Kassen, es ist aber auch ein Symbol: Es herrscht Wohlstand f¼r alle.
Mehr zum Thema
Hier freilich lauern Risiken. Ein Teil des sozialen und des ¤uŸeren Friedens ist auf Pump finanziert. Wer wird in Zukunft die vielen Alten pflegen? Wer zahlt Renten und Pensionen? Was passiert, wenn der Sozialstaat nicht mehr zu bezahlen ist oder wenn diejenigen, die in prek¤ren Arbeitsverh¤ltnissen t¤tig sind, mit denen, die sich innerlich verabschiedet haben, radikale Parteien w¤hlen sollten? Wie suchen wir die Einwanderer aus, die bleiben sollen? SchlieŸlich: Wer nimmt noch die Waffe in die Hand, wenn Deutschland bedroht ist?
Heute ist Deutschland auch deshalb so beliebt, weil es keine erkennbaren strategischen Ambitionen hat, weil es zwar stark ist, aber ein europ¤ischer Hegemon nicht sein will. Weil es zwar zum Westen geh¶rt, sich aber auch seine Stellung in Russland und seinen guten Ruf in der arabischen Welt nicht verderben und ein 'žehrlicher Makler'' sein will. Immerhin: Deutschland geh¶rt wie selbstverst¤ndlich zu denen, die sich um die L¶sung groŸer Konflikte bem¼hen, obwohl es keine globale Interventionsmacht ist.
J¤ckel schrieb vor knapp zwanzig Jahren am Ende seines Buches, der Versuch einer Wiederherstellung des Russischen Reiches k¶nne nicht ausgeschlossen werden; das wiederum k¶nne zu neuen Konflikten im Osten f¼hren, 'ždie auch Deutschland nicht unber¼hrt lassen m¶gen''. Wie wahr! Doch irrte er wom¶glich darin, dass das deutsche Jahrhundert schon zu Ende sei. Das fast Besch¤mende ist, dass ein Land als Vorbild erachtet wird, das dem vergangenen Jahrhundert auf so radikale Weise seinen Stempel aufgedr¼ckt hat. Sogar die milit¤rischen Metaphern sind aus der Sportberichterstattung unserer Nachbarn weithin verschwunden. Dieser Wandel ist kaum zu ¼bersch¤tzen. Der kann freilich nur dauerhaft zum Guten f¼hren, wenn der Blick zur¼ck nicht fehlt '' auf die ganze Geschichte.
Themen zu diesem Beitrag:Hier k¶nnen Sie die Rechte an diesem Artikel erwerben
ANALYSIS: Greek debt, gold, espionage, and US anti-Putin propaganda may yet make Merkel face East. | The Slog.
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:12
As European citizens head for the August Beach fest, very few of them will be aware that the World may be on the brink of the biggest shift in global power scales since 1938. The reasons for this are various'...but they are all, allegedly, giving Mutti Merkel pause for thought.
Last January I posted at some length about how Greece would default on May 21st this year without further help. Unusually for this site, quite a few MSM bods picked up on the analysis and the piece wound up getting the best hits here at The Slog for over two years.
As things turned out, through a combination of obfuscation and misrepresentation, Samaras and his cronies got their backdoor bailout just in time: 'Greece needs another infusion of money to avoid default in May, when it has to repay 12.5 billion euros ($17.2 billion) of government debt' confirmed Keep Talking Greece in late March. The big brown envelope duly arrived (despite doubts in both Brussels and Frankfurt) and not a single western mainstream medium so much as raised a peep about it.
But tempers fugit and all that, and now here we are at Stage Two (how time flies when you're enjoying yourself) with just weeks to go before the next hurdle'....a $3.8bn shortfall on this little baby:
20th August 2014 is just 22 days away. I've been Googling every which way for the last four days, but I can't find a single EU document, MSM article, ECB release or even heavily-laden carrier pigeon bearing any enlightenment as to what happens next. The entire European mainland population will be on holiday anyway, but I think somebody should be asking the question about who finds/prints/donates/steals the money that Antonikis and Benny now need.
One clue might lie in a piece from April this year, which '' spookily '' noted how Eurostat calculated Greece's primary surplus in 2013 to have been'.....$3.8bn. I would lay good money that this bit of corporate accountancy becomes the EC explanation of choice'....if indeed anyone even bothers to ask.
What even Eurostat cannot avoid, however, is the reality that the total Greek debt mountain is 318.7 billion euro, Greece has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the 18- nation single-currency bloc, and Greece has received 240 billion euro in bailout since 2010.
Think on that: one quarter of a trillion euro. And there is, mathematically '' under the Troika deal struck in 2012 '' no way on Earth that Greece can pay it back'...short of discovering an 18-mile deep seam of top-carat diamonds up Venizelos's capacious back passage.
How does Mutti Merkel feel about all this, some of us ask ourselves. Wheelchair Wolfie Sch¤uble declared himself 'relaxed' about the May deal, but I understand that East German Fridge Woman holds a different view. And since the Ukraine nonsense (plus rumours of dirty tricks in Hungary as well) it is alleged that the F¼hrerin is becoming disillusioned with American diplomacy. So I was intrigued to be sent this piece from a Slogger last Sunday, reviving my long-held theory that Geli may yet side with Russia, China and the Brics in order to lead a balancing bloc against EU/US hegemony. In this context, we mustn't forget that Jens Weidmann at the Bundesbank remains a eurosceptic on the subject of manageable eurozone debt '' and a chap of increasing influence at the Court of Queen Geli.
The last-linked article above is far from madcap. If nothing else, it deserves the attention of those who cannot see beyond the end of their geopolitical noses. It makes this very important Realpolitik point:
'Germany has a vital interest in ensuring their relations with Russia and China are not hindered in any way, especially since they rely upon these BRICS member nations for 30% of their oil imports, and 40% of their natural gas needs. Additionally, over 3000 German companies do a great deal of business with the BRICS coalition, and their economy is now more reliant upon the East than it is on the U.S. and Western countries. Thus Germany has already seen the writing on the wall for a sea-change in global economic and financial authority, and it is very likely that as the U.S. resorts to armed conflicts and espionage to protect their control over dollar hegemony, the linchpin to Europe and the entire European Union will assuredly look out for themselves, and move forward in a partnership with the next power structure that will rule the global financial system.'
It's certainly something to focus the mind of a Tuesday morning in Summer. But there is a lot more to this than the euro crisis. Merkel has had her doubts about US motives ever since Geithner and others pushed hard two years ago for Athens to be amputated from the eurozone. A Slogpost of the time shows clearly how and why the US tried to kill any chance of contagion, and used Wall Street to wind up Bankfurt. In fact, American strategy here was to get Obama re-elected without pain, and also increase its influence over Greece once it had been cut free from the eurozone'....with (as usual) the main motive being access to Greek Aegean seabed energy resources.
Another bone of contention causing choking sounds in Berlin and Frankfurt is the issue of Germany's gold being returned from 'safe keeping' in the States. Tyler Durden's assertion at Zero Hedge last month that 'Several months after it was revealed that Germany was able to only recover a miserable 5 tons of its gold in all of 2013 (under 10% of the 84 tons it was scheduled to repatriate), Germany appears to have given up entirely in its attempt to recover gold which simply is not there' was picked up and preceded by other sources suggesting the same thing. He may be right of course, but American black arts are also in play here: the general feeling among those Germans who care about the issue is, quite simply, that Washington is trying to pull the ripoff of all time. For the Bankfurters, this is another nail they're determined to hammer into the Americo-German alliance.
The idea that Berlin would simply 'give up' on 79 tons of gold is ridiculous. Indeed, some suggest that Merkel's widely leaked interest in turning East and dumping NATO is in and of itself a frightener to unblock the gold shipment blockage. We don't really know: doubters (of whom I have been one since 2006) suggest the gold has simply gone to save America's neck/the Dollar/shut the Chinese up by secret sales'...take your pick of allegations about it. But the German Chancellor has many muscles she can flex re this one.
Angela Merkel was also not best pleased to discover that Barack Obama had been tapping her phone for the last three years. Yesterday, a Berlin government spokesman told Deutsche Welle 3,000 mobile phones with newly encoded barrier technology have been distributed to the federal administration. The government plans to purchase additional phones equally optimised for security. Geli has also briefed her security services to spy on the UK and US ''as if they might be our enemies''. She's also fitted a new lock on her fridge. I made that last bit up.
But it is in the last ten days that sources have been popping up all over the MSM and the Web suggesting that Merkel is rapidly distancing herself from the Brussels/Washington fictions being advanced in relation to Russian separatists in Ukraine. Whatever she's being told about who did or didn't shoot down MH17, her innate sense of geopolitical necessity absolutely dictates that she will not allow Vladimir Putin to be isolated and/or made an enemy.
The big question, however, remains: would she really make that giant a leap? There's no doubting that Angela Merkel is a ruthless megalomaniac, and would thus love to be the leader of Tomorrow rather than Yesterday. But perhaps it's more likely that, at present, she too is leaking methodically with a view to increasing the pressure on Washington to cooperate.
You always know where you are with Mutti: she will always jump onto the best horse. But she is unlikely to jump onto a dark horse. As with everything today, on verra.
Connected perhaps? MH17 wreckage wrecks US propaganda
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Poland
Report from Tommy the Polack
YO!
Month ago I came back from holiday in Poland and , I have a story to tell.
This place is ready to blow up like pigeons in “How High” Harvard Principle office! And they all HATE Putin.
Everyone say that this lovely Ukrainians have to defend themselves from Bolsheviks. Everywhere you look, hear, read it's about Russia and how bad they were to us in the past.
Poland have been and still is injected with high dosage of history of CCCP, Czars, Communists, and gangsters from the East, every single fucking day … “bad Putin” is squeezed in nearly all TV shows, this way or another. This “Pivot to East” is big and visible.
It is crazy if you add constant overdose of ads with medicine for nails, eyebrows, fingers, toes, dick, nipples … there is pill for everything now and NO OTHER ADS! JUST THAT! And it's now easily 50/50 in terms of Anti-Putin TV content and crappy pills ads from German pharmaceutical companies.
It's not just TV, oh no. Grab any article in a weekly or monthly magazines for women for example and on every single page there is at least one word “PILL” for this and that, will help you in your daily life, bla, bla, bla. All written by probably German, but definitely by pharmaceutical companies.
So, you call anyone in Poland these days and ask “What's up?”, the answer is:
A. I just came back from a doctor.
B. I am on my way to a doctor.
C. I have to take a pill.
D. All above.
You know when you are not seeing someone you know well too often, you notice differences. OH Boy, this place is ready to fart Eastwards and it will be a smelly fart. 90% of media belong to Germany and that is all they have to digest. Plus most of them do not use foreign news alternatives because they do not know the language and don't give a crap...look toward weekend vodka drinking session or next football match. Those who know English, escaped West.
Just one example of comparison of World news about Ukraine and THE Most Popular TV News outlet in Poland - TVN24 ... one day news:
a. World – more than 40 civilians dead in Ukraine Army attack.
b. Poland – There is ONE catholic priest missing in the Russian held territory of Ukraine!
That's it! ...and the same story goes on and on, every day like MH370.
I have tried to speak with friends about Ukraine starting from asking one question, “Who's fault is the mess in Ukraine?”. They all say one voice - “PUTIN !!!”
Poland is “Ticked” on pills, without cash and ready to blow up. 10.000 reserve army is called on duty, foreign units arrived, East borders closed, Polish land and wealth sold, everyone in debt … ready to detonate.
By the way, Polish President earn about $4.000 a month, does anyone think that it was difficult to buy him? That is less than any JAVA programmer makes in UK and possibly in US too ;)
Love you both, keep up the good work.
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IMF sez Cyprus may need new bailout
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:38
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Cyprus' president on Wednesday rebuffed an International Monetary Fund assessment that Cyprus will need to make additional spending cuts to meet a key target of its financial rescue program.IMF official Delia Velculescu said that more permanent cuts to government spending, including the public sector wage bill, are needed for authorities to achieve a primary surplus of four percent of gross domestic product by 2018. A primary surplus does not count the cost of servicing existing debt.But President Nicos Anastasiades said that Cyprus would be under no obligation to follow any assessment by its international creditors as long as it remains steadfast to the terms of its 10 billion-euro ($13.4 billion) bailout."I want to assure you that with the progress we've made so far, I believe that we'll be in a position to resist and to avoid whichever recommendations that may point to further cuts," Anastasiades said.Anastasiades also said that Cypriot authorities "emphatically" turned down the IMF's recommendation for more cuts during bailout talks.The surplus is seen as key to rolling back Cyprus' public debt which is now around 120 percent of GDP. According to the program terms, public debt must fall to around 100 percent of GDP by 2020.With Cyprus on the verge of bankruptcy, a joint IMF-European Union rescue package agreed in March 2013 forced uninsured deposits in the country's two largest banks to be seized in order to recapitalize the bigger Bank of Cyprus. The smaller lender, Laiki, was shut down and parts of it absorbed by Bank of Cyprus.Velculescu said Cypriot authorities made "impressive progress" in tackling the country's economic woes with measures including a package of spending cuts backed up by revenues that amounted to around 7 percent of GDP. However, the IMF said in a staff report that more savings could be made by eliminating automatic pay rises for government workers before a wage freeze expires in 2016, better linking pay with performance and reforming the education sector and pensions.Velculescu said the country must revise its foreclosure legislation to tackle the high number of bad loans - over half of all loans - that are holding back economic growth.She said the IMF expects the Cabinet-approved legislation to pass since it's a condition of the rescue program. But some political parties have openly opposed it over fears that people who lost jobs or saw their income dwindle in the wake of the bailout will lose their homes.Anastasiades moved to ease those fears putting the legislation's approval into question by outlining several steps in a nationally televised address Wednesday. One step allows borrowers to seek court protection. Another envisions the government buying the homes of low-income or jobless people who can't make loan payments and letting them live there as renters until they're able to buy it back.Velculescu said in case the parliament votes down the legislation before a September 1st deadline, international creditors would have to return to the country to discuss with authorities how to proceed.The next batch of rescue money - 350 million euros ($470 million) from the EU and 86 million euros ($115.5 million) from the IMF - is set to be released in late September.
Greek repayment coupon August 20th
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the tap: Europeans shouldn't expect to live much longer
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:01
TAP - You think Germans don't know all this, and aren't trying to stop WW3 wiping out another generation. That's why they're exposing the false flag operations going on in the Ukraine.http://the-tap.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/new-mh17-sensation-german-experts-point.htmlPOSTThe extraordinary propaganda being conducted against Russia by the US and UK governments and Ministries of Propaganda, a.k.a., the "Western media," have the purpose of driving the world to war that no one can win. European governments need to rouse themselves from insouciance, because Europe will be the first to be vaporized due to the US missile bases that Europe hosts to guarantee its "security."As reported by Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, the Russian response to the extra-legal ruling of a corrupt court in the Netherlands, which had no jurisdiction over the case on which it ruled, awarding $50 billion dollars from the Russian government to shareholders of Yukos, a corrupt entity that was looting Russia and evading taxes, is telling. Asked what Russia would do about the ruling, an advisor to President Putin replied, "There is a war coming in Europe. Do you really think this ruling matters?"The West has ganged up on Russia, because the West is totally corrupt. The wealth of the elites is based not only on looting weaker countries whose leaders can be purchased (read John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man for instruction on how the looting works), but also on looting their own citizens. The American elites excel at looting their fellow citizens and have wiped out most of the US middle class in the new 21st century.In contrast, Russia has emerged from tyranny and from a government based on lies, while the US and UK submerge into tyranny shielded by lies. Western elites desire to loot Russia, a juicy prize, and there stands Putin in the way. The solution is to get rid of him like they got rid of President Yanukovich in Ukraine.The looting elites and the neoconservative hegemonists have the same goal: make Russia a vassal state. This goal unites the Western financial imperialists with the political imperialists.I have recorded for readers the propaganda that is used in order to demonize Putin and Russia. But even I was stunned by the astounding and vicious lies in the UK publication The Economist on July 26. The cover is Putin's face in a spider web, and, you guessed it, the cover story is "A Web of Lies."You need to read this propaganda both in order to see the gutter level of propaganda in the West and the obvious drive to war with Russia. There is no evidence whatsoever in the story to support The Economist's wild accusations and demand for the end of Western "appeasement" of Russia and the harshest possible action against Putin.The kind of reckless lies and transparent propaganda that comprises The Economist's story has no other purpose than to drive the world to war.- See more at: http://www.thedailybell.com/editorials/35518/Paul-Craig-Roberts-War-Is-Coming/#sthash.1wZGKzwe.dpuf
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Uitspraak rechter over voorwaarden Van der G. - Binnenland - Reformatorisch Dagblad
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:38
Volkert van der G., de moordenaar van Pim Fortuyn, hoort woensdag het oordeel van de rechter over zijn bezwaren tegen de voorwaarden die zijn verbonden aan zijn vrijlating. Van der G. heeft een kort geding aangespannen tegen de Staat om van die voorwaarden af te komen.
Het gaat onder meer om een meldingsplicht, een elektronische enkelband en locatie- en contactverboden. Van der G. kwam in mei onder voorwaarden vrij, na het uitzitten van twee derde van zijn straf. Van der G. schoot Fortuyn op 6 mei 2002 dood en werd veroordeeld tot 18 jaar cel.
Van der G. moet zich wekelijks melden bij de reclassering en mag niet in Rotterdam, Hilversum, Den Haag en de woonplaats van nabestaanden en slachtoffer komen. Ook is het hem verboden contact te hebben met nabestaanden en de pers.
Advocaat Stijn Franken vindt dat het pakket voorwaarden een extra straf vormt. Het risico dat Van der G. opnieuw in de fout gaat, is volgens hem zeer gering.
Landsadvocate Cecile Bitter heeft erop gewezen dat Van der G. zelf met de voorwaarden heeft ingestemd.
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NA-Tech
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Podcasting patent troll: We tried to drop lawsuit against Adam Carolla | Ars Technica
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 02:59
Personal Audio LLC is an East Texas shell company that gleaned national attention when it claimed it had the right to demand cash from every podcaster. The company was wielding a patent on "episodic content," which it said included anyone doing a podcast, as well as many types of online video.
Now the company is trying to walk away from its highest-profile lawsuit against comedian Adam Carolla, without getting paid a penny'--but Carolla won't let the case drop.
In a statement released today, Personal Audio says that Carolla, who has raised more than $450,000 from fans to fight the case, is wasting their money on an unnecessary lawsuit. The company, which is a "patent troll" with no business other than lawsuits, has said Carolla just doesn't care since his fans are paying his lawyers' bills.
"Adam Carolla's assertions that we would destroy podcasting were ludicrous on their face," said Personal Audio CEO Brad Liddle. "But it generated sympathy from fans and ratings for his show. Getting his fan base to continue to donate to his legal fund is a cynical exploitation of the publicity power he enjoys as an entertainer." He continued to say that Personal Audio was "quite surprised" Carolla turned down their offer:
Perhaps this is because he feels he can simply get his fans to fund his future and, now unnecessary, legal expenses. Or perhaps it relates to how he uses the case as material for his show. The fact of the matter is that Adam Carolla is asking people to donate money to him for a lawsuit that he no longer needs to defend. We would like his listeners to understand this situation when deciding whether or not to donate additional money to his cause.
According to Personal Audio, they've lost interest in suing podcasters because the podcasters'--even one of Adam Carolla's size'--just don't make enough money for it to care.
"[Personal Audio] was under the impression that Carolla, the self-proclaimed largest podcaster in the world, as well as certain other podcasters, were making significant money from infringing Personal Audio's patents," stated the company. "After the parties completed discovery, however, it became clear this was not the case."
Personal Audio also says it has a patent covering playlists. The patent is owned by Jim Logan and "related parties." Logan is described as an "inventor and entrepreneur," who founded a company in 1996 to create an Internet media player. Logan's company failed, but nearly two decades later, his patents live on.
Personal Audio has already dropped its lawsuits against two other podcasting defendants from the case (Togi Net and How Stuff Works) apparently without getting paid anything. The cases were dropped without prejudice, which means they could be re-filed. A re-filing against the same defendants isn't likely, though, since Personal Audio has already slogged through initial stages of the lawsuit.
The patent company is charging ahead with its patent case against the big three television networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC. Personal Audio is trying to wring a royalty from those companies for releasing video "episodic content" over the Internet.
Jury trials are scheduled in both the Carolla and TV broadcasters' cases for September in federal court in East Texas. Despite its slowing docket, the Eastern District of Texas continues to be seen as a favorable venue for "patent trolls" to file suit, in part because cases are so likely to go to a jury.
In response, Carolla sent Ars a statement saying he'll continue to pursue counterclaims against Personal Audio, seeking to invalidate the patent "so that Personal Audio cannot sue other podcasters for infringement of US Patent 8,112,504." Lotzi (Carolla's company) has already "incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses to defend itself" against the Personal Audio patents.
The statement from Carolla also says that "court orders prevent Lotzi and Adam from discussing the matter in further detail." A spokesperson wouldn't say what those court orders were. A review of the case docket doesn't show any court order that would prevent Carolla from responding to Personal Audio's main accusation, which is that he's essentially wasting his donors' money.
The Personal Audio patent was also used in patent demand letters sent to small podcasters, which earned the attention of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. However, none of those letters have been made public in more than a year, so Personal Audio may have dropped the idea of going after small fish. In any case, EFF has opened a second line of attack on the podcasting patent in the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent is going through a process called "inter partes review," where the office reconsiders whether it should have been granted.
If current scheduling holds, the patent will be put in front of a jury in the Texas case before the PTO challenge is completed.
Neither Carolla nor Liddle responded to further questions beyond their prepared statements.
Press Releases | Personal Audio
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:01
July 29, 2014
May 29, 2014
April 14, 2014
March 4, 2014
January 17, 2014
December 10, 2013
June 24, 2013
April 12, 2013
January 7, 2013
November 30, 2012
February 7, 2012
Copyright (C) Personal Audio 2014, All rights reserved.
Why Adam Corolla Should Keep Fighting a Patent Troll - Public Knowledge
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:12
BlogsPatent ReformBy Charles Duan
July 30, 2014This morning, Ars Technica is running a story on an odd press release by the company Personal Audio LLC. As has been widely reported, Personal Audio is a company whose business is solely to sue other companies over a series of patents purported to cover all podcasting. They brought a patent lawsuit against Adam Corolla's podcast about a year ago, and in response Carolla raised over $450,000 to fight back.
Now, as Ars reports, Personal Audio is trying to play up a sob story, claiming that they tried to settle the lawsuit, but Corolla refused to accept the settlement, choosing instead to continue fighting. Personal Audio's press release suggests that Corolla ''continues to raise unneeded money'' and suspects that he is continuing ''a lawsuit that he no longer needs to defend'' for publicity reasons, in a seeming attempt to drum up sympathy for a patent assertion entity.
But there is a very good reason why Adam Corolla is fighting a fight he's already won. Because he hasn't actually won yet.
A patent lawsuit generally answers two questions. The most obvious is whether the party being sued infringes the patent (and how much money that is worth). When Personal Audio offered to settle the lawsuit, it was giving up on answering that question.
But the second question is whether the patent is valid at all. And dismissal of the case will never resolve that question. Even if Adam Corolla never paid Personal Audio a penny, the patents would still remain alive and in force, ready to target anyone else that Personal Audio saw fit.
In many ways, this second question on validity is much, much more important, because it affects the whole public. A patent keeps every single member of the public from using an idea, such as podcasting, for the twenty or so years of the patent's term. If the patent is invalid, then that means that the patent owner wields a wrongful power over all of the United States for two decades. Invalidating a patent, then, is not simply a victory for a single party, but a victory for the whole public.
So when Adam Corolla continues his patent lawsuit with Personal Audio, he is not simply fighting on his own behalf. He is fighting on behalf of the whole public, everyone who makes, uses, and enjoys podcasts. Indeed, Corolla's fundraiser itself said that the fund ''will be raised on the behalf of ALL PODCASTERS AND THEIR FANS.''
Now, Personal Audio says that they just want out of the lawsuit. If they want out, they'll have to concede on both the infringement and validity questions. It turns out, there is a simple way they can do so: they can ask the Patent Office for permission to rewrite the patent to not cover podcasting. Yes, they can do that: it's a procedure called reissue, and it is specifically intended to allow a patent owner to fix a patent that covers ''more or less than he had a right to claim.'' Or they could simply disclaim the patent entirely.
Do I expect Personal Audio to take these steps? Not really. In their very same sob-story press release, they still claim that their patented technologies are ''commonly used today in smartphones, tablets and other devices that store and play audio and video files.''
But if Personal Audio is serious about resolving the fight that it instigated in filing its lawsuit, then I challenge them to rewrite their patents. Because they did not simply bring a fight against Adam Corolla. They brought a fight against the entire American public, and that is not a fight we should back down from.
Image credit: Kristin Wall
Related PostsPK In The Know Podcast: Patent Reform, T-Mobile, Net Neutrality, and 3D PrintingListen Now
The Open Source Engine that Moves People, Not PixelsRead More
Patent Office Gives Green Light to EFF Challenge To Podcasting Patent | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:06
The patent office has issued its first ruling in our challenge to Personal Audio's so-called podcasting patent. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) found that we have established a ''reasonable likelihood'' that we will prevail, based on two key pieces of ''prior art'' evidence. This isn't a final ruling, but it is an important step forward.
Last October, we filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) at the PTAB. The IPR process provides an expedited means for the patent office to take a second look at a patent it has already issued. This kind of challenge proceeds in two steps. First, we file our petition. Then, before the IPR actually goes forward, the PTAB must decide whether our petition establishes a ''reasonable likelihood'' that we would prevail. If we did not satisfy that standard, our petition would simply be rejected.
In our petition, we argued that Personal Audio did not invent podcasting and that parts of its patent should be declared invalid. We presented evidence relating to Internet Pioneer Carl Malamud's "Geek of the Week" online radio show and online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Back in February, Personal Audio filed a response arguing that we were unlikely to prevail and urging the PTAB to reject our petition. The PTAB has now found otherwise, ruling that EFF has established a reasonable likelihood of success.
While we are very pleased with PTAB's overall conclusion, we were disappointed on one point: while the PTAB accepted that the CNN and CBC references were valid evidence to support our claims, it rejected our argument based on Carl Malamud's ''Geek of the Week.'' The reasons are somewhat technical, but ultimately the PTAB concluded: 1) that a webpage we cited (the NCSA Geek of the Week page) was not sufficiently accessible to count as a ''printed publication'' under the relevant statute; and 2) that an electronic journal we cited (the ''Surfpunk Technical Journal'') was actually a private email exchange. We respectfully disagree with those conclusions and are considering our options for challenging them.
Again, this is not a final determination. Personal Audio will have another opportunity to present evidence and defend its patent before the PTAB makes a final decision. Nevertheless, we are very pleased that our challenge will proceed and look forward to presenting the strongest possible case that Personal Audio did not invent podcasting. The current schedule for the proceeding is available here. Of course, we will keep you updated at our blog and will publish any documents at our case page.
Auspiciously, the PTAB's decision in this case came right on the tenth anniversary of the launch of our Patent Busting Project. In the last decade, we've challenged many patents and most have been either invalidated or narrowed. We've also worked to defend 3D printing from overbroad patents by filing pre-issuance submissions. We'll continue to fight to protect innovators from illegitimate patents.
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Emojis
Christina Warren
Jul 27
‏@film_girl
Hey, if were a washed-up
former VJ who had failed business ventures and a dwindling audience, I’d
probably be an asshole to strangers too.
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Sprint Will Sell a $12 Wireless Plan that Only Connects to Facebook or Twitter - WSJ
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:38
Updated July 30, 2014 9:09 a.m. ET
For about $12, Sprint will soon let subscribers buy a wireless plan that only connects to Facebook.
For that same price, they could choose instead to connect only with Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest'--or for $10 more, enjoy unlimited use of all four. Another $5 gets them unlimited streaming of a music app of their choice.
The plan, offered under the company's Virgin Mobile brand of prepaid service, comes as wireless carriers are experimenting with ways to make wireless Internet access more affordable for the poorest consumers by offering special deals on slices of the Web.
In the process, however, they are testing the long-held principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally by creating strong incentives for subscribers to use already dominant services.
In June, T-Mobile US Inc. TMUS -0.03% said it would allow customers unlimited use of mobile streaming music that doesn't count against their data plans when they use services like Pandora and Spotify. Earlier this year, AT&T Inc. T +2.64% created a program allowing companies to foot the bill for data used by their customers on mobile apps.
Sprint said the plan'--called Virgin Mobile Custom'--was aimed at giving consumers more choices.
''This is really just part of a broader effort toward customization,'' said Dow Draper, president of prepaid at Sprint. Instead of buying a bucket of data, customers can now pay less for just the app they use the most, he said.
Other apps might be added in the future, he said. For now, customers can only choose between those four apps, and they'd need a data plan in order to access anything else. The apps were chosen by Sprint because they're the most heavily used.
Sprint isn't being paid by any of the apps, but Mr. Draper didn't rule it out in the future. ''It's definitely possible,'' he said. ''But we have not gone down that path yet.''
The new plan is only available at Wal-Mart and the base offering covers just 20 minutes of talk time and 20 texts. Subscribers can customize the plan by buying up to unlimited talk or text or both, and by choosing among data packages.
Each line starts at $6.98 a month. Unlimited service on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest costs another $5, or another $15 for all four.
The service also includes a feature that allows parents to restrict which apps children can use on the phones.
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Agenda 21
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White House Report: The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change | The White House
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:15
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 29, 2014
With our country already experiencing the effects of climate change, the President has taken action to cut carbon pollution by moving to cleaner sources of energy and improving the energy efficiency of our cars, trucks and buildings. But further steps are urgently needed to ensure that we leave our children a planet that's not polluted or damaged.
The White House today released a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers that examines the economic consequences of delaying action to stem climate change. The report finds that delaying policy actions by a decade increases total mitigation costs by approximately 40 percent, and failing to take any action would risk substantial economic damage. These findings emphasize the need for policy action today.
How to communicate the scientific consensus on climate change | Yale Project on Climate Change Communication
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:42
We are pleased to announce a newly published article: "How to Communicate the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: Plain Facts, Pie Charts or Metaphors?" by Sander van der Linden, Anthony Leiserowitz, Geoffrey Feinberg and Edward W. Maibach in the journal Climatic Change. The article can be downloaded here.
At present, only one in ten (12%) Americans understand that 90% or more climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening. Recent research has found that this public misunderstanding about the degree of scientific consensus is highly consequential: public perceptions of the scientific consensus appear to influence public beliefs that global warming is happening, human-caused and a serious problem that requires public action and legislative support. Our new paper offers some practical recommendations on how to effectively communicate the scientific consensus.
As part of the study, we conducted an experiment testing three popular approaches to communicating the scientific consensus. In the first experimental condition, participants were shown a simple descriptive text message stating that: ''97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening''. In the second condition, participants were shown a pie chart representing the consensus visually. We also tested a variety of different metaphors to describe the consensus (e.g., ''If 97% of doctors concluded that your child is sick, would you believe them? 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening). Participants in the control group did not view any message. Respondents were asked to provide an estimate (0% to 100%) of the degree of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change before (pre) and after (post) viewing the messages.
The experiment found that:
All three approaches (the descriptive text, pie chart and metaphors) improved public understanding of the degree of scientific consensus;Overall, the descriptive text and pie chart were the most effective, increasing consensus-estimates by nearly 20%, with just one exposure;The pie chart performed particularly well for all political audiences examined, especially with Republicans.These results suggest it is possible to improve public understanding of the scientific consensus on climate change in a way that does not trigger political polarization. In particular, our findings suggest that scientists, NGO's, and policy makers should communicate the scientific consensus using short, simple declarative sentences or simple pie charts. While metaphors can be very useful in conveying complex scientific concepts (like the ''greenhouse effect''), for the relatively simple concept of the degree of expert agreement, our results suggest that a short, simple and sticky message is most effective. Ultimately, better communication of the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change can contribute to improved public understanding and engagement with the issue.
The full paper is available for download directly from Climatic Change. Please contact us for a copy if you are unable to download it from the journal directly.
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Hacker Breached NOAA Satellite Data from Contractor's PC - Nextgov.com
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:55
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data was stolen from a contractor's personal computer last year, but the agency could not investigate the incident because the employee refused to turn over the PC, according to a new inspector general report.
This is but one of the ''significant security deficiencies'' that pose a threat to NOAA's critical missions, the report states.
Other weaknesses include unauthorized smartphone use on key systems and thousands of software vulnerabilities.
The July 15 report made public on Friday concentrates on information-technology security problems at NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. NOAA is part of the Commerce Department.
During the 2013 incident, "an attacker exfiltrated data from a NESDIS system to a suspicious external IP address via the remote connection established with a personal computer," wrote Allen Crawley, Commerce's assistant IG for systems acquisition and IT security, referring to a dodgy computer address.
NOAA determined the PC likely was infected with malware, but it was prevented from examining further because "the owner of the personal computer, even though a NESDIS contractor, did not give NOAA permission to perform forensic activities on the personal computer," Crawley said.
The inspector general cited this case as an example of why it's a bad idea -- and a violation of Commerce policy -- for any personnel to access NOAA information systems using personal computers. In response to a draft report, NOAA officials noted the system in question was not a "high-impact" system.
Satellites a Potential Target for Hackers
The report, however, also focused on vulnerabilities to high-impact systems related to weather satellites, such as the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.
Unauthorized smartphone and thumb drive use was recently detected on 41 percent of components in systems supporting POES; 36 percent of GOES support systems; and 48 percent of components in the Environmental Satellite Processing Center, a system that handles data received from the satellites.
Several U.S. earth observation satellites have also been probed by suspected Chinese government hackers in recent years, according to federal officials.
In 2011, the Defense Department investigated two unusual incidents a few years prior involving signals targeting a U.S. Geological Survey satellite. NASA also experienced two "suspicious events" with a Terra observational satellite in 2008. A 2011 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission characterized the events as successful interferences that might have been linked to the Chinese government.
Crawley said, "As it only takes one infected mobile device to spread malware and allow an attacker access to restricted systems like POES and GOES, NESDIS' critical components are at increased risk of compromise.''
IG Also Cites Turf War, Funding Shortfall
A clash between the Air Force and NOAA over securing conjoined systems also has created hazards.
POES is interwoven with the military's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program to the point where they are virtually one system.
"Because USAF and NOAA disputed for several years (from 2006 to 2010) who was responsible for DMSP's security, neither organization conducted security assessments" of the military satellites, Crawley said. "POES will remain interwoven with DMSP, and DMSP's security posture will remain deficient for some time."
Inadequate funding might prolong the security lapse further.
NOAA "has asserted that if funding is not available it will abandon any corrective actions and accept the risks of leaving the systems interwoven," he said.
The Air Force, meanwhile, doesn't expect to conduct a security posture assessment until a technology upgrade in 2016.
"There is doubt that the refresh will occur because of the USAF's funding constraints," the report stated.
Linkages between NOAA satellite systems and less secure machines, such as those connected to the Internet, also present a threat.
POES and GOES "have interconnections with systems where the flow of information is not restricted, which could provide a cyberattacker with access to these critical assets," Crawley said.
Thousands of Vulnerabilities Unremedied
A more general issue across NOAA satellite systems are security bugs in software that have remained unfixed for more than a decade.
"POES, GOES, and ESPC have thousands of vulnerabilities, where some of the vulnerabilities in the software have been publicly disclosed for as long as 13 years," he said. "The older the vulnerability, the more likely exploits have been incorporated into common hacking toolkits.''
Overall, NOAA officials agreed with the report's findings, but said the agency has already begun addressing the defects, the final report states.
"NOAA is committed to maintaining a cost-effective IT security program that manages risk at an acceptable level," Vice Adm. Michael Devany, NOAA deputy undersecretary for operations, wrote in a June letter, responding to the draft report. "We had already identified most of the concerns cited by the OIG in the report and have been implementing remediation efforts" that are documented in a Commerce tracking system.
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10 things winemakers won't tell you - 10 things - MarketWatch
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:23
By Catey Hill, MarketWatch
10. Climate change may ruin us
Wine grapes are particularly susceptible to small changes in temperature, sunshine and rainfall, which means that climate change may be particularly deleterious to winemakers. Indeed, a number of studies show that fluctuating temperatures may rob some wine-growing areas of their ability to grow quality grapes.
A study published last year in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that, thanks to climate change, up to 73% of the area in Australia currently used for viticulture could become unsuitable for that purpose suitable by 2050, and that other top wine regions, like those in France and California, face similar issues. And a study in the journal Climatic Change found that not only did most of the world's best wine-producing regions see temperature increases during their growing season from 1950 '-- 1999, but that these warming trends over the next 50 years would likely make wine production in those areas ''progressively more difficult.''
Both studies pointed out that viticulture may become more tenable in areas that aren't currently known for their wine production. ''Redistribution in wine production may occur within continents, moving from declining traditional wine-growing regions to areas of novel suitability, as well as from the Southern Hemisphere to large newly suitable areas in the Northern Hemisphere,'' the authors of the 2013 study write. Perhaps, someday, your grandchildren will toast you with a nice glass of Siberian Malbec.
More from the '10 things' series:
10 things bitcoin won't tell you
10 things snack food companies won't tell you
10 things home-improvement stores won't tell you
Catey Hill covers personal finance and travel for MarketWatch in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CateyHill.
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Record low July temperatures in southern U.S., Alabama at 49 degrees - Yahoo News
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:41
By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Record-breaking low temperatures across the southern United States on Wednesday made July feel more like October, with the mercury dipping to 49 degrees Fahrenheit in Alabama.
In Atlanta, the low was 59 degrees, breaking the previous record of 61 degrees set in 1936, according to the National Weather Service. The normal low for Atlanta is about 71 degrees, the National Weather Service said.
''It was a pretty chilly morning, very pleasant out,'' said Jessica Fieux, an Atlanta-based National Weather Service meteorologist.
A jet stream from Canada was causing the unusually low temperatures, said Mark Rose, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Nashville. Tennessee also logged record lows.
''The jet stream is unusually far south,'' Rose said. ''It's almost right on top of us.''
The entire eastern half of the United States is feeling the chill, the National Weather Service said, with a record-breaking low of 37 degrees at Saranac Lake, New York, where the previous low for the date was 39 degrees set in 2010.
In Alabama, an early-morning low of 59 degrees in Montgomery shattered a record-low of 66 degrees set in 1889, a National Weather Service meteorologist said, with temperatures falling to 49 degrees in Hamilton, close to the Mississippi border, where records have not been regularly kept.
In Macon, Georgia, a record of 62 degrees set in 1920 was shattered when the mercury dipped to 59 degrees early Wednesday.
July is usually sweltering in Georgia, and few seem to be complaining.
''Does anyone NOT like these cool temps?'' asked a reader of the National Weather Service Twitter page.
(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Eric Beech)
WeatherNatural PhenomenaNational Weather Service
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DutchNews.nl - Staff unease grows at Greenpeace
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:36
Staff unease grows at GreenpeaceTuesday 29 July 2014
The row over commuting directors at environmental organisation Greenpeace and unease over investment losses has spread to the organisation's international wing, the Volkskrant says on Tuesday.
The paper says a large number of Greenpeace International staff are now calling on director Kumi Naidoo to resign after he approved a weekly commute by plane for programme director Pascal Husting. This goes against Greenpeace policy on greenhouse gases.
The letter's signatories stress the document is not a 'staff statement' but an initiative which has grown from a 'desire for internal change'.
Travel policy
In a list of recommendations, the signatories say 'a strict travel policy must be adhered to and enforced without exception'.
The document calls for the re-introduction of staff training to include the core values of Greenpeace and 'how to live a green life personally'.
It also says there should be changes in board-level remuneration policy and calls for the appointment of an ombudsman.
Train
Earlier this year it emerged Husting was being allowed to commute weekly by plane from his home in Luxemburg to Amsterdam. He now uses the train.
In addition, Greenpeace was revealed to have lost '‚¬3.8m in donations through currency investments.
In a written answer, Naidoo said he will not step down as director and nor does he support the idea of an ombudsman, saying the organisation already has procedures to deal with complaints.
Last week, staff at Greenpeace Nederland also wrote to Naidoo, asking him to reconsider his position.
(C) DutchNews.nl
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Greenpeace losses: leaked documents reveal extent of financial disarray | Environment | The Guardian
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:09
The handling of Greenpeace International's £58m budget has been in disarray for years, with its financial team beset by personnel problems and a lack of rigorous processes, leading to errors, substandard work and a souring of relationships between its Amsterdam headquarters and offices around the world, documents leaked to the Guardian show.
Coming after it emerged that a staffer had lost £3m on the foreign exchange market by betting mistakenly on a weak euro, the documents show that the group's financial department has faced a series of problems, and that its board is troubled by the lack of controls and lapses that allowed one person to lose so much money.
Greenpeace, which prides itself on being largely funded by relatively small individual donations, apologised to supporters for the loss, claiming that the ''serious error of judgment'' was the result of a single staff member ''acting beyond the limits of their authority and without following proper procedures''. But the documents show that internally the group is worried about the organisational failings that allowed it to happen.
Minutes of a board meeting in the spring this year say: ''The board takes this [the £3m loss] very seriously and is deeply concerned that there should be such financial loss at a time of transition '' when reserves are stretched and income is substantially lower than projected, and it is particularly troubled by how it happened, ie the lack of strong, coherent processes and controls that prevent the possibility that contracts can be entered into without due authorisation.''
One of the biggest and highest-profile environmental campaigning groups, Greenpeace has more than 2,000 employees globally and thousands more volunteers. It is based in Amsterdam and has 28 offices around the world, which campaign and raise funds independently, including Greenpeace UK, which this year successfully sent six activists to climb to the top of the Shard, Europe's tallest building, to send a message opposing Shell's plans for oil drilling in the Arctic.
The leaked material also reveals that:
' the group's public face and top campaigner, executive director Kumi Naidoo, admits that internal communications are a ''huge problem'' and staff have ''good reason'' to be upset at a range of problems;
' staff are concerned at being shifted from Amsterdam on Dutch wages to national offices on lower local wages, as part of a major restructuring effort to decentralise the group;
' the group did not campaign to have one of its three ships, the Arctic Sunrise, released by Russia because the political circumstances would have made it a ''wasted effort''.
A sign aboard the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior III during an open day in London, November 2011. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for The GuardianThe Guardian has also learned that one of the group's most senior executives, Pascal Husting, Greenpeace International's international programme director, works in Amsterdam but flies between the city's offices and his home in Luxembourg several times a month.
Naidoo defended the arrangement, saying: ''Pascal has a young family in Luxembourg. When he was offered the new role, he couldn't move his family to Amsterdam straight away. He'd be the first to say he hates the commute, hates having to fly, but right now he hasn't got much of an option until he can move. He wishes there was an express train between his home and his office, but it would currently be a 12-hour round trip by train.''
The loss of £3m, paid out this year, comes as the group is already dealing with lower than expected income, despite the Arctic 30 incident last year, when dozens of its activists and several journalists were imprisoned by Russia over a protest at oil drilling in the Arctic. Greenpeace International has said it will soon report a £5.4m deficit '' which includes the £3m '' for 2013.
Mike Townsley, the group's head of communications, told AP last week of the £3m loss: ''Hindsight is 20/20, but we believe if he [the individual who made the transactions] had followed rules and procedures, this wouldn't have happened.''
However, a strategy document dated November 2013 shows that problems seem to extend well beyond one individual and that Greenpeace International's senior executive team was aware of widespread problems in its finance department that date back years.
''[The] international finance function at GPI [Greenpeace International] has faced internal team and management problems for several years and the situation did not improve during 2013 despite efforts and support,'' the document warns.
''This has resulted in errors and sub-standards in the quality of financial systems, information and support provided to the teams, units in GPI and NROs [national reporting offices], and have on occasions adversely affected relationship between GPI and NROs.''
As the story of the losses unfolded last week after it was broken by Der Spiegel and picked up by international media, Townsley emailed colleagues to say: ''This is a bad story for us and the best we can do is be honest and respectful to our audiences.''
The leaked material seems to show disquiet over a continuing major restructuring, aimed at moving staff from Greenpeace International's base in Amsterdam to national offices across the world to fulfil Naidoo's goal of better tackling environmental problems in the global south. ''This [2014] will be a testing year for all of us,'' the strategy document warns.
Some staff are concerned at being moved from Dutch wages to lower, local wages at regional operations. An audio recording of a staff meeting this year includes a male employee telling Naidoo and other senior staff: ''One of the biggest challenges is salaries '... If I had to identify one problem clearly it's going to be salaries.''
The audio recording reveals Naidoo telling the same meeting: ''On communications '... let me just concede that we have a huge problem with the way we are doing communications, I want to own that and take responsibility for that. It's not where it needs to be.''
He added: ''There's good reason why people actually are upset about a range of things. But when I looked at what the problem was, it was actually a patent lack of communication, not just a lack of communication but not communicating at the right time, and things not clear.''
He later sent an email to staff admitting: ''Last Thursday's staff [meeting] was tough; hardly surprising given what we are trying to achieve and the impact that it will have upon all of us.''
The documents and material also give an insight into internal debates over future actions in Russia following the Arctic 30 last year, which eventually saw the release of all 30 activists and journalists and, earlier this month, the release of the group's icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise. The ship is still in Murmansk, Russia, while Greenpeace arranges for people to examine its condition.
''[After the Arctic 30] one of the key debates we need to have is defining the ethical and appropriate levels of risk that we are willing to take,'' minutes of the board meeting this year note. The minutes also say: ''It was queried why there has been no campaigning to bring attention to the AS [Arctic Sunrise] and gain public support for a successful return of the ship since the safe return of the activists. Pascal [Husting] said that under the current political circumstances launching a campaign to free the ship would probably be a wasted effort.''
Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, which seeks to make NGOs more transparent and accountable, said he saw parallels with the financial problems Amnesty International had experienced in recent years.
''The extent of it [the financial problems] was not something I expected [at Greenpeace]. But it's part of the fact that NGOs keep things very much within the organisation; there's no culture of accountability. They call on governments to be accountable but they lack this in so many ways, so in that sense it's not a surprise.''
Two Greenpeace activists display a banner beneath the clock face of Big Ben on the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Photograph: David Bebber/ReutersHe said a shift in culture was required to address the problems. ''It requires a cultural change. NGOs tend to see themselves as insurgents. They have now become the establishment but without the structures that are required for such large organisations '' they can no longer think of themselves as insurgents but as corporate organisations. That hurts their self-image but there is no other way to avoid the financial meltdowns that can take place.''
Naidoo told the Guardian that changes were already under way to address the handling of its budget. ''Greenpeace International's annual accounts have always been given a clean bill of health by independent auditors. However, there have definitely been ongoing problem with some of the systems and high staff turnover in our international finance unit, no denying it.
''That's why I hired a new head of finance who has over 20 years' experience working with international NGOs. We have also strengthened his team. He's already put checks in place to make sure the problems we have had are a thing of the past.''
He also said the restructuring was not about reducing staff numbers but about redeploying people. ''This restructuring is not about reducing the number of people working full time on Greenpeace campaigns; it's about making sure we have people where we need them, and increasingly that's not in Amsterdam. The big environmental issues are increasingly in the southern hemisphere, be it Indonesian or Amazonian deforestation, Chinese coal plants or overfishing in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.''
Ruzie binnen Greenpeace escaleert - Binnenland - VK
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:06
Door: Jeroen Trommelen '' 29/07/14, 06:00
(C) afp. Kumi Naidoo, directeur Greenpeace International.
Behalve het personeel van Greenpeace Nederland is ook een groot aantal stafleden van Greenpeace International in verzet tegen de directie van de internationale milieuorganisatie. Ze willen dat Kumi Naidoo opstapt als algemeen directeur en slechts aanblijft als 'ambassadeur' van het hoofdkantoor.
Brief van Greenpeace-personeelOpen pdf (105,2 kB)Ook eisen de stafmedewerkers van de internationale afdeling meer transparantie, een betere interne klachtenprocedure, strakker toezicht op het uitbetalen van dubieuze declaraties, milieuvriendelijk priv(C)gedrag van medewerkers en het stopzetten van de betaling aan de 'vrijwilligers' van de raad van toezicht, die nu jaarlijks 10- tot 35 duizend euro krijgen.
De opstand volgt op twee affaires rond Greenpeace International die volgens het personeel mede door de zwakke leiding zijn veroorzaakt. Vorige week werd al bekend dat ruim veertig campagneleiders van Greenpeace Nederland het aftreden verlangen van programmadirecteur Pascal Husting, die per vliegtuig bleek te pendelen tussen werk in Amsterdam en zijn woonplaats Luxemburg.
Breder verzetDie brief van de Nederlandse medewerkers is onderdeel van een veel breder verzet, blijkt uit de recente briefwisseling tussen het personeel en de directie en toezichthouders van het internationale hoofdkantoor, dat ook in Amsterdam is gevestigd.
De medewerkers doen 29 voorstellen om de organisatie te verbeteren, waaronder betere managementcursussen en het instellen van een Ombudsman. 'Veel van wat nu wordt besproken, had al veel langer aangepakt kunnen worden, maar door de bedrijfscultuur konden stafleden zich daarover moeilijk uiten', schrijven de stafleden van Greenpeace International. 'Stilzwijgen is nu geen optie meer.'
Onder meer de affaire rond het verlies van 3,8 miljoen euro donateursgeld via ongelukkige valuta-investeringen had volgens de medewerkers sneller kunnen worden aangepakt. Al in oktober 2013 werd van de transacties melding gemaakt door een interne klokkenluider, waarna een intern onderzoek werd gestart. Door lopende verplichtingen kost de affaire Greenpeace ook volgend jaar nog geld.
De stafleden zijn vooral bezorgd over het behoud van kernwaarden van Greenpeace en de steun bij vrijwilligers en donateurs over de hele wereld. 'Het gaat ons niet om het beschermen van onze banen, strelen van ego's of het uiten van woede, maar om behoud en herstel van hoop van binnenin. We wensen niet langer verandering; we hebben die nodig.'
Niet opgewassenDe vier jaar geleden aangetreden Zuid-Afrikaan Kumi Naidoo is volgens hen niet opgewassen tegen zijn taak. 'Velen hebben het gevoel dat hij grote waarde heeft als ambassadeur van Greenpeace, maar dat er een managing director nodig is om de taken van het executive team te vervullen.'
Naidoo zal de stap terug niet doen, schrijft hij in een antwoord. De directie wordt snel uitgebreid. Een Ombudsman vindt hij overbodig. 'We hebben een transparant klachtenbeleid.'
De twee recente affaires worden sinds vorige week onderzocht door de organisatie Governance and Integrity (G&I) in Zaandam. Dat bureau begeleidt integriteitsprogramma's bij onder meer de politie en publieke organisaties. Volgens G&I komt dat neer op: 'het installeren van een moreel leerproces en een zorgvuldige handhaving daarvan'.
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Nederland zal moeten wennen aan extreme buien, vooral in de zomer - Het weer - VK
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:33
Door: Ben van Raaij '' 30/07/14, 06:30
(C) anp. Een voetganger met paraplu trotseert de regen op de Erasmusbrug.
Nederland kan de komende jaren vaker hevig noodweer verwachten zoals dat in de afgelopen dagen over het land trok. Het klimaat verandert, en dat betekent behalve stijgende temperaturen ook meer extreme neerslag, in de winter maar vooral ook in de zomer.
Dat zegt Bart van den Hurk, klimaatonderzoeker bij het KNMI. De hevige onweersbuien van de afgelopen dagen, waarvoor het KNMI maandag de waarschuwing 'code oranje' uitvaardigde, vallen zeker in de categorie extreme neerslag. Op enkele plaatsen viel in twee dagen meer dan 100 millimeter regen. De meeste neerslag kwam neer in Deelen, 132 millimeter.
NeerslagintensiteitIn Deelen viel maandag ook de meeste regen in korte tijd, 76 millimeter binnen een uur, een hoeveelheid die normaal in een hele maand naar beneden komt. Het is in meteorologische termen de een na hoogste 'neerslagintensiteit' ooit in Nederland gemeten. Het record werd op 28 juni 2011 geboekt in Herwijnen, 79 millimeter.
Het noodweer past in een duidelijk patroon, zegt Van den Hurk. 'We zien in onze waarnemingen een toename van het aantal extreme buien, ook in de zomer. En in de nieuwe klimaatscenario's die we in mei publiceerden zie je twee constanten: de temperaturen stijgen (met 1,0 tot 2,3 graden in 2025, oplopend tot mogelijk 3,7 graden in 2085, red.), en de extreme neerslag neemt toe.'
Hoeveel van die extreme neerslag in de zomer valt verschilt per scenario, maar ook in het scenario met veel drogere zomers is er een toename van extreem weer.
ThermodynamiekDat is fysisch ook goed verklaarbaar, zegt Van den Hurk. 'Als de atmosfeer warmer wordt, kan zij meer water vasthouden en dus afgeven. Daarnaast is er de thermodynamiek. Als het warmer wordt, stijgt waterdamp sneller tot grote hoogte, om daar te condenseren en als neerslag weer omlaag te komen. Buien worden als het ware dynamischer en efficinter.'
De exacte locatie van al die extreme buien blijft afhankelijk van toevallige factoren als windrichting en -snelheid. 'We hadden gisteren een langgerekte buienlijn die op enkele plaatsen bleef hangen en daar tot meerdere buien en dus een stapeleffect leidde. Op andere plaatsen was het droog.'
Prima barbecueweerZo'n toevallig neerslagpatroon heeft weinig te maken met het klimaat, aldus Van den Hurk, al kan het plaatselijk tot grote overlast leiden. 'In Amsterdam liepen de kelders onder, maar in Groningen was het prima barbecueweer.'
Het nieuwe Deltaprogramma dat met Prinsjesdag wordt gepresenteerd anticipeert op de nieuwe klimaatscenario's. Zo richt een deelprogramma zich op het beperken van wateroverlast door extreem weer in stedelijk gebied.
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Obama Nation
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Poorly Managed HealthCare.gov Construction Cost $840 Million, Watchdog Finds - WSJ
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:58
July 30, 2014 4:18 p.m. ET
The federal agency in charge of building the HealthCare.gov insurance website suffered from poor management and skimpy scrutiny of its contracts, a congressional watchdog is set to tell lawmakers Thursday.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "undertook the development of HealthCare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices, despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight," said William T. Woods,...
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Lawsuit Stunner: Half of Futures Trades in Chicago Are Illegal Wash Trades
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:52
By Pam Martens: July 24, 2014
Terrence Duffy of the CME Group Testifying Before the Senate on May 13, 2014
Since March 30 of this year when bestselling author, Michael Lewis, appeared on 60 Minutes to explain the findings of his latest book, Flash Boys, as ''stock market's rigged,'' America has been learning some very uncomfortable truths about the tilted playing field against the public stock investor.
Throughout this time, no one has been more adamant than Terrence (Terry) Duffy, the Executive Chairman and President of the CME Group, which operates the largest futures exchange in the world in Chicago, that the charges made by Lewis about the stock market have nothing to do with his market. The futures markets are pristine, according to testimony Duffy gave before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee on May 13.
On Tuesday of this week, Duffy's credibility and the honesty of the futures exchanges he runs came into serious question when lawyers for three traders filed a Second Amended Complaint in Federal Court against Duffy, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and other individuals involved in leadership roles at the CME Group.
The conduct alleged in the lawsuit, backed by very specific examples, reads more like an organized crime rap sheet than the conduct of what is thought by the public to be a highly regulated futures exchange in the U.S.
The lawyers for the traders begin, correctly, by informing the court of the ''vital public function'' that is supposed to be played by these exchanges in ''providing price discovery and risk transfer.'' They then methodically show how that public purpose has been disfigured beyond recognition through secret deals and ''clandestine'' side agreements made with the knowledge of Duffy and his management team.
The most stunning allegation in the lawsuit is that an estimated 50 percent of all trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is derived from illegal wash trades.
Wash trades were a practice by the Wall Street pool operators that rigged the late 1920s stock market, leading to the great stock market crash from 1929 through 1932 and the Great Depression. Wash trades occur when the same beneficial owner is both the buyer and the seller. Wash trades are banned under United States law because they can falsely suggest volume and price movement.
The lawsuit says Duffy and his management team are tolerating wash trades ''because they comprise by some estimates fifty percent of the Exchange Defendants' total trading volume and also because HFT transactions account for up to thirty percent of the CME Group's revenue.''
The complaint indicates that the plaintiffs have a ''Confidential Witness A,'' a high frequency trader, who has given them a statement that wash trades are used by high frequency traders as part of a regular strategy to detect market direction and ''to exit adverse trades when the market goes against their positions.''
The strategy works like this, according to the complaint:
''HFTs [high frequency traders] continuously place small bids and offers (called bait) at the back of order queues to gain directional clues. If the bait orders are hit, the algorithm will place follow-up orders to either accumulate favorable positions or exit 'toxic' risks, a process which leverages bait orders to gain valuable directional clues as to which way the market will likely move. The initial bait orders are very small while subsequent orders, once market direction has been identified, are very large. A portion of the large orders that follow the smaller bait orders are wash trades.''
Another very serious charge is that some of the defendants in the lawsuit who are in leadership roles in management at the futures exchanges, have ''equity interests'' in the very high frequency trading firms that are benefitting from these wash trades. The complaint states:
''The Exchange Defendants profit from the occurrence of wash trades and have a vested interest in not having more robust safeguards against them because they contribute significantly to the Exchange Defendants' volume numbers and revenue. Were the volume of wash trades excluded from the Exchange Defendants' volume and revenue numbers, the radically reduced volume numbers would exert adverse pressure on the CME Group's stock price, not to mention the revenue to members of CME Group's governance who have equity interests in participating HFTs in addition to stock ownership in the CME Group, Inc.''
In addition to wash trades, the lawsuit charges that the CME Group has entered into ''clandestine'' incentive agreements.
''Defendants have entered into clandestine incentive/rebate agreements in established and heavily traded contract markets with favored firms such as DRW Trading Group and Allston Trading, paying up to $750,000.00 per month in one of the most heavily traded futures contracts in the world. At no time during the Class Period have Defendants voluntarily revealed to the trading public that these material agreements exist in established markets. Defendants through their lawyers have repeatedly ridiculed the suggestion that clandestine agreements exist.''
The complaint identifies another ''Confidential Witness B'' who has provided information on ''the existence of a clandestine rebate agreement between the CME and a very large volume HFT firm that trades in the S&P500 E-Mini contract.'' That's a stunning allegation since the S&P500 E-Mini was thought to be one of the most liquid contracts in the U.S. The complaint correctly notes that ''there can be no economically justified reason, such as to develop thinly traded markets, that would justify the CME and CME Group to maintain clandestine incentive agreements in this particular market, other than the improper intent.''
Another trick to get an early peek at trading information is referred to in the complaint as the ''Latency Loophole,'' which ''allows certain market participants to know that orders they entered were executed and at what price, and to enter many subsequent orders, all before the rest of the market participants found out the status of their own initial orders.''
The complaint explains that the ability to continuously enter orders and get trade confirmations ''of the price at which these orders are filled, before the rest of the public even knows about the executed trades,'' empowers high frequency traders with ''a massive informational and time advantage in discerning actual price, market direction and order flow before anyone else.''
By providing just a select group of market participants and high frequency traders with this ''sneak peek'' advantage, says the complaint, the defendants engaged in a ''fraud on the marketplace.''
The Justice Department and FBI have opened investigations into high frequency trading. Let's hope that includes both stock and futures exchanges.
The traders bringing the lawsuit, which is filed as a class action, are William Charles Braman, Mark Mendelson and John Simms. Lawyers for the plaintiffs are R. Tamara de Silva, who maintains a private practice, and lawyers from O'Rourke & Moody.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The Civil Docket for the case is #: 1:14-cv-02646 and has been assigned to Judge Charles P. Kocoras. The CME Group is represented by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP.
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More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:48
More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.
Article by: JOSH BOAK , Associated Press
Updated: July 29, 2014 - 11:45 AM
WASHINGTON '-- More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.
These consumers fall behind on credit cards or hospital bills. Their mortgages, auto loans or student debt pile up, unpaid. Even past-due gym membership fees or cellphone contracts can end up with a collection agency, potentially hurting credit scores and job prospects, said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank.
"Roughly, every third person you pass on the street is going to have debt in collections," Ratcliffe said. "It can tip employers' hiring decisions, or whether or not you get that apartment."
The study found that 35.1 percent of people with credit records had been reported to collections for debt that averaged $5,178, based on September 2013 records. The study points to a disturbing trend: The share of Americans in collections has remained relatively constant, even as the country as a whole has whittled down the size of its credit card debt since the official end of the Great Recession in the middle of 2009.
As a share of people's income, credit card debt has reached its lowest level in more than a decade, according to the American Bankers Association. People increasingly pay off balances each month. Just 2.44 percent of card accounts are overdue by 30 days or more, versus the 15-year average of 3.82 percent.
Yet roughly the same percentage of people are still getting reported for unpaid bills, according to the Urban Institute study performed in conjunction with researchers from the Consumer Credit Research Institute. Their figures nearly match the 36.5 percent of people in collections reported by a 2004 Federal Reserve analysis.
All of this has reshaped the economy. The collections industry employs 140,000 workers who recover around $50 billion each year, according to a separate study published this year by the Federal Reserve's Philadelphia bank branch.
Health care-related bills account for 37.9 percent of the debts collected, according to a new report commissioned by the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Student loan debt represents another 25.2 percent and credit cards make up 10.1 percent, with the rest of the collections going for local governments, retailers, telecoms and utilities.
The delinquent debt is overwhelmingly concentrated in Southern and Western states. Texas cities have a large share of their populations being reported to collection agencies: Dallas (44.3 percent); El Paso (44.4 percent), Houston (43.7 percent), McAllen (51.7 percent) and San Antonio (44.5 percent).
Almost half of Las Vegas residents'-- many of whom bore the brunt of the housing bust that sparked the recession'-- have debt in collections. Other Southern cities have a disproportionate number of their people facing debt collectors, including Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; and Jackson, Mississippi.
A few major factors appear to be driving the delinquencies, said Eric Salazar, the Texas and Florida manager for the credit counseling agency GreenPath.
First, many of these workers have low-paying jobs in construction and services, in addition to minimal education on their finances.
"There is not the income growth to save and they have to make survival decisions," Salazar said. "You make the decision to pay for the roof over your head and to feed your family and that's all you can afford to do."
Secondly, these states are home to retirees who live on fixed incomes and may struggle to pay medical bills, Salazar said.
Other cities have populations that have largely managed to repay their bills on time. Just 20.1 percent of Minneapolis residents have debts in collection. Boston, Honolulu and San Jose, California, are similarly low.
Only about 20 percent of Americans with credit records have any debt at all. Yet high debt levels don't always lead to more delinquencies, since the debt largely comes from mortgages.
An average San Jose resident has $97,150 in total debt, with 84 percent of it tied to a mortgage. But because incomes and real estate values are higher in the technology hub, those residents are less likely to be delinquent.
By contrast, the average person in the Texas city of McAllen has only $23,546 in debt, yet more than half of the population has debt in collections, more than anywhere else in the United States.
The Urban Institute's Ratcliffe said that stagnant incomes are key to why some parts of the country are struggling to repay their debt.
Wages have barely kept up with inflation during the five-year recovery, according to Labor Department figures. And a separate measure by Wells Fargo found that after-tax income fell for the bottom 20 percent of earners during the same period.
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No booze for D.C. folks? New Hampshire may fix law | Concord Monitor
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:06
New Hampshire is assuring residents of the nation's capital that they can purchase alcohol in the state despite a law that suggests otherwise. But cigarettes? Maybe not.
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission recently told retailers they should accept Washington, D.C., driver's licenses when determining a buyer's age, even though state law does not explicitly include them and instead refers to licenses from ''another state'' or Canada.
The issue came up this month when a Concord store clerk refused to sell alcohol to a 25-year-old Washington, D.C., man. The incident, first reported by the Concord Monitor, prompted Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern to approach the commission.
''New Hampshire depends more on tourism, liquor sales and democracy than probably any other state, so anything that threatens the combination of those certainly raises red flags for me,'' he said. ''Even if it's only been a few instances, I think it's a bad message to send.''
Tourism is New Hampshire's second-largest industry, and the state rakes in money from out-of-staters lured by its tax-free booze. It also prides itself on having the nation's largest state Legislature and its first-in-the-nation presidential primary, which gives lesser-known candidates a fair shot and attracts political visitors from around the country.
Van Ostern said he believes new legislation likely is needed to permanently fix the problem. As it stands, the commission's clarification doesn't take into account residents of U.S. territories, he noted.
''I have no doubt this was an oversight, and I do think a fair reading of legislative intent would be to allow all those IDs, but I don't think we should be putting it on individual store clerks to be trying to decide what legislators meant 20 years ago when they passed a law,'' he said.
It's unclear how many other laws might unintentionally snub Washington residents, but at least one regarding cigarettes and other tobacco products includes the same language as the alcohol law.
Other laws, however, specifically mention Washington. For example, one law prohibits gun ownership for those convicted of various crimes in New Hampshire, ''any other state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any territory of possession of the United States.''
State Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, said he would be willing to sponsor a bill in the next legislative session to address the law's language.
''It looks like we need to do something like that,'' he said. ''As a member of the joint committee on legislative and administrative rules, I know that we're very careful to make sure that whatever an agency does is actually authorized in statute.''
Is that ID real? TSA agent doesn't recognize D.C. license
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:06
A Transportation Security Administration agent checks the luggage of a passenger in 2011 at Orlando International Airport.(Photo: Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images)
Newsflash, TSA: The District of Columbia is part of the USA.
A Transportation Security Administration agent told D.C. resident Justin Gray that his driver's license was not a valid form of identification.
Gray, who was trying to get through security at an Orlando airport Saturday, is also a Washington correspondent for WFTV-TV in Orlando and reported on his weekend experience.
Gray said his license was valid and up-to-date.
The TSA officer asked for a passport, which Gray said he did not have at the time. Gray was able to get through security and then complained to a TSA supervisor, reports WFTV.
After what happened, all TSA agents in Orlando were shown a D.C. driver's license, an agency spokesman told WFTV.
TSA confirms that a D.C. driver's license is an acceptable form of ID, according to an e-mail from agency spokesman Ross Feinstein to USA TODAY Network.
"Officers are trained to identify fraudulent documents, which can potentially deter and detect individuals attempting to circumvent this layer of security," Feinstein wrote.
When there is an issue at a checkpoint, "TSA officers work to make sure facts are gathered and quickly resolved to avoid future confusion," according to Feinstein's e-mail.
A D.C. license was rejected in February as well. A woman who was flying out of Phoenix was told her license was not acceptable and she would have to show a passport, reported The Washington Post.
After asking a supervisor about the license, the TSA agent allowed the woman to go through security, The Post said..
The story got attention after the woman's boyfriend tweeted, "PHX asked for gf's passport because her valid DC license deemed invalid b/c 'DC not a state.'"
Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1mh7oPe
President Obama gives a thumbs-up to making D.C. the nation's 51st state - Washington Business Journal
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:07
Jul 22, 2014, 7:52am EDT Updated: Jul 22, 2014, 8:11am EDT
He's practically a resident. But until now, President Obama has remained quiet on the issue of D.C. statehood. That changed this week. The president spoke up on the issue during an event to promote his My Brother's Keeper initiative. "I'm in D.C., so I'm for it," WAMU.org quoted the president as saying. He's been for it for quite some time. "I've long believed that folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else."
The Obamas have been living in the District since 2009, but are still legal residents of Illinois. Last year, to the delight of D.C. statehood supporters, Obama had D.C.'s "Taxation Without Representation" license plates put on the presidential limousine. "There has been a long movement to get D.C. statehood and I've been for it for quite some time," Obama said.
But despite his support for such a move, the president said it may be not be easy, "The politics of it end up being difficult to get it through Congress, but I think it's absolutely the right thing to do,".
The idea hasn't been on the radar for a while, with other pressing issues like the mayoral race taking center stage. But D.C. statehood proponents say it's something that would ensure the city's residents get the same rights as everyone else. Opponents argue the constitution created D.C. to serve as federal domain, governed by Congress.
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Paul Singer: This threat is 'head-and-shoulders' above all others
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:42
Read MorePaul Singer: US stocks 'frothy' by 'all measures'
"(A natural EMP event) today would cause a massive disruption to the electricgrid, possibly shutting it down entirely for months or longer, with unimaginable consequences," Singer wrote. "Only two years ago, the sun let loose with a Carrington-magnitude burst, but the position of theearth at the time prevented the burst from hitting it. The chances of additional events of suchmagnitude may be far greater than most people think."
Carrington refers to a solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph systems to fail around the world.
Singer warned that a man-made EMP attack would be even worse.
"It would not cause any blast or radiation damage, but such an attack would have consequences even more catastrophic than a severe solar storm. It could not only bring down the grid, but also lay down a very intense, very fast pulse across the continent, damaging or destroying electronic switches, devices, computers and transformers across America," the letter said.
A spokesman for Elliott declined further comment.
The letter called on leaders to protect the power grid and essential electronicdevices. He also said that spare parts should be stockpiled and that government and other groups should prepare an emergency response plan.
"Why are we writing about this topic? Because in any analysis of societal risk, EMP stands all by itself. Congressional committees are studying this problem, and federal legislation is laboriously working its way through the process," the letter said. "We think that raising people's consciousness about what should be a bipartisan push to make the country (and the world) safer from this kind of event is a good thing to do."
Read MoreNotorious Doomsday Prophets
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War on Crazy
Blood test can predict risk of suicide - Telegraph
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:40
The gene is responsible for keeping levels of cortisol '' the stress hormone - under control.
"Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves," says study leader Dr Zachary Kaminsky, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences.
"With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe."
The blood test managed to predict those with the most severe risk of suicide with 90 per cent accuracy.
They could also spot if someone had already attempted suicide with 96 per cent accuracy, simply by looking at the levels of SKA2.
The SKA2 gene is found in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, and is involved in preventing negative thoughts and controlling impulsive behaviour.
If there isn't enough SKA2, or it is altered in some way, the body cannot control levels of cortisol. Previous research has shown that people who attempt suicide or who take their own lives have large amounts of cortisol in their systems.
A test could allow doctors or psychologists to place patients on 'suicide watch' and restrict their access to drugs or equipment which they could use to end their own life.
Dr Kaminsky said it could also help doctors know whether to give medications which are linked to suicidal thoughts.
"We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviours from suicidal thoughts to attempts to completions," Kaminsky said.
"We need to study this in a larger sample but we believe that we might be able to monitor the blood to identify those at risk of suicide."
The research was reported in the American Journal of Psychology.
Out There
Scientists baffled by two new holes discovered in Siberia | euronews, world news
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:35
Scientists are investigating two new giant holes that have been discovered in Siberia.
Experts are perplexed as to what may have caused the finds with speculation surrounding the phenomena ranging from craters caused by meteorites, stray missiles to explosions caused by methane or shale gas.
The first was discovered two weeks ago. One of the new finds have been discovered near the village of Antipayuta, a little over 50 kilometers from the crater that first appeared in mid-July, and is about 15 metres in diameter.
The second crater and hole has been spotted in the Taymyr peninsula. It has a perfectly formed cone and is said to be around 100 metres deep.
Russia is using satellite technology to fix the moment the holes were formed. Soil and ice samples have been taken and sent to laboratories for studies.
The Chief Scientist of the Earth Cryosphere Institute, Marina Leibman, told URA.RU website: ''Undoubtedly, we need to study all such formations. It is necessary to be able to predict their occurrence. Each new funnel provides additional information for scientists.''
Hillary 2016
Elizabeth Warren's Biggest Donors Warn Her Not to Run for President - The Daily Beast
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:06
Politics07.30.14
As speculation about the Massachusetts senator's presidential ambitions swells, her biggest donors have one thing to say: There's no way on earth they're backing her over Hillary Clinton.
She ''lit up'' a gathering of liberal activists earlier this month with a barn-burner of a speech calling on Democrats to push back hard as thousands of attendees waved signs and chanted ''Run, Liz, Run!'' Her every denial that she will not run for president is parsed down to the verb tense for evidence that the door is open even a crack. She embarked on the kind of nationwide book tour that candidates-in-waiting always do as they drum up interest for a potential bid, and a ''Ready for Elizabeth'' draft movement is preparing to launch satellite chapters in states and cities around the country.
But if Elizabeth Warren does in fact reverse her repeated denials of interest and decides to run for president, she will have to do so virtually alone. That's because almost to a person, her earliest and most devoted backers do not want her to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
''If Elizabeth called me up and said, 'I am thinking of running for president,' I would say, 'Elizabeth, are you out of your goddamn mind?''' said one New York-based donor who has hosted Warren in his living room. ''I really like Elizabeth, but if Hillary is in the race it just makes no sense.''
This conversation was echoed again and again in more than a dozen interviews with big-ticket Democratic donors in Warren's hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in cities that operate as ATMs for the Democratic money machine, like New York, Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Over and over again, the message was the same: Stay in the Senate, Liz, stay in the Senate.
There are many reasons why Warren would want to mount a campaign. The primary animating force of her political career'--that the economy is unfairly tilted toward the rich, and that the Wall Street banks are rigging the game'--has struck a chord with the activist wing of her party. And that same activist wing doesn't believe that Hillary Clinton, with her six-figure speeches to Goldman Sachs and her ties to the triangulating policies of her husband, can carry that banner for them. Warren has become a top Democratic surrogate in red states like Kentucky and West Virginia, and in races across the country, ''The Warren Wing'' appears to be on the march.
''There is a rising economic populist tide in America, and Elizabeth Warren is the personification of that tide,'' said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has been organizing to make sure every presidential candidate is asked whether they agree with Warren. ''In the Democratic Party there is a battle between the economic populist wing that fights for the little guy against the corporate wing, and she represents the populist wing.''
''If Elizabeth called me up and said, 'I am thinking of running for president,' I would say, 'Elizabeth, are you out of your goddamn mind?'''
Were she to run, Warren would face enormous challenges, mainly in that Hillary Clinton remains historically popular with Democrats. But the fact that the network of Democratic insiders who helped Warren raise a record $42 million for her 2012 Senate bid want her to stand down in deference to Clinton should all but end speculation that she will be a candidate.
''I think she is outstanding. She is articulate. She is persuasive. She can hit a piece of bullshit from a hundred yards away,'' said Victor A. Kovner, a Manhattan lawyer who hosted Warren for a fundraiser way back in 2011. But, he added, ''I will be supporting Hillary in 2016. No question about that.''
Some Democrats who say they support Hillary still want Warren in the race, under the theory that it will give a platform to Warren's ideas on the economy that she cannot achieve while serving as one of 100 senators.
But Kovner, echoing other members of the Democratic donor class, rejects this view. ''People should run to win,'' he said. ''They shouldn't run to have a voice. That is what Herman Cain did.''
To be clear, the world of Warren-backers isn't entirely ready for Hillary, and some are holding out hope that the Massachusetts senator joins the race.
''I think it would be very good if she were the nominee,'' said Marc Weiss, a tech entrepreneur who helped fund a nascent Warren for Senate campaign soon after she announced. ''She is closer to my views on almost every issue. I would be very enthusiastic if she decided to run.''
Clinton, Weiss said, was a good senator and secretary of state, but ''the problem I have with her is as a potential president is that she is too comfortable with many of the forces that are with Wall Street. It is hard to see how she would really be a voice for the middle class.''
Erica Sagrans, the campaign manager at Ready for Warren, dismissed the notion that Warren would struggle to raise money if her fundraising network went with Clinton. ''She has proven to be a pretty successful fundraiser for herself and for other candidates. I don't see that as being a huge challenge for her should she run.''
There is an argument to be made that a Warren candidacy would benefit Clinton, even if the former secretary of state prevailed at the end. It would, for one thing, give the Democratic Party a primary worth watching, at a time when much of the action appears to be on the Republican side'--and Democrats who remember 2008 can recall how galvanizing that campaign was for the party. Democrats maintain a sizeable demographic advantage, and the GOP appears as if it may be on the verge of making the same mistakes it made in the clownish 2012 nominating process.
But few of Warren's biggest supporters want to risk it.
''I am not sure what value it would bring to have her run,'' said Wayne Shields, CEO of the Association for Reproductive Health Professionals, who, along with Warren's husband, hosted Warren at his house earlier in her Senate candidacy. ''She would be such a target for conservatives, it may end up having a paradoxical effect on Democrats.''
One Massachusetts Democrat, who helped lay the groundwork for Warren's Senate run back when Warren was a Harvard professor mostly known as a thwarted nominee to the newly created Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, agreed:
''If she ran, it would tear apart the Democratic base even worse than Hillary and Obama did. Whoever is pushing this is not doing the Democratic Party any favors, and I wish it would stop.''
That feeling, and it is one echoed in other conversations among the donor class, is that a Warren run would expose divisions in the Democratic Party'--between, in Adam Green's words, the populist and the corporate wings'--that have lain largely dormant on the national level as Democrats fear a Tea Party-controlled executive branch.
''It would galvanize a part of the left, and then the question becomes, how do you keep them motivated for a general election?'' said one Warren donor. ''She is a fresh face. She would get a lot of attention, which could hurt Hillary.''
If Hillary decided not to run, even Warren's most devoted supporters doubt that she could win the presidency.
''If Hillary comes out tomorrow and says, 'I'm not running,' obviously, this becomes a difference question, but I still think she shouldn't run,'' said one New York-based financial supporter. ''She has so many holes in her resume. Even Obama had more experience than she does.''
Added another California-based donor who has given thousands of dollars to Warren's political action committee, PAC for a Level Playing Field, ''I don't think she would be a very good president. Two years ago she was a college professor, for goodness sakes. She has one issue and she is a great advocate for that one issue. She doesn't have the breadth of experience necessary to be president.''
And even those who say they would be the first to line up behind a Warren candidacy say that part of them hopes she doesn't do it. ''Of course I would be with her,'' said one Massachusetts Democrat who was one of Warren's earliest supporters. ''But this is Ted Kennedy's seat. We know what can be accomplished in a long Senate career'--it is almost as much as can be accomplished in the White House.''
Most of the Democratic donors interviewed for this article were quick to point out that at that moment this is largely an academic discussion. Warren has said repeatedly'--and in some cases to these donors personally'--that she is not running for president. Those who have spoken to Warren recently say that she seems quite content in the Senate, and they doubt that she is ready to give up her life to run for president.
''I hear the chatter, but I also hear what Elizabeth Warren is saying, and she has been pretty firm in answer to that question,'' said Dennis Mehiel, a New York-based donor who hosted Warren early on in her Senate campaign.
And if the answer to that question ever changed?
''I love Elizabeth. But I go back a very long way with Hillary.''
Powell maybe not told early about CIA techniques - The Washington Post
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:56
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Shut Up Slave!
Next Generation Queue Design and Model | InnoCentive Challenge
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:29
TSA Pre'''' is an expedited screening program that allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening. This queue line provides an expedited transit through airport security screening as TSA Pre'''' passengers do not require the removal of shoes, 3-1-1 compliant liquids, jacket, belt, and may keep laptop in bag for screening.
TSA is looking for the Next Generation Checkpoint Queue Design Model to apply a scientific and simulation modeling approach to meet the dynamic security screening environment. The new queue design should include, but not limited to the following queue lanes:
TSA Pre''''StandardPremier Passengers (1st class, business class, frequent fliers, etc.)Employee and Flight CrewsPWD (wheelchair access)The Challenge is to provide a simulation modeling concept that can form the basis to plan, develop requirements, and design a queue appropriately. The concept will be used to develop a model to be applied in decision analysis and to take in considerations of site specific requirements, peak and non-peak hours, flight schedules and TSA staffing schedules. Solvers are expected to provide the concept and provide evidence that it works as described in the requirements.
NOTE:Current employees of the Transportation Security Administration are prohibited from submitting ideas/solutions to this Challenge, and any such idea/solution will not be considered for an award.
This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:
There is a guaranteed award. The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500.The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker. Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal.After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submitted a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.
The TSA Will Give You $15,000 If You Can Make the Lines Faster | TIME
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:28
TSA Offers $15K Reward for 'Next Generation' Security Lines - TIMEYour browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.
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Text of H.R. 4156: Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (Reported by House Committee version) - GovTrack.us
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:48
IB
Union Calendar No. 414
113th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 4156
[Report No. 113''554]
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 6, 2014
(for himself, , , , , and ) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
July 24, 2014
Additional sponsors: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and
July 24, 2014
Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
A BILL
To amend title 49, United States Code, to allow advertisements and solicitations for passenger air transportation to state the base airfare of the transportation, and for other purposes.
1.This Act may be cited as the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014.
2.(a)Section 41712 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
(d)(1)It shall not be an unfair or deceptive practice under subsection (a) for a covered entity to state in an advertisement or solicitation for passenger air transportation the base airfare for the air transportation if the covered entity clearly and separately discloses'--
(A)the government-imposed taxes and fees associated with the air transportation; and
(B)the total cost of the air transportation.
(2)(A)For purposes of paragraph (1), the information described in paragraphs (1)(A) and (1)(B) shall be disclosed in the advertisement or solicitation in a manner that clearly presents the information to the consumer.
(B)For purposes of paragraph (1), with respect to an advertisement or solicitation for passenger air transportation that appears on an Internet Web site, the information described in paragraphs (1)(A) and (1)(B) may be disclosed through a link or pop-up, as such terms may be defined by the Secretary, that displays the information in a manner that is easily accessible and viewable by the consumer.
(3)In this subsection, the following definitions apply:
(A)The term base airfare means the cost of passenger air transportation, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.
(B)The term covered entity means an air carrier, including an indirect air carrier, foreign carrier, ticket agent, or other person offering to sell tickets for passenger air transportation or a tour or tour component that must be purchased with air transportation.
(b)Nothing in the amendment made by subsection (a) may be construed to affect any obligation of a person that sells air transportation to disclose the total cost of the air transportation, including government-imposed taxes and fees, prior to purchase of the air transportation.
(c)Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue final regulations to carry out the amendment made by subsection (a).
(d)This Act, and the amendments made by this Act, shall take effect on the earlier of'--
(1)the effective date of regulations issued under subsection (c); and
(2)the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
July 24, 2014
Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-How deadly Ebola has spread across the globe: Health officials try to trace 30,000 linked to death of US victim - as Nigerian film star sparks outrage by fleeing Africa first-class in an Ebola mask | Mail Online
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:52
Hong Kong woman quarantined when she fell ill after returning from KenyaExpert claims panic over death of U.S. man in Nigeria is 'justified'He warned the spread of Ebola could become a global pandemicHealth campaigners petition U.S. drug authorities to fast-track potential cureForeign Secretary Philip Hammond declares disease is 'very serious threat'He will chair an emergency meeting on how to boost defencesBritish airlines are also on 'red alert' for cases of the deadly virusMan with 'feverish' symptoms tested for deadly Ebola at Birmingham hospitalHe had travelled into Midlands from Benin, Nigeria via France when he fell illCharing Cross Hospital staff also feared man had Ebola symptoms this weekNo cases have been confirmed in UK but 672 people have died in West AfricaWarning issued to GPs, A&E departments and all NHS trusts across the UKSymptoms include high fever, bleeding and damage to the nervous systemBy Lizzie Parry and Emma Glanfield and Mario Ledwith
Published: 20:12 EST, 29 July 2014 | Updated: 18:37 EST, 30 July 2014
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Fears of a global Ebola pandemic are 'justified' an expert has said as Nigerian health officials try to trace 30,000 people at risk of contracting the deadly disease following the death of Patrick Sawyer.
The U.S. citizen boarded a flight in Liberia carrying the disease to Nigeria, potentially infecting 'anyone on the same plane'.
It comes as Nigerian actor Jim Iyke sparked outrage, posting a picture of himself wearing an Ebola mask while sitting in a first class airport lounge as he fled Liberia.
The 'Nollywood' star posted a message on his Instagram page saying he had cut short a business trip to Monrovia in Liberia - where at least 600 people have already died from the disease.
The death toll for this, the worst outbreak recorded since the Ebola virus was discovered in 1976, stands at 672, while more than 1,200 people have been infected.
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The latest outbreak of Ebola is the most severe since the disease was discovered in 1976. So far the disease has spread from a village in Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria
Nigerian health officials are in the process of trying to trace 30,000 people, believed to be at risk of contracting the highly-infectious virus, following the death of Patrick Sawyer in Lagos
Ebola (above) has already killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria and infected more than 1,200 since it was first diagnosed in February. Symptoms include sudden fever, vomiting and headaches
Medical personnel at the Doctors Without Borders facility in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, where leading Ebola doctor Sheik Humarr Khan died
The disease has swept through Western Africa, having first been detected in Guinea in February.
Since then victims have succumbed to the incurable illness, which starts with flu-like symptoms before evolving to cause catastrophic internal bleeding, in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
But it was the death of a U.S. citizen in the Nigerian captial of Lagos on Friday, that has prompted fears the disease could be on the brink of spreading to the West, as experts warn it could be carried across international borders by air travellers.
Mr Sawyer, a consultant for Liberia's Finance Ministry, died on Friday after arriving at Lagos airport on June 20, having vomited and suffered diarrhoea on two flights.
The 40-year-old U.S. citizen had been to the funeral of his sister, who also died from the disease.
A woman quarantined at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong has tested negative for the disease, despite returning from a trip to Kenya with Ebola-like symptoms.
Meanwhile two suspected patients in the UK have also tested negative.
But the panic sparked by Mr Sawyer's death is 'justified' says Dr Derek Gatherer of the University of Lancaster, claiming the virus is as infectious as flu.
He warned each person infected with the disease could spread the virus to at least two other people.
'Anyone on the same plane could have become infected because Ebola is easy to catch,' he said.
'It can be passed on through vomiting, diarrhoea or even from simply saliva or sweat - as well as being sexually transmitted.
'That is why there is such alarm over Mr Sawyer because he became ill on the flight so anyone else sharing the plane could have been infected by his vomit or other bodily fluids.'
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) echoed the concerns, warning the crisis gripping West Africa will only get worse, adding it is impossible to rule out the disease spreading to other countries.
Bart Janssens, MSF's director of operations, warned there was no overarching vision of how to tackle the outbreak, in an interview with La Libre Belgique newspaper.
'This epidemic is unprecedented, absolutely out of control and the situation can only get worse, because it is still spreading, above all in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in some very important hotspots,' he said.
'We are extremely worried by the turn of events, particularly in these two countries where there is a lack of visibility on the epidemic.
'If the situation does not improve fairly quickly, there is a real risk of new countries being affected.'That is certainly not ruled out, but it is difficult to predict, because we have never known such an epidemic.'
'IT SCARES THE JESUS OUTTA ME': OUTRAGE AS NIGERIAN 'NOLLYWOOD' STAR POSTS PICTURE WEARING EBOLA MASK AS HE FLEES LIBERIAA Nigerian actor has sparked outrage after posting an image of himself wearing an Ebola mask while sitting in a first class airport lounge as he flees Liberia.
'Nollywood' star Jim Iyke posted a message on his Instagram page saying he had cut short a business trip to Monrovia in Liberia - where at least 600 people have already died from the disease.
The image of Iyke sitting on green leather-clad seats in the airport's luxury first class lounge while wearing an expensive designer watch and sunglasses was accompanied with the caption: 'Not ashamed to admit this scares the Jesus outta me #Ebola.'
Nigerian actor Jim Iyke posted this picture on his Instagram account, revealing he had cut short a business trip to Liberia over fears the Ebola virus is spreading in the West African country
The contrast between Iyke's image of first class luxury is in stark contrast to the thousands of terrified Liberians who are living in fear of contracting the deadly disease.
However, much of the anger about his image stemmed from fear among Nigerian citizens that Iyke appeared to be travelling back to the country without having been tested to see if he was infected.
Twitter user @Avariberry posted a message reading: 'Jim Iyke or Not... he gotta be screened. #TestJimIyke.'
Meanwhile @IcallDibbz_ said: 'Please ooo, James Ikechukwu, aka Jim Iyke, should be quarantined.'
Others picked up on the fact Iyke had an expensive face mask to protect himself, but was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt.
Health campaigners have petitioned U.S. authorities, calling for the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track their approval of a new Ebola drug, which could be the first cure for the disease
Professor Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the virus, although deadly, is 'in theory easy to contain'
It comes as health campaigners today called for U.S. authorities to speed up their approval of a new drug hoped to be the first cure for the deadly Ebola virus.
They are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States to fast-track their authorisation of the TKM-Ebola drug.
The petition, created on change.org, states: 'One of the most promising is TKM-Ebola manufactured by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals.
'This drug has been shown to be highly effective in killing the virus in primates and Phase 1 clinical trials to assess its safety in humans were started earlier this year.'
VIRUS 'EASY TO CONTAIN IN THEORY' SAYS MAN WHO DISCOVERED ITProfessor Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the scientist who discoverd the Ebola virus in 1976, in Zaire, said the disease, although aggressive is 'in theory easy to contain'.
He told CNN: 'Well it's spectacular because once you get it, at least with this strain of Ebola, you've got like a 90 per cent chance of dying.
'That's spectacular by any standard '' one of the most lethal viruses that exist.
'On the other hand, you need really close contact to become infected.
'So just being on the bus with someone with Ebola, that's not a problem.
'It's also not iatrogenic [ph] so it's not transmitted through, you know, droplets and so on. So it is really something that in theory is easy to contain.'
In July the FDA put clinical trials on hold, despite the face 14 research participants had already safely tolerated the drug, campaigners said.
Those responsible for the petition added: 'Given that at least one patient has transferred the disease from Liberia to Nigeria by air travel, the possibility of a global pandemic becomes increasingly likely.
'In view of this it's imperative that the development of these drugs be fast-tracked by the FDA and the first step should be releasing the hold on TKM-Ebola.
'There is a precedent for fast tracking anti-Ebola drugs in emergency cases as happened last year when a researcher was exposed to the virus and received an experimental vaccine.'
Mr Sawyer was put in isolation at the First Consultants Hospital in Obalende, one of the most crowded parts of the city, home to around 21 million people.
He took two flights to reach Lagos, from Monrovia to Lome and then onto the Nigerian capital.
So far 59 people who came into contact with Mr Sawyer have been identified by Nigerian health officials, and are under surveillance.
But health officials have said they are looking at contacting 30,000 people who could be at risk of contracting the disease.
Professor Sunday Omilabu, from Lagos University Teaching Hospital, said health officials are in the process of tracing all those people who are thought to have been in contact with Mr Sawyer.
He said: 'We've been making contacts. We now have information about the (flight) manifest.
'We have information about who and who were around.
'So, as I'm talking, our teams are in the facility, where they've trained the staff, and then they (are) now asking questions about those that were closely in contact with the patient.'
Public health adviser, Yewande Adeshina, added: 'We're actually looking at contacting over 30,000 people in this very scenario.
'Because any and everybody that has contacted this person is going to be treated as a suspect.'
UK confident it can contain Ebola if neccessary
A number of patients have been discharged from Ebola treatment centres in Guinea after successfully beating the Ebola virus, says M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res
Hong Kong prepares for possible Ebola outbreak
U.S. citizen Patrick Sawyer, pictured with his daughter Ava, died on Friday in the Nigerian capital of Lagos having become infected with the Ebola virus. His death prompted fears of a global pandemic after he flew from Liberia to Nigeria
Decontee Sawyer, the wife of Liberian government official Patrick Sawyer, said she shudders to think how easily her husband could have returned to the U.S. carrying the disease
Expert says people should be 'on alert' over Ebola
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond today declared the disease a 'very serious threat' to Britain as he prepared to chair an emergency meeting on how to bolster the country's defences against the vicious virus.
The meeting came as the European Union today allocated an extra two million euros to help fight the Ebola outbreak, bringing total funding to 3.9 million euros.
EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, said: 'The level of contamination on the ground is extremely worrying and we need to scale up our action before many more lives are lost.'
The European Union has deployed experts on the ground to help victims and try to prevent contagion but Georgieva called for a 'sustained effort from the international community to help West Africa deal with this menace'.
British airlines are on alert for cases of the deadly virus, after tests revealed a man died in Nigeria from the disease, having been allowed to board an international flight from Liberia.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has met global health officials on implementing measures to halt the spread of the disease, as the pan-African ASKY airlines suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
British Airways said it was maintaining its flights to west Africa but would monitor the situation closely.
A British man has also been tested for the Ebola virus, putting doctors on red alert that it could be on its way to the UK.
A spokesman for Hong Kong's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) will be notified if it is confirmed the patient is suffering from the Ebola virus.
In Nigeria health officials said today, they are in the process of tracing 30,000 people at risk of contracting the disease after coming into contact with a Liberian man who died on Friday.
Meanwhile, the British man was taken to hospital in Birmingham after complaining of feeling 'feverish' on a flight back to the Midlands from West Africa.
He had been travelling from Benin, Nigeria via Paris, France when he became unwell on Monday.
However, after undergoing a number of tests he was given the all-clear for the virus which has already killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and infected more than 1,200 since it was first diagnosed in February.
In another scare, medical staff at Charing Cross Hospital in London became concerned a man in his twenties had caught the virus this week.
But his symptoms were quickly confirmed as not being linked to the bug and doctors ruled out the need for an Ebola test.
State Department says no significant risk of Ebola in U.S.
Tragic: US citizen Patrick Sawyer (pictured with his wife Decontee) died after contracting Ebola in West Africa
Fears: Medical staff at Charing Cross Hospital in London became concerned a man in his twenties had caught the virus this week. However, his symptoms were later put down to another bug and Ebola was ruled out
Nigeria tracing over 30,000 potentially exposed to Ebola
Fears over the ability to contain the spread of Ebola were augmented last night as it emerged the body of a young stowaway was found hidden in on a U.S. military plane.
The Pentagon said the young boy, believed to be of African origin, was found near the wheel of a cargo plane which landed in Germany.
AIRLINES ON EBOLA RED ALERTBritish airlines are on alert for cases of the deadly virus, after tests revealed a man died in Nigeria from the disease, having been allowed to board an international flight from Liberia.
Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for Liberia's Finance Ministry, had been in Liberia for the funeral of his sister, who also died from the disease, and was on his way back to his home in the US.
The 40-year-old arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20 and had suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea on two flights. He was put in isolation in hospital and died on Friday.
Nigeria has closed the Lagos hospital where Mr Sawyer was treated and put its airports and ports on 'red alert'.
ASKY airlines, the carrier which flew Mr Sawyer, suspended flights to the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone yesterday.
In Britain, the Department of Transport said UK airlines are 'monitoring the situation'.
Virgin Atlantic told the Daily Express their staff have been trained to spot the signs and symptoms of the virulent disease, which has claimed the lives of 672 people in West Africa since February.
The plane was on a routine mission in Africa, and had made stops in Senegal, Mali, Chad, Tunisia and the Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily before arriving at Ramstein.
It is thought the boy climbed aboard in Mali, which borders Guinea - where the current Ebola outbreak originated at the end of last year.
It comes as hospitals and medical centres across the UK remain on red alert for the virus, with doctors being told to look out for symptoms of the disease which can go unnoticed for three weeks and kills 90 per cent of victims.
The Department of Health confirmed protections have been put in place to deal with the deadly bug, should it spread to Britain.
A spokesman said: 'We are well prepared to identity and deal with any potential cases of Ebola, although there has never been a case in this country.'
The Government's chief scientific advisor also issued a frank warning about the disease, which he said could have a 'major impact' on the UK.
Sir Mark Walport said: 'The UK is fortunate in its geographical position. We're an island. But we are living in a completely interconnected world where disruptions in countries far away will have major impacts.
'The most dangerous infections of humans have always been those which have emerged from other species,' he told the Daily Telegraph, referring to the virus originating in fruit bats and monkeys.
He said the Government was 'keeping a close eye' on the outbreak and was prepared for the disease spreading to Britain, but insisted any risk was 'very low'.
He added: 'We have to think about risk and managing risk appropriately.'
Public Health England has added to fears about the spread of the virus by saying it was 'clearly not under control'.
Virus: Symptoms of Ebola include high fever, bleeding, damage to the nervous system and vomiting
Outbreak: There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola, which is spread by contact with infected blood or bodily fluids
The Government agency's global health director, Dr Brian McCloskey, said: 'It is the largest outbreak of this disease to date, and it's clear it is not under control.
'We have alerted UK medical practitioners about the situation in West Africa and requested they remain vigilant for unexplained illness in those who have visited the affected area.'
The current outbreak started in Guinea in February and spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone in weeks. Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and damage to the nervous system.
There is no vaccine or cure. It is spread by contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids.
All outbreaks since 1976 '' when Ebola was first identified '' have been in Africa, with the previous highest death toll being 280.
However, authorities around the world have been put on high alert in recent weeks after an American doctor working in Liberia became infected and passed through an airport.
Nigerian health officials yesterday admitted they did not have a list of all the people who came into contact Patrick Sawyer, prompting fears the outbreak could spread.
But the manifesto appears to have been disclosed as Professor Sunday Omilabu, from Lagos University Teaching Hospital, said health officials are in the process of tracing all those people who are thought to have been in contact with Mr Sawyer.
He said: 'We've been making contacts. We now have information about the (flight) manifest.
'We have information about who and who were around.
'So, as I'm talking, our teams are in the facility, where they've trained the staff, and then they (are) now asking questions about those that were closely in contact with the patient.'
Public health adviser, Yewande Adeshina, added: 'We're actually looking at contacting over 30,000 people in this very scenario.
'Because any and everybody that has contacted this person is going to be treated as a suspect.'
Doctor demonstrates the dangers of working with ebola
Spreading: The outbreak has hit Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and has now killed a man in far more densely populated Nigeria. The outbreak is the deadliest ever of the terrifying disease as the death toll crept past 670
Mr Sawyer, a consultant for Liberia's Finance Ministry, had been in Liberia for the funeral of his sister, who also died from the disease, and was on his way back to his home in the US.
The 40-year-old arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20 and had suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea on two flights. He was put in isolation in hospital and died on Friday.
So far 59 people who came into contact with him have been identified and are under surveillance. But the airlines have yet to release flight information naming passengers and crew members.
Dr David Heymann, head of the Centre on Global Health Security, said every person who had been on the plane to Lagos with Mr Sawyer would need to be traced.
Sierra Leone's top doctor fighting Ebola died yesterday after he contracted the virus just days ago. Sheik Umar Khan was credited with treating more than 100 patients.
Liberia closed most of its border crossings on Sunday and Nigeria's airports and borders have been on full alert since Friday.
Nigeria confirms Ebola case in megacity of Lagos
ARE YOU AT RISK OF CATCHING THE INCURABLE, DEADLY EBOLA DISEASE?What is Ebola virus disease?
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness, with a death rate of up to 90 per cent.The illness affects humans as well as primates, including monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees.How do people become infected with the virus?
Ebola is transmitted through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
In Africa infection in humans has happened as a result of contact with chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead in the rainforest.
Once a person becomes infected, the virus can spread through contact with a sufferer's blood, urine, saliva, stools and semen. A person can also become infected if broken skin comes into contact with a victim's soiled clothing, bed linen or used needles.
Men who have recovered from the disease, can still spread the virus to their partner through their semen for seven weeks after recovery.
Who is most at risk?
Those at risk during an outbreak include:
health workersfamily members or others in close contact with infected peoplemourners with direct contact with the bodies of deceased victimshunters in contact with dead animalsWhat are the typical signs and symptoms?
Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. That is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and internal and external bleeding.
The incubation period is between two and 21 days. A person will become contagious once they start to show symptoms.
When should you seek medical care?
If a person is in an area affected by the outbreak, or has been in contact with a person known or suspected to have Ebola, they should seek medical help immediately.
What is the treatment?
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. They need intravenous fluids to rehydrate them.
But there is currently no specific treatment for the disease. Some patients will recover with the appropriate care.
Can Ebola be prevented?
Currently there is no licensed vaccine for Ebola. Several are being tested but are not available for clinical use.
Is it safe to travel to affected areas?
The World Health Organisation reviews the public health situation regularly, and recommends travel or trade restrictions if necessary. The risk of infection for travellers is very low since person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with bodily fluids of victims.
Source: World Health Organisation
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VIDEO-Warm Water Sparks Flesh-Eating Disease Warning in Florida - ABC News
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:48
ABC News | More ABC News VideosCopyFlorida health officials are warning beachgoers about a seawater bacterium that can invade cuts and scrapes to cause flesh-eating disease.
Vibrio vulnificus ''- a cousin of the bacterium that causes Cholera ''- thrives in warm saltwater, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If ingested, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. But it can also infect open wounds and lead to ''skin breakdown and ulceration,'' according to the CDC.
''Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater,'' the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.
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The infection can also be transmitted through eating or handling contaminated oysters and other shellfish, according to the CDC.
Getty Images
PHOTO: A grouping of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is pictured in this micrograph.
At least 11 Floridians have contracted Vibrio vulnificus so far this year and two have died, according to the most recent state data. In 2013, 41 people were infected and 11 died. The proportion of skin and gastrointestinal infections in Florida is unclear, but a CDC spokesman said the ratio tends to be about 1-to-1.
Florida isn't the only state to report Vibrio vulnificus infections. Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi have also recorded cases, and a 2013 outbreak linked to contaminated shellfish sickened at least 104 people in 13 states, according to the CDC.
Most people who contract a Vibrio vulnificus infection recover with the help of antibiotics, but severe skin infections may require surgery and amputation, according to the CDC. People with weakened immune systems are also at risk for blood infections, which are fatal about 50 percent of the time, the CDC notes.
The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid Vibrio vulnificus infections:
VIDEO-Twitter posts earnings of 2 cents per share, tops estimates; Stock surges past 30%
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:21
Twitter jumped sharply on Tuesday after the social media company easily topped earnings and revenue expectations.
The firm posted earnings of 2 cents a share, ex-items, compared to a loss of 12 cents a share, ex-items, in the year-ago period. The company also reported a revenue of $312 million, an increase of 124 percent year-over-year. Shares popped following the earnings report. (Click here to track its shares following the report.)
"I can't find one thing that they didn't beat on. This was a very positive result for Twitter," said Robert Luna of Surevest Wealth Management, who has a stake in the social media firm. "There's a lot of room for expansion, a lot of room for multiple revenue sources. I think Twitter is a stock that you want to own as an investor right here."
Analysts had expected Twitter to report a loss of a penny a share on $283 million in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.
Monthly average users grew 24 percent year-over-year to 271 million, as of June 30, 2014, the firm said in a release.
Ad revenue increased 129 percent year-over-year, to a total of $277 million, of which 81 percent came from mobile advertising.
Other social media companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn edged higher following the report. Chinese microblog Weibo jumped more than 7 percent.
VIDEO-Flashback Obama 2011: 'No Question That Libya ...Would Be Better Off With Gaddafi Out of Power' | MRCTV
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:30
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-CNN Reports Anti-Semitic Protests in Europe, Notes 'Blurred' Lines Between Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Rhetoric | MRCTV
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:28
The media coverage of the current Israeli-Hamas conflict has been decidedly anti-Israel, and the lack of reporting on growing anti-Semitism worldwide has only made it more apparent. Surprisingly, on the July 28 edition of At This Hour with Berman and Michaela, the hosts devoted a segment to cover the virulent anti-Semitic protests occurring in Germany, France, and even in the United Kingdom.
Co-host Michaela Pereira led off by lamenting that protests from Paris to Berlin have ''turned nasty, targeting all Jews. In Paris, protestors have attacked synagogues, they've looted shops owned by Jews, chanting death to the Jews.'' Co-anchor John Berman cited an even more horrifying scene from Germany, where some have called for Jews to be killed:
VIDEO-CBS Promotes Obama Fist Bump In Wake of New Study About Reducing Spread of Germs | MRCTV
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:22
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Ronan Farrow Takes On Emoji 'Racial Diversity' | MRCTV
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:06
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-State Dep't Doesn't Ascribe Blame for Deaths of Children in Gaza Playground, Israel Says Errant Terrorist Rocket Responsible | MRCTV
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:02
patrick.goodenoughPatrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.
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VIDEO-NBC: Firefighters Battling California Wildfires Are On 'Front Lines of Climate Change' | MRCTV
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:58
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
Not wanting to let a good crisis go to waste, Tuesday's NBC Nightly News exploited California wildfires to push climate change. Correspondent Miguel Almaguer declared: "The fire season not just expensive, but historic. Nationwide so far this year, more than 32,000 wildfires have burned. 1.6 million acres charred, most of them in the west. Feeding the fires, drought crippling 60% of the west....Crews call this the front lines of climate change, a longer more destructive fire season."
Introducing the story, anchor Brian Williams warned: "In the American west tonight, a huge wildfire is burning in Yosemite National Park. One of more than 200 of them firing up in just this last week in California alone as this drought emergency continues to get worse."
VIDEO- TAKE THE TSA CHALLENGE! - YouTube
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VIDEO-NPC Luncheon IMF Managing Dir Christine LaGarde | Video | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:13
January 15, 2014International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde talked about the world economy.'‚She said it seemed to be headed in a'... read more
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde talked about the world economy.'‚She said it seemed to be headed in a positive direction in 2014, but risks remained.'‚She cited the U.S. budget deal, commonly referred to as the Ryan-Murray agreement, as one step toward stabilizing the economy because it diminished uncertainty about the country's economic stability.'‚She responded to written questions submitted by members of the audience at a National Press Club luncheon. close
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*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
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VIDEO-Ebola only a plane ride away from USA
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:01
Liz Szabo and Karen Weintraub, Special for USA TODAY10:55 p.m. EDT July 28, 2014
Medical personnel take care of Ebola patients in a clinic in the Kenema District on the outskirts of Kenema, Sierra Leone, on July 27.(Photo: Youssouf Bah, AP)
The growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa serves as a grim reminder that deadly viruses are only a plane ride away from the USA, health experts say.
The outbreak is the largest and deadliest on record, with more than 670 deaths and more than 1,200 infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fatality rates for Ebola have been as high as 90% in past outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.
The virus '-- which has an incubation period of a few days to three weeks '-- could easily travel to the USA through infected travelers, says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
A second American working in Africa has tested positive for the Ebola virus. The biggest-ever outbreak of the disease has already claimed more than 670 lives in West Africa. VPC
EBOLA OUTBREAK:What you need to know
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"A case very well could fly out of Africa, only to be detected in some distant country," says Osterholm, who served as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration on bioterrorism.
The CDC on Monday announced that it has sent an alert to health care providers in the USA to help them spot symptoms of the disease.
Health experts at the CDC have been working with African nations since the Ebola outbreak began in March. But officials are on alert now, after news that a man with Ebola was able to board a plane and arrive in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. He later died.
Two Americans providing humanitarian assistance in West Africa have become infected with Ebola. Family members of one of them, Kent Brantly, a doctor, had been living with him in Africa, but returned to the USA before he began showing symptoms. To be careful, however, the family is on a "21-day fever watch," in which they are being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms, says Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the CDC's national center for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases.
Yet while Ebola is a fearsome disease, the virus "would not pose a major public health risk" in the USA, Osterholm says.
That's because people need to be in intimate contact to spread the virus, Osterholm says.
Ebola is actually much harder to spread than respiratory infections, such as influenza or measles. Those viruses pose a much greater threat on a plane or in any confined space, says Osterholm, who notes that people cannot spread the Ebola virus simply by sneezing or coughing.
Ebola also can only be spread by people with active symptoms, Monroe says.
"No Ebola cases have been reported in the United States and the likelihood of this outbreak spreading outside of West Africa is very low," says Monroe, who says that the CDC has sent 12 experts to Africa to help with the crisis. "While it's possible that someone could become infected with Ebola in Africa" before boarding a plane to the USA, "it's very unlikely that they would spread it to other passengers."
Ebola does spread readily through body fluids, such as blood and saliva, Osterholm says. On a plane, a sick person could potentially contaminate the bathroom if he or she vomits or has diarrhea.
Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, says the issue of how Ebola spreads is complex. Sweat and saliva carry much lower levels of the Ebola virus than blood and stool, so the virus spreads less readily through those fluids.
"I don't think we've seen actual cases (passed through contact with sweat or saliva)," Morse says. "There may someday be a strain that's more capable of doing that, but so far it's more theoretical than actual."
Ebola has spread in Africa partly because of religious customs, in which family members wash the bodies of deceased relatives to prepare them for burial.
The virus also has spread to health care workers in Africa, where six or seven patients may share a single hospital room. Hospitals in developing countries also may lack certain infection-control measures '-- such as special containers to dispose of syringes '-- that are standard in U.S. facilities, Osterholm says. Wearing full-body protective garments '' commonly called "moon suits" '' is also more of a challenge in open-air clinics, because the restrictive outfits can cause people to quickly overheat.
More help is needed from around the world, Morse said. He received an e-mail today from a friend who is treating patients in the region and working 12- to 24-hour days. "When people tell me they're working flat-out 20 hours a day, obviously more resources are needed," he said.
The region needs more health care workers, especially those well trained in infection control procedures, he said, more equipment to keep health care workers and family members safe while treating patients, and more training for the general public about how to avoid and cope with the virus. "With something this size, it's obvious that we're under resourced right now," Morse said.
Symptoms of Ebola include fever, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea and a rash, according to the WHO. Advanced cases also can cause heavy bleeding, both internally and from the mouth and nose. Ebola can damage multiple organs, causing kidney and liver failure.
Only about half of patients begin hemorrhaging, Monroe says. That makes it easy for health care workers in Africa to mistake Ebola for diseases with similar symptoms, such as malaria and Lassa fever, another viral illness common in that region.
"Most people who contract Ebola are those who live with and care for those who have already caught the disease and are showing symptoms," Monroe says.
Hospitals in the USA are on high alert for Ebola, however, and would quickly isolate anyone with suspicious symptoms who has recently returned from Africa, Osterholm says.
"Right now, we'd have to assume every case is an Ebola case," in people with suspicious symptoms, Osterholm says.
In a worst-case scenario, Osterholm says, a handful of emergency room workers could be exposed before a sick person is diagnosed.
Once people are infected, however, there is no effective treatment, Osterholm says. Anti-viral medications used for other illnesses, such as the flu and HIV, don't appear to work on Ebola. Instead, hospitals could provide supportive care, dealing with symptoms as they occur.
Among the federal travel restriction procedures the Centers for Disease Control can use to protect travelers and the public from communicable diseases that pose a serious threat is to put travelers' names on a "Do Not Board" list that is enforced by the Transportation Security Administration.
However, it's unclear how well the list works. CDC still has not released records requested by USA TODAY in 2010 under the Freedom of Information Act relating to failures of the "Do Not Board" list to stop passengers from flying. As of April, CDC had transferred the gathered records for further review by officials at CDC's parent agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to e-mail correspondence.
Contributing: Alison Young
More than 670 people have died in Africa since an Ebola virus outbreak was first reported earlier this year. Now two American doctors working there have been infected as well. VPC
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VIDEO-Pelosi: Qataris Have Told Me 'Hamas Is a Humanitarian Organization' | CNS News
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:29
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at her weekly news briefing Friday, May 9, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
(CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the United States must look to Qatar, an ally of the terrorist group Hamas, for advice in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization," she told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley.
As CNSNews.com reported last week, Qatar is a strong supporter and funder of Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal operates from Qatar, and has so far rejected ceasefire proposals put forward by Egypt and promoted by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The U.S government designated Hamas as a ''foreign terrorist organization'' in 1997. Its founding charter calls for Jews to be killed and says all Muslims are duty-bound to join a jihad to destroy Israel.
In an interview aired on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, Hamas leader Meshaal said Hamas does not fight the Jews just because they are Jews. "We fight the occupiers," he said. Asked if he wants to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Meshaal said "No."
"War is a deadly thing," Pelosi said on Sunday, speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"And I have many Palestinians who live in my district, and I am hearing them regularly about how their families are affected who live in the region. It's a terrible thing. But let me just say that any missile that comes from someplace has a return address. And if Israel is responding to that address, then that's a shame that the Palestinians are ...rumored to be using children and families as shields for their missiles."
Pelosi said the first thing to do is to "avoid conflict" that "Hamas initiated."
"[T]his has to be something where we try to have the two-state solution, that we have to support...(Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud) Abbas and his role as a leader there. We have to support Iron Dome to protect the Israelis from the missiles. We have to support the Palestinians and what they need. And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization, maybe they could use their influence to--"
Crowley interrupted her to ask: "The U.S. thinks they're a terrorist organization though, correct? Do you?"
Pelosi responded: "Mmm hmm."
Crowley said: "Yeah."
And Pelosi said: "And we've had that discussion."'Obama's leadership has been strong'; Putin 'is insecure'
In that same interview with CNN, Pelosi defended President Barack Obama's "strong" leadership, dismissing a suggestion that Russian President Vladimir Putin considers him to be weak.
Compared with Cold War days, "It's a much more complicated situation now, and the president's leadership has been strong," Pelosi told Crowley, pointing to Obama's support for Israel's Iron Dome missile shield; his request for humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people; and his sanctions on Russia.
"Putin is going to do what Putin is going to do," she said. "Some of what we see comes from insecurity. Putin, for all of his -- is insecure about Russia's role in the world now."
Pelosi noted that the Obama administration was early in saying that the rockets used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine "had a provenance in Russia."
"So nobody is missing in action in all of this."
"And as far as Putin is concerned, he's a KGB guy who happens to be the president of Russia and he's going to do what he's going to do no matter who else is in charge any other place in the world. So, I would not judge his actions or his motivations by anything other than he is rooted in the KGB, insecure about Russia's diminished role in the world."
Also See:Pursing Ceasefire, Kerry Looks to Hamas Supporters Turkey and Qatar for HelpKerry Accused of Promoting Hamas' Ceasefire Demands
VIDEO-Northern California restaurant bans noisy children from dining room - The Mommy Files
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:47
The owner of the Old Fiserhman's Grotto in Monterey, Calif., wants his restaurant to be a civilized place where diners can enjoy a meal in a pleasant environment.
Chris Shake feels unruly children can spoil the atmosphere and two years ago he posted two signs letting diners know that the restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf won't provide high chairs and booster seats and doesn't allow baby strollers.
The signs also read: ''Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and are not allowed in the dining room.''
Shake recently put up a third sign that has attracted attention and led local TV station KSBW to look into the policy.
The bustling Fisherman's Wharf area is a popular spot for tourists and some are turned off by Shake's rules.
''I would probably not go there to not deal with that sort of atmosphere,'' tourist Kelly Lozano told KSBW-TV. ''It surprises me because this is a family place '-- where you go with your kids for vacation.''
Niki Riviere was frustrated that the restaurant wouldn't provide a high-chair for her 6-month-old child.
''I'm completely shocked because I never had that happen,'' Riviere told KSBW-TV. ''Usually they cater, at least have a high chair for the child, but it seemed like they didn't want any child. They said the child can't make any noises so they turned us away.''
Shake isn't going to let complaints from tourists change his mind.
''If a place has the rules, that's what the rules are,'' Shake told KSBW-TV. ''You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you.''
The Old Fisherman's Grotto is family-run and Shake inherited the business from his father Sabu Shake, Sr., who originally opened the restaurant in the 1950s. The Grotto is known for its super-rich, award-winning clam chowder and Sabu used to stand in front of the restaurant passing out samples. Now, Shake is continuing this tradition and often you can see him out front with an apron around his waist holding a tray loaded with cups of chowder.
Shake says business is better than ever. ''Well, let's put it this way '-- I haven't had a down year for over 20 years and our business continues to grow,'' Shake told KSBW-TV.
Many locals are supportive of Shake's kid policy. It received a lot of praise in a blog post on KSBW.
A woman named Kelly wrote:
Fisherman's Grotto is not a place for parents to take their small children. It is where people want to go when they want a quiet and/or romantic meal. That's why ladies are given a rose after their meal. I'm glad they have this rule because it is one of my favorite restaurants and when I go there I'm not in the mood to hear children. There are plenty of family friendly restaurants on the wharf, but we deserve to have an adult friendly restaurant too.
Roxy shared:
I've been going to this restaurant [since] Chris' dad ran it and I continue to go here when I'm in town. Having raised 3 kids of my own and now have 2 grandchildren, it is nice to eat in a restaurant that doesn't have a high pitched screaming or whining child who's clearly unhappy or plain tired. It's distracting, plain and simple. There are other restaurants nearby that would accommodate your child(ren), go there and have a nicer time without feeling self-conscious or anxious about disturbing other patrons in the restaurant.
What's more, Danielle Mendiola, a hostess at the Grotto told SFGate, that since the news story ran, ''We're getting a lot of phone calls from people who are saying thank you for doing this.''
Looking for a kid-friendly restaurant in San Francisco? Here are some ideas.
VIDEO-Ebola virus 'could spread globally' after plane brings it to Nigeria | Mail Online
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:14
Health experts fear other passengers could now be carrying the virusIt lays dormant in victims for up to three weeks - and 90 per cent die of itComes after Dr Kent Brantly, who went to fight the disease, was infected By Nick Fagge
Published: 19:04 EST, 27 July 2014 | Updated: 02:20 EST, 28 July 2014
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Infected: Dr Kent Brantly, from Texas, with his wife Amber
An outbreak of Ebola could spread worldwide after an infected plane passenger introduced the deadly virus to Nigeria, health experts warned last night.
Previous outbreaks were confined to forests and rural areas, but this one has already spread across four countries in West Africa, killing 672 '' the disease's biggest death toll.
The news came as it emerged that an American doctor working for a charity in Liberia had become infected.
Dr Kent Brantly, 33, from Texas, had moved to the country for the Samaritan's Purse organisation with his children and wife, Amber, to help contain the disease.
More than 1,000 others have been infected by the virus, which can go unnoticed for three weeks and kills 90 per cent of victims.
The outbreak started in Guinea in February and spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone in weeks.
After an air traveller brought it to Nigeria, health experts now fear infected air passengers who do not realise they have the virus could spread it around the world.
With 170million people, Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and airlines fly from there to Britain, other European countries and North America.
Civil servant Patrick Sawyer collapsed at Lagos airport in Nigeria on July 20 after flying in from Liberia, where he had attended the funeral of his sister, who had also succumbed to the disease.
His plane also landed in Togo on its way to Nigeria, prompting fears that the virus may have also reached a fifth country.
Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said: 'If the disease gets going in Nigeria it would be cause for concern.
Nigeria confirms Ebola case in megacity of Lagos
Protective gear: Dr Brantly, right, became infected by the disease while trying to stop it
'Nigeria has close links with the UK and many other countries.'
Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are now screening air passengers '' but doctors say this may not be effective because Ebola has an incubation period of two to 21 days and cannot be diagnosed on the spot.
Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and damage to the nervous system. There is no vaccine or cure. It is spread by contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids.
All outbreaks since 1976 when Ebola was first identified have been in Africa, with the previous highest death toll being 280.
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VIDEO-producer craig's 2.5 yo daughter: puuuuutin! - YouTube
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:29
VIDEO-Robert Higgs Explains How War Leads to Big Government :: The Mises Economics Blog: The Circle Bastiat
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:24
Archived from the live broadcast, this Mises University lecture was presented at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 24 July 2014.
VIDEO-MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski: 'Keep it Right Here on Morning Jew' | Washington Free Beacon
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:09
ShareTweetEmailBY:Washington Free Beacon StaffJuly 30, 2014 8:47 am
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is having a tough Wednesday.
After interviewing Israel's Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, Brzezinski said ''keep it right here on Morning Jew.''
This entry was posted in Culture and tagged Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC. Bookmark the permalink.

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