641: Extractive

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 16m
August 7th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Grand Duke of France & Belgium Sir Steven Pelsmaekers

Associate Executive Producers: James Bonczek, Edward Sheats, Steve Chipman, Herb Lamb

Cover Artist: Phil V

Chapters

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Start of Show
Woodstock
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TODAY
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Houston Trip
Global Entry theatre (amphitheatre)
MFA-H
Federal Reserve visit Houston
NBSO in the Fed
Charade
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New Stream URL: listen.noagendastream.com
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Ebola / Africa
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Summit - Coincidence?
Douchebags on parade: itm.im/africa
allAfrica.com: Africa: Obama - U.S. to Help Establish Africa Peacekeeping Force
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:38
President Barack Obama has said the US will help establish a peacekeeping force in Africa. An experimental Ebola drug being tested in the US, meanwhile, remains unready to be distributed in affected West African nations.
Obama said Wednesday the US would set up a rapid response force to support United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions.
"We will join with six countries that have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers," he told reporters at the conclusion of a three-day summit of 50 African nations in Washington.
"We're going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in this effort because the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa," Obama added.
Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda are to be the six countries involved in the effort, he said.
Obama did not specify how the new peacekeeping plan would relate to existing African Union missions.
More testing for Ebola drug
Obama said the experimental Ebola serum given to two patients in the US will continue to be tested because it is too soon to know whether the treatment is successful.
"We've got to let the science guide us and I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful," he said. "The Ebola virus both currently and in the past is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure."
The priority, Obama said, was devoting resources to fighting the disease in the region.
"Let's get all the health workers we need on the ground. Let's nip as early as possible any additional outbreaks of the disease," he said. "During that process, let's see if there are additional drugs or medical treatments that can improve survivability of what is a very brutal disease."
West Africa is currently in the midst of the worst-ever Ebola outbreak, which has claimed more than 900 lives. Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in her country.
"The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our peope," said said in a statement on national television.
Emerging Africa
The US president said the continent continues to face many challenges, but a new, more prosperous Africa is emerging.
Earlier on Wednesday, Obama called on African nations to be forceful in solving healthcare, security and government corruption problems that hinder progress on the continent.
He said the US was working with Africans to develop an "early warning and response network" to identify emerging crises.
dr/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
US holds summit with African heads of state - Features - Al Jazeera English
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:39
New York - Afua Prempeh says she will never wash her frock again. She was hugged by Michelle Obama during a feel-good event for young African go-getters in Washington last week, and Prempeh does not want the US first lady's impressions to be rinsed away.
It speaks to the allure that the Obamas retain in Africa, despite their waning approval ratings at home. The couple's charisma, together with President Barack Obama's Kenyan lineage, will be used to full effect at the first US-Africa Leaders Summit, which begins in the US capital on Monday.
"I'm still recovering from the excitement of hugging Michelle," says Prempeh, 28, a Ghanaian environmentalist who won a six-week study tour in Florida.
"The Obamas are a symbol of hope, that people can look beyond the colour of my skin or the fact that I'm a woman."
Prempeh was one of 500 participants in the Young African Leaders Initiative, a scholarship programme that Obama unveiled in South Africa last year to kick-start the US charm offensive on a continent where Europe and China are bigger traders.
Almost 50 African heads of state plan to attend Monday's three-day summit on business, security and governance. The four dozen presidential motorcades circling downtown Washington could cause traffic gridlock reminiscent of Nairobi, Lagos or Johannesburg.
US officials say they hope to boost business with the continent. European Union trade volumes with Africa hit $200bn in 2013. China's rocketed from $10bn in 2000 to more than $170bn in 2013. In recent years, US-Africa trade has stagnated at about $60bn.
Africa rising?
US Secretary of State John Kerry has praised a "continent on the move". In Washington last week, he said that wages have risen and many countries are achieving middle-income status thanks to less-corrupt leaders; and AIDS transmissions and malaria and other diseases are killing fewer Africans each year.
There isn't much scope for the US to radically boost economic links today.
- Christopher Wood, South African Institute of International Affairs
J Peter Pham, head of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, said Africa's population could eclipse China and India with two billion people in 2050, consisting of one quarter of the world's working-age population. "It's the place to do business," he told Al Jazeera.
It's not all talk, either. Power Africa, a USAID programme launched during the president's African safari in 2013, has already secured $9bn in private commitments to install electricity for 20 million African homes.
Christopher Wood, an analyst with the South African Institute of International Affairs, spoke of the need to "get in early in the Africa rising story". A bigger US footprint in Africa is far cheaper than pivoting to Asia, he said.
"There isn't much scope for the US to radically boost economic links today," he told Al Jazeera. "But a small bit of effort now could mean better market access and closer economic ties in 25 years, when Africa will be better positioned to buy the goods and services that America is best at producing."
The US may lag in trade, but it has more African diplomatic posts than any other country and is stealthily expanding its military presence. Last month's revelations of US secret military advisers in Somalia added to the list of known hotspots where US trainers, spies, drones, and commandoes operate.
American forces track al-Qaeda fighters in the sandy Maghreb, scour Ugandan forests for Joseph Kony, and are helping Nigeria's efforts to bring back hundreds of schoolgirls abducted into the bush by Boko Haram.
Camp Lemonnier, a sunbaked US military base in Djibouti, now hosts Predator drones. The Horn of Africa and the east African coast has become a new frontier of oil and gas exploration - part of Africa's abundance of natural wealth that includes metals, gems, coltan and other minerals.
"Many Africans were originally against it - but a lot have realised they need help countering these new and evolving threats," said Scott Firsing, a research fellow in international politics at South Africa's Monash University.
No photo opportunities
Still, the US-Africa Leaders Summit continues to attract controversy. Visiting leaders cannot trumpet their feats in the plenary speeches of typical multi-lateral events. Worse still, they won't have one-on-one time with Obama, unlike the guaranteed presidential face time at Beijing's triennial Africa meets.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US State Department's top Africa diplomat said it was difficult to convince "our very formal African counterparts" to attend a summit from which dignitaries leave without having their photos taken in the Oval Office.
It's time to stop working with these big men of the past who use oil and terrorism as trump cards.
- Jeffrey Smith, Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
In addition, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan were not invited. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta appeared on the guest list because he cooperated with the International Criminal Court over his role in the ethnic bloodletting of 2007-08.
The banned list is not long enough for Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer from the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. The long-serving leaders from Angola, Uganda, and Equatorial Guinea get seats at a table that are more deserved by reform-minded African campaigners, he told Al Jazeera.
"Human rights, the rule of law and good governance - which underpin security, trade and investment - are not at the top of the agenda," Smith said. "It's time to stop working with these big men of the past who use oil and terrorism as trump cards to reject criticism of their human rights abuses."
Despite talk of African growth, the continent's woes are overshadowed by a deadly West African Ebola outbreak that has already claimed over 700 lives and is "out of control", according to the aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres.
Meanwhile, the death toll from wars in Somalia, DR Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic continues to rise.
Thomas-Greenfield admitted that the "Africa rising" story comes without guarantees. Even the spike in the number of youth, the would-be workers, can be a curse, she said. "If growth is not achieved, the continent will have the largest unemployed youth population on Earth '... millions will live with the potential of being attracted to extremist ideologies or criminal activities."
This point is felt by the young scholars who have returned to Africa before their leaders touch down at Joint Base Andrews. Adebayo Alonge, 27, said it will be tough to use the skills he gained at Yale University to grow his business distributing low-cost drugs across Nigeria's countryside.
"Nigeria's political elite need to unite, act beyond their personal interests and build a stable political system for business to thrive," Alonge told Al Jazeera. "If not, we will see political instability, conflict, and a breakup of the country."
Follow James Reinl on Twitter: @jamesreinl
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FACT SHEET: U.S. Engagement on Climate Change and Resilience in Africa
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:02
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 04, 2014
Disasters and shocks '-- natural or manmade '-- have the potential to throw poor and marginal populations into crisis and wipe away hard-earned development gains. These disasters and shocks are occurring with greater frequency and intensity, making it difficult to build resilient communities, particularly in countries facing severe socio-economic challenges exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the United States and African countries reaffirmed their shared commitment to tackling together the challenges of climate change and poverty and to partnering to build resilience to these kinds of shocks. They also stressed their commitment to promoting low-carbon economic development and clean energy access on the African continent. Components of this cooperative approach include the following:
The Global Resilience Partnership: At the Summit, USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a $100 million Global Resilience Partnership to help protect the lives and livelihoods of the world's most vulnerable people. Meaningful investments across sectors in preparedness, adaptation, and inclusive economic growth can help communities function better day-to-day and, when a crisis hits, realize a resilience dividend. The Partnership will focus its efforts in three regions with historically high vulnerability to recurrent shocks '-- the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia '-- and build on work already being done by USAID, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa, and Economic Community of West African States. Current efforts to build resilience have put many communities on the path to a more secure and sustainable future.
For example, in Ethiopia and Kenya, we have helped improve pastoralist populations' resilience to climate variability and change by strengthening disaster early warning systems and improved responses to natural hazards. In the Sahel, we have integrated drought cycle management and climate-smart agriculture practices into multi-year national investment plans. As in the Horn, this support is complemented by U.S. government-supported programming to build resilience to recurrent crisis by expanding economic opportunities, strengthening natural resource, conflict, and disaster risk management and improving health and nutrition outcomes. But many more remain vulnerable as risks increase. Now is the time to enable resilience thinking and action on a wider scale. Building on these current efforts and identifying new opportunities the Resilience Partnership will operate through three global centers (including two in Africa) and will:
Increase the ability of people, communities, systems, and countries to forecast, manage, and adapt to a variety of risks, in part by fostering innovative resilience-building technologies and practices, such as index-based livestock and crop insurance and water harvesting. Increase the capacity of critically important local, regional, and global institutions to build resilience.Catalyze alliances across a broad range of private and public sector actors to leverage and scale resilience investments and innovations.Working together to implement the Malabo Declaration: As part of the African Union's Year of Agriculture and Food Security, leaders agreed in the Malabo Declaration to accelerate agricultural growth as the primary strategy to end poverty in Africa, to reduce vulnerability to climate and weather related risk, and to mainstream resilience and risk management. At the Summit this week, the African Union shared its roadmap to implement the declaration, and the United States announced several opportunities to partner with African nations in support of these objectives, including:
Our commitment to serve as founding members of the global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, slated for launch at the United Nations Secretary-General's Climate Summit on September 23, 2014;Continued technical assistance to incorporate climate smart agriculture into national and regional plans and to use climate data, modeling, and training to assist countries in adopting climate smart approaches;Sierra Leone, the Ghana Open Data Initiative, IBM, and Kellogg Company announced they would join the United States as partners in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative. GODAN supports global efforts to make agricultural and nutritional data available and accessible for unrestricted use worldwide; andAn investment in the World Bank's Agricultural Insurance Development Program to provide analysis and technical assistance to countries to design and implement sustainable, cost-effective public-private partnerships in agricultural insurance in order to increase the financial resilience of rural households. The President's Global Climate Change Initiative: The United States will continue to support African countries through the President's Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), whose aim is to help developing countries build resilience to the effects of climate change and chart a course for low-emission development. The GCCI has supported climate change solutions ranging from investing in climate information services in Uganda and Mali, to addressing the causes of deforestation in Zambia, to investing in clean energy solutions in Kenya, to improving management of climate-vulnerable water resources in trans-boundary river basins in southern Africa.
The United States invests additional GCCI funding in Africa through multilateral funds and global programs, including the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience. This multilateral assistance leverages funding from other governments, development partners, and the private sector; makes capital investment in infrastructure; and provides a range of tailored financial products across a wide range of African countries.
The GCCI also helps enable private sector investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency through targeted efforts, such as the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) Initiative, which complements the President's Power Africa Initiative. At the Summit, the United States announced additional support for ACEF, which has already financed the development of more than 20 clean energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa in less than two years of operation.
In addition, the United States partners with several African countries to help them accelerate their transition to low emission development through investments in clean energy and improved land management. For example, through the Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) program, the United States is partnering with 25 developing countries around the world, including five in Africa, that are working to reduce their long-term greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors as they grow their economies. EC-LEDS partners in Africa include Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia.
Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. The United States is working with our African partners to develop a new ambitious and effective international climate change agreement in 2015 that motivates ambitious action on the part of all countries consistent with their national circumstances and capabilities.
For additional details on activities under the GCCI:
http://www.usaid.gov/climate
http://www.state.gov/e/oes/climate/
For additional details on resilience and the Global Resilience Partnership:
http://www.usaid.gov/resilience
http://globalresiliencepartnership.org
Presidential Memorandum -- Establishing a Comprehensive Approach to Expanding Sub-Saharan Africa's Capacity for Trade and Investment
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:02
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 04, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES SUBJECT: Establishing a Comprehensive Approach to Expanding Sub-Saharan Africa's Capacity for Trade and Investment In June 2012, I released the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa (Strategy) outlining a comprehensive U.S. policy for the region. The Strategy builds on many of the initiatives launched during my Administration, and in particular highlights an effort critical to the future of Sub-Saharan Africa: boosting broadbased economic growth, including through trade and investment. The Strategy outlines a number of actions to help accelerate inclusive economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, including: promoting an environment that enables trade and investment; improving economic governance; promoting regional integration; expanding Sub-Saharan African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a cornerstone of the trade relationship between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. Since AGOA went into effect 14 years ago, exports from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States have more than doubled and non-oil and non-mineral exports in particular have increased nearly fourfold. The growth of new export industries has supported the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, my Administration's recent review of AGOA has revealed that, while the tariff preferences provided under AGOA are important, they alone are not sufficient to promote transformational growth in trade and investment. For beneficiary countries to be able to utilize AGOA to its fullest, this program must be linked to a comprehensive, coordinated trade and investment capacitybuilding approach with clearly stated goals and benchmarks. In July 2013, I announced the launch of Trade Africa, an initiative to encourage greater regional integration and to increase trade and investment between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa by aligning U.S. assistance with governmental and private sector engagements. Trade Africa initially focused on the East African Community, with the intention of expanding over time within Sub-Saharan Africa. Targeted and strategic trade and investment capacity building is critical to achieving not only the goals of AGOA and Trade Africa, but also other U.S. trade and investment initiatives, such as the Doing Business in Africa Campaign and the NationalExport Initiative/NEXT. Executive departments and agencies (agencies) have made major strides in advancing the trade and investment related goals of the Strategy. In order to achieve maximum effectiveness, however, it is important to align agencies' efforts and resources through a coordinated approach that is data-driven, goal-oriented, and strategic, and that builds on the experience of U.S. Government initiatives such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Millennium Challenge Account, Feed the Future, Power Africa, and Partnership for Growth. Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the United States to spur trade and investment with and withinSub-Saharan Africa through a coordinated approach involving U.S. Government engagement, assistance programs, and partnerships with the private sector.
Sec. 2. Steering Group. There is established a Steering Group on Africa Trade and Investment Capacity Building (Steering Group), to be chaired by the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics or her designee from the National Security Council staff. The Steering Group shall meet regularly. Sec. 3. Membership. The Steering Group shall include designated representatives from: (a) the Department of State; (b) the Department of the Treasury; (c) the Department of Agriculture; (d) the Department of Commerce; (e) the Department of Transportation; (f) the Department of Energy; (g) the Department of Homeland Security; (h) the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; (i) the Millennium Challenge Corporation; (j) the United States Agency for International Development; (k) the United States Trade and Development Agency;
(l) the Export-Import Bank of the United States; (m) the Office of the United States Trade Representative;
(n) the Office of Management and Budget; (o) the African Development Foundation; (p) the Small Business Administration; (q) the Council of Economic Advisers; and (r) such agencies and offices as the Chair may, from time to time, designate. Sec. 4. Functions. Consistent with the authorities and responsibilities of its member agencies and offices, theSteering Group shall perform the following functions: (a) Not later than 180 days after the date of this memorandum, the Steering Group shall report to the President, through the National Security Advisor, recommendations on a comprehensive approach to expanding Sub-Saharan Africa's capacity for trade and investment, consistent with U.S. trade and investment policy, development policy, and international agreements. The recommendations shall include: (i) clearly defined goals and benchmarks for increasing trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and appropriate and transparent criteria for identifying priority countries, regions, and sectors that have the greatest potential to contribute toward meeting these goals and benchmarks; (ii) an indication of how the recommendations complement other major U.S. Government initiatives and partnerships focused on related issues; (iii) an outline of how to utilize programs across agencies to achieve these goals; (iv) an assessment of how the recommendations complement the activities of other major development partners, including Sub-Saharan African countries; (v) an explanation of how the recommendations fit within existing budget constraints and resource requests, with identification of any significant funding gaps; and (vi) clearly articulated roles and responsibilities of relevant agencies. (b) In undertaking these efforts, the Steering Group shall:
(i) consider a broad range of potential trade and investment capacity building, including: activities that support AGOA utilization; trade-related efforts to enhance regional integration; programs to develop supply chains; support for development of hard and soft infrastructure; and activities to foster a nondiscriminatory environment that enables trade and investment. Such activities include regulatory reform and transparency, trade facilitation and better border operations (including implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement), and implementation of World Trade Organization commitments (including those that relate to science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other technical standards); (ii) take into account the range of supply-side constraints to trade in Sub-Saharan Africa, growing private sector interest in trade with and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. trade policies and interests (including in addressing barriers toU.S. trade and investment), international obligations, and the best means to promote regional integration and support value-added production; (iii) consult stakeholders, including Sub-Saharan African partner governments, regional economic communities, partner donor countries, the private sector, development banks, non-governmental organizations, and others as appropriate; (iv) coordinate its efforts with the interagency Trade Policy Committee, which was authorized by section 242 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended, and established by Executive Order 11846 of March 27, 1975, and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, which was authorized by statute in 1992 (15 U.S.C. 4727) and established by ExecutiveOrder 12870 of September 30, 1993; and
(v) coordinate its efforts with other U.S. Government initiatives focused on related issues, including Power Africa, Feed the Future, the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, Partnership for Growth, and the Young African Leaders Initiative, to ensure that U.S. assistance supports consistent policies across initiatives. Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law, and subject to the availability of appropriations. (b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals. (c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
BARACK OBAMA
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Executive Order --Establishing the President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 06:12
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 05, 2014
EXECUTIVE ORDER
- - - - - - -
ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT'S ADVISORY COUNCIL
ON DOING BUSINESS IN AFRICA
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote broad-based economic growth and job creation in the United States and Africa by encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. The United States recognizes that Africa is a region of growing economic opportunity and innovation and aims to expand a trade and investment partnership that is grounded in shared interests and mutual responsibility. Africa offers a diverse and broad range of trade and investment opportunities in national and regional markets. The U.S. Government will encourage U.S. companies to seize the trade and investment opportunities offered by Africa's national and regional markets and help drive inclusive and sustained economic growth and the region's economic expansion, while also creating jobs here in the United States.
Sec. 2. Establishment. Not later than 180 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce shall establish the President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (Advisory Council).
Sec. 3. Membership. (a) The Advisory Council shall consist of not more than 15 private sector corporate members, including small businesses and representatives from infrastructure, agriculture, consumer goods, banking, services, and other industries. The Advisory Council shall be broadly representative of the key industries with business interests in the functions of the Advisory Council as set forth in section 4 of this order. Appointments to the Advisory Council shall be made without regard to political affiliation.
(b) Members of the Advisory Council shall be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which was authorized by statute in 1992 (15 U.S.C. 4727) and established by Executive Order 12870 of September 30, 1993.
Sec. 4. Functions. (a) The Advisory Council shall advise the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, on strengthening commercial engagement between the United States and Africa, with a focus on advancing the President's Doing Business in Africa Campaign as described in the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa of June 14, 2012.
(b) In providing the advice described in subsection (a) of this section, the Advisory Council shall provide information, analysis, and recommendations to the President that address the following, in addition to other topics deemed relevant by the President, the Secretary of Commerce, or the Advisory Council:
(i) creating jobs in the United States and Africa through trade and investment;
(ii) developing strategies by which the U.S. private sector can identify and take advantage of trade and investment opportunities in Africa;
(iii) building lasting commercial partnerships between the U.S. and African private sectors;
(iv) facilitating U.S. business participation in Africa's infrastructure development;
(v) contributing to the growth and improvement of Africa's agricultural sector by encouraging partnerships between U.S. and African companies to bring innovative agricultural technologies to Africa;
(vi) making available to the U.S. private sector an accurate understanding of the opportunities presented for increasing trade with and investment in Africa;
(vii) developing and strengthening partnerships and other mechanisms to increase U.S. public and private sector financing of trade with and investment in Africa;
(viii) analyzing the effect of policies in the United States and Africa on U.S. trade and investment interests in Africa;
(ix) identifying other means to expand commercial ties between the United States and Africa; and
(x) building the capacity of Africa's young entrepreneurs to develop trade and investment ties with U.S. partners.
Sec. 5. Administration. (a) The Department of Commerce shall provide funding and administrative support for the Advisory Council to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.
(b) Members of the Advisory Council shall serve without either compensation or reimbursement of expenses.
(c) The Secretary of Commerce shall designate a senior officer or employee of the Department of Commerce to serve as the Executive Director for the Advisory Council.
(d) The Secretary of Commerce shall consult with the TPCC on matters and activities pertaining to the Advisory Council, including on activities related to implementation of the advice of the Advisory Council. The Secretary of Commerce shall invite representatives of TPCC agencies to attend meetings of theAdvisory Council when issues relevant to their responsibilities are to be considered.
Sec. 6. Termination. The Advisory Council shall function for such period as may be necessary but shall terminate 2 years after the date of this order, unless extended by the President.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) (the "Act") may apply to the Advisory Council, any functions of the President under the Act, except for those in section 6 of the Act, shall be performed by the Secretary of Commerce in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by the Administrator of General Services.
BARACK OBAMA
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World Bank pledges $200m to contain Ebola - Africa - Al Jazeera English
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:08
The World Bank has pledged $200m to help contain the deadly Ebola virus, with the growing crisis forcing healthcare system in Liberia to shut down out of fear of staff contracting the virus.
The World Bank said on Monday that it would provide up to $200m in emergency assistance to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to help the West African nations contain the deadly outbreak which has killed 887 since the outbreak began in March this year.
Jim Yong Kim, World Bank president, himself an expert on infectious diseases, said he has been monitoring the spread of the virus and was "deeply saddened" at how it was contributing to the breakdown of "already weak health systems in the three countries".
The funding will help provide medical supplies, pay healthcare staff, and take care of other priorities to contain the epidemic and try to prevent future outbreaks, the World Bank said.
The announcement came as health centres in Liberia's capital city of Monrovia shut down because medical personnel became too afraid to turn up to work, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Nigeria on high alert after second Ebola caseBoth Liberia's and Sierra Leone's top Ebola doctors lost their lives to the disease after caring for numerous people.
Healthcare personnel in Liberia say they have not received sufficient support from the government to be able to deal with possible Ebola patients walking through their doors.
"The health workers think that they are not protected, they don't have the requisite material to use as to protect themselves against the Ebola disease, so many of the health workers including physician's assistants, nurses, are staying home," said Amos Richards, a physician's assistant from Monrovia.
Crisis meeting
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and ministers held a crisis meeting on Sunday to discuss a series of anti-Ebola measures as police contained infected communities in the northern Lofa county.
Tolbert Nyensuah, deputy health minister, said the government was doing its best to collect bodies as quickly as possible. He said that 30 bodies were buried over the weekend in a mass grave outside the city.
The government purchased land from a private citizen and that land will be used to bury the bodies, he said.
Nigeria's health ministry announced on Monday that a doctor in Lagos who treated a Liberian victim had contracted the virus - the second confirmed case in the city, and the fourth case involving a doctor.
The US doctor infected with the virus, "seems to be improving", the director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, where he is being treated in an isolation unit, said on Sunday.
A second American infected with the virus while working in Liberia was flying back to the US on Tuesday.
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Disease Expert Warns Terrorists Could Make Dirty Bomb Containing Ebola CBS Atlanta
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:11
CBS Atlanta (con't)
Affordable Care Act Updates:CBSAtlanta.net/ACA
Health News & Information: CBSAtlanta.net/Health
Get Breaking News FirstReceive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign UpATLANTA (CBS Atlanta/AP) '-- A Cambridge University disease expert warns that terrorists could be able to build a dirty bomb containing the Ebola virus.
Speaking to The Sun, biological anthropologist Dr. Peter Walsh says that the risk should be taken seriously of terror groups getting their hands on the Ebola virus.
''A bigger and more serious risk is that a group manages to harness the virus as a powder, then explodes it in a bomb in a highly populated area,'' Walsh told The Sun. ''It could cause a large number of horrific deaths.''
Walsh states that groups might try to harness the virus out of west African nations where the outbreak is prevalent.
''Only a handful of labs worldwide have the Ebola virus and they are extremely well protected. So the risk is that a terrorist group seeks to obtain the virus out in West Africa,'' Walsh told The Sun.
Walsh added this scenario could ''cause a large number of horrific deaths.''
''It is a threat that is taken very seriously,'' Walsh told The Sun.
Walsh also said that the chance Ebola reaches the United Kingdom is small.
Two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, contracted Ebola after working on the same medical mission team treating victims of the virus around Monrovia, Liberia. More than 1,300 people have been stricken, killing more than 800 of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
A Liberian government official has confirmed that a medical evacuation team is scheduled to fly Writebol back to the United States early Tuesday. She will receive treatment at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital alongside Brantly, who was admitted Saturday.
Brantly and Writebol contracted Ebola after working on the same medical mission team treating victims of the virus around Monrovia, Liberia. More than 1,300 people have been stricken, killing at least 729 of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Ebola has no vaccine or antidote. However, both Brantly and Writebol were given an experimental treatment last week, according to international relief group Samaritan's Purse. Brantly works for the group, and the group originally said that only Writebol got the treatment. Brantly also received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy, an Ebola survivor, who had been under his care, according to the organization.
Emory, where Brantly already is quarantined, boasts one of the nation's most sophisticated infectious disease units. Patients are sealed off from anyone not in protective gear. Lab tests are conducted inside the unit, ensuring that viruses don't leave the quarantined area. Family members see and communicate with patients through barriers.
Brantly's wife released a statement Sunday saying she had gotten to see her husband, a physician with Samaritan's Purse.
''Our family is rejoicing over Kent's safe arrival, and we are confident that he is receiving the very best care,'' Amber Brantly said.
Writebol and her husband, David, had been in Liberia since August 2013, sent there by the Christian organization SIM USA and sponsored by their home congregation at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
''They take the Great Commission literally,'' said their pastor, the Rev. John Munro, referring to the instruction from Jesus Christ to ''make disciples of all nations.''
At the hospital where Brantly treated patients, Nancy Writebol worked as a hygienist whose role included decontaminating those entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area. Munro said David Writebol fulfilled administrative and technical duties.
A few weeks before she was diagnosed, her son Jeremy Writebol said, a doctor visited the Monrovia hospital where she worked and praised the decontamination procedures as the best he'd seen. Jeremy Writebol said she was ''really pleased by knowing that'' and never thought she would be infected, despite her proximity to the virus.
David and Nancy Writebol have engaged in foreign missions for 15 years, spending five years in Ecuador and nine years in Zambia, where Munro said they worked in a home for widows and orphans.
Munro recalled speaking with the couple when the Ebola outbreak began.
''We weren't telling them to come back; we were just willing to help them come back,'' he said. ''They said, 'The work isn't finished, and it must continue.'''
After talking with his father Sunday, the younger Writebol said it's clear his mother ''is still suffering,'' but said the family remains optimistic.
Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, also in Atlanta, say they've gotten some blowback for bringing Ebola cases to an American hospital. But Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, emphasized again Sunday that there is no threat to the public in the United States.
''We know how to control it: hospital infection control and stopping it at the source in Africa,'' Frieden said Sunday on ABC's ''This Week.''
Frieden's agency is ramping up its effort to stem Ebola's spread. He promised ''50 staff on the ground'' in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone ''in the next 30 days.''
Some airlines that serve those nations have suspended flights, while international groups, including the Peace Corps, have evacuated some or all representatives in the region.
But the Writebols, their pastor predicted, won't be away from the stricken land for any longer than they have to be.
''They knew that Liberia was a tough assignment,'' he said, comparing their vocation to the Bible's stories of leper colonies.
''Followers of Christ went into those colonies, knowing they would die,'' Munro said. ''I certainly wouldn't judge them if they didn't go back, but I don't think this will deter them.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why does the CDC own a patent on Ebola 'invention?' - NaturalNews.com
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 23:32
(NaturalNews) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control owns a patent on a particular strain of Ebola known as "EboBun." It's patent No. CA2741523A1 and it was awarded in 2010. You can view it here. (Thanks to Natural News readers who found this and brought it to our attention.)Patent applicants are clearly described on the patent as including:
The Government Of The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary, Department Of Health & Human Services, Center For Disease Control.
The patent summary says, "The invention provides the isolated human Ebola (hEbola) viruses denoted as Bundibugyo (EboBun) deposited with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"; Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America) on November 26, 2007 and accorded an accession number 200706291."
It goes on to state, "The present invention is based upon the isolation and identification of a new human Ebola virus species, EboBun. EboBun was isolated from the patients suffering from hemorrhagic fever in a recent outbreak in Uganda."
It's worth noting, by the way, that EboBun is not the same variant currently believed to be circulating in West Africa. Clearly, the CDC needs to expand its patent portfolio to include more strains, and that may very well be why American Ebola victims have been brought to the United States in the first place. Read more below and decide for yourself...
From the patent description on the EboBun virus, we know that the U.S. government:1) Extracts Ebola viruses from patients.
2) Claims to have "invented" that virus.
3) Files for monopoly patent protection on the virus.
To understand why this is happening, you have to first understand what a patent really is and why it exists. A patent is a government-enforced monopoly that is exclusively granted to persons or organizations. It allows that person or organization to exclusively profit from the "invention" or deny others the ability to exploit the invention for their own profit.
It brings up the obvious question here: Why would the U.S. government claim to have "invented" Ebola and then claim an exclusively monopoly over its ownership?
The "SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION" section of the patent document also clearly claims that the U.S. government is claiming "ownership" over all Ebola viruses that share as little as 70% similarity with the Ebola it "invented":...invention relates to the isolated EboBun virus that morphologically and phylogenetically relates to known members filoviridae... In another aspect, the invention provides an isolated hEbola EboBun virus comprising a nucleic acid molecule comprising a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of: a) a nucleotide sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO: 1; b) a nucleotide sequence that hybridizes to the sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO: 1 under stringent conditions; and c) a nucleotide sequence that has at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, or 99% identity to the SEQ ID NO:
1. In another aspect, the invention provides the complete genomic sequence of the hEbola virus EboBun.
The CDC patent goes on to explain it specifically claims patent protection on a method for propagating the Ebola virus in host cells as well as treating infected hosts with vaccines:In another aspect, the invention provides a method for propagating the hEbola virus in host cells comprising infecting the host cells with the inventive isolated hEbola virus described above, culturing the host cells to allow the virus to multiply, and harvesting the resulting virions.
In another aspect, the invention provides vaccine preparations, comprising the inventive hEbola virus, including recombinant and chimeric forms of the virus, nucleic acid molecules comprised by the virus, or protein subunits of the virus. The invention also provides a vaccine formulation comprising a therapeutically or prophylactically effective amount of the inventive hEbola virus described above, and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.
This patent may help explain why Ebola victims are being transported to the United States and put under the medical authority of the CDC. These patients are carrying valuable intellectual property assets in the form of Ebola variants, and the Centers for Disease Control clearly desires to expand its patent portfolio by harvesting, studying and potentially patenting new strains or variants.Dr. Bob Arnot, an infectious disease specialist who spent time on the ground in developing nations saving lives, recently told Judge Jeanine, "There is no medical reason to bring them here, especially when you see how well Dr. Bradley was." (2)
There is, however, an entirely different reason to bring Ebola patients to America: so they can be exploited for medical experiments, military bioweapons harvesting or intellectual property claims.
Surely, medical authorities at Emory University and the CDC are working hard to save the lives of the two patients who have been transported to the U.S. But they are also pursuing something else at the same time: an agenda of isolating, identifying and patenting infectious disease agents for reasons that we can only imagine.
On one hand, it's worth pointing out that the CDC's patent on Ebola is at least partially focused on methods for screening for Ebola and treating Ebola victims with drugs or vaccines. This seems like a worthwhile precaution against an infectious disease that clearly threatens lives.On the other hand, why the patent? Patenting Ebola seems as odd as trying to patent cancer or diabetes. Why would a government organization claim to have "invented" this infectious disease and then claim a monopoly over its exploitation for commercial use?
Does the CDC hope to collect a royalty on Ebola vaccines? Is it looking to "invent" more variants and patent those too?
Make no mistake that billions of dollars in profits are at stake in all this. Shares of Tekmira surged over 11% last Friday as pressure was placed on the FDA to fast-track Ebola vaccine trials the company has set up. "Health campaigners have started a petition which has already been signed by approximately 15,500 people on change.org pressurizing FDA to approve the drug in the minimum possible time frame," reports BidnessEtc.com. (3)
With this, we start to see the structure of the elaborate medical theater coming together: A global pandemic panic, a government patent, the importation of Ebola into a major U.S. city, an experimental vaccine, the rise of a little-known pharmaceutical company and a public outcry for the FDA to fast-track the vaccine.If Act II stays on course, this medical theater might someday involve a "laboratory accident" in a U.S. lab, the "escape" of Ebola into the population, and a mandatory nationwide Ebola vaccination campaign that enriches Tekmira and its investors while positioning the CDC with its virus patents as the "savior of the American people."
Yes, we've heard this music before, but the last time around it was called Swine Flu.
The formula is always the same: create alarm, bring a vaccine to market, then scare governments into buying billions of dollars worth of vaccines they don't need.
Watch the episode with Judge Jeanine here:
Sources for this article include:
(1) http://www.google.com/patents/CA2741523A1?cl...
(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHAK6oX-JN4&feature=...
(3) http://www.bidnessetc.com/23519-tekmera-shar...
About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.
In late 2013, Adams launched the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, where he conducts atomic spectroscopy research into food contaminants using high-end ICP-MS instrumentation. With this research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products to low levels by July 1, 2015.
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Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.
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THE FAUCI FILES: The IL-2 Antiviral Hoax, U.S. Patent # US1995000452440
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 21:28
THE FAUCI FILES: The IL-2 Antiviral Hoax, U.S. Patent # US1995000452440fredfredshaw at primenet.comFri Oct 1 14:50:03 EST 1999
THE FAUCI FILES: The IL-2 Antiviral Hoax, U.S. Patent # US1995000452440 October 1, 1999Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutesof Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been the single person in charge of HIV/AIDSresearch since the onset of the epidemic. Under Fauci'stutelage, fraud in research not only prospered, but hasbecome institutionalized (thanks, in no small part, toFauci's role in disbanding the ethics police). At theNational Institutes of Health, the crooks are firmly incharge and the rigors of scientific discipline have beensubstituted with the quick fixes of Junk Science schemes,bribes for bureaucrats and a proliferation of lucrative treatment hoaxes. While the HAART Treatment Hoax has flopped face-down in the steaming cow-pie of D.B.A.D. reality(Deaths Before an AIDS Diagnosis), perhaps it isn't too late to take a closer look at another treatment hoax: The Dr. Anthony S. Fauci IL-2 Treatment Hoax. Let'ssee what Captain Fauci has done to help himself as hedeliberately steered the HIV Research Titantic straight into the proverbial iceberg with his first and only patent(patent application details are included below): IL-2 Intermittent Therapy.While most inventors file dozens, or even hundreds of patentsbefore they have a winner, such is certainly not the casewith Dr. Fauci's first and only patent: IL-2 Intermittent Therapy. As a self-described "scientist", Fauci has proven that he is exemptfrom the hit-and-miss strategy of the invention process. Because"The Game" is rigged, only one patent will be required for Fauci"to win". What comes with this patent is a certain atmosphere of selective"shyness" by Dr. Fauci and the other top leaders of the enormousNIH, the health agency assigned the important task of safeguarding America's health. So what is it about Dr. Fauci's patent that turnsso many outspoken luminaries of medicine into a collective ofdeaf-mutes? What's wrong here? This is America and this is an invention, isn't it?Why isn't Fauci and The Gang celebrating like real Americans? Why must they act like they are embarrassed for their corruption,secret business deals and fifth-rate comprehension of science?While most inventors are deservedly so proud of the results of their long hours and diligent efforts that they WANT theworld to know -- why isn't that the case with NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D.?Wouldn't you think that Dr. Fauci, NIAID and the NIH would havebeen proud to announce the approval of the first and only patentof perhaps its most important Institute Director? So why noannouncement? Why no press release? Why all the deafening silence?Why does Fauci offer spin control, obfuscation, deception and outright lies instead of facts? Why does the NIH close upshop when one inquires about Fauci's reported HUGE leaps in salaryat this government health agency? Why the stoned silence and bureaucratic smoke screens regarding reported "double-dipping" by Fauci? (Even NIH Director Varmus won't respond to confirm ordeny Fauci's reported retirement from the Public Health Serviceand re-employment in the Executive Service at five or more timeshis previous salary -- is Varmus covering up something illegal,such as Fauci being paid retirement AND salary simultaneously -- what's going on here???)Why won't Fauci speak of his personal business dealings with Chiron,the company which appears to have been summarily granted the manufacturing license for IL-2 in this non-competitive Byzantine atmosphere of secret business deals?Why does Fauci continue to personally direct and speak on behalfof his PERSONAL IL-2 patent conflict of interest when the NIH Attorney Robert Lanman stated over a year ago that the IL-2 research would be transferred to the National Cancer Institute,a claim that is obviously false? How bad can things bewhen even the NIH legal department gets caught in The Big Lie?While Fauci claims that his $150,000 annual "royalties" are"going to charity", why won't Fauci or Lanman or NIH DirectorVarmus disclose WHICH "charity" purportedly gets the cash? Might that be too embarassing when the "charity" turns outto be something ludicrous like "The Fauci Children's College Fund"or "The Fauci Institute" ? What about the PAST royalties(since 1993)? Of course, the $150K annual royalty is "chump change" when compared to the tens of millions that Fauci and friends stand to make on the IL-2 Treatment Hoax. As one would expect, this is where the Freedom of Information Act NIH/NIAID attorneys slamthe brakes on ANYTHING with Fauci's name on it -- ALL financialrecords, declarations etc. are off limits to the prying eyesof the American public. Why was Fauci's name conspicuously missing from the patent of thesame name that was filed in 1993 when Fauci and his subordinatesLane and Kovacs had already been engaged in years of taxpayer-funded IL-2 human experiments at NIAID? Why didFauci keep his name off the patent until December, 1997when the Patent Office approved the same patent, but this timewith Fauci listed as inventor?Director Fauci claimed that the omission of his name from his only patent at that point was due to a "clerical error". Are we alsoto believe that the army of patent attorneys retained by theNIH also managed to "overlook" the tiny detail having to do with putting the #1 Director's name on his only patent?Are we to also believe that the same clerical error wasrepeated when Fauci's name was omitted from the Lane/Kovacs 1995 article about IL-2 published in the New England Journal of Medicine (where the IL-2 patent was disclosed)?After over a decade of millions of taxpayer dollars for DOZENS ofFauci-directed IL-2 "clinical trials", why is it that (in 1999) the ONLY actual claim of "efficacy" seems to end up witha single unpublished and non-peer-reviewed anecdotal case of a person who was perfectly healthy and HIV-positive when the clinical "trial" was started? Indeed, a real scientistwould instinctively apply Occam's Razor to explain that thepatient would have even been BETTER OFF in the total absenceof toxic interventionist "treatment"! But that has nothing todo with the bottom-rung scientists of Fauci's ilk and today's Orwellian standard of medical Junk Science.Why study a toxic and dangerous treatment like IL-2 using healthyHIV-positive people? Perhaps the question has more to do with whichstudy group would put the best possible face on a harmful treatment.After all, Fauci, Lane and Kovacs admitted long ago that IL-2didn't "work" for sick people. It made them sicker faster. Itkilled them. It caused and/or promoted cancers. So what do theseGiants of Junk Science do? They begin to study a treatmentfor the "sick" -- IL-2 -- in the healthiest non-sick people they could find! Now they claim that IL-2 can only "work"when those healthy people are also using a cocktail of cancerdrugs known as "HAART" (the "cocktail treatment" trend is an important drug industry concept as it entirely obliterates the notion of accountability or blame for any single treatment option when the 20-something year old non-AIDS HIV+ patient plops over dead of a heart attack, stroke or other acute organ system failure, as has been the case with HAART).So now you know what your government's public servants havebeen up to for the past couple of decades in HIV, but not necessarily AIDS, research. In fact, as an independent statisticalmeasure, the surge in the category known as "D.B.A.D." tellsus exactly how we are doing these days -- specificallyin the area of "Deaths Before (an) AIDS Diagnosis". If thesepeople aren't dying of AIDS, then what's been killing themin droves, if not the cancer drugs that have been repackagedas HAART "antiviral" cocktails?fredThis detail information can be viewed in its entirety at: http://www.patents.ibm.com/details?pn=US05696079__US5696079: Immunologic enhancement with intermittent interleukin-2 therapy Inventor(s):Lane; H. Clifford , Bethesda, MD Kovacs; Joseph A. , Potomac, MD Fauci; Anthony S. , Washington, DC Applicant(s): The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC Issued/Filed Dates: Dec. 9, 1997 / May. 26, 1995 Application Number:US1995000452440Abstract:A method for activating a mammalian immune system entails a series of IL-2 administrations that are effected intermittently over an extended period. Each administration of IL-2 is sufficient to allow spontaneous DNA synthesis in peripheral blood or lymph node cells of the patient to increase and peak, and each subsequent administration follows the preceding administration in the series by a period of time that is sufficient to allow IL-2 receptor expression in peripheral or lymph node blood of the patient to increase, peak and then decrease to 50% of peak value. This intermittent IL-2 therapy can be combined with another therapy which targets a specific disease state, such as an anti-retroviral therapy comprising, for example, the administration of AZT, ddI or interferon alpha. In addition, IL-2 administration can be employed to facilitate in situ transduction of T cells in the context of gene therapy. By this approach the cells are first activated in vivo via the aforementioned IL-2 therapy, and transduction then is effected by delivering a genetically engineered retrovital vector directly to the patient. Attorney, Agent, or Firm: Foley & Lardner; Primary/Assistant Examiners: Ulm; John; Sorensen; Kenneth A. More information about the Immuno mailing list
Send comments to us at archive@iubio.bio.indiana.edu
THE FAUCI FILES: The IL-2 Antiviral Hoax, U.S. Patent # US1995000452440fredfredshaw at primenet.comFri Oct 1 14:50:03 EST 1999
THE FAUCI FILES: The IL-2 Antiviral Hoax, U.S. Patent # US1995000452440 October 1, 1999Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutesof Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been the single person in charge of HIV/AIDSresearch since the onset of the epidemic. Under Fauci'stutelage, fraud in research not only prospered, but hasbecome institutionalized (thanks, in no small part, toFauci's role in disbanding the ethics police). At theNational Institutes of Health, the crooks are firmly incharge and the rigors of scientific discipline have beensubstituted with the quick fixes of Junk Science schemes,bribes for bureaucrats and a proliferation of lucrative treatment hoaxes. While the HAART Treatment Hoax has flopped face-down in the steaming cow-pie of D.B.A.D. reality(Deaths Before an AIDS Diagnosis), perhaps it isn't too late to take a closer look at another treatment hoax: The Dr. Anthony S. Fauci IL-2 Treatment Hoax. Let'ssee what Captain Fauci has done to help himself as hedeliberately steered the HIV Research Titantic straight into the proverbial iceberg with his first and only patent(patent application details are included below): IL-2 Intermittent Therapy.While most inventors file dozens, or even hundreds of patentsbefore they have a winner, such is certainly not the casewith Dr. Fauci's first and only patent: IL-2 Intermittent Therapy. As a self-described "scientist", Fauci has proven that he is exemptfrom the hit-and-miss strategy of the invention process. Because"The Game" is rigged, only one patent will be required for Fauci"to win". What comes with this patent is a certain atmosphere of selective"shyness" by Dr. Fauci and the other top leaders of the enormousNIH, the health agency assigned the important task of safeguarding America's health. So what is it about Dr. Fauci's patent that turnsso many outspoken luminaries of medicine into a collective ofdeaf-mutes? What's wrong here? This is America and this is an invention, isn't it?Why isn't Fauci and The Gang celebrating like real Americans? Why must they act like they are embarrassed for their corruption,secret business deals and fifth-rate comprehension of science?While most inventors are deservedly so proud of the results of their long hours and diligent efforts that they WANT theworld to know -- why isn't that the case with NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D.?Wouldn't you think that Dr. Fauci, NIAID and the NIH would havebeen proud to announce the approval of the first and only patentof perhaps its most important Institute Director? So why noannouncement? Why no press release? Why all the deafening silence?Why does Fauci offer spin control, obfuscation, deception and outright lies instead of facts? Why does the NIH close upshop when one inquires about Fauci's reported HUGE leaps in salaryat this government health agency? Why the stoned silence and bureaucratic smoke screens regarding reported "double-dipping" by Fauci? (Even NIH Director Varmus won't respond to confirm ordeny Fauci's reported retirement from the Public Health Serviceand re-employment in the Executive Service at five or more timeshis previous salary -- is Varmus covering up something illegal,such as Fauci being paid retirement AND salary simultaneously -- what's going on here???)Why won't Fauci speak of his personal business dealings with Chiron,the company which appears to have been summarily granted the manufacturing license for IL-2 in this non-competitive Byzantine atmosphere of secret business deals?Why does Fauci continue to personally direct and speak on behalfof his PERSONAL IL-2 patent conflict of interest when the NIH Attorney Robert Lanman stated over a year ago that the IL-2 research would be transferred to the National Cancer Institute,a claim that is obviously false? How bad can things bewhen even the NIH legal department gets caught in The Big Lie?While Fauci claims that his $150,000 annual "royalties" are"going to charity", why won't Fauci or Lanman or NIH DirectorVarmus disclose WHICH "charity" purportedly gets the cash? Might that be too embarassing when the "charity" turns outto be something ludicrous like "The Fauci Children's College Fund"or "The Fauci Institute" ? What about the PAST royalties(since 1993)? Of course, the $150K annual royalty is "chump change" when compared to the tens of millions that Fauci and friends stand to make on the IL-2 Treatment Hoax. As one would expect, this is where the Freedom of Information Act NIH/NIAID attorneys slamthe brakes on ANYTHING with Fauci's name on it -- ALL financialrecords, declarations etc. are off limits to the prying eyesof the American public. Why was Fauci's name conspicuously missing from the patent of thesame name that was filed in 1993 when Fauci and his subordinatesLane and Kovacs had already been engaged in years of taxpayer-funded IL-2 human experiments at NIAID? Why didFauci keep his name off the patent until December, 1997when the Patent Office approved the same patent, but this timewith Fauci listed as inventor?Director Fauci claimed that the omission of his name from his only patent at that point was due to a "clerical error". Are we alsoto believe that the army of patent attorneys retained by theNIH also managed to "overlook" the tiny detail having to do with putting the #1 Director's name on his only patent?Are we to also believe that the same clerical error wasrepeated when Fauci's name was omitted from the Lane/Kovacs 1995 article about IL-2 published in the New England Journal of Medicine (where the IL-2 patent was disclosed)?After over a decade of millions of taxpayer dollars for DOZENS ofFauci-directed IL-2 "clinical trials", why is it that (in 1999) the ONLY actual claim of "efficacy" seems to end up witha single unpublished and non-peer-reviewed anecdotal case of a person who was perfectly healthy and HIV-positive when the clinical "trial" was started? Indeed, a real scientistwould instinctively apply Occam's Razor to explain that thepatient would have even been BETTER OFF in the total absenceof toxic interventionist "treatment"! But that has nothing todo with the bottom-rung scientists of Fauci's ilk and today's Orwellian standard of medical Junk Science.Why study a toxic and dangerous treatment like IL-2 using healthyHIV-positive people? Perhaps the question has more to do with whichstudy group would put the best possible face on a harmful treatment.After all, Fauci, Lane and Kovacs admitted long ago that IL-2didn't "work" for sick people. It made them sicker faster. Itkilled them. It caused and/or promoted cancers. So what do theseGiants of Junk Science do? They begin to study a treatmentfor the "sick" -- IL-2 -- in the healthiest non-sick people they could find! Now they claim that IL-2 can only "work"when those healthy people are also using a cocktail of cancerdrugs known as "HAART" (the "cocktail treatment" trend is an important drug industry concept as it entirely obliterates the notion of accountability or blame for any single treatment option when the 20-something year old non-AIDS HIV+ patient plops over dead of a heart attack, stroke or other acute organ system failure, as has been the case with HAART).So now you know what your government's public servants havebeen up to for the past couple of decades in HIV, but not necessarily AIDS, research. In fact, as an independent statisticalmeasure, the surge in the category known as "D.B.A.D." tellsus exactly how we are doing these days -- specificallyin the area of "Deaths Before (an) AIDS Diagnosis". If thesepeople aren't dying of AIDS, then what's been killing themin droves, if not the cancer drugs that have been repackagedas HAART "antiviral" cocktails?fredThis detail information can be viewed in its entirety at: http://www.patents.ibm.com/details?pn=US05696079__US5696079: Immunologic enhancement with intermittent interleukin-2 therapy Inventor(s):Lane; H. Clifford , Bethesda, MD Kovacs; Joseph A. , Potomac, MD Fauci; Anthony S. , Washington, DC Applicant(s): The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC Issued/Filed Dates: Dec. 9, 1997 / May. 26, 1995 Application Number:US1995000452440Abstract:A method for activating a mammalian immune system entails a series of IL-2 administrations that are effected intermittently over an extended period. Each administration of IL-2 is sufficient to allow spontaneous DNA synthesis in peripheral blood or lymph node cells of the patient to increase and peak, and each subsequent administration follows the preceding administration in the series by a period of time that is sufficient to allow IL-2 receptor expression in peripheral or lymph node blood of the patient to increase, peak and then decrease to 50% of peak value. This intermittent IL-2 therapy can be combined with another therapy which targets a specific disease state, such as an anti-retroviral therapy comprising, for example, the administration of AZT, ddI or interferon alpha. In addition, IL-2 administration can be employed to facilitate in situ transduction of T cells in the context of gene therapy. By this approach the cells are first activated in vivo via the aforementioned IL-2 therapy, and transduction then is effected by delivering a genetically engineered retrovital vector directly to the patient. Attorney, Agent, or Firm: Foley & Lardner; Primary/Assistant Examiners: Ulm; John; Sorensen; Kenneth A. More information about the Immuno mailing list
Send comments to us at archive@iubio.bio.indiana.edu
Anthony Fauci - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 21:17
Anthony Stephen Fauci (born December 24, 1940) is an immunologist who has made substantial contributions to HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiencies, both as a scientist and as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Education and career[edit]Anthony Stephen Fauci was born on December 24, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York, to Stephen A. Fauci, a pharmacist, and Eugenia A. Fauci, a homemaker.[1] He graduated from Regis High School in New York City. He went on to attend the College of the Holy Cross and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1966. He then completed an internship and residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.[2]
In 1968, he came to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI) in NIAID. In 1974, he became Head of the Clinical Physiology Section, LCI, and in 1980 was appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation, a position he still holds. In 1984, he became Director of NIAID, which has the responsibility for an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research on infectious and immune-mediated illnesses.
He played a significant role in creating the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.[3]
Medical achievements[edit]Fauci has made a number of basic scientific observations that contribute to the current understanding of the regulation of the human immune response, and is recognized for delineating the mechanisms whereby immunosuppressive agents adapt to the human immune response. He has developed therapies for formerly fatal diseases such as polyarteritis nodosa, Wegener's granulomatosis, and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. In a 1985 Stanford University Arthritis Center Survey of the American Rheumatism Association membership ranked the work of Fauci on the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa and Wegener's granulomatosis as one of the most important advances in patient management in rheumatology over the previous 20 years.[4]
Fauci has made influential contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body's defenses leading to the progression to AIDS. He also has outlined the mechanisms of induction of HIV expression by endogenous cytokines. Fauci has played an important role in developing strategies for the therapy and immune reconstitution of patients with this disease, as well as for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. His current research is concentrated on identifying the nature of the immunopathogenic mechanisms of HIV infection and the scope of the body's immune responses to HIV.
In 2003, the Institute for Scientific Information indicated that Fauci was the 13th most-cited scientist during the twenty year period from 1983 to 2002.[5] He was the ninth most-cited scientist in immunology in the period January 1993 to June 30, 2003.[2]
Memberships[edit]Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine (Council Member), the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, as well as other numerous professional societies including the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Association of Immunologists. He serves on the editorial boards of many scientific journals; as an editor of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine; and as author, coauthor, or editor of more than 1,000 scientific publications, including several textbooks.[6]
Awards and honors[edit]Fauci has been a visiting professor at many medical centers, and has received 30 honorary doctorate degrees from universities in the United States and abroad.[6]
Selected publications[edit]Fauci AS, Dale DC, Balow JE. Glucocorticosteroid therapy: mechanisms of action and clinical considerations. Ann Intern Med 1976 Mar;84(3):304-15. PMID 769625Fauci AS, Haynes B, Katz P. The spectrum of vasculitis: clinical, pathologic, immunologic and therapeutic considerations. Ann Intern Med 1978 Nov;89(5 Pt 1):660-76. PMID 31121Fauci AS, Haynes BF, Katz P, Wolff SM. Wegener's granulomatosis: prospective clinical and therapeutic experience with 85 patients for 21 years. Ann Intern Med 1983 Jan;98(1):76-85. PMID 6336643Fauci AS, Macher AM, Longo DL, Lane HC, Rook AH, Masur H, Gelmann EP. NIH conference. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: epidemiologic, clinical, immunologic, and therapeutic considerations. Ann Intern Med 1984 Jan;100(1):92-106. PMID 6318629Fauci AS. The human immunodeficiency virus: infectivity and mechanisms of pathogenesis. Science 1988 Feb 5;239(4840):617-22. PMID 3277274Pantaleo G, Graziosi C, Fauci AS. New concepts in the immunopathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus infection. N Engl J Med 1993 Feb 4;328(5):327-35. PMID 8093551Chun TW, Fauci AS. Latent reservoirs of HIV: obstacles to the eradication of virus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Sep 28;96(20):10958-61. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.20.10958PMID 10500107Morens DM, Folkers GK, Fauci AS. The challenge of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Nature 2004 Jul 8;430(6996):242-9. PMID 15241422Johnston MI, Fauci AS. An HIV vaccine--challenges and prospects. N Engl J Med 2008 Aug 28;359(9):888-90. PMID 18753644Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson JL, Loscalzo J, eds. Harrison's principles of internal medicine, 17th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical, 2008. ISBN 978-0-07-159991-7References[edit]External links[edit]PersondataNameFauci, Anthony F.Alternative namesShort descriptionAmerican immunologistDate of birthDecember 24, 1940Place of birthBrooklyn, New YorkDate of deathPlace of death
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Will climate change worsen Ebola outbreaks?
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 04:12
Percent change in average precipitation as forecast by the RCP 8.5 climate change scenario, in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise through the 21st century. (IPCC)
The Ebola outbreak is ''out of control'' in parts of West Africa, says the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Could climate change hasten the spread of the deadly virus? Perhaps, but the linkages are complicated, according to limited scientific literature on the topic.
This photo provided by the CDC shows an ebola Virus. U.S. health officials are monitoring the Ebola outbreak in Africa but say the risk of the deadly germ spreading to the United States is remote. (AP Photo/CDC)
Ebola is a disease caused by the Ebola virus. Scientists don't currently know how the disease originates, nor how to cure it. They know the virus is transmitted via contact with an infected animal. It appears that in most cases, Ebola outbreaks begin when humans eat infected bush meat '-- wild animals like bats and monkeys '' which is cooked and used for sustenance in regions where food is scarce.
Scientific and health organizations have long held that climate change poses risks to human health, that warming may expand the range of certain water- and air-borne diseases. For example, given that it thrives in warm water, Cholera has been found to correlate with rising sea surface temperature. And while adaptive measures like improved medical care and vaccines could control their spread, Malaria, Dengue fever, and Lyme disease are all expected to expand in geographical area as global temperature increases, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
However, the connection between climate and Ebola is more complex since it's related to changes in precipitation characteristics, rather than directly linked to temperature.
A 2002 study published in the journal of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing found that sudden shifts from dry to wet conditions were associated with Ebola outbreaks from 1994 to 1996 in tropical Africa.
As the globe warms, precipitation extremes are projected to increase. Periods of drought are expected to become more frequent in some areas while heavy rain events, when the occur, are forecast to become more intense. Presumably, those areas which see precipitation variability increases '' with abrupt shifts from extremely dry to extremely wet periods '' would be most vulnerable to Ebola outbreaks.
But projecting future changes in precipitation on the regional scale is difficult. Over Africa, the forecast is complex. Rainfall is projected to decrease over northern Africa, but remains uncertain over much of the rest of the continent.
Given the mixed-bag forecast, it remains unclear whether we will see an increase or decrease in Ebola outbreaks from precipitation patterns alone. But given that periods of drought are expected to increase, and more water vapor is available for rainfall in a warmer atmosphere, one can imagine that the climate change-Ebola link is non-zero.
Further, the interplay between climate change and deforestation potentially positions humans closer to infected animals. As deforestation stuns the habitat, people are often left to hunt ''survivor species,'' like bats, which are one of the most common natural reservoir of the Ebola virus. Yale's Environment 360 writes:
The transmission of the filovirus Ebola from bats to humans illustrates the complexity of the spread of these diseases and its relation to climate change and land disturbance. Simple bat-human contact isn't sufficient for the filovirus Ebola to erupt.
''It's a cascade of events'' that bring bats, apes, and humans together in unusual ways, aggravated in part by ''unique climatic conditions,'' says World Health Organization zoonoses expert Pierre Formenty. According to a NASA analysis of meteorologic satellite data, Ebola outbreaks correlate with heavy rains at the end of a period of intense aridity. Extremely dry conditions force some fruit trees to defer fruiting. When the rains come and the stricken trees put out fruit, all manner of fruit-starved species, including Pteropus bats and apes, gather to feast. Large numbers of creatures concentrated under newly fruit-heavy trees provide microbes such as Ebola a prime opportunity to jump from one species to another. And once Ebola starts circulating heavily in a new species such as apes or bats, it can readily be transmitted through infected blood and other fluids to humans.
Whether the warming planet will aggravate the unusual rainfall patterns that set the scene for Ebola outbreaks remains unclear. While experts in conservation medicine have made great strides delineating the links between climate and disease, projections about how disease patterns will shift as the climate changes are still nascent. Worryingly, however, a trend toward aridity has already been noted across African rainforests.
Kris Ebi, an expert on climate change and health at the University of Washington, is concerned that climate change stresses on agriculture may force more people to eat bats and other animals that carry the disease.
''We already know climate change is weakening crop yields,'' Ebi told Al-Jazeera America. ''When there's high food insecurity, how will people go about making sure that they have enough food for their families?''
In its latest assessment report, the IPCC emphasized that adaptive measures can reduce human vulnerability to changes in disease incidence caused by climate change:
The most effective vulnerability reduction measures for health in the near term are programs that implement and improve basic public health measures such as provision of clean water and sanitation, secure essential health care including vaccination and child health services, increase capacity for disaster preparedness and response, and alleviate poverty.
While Ebola is a serious challenge the international health community and Africa must confront, U.S. health officials emphasize the disease is not a risk in the United States.
From Lenny Bernstein's To Your Health blog:
Transmission of Ebola requires direct contact with an infected person's blood, vomit or feces during the period that he or she is contagious, something that is extremely unlikely for anyone but health-care workers. The virus is not spread by coughing or sneezing. Nor do Americans bury their own dead family members or friends, as some residents of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea must do with Ebola victims.
''There is zero danger to the U.S. public from these [two] cases or the Ebola outbreak in general,'' said Amesh Adalja, a member of the public health committee of the Infectious Disease Society of America and an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pittsburgh.
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Stock Market plays for Ebola
ITM
I ran across this from Briefing.com
TKMR is being picked up as a play off Ebola outbreak. This is Tekmira Pharma. Today, it was trading higher by 26%. On March 5,2014, Tekmira received Fast Track designation from the FDA for its anti-Ebola viral drug. The FDA's Fast Track is a process designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs to treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need.
On Aug 1st, BCRX (Biocryst Pharmaceuticals) was also noted by Briefing.com to be a play off the outbreak.
It will be interesting to see where all this goes for these two companies. BCRX is suppose to announce 2Q 2014 financial results tomorrow Aug 5th.
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Into Africa - QuickTake
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:37
China's rapid-fire, state-funded building provides quick fixes to pressing infrastructure needs in Africa, though some critics say construction can be shoddy. China also isn't fussy about working with controversial political regimes, bestowing legitimacy on leaders in countries that U.S. companies won't touch. Though it sometimes pays little heed to the political and environmental impact of its investments, China's government has stepped in when its investments were threatened '-- as it did in South Sudan '-- and thus could help promote calm. While the U.S. is trying to use development as a way to shore up regional stability, its investments can take longer to get the jobs done, since companies have to satisfy shareholders and projects often undergo environmental vetting before they can get off the ground. U.S. companies are also subject to anti-corruption laws that make it almost impossible to do deals in places where bribery is common. U.S. and Chinese investments in transportation and electricity should make it easier for African businesses to get goods and services to and from the continent. African planners hope this will help lift the average per-capita income past $10,000 in many countries in the next three decades.
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GLITCHES
U.S. Database Glitch Delays Passport, Visa Processing : The Two-Way : NPR
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:56
hide captionA problem in a U.S. State Department's global database could cause delays in passport and visa processing for millions of people.
Christopher Rose/FlickrA problem in a U.S. State Department's global database could cause delays in passport and visa processing for millions of people.
Christopher Rose/FlickrThe U.S. State Department's global database for processing visas and passports is experiencing problems that could cause delays for millions of people around the world who are awaiting travel documents.
The Associated Press writes:
"Unspecified glitches in the department's Consular Consolidated Database have resulted in 'significant performance issues, including outages' in the processing of applications for passports, visas and reports of Americans born abroad since Saturday, spokeswoman Marie Harf said. She said the problem is worldwide and not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category."
" 'We apologize to applicants and recognize this may cause hardship to applicants waiting on visas and passports. We are working to correct the issue as quickly as possible,' she said."
U.S. officials said about 50,000 applications were affected in one country alone.
According to AP: "The database is the State Department's system of record and is used to approve, record and print visas and other documents to ensure that national security checks are conducted on applicants."
System down: US visa database glitch creates global backlog '-- RT USA
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:52
Published time: July 31, 2014 11:17Image from wikipedia.org
American visas have become literally unobtainable in all consulates worldwide for nearly two weeks as IT specialists have struggled to fix the country's malfunctioning consular database.
The US Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) at the State Bureau of Consular Affairs ''is currently experiencing technical problems with our passport/visa system,'' US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf revealed at a media briefing, adding that the database has actually been ''experiencing intermittent performance issues for several months'' now.
But the real problems emerged after the Bureau of Consular Affairs updated the software for the Oracle-based CCD on July 20, as had been recommended by the operating company.
''We patched it to try and address the issues,'' Harf said. ''However, our database began experiencing performance issues shortly after maintenance was performed.''
The system was down until July 23, when its operations were partially restored. The system is still not working at full capacity, however.
''We believe the root cause of the problem was a combination of software optimization and hardware compatibility issues,'' Harf said. ''We believe there was no malicious intent. It's hardware and a software issue that we are working to fix,'' she said, rejecting the idea that the glitch could be a result of a cyber-attack.
The glitch has already affected a large number of potential visitors to the US, as over 200 US consulates around the world issue thousands of visas on a daily basis, the Wall Street Journal said.
The problem is hitting travelers particularly hard during peak vacation season, as those who applied for a US visa cannot travel to other countries while their passports are with US authorities. They have to simply have patience and wait until the situation is resolved.
For those planning to visit the US on business visas, deals may now have to be postponed or canceled. The same applies to athletes, actors and other professionals who may fail to fulfill previously signed contracts and must be present in the US by a certain date.
Media outlets around the world are full of stories about people of various trades who used to travel to the US without a problem before, but now have to suffer unexpected difficulties they never considered could happen.
Though Harf apologized to applicants and recognized the hardships to applicants waiting for visas and passports, promising to ''correct the issue as quickly as possible,'' the backlog is growing.
''This really is unprecedented,'' immigration attorney Jonathan Ginsburg told the WSJ.
''Even one day's delay in visa issuances '-- especially on a systemic basis '-- creates an enormous backlog that, in turn, taxes the resources of each visa-issuing post because, of course, they're busy issuing visas every day,'' Ginsburg said.
For example, the visa chaos has hit Bayern Munich football club, which planned a visit to the US to ''crack the American market,'' Germany's The Local reported Wednesday. Some players and club staff were forced to stay home in Bavaria.
''It's a shame, naturally, but we can't do anything about it now. I hope we will be able to come later,'' said Matthias Sammer, director of sport at Bayern Munich.
Even diplomats who need to visit the UN headquarters or financial institutions in New York for urgent negotiations have not been spared the delays.
Scientists and high-tech workers now waiting for temporary work visas, such as H-1B visas, have had their interviews canceled or rescheduled, the WSJ reported.
In Russia the ''no visa'' situation was misinterpreted at first, due to the growing tension between Moscow and Washington over developments in Ukraine and MH17 crash two days prior to the US consular database going offline.
In the confusion, some Russians who had applied for US visas or were planning to do so jumped to the conclusion that the US consulate's refusal to process their documents was part of the sanctions against Russia. It took a couple of days until an official announcement from the State Department clarified that the problem was worldwide, not confined to Russia.
The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) is one of the world's largest Oracle-based warehouses. It contains hundreds of millions of visa files and photographs. It is cross-linked to other databases of various US federal agencies, such as the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), the Department of Homeland Security's Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), the Department of State Facial Recognition system, and the passport verification and NameCheck systems.
In 2013 alone, the US Bureau of Consular Affairs issued 9.1 million nonimmigrant visas and nearly half a million immigrant visas, US media reported, along with issuing some 13 million passports.
As of December 2009, the CCD database already contained over 100 million visa cases and 75 million photographs, and was growing by 35,000 visa cases daily, PIA reported.
Israel / Palestine
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JCD is my handler. Part 15
ok,Adam,here are my most sincere thoughts about JOHN.
i dont even bother to send this to him,because i know his type..
this guy is "mosdef" your fricking handler!
i am not even kidding...i am able to read between the lines,and this guy is seriously dangerous.-i once wrote you a note about "FRANKIST SABBATEAN" jews..
a radical crypto-jew CULT,who believe in bringing back the "messiah" (mind you im not christian by any means..im atheist actually) by performing the most devious and reprehensible acts imaginable...this was and still IS the creed of the frankist-sabbateans...who originated from POLAND,as Dvorak does...they partly went to become catholic,protestant,even muslim,so you won`t be able to "detect" them by their creed..
i am NOT antisemitic,i am not anti-slavic as i am myslef of czech origin,but THIS guy is SHADY to say the least...
his ongoing defending and denialism of any zionist/israeli atrocities towards the palaestinian people,his constant bashing of anything german(im a listener for 400 eps,so take my word for it),his constant dismissal of anything critisizing TPTB apart from the most obvious like the Bush Sr.-speech regarding the NWO and bit of Agenda21 chitchat...leads me to the point that he IS IN FACT NOT ONLY A SHILL,BUT MOST LIKELY YOUR HANDLER.
and im not joking,im afraid...
again,im not not anti-semitic,shit goes way deeper then anything judaism...
but jews DO play a huge role in the game,because they migrated to Egypt once,you know...the land of the PYRAMIDS AND THE ALL SEEING EYE...MASONIC STUFF- (those bitches,who run this place these days(pardon my french..)
THE KABALLA is full of ancient EGYPTIAN knowledge...
THE KABALLA is today only known to the most elitarian of jews...i.e. ZIONISTS and opinion makers wordwide...
the publisher of one of the biggest newspapers in germany e.g. is named Joffe,a zionist jew,who went berserk over the fact,that germans were "acting up" over the fact,they got spied on by the NSA...the BILD-zeitung,who you sometimes quote,has it manditory for higher up jpurnalists,to sign a contract,not to publish anything critical of the US or Israel...
i KNOW these are inconvenient truths,but hey,im not Al Gore,so you cab trust me ;)
cheers and all the best,Adam!
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ISIS spread makes Europe a 'tinder box' '-- RT Op-Edge
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 03:46
William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.
ISIS is a vehicle for destabilizing not only the Arabic Middle East and beyond, but also Europe, where there are large Muslim communities, geopolitical analyst William Engdahl told RT.
RT:How is it even legal for an international terrorist organization like ISIS to openly rally on the streets of a European city?
William Engdahl: That is a very good question and I think the Dutch government has some answers to give to that question. What we are dealing with when we look at ISIS, and I have been in conjunction with a new book that I am just finishing, called "America's holy wars", [about] the symbiotic relationship between US Intelligence and these various jihadists groups around the world, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISIS is a creation of US Intelligence in Iraq, and now the global caliphate that they have proclaimed, the Islamic State. It is not a synthetic operation, it has been supported covertly by the US, by the Obama Administration and all indications are simply that Syrian and international Muslim Brotherhood etc. disguise themselves as this new creation called ISIS. But they are getting their marching orders, their arms, US weapons, and it's a vehicle for destabilizing not only Arabic Middle East and beyond, but also Europe, and that is something to realize that there are large Muslim communities throughout Europe. In Germany there are at least 7 million [people] proclaiming the Muslim faith and there are jihadist organizations trying to recruit young Muslims as they are doing in Holland with those Dutch demonstrations of ISIS.
RT:Do you think the local authorities will face a public backlash for allowing such a rally to go ahead?
WE: I question the sanity of the Dutch government for allowing it in the first place. One has to think there might be a little bit of a militias' agenda, some circles, perhaps tied to NATO circles that are doing the investigation or non-investigation of the Malaysian MH17 in the eastern Ukraine. There is very bizarre behavior of the Dutch government on that question. We don't have the answers yet but the very fact that they allow this and the demonstrators were shouting "Death to the Jews" in the streets of a European country, this is really quite a shocking message, a wake-up call [on] what's going on here.
RT:The group says it's looking for new recruits. Why do you think it would look for them in Europe, and do you think they will succeed?
WE: I think they are succeeding. The fastest growing religious groups in Germany are jihadists or salafist Islamic organizations that are recruiting young people not even of Turkish or Arabic origins. They are recruiting young German kids who are disaffected, have no goal in life, unemployed or facing a bleak future, and they are being recruited to believe in something, to believe in ''dying for Allah'', and that is pretty sick way to live in my view.
RT:How much of a danger does this pose to Europe?
WE: It's a tinder box. Look at the Muslim population in France; look at the Muslim population in Germany. I do not have statistics on Holland, but in every European country there is a significant minority that are immigrants that have come out of the Muslim world. If you get the disaffected youth in these countries and organize them into jihad operations you can really wreak havoc as we saw in France in recent years with the riots outside Paris in the ghetto suburbs. That can cause enormous social polarization because 99,9 percent of Muslims in Germany are peaceful, they want to live their lives in private and want to be left alone and have their children grow up in peace and do better than they did. So it creates a polarization of normal German citizens against Muslim immigrants, and that is not good for anybody.
RT:Could the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict lead to more Muslims joining the ranks of extremist groups like ISIS?
WE: I think it could most certainly and I think it is leading to more recruiting because it is firing up emotions, the atrocities of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) are committing in Gaza are plastered all over the social media, internet, YouTube, etc. It cannot be denied what has been done - women, children, baby, hospital patients are being murdered.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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Statement by the Press Secretary on H.J. Res. 76
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:23
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 04, 2014
On Monday, August 4, 2014, the President signed into law H.J. Res. 76, which provides $225 million in emergency supplemental funding for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This funding will ensure that Israel will be able to sustain production of Iron Dome components in order to maintain adequate stockpiles of Iron Dome interceptors and equipment, consistent with the July 22, 2014, letter from the Secretary of Defense supporting Israel's recent request for $225 million in additional funding for Iron Dome. These funds are in addition to the $176 million requested in the President's FY 2015 budget for Iron Dome and the FY 2015 Congressional increase of $175 million proposed in Congress to offset the costs of initiating Iron Dome production in the United States.
The United States is proud that the Iron Dome system developed in coordination with Israel and funded by the United States has saved countless Israeli lives. Continued bipartisan support for Iron Dome funding ensures Israel will retain vital defense against rockets and artillery in light of the enduring threats.
The United States has been clear since the start of this conflict that no country can abide rocket attacks against its civilians. The United States supports Israel's right to defend itself against such attacks. We also continue to call on Israeli authorities to take all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and protect the civilian Palestinian population from the effects of attacks, and we continue to stress that all parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law.
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After 5 Attacks, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs Ponders Future '' Forward.com
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:41
Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014
After 5 Attacks, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs Ponders FutureFinds Support Amid Small Town Anti-SemitismBy JTA
After the latest attack on his home, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs sat down on his couch, picked up the phone and made three calls.
A chief rabbi of the Netherlands, Jacobs first phoned police and a Jewish community leader to tell them that late on the night of July 17, just over a week after the onset of the latest round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, four bricks were hurled through a window of his home. It was the fifth time in recent years that Jacobs' residence had been attacked.
Then Jacobs called his friend Roger van Oordt, director of the Netherlands-based Christians for Israel organization. Within an hour, van Oordt, his wife and two of their children were at the rabbi's door, with its prominent mezuzah and Hebrew sign bearing the name of the Chabad Hasidic sect to which Jacobs belongs.
''They didn't allow Bluma, my wife, and me to touch anything, they cleaned up all the mess,'' Jacobs told JTA in an interview at his home 25 miles southeast of Amsterdam. ''The attacks do not inspire much hope. The response by Christians, Muslims and other friends do.''
To Jacobs, a 65-year-old rabbi who has worked intensively to build bridges between non-Jews and Holland's Jewish community of 40,000, the latest attack sharpens the dilemma facing Dutch Jews.
A perceived rise in anti-Semitic incidents this summer has led many Dutch Jews to consider leaving the country, according to Jacobs. Yet the country's reputation as a liberal bastion has not entirely dimmed their hopes that the situation can be reversed.
After the latest attack, Jacobs shocked many Dutchmen when he told local media that if not for his obligations to the communities he serves, he would leave, in part because of the anti-Semitism problem. His statement grabbed headlines and generated a passionate response from other religious leaders.
''No one will tell us when to leave Holland,'' Jacobs said. ''I'm staying here because it's my shlichut, or mission. But would we stay here if we were private people? I don't think so.''
Anti-Semitism is only part of the problem, Jacobs says. Along with intermittent threats and violence, much of it sparked by events in the Middle East, he cites the 2011 passage of a law that effectively banned kosher slaughter '-- a measure later reversed by the Dutch Senate.
''And then there's assimilation in a liberal society where many people have anti-religious sentiments,'' Jacobs said. ''It all comes as part of a package.''
Immigration from the Netherlands to Israel has remained relatively stable over the past decade, with an average 63 new arrivals in the Jewish state each year. Still, the growth in anti-Semitism has created significant unease for Jacobs and his family, who now have six police cameras installed outside their home.
In 2010, a stone was hurled at his front window, missing him by a few inches. Jacobs says he tries not to walk near schools in his middle-class neighborhood and elsewhere in Holland because he doesn't want to be cursed at by children.
''It's a very uneasy feeling when someone attacks your home like that,'' said Bluma Jacobs, the rabbi's British-born wife. ''When I come to the door at night, I switch on the light of my cellphone so people think I may be filming.''
Six of the Jacobs' eight children live outside the Netherlands.
Jacobs was born and raised there and is the country's senior Chabad emissary. He also serves as president of the Rabbinical Council of Holland. In 2012 he became an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, a civic honor similar to British knighthood, for his interfaith efforts, among other activities.
His comments about leaving the country prompted a passionate response from the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the country's second largest church. On July 28, the church's secretary, Arjan Plaisier, published an open letter in which he vowed to oppose anti-Semitism with other church leaders.
Plaisier concluded with a plea: ''Chief Rabbi Jacobs, please stay in the Netherlands.''
His sentiments were echoed by several other religious leaders, including leaders of the national Catholic Church and several imams who know Jacobs from his outreach efforts to non-Jews. Last Hanukkah, Jacobs climbed into a crane to light a giant menorah built by Christians for Israel, an international network of Christian Zionists.
Also last year, Jacobs spoke to 150 youths from Arnhem, a city in eastern Holland where some Muslim youths expressed virulent anti-Semitism in interviews with a university researcher. Many Dutchmen were shocked by the expressions, which included one youth saying he was ''happy about what Hitler did to the Jews.''
Esther Voet, director of CIDI, the Dutch watchdog on anti-Semitism, says she is confident of Dutch Jewry's ability to weather the storm. Dutch authorities are taking the issue seriously, she says, as are other civic groups.
But Voet acknowledges that Jacobs encounters a different reality.
''I'm not recognizably Jewish and I live in the Jordaan,'' she said, referring to her central Amsterdam neighborhood. ''But Rabbi Jacobs, in his travels across the country and in his own neighborhood, faces a different set of problems.''
Return to Breaking News '†'
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Ankara nixes Israel pipeline plans as election looms
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:16
A man looks on as an Israeli navy boat maneuvers just outside the port of Ashdod. (Photo: Reuters)
Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said that due to Israel's bombardment of Gaza, a prospective natural gas pipeline between the two countries is currently not possible, at a press conference in Ankara on Monday. ''If a pipeline is built from Israel, it will flow not with gas but with the blood of innocent children and mothers,'' said Yıldız, who was joined by Malta Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi at the press briefing. Market observers said the proactively worded statement was a political ploy made just days before Turkey prepares to elect its president directly for the first time in the history of the republic.
Yıldız added that if the situation was to be stabilized, the possibility of such a deal could return to the table. Reports began to circulate last year that Turkish firm Turcas was engaging in talks with Israeli firms over the construction of a pipeline between the two countries. Turkey is almost entirely dependent on energy imports, as it currently imports nearly 80 percent of its natural gas from Russia and Iran. Israel's discovery of the Leviathan gas field just off the country's Mediterranean coast was the largest natural gas discovery in the past 10 years, giving Israel a boost to diversify its export market.
However, the discovery took place in the same year as the Mavi Marmara debacle, in which eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American were killed by the Israeli navy while en route to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. The incident resulted in a rapid deterioration of Israeli-Turkish relations. News reports in May indicated that at least 10 Turkish energy firms had bid in a tender for Leviathan exports, including the Zorlu Group and Turcas, which launched a joint bid with a German firm. Some found Yıldız's statement likely to reflect the current Turkish energy policy. An Energy Ministry official told Today's Zaman that the government is determined to shelve Israeli gas pipeline plans for some time. ''I do not think the private companies and third parties will insist on engaging in talks with Israel for a possible pipeline under these circumstances,'' the official said.
Anonymous sources familiar with the issue said the government might ask companies to keep out of this business or keep a low profile until the next political move.
''They are playing to the audience just before the elections and trying to attract nationalist votes,'' said energy expert Necdet Pamir, speaking to Today's Zaman, adding that the statement was made particularly to attract voters from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Many MHP voters were not happy with the choice of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu as the Republican People's Party (CHP) and MHP joint presidential candidate, and it has been speculated that a segment of that base is likely to vote for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Erdoğan in particular have been criticized repeatedly for what many analysts say is an attempt to use Gaza as a domestic political issue. Erdoğan has frequently directed harsh criticism towards Israel throughout its operation in Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,824 Palestinians. In light of the aggression in Gaza, there have been numerous calls for Turkey to re-evaluate its trade policy with Israel. The two countries have enjoyed increased trade relations in recent years, and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybek§i announced last month that the trade volume between the countries had reached $5 billion.
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Israel Intelligence Eavesdropped on Phone Calls By John Kerry - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:45
SPIEGEL has learned from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations. In addition to the Israelis, at least one other intelligence service also listened in as Kerry mediated last year between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, several intelligence service sources told SPIEGEL. Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.
During the peak stage of peace talks last year, Kerry spoke regularly with high-ranking negotiating partners in the Middle East. At the time, some of these calls were not made on encrypted equipment, but instead on normal telephones, with the conversations transmitted by satellite. Intelligence agencies intercepted some of those calls. The government in Jerusalem then used the information obtained in international negotiations aiming to reach a diplomatic solution in the Middle East.
In the current Gaza conflict, the Israelis have massively criticized Kerry, with a few ministers indirectly calling on him to withdraw from peace talks. Both the US State Department and the Israeli authorities declined to comment.
Only one week ago, Kerry flew to Israel to mediate between the conflict parties, but the Israelis brusquely rejected a draft proposal for a cease-fire. The plan reportedly didn't include any language demanding that Hamas abandon its rocket arsenal and destroy its tunnel system. Last year, Kerry undertook intensive diplomatic efforts to seek a solution in the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but they ultimately failed. Since those talks, relations between Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been tense.
Still, there are no doubts about fundamental support for Israel on the part of the United States. On Friday, the US Congress voted to help fund Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense system to the tune of $225 million (around '‚¬168 million).
(C) SPIEGEL ONLINE 2014All Rights ReservedReproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
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Caliphate!
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ISIS spread makes Europe a 'tinder box' '-- RT Op-Edge
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 03:46
William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.
ISIS is a vehicle for destabilizing not only the Arabic Middle East and beyond, but also Europe, where there are large Muslim communities, geopolitical analyst William Engdahl told RT.
RT:How is it even legal for an international terrorist organization like ISIS to openly rally on the streets of a European city?
William Engdahl: That is a very good question and I think the Dutch government has some answers to give to that question. What we are dealing with when we look at ISIS, and I have been in conjunction with a new book that I am just finishing, called "America's holy wars", [about] the symbiotic relationship between US Intelligence and these various jihadists groups around the world, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISIS is a creation of US Intelligence in Iraq, and now the global caliphate that they have proclaimed, the Islamic State. It is not a synthetic operation, it has been supported covertly by the US, by the Obama Administration and all indications are simply that Syrian and international Muslim Brotherhood etc. disguise themselves as this new creation called ISIS. But they are getting their marching orders, their arms, US weapons, and it's a vehicle for destabilizing not only Arabic Middle East and beyond, but also Europe, and that is something to realize that there are large Muslim communities throughout Europe. In Germany there are at least 7 million [people] proclaiming the Muslim faith and there are jihadist organizations trying to recruit young Muslims as they are doing in Holland with those Dutch demonstrations of ISIS.
RT:Do you think the local authorities will face a public backlash for allowing such a rally to go ahead?
WE: I question the sanity of the Dutch government for allowing it in the first place. One has to think there might be a little bit of a militias' agenda, some circles, perhaps tied to NATO circles that are doing the investigation or non-investigation of the Malaysian MH17 in the eastern Ukraine. There is very bizarre behavior of the Dutch government on that question. We don't have the answers yet but the very fact that they allow this and the demonstrators were shouting "Death to the Jews" in the streets of a European country, this is really quite a shocking message, a wake-up call [on] what's going on here.
RT:The group says it's looking for new recruits. Why do you think it would look for them in Europe, and do you think they will succeed?
WE: I think they are succeeding. The fastest growing religious groups in Germany are jihadists or salafist Islamic organizations that are recruiting young people not even of Turkish or Arabic origins. They are recruiting young German kids who are disaffected, have no goal in life, unemployed or facing a bleak future, and they are being recruited to believe in something, to believe in ''dying for Allah'', and that is pretty sick way to live in my view.
RT:How much of a danger does this pose to Europe?
WE: It's a tinder box. Look at the Muslim population in France; look at the Muslim population in Germany. I do not have statistics on Holland, but in every European country there is a significant minority that are immigrants that have come out of the Muslim world. If you get the disaffected youth in these countries and organize them into jihad operations you can really wreak havoc as we saw in France in recent years with the riots outside Paris in the ghetto suburbs. That can cause enormous social polarization because 99,9 percent of Muslims in Germany are peaceful, they want to live their lives in private and want to be left alone and have their children grow up in peace and do better than they did. So it creates a polarization of normal German citizens against Muslim immigrants, and that is not good for anybody.
RT:Could the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict lead to more Muslims joining the ranks of extremist groups like ISIS?
WE: I think it could most certainly and I think it is leading to more recruiting because it is firing up emotions, the atrocities of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) are committing in Gaza are plastered all over the social media, internet, YouTube, etc. It cannot be denied what has been done - women, children, baby, hospital patients are being murdered.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Protests held across France against Israel in Gaza | JPost | Israel News
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 22:27
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators set fire to an effigy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as they protest against Israel's military action in Gaza, outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, early July 19, 2014. Photo: REUTERS
Pro-Palestinian rallies took place in Paris and in Marseille, Montpellier and Avignon on Saturday.In southern Paris, 11,500 protesters (according to police, but 20,000 according to the event's organizers) marched between Place Denfert-Rochereau and Les Invalides.
Since the first violent demonstration in the capital on July 13, police have not allowed such events in the northern areas, near synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
Nevertheless, in a separate event, thousands defied the interdict and were present at Place de la Republique, in northern Paris, where no specific incident was reported.
In the Paris march, participants shouted the usual anti-Zionist slogans and brandished the usual placards and flags, including those of the organizers '' the groups responsible for the current wave of demonstrations against Operation Protective Edge in Gaza '' namely, the Greens, the French Communist Party, the New Anticapitalist Party, the General Confederation of Labor union and the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic.
Among the participants were two famous Jews: the comic Guy Bedos and the Trotskyist Alain Krivine, who asserted: ''We are witnessing a real revolt, in the middle of the month of August, which is truly an unusual phenomenon.''
Krivine said he supports ''with all [his] heart the Palestinian people and the politics of Hamas, which fights in a regular way, not attacking the weak, as does the IDF.''
''I am French and never have been so disappointed by France as I am this time,'' he added, referring to the ''support'' given by French President Francois Hollande and his government for Israel's right of self-defense.
No clashes with police were reported, but after the demonstration some 50 participants were arrested at the Saint-Paul metro station, on their way to Rue des Rosiers, the main Jewish street of the Le Marais quarter.
''They were probably trying to provoke clashes. Some were masked and shouted hostile slogans, which is what brought the police to fear a possible confrontation,'' Radio Europe 1 reported on Sunday.
Thursday evening, a pro-Israel demonstration took place in front of the Israeli Embassy, near the Champs Elysees.
It was organized by the CRIF Jewish umbrella organization, the United Jewish Appeal and the Union of Jewish Students of France, and was marked by heavy security measures: the whole area was closed off and participants were asked to open their bags and be checked.
The slogans and the placards read ''Israel will live!'' ''Israel will win!'' ''Hamas murderer!'' ''Thank you IDF!'' ''Gaza hostage of Hamas!'' ''Hamas = al-Qaida!'' and ''More humous, less Hamas!'' At the end of rally, the 4,500- 6,000 participants sang ''La Marseillaise'' and ''Hatikva.''
Meanwhile, Friday, the economic newspaper La Tribune published a poll, conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion, that will please Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National far-right party.
According to the poll, in the first round of the next presidential elections, Le Pen will win 26% of the votes; her Union for a Popular Movement right-wing challenger, former president Nicolas Sarkozy, will get 25%; and President Francois Hollande '' or another candidate of his Socialist Party, such as Prime Minister Manuel Valls '' only 17%.
The poll indicates that in the second round, Sarkozy will run against Le Pen.
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Sovereign citizens seen as top terrorist threat by US law enforcement
Mon, 04 Aug 2014 23:45
Published time: August 04, 2014 17:32Reuters / Brian Blanco
The sovereign citizen movement is considered the top threat for domestic terrorism, according to a survey of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
Islamist extremists and militia/patriot groups round out the top three threats to communities in the United States considered most serious by 364 officers of 175 state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities, according to a survey conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
The survey - ''Understanding Law Enforcement Intelligence Processes'' - found that ''52 percent of respondents agreed and 34 percent strongly agreed that sovereign citizens were a serious terrorist threat'' as opposed to 39 percent of respondents who agreed and 28 percent who strongly agreed that Islamic extremists were the most serious threat.
A previous sample on terror threats taken in 2006-2007 found that sovereign citizens were the eighth-most serious threat to non-federal law enforcement. Islamic extremists led that survey's threat index.
The latest survey found that while sovereign citizens as a whole have moved into the top position overall, the threat posed by many individual groups that are considered part of the broad movement has decreased since the previous survey.
''[A]lthough estimates about some groups were a serious terrorist threat increased comparing the two time periods, (e.g., Left-Wing Revolutionaries; Extreme Anti-Abortion Extremists), the concern about whether most groups were a serious terrorist threat actually declined for most groups (e.g., the KKK; Christian Identity; Neo-Nazis; Racist Skinheads; Extremist Environmentalists; Extreme Animal Rights Extremists).''
The decline of some of these individual groups surprised researchers.
''The change is interesting as there was significant concern about the resurgence of the radical far right (as evidenced by the 2006 '' 07 survey, as well as additional concerns raised after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama), but it appears as though law enforcement is, at present, less concerned about these groups,'' they wrote.
As for the generalized term, ''sovereign citizen movement,'' the researchers say that while it is often associated with right-wing groups, the ideology of sovereign citizens does not always fit with the association.
''Although most organizations group Sovereign Citizens with other right wing groups, they are quite unique. Sovereigns do not specifically share the 'supremacist' views of the Klan, etc. Their focus is not on individuals (e.g., minorities, Jews, etc.) rather their focus is on government dysfunction and abuse of authority. Their anti-government ideology is arguably more akin to left wing anarchists than right wing Klansmen.''
The survey found that cyberterrorism is perceived by officers as the most likely terrorism-related crime. Conventional Explosive Devices was considered second most-likely.
START researchers specifically asked the law enforcement officers ''the threat of terrorism; the nature of information-sharing; and whether agencies are prepared to deal with terrorist attacks.''
''Identifying and prioritizing a threat is akin to hitting a moving target and evolves as new intelligence, data, and events develop,'' START's David Carter said. ''Law enforcement must be steadfast in identifying major concerns, substantiating the concerns, providing products and resources to better understand the nature of the threat, and supporting efforts to respond to such concerns.''
The officers surveyed said the most useful law enforcement entities in combating terrorism include state/local fusion centers, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force(s), the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
In addition, the officers said that the most valuable open-source materials they use to gather information are the Internet, human intelligence sources, and the media.
START was funded with an initial $12 million grant from the US Department of Homeland Security in 2005. The grant was renewed in 2008. It is supported by the US Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and receives additional funding from various federal agencies, private foundations, and universities.
Isis brings its war to Lebanon - and it could be key to a masterplan - Middle East - World - The Independent
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:06
So far, the Lebanese army has lost 13 of its soldiers in a costly battle with rebels to retake the north-eastern Sunni town of Arsal '' on the Syrian border and hitherto a resupply base for Islamists trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad '' while the conflict has generated the same gruesome events which followed Islamist victories in Iraq and Syria: reports of civilian executions, government soldiers taken hostage, at least 12 civilians confirmed dead, including five children, and the prospect of long and bloody fighting ahead.
The world's attention, of course, has been concentrated on the slaughter in Gaza. In the Middle East, tragedy must come one day at a time, so the Syrian civil war and the Isis takeover of western Iraq continued in the shadows of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But the Islamists' arrival in Lebanon and the prospect of a mini-civil war around Arsal '' and perhaps as far as Tripoli '' could have repercussions far graver than the Gaza war. As Islamists take over Lake Mosul and other districts from the Kurds in northern Iraq and press harder against Syrian government troops, their extension into Lebanon marks their furthest progress yet from the Tigris towards the Mediterranean. In Arsal, the fighters '' officially from el-Nusra, whose own members are already joining those of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's caliphate '' adopted their usual practice of seizing large buildings in the centre of the town (in this case, the technical college, a hospital and a mosque) and clinging to them in the hope that their opponents would disintegrate. The Lebanese army, which has twice defeated Islamist rebellions inside Lebanon in the past 15 years, claimed to have retaken the college, but the statements from both the Lebanese commander and Prime Minister may be taken as accurate: that the takeover of Arsal had been planned long in advance and is part of a far greater rebel strategy.
The Lebanese army says it has so far killed 50 fighters '' a tally that sounds very like the Syrian army's premature claims of victory on the other side of the border '' but government forces in Lebanon are unlikely to fall back. Sunni Muslims make up the larger part of the Lebanese forces whose units are among the best integrated of Middle East armies '' and this has never prevented them from attacking and subduing Sunni Muslim rebels in the past, first at Sir el-Diniyeh in the northern mountains in 2000, and then within the Palestinian camp of Nahr el-Bared in 2007, at a cost of almost 500 dead soldiers, fighters and civilians.
Video: Who are Isis?For more than a year, the Lebanese army has tried vainly to close the frontier east of Arsal, and a Syrian army victory over rebels in Yabroud on the other side of the border earlier this year suggested that Sunni insurgents might leave Arsal lest they be cut off. But their resurgence shows that the Syrians have nothing like the control they have been claiming in the frontier lands. Indeed, the Nusra men had no difficulty in seizing 15 soldiers and almost as many Internal Security Force personnel when they first struck at Arsal. A battle between those Sunni forces opposing the Assad regime in Damascus '' who are also responsible for the bombing of Shia targets in Lebanon '' and Lebanese troops was almost inevitable. Less than two weeks ago, Lebanese special forces in Tripoli killed Mounzer el-Hassan, a Sunni ''jihadist'' logistics officer who was reported to have given suicide belts to bombers who attacked Beirut's Shia southern surburbs and the Iranian embassy in the capital. Those present at the battle said that el-Hassan was playing taped Islamic music as he finally died, when a hand grenade '' possibly in his own possession '' blew up in his face.
His death followed shortly after the capture of Houssam Sabbagh, a Salafist militant who led Sunni militia forces in recent battles against Alwite Shias in Tripoli. Sabbagh, who has fought in Afghanistan, Chechenya and in Iraq against US forces, was one of the few Tripoli leaders who refused to participate in a government ''security'' plan for the city.
The battles in Syria, however, are more complex. While Isis '' which still uses its acronym of the Islamic Army of Iraq and the Levant despite its incorporation into what al-Baghdadi calls the ''Islamic State'' or caliphate '' has strengthened its position in Deir el-Zour and neighbouring villages (with its usual ferocious executions and heads-on-stakes), the Syrian military seems intent on blasting rebels out of the Damascus suburbs, especially Douma, a district which lies close to the main road north of the capital. If al-Baghdadi's men are fighting for control in the east of the country, Assad doesn't want them taking the place of less spirited rebels around Damascus.
Reports of independent resistance groups who oppose both Assad and Isis '' and supposedly call themselves ''White Shrouds'' '' should be taken with the usual Syrian caution. Various militia outfits of both Sunni and mixed persuasions have strode fitfully onto the stage of the civil war over the past two years, only to vanish or merge into larger rebel or government forces.
But just as they must abide by tribal rules in Iraq, Islamists have found it dangerous to take on individual Syrian tribes in the ''Jazeera'' plateau north of Deir ez-Zour. They may have no love for Assad, but they will not allow fighters from Algeria or Chechenya to rule their tribal lands.
More disturbing, however, is the news that Sunni gunmen from the caliphate may have taken Iraq's largest dam outside Mosul from Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas.
The Kurds enlarged their territory by perhaps 40 per cent when the Iraqi army fled the northern Iraqi city, but the reputation of their supposedly unconquerable peshmerga army is taking a battering now that they have admitted losing villages close to the dam.
If the Islamists can capture the entire facility, they would technically have the ability to close off the waters from Baghdad '' or flood the capital city, whose Shia government has proved itself incapable of governing '' or recapturing '' Sunni territory in Iraq.
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Turkish opposition candidate: 18 million additional ballot papers printed for Turkish presidential elections
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:24
ESKİŞEHİR
Presidential hopeful Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu has raised concerns over the transparency of the upcoming elections, as he has said some additional 18 million ballot papers were printed.He based his claims on the figure presented by a recent study by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) group.
''Some 18 million extra ballot papers were printed,'' said İhsanoğlu, the joint candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for the elections on Aug. 10, at a press meeting in the central Anatolian province of Eskişehir on Aug. 5, recalling the total number of eligible voters is 50 million.
''Of course, some of the papers could be destroyed due to rains or floods. But what does an additional 18 million papers mean? Under whose command will these 18 million papers be used? How will they be used? How will they not go to the wrong places?'' he asked, also repeating a question from the OSCE on the judicial grounds for such a move.
CHP leader Kemal Kılı§daroğlu hosted Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, the head of a limited election observation mission (LEOM) of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) working in Turkey for the presidential election.
The group released July 31 an interim report, which said ''The prime minister's campaign activities are large-scale events, often combined with official government events. While other candidates actively campaign, the public visibility of their campaigns is limited.''
İhsanoğlu said the issue of additional ballots was included in the OSCE's report after talks with Turkey's Supreme Board of Election (YSK), as he said those responsible of such an act would face the judiciary and the people if they do not have an explanation.
The election code, prepared roughly seven years ago after a decision to elect the president via public voting, was ''absurd,'' as it caused injustice among the candidates.
The code paves the way for the ruling party to use public funds to support its campaign. ''This would not happen even in third world countries,'' he said.
August/05/2014
PHOTO GALLERY
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F-Russia
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Movie Connection
email from Tim
In the morning!
Wasn't sure how all of this connects (or if it does), but I found it pretty odd.
I travel about once a month for work and to kill time on the plane, sometimes I'll buy a video on iTunes to watch - this time I bought "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (2014). In the move about 10 to 15 minutes deep, and what sets off the plot, is the explanation of the US installing a Turkish pipeline that will defy Russia's dominance in Europe (oil). In the movie, Russia calls it an "economic act of war".
At a glance, this appears to be foreshadowing (movie was released early this year before all of this broke) what is currently taking place as you and John have deconstructed. I believe I have heard you guys talk about Hollywood's connection to things like this but didn't know if this was in keeping with that model. Definitely got my attention. Almost appeared to be a bold move on Hollywood's part releasing something like this so soon before these events actually began to transpire. Or maybe timed perfectly... I don't know.
Your thoughts are certainly welcome (if time permits and you are inclined to do so - won't be offended if not)
Cheers!
Tim
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New War Risk on Russian Fringe Amid Armenia-Azeri Clashes - Bloomberg
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:36
Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Group of Seven countries will vote against new World Bank projects in Russia to punish Vladimir Putin's regime, according to three government officials with knowledge of the agreement. Bloomberg's Sandrine Rastello reports on ''Bottom Line.'' (Source: Bloomberg)
The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan may meet this week in a bid to defuse escalating tensions between the two countries after at least 18 soldiers were killed in the worst clashes in two decades.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan will hold talks with his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Aug. 8-9, Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan said on the government's website. Azerbaijan has yet to agree to the negotiations, ANS TV reported, citing Novruz Mammadov, deputy head of Aliyev's office. President Vladimir Putin plans separate meetings with the two leaders at the end of the week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Itar-Tass.
The skirmishes between the South Caucasus countries, which border Turkey and Iran, flared amid the worst geopolitical standoff since the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. over the conflict in Ukraine. The fighting in the past week in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been the deadliest since the two former Soviet states signed a cease-fire in 1994.
''We hope that serious arrangements will be reached during the meeting,'' Abrahamyan said. ''We are not afraid of war, I just think it is not clever to solve problems with wars in the 21st century.''
Photographer: Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty ImagesAzerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said in January he had ''no doubts'' that Azerbaijan will ''restore its territorial integrity.'' Close
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said in January he had ''no doubts'' that Azerbaijan... Read More
Close
OpenPhotographer: Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty ImagesAzerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said in January he had ''no doubts'' that Azerbaijan will ''restore its territorial integrity.''
A renewed war between Azerbaijan, an ally of the U.S. and Turkey, and Russian-backed Armenia has the potential to put NATO directly at odds with the government in Moscow, according to Timothy Ash, a London-based economist for emerging markets at Standard Bank Group Plc.
'Re-Arming Rapidly'''Militarily, Armenia is still thought to have superiority, given Russian backing, but with its rising oil wealth, Azerbaijan has been re-arming rapidly,'' Ash said yesterday by e-mail.
With Azerbaijan's forces restrained by the fear of Russian retaliation, the message is that ''Russia is important in the region, and its views need to be taken account of everywhere in the post-Soviet space,'' Ash said.
Facing off are 20,000 Armenian and Azeri troops, dug into World War I-style trenches sometimes only 100 meters (330 feet) apart, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The escalating death toll since July 31 has inflamed tensions between landlocked Armenia and its eastern neighbor Azerbaijan, the former Soviet Union's third-largest oil producer and the only route for Caspian energy to western markets that bypasses Russia.
Azeri FlightsAzeri fighter jets were seen in the region, the country's APA news service reported. Vaqig Dargahli, head of the Defense Ministry's press service, confirmed reports of aircraft flying near the front line and said these were ''pre-planned'' flights.
The European Union is ''very concerned'' by the incidents, it said in a statement yesterday.
''We call on both sides to immediately respect the cease-fire, refrain from the use of force or any threat thereof, and continue efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,'' it said.
Russia and its international partners are making ''considerable efforts'' to help the opposing sides reach an agreement on the political principles needed to settle the conflict, Lavrov said in an interview with Itar-Tass.
''Undoubtedly we are alarmed at what's going on at the so-called contact line,'' Lavrov said. ''Both sides are very emotional in how they perceive the conflict.''
In DisputeArmenians took over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave about the size of Rhode Island, and seven adjacent districts from Azerbaijan in a war after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. More than 30,000 people were killed and over a 1.2 million displaced before Russia brokered a cease-fire in 1994.
With historical and cultural ties to both countries and demarcated as part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic by the Soviets as an Armenian-majority autonomous region, Nagorno-Karabakh remains internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Four United Nations Security Council resolutions were passed demanding an Armenian withdrawal from Azeri territory adjoining Nagorno-Karabakh.
About 700,000 Azeris were forced to leave the districts, 200,000 Azeris left Armenia and more than 360,000 Armenians fled Azerbaijan. The two nations' presidents met in November in Vienna for the first time in two years.
Turkey, IsraelAzerbaijan has forged closer ties with Israel and NATO-member Turkey and increased defense spending 27-fold to $3.7 billion a year in the past decade, outlays that exceed Armenia's annual budget. Armenia hosts a Russian military base in its second-biggest town of Gyumri, near the Turkish border, and Russian troops guard Armenia's borders with Iran and Turkey.
Azerbaijan, which signed a $45 billion contract in December with a BP Plc-led group to pipe natural gas to Europe, has repeatedly threatened to use force to regain control of the territory should peace efforts fail. Aliyev said in January he had ''no doubts'' that Azerbaijan will ''restore its territorial integrity.''
Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry accused Armenia of ''provocative'' actions and said it ''bears full responsibility for the evolving dangerous situation,'' according to a statement on the ministry's website.
Nagorno-Karabakh's defense chief, Movses Hakobyan, said that an Azeri military intervention had forced the Armenian side to respond.
Endangering Truce?
The goal is ''to explain that their steps will bring us back to 1992-1994,'' he said today on Armenian public television.
The U.S., France and Russia, which are leading efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to take immediate action to defuse tensions and respect the truce, as well as resume negotiations.
Companies led by London-based BP have invested more than $40 billion in Azerbaijan's oil and gas fields. Azerbaijan can pump as much as 1.2 million barrels a day of oil to Turkey through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which allows supplies to bypass Russia, and at its closest point lies about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Thirteen Azeri and five Armenian troops were confirmed killed in clashes from July 31 to Aug. 2. Another Azeri serviceman was killed Aug. 3, according to Nagorno-Karabakh's armed forces. One Armenian soldier was killed today, the news.am website reported.
Crimean Spillover?
Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March and the continuing pro-Russian separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine is inflaming the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Thomas de Waal, senior associate at Carnegie in Washington, said in an analysis posted on the research group's website in June.
''In this context, people are wondering not about whether Karabakh creates a precedent for Crimea but whether it works the other way round,'' de Waal said. ''The truth may be that Crimea has placed Karabakh in a new vicious circle of destructive politics.''
With Putin ''cynical'' about the chances of pursuing peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the chances of a diplomatic breakthrough are low, according to the Carnegie analyst.
As Azerbaijan bolsters its army with weapons such as drones, multiple-rocket launchers and attack aircraft, ''we can be certain that a new conflict, however small, would be vastly more destructive than that of the 1990s,'' he said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Sara Khojoyan in Yerevan at skhojoyan@bloomberg.net; Zulfugar Agayev in Baku at zagayev@bloomberg.net; Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net Paul Abelsky
Bloody clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia over disputed territory | World news | theguardian.com
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:08
The presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia are expected to meet for talks this week to try to calm tensions over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh after some of the bloodiest clashes since the two sides signed a ceasefire in 1994.
Azerbaijan's defence ministry said 14 of its soldiers had been killed in multiple confrontations, which began on 30 July. According to Azeri news agency APA, Armenian reconnaissance groups tried to cross the contact line along the border, and Azeri armed forces responded.
''As a result of fights, the Armenians gave casualties and retreated,'' the semi-official news agency reported.
An anonymous senior Armenian military official also told AFP news agency that Azerbaijan had lost 14 troops in the fighting, but blamed the Azeri side for sparking the incidents.
''Azerbaijani subversive groups were ambushed,'' the official said. ''As a result, they have 14 dead and lots of wounded.''
He said there had been no casualties or injuries on the Armenian side, although other reports suggested as many as five Armenian soldiers may have been killed.
The defence ministry of the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh republic also said two of its soldiers had been killed as a result of attempted incursions by Azerbaijan. Their names have not been released.
The two sides began fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh in the final years of the Soviet Union, and Armenian forces have wrested de facto control of the territory '' though it remains part of Azerbaijan under law. Both sides signed the Russia-brokered ceasefire after six years of fierce fighting, which left an estimated 30,000 people dead and around one million displaced. Despite this, dozens are killed in clashes along the line of control each year.
Oil-rich Azerbaijan has been spending heavily on armaments '' it regularly boasts that its defence budget is higher than Armenia's entire state budget '' and has vowed to take back the territory. Violence along the line of contact between the two forces has steadily increased over the last several months.
The EU-funded blog CommonSpace.eu said that while there is ''still no clear information about the latest incidents'' the fighting represents ''the most serious incident on the line of contact since the ceasefire came into affect in 1994''.
James Warlick, the United States representative for the Minsk Group of the Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which works towards finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, tweeted: ''We are seriously concerned about the recent upsurge in violence along the Line Of Contact. The ceasefire needs to be respected.'' The United States, Russia, and the European Union all issued statements calling on both sides to respect the ceasefire.
''We see the events of recent days as a serious violation of agreements on a cease-fire and declared intentions to achieve a regulation [of the conflict] through political means,'' Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement at the weekend. ''We take the position that any further escalation is unacceptable.''
Armenia's prime minister, Hovik Abrahamyan, said his country's president, Serzh Sargsyan, will meet Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi at the end of this week to discuss the violence.
Ibrahim Aliev, 7, plays near the gates to his family home in the village of Chiragli located near the line of contact. Photograph: Abbas Atilay/AP''From the start of the year to 1 August, Armenian forces have confirmed 18 fatalities, with Azerbaijan confirming 25, in various combat incidents on the Line of Contact, including sniper shootings, mine explosions and raids,'' according to the newspaper Armenian Reporter. ''By comparison, in all of 2013 the Armenian side suffered seven fatalities in combat incidents and Azerbaijan reported 12. In 2012 these stood at 14 and 19 respectively.''
However, Armenian analyst Sergey Minasyan said the fighting may not be a sign of escalation but an attempt by Azerbaijan to get the world's attention. In an interview with RIA Novosti, he said Azerbaijan had shown a pattern of provocative behaviour to try and get the international community to devote more attention to the conflict.
''This event absolutely is not a harbinger of war, more likely it's a means of political pressure, to threaten war,'' he said.
In an interview with government television, Nagorno-Karabakh's de facto defence minister, Movses Hakobyan, said that the outbreak of violence was due to Azerbaijani defence minister Zakir Hasanov's desire to ''prove himself'' after being recently appointed.
''Having failed the negotiation process, the rival is trying to destabilise the situation,'' Hakobyan said.
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Vladimir Putin signs historic $20bn oil deal with Iran to bypass Western sanctions - Telegraph
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:06
Further talks between the two countries will take place next month, he said.
A deal could see Russia buying 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day, the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper has previously reported. That would be about a fifth of Iran's output in June and half its exports.
There's a question over ''how substantive this memorandum is'', Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects in London, told Bloomberg. ''There would be various practical limitations in terms of Iran's current production capacity, geography and shipping logistics, as well as US sanctions.''
The move is a win-win for both nations after they were hit with Western sanctions aimed at limiting their energy sectors.
The European Union recently unveiled a raft of measures to restrict certain oil exploration and oil drilling related products in Russia after what President Barack Obama called the country's "illegal actions" in Ukraine. Russia's prescence in the Eastern European country reached a watershed moment last month when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was allegedly shot down by rebels sympathetic to Mr Putin's government, killing all 298 people on board.
On Tuesday, the Russian President told regional leaders that ''the political tools of economic pressure are unacceptable and run counter to all norms and rules'', adding that he had given orders to boost domestic manufacturers at the expense of non-Russian ones.
Meanwhile, Iran has faced sanctions due to its reluctance to end a controversial nuclear programme. The country has been locked in talks with six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany - to reach an understanding, with an interim deal to lift a ban on sales to the EU and limiting them to Asia agreed in November. However, since then talks have stalled, causing Iran's petroleum exports to halve in the past two years, according to OPEC.
Despite the sanctions, Iran has been looking to boost oil production in recent months, setting a new output target of 5.7m barrels per day (bpd) of crude by 2018 - OPEC believes Iran is currently pumping about 3m bpd of crude. However, it needs the help of international oil companies, and Russian energy firms have repeatedly expressed an interest in teaming up with Iran.
Alexander Novak, Russia's minister of energy, said an agreement would not violate international obligations and is important given the current "reality".
The White House has previously said that reports of talks between Russia and Iran were a matter of "serious concern".
"If the reports are true, such a deal would raise serious concerns as it would be inconsistent with the terms of the agreement with Iran," Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in January.
How much risk does BP face from Russian sanctions?
Europe, Russia want gas market out of sanction discussion '-- PM
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:08
WARSAW, August 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Europe and Russia do not want fuel market sanctions amid the Ukraine crisis, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.''Quite the contrary, Russia and many Western European countries would like to exclude gas market from the discussion of sanctions,'' he said.
Possible Russian oil and gas sanctions on the EU would first hit Russia, Tusk added.
Speaking of Russian ban on Polish fruit and vegetable imports, Prime Minister said losses in this season were ''serious but no tragedy'', and most contracts had been already realized and paid for.
''We should think what to do in the future if the embargo lingers on,'' Tusk said.
On August 1, Russian veterinary and phytosanitary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor banned almost all fruit and vegetable import from Poland, including apples, pears, cherry, sweet cherry, peaches, plums and cabbage as Poland violated certification requirements and quarantine pests have been detected.Poland turned to European Commissioners for agriculture, healthcare and trade for help to overcome the ban's consequences preliminarily estimated at about 500 million euros.
India Ignores US Calls For Russian Sanction, Will Go-Ahead With Submarine Purchase
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:08
India has rejected calls to join the sanctions program against Russia during US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to New Delhi on Aug. 1, according to various media reports.
India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has maintained that foreign policy will not change with the new government while Kerry added that Washington ''will obviously welcome India joining in with respect to [sanctions], but its India's choice.''
A clear blow to the effort, India remains Russia's largest consumer of military equipment and is reportedly in talks with Rosoboronexport to lease two Amur-class submarines to the Indian Navy on a fast-track basis.
The Amur class submarine is among Russia's latest developments and is the export version of the Lada class submarines, an improved version of the more advanced Kilo-class submarines, with much less noise, new combat systems and propulsion without additional air.
According to reports, India and Russia have accelerated their defense cooperation with talks on projects such as a fifth generation fighter aircraft, an Indo-Russian joint project, are being hastened.
The Indian Air Force is also expected to order more than 200 of the twin-engine aircraft, based on Sukhoi's T-50 PAK FA designs, although the India government has criticized Russia about New Delhi's level of participation in the project.
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BBC News - Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander buys Greek villa
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:16
16 April 2012Last updated at 06:47 ET The heir to the Dutch throne, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, has bought a villa near the Greek town of Kranidi.
Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin and actor Sean Connery are both said by Dutch media to own homes nearby.
The villa was bought for 4.5m euros (£3.7m; $5.9m) from German photographer Manfried Rieker, Dutch media say.
The prince had originally built a villa on land bought in Mozambique but sold it earlier this year in response to political criticism of the project.
Two years after buying four plots of land on the Machangula peninsula in the south of the country in 2007, Dutch MPs raised objections to his involvement in a larger development project.
Private beachThe Dutch government's information service said Prime Minister Mark Rutte was fully aware of the purchase of the Greek villa but it said no further information would be given because it was a private matter.
The couple's new villa is said to come equipped with its own swimming pool, private beach and marina and lies close to the resort of Doroufi, west of Kranidi in the Peloponnese in southern Greece.
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima knew the area from a wedding they had attended in August 2010 for Greek Prince Nikalaos and Tatiana Blatnik on the nearby island of Spetses, the Volkskrant newspaper said.
The prince had expressed an interest in buying the villa last summer. The photographer's wife told the newspaper "we can't say anything about it".
The villa has been used by Mr Rieker for his advertising work for Porsche and Mercedes, De Telegraaf newspaper says.
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Seemorerocks: Is Sergei Glazyev right?
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 22:25
For the sake of discussion, here is some discussion between Michael Green and Pepe Escobar.Discussing Sergei GlazyevMichael Green: Yes, well, I can see why the Saker and Pepe Escobar are asking this embarrassing question. After all, Glazyev presented 180 degrees out of phase from Putin in this piece. He even mentioned Nazis, which Putin, with his usual nod to the principle of gentlemanly comity, almost never does. A more honest way of framing the question, therefore, is not whether Glazyev was right. But, rather, why they were so wrong.Let's look at that, shall we? In trying to install its missile batteries in the Ukraine, America and NATO showed us their overall strategic plan. The missiles, when launched, would take mere minutes (seconds?) to get to Moscow, which is 400-500 miles away. That would mean the Russians would have to make the fateful decision to retaliate in just three minutes, maybe even less. Why would anyone take that risk?For one reason only, which would be to launch a first strike. There is no other reason possible, unless they were insane. This was not a random or insane strategy, however. It was bold and calculated. It relied on Putin to be Putin. We don't have to like our enemies to respect their daring or strategic skill on the grand chessboard. How reckless a move was it? It wasn't all that reckless, as long as Putin dithered and remained in character.Unlike Pepe and the Saker, my confidence in Putin remains at an all time low. We saw where that led just recently, when he turned his back on the Ukraine. Things recently changed, yes, but America is now trying to insert a wedge between the separatists in the SE and Russia itself. Part of it, we know, will involve treachery and false flags.Back to reality, however. When this presentation by Glazyev was first published several weeks ago, I thought it was right on the money. For what it's worth, I still do.Pepe Escobar: Michael Green - exceptional good points. I'll be deconstructing Glazyev before I write my next piece. And yes, I was underestimating how spot on he is - especially after I had some DC feedback.Off Pepe Escobar's timeline:PE: Michael Green - exceptional good points. I'll be deconstructing Glazyev before I write my next piece. And yes, I was underestimating how spot on he is - especially after I had some DC feedback.MG: Thank you, Pepe. I didn't mean to "paint it black" with an infinitely wide brush, however. Mostly, I love your articles and your wit/analytics. You're my go-to person on any number of things. You have, however, likened Putin to the "Lao Tzu of Chess".The Russian energy deals notwithstanding, however, I still see the game in the Ukraine as having been more a game of Chicken.Putin was damned if he did and damned if he didn't, so he mostly just dithered and lost precious time and opportunity. Now, no one suggested that he invade Kiev with tanks. The suggestion - and Glazyev's too - was that Russia step-up and provide the Resistance with appropriate weapons.The few weapons the SE had until recently were assuredly not from Russia, even if the Saker suggested that they were. Here, I'm relying on what Streklov himself said. (As the leader of the SE forces, I'd deem him to be much more reliable than the Saker.)Now, I get that you are waiting for Russia to do something after all these false flags, but as long as Putin does it tacitly and covertly - skulking around even in mentioning the word "Nazis" - he will have lost the real game that's being played.What's particularly worrisome, since a lot of people have justified Putin's actions based on their fear of WW III, is that no one in the West takes Putin seriously any more. Consider the fact that the doctrine of MAD (mutually assured destruction) worked as a deterrent force only if one knew about the military capability of the other side and ALSO believed in its willingness to use it.No one much believes in Putin's willingness to act along those lines any more, and people are walking all over him. He recently sent Syria a batch of ground to ship missiles. Then Israel LEAKED that it bombed that shipment, ostensibly in a test to see what Putin would do. He did nothing, of course, and predictably, the sarin false flag was raised within weeks. The same thing has happened in the Ukraine again and again and again.Putin is very smart, to be sure, but he is no Glazyev. Putin, perhaps, is much more like Neville Chamberlain. Has he finally had some kind of epiphany? I dunno. This covert bullshit has to stop up and down the line, however, come what may.PE: Michael, spot on on may layers. Putin's strategy, as I understood it in May in St. Petersburg, was that he didn't want to burn any bridges with Europe, business-wise. From now on this is about to change, because he's seen how Washington is succeeding in manipulating the poodles. Glazyev went Sex Pistols while Putin was trying a Barry Manilow. No more.MG: Great metaphors as always, Pepe. I get the Barry Manilow part but the Sex Pistols may be overstated. What I mostly want to know is how Glazyev can be an "adviser" to Putin, when he appears to be so much at odds with Putin. IF Glazyev overstated the danger, do you suppose it might not be because Putin was radically underestimating it? Again, why would the Americans be wanting to place missiles in the Ukraine, just minutes from Moscow - giving it virtually no time for a measured response - if not because of wanting a first strike capability? Here, I think Glazyev is being a pragmatist, not a testosterone-junkie. And, absolutely, Putin is Barry Manilow. There is no changing one's character. As such, Putin is the Frog in that famous parable. Definitely not the Scorpion.
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Tokyo rolls out new Russian sanctions - UPI.com
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:27
TOKYO, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The Japanese government said Tuesday it enacted sanctions on dozens of entities in response to Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine.Tokyo said it was imposing additional sanctions on Russia for violating Ukraine's sovereignty through the continued support of separatists in the east of the country. Rebels there are suspected in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last month, which left all 295 people on board dead.
The list of those sanctioned include dozens of high-ranking officials in Crimea as well as Crimean oil and gas company Chernomorneftegaz.
Tokyo's sanctions follow similar actions by the U.S. and European governments targeting Russia's energy sector. When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harperunveiled his list of sanctions against Russia, he sad it was in response to Russia's occupation of the Crimean region in Ukraine and its military action in eastern Ukraine.
Japan receives Russian oil through the 2,900-mile Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline and began importing liquefied natural gas from Russia through a Far East terminal in 2009.
Japan in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011 has turned to fossil fuels and renewable energy to make up for the nuclear power deficit.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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Germany scraps major arms deal with Russia: Report - The Times of India
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:58
The author has posted comments on this articleAFP | Aug 4, 2014, 05.20AM ISTPage 1 of 4
BERLIN: Germany has decided to scrap a major deal to provide a fully-equipped training camp to Russian forces due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, according to a newspaper report on Monday.Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has "withdrawn his authorisation" for the training camp project, which had already been halted in March due to Moscow's "indefensible" annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said it had seen a "written document" including the decision to scrap the 100-million-euro ($140-million) contract.
Russia previously called the decision to halt the arms deal "unconstructive", accusing Berlin of acting under pressure from the United States.German defence group Rheinmetall, the contractors for the military training camp, had said in March that the company would fulfil its contractual obligations to build the centre, which German media said would train 30,000 soldiers a year.
The camp was to have been built in the Volga region, and was scheduled to open later this year.
Article continues
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European stocks end down on Russia, weak data; bonds rise | Reuters
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:14
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORKWed Aug 6, 2014 1:36pm EDT
1 of 2. Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange August 4, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Amanda Andersen/Remote
NEW YORK (Reuters) - European stocks fell on Wednesday as concerns over a Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine sent nervous investors into high-rated bonds, while U.S. stocks were slightly higher as buyers took advantage of recent weakness.
The S&P 500 is down more than 3 percent since its most recent record high on July 24, including a drop of nearly 1 percent on Tuesday on concerns of Russian escalation in Ukraine.
But the benchmark index was trading modestly above 1,920, a key technical support level, and also managed to bounce from its 100-day moving average, another support level.
The situation with Russia "is certainly going to spook the market and we saw a little of that yesterday," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, speaking of Tuesday's afternoon selloff. "As far as the broad market goes, we haven't had a pullback of any size since April; every time we see a little weakness people tend to step in and buy, primarily because they have cash out there to put to work and there's not a lot of places for that."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 30.31 points, or 0.18 percent, at 16,459.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 3.38 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,923.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 14.10 points, or 0.32 percent, at 4,366.94.
NATO said Wednesday Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border and could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission to invade.
The euro bounced back after hitting a nine-month low of $1.331 against the dollar, but was still down 0.1 percent at $1.3367 amid threats of retaliatory Russian sanctions against the European Union and signs the crisis in Ukraine was affecting Germany, Europe's biggest economy.
German industrial orders slid in June at the steepest rate since September 2011, and the economy ministry said political tensions had probably led to more consumer caution.
The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.8 percent while MSCI's world equity index shed 0.2 percent. Dollar-traded Russian stocks stumbled 2.6 percent to touch their lowest level since May 6.
German 10-year bond yields fell 8 basis points to a record low of 1.092 percent, their biggest daily drop since September 2013.
Yields on lower-rated peripheral bonds rose, extending losses after data showed Italy, the bloc's third-largest economy, had unexpectedly slipped back into recession.
The ECB, which is due to meet on Thursday, has made unprecedented policy moves in recent months to try to keep the bloc's fragile recovery on track.
Portuguese bonds were the worst hit on Wednesday, their yields rising 10 bps to 3.79 percent. The country's main bourse dropped 4 percent to hit its lowest level in over a year, with financial stocks suffering over concerns about fallout from a rescue plan for ailing Banco Espirito Santo.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 4/32, the yield at 2.4672 percent.
'SABRE-RATTLING'
The European Union and the United States last week adopted tough new sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, marking a new phase in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev threatened on Tuesday to retaliate for the grounding of a subsidiary of national airline Aeroflot because of EU sanctions, with a newspaper reporting that European flights to Asia over Siberia could be banned.
Risk aversion and improving U.S. economic data, which continued on Wednesday with a narrowing of the trade deficit, helped lift the dollar index to as high as 81.716, an 11-month high against a basket of major currencies before it pared gains to 81.484.
Oil prices were little changed. Brent crude gained 34 cents to $104.95 while U.S. crude shed 22 cents to $97.90. Brent settled on Tuesday at its lowest level since Nov. 7, while U.S. crude had fallen to its lowest level since early February.
(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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Timchenko company blames McCain for lost Bulgaria South Stream work
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:16
MOSCOWMon Aug 4, 2014 11:30am EDT
MOSCOW Aug 4 (Reuters) - Russia's Stroytransgaz, a company owned by sanctions-hit businessman Gennady Timchenko, has left the construction of the Bulgarian section of the South Stream gas pipeline, Timchenko told ITAR-TASS news agency in an interview.
"Yes, we won the tender, wanted to make our contribution to the common goal. But you see, (U.S. Senator) Mr (John) McCain went to Bulgaria and persuaded local authorities to waive our services," Timchenko said.
He added that Stroytransgaz will be replaced by Gazprom's unit Tsentrgaz.
"Of course, from the business point of view, losing South Stream is an unpleasant thing for us. But whom I should make claims to? To Americans?" Timchenko said.
South Stream is designed to transport 63 billion cubic metres of gas per year under the Black Sea through Bulgaria to central and southern Europe, bypassing Ukraine, as Russia seeks to cement its position as Europe's dominant gas supplier. ($1 = 0.7452 Euros)
A consortium led by Russia's Stroytransgaz won a deal, estimated at over 3 billion euros ($4 billion), to build the section of the pipeline across Bulgaria, in May.
The Bulgarian-Russian project company for South Stream was not immediately available for comment.
In June, the European Commission asked Bulgaria to suspend work on Gazprom -led South Stream gas pipeline on the grounds the project was breaking EU rules that bans gas producers from controlling pipelines.
Bulgaria's president is to appoint an interim government to rule until Oct. 5 when elections will be held, after the Socialist-led coalition resigned in late July.
The centre-right GERB party, tipped to win, has said Bulgaria should push ahead with South Stream only if it complies with all European Union laws.
GERB's leader Boiko Borisov has said he plans to scrap the tender awarded to Stroytransgaz if he wins.
Timchenko was among many individuals and firms put by the West on sanctions lists due to Russia's stance over Ukraine. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova; additional reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, editing by William Hardy)
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Gov't Allowed Start of South Stream Construction in Bulgaria
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:16
Bulgaria's former government granted South Stream the first building permit in end-July, the Regional Development Ministry's website reveals.
A document [BG] dating July 31 signed by former Regional Minister Desislava Terzieva shows the construction of a receiving terminal in the Pasha Dere area, near the Black Sea city of Varna and a compressor station.
The two facilities were given the green light despite Sofia's assurances that the project was frozen until a further decision from the EU Commission.
In the document handing out a construction permit, Terzieva points out that her ministry decided to approve "preliminary implementation" of the permit.
In her words, state and public interest would suffer if such a decision is delayed any further.
The document was signed at a time the government was already in resignation.
It could be appealed within two months.
The latest developments also come against the backdrop of last week's announcement that the Ministry of Agriculture sold 359 da of land to South Stream Bulgaria earlier in July at prices well below average market price.
#1In that other article you are referencing too you are telling, without blinking, that Fibank has paid 210.000 leva per dekar for woodland.
30.000leva per dekar woodland, which Southstream paid according to Novinite, is already an extremely expensive price...
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Senate Bill Preps for War with Russia >> CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:16
If there was an anti-war movement in the US, the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 (S.2277) which will cost American taxpayers $117 billion, might be at the top of the list for defeat as a totally provocative, irrational piece of legislation that can only be viewed as paving the road for a preemptive first strike on Russia.
But as the Obama foreign policy has crossed the threshold of madness in its prevarications of geopolitical crises into costly wars and escalations of US global domination; amazingly alas, there is no anti war movement. The most militarized, most blatantly pro-war country on the planet, perhaps in the history of the world, has not one prominent voice for peace '' except the American people who, in every poll, are consistently opposed to more war.
In what is destined to be a lose-lose for world peace, 23 Senate Republicans have co-sponsored Sen. Bob Corker's legislation that seeks to prevent ''further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia.'' If there is any reader who believes that Russia has been the aggressor in Ukraine or elsewhere, this graphic video of civilian atrocities committed by Ukraine's neo nazi National Guard ought to be enough to shake even the most apathetic population out of their indifference.
To date, no Democrat has co-sponsored the bill but that is not to say that neither will they object to its intent. With Congressional recess tentatively scheduled for Labor Day weekend until after the midterm elections, the odds are that S.2277 may not be adopted any time soon.
But what its existence does do is to provide political cover for the Obama Administration which has already moved to adopt a number of its provisions as it follows the bill's outline that sets the stage for a direct military conflict with Russia '' with no Senate presence to object to the ominous rumblings that S 2277 evokes '' not the liberal darling du jour Elizabeth Warren nor any other Senator with enough inner grit or integrity to dare challenge Obama's narcissistic abuse of power.
Here are some disturbing reasons for concern:
* Directs the President to submit a plan to Congress for accelerating NATO and European missile defense efforts.
''Accelerating '...missile defense efforts'' confirms that additional anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs), already in Poland and the Czech Republic, will be deployed elsewhere in eastern Europe as a provision to block retaliation from Russia after a US first strike.
As if NATO needs any accelerating, on a recent European trip, the globe-trotting president assured Poland and other eastern European countries of an extra $1 billion to pay for an increased US military presence. It is no secret that eastern European leaders see Uncle Sam handouts as the gift that keeps on giving, a gravy train of empowerment '' more jobs, more influence and greater prestige. While Obama softly chastised its members to ''do its fair share'' and ''step up,'' each NATO country is required to contribute 2% of its GDP to defense, most have reduced rather than increased their payment. The largesse of the US taxpayer carries 75% of the NATO budget load.
* Directs the President to impose significantly increased sanctions if Russian armed forces have not withdrawn from the eastern border of Ukraine, or if agents of the Russian Federation do not cease actions to destabilize the control of the government of Ukraine over eastern Ukraine, and if Russian armed forces have not withdrawn from Crimea '' all within seven days after enactment.
Here we have a deliriously myopic cock-eyed view of reality that Russia is on the doorstep of NATO rather than NATO being the interloper. On that same European trip, the president threatened additional sanctions in an effort to weaken the ruble and destabilize the Russian economy, if Russia continued 'actively destabilizing its neighbors'' again predating Corker's legislation.
The requirement that Russia withdraw from Crimea, a tenet of the Neanderthal School of Foreign Policy, reveals a pitiful ignorance of the 200 year history of the Crimea as part of Russia and that the Donbas in east Ukraine has been a dominant Russian-speaking industrial epicenter since the 1930's. The US has informed the Putin government that it would not accept the legitimacy of the Crimea vote for secession to Russia with the time-honored concept of self-determination now verboten at the US State Department.
Speaking of efforts at destabilizing Ukraine, the currently-in-shambles Kiev government is doing a pretty good job of destabilizing itself with the resignation of prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the recent upheaval in the Ukraine parliament including a series of fistfights over its failure to agree on the war in east Ukraine and allowing western control of the country's pipeline infrastructure.
* Directs the President to halt all redeployments of combat forces from Europe, and develop a plan to correct any deficiencies in the Armed Forces' ability to respond to contingencies in Europe and Eurasia and * Directs DOD to assess the capabilities and needs of the Ukrainian armed forces and authorizes the President to provide military assistance to Ukraine. * Provides non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova for purposes of the transfer of defense articles or services as well as to increase U.S. armed forces interactions with the armed forces of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
In toto, the above three points all reflect the preliminary bureaucratic process necessary to prepare for war. Once formal 'ally' status has been conferred, the US can then justify its own and NATO military action coming to the aid of an 'ally' under a specious attack from Russia. The addition of nine other countries for increased military assistance is a worrisome signal that the coming conflict is expected to be more widespread than just Ukraine. On July 29, CNN reported that Ukraine military initiated firing short range ballistic missiles capable of carrying up to 1000 pound warheads; and yet if Russia retaliated, a momentous perhaps irreversible confrontation would be inevitable.
* Secretary of State shall increase efforts, directly or through nongovernmental organizations, to improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts in the Russian Federation; strengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in the Russian Federation; expand uncensored Internet access in Russia; and expand free and unfettered access to independent media of all kinds in Russia, including through increasing United States Government-supported broadcasting activities, and to assist with the protection of journalists and civil society activists who have been targeted for free speech activities.
All of the above would be hilarious if it were not so pathetically hypocritical. Every element of 'improving democratic governance'' is sorely needed in the US but then the American government excels at pointing the finger at others and laying blame when the US itself has been guilty of exactly what it accuses others of.
* Amends the Natural Gas Act for expedited application and approval processfor export to World Trade Organization members as well as urge the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction for ''promotion of US private sector participation in energy development in Ukraine, Georgia andMoldova'' for exploitation of natural gas and oil reserves.
So herein lies the real nub of the matter: that is, in what the Pentagon calls 'full spectrum dominance,'' the US pursues ultimate control of the entire world's supply of petroleum resources and production facilities. It is intriguing to note that the Natural Gas Act section includes not just energy development in Ukraine but Georgia which has a mere 35 billion barrels of crude oil reserves ranking 81st on the list of countries with proved oil reserves and that Moldova has virtually no petroleum reserves, imports all of its energy from Russia and ranks 141 according to the CIA World Factbook. The goal here, of course, is to eliminate any dependency on Russia's export of oil as well as to draw Georgia and Moldova into the fight.
This June, 2014 video of Sergei Glazyev, economic assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin, provides rare insight into Russia's interpretation of current geopolitical realities in east Ukraine with an alarming prediction of the US response. His view is that Ukraine should be considered a US 'occupied' state with significant CIA and military advisors in key positions as they direct the war and the likelihood that after the Donbass and its courageous rebellion has been totally extinguished, there will be an invasion of the Crimea. The equally alarming news that the US Star Wars (aka ABM's designed to intercept ICBM's but may also be used as an offensive weapon), was tested ten days ago and deployed to the Romanian Russian border is further indicative of President Obama's apocalyptic plans.
But the truly mind-numbing possibility is that an inexperienced, ineffectual President will be easily swayed to believe that the US can prevail in a limited nuclear first strike.
Renee Parsons was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and a lobbyist on nuclear energy issues with Friends of the Earth. in 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council and served as Councilor and Mayor. Currently, she is a member of the Treasure Coast ACLU Board.
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AP News : EU airline shares drop on Russian airspace report
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 03:05
Published: TodayMOSCOW (AP) - Shares in European airlines fell Tuesday on a report that Russia is considering cutting off the country's airspace for European flights to Asia, a move that would force long and costly detours.
A report published by the Russian business paper Vedomosti quotes anonymous Russian officials as saying this would be a response to the sanctions the EU imposed on Moscow. The officials say the idea of limiting or cutting off the airspace is being discussed but no formal decision has been made, according to the newspaper, a respected daily.
Shares in Finnair, which operates a lot of flights from Northern Europe to Asia, slumped 5.6 percent. Air France-KLM fell 3.8 percent while IAG, the owner of British Airways, saw a 2.9 percent drop.
"Carriers would experience longer flying times and higher expenses if forced to avoid transiting Russian airspace," said Robert Mann, an independent analyst. "Trips to destinations within Russian airspace would be canceled. Some rerouted trips might require technical stops for fuel. It would be a significant inconvenience to customers and have significant self-imposed costs to the Russian economy."
Russia's state-controlled carrier, Aeroflot, could lose out on some 300 million euros it charges European airlines annually for the right to use Russian airspace. Its shares tumbled almost 6 percent.
The Russian Transport Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov on Tuesday and said they would discuss recent sanctions against Russia. "We need to discuss possible measures in response," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Helen Kearns, the spokeswoman for the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said there had been no official information on this from Russian authorities.
Russia could legally close its airspace if it wanted to, according to the EU Commission. Currently, each EU country has a bilateral deal with Moscow on whether its airlines can fly over Russia.
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Tank biathlon: The bizarre new sport invented by the Russian military is just like biathlon... but with tanks.
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:05
Tanks from Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia compete at an event in 2013.Photo by Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images
While the provocative war games being held on the Ukrainian border are understandably getting more attention, there's another notable display of Russian military prowess going on right now: the 2014 Tank Biathlon World Championships.
Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.
Some of my now-colleagues disagree, but I've always found the Winter Olympic sport of biathlon more exciting in theory than in practice. It's an even slower version of cross-country skiing, and target shooting's not actually that visually compelling. Tank biathlon is another beast entirely.
Invented by the Russian military a few years back, tank biathlon basically works like normal biathlon '... but with tanks:
According to the rules of tank biathlon, crews must navigate a distance of up to 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) evading various obstacles, crossing rivers and bridges and shoot at a set of targets. Tanks that miss a target get a penalty lap.
Teams from 12 countries are currently competing at the championships in Alabino, a town southwest of Moscow. The event runs from Aug. 4 to 16 and involves a number of rounds, heats, and distances.
After joint security talks last year, Russian defense officials announced that teams from the United States, Germany, and Italy would participate in this year's event. Evidently, that didn't come to pass, which is not exactly surprising given recent geopolitical events.
An international event was held last summer, but this year's contest is the first to feature countries from outside the former Soviet Union. Angola, China, India, Kuwait, Mongolia, and Venezuela are all represented. The teams have all been provided with Russian T-72B tanks, except for the Chinese, who apparently came with their own vehicles.
If you've already got tank biathlon fever just from reading the description, RT's got you covered with over three hours of heart-pounding footage below:
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Lebanese army battles Syrian militants near border
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 08:56
LABWEH, Lebanon (AP) -- Lebanese troops battled rebels from Syria for control of a border town Monday, the deadliest challenge in years for the armed forces of this tiny country whose own sectarian tensions could boil over from the incursion.Dozens of armored personnel carriers, tanks and elite troops arrived to surround the town of Arsal, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the capital, Beirut. Meanwhile, thousands of Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees fled the clashes in vehicles packed with all they could carry.The fighting in Arsal, which began Saturday, marks the first time that militants battling Syrian President Bashar Assad have carried out a large-scale incursion into Lebanon. The clashes have killed 17 soldiers over three days, while 22 others remain missing after attacks on army positions in the town, authorities said.The civilian exodus came early Monday morning during a lull in the fighting. A few hours later, an army bombardment around Arsal saw three shells land every minute."We call on the Lebanese army to strike with an iron fist," said Mohammed Hojeiri, who fled Arsal with his family Monday. "Those gunmen are terrorizing civilians."A resident on the outskirts of Arsal told The Associated Press that the militants there committed "atrocities" and shot at people fleeing. They also looted homes, he said on condition of anonymity for security considerations.Dozens of rebels have been killed in the fighting, he and other residents and security officials said.It remains unclear exactly what allegiances the Syrian rebels who seized Arsal have. Their attack comes after the Lebanese army said Saturday its troops had detained Imad Ahmad Jomaa, who identified himself as a member of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front - one of the most powerful rebel groups fighting against Assad.Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni leader with a large following in the country, has accused al-Qaida linked groups in Syria, including the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group, of taking Arsal hostage.The fight for Arsal is the bloodiest involving the army since the military fought a three-month battle in 2007 against the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group inside the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon. The Lebanese army crushed the group, but the clashes killed more than 170 soldiers.The clashes in Arsal, a predominantly Sunni town of 40,000 whose population has almost tripled because of the presence of Syrian refugees and rebels, could worsen already bubbling sectarian tensions in Lebanon. The town is wedged between Syrian government-controlled territory and Lebanese Shiite villages sympathetic to Lebanon's premier Shiite militia, Hezbollah.The Syrian government, which is battling a largely Sunni insurgency, has seized nearly all the strategic Qalamoun region bordering Arsal with the help of Hezbollah fighters. On Monday, some Hezbollah fighters were seen around Labweh, a town near Arsal in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, though it was not clear if they were taking part in the fighting.A senior Hezbollah official vowed Monday to support the Lebanese army against the militants."Whoever threatens to divide the army... we say to them that neither Lebanon nor the Bekaa (Valley) is Mosul," said Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek, referring to Iraq's second-largest city which has been seized by militants of the Islamic State group, which is also fighting in Syria.But it isn't likely that the militants in Arsal raided the town to gain territory inside of Lebanon, said Aram Nerguizian, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said Arsal was surrounded by Christian, Shiite and even Sunni Muslim areas hostile to Islamic militants."This would be the definition of a very precarious deployment," Nerguizian said.Meanwhile in Syria, the Islamic State group shot and stabbed a family of seven to belonging to a Shiite Muslim sect to death in a rural village near the central Syrian town of Salamiyah, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.Syrian state media also reported the attack. The Islamic State fighters likely targeted the family because they belonged to the Ismaili sect, a branch of Shiite Islam. Many of the extremist Sunni groups fighting in Syria and now Iraq view all other sects of Islam outside their own strict interpretation as heretical.---Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Diaa Hadid in Beirut contributed to this report.
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SnowJob
Al Bagdahdi actor according to Snowden
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, so-called ”Caliph,” the head of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is, according to sources reputed to originate from Edward Snowden, an actor named Elliot Shimon, a Mossad trained operative.
Simon Elliot (Elliot Shimon) aka Al-Baghdadi was born of two Jewish parents and is a Mossad agent.
We offer below three translations that want to assert that the Caliph Al-Baghdadi is a full Mossad agent and that he was born Jewish father and mother:
The real name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is “Simon Elliott.”
The so-called “Elliot” was recruited by the Israeli Mossad and was trained in espionage and psychological warfare against Arab and Islamic societies.
This information was attributed to Edward Snowden and published by newspapers and other Web sites: the head of the “Islamic State” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has cooperated with the U.S. Secret Service, British and Israel to create an organization capable of attracting terrorist extremists from around the world.
Keizer Alexander's bogativity
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Stec did a heck of a lot of research on Patents corp structure etc
IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc. - SEC Form D
8 Investors
Total Offering Amount $485 USD - WTF?
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Former NSA chief defends cybersecurity venture
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 01:44
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even in an era when former officials routinely profit from business ventures linked to their public service, recently retired National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander raised eyebrows when he disclosed he is working on patents for what he calls a game-changing cybersecurity model.Alexander had access to the nation's deepest secrets about cyberwarfare, and he spent the last several years warning about cyberthreats to private industry. Critics questioned whether he was cashing in on classified information he learned at NSA, and they asked why he didn't deploy his new ideas while he led the government's cyber defenses.In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Alexander sought to answer those questions and rebut what he says are misimpressions about the new company he leads, IronNet Cybersecurity.The retired four-star general, who departed in March after nine years as NSA director, said there is nothing improper about working in his field of expertise. He also led the military's cyber command."If I retired from the Army as a brain surgeon, wouldn't it be OK for me to go into private practice and make money doing brain surgery?" he asked. "I'm a cyber guy. Can't I go to work and do cyber stuff?"His firm is developing as many as 10 patents, he said, and has secured contracts with three clients he declines to name. The technological innovations in the new patents came from an unidentified partner, he said, and are not specifically derived from anything he learned at NSA or cyber command. Alexander also filed three patents while he was NSA director, but the taxpayers own the rights to those, and if he wants to use them he must apply for a license, as anyone could, he said.Lawyers at NSA and his private lawyers- including former FBI Director Robert Mueller, now with the Wilmer Hale law firm in Washington - have told him he is on firm legal footing, Alexander said."I've been in government for 40 years; I fully understand the importance and sanctity of classified material," said Alexander, who ended his career dealing with the stunning revelations of former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden.Reports of his firm charging $1 million a month for consulting services are not accurate, he said, though he declined to disclose his firm's fees."That number was inflated from the beginning," he said.Alexander acknowledged he stands to become a rich man, if his firm perfects what he calls a new behavioral model designed to detect sophisticated hackers who penetrate a corporate network using techniques whose pattern is not previously known."If it actually works, this will be worth a lot," he said.He said he didn't develop the idea while working at NSA, but even if he had, that agency lacks the authority to defend private networks. The agency mainly protects secret networks with classified tools and information sharing that does not exist in the private sector.Alexander's path from a government job to a related private venture is well worn. His predecessor, Michael Hayden, is a consultant with Chertoff Group, the security consulting and private equity firm led by Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security chief, who is also working with Alexander on the cyber venture.The three NSA directors prior to Alexander and Hayden have each worked in the defense industry after leaving office, including retired Vice Admiral Michael McConnell, who has earned more than $1 million a year in recent years as vice chairman of intelligence contractor Booz Allen, according to the company's proxy statements.Participants in Alexander's new venture include James Heath, a former NSA adviser, and Russell Richardson, a former Army intelligence official. John "Chris," Inglis, who retired in March as the NSA deputy director, is helping part time."Actually knowing something about cybersecurity is a rare commodity," said James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "He's got the skills and he's trying to figure out how to monetize them. It's hardly unusual."
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Words Matter
definition of sanctimonious - Google Search
Sun, 03 Aug 2014 02:16
About 173,000 results
sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous/ˌsaNG(k)tÉËmōnÄ'És/
adjective
making a show of being morally superior to other people.Sanctimonious | Define Sanctimonious at Dictionary.com making a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.: They resented his sanctimonious comments on immorality in America. 2. Obsolete.Sanctimonious - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster ...www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanctimonious- Cached - Similar pretending to be morally better than other people. Full Definition ofS ANCTIMONIOUS. 1. : hypocritically pious or devout
sanctimonious from thesaurs.land
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Haiti
Carnival to Develop $70 Million Cruise Port Project in Haiti
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 02:17
August 3, 2014 | 1:41 pm | Print
Above: a Carnival cruise ship
By Alexander Britell
MIAMI '-- The Caribbean's newest port project is coming to Haiti.
In a statement provided to Caribbean Journal, Carnival Corporation announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a $70 million destination cruise project in Tortuga (Ile de la Tortue), an island off the northern coast of Haiti.
''This is another milestone for our tourism effort; Haiti has the nicest island spots in the world,'' Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Caribbean Journal in a statement. ''We welcome Carnival Cruise Lines' investments, to show the world that's it's better in Haiti.''
Carnival said the amount of $70 million would be the largest cruise industry investment ever made in Haiti, ''providing a new and exciting destination for ship itineraries traveling the Caribbean,'' according to David Candib, vice president, development and operations for Carnival Corporation's Global Port & Destination Development Group.
It would also be the second major port project in Haiti, following Royal Caribbean, which has had a major port in Labadee for nearly three decades.
''This also represents a major commitment to the people of Haiti by Carnival Corporation '' the largest cruise company in the world, with nine industry-leading brands and dozens of ships operating in the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruise vacations,'' Candib said. ''The development will create an exciting opportunity for our guests to enjoy a new, secluded and stunning destination in the island of Tortuga that the company expects will become a very popular place for guests to enjoy for years to come.''
Candib said the project would generate ''significant development and construction activities,'' with 900 direct and indirect jobs created, according to initial estimates.
''The project will be an anchor for further development on the island,'' he said. ''We are working together with the Haitian people and government to build Tortuga into popular and economically sustainable Caribbean destinations.''
Candib said the project was part of Carnival's ''larger investment in the Caribbean as a whole.''
''The Caribbean is a crucial market for the success of Carnival Corporation and the cruise industry in general '' and we remain committed to creating new and exciting products in the region,'' he said. ''The Caribbean is not only the most popular region for cruise vacations, but it is also where Carnival Corporation's roots are, and where the company's nine brands deploy a large number of ships and set sail with millions of guests every year.''
Carnival is developing several other projects in the region, including one in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, among others.
HaitiNewscaribbean, carnival, cruise, haiti, ile de la tortue, memorandum, tortuga
NA-Tech
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New meme: Tech Up [verizon ad]
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RadioShack's days are numbered - Jul. 31, 2014
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 05:11
RadioShack's shares are at a record low. Click on chart for more stock data. NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
The chain of 4,000 stores has just $62 million in cash left - a figure that is rapidly approaching zero. Things are so dire that it actually doesn't have enough money to close the 1,100 locations management says it needs to shutter.
Investors, credit rating agencies and the company''s lenders seem to be in agreement that RadioShack's days are numbered.
Even the company's own Super Bowl ad mocked its stores for being decades out of date.
"They have been irrelevant for a long time," said Robin Lewis, CEO of The Robin Report, a retail strategy newsletter. "If they're not the sickest patient in ICU, they're minutes away from being rolled in."
Related: Most endangered brands
Last month research firm B. Riley & Co. made the unusual move of cutting its price target for RadioShack(RSH) shares from $1 a share -- to $0. Shares of RadioShack(RSH) , hit a record low of 62 cents Thursday after Moody's said it expects RadioShack to run out cash by Fall of 2015.
"A significant turnaround has to happen for them to survive. But we haven't seen any evidence of a turnaround yet," Moody's analyst Mickey Chadha told CNNMoney. Moody's now has RadioShack debt only two short steps above a default rating. And it will probably be cut further.
Related: Autopsy of America - Photos of dead shopping malls
In March the chain announced plans to close over 1,000 stores, about one out of every five. But its lenders refused to give RadioShack the cash it needed to do so on terms the chain could afford, so instead it announced plans to close only 200 stores.
That's forcing the company to burn cash even more quickly.
"That 1,100 store closing plan was in essence saying they don't have the capital to manage 4,000-plus stores," said Chadha. "But the lenders are taking a dim view of the turnaround themselves and positioning themselves for liquidation."
The company's huge network of stores has done little to help it hold off competition from Amazon(AMZN, Tech30) and other online retailers.
The company now depends on smartphones and tablets for more than half its sales. That's a competitive, low-margin business, said Chadha. And each smartphone sale hurts RadioShack's chance to sell its higher-margin products, such as digital cameras and GPS systems..
Company officials did not respond to a request for comment about Moody's outlook or its cash problems.
First Published: July 31, 2014: 2:01 PM ET
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Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer | Threat Level | WIRED
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:13
Security experts call it a ''drive-by download'': a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor. It's one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers' clutches within minutes.
Now the technique is being adopted by a different kind of a hacker'--the kind with a badge. For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement's knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system.
The approach has borne fruit'--over a dozen alleged users of Tor-based child porn sites are now headed for trial as a result. But it's also engendering controversy, with charges that the Justice Department has glossed over the bulk-hacking technique when describing it to judges, while concealing its use from defendants. Critics also worry about mission creep, the weakening of a technology relied on by human rights workers and activists, and the potential for innocent parties to wind up infected with government malware because they visited the wrong website. ''This is such a big leap, there should have been congressional hearings about this,'' says ACLU technologist Chris Soghoian, an expert on law enforcement's use of hacking tools. ''If Congress decides this is a technique that's perfectly appropriate, maybe that's OK. But let's have an informed debate about it.''
The FBI's use of malware is not new. The bureau calls the method an NIT, for ''network investigative technique,'' and the FBI has been using it since at least 2002 in cases ranging from computer hacking to bomb threats, child porn to extortion. Depending on the deployment, an NIT can be a bulky full-featured backdoor program that gives the government access to your files, location, web history and webcam for a month at a time, or a slim, fleeting wisp of code that sends the FBI your computer's name and address, and then evaporates.
What's changed is the way the FBI uses its malware capability, deploying it as a driftnet instead of a fishing line. And the shift is a direct response to Tor, the powerful anonymity system endorsed by Edward Snowden and the State Department alike.
Tor is free, open-source software that lets you surf the web anonymously. It achieves that by accepting connections from the public Internet'--the ''clearnet'''--encrypting the traffic and bouncing it through a winding series of computers before dumping it back on the web through any of over 1,100 ''exit nodes.''
The system also supports so-called hidden services'--special websites, with addresses ending in .onion, whose physical locations are theoretically untraceable. Reachable only over the Tor network, hidden services are used by organizations that want to evade surveillance or protect users' privacy to an extraordinary degree. Some users of such service have legitimate and even noble purposes'--including human rights groups and journalists. But hidden services are also a mainstay of the nefarious activities carried out on the so-called Dark Net: the home of drug markets, child porn, murder for hire, and a site that does nothing but stream pirated My Little Pony episodes.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have a love-hate relationship with Tor. They use it themselves, but when their targets hide behind the system, it poses a serious obstacle. Last month, Russia's government offered a $111,000 bounty for a method to crack Tor.
The FBI debuted its own solution in 2012, in an investigation dubbed ''Operation Torpedo,'' whose contours are only now becoming visible through court filings.
Operation Torpedo began with an investigation in the Netherlands in August 2011. Agents at the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Netherlands' national police force had decided to crack down on online child porn, according to an FBI affidavit. To that end, they wrote a web crawler that scoured the Dark Net, collecting all the Tor onion addresses it could find.
The NHTCU agents systematically visited each of the sites and made a list of those dedicated to child pornography. Then, armed with a search warrant from the Court of Rotterdam, the agents set out to determine where the sites were located.
That, in theory, is a daunting task'--Tor hidden services mask their locations behind layers of routing. But when the agents got to a site called ''Pedoboard,'' they discovered that the owner had foolishly left the administrative account open with no password. They logged in and began poking around, eventually finding the server's real Internet IP address in Bellevue, Nebraska.
They provided the information to the FBI, who traced the IP address to 31-year-old Aaron McGrath. It turned out McGrath was hosting not one, but two child porn sites at the server farm where he worked, and a third one at home.
Instead of going for the easy bust, the FBI spent a solid year surveilling McGrath, while working with Justice Department lawyers on the legal framework for what would become Operation Torpedo. Finally, on November 2012, the feds swooped in on McGrath, seized his servers and spirited them away to an FBI office in Omaha.
A federal magistrate signed three separate search warrants: one for each of the three hidden services. The warrants authorized the FBI to modify the code on the servers to deliver the NIT to any computers that accessed the sites. The judge also allowed the FBI to delay notification to the targets for 30 days.
The FBI's drive-by malware search warrants name all ''computers that access the website'' as targets.
This NIT was purpose-built to identify the computer, and do nothing else'--it didn't collect keystrokes or siphon files off to the bureau. And it evidently did its job well. In a two-week period, the FBI collected IP addresses, hardware MAC addresses (a unique hardware identifier for the computer's network or Wi-Fi card) and Windows hostnames on at least 25 visitors to the sites. Subpoenas to ISPs produced home addresses and subscriber names, and in April 2013, five months after the NIT deployment, the bureau staged coordinated raids around the country.
Today, with 14 of the suspects headed toward trial in Omaha, the FBI is being forced to defend its use of the drive-by download for the first time. Defense attorneys have urged the Nebraska court to throw out the spyware evidence, on the grounds that the bureau concealed its use of the NIT beyond the 30-day blackout period allowed in the search warrant. Some defendants didn't learn about the hack until a year after the fact. ''Normally someone who is subject to a search warrant is told virtually immediately,'' says defense lawyer Joseph Gross Jr. ''What I think you have here is an egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment.''
But last week U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Thalken rejected the defense motion, and any implication that the government acted in bad faith. ''The affidavits and warrants were not prepared by some rogue federal agent,'' Thalken wrote, ''but with the assistance of legal counsel at various levels of the Department of Justice.'' The matter will next be considered by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon for a final ruling.
The ACLU's Soghoian says a child porn sting is probably the best possible use of the FBI's drive-by download capability. ''It's tough to imagine a legitimate excuse to visit one of those forums: the mere act of looking at child pornography is a crime,'' he notes. His primary worry is that Operation Torpedo is the first step to the FBI using the tactic much more broadly, skipping any public debate over the possible unintended consequences. ''You could easily imagine them using this same technology on everyone who visits a jihadi forum, for example,'' he says. ''And there are lots of legitimate reasons for someone to visit a jihadi forum: research, journalism, lawyers defending a case. ACLU attorneys read Inspire Magazine, not because we are particularly interested in the material, but we need to cite stuff in briefs.''
Soghoian is also concerned that the judges who considered NIT applications don't fully understand that they're being asked to permit the use of hacking software that takes advantage of software vulnerabilities to breach a machine's defenses. The Operation Torpedo search warrant application, for example, never uses the words ''hack,'' ''malware,'' or ''exploit.'' Instead, the NIT comes across as something you'd be happy to spend 99 cents for in the App Store. ''Under the NIT authorized by this warrant, the website would augment [its] content with some additional computer instructions,'' the warrant reads.
From the perspective of experts in computer security and privacy, the NIT is malware, pure and simple. That was demonstrated last August, when, perhaps buoyed by the success of Operation Torpedo, the FBI launched a second deployment of the NIT targeting more Tor hidden services.
This one'--still unacknowledged by the bureau'--traveled across the servers of Freedom Hosting, an anonymous provider of turnkey Tor hidden service sites that, by some estimates, powered half of the Dark Net.
The payload for the Tor Browser Bundle malware is hidden in a variable called ''magneto''.
This attack had its roots in the July 2013 arrest of Freedom Hosting's alleged operator, one Eric Eoin Marques, in Ireland. Marques faces U.S. charges of facilitating child porn'--Freedom Hosting long had a reputation for tolerating child pornography.
Working with French authorities, the FBI got control of Marques' servers at a hosting company in France, according to testimony in Marques' case. Then the bureau appears to have relocated them'--or cloned them'--in Maryland, where the Marques investigation was centered.
On August 1, 2013, some savvy Tor users began noticing that the Freedom Hosting sites were serving a hidden ''iframe'''--a kind of website within a website. The iframe contained Javascript code that used a Firefox vulnerability to execute instructions on the victim's computer. The code specifically targeted the version of Firefox used in the Tor Browser Bundle'--the easiest way to use Tor.
This was the first Tor browser exploit found in the wild, and it was an alarming development to the Tor community. When security researchers analyzed the code, they found a tiny Windows program hidden in a variable named ''Magneto.'' The code gathered the target's MAC address and the Windows hostname, and then sent it to a server in Virginia in a way that exposed the user's real IP address. In short, the program nullified the anonymity that the Tor browser was designed to enable.
As they dug further, researchers discovered that the security hole the program exploited was already a known vulnerability called CVE-2013-1690'--one that had theoretically been patched in Firefox and Tor updates about a month earlier. But there was a problem: Because the Tor browser bundle has no auto-update mechanism, only users who had manually installed the patched version were safe from the attack. ''It was really impressive how quickly they took this vulnerability in Firefox and extrapolated it to the Tor browser and planted it on a hidden service,'' says Andrew Lewman, executive director of the nonprofit Tor Project, which maintains the code.
The Freedom Hosting drive-by has had a lasting impact on the Tor Project, which is now working to engineer a safe, private way for Tor users to automatically install the latest security patches as soon as they're available'--a move that would make life more difficult for anyone working to subvert the anonymity system, with or without a court order.
Unlike with Operation Torpedo, the details of the Freedom Hosting drive-by operation remain a mystery a year later, and the FBI has repeatedly declined to comment on the attack, including when contacted by WIRED for this story. Only one arrest can be clearly tied to the incident'--that of a Vermont man named Grant Klein who, according to court records, was raided in November based on an NIT on a child porn site that was installed on July 31, 2013. Klein pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of child pornography in May and is set for sentencing this October.
But according to reports at the time, the malware was seen, not just on criminal sites, but on legitimate hidden services that happened to be hosted by Freedom Hosting, including the privacy protecting webmail service Tormail. If true, the FBI's drive-by strategy is already gathering data on innocent victims.
Despite the unanswered questions, it's clear that the Justice Department wants to scale up its use of the drive-by download. It's now asking the Judicial Conference of the United States to tweak the rules governing when and how federal judges issue search warrants. The revision would explicitly allow for warrants to ''use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information'' regardless of jurisdiction.
The revision, a conference committee concluded last May (.pdf), is the only way to confront the use of anonymization software like Tor, ''because the target of the search has deliberately disguised the location of the media or information to be searched.''
Such dragnet searching needs more scrutiny, Soghoian says. ''What needs to happen is a public debate about the use of this technology, and the use of these techniques,'' he says. ''And whether the criminal statutes that the government relies on even permit this kind of searching. It's one thing to say we're going to search a particular computer. It's another thing to say we're going to search every computer that visits this website, without knowing how many there are going to be, without knowing what city, state or countries they're coming from.''
''Unfortunately,'' he says, ''we've tiptoed into this area, because the government never gave notice that they were going to start using this technique.''
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VIDEO- CNN Reporter Bites Medics In Drunken Rage, Now They Want Revenge - YouTube
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:12
VIDEO-Joe Biden thinks 'Africa' is a country, not a continent | Mail Online
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:57
American VP addressed 50 world leaders '' all from Africa '' on Tuesday'‹'There's no reason the nation of Africa cannot and should not join the ranks of the world's most prosperous nations,' he saidFace-palm moment came in the run-up to a glitzy White House dinner where Joe is not expected to speakBy David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor
Published: 19:42 EST, 5 August 2014 | Updated: 02:20 EST, 6 August 2014
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Vice President Joe Biden wants everyone to know that he has high hopes for the 'nation' of Africa.
Biden isn't just a walking gaffe machine '' he's a walking gaffe top-ten list. So when he goofed at Tuesday's U.S.-Africa Business Forum, and there was no F-bomb involved, it didn't make headlines.
But gaffe he did, in front of 50 world leaders and their entourages at the event held on the sidelines of President Barack Obama's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
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Gaffe #4,281: US Vice President Joe Biden told the US-Africa Business Forum on Tuesday that the 'nation' of Africa should be among the world's great economic powers
Africa is a continent made up of 54 separate countries, including island nations off its coastlines.
'If Africa's governance and institutions can put its people in a position commensurate with their possibilities, the sky is the limit,' the veep said Tuesday. 'I mean, it is limitless'
'‹'There's no reason the nation of Africa cannot and should not join the ranks of the world's most prosperous nations in the near term, in the decades ahead. There is simply no reason.'
The skinny-dipping, party guest-groping bumbler who's one heartbeat away from the presidency once chaired the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Not impressed: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sits with (from right to left) Djbouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and other African leaders during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington
Biden met with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan at the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit on Tuesday
Biden has been an active participant in this week's summit. He met Tuesday with South African President Jacob Zuma, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on the margins of the event.
He will also attend a dinner tonight at the White House honoring all the African leaders. The event will also include several non-political luminaries.
The Obama administration said in a statement on Tuesday that guests will include Essence magazine Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Bush, 'Orange is the New Black' star Uzo Aduba, '12 Years a Slave' actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi, sculptor Wangechi Mutu, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and actor Robert DeNiro and his wife Grace.
High-powered business leaders, all of whom pledge Africa relief funds from their corporate philanthropies,will include NextGen Solar president Mayank Bhargava, Coca-Cola president Muhtar Kent, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, Wal-Mart president Doug McMillon, Marriott president Arne Sorenson and IBM president Virginia Rometty.
Biden, a White House source said Tuesday, is not expected to speak at the glitzy event.
That may be just as well.
Everybody loves Joe: The veep got a laugh out of White House budget director Shaun Donovan during his ceremonial swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday
Joe Biden calls 'Africa' a country, not a continent
It was just four years ago that he noted in a diplomatic face-palm moment how Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen's mother had 'lived in Long Island for ten years or so' before her death.
'God rest her soul,' Biden said somberly, before realizing that 'wait '' your mom's still ... your mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul.'
In 2012 he made the sign of the cross while on stage to address a group of more than 1,600 conservative rabbis in Atlanta.
Reporters guffawed later that year when he tried to capture the spirit of President Theodore Roosevelt's famous 'Speak softly' philosophy, by noting that 'the president has a big stick. I promise you.'
It brought back memories of a 2008 photo-op outside Biden's home where he told journalists that he had just returned from 'a successful dump,' which turned out to be a trip to a nearby landfill.
Two months later during an Ohio campaign speech, Biden criticized then-GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain for what he called a 'last-minute economic plan' that did 'nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class.'
'It happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.'
Several of Biden's most cringe-worthy moments have riled conservatives who say their own political stars would have been pilloried in print and on television if they had made similar comments.
'You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,' he told an Indian-American man in 2006, with a C-SPAN camera rolling.
'I'm not joking.'
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VIDEO-Kurdish Gov't Fighting ISIS Appeals for Airstrikes, Humanitarian Aid | MRCTV
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:51
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-New Yorker Editor: Pro-Putin Anchors = Russian Versions of Glenn Beck | MRCTV
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:45
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-Only CBS Acknowledges Gov't Can't Find $619 Billion From Agency Budgets | MRCTV
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:39
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- John Kerry: Confessions Of An Economic Hitman - YouTube
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:08
VIDEO-New Homeland Security Report Finds AMERICANS Are The Biggest "Terrorist" Threat To U.S. Government - YouTube
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 04:23
VIDEO- Is D.Rumsfeld an "alien lizard who eats Mexican babies"? - YouTube
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 04:09
VIDEO-Obama says CEOs should quit complaining: Economist
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 03:44
"I would take the complaints of the corporate community with a grain of salt," Obama said, arguing that his policies have been friendly to business. "They always complain about regulation. That's their job."
Obama has increasingly promoted populist economic measures such as raising the minimum wage to motivate Democratic voters ahead of critical November congressional elections, in which his Democrats face the prospect of losing control of the Senate.
"Oftentimes, you'll hear some hedge-fund manager say, 'Oh, he's just trying to stir class resentment'. No. Feel free to keep your house in the Hamptons and your corporate jet, etcetera. I'm not concerned about how you're living," Obama said.
Read MoreObama toRepublicans: 'Stop hatin' all the time'
"I am concerned about making sure that we have a system in which the ordinary person who is working hard and is being responsible can get ahead," he said.
Obama had a frosty relationship with business in his first term, famously telling an interviewer: "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street."
VIDEO- President Obama Speaks at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Dinner - YouTube
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 01:56
AUDIO-New York City Conducts Largest Ever No-Notice Bioterror Response Drill CBS New York
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 23:28
TRI-STATE NEWS HEADLINESFrom our newsroom to your inbox weekday mornings at 9AM.
Sign UpNEW YORK (CBSNewYork) '-- Officials are conducting the largest surprise bioterror drill of its kind in New York City history Friday.
The Rapid Activation for Mass Prophylaxis Exercise (RAMPEx) is testing the city's ability to respond to the airborne release of anthrax, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported.
NYC Conducts Largest Ever No-Notice Bioterror Response DrillMore than 1,500 employees from 13 city agencies will set up 30 temporary locations where life-saving medication would be dispensed in the event of an emergency.
Most of those people participating in Friday's drill had no advanced knowledge of the day or time of the exercise.
''When I grabbed the phone it fell out of my hands,'' participant Terrance Gardet told WCBS 880's Paul Murnane. ''I was so excited.''
The Department of Health said the surprise drill will better test and simulate a real emergency and response.
New York City Conducts Largest Ever Surprise Bioterror Response Drill''We want New Yorkers to know that in the event of an emergency that we have plans in place, that there's no need to panic,'' said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, First Deputy Commissioner of the Health Department.
The 30 medicine distribution sites would be set up citywide in eights hours, Barbot said.
''There are over 8 million New Yorkers, 55 million tourists and over 5 million commuters that visit this city,'' stated Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. ''This exercise will provide an opportunity to work closely with our emergency response partners to develop a safety plan that includes dispensing the proper medication in the event of a terrorist attack or public health emergency.''
NYPD Deputy Chief Salvatore DiPace said bioterrorism is a big concern because its release can go undetected for hours.
''From my experience in counterrorism bio is probably the most unknown,'' DiPace said. ''The bio is very concerning to us.''
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VIDEO- Google Violating Privacy OR Protecting Children? - YouTube
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VIDEO-Climate Change & Wildfires Explained in Less Than Three Minutes | The White House
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:22
August 05, 2014 | 2:38 | Public Domain
President Obama's Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, explains in less than three minutes how the growing number of intense wildfires are linked in part, to climate change. Learn more at http://wh.gov/climate-change
VIDEO-Paedophile snared as Google scans Gmail for images of child abuse - Telegraph
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:19
It is hoped the software will play a significant role in the ongoing fight against paedophiles who believe they can use the Internet to operate in the shadows and avoid detection.
Google, which has sometimes faced criticism for not doing enough to tackle paedophilia online, has been developing highly specialised software for a number of years.
In 2008 it rolled out new technology that helped the authorities trace those who were using its search engine to look for illegal images.
But while the company refused to comment on this latest case, the arrest in Texas confirms that the software is now being applied to scan the Google's hugely popular email service
Google's Gmail is the world's largest free web-based email service with more than 425 million users worldwide.
It is understood that the software works by comparing images held in users' accounts against a vast database of child abuse images which have been collated by child protection agencies around the world.
Each one of the images is given a unique fingerprint, known as a hash, which is then used to compare with those held in the database.
The system operates automatically and nobody working for Google is able to see any of the images being examined.
If a match with one of the images on the database is found a red flag is raised and one of the child protection agencies such as the UK's Internet Watch Foundation or the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US is alerted.
Trained specialists at the organisations then examine the image and decide whether to alert the police.
While the technology will be seen as a huge boost to the fight against child abuse and exploitation, the ability of Google to look into people's personal email accounts has raised questions for privacy campaigners.
Earlier in the year Google confirmed that email accounts were being scanned for content to provide "personally relevant" adverts to users.
Last month the National Crime Agency (NCA) announced that more than 600 suspected paedophiles including doctors, teachers and care workers had been arrested in a major crackdown on the trade in images of abuse.
While the NCA refused to discuss tactics it is thought experts had made a breakthrough in cracking the so-called 'dark web', a part of the Internet which has been notoriously difficult to monitor and police.
VIDEO-Turkish MPs injured in punch-up in parliament | euronews, world news
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 05:17
Three Turkish MPs have been injured after a debate in the parliament in Ankara turned into an all-out brawl.
The politicians were supposed to be discussing whether there should be an inquiry into Turkish Islamist militants fighting in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
In the end parliament had to be adjourned.
The incident came just days before the country was due to vote for a new president.
It is not the first time things have come to fisticuffs; in February an MP from the opposition party ended up with a broken nose, while another from the ruling party had broken fingers.
VIDEO-Obama: 'Russia doesn't make anything,' West must be firm with China - Yahoo News
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:49
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama dismissed Russia as a nation that "doesn't make anything" and said in an interview with the Economist magazine that the West needs to be "pretty firm" with China as Beijing pushes to expand its role in the world economy.
Obama has tried to focus U.S. foreign policy on Asia, a response to China's economic and military might. But for months, that "pivot" has been overshadowed by a flurry of international crises, including Russia's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Russia is the world's third-largest oil producer and second-largest natural gas producer. Europe relies heavily on Russian energy exports, complicating the West's response to the Ukraine crisis.
Obama downplayed Moscow's role in the world, dismissing President Vladimir Putin as a leader causing short-term trouble for political gain that will hurt Russia in the long term.
"I do think it's important to keep perspective. Russia doesn't make anything," Obama said in the interview.
"Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking," he said.
View gallery
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement while at the White House in Washington, August 1, 2014 '...
Obama told Putin last week that he believes Russia violated the 1988 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty designed to eliminate ground-launched cruise missiles.
Speaking of Russia's "regional challenges," Obama said in the interview: "We have to make sure that they don't escalate where suddenly nuclear weapons are back in the discussion of foreign policy."
Obama described U.S. tensions with China as "manageable."
China is engaged in territorial disputes with its neighbors in the oil-rich South China Sea, and frequently skirmishes with the West over intellectual property issues.
"One thing I will say about China, though, is you also have to be pretty firm with them, because they will push as hard as they can until they meet resistance," Obama told the Economist.
"They're not sentimental, and they are not interested in abstractions. And so simple appeals to international norms are insufficient," he said.
Obama said he believes trade tensions will ease when China shifts "from simply being the low-cost manufacturer of the world" and its companies begin making higher-value items that need intellectual property protections.
"There have to be mechanisms both to be tough with them when we think that they're breaching international norms, but also to show them the potential benefits over the long term," he said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
Politics & GovernmentForeign PolicyBarack ObamaRussiaChinaPresident Vladimir Putin
VIDEO-Kerry 'wiretapped' by Israel '' Der Spiegel | euronews, world news
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:45
Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on telephone conversations by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his failed attempt to secure a Middle East peace deal last year, according to Germany's Der Spiegel.
Drawing information from what it calls ''several intelligence service sources'' the news weekly says the wiretapping occurred as the top US diplomat pursued negotiations with key figures in the region.
At least one other intelligence service also intercepted the calls, Der Spiegel reports in claims that will do nothing to ease tension between Benjamin Netanyahu's government and Washington.
Kerry in particular and his mediation efforts have faced a barrage of hostile media reports in Israel, apparently fanned by Israeli officials.
VIDEO-Portugal splits up its oldest bank in emergency rescue plan | euronews, world news
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:43
Portugal is to bailout its largest listed bank to the sum of 4.9 billion euros.
The rescue of Banco Espirito Santo or BES follows a weekend of talks between Portuguese and European Union officials and comes after it posted a record half-year loss of nearly 3.6 billion euros.
The upshot is the bank will be split into two: a so-called 'good bank' and a 'bad bank.'
The Governor of the Bank of Portugal, Carlos Costa explained the plan:
''A new bank, named Novo Banco, has been born. The healthy assets and liabilities of Banco Espirito Santo as well as its employees and customer base will be immediately and definitively transfered to this bank.''
That means the 'bad bank' will hold all BES's toxic assets. The rescue marks a shift in banking supervision in the eurozone, shareholders are now to shoulder a larger proportion of losses than in previous bank bailouts.
Novo Banco will be recapitalised with the 4.9 billion euro injection, which is money left over from the country's bailout fund.
The European Commission has said it approves of the rescue plan.
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Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:08
VIDEO-Daily Press Briefing: August 4, 2014
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2:28 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Thank you for your patience. I know we're late today. A bit going on in the world.
Let me just start with a quick update for all of you or just an overview of what's happening in the building. As you all know, we kicked off the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit this morning. This is a historic opportunity to strengthen ties with our African partners and highlight America's longstanding commitment to investing in Africa's development and its people. The summit theme, ''Investing in the Next Generation,'' reflects the common ambition to leave our nations better for future generations by making concrete gains in peace and security, good governance, and economic development. There's long been bipartisan support for U.S. engagement with Africa, and the summit will build on that record.
The summit opened this morning with a civil society forum to underscore our longstanding investment in strong democratic institutions and Africa's next generation of leaders. We support the aspirations of Africans from our open and accountable governance and respect for human rights. And we are deepening our connection with Africa's young leaders who are promoting positive change in their communities.
There are also signature events today on investing in women for peace and prosperity, there's a working luncheon on that issue, and investing in health, investing in health, investing in Africa's future, and sessions on resilience and food security in a changing climate, and combating wildlife trafficking.
The day opened with the 13th African Growth and Opportunity '' AGOA ministerial. AGOA, as you know, is our most generous trade preference arrangement. And finally, tomorrow will be a landmark U.S.-Africa business forum, which will provide opportunities for increased investment and trade between America and the continent. Africa, home to six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies, wants American investors who are looking to Africa like never before. In doing so, they're creating new jobs and opportunities for Americans at home and abroad. Today's challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded and spread to benefit of all of Africa's people.
I have some readouts of the meetings. I can hold those for now and see if there's interest, and those '' with that, hello, welcome.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Matt --
QUESTION: Yeah.
MS. PSAKI: -- go ahead.
QUESTION: So this is my colleague, Desmond Butler. He has some --
QUESTION: May I pull up a chair?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: -- has some questions that I think he wants to ask you about USAID in Cuba.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: So I'm going to defer to him before we get into the Middle East and Ukraine --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- and everything else.
QUESTION: Jen, is it '' does the Administration think it's okay to use HIV clinics, health clinics, as a front for political activity in other countries?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would refute your description. I did read your story. Congress, as you know, funds democracy program in Cuba to empower Cubans to access more information and strengthen civil society. This workshop I think you're referring to enabled support for Cuban civil society while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV prevention. And we do programs, as you know, around the world that promote democracy and promote access to this type of information.
QUESTION: What's a health clinic doing in a political program in an unfriendly country?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think this is specifically a program that was promoting civil society engagement and allowing people to have access to information that they may not have otherwise had.
QUESTION: And did the participants know that this was a political program when they were invited to do an educational seminar on HIV/AIDS?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the program '' I, of course, was not a participant '' but I think the program provided information and training about HIV prevention. That was a secondary benefit.
QUESTION: But the contractor said in the documents that this '' they called it the perfect excuse for recruiting activists for a political program. Is that okay?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think '' again, I think it's important to take a step back here about the kind of programs we do around the world, which again, as you may be aware but I think others aren't, is '' are programs that we inform Congress of. The Congress is aware of our efforts to promote everything from civil society engagement to engagement in countries where people don't have the benefit of open society as is they '' as in a place like Cuba. There was a secondary benefit here which was providing information about these programs.
QUESTION: So in sum, you think it's okay? Because a lot of health organizations who have seen what happened with the CIA's program in Pakistan that has set back vaccinations and probably led to deaths --
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would hardly group all of these issues together. I know it's enticing to do so, but there are a range of programs that this contractor '' it's important to note '' was supporting. The HIV prevention workshop was part of a broader attempt to work with people about things they care about, yet independent of the government. So this was a small example among many. There were community cleanups, cultural activities, tree plantings. There was one HIV workshop and information was provided, which was a secondary benefit on an issue that people were concerned about.
QUESTION: And the contractor called it a success story in a report for USAID. Is that how you view it? Is that a success story?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it's important to note that we have civil society engagement programs around the world, including in Cuba, and this is a program or these types of programs are programs that Congress is certainly familiar with.
QUESTION: And what about sending young people into Cuba with very little training after Alan Gross? Is there any pause in doing that sort of thing? It seems very risky.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the grantee provided assurances that it had appropriate security protocols in place, would strictly enforce those protocols. As you know, there were steps that were taken at the time, but certainly the security and safety of individuals participating in programs is certainly something to be cognizant of.
QUESTION: The details that we discovered certainly didn't suggest that the security of the young people who were sent in was really thought through very well.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I know you were looking at some publicly available information that wasn't classified. I don't know that I have much more to add on it.
QUESTION: It wasn't classified, but also far from publicly available.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think others could have found it. But --
QUESTION: Really?
MS. PSAKI: Do you have other questions, or shall we move on to a new topic?
QUESTION: I have one just on this. Why shouldn't the Cuban Government, which has accused you of trying to '' accused you of promoting regime change activity in '' on the island, why shouldn't they see this as that, as such an effort?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the USAID, as many people know, including governments around the world, have a longstanding history of supporting democracy and human rights. There are places some of these programs, including programs in Cuba, are operated in a discreet manner to help ensure the safety of those involved. This was not a program '' this was a program that made information available. It wasn't engaged with '' it was engaged with local issues independent of the Cuban Government. So that was the focus of it.
QUESTION: Right. But you understand, given the U.S. history in Latin America, particularly with --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- in terms of regime change in the past, why shouldn't the Cubans be suspicious? Why shouldn't they think that this is something that is aimed at not simply educating their people but in fact changing and overthrowing their government?
MS. PSAKI: Because I think the facts about what the program are focused on are inconsistent with that view.
QUESTION: Don't programs such as this actually endanger the work of people who are engaged in health and education and other humanitarian work under the USAID flag?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Roz, I think there are a range of programs that USAID oversees. Again, these programs are fully '' Congress is fully briefed on these programs, and they promote a range of information sharing in countries around the world. And this was obviously a program and this contract was one that was approved through that process.
QUESTION: But doesn't anyone in the U.S. Government understand that this is undermining the very credibility that is needed in order for these programs, which are run directly by USAID and through other contractors, namely NGOs, who are counting on the goodwill extended toward the U.S. Government in order to do their work effectively?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you're jumping a bit to a conclusion there, Roz. I think there are programs around the world that are oriented towards developing a more vibrant and capable civil society consistent with democracy promotion programs worldwide. And obviously, this contract was in line with that.
QUESTION: But I have heard from others who do this kind of work who say that when USAID deviates into an area that is better suited for another agency '' and we'll just leave it unmentioned here '' that it makes it more dangerous for their employees to carry out the work that they are trying to do. Wouldn't it be simpler to put up a firewall?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just stop you there for a second, because I would hardly compare this to the work of other agencies. This was not a covert program. There are programs that are done discreetly in order to protect the safety of the people involved.
QUESTION: But the mission of the program undercuts the work which NGOs tell me that they are trying to conduct because the first thing that people will ask them is, ''How do we know that you're not CIA?''
MS. PSAKI: Well, strengthening a civil society and empowering a civil society to be more capable is something that that was the focus of this program. And that's again, I think, what's being communicated with any who have concerns.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary comfortable with this apparent mixing of missions?
MS. PSAKI: We would disagree with that characterization.
Did you have another on this, Nicole, or should we go on?
QUESTION: I want to go back to the idea of mixing of missions, because in the wake of the CIA's activities in Pakistan we did see health workers killed and we have seen disease rates gone up, so it's hard to refute the idea that using health missions as a cover for other activities, whether they be admirable ones like democracy promotion or not, has a really damaging effect on some U.S. priorities. Does '' is that not recognized here in the building?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think, Nicole, broadly speaking of course, the safety and security of health workers is certainly something that we're not only focused on, we do a great deal of work to ensure that with a range of other agencies across the federal government. But what I'm trying to convey here is that this program, which is through a contact through USAID, was done in a consistent manner of promoting information, making it available through civil society groups, separate from the government. And I would not compare the two.
QUESTION: So you don't think --
QUESTION: But Jen, you said it yourself that this served a dual purpose, and one of those purposes was not disclosed to the people. So why shouldn't people be suspicious all over the world when USAID does this programs? They didn't even declare this was USAID for that matter.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, there are programs around the world that are focused on supporting independent youth groups, promoting more information to civil society, strengthening civil society around the world. I just wouldn't '' our view is we wouldn't categorize it in that way.
QUESTION: This was a '' you're saying that overall it was a democracy-promotion program, a program to promote democracy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I mean, I think there are a range '' promoting a capable civil society is obviously '' has a range of benefits.
QUESTION: Right. But promoting democracy is one of them? I mean, you guys do not regard Cuba as a democracy, do you?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think that there are --
QUESTION: So if you're promoting something that is '' that you say is antithetical to the Cuban Government's way of ruling, governing, then clearly it's aimed at regime change, no?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I stated it was separate from the Cuban Government, that the purpose was to provide a range of interests '' information that was of interest to the Cuban people.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: But you've essentially said that a health workshop organized by USAID secretly in Cuba had a political purpose that was not declared.
MS. PSAKI: That's not what I said.
QUESTION: Yeah, it --
MS. PSAKI: I think we're ready to move on to the new topic.
QUESTION: Can we go to the Gaza --
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MS. PSAKI: Sure. One moment. Go ahead, Nicole. Go ahead.
QUESTION: I just would like confirmation on reports that Alan Gross has refused to see the new U.S. head of mission there and to ask if you've heard from his family about his decision. I think his spokesman put it that he's just decided it is not worth living anymore. The U.S. Government has not gotten him out; I'm sure not for lack of trying. Do you feel like you could have done more?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Nicole, let me first say that Cuban authorities have unjustifiably kept Alan Gross in prison for more than four years merely for helping Cuban citizens gain access to the internet, a goal the Cuban Government now espouses. We keep his case at the forefront of discussions with the Cuban Government, make clear the importance the United States places on his welfare. And we engage also with a range of our foreign counterparts at the highest levels and urge them to advocate for his release. So we urgently reiterate our call for the Cuban Government to release him immediately.
Absent written authorization, there's really not more information I can share about those specific reports. We've seen the same ones you have seen.
QUESTION: Can we go --
QUESTION: All right. Can we go to the Middle East, if we're done with Cuba?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that one, one more.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: In view of the Alan Gross case, was it wise to continue these type of programs in Cuba?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think as I stated previously, the security arrangements were '' and I think I answered this a few minutes ago. The security arrangements are something that we receive assurances from by those we work with. That was the case here too.
Middle East.
QUESTION: Middle East, yeah. Just on your '' well, first of all, on the broader situation, I'd like to get what the Administration thinks about what's going on right now. But before that, I want to get into your statement from yesterday on the UNRWA school. It was a pretty tough statement. I don't think anyone can deny that or would argue with that. You certainly wouldn't, would you? I mean, I can't recall there being this kind of harsh criticism of Israel coming from certainly this Administration, but I can't remember going back many years. So you clearly felt very strongly about what happened here.
And what I'm wondering is whether or not after '' in light of this statement, and in light of the disgraceful shelling, as you called it, of this, if the Administration is prepared to do anything to back up these strong words with some kind of an action, a demonstrable action against or towards Israel. In other words, this '' you supply Israel with weapons and ammunition all the time. Is there any discussion about limiting that?
MS. PSAKI: No. I think I would just reiterate that the statement was specifically about our concerns about the shelling in the neighborhood of the school, as you know. It was the seventh such attack. As we know, we've seen hundreds of individuals displaced in Gaza. We've seen '' more than that I should say, but related to the schools, dozens have died in these incidents, and this was a reflection of our view that there's more that Israel can do to prevent civilian casualties. That was what it was speaking to.
It does not change the fact that Israel remains an important security and strategic partner of the United States. We believe they have the right to defend themselves. While in that '' while they have the right to defend themselves, there is more they can do in that regard to prevent events like those that happened just yesterday.
QUESTION: Right. But this '' people have criticized this statement for '' or criticized the Administration for being hypocritical and putting out a statement this strongly yet, at the same time, supplying Israel with weapons and armaments '' weapons and ammunition that it uses in these attacks that you're condemning. You don't see a problem '' you don't see an issue there?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think not just because of these events, but we still believe that our primary goal and objective here is to prevent the indiscriminate rocket attacks and terrorists coming up through tunnels into Israel. We haven't '' our concerns about that haven't changed. It doesn't mean that we can't also call for a different type of approach or actions as Israel is defending itself.
QUESTION: All right. The '' people on the pro-Israel '' in Israel and on the pro-Israel side have also accused you all of hypocrisy, particularly for this line that says the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put the risk of so many '' risk '' put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians. Is the '' the United States has been conducting drone strikes and other strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen for years in which innocent civilians have been killed and ''
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think --
QUESTION: -- collateral damage. Does this kind of statement from the State Department apply to '' would you say the same thing to the Pentagon across the river?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we have '' and Afghanistan is a good example, and we have used that example of a place where the United States has had to take steps over time, of course, to prevent civilian casualties, and we have done exactly that.
QUESTION: Okay. So you don't see any difference '' any dissonance between telling Israel that just the suspicion of militants being nearby isn't enough to put at risk the lives of innocent civilians and what you're --
MS. PSAKI: I think --
QUESTION: -- what this government does itself?
MS. PSAKI: In fact, we're saying we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we've had to keep ourselves to a high standard over time, and Israel should do the same.
QUESTION: Jen, let me just ask you on the statement themselves, because you said you're appalled, and then Samantha Power, the Ambassador at the UN, called it horrifying. You both called for Israel to do more to stop.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In the interim, in past 24 hours since this thing happened, have you seen that Israel has really scaled back these attacks and have become more careful as a result of your statement?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I just don't have an analysis of that. I think we're talking about how to approach things moving forward and not just in a couple of hours.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, let me ask you: Why don't you have analysis? I mean when you say we want you to do this, how do you measure it? Do you have a gauge that you go by so you can look to see whether your statement ''
MS. PSAKI: I think we can all measure it ''
QUESTION: -- has an effect ''
MS. PSAKI: -- publicly, and obviously we have our own means of gathering information. I just don't have any more to share with you from here.
QUESTION: Okay. Now you keep repeating that Israel has a right to defend itself. Do you believe that doing such a strike, conducting such a strike, is part of Israel's self-defense?
MS. PSAKI: I think our statement spoke to it yesterday, Said. That doesn't change the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization that has been attacking, launching rocket attacks, coming through tunnels. That is still our primary concern here.
QUESTION: Okay. Now on the issue '' on the efforts to conduct or to do a ceasefire there, a lot of talk now that maybe they're on the verge of doing a ceasefire. Are you involved in this process at all, or is the Secretary of State completely now disengaged, after being so frustrated with his efforts?
MS. PSAKI: No, quite the contrary, Said. I think the Secretary has been engaged through the course of the weekend with the same counterparts and interlocutors he was prior to the weekend, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, including the Qataris, the Turks, the Egyptians, others who have been engaged in this effort. Our objective here hasn't changed. There needs to be a prolonged ceasefire in order to have a negotiation about these key issues. Otherwise it's difficult to see how there can be stability and peace in the region.
QUESTION: Will the Secretary forego his ideas that he introduced to add to the Egyptian proposal and go back to the Egyptian proposal, since both Qatar and Turkey have been completely nixed out of the process?
MS. PSAKI: Well, first I'd refute a couple of things you said. One is what we're talking about here is a prolonged ceasefire where the difficult, key issues could be discussed. Obviously, there's fighting that's ongoing. There was a short ceasefire that happened today. The Egyptians have indicated an openness to hosting. Frank Lowenstein returned overnight. He'll be back later this evening, but he's prepared to return. But that doesn't change the fact that that's a '' we feel is an important part of how to resolve the situation here. The Secretary will continue to be involved and engaged, because he wants to see an end to the violence on the ground.
QUESTION: And my last question. Early on in this conflict, I asked you at what point it becomes '' Israel's actions become '' be termed as a genocide or a collective punishment and so on. Do you feel that by now that after maybe 11 '' 10,000 injured and maybe 2,000 killed and so on, that it has gotten to that point?
MS. PSAKI: I think we're going to --
QUESTION: Is there --
MS. PSAKI: We're going to --
QUESTION: Is there a figure that at which point will you say enough is enough?
MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, even one civilian casualty is horrific. Obviously, there have been many more than that. I think the strength of our statement yesterday speaks to our concern, and they need to do more in this regard.
Nicole.
QUESTION: Is there any plan to replace Ambassador Indyk and have another senior negotiator?
MS. PSAKI: Frank Lowenstein has taken --
QUESTION: Sorry, what?
QUESTION: He has been replaced.
QUESTION: Oh.
MS. PSAKI: Frank Lowenstein has taken his place. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And --
MS. PSAKI: We won't show him that part of the transcript. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah, thanks. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Refresh.
QUESTION: Yeah.
QUESTION: About this. Netanyahu have said during the last hours that there is a country that is helping all the situation, and he mentioned Qatar. He said there are some countries that are helping Hamas in taking all these weapons. Also he mentioned Iran. Is the U.S. talking with some of these countries to see what's going on in their relation with Hamas?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have certainly been talking to the Qataris. We have not been talking to the Iranians about this, no. The Qataris have been an important interlocutor, and they were through the course of last week, not because they need to be in the middle of it, but because they have a relationship '' an influential relationship with Hamas. And certainly we can sit there and talk with the countries that we all agree with, but that hardly creates a successful negotiation. So that's why we've been engaged. The Secretary remains engaged with the Qataris and the Turks, and I expect that will continue.
QUESTION: But the U.S. agrees with the Israelis that the Qataris is helping Hamas in getting all these weapons that they are using to throw to Israel?
MS. PSAKI: I think that we '' our view is that the Qataris can play a role here and that they have a relationship with Hamas in working towards a resolution.
QUESTION: I have just one more.
QUESTION: Do you believe that Qatar is providing Hamas with weapons?
MS. PSAKI: I did not state that.
Ali.
QUESTION: I have another one.
QUESTION: You've been pretty explicit in ascribing responsibility of this latest UN attack '' school attack on the Israelis. Not to split hairs here, but the statement released over the weekend was a little less explicit, saying that the shelling was disgraceful, but it doesn't actually directly ascribe responsibility to the Israelis. So from what you're saying, can we understand that the State Department does ascribe blame or responsibility for this latest shelling to the Israelis?
MS. PSAKI: No. I was saying, look, we can't '' we don't have all of the independently verifiable information here. We do know that there were coordinates that were provided. We have seen the context of the history here, and we've seen, of course, the shellings of six other UNRWA schools. We want to see a thorough investigation of this incident as well as the other six that have happened.
QUESTION: But it seems that this was the most vocal and tough, as other people have pointed out, statement condemning '' not ascribing causality to what happened to the UN school, but condemning the Israelis for what they have done. So --
MS. PSAKI: Well, there's a range of information that's out there that you're familiar with, including that we've talked about, which is the fact that they had the coordinates. But again, that's why there are investigations about these incidents, and we'll '' we certainly support that.
QUESTION: And one final on this. Has Secretary Kerry communicated these concerns to Prime Minister Netanyahu since this latest attack?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he spoke with him briefly yesterday morning, and their phone call was cut off. I think there was some communications issue. But he has raised the '' our concern about civilian casualties in the past, and certainly that's consistent but not this specific --
QUESTION: Did he raise the questions about Israeli spying, for lack of a better word, on his telephone calls?
MS. PSAKI: There's just nothing more I have to read out from the call.
QUESTION: Jen.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What kind of communication error? Did Netanyahu hang up on him?
MS. PSAKI: Sometimes --
QUESTION: Was that the --
MS. PSAKI: Sometimes calls get cut off. You '' it was a brief call, is what I'm trying to convey. Expect they'll --
QUESTION: Well, was it '' yeah, but your --
MS. PSAKI: There were --
QUESTION: -- communication error --
MS. PSAKI: There was nothing --
QUESTION: -- wasn't one side slamming the phone down on the other, was it?
MS. PSAKI: There was nothing that interesting about it, no. That was not the case. That was not the case.
QUESTION: Okay. Did '' in that brief phone call or in any conversations that other people in this building '' Frank, I don't know '' or in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem since your statement '' I mean, presumably, this conversation that you talked about that was interrupted was before the statement came out. Yes?
MS. PSAKI: I believe, yes.
QUESTION: Since the statement has come out and since Israelis and their supporters have reacted quite angrily to your rather harsh words, has there been any contact, conversations that you're aware of between people in this building, including the Secretary, and the Israeli Government?
MS. PSAKI: Not the Secretary. And Frank's been on plane. I'm certain we've probably been in touch on the ground, but I just don't have any other readouts.
QUESTION: So in other words, you '' you don't know or there haven't?
MS. PSAKI: Honestly, we're '' as you know, Ambassador Shapiro and others are in very close contact. I haven't heard any readouts. We don't typically get those.
QUESTION: Right. Okay.
MS. PSAKI: The Secretary has not been.
QUESTION: Have you '' are you aware of the criticism of your statement that's come '' that is coming from Israel and the pro-Israel community?
MS. PSAKI: Of course, I've seen information out there --
QUESTION: You are?
MS. PSAKI: -- in news reports, Matt, but --
QUESTION: Okay, so the former ambassador '' former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Oren, was on one of those shows earlier today and said this is not just '' not the way that friends and allies treat each other. They don't '' what do you say to criticism like that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our concern here is not a reflection of our strong relationship with Israel. It's about these specific incidents and the fact that they can do more to hold themselves to a high standard, one that they have put up there.
QUESTION: One of the '' he said '' he also said that you '' that he would expect and that Israel should be able to expect more from its main ally. Do you '' you don't share that sentiment?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there's no country in the world I think that supports Israel's security more than the United States, and that is evidenced by the amount of funding we give to the Iron Dome, by a range of steps we take. That hasn't changed. I think we still '' the strength of a relationship is often shown by the ability to express concerns when you have them, and this is a case.
QUESTION: All right. And then just getting back to the provision '' the provision of U.S. military equipment to Israel. Because '' given this statement that you made yesterday, that as back drop, does the Administration have any concern that weapons that it has either sold or given or transferred some other how to Israel is being used in what you call a disgraceful shelling of a UN school or similar incidents?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I just don't have that level of information. I mean, certainly we expressed concern about the incidents here because we think there's more that can be done. But as you know, these requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and don't expect that will change.
QUESTION: Right. But there are those who would say that the U.S. '' that you have condemned something here that the U.S. is actually complicit in because it is providing so '' the support that you just talked about in answer to my previous question '' providing that to Israel. You '' the Administration is not concerned that the stuff that's it's sending to the Israelis is being used in military operations that you condemn as appalling and disgraceful?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we made clear that having military targets in an area doesn't justify it. So I think the statement speaks to some of the concerns we had about materials that were used wherever they came from.
QUESTION: On this issue, Jen, your ally, Great Britain '' Mr. Cameron '' is doing a review of the arms that they are supplying to Israel to make '' just for that very purpose '' to see whether the ammunition or the arms were actually used on these schools attack. Are you '' will you be doing the same?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we --
QUESTION: Is that something that you are considering?
MS. PSAKI: -- already review all requests for military assistance on a case-by-case basis.
QUESTION: No. I'm not talking about the requests. He's reviewing the whole package whether '' to see whether their '' these arms have been actually used in this particular incident, as they were called by --
MS. PSAKI: There's no other review I have to read out for you.
QUESTION: Now when you mentioned high standard, the terrorists are shooting from hotels, they are shooting from schools, they are shooting from houses, which is a high standard to fight against terrorism. What kind of '' how can you explain that?
MS. PSAKI: The terrorists are shooting from '' I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Yes, from hotels. Today I saw pictures today from the IDF showing that they are shooting from hotels, they are shooting from restaurants, they are shooting from many crazy places that are civilian places. Do you have an idea of what is a high standard to combat terrorism?
MS. PSAKI: I think I'm going to leave it at the statement we issued yesterday.
Go ahead, Roz.
QUESTION: I want to go back to something that happened on Friday and then happened a couple of weeks before earlier in the conflict.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: When the first Israeli soldier was missing, the Israeli Government quickly said Hamas has captured him, we want him back. The U.S. echoed the message. Same thing happened on Friday and in both cases it turns out that both soldiers, sadly, were killed in action. What was the independent intelligence that the U.S. had in order to say, backing up Israel, Hamas, you have the soldier, give the soldier back? And then when it developed that the soldier was, in fact, killed in action and was buried on Sunday, there was nothing from this government. It brings to mind the Pat Tillman case.
MS. PSAKI: I would hardly make that comparison. We acted on information that was provided by not just Israel but also the UN. Obviously, there sometimes is information that isn't yet verified from the ground, but if there was a risk of a '' that an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, which was the information that we had available at the time, we certainly have no regrets about calling for their release.
QUESTION: Can you say what that information was? I mean, it's very sensitive to say --
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think I'll --
QUESTION: -- or to accuse anyone of having captured a soldier.
MS. PSAKI: It was based on information we received from Israel as well as the UN.
QUESTION: But the important thing is it was basically the Israeli narrative. I mean, Hamas kept saying we don't have the soldier, we did not capture a soldier. They kept yelling out since the very first moment, but you bought into the Israeli narrative and you acted on that premise, in essence giving Israel a green light --
MS. PSAKI: Said, it was based on information we received from both Israel and the UN.
QUESTION: Yes, please. Can I just ask a question that we're hearing --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- about a possible ceasefire coming from the Islamic Jihad? Do you know anything about that? Palestinian Television has an interview with one of their top people.
MS. PSAKI: I have not seen those reports. I think we all saw there was a brief ceasefire today. Obviously, our view is there needs to be a prolonged one so there can be an opportunity for negotiation. I can check and see if there's more that we have on that.
QUESTION: There's also word that the Israelis may be considering what had been discussed in Cairo, this proposal from IJ and from Hamas.
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, if all sides agree to a ceasefire and a prolonged ceasefire and there's an opportunity to have a negotiation about the key issues, we'd certainly support that. There's been a range of conflicting reports over the last several days and weeks, so let's see what the facts are and we can look into those.
QUESTION: Yes, please. There are reports --
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: -- in the region that possibility of DAS '' the Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns be '' play a role in this process. Is there any confirmation or denying (inaudible)?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there were original '' we were originally considering having him go out to Cairo. Obviously, after the events of the last couple days, I think it's safe to say that's currently on hold. I have mentioned Frank Lowenstein returned '' is returning. He should be back later this evening. He is prepared to go back. And of course, we'll assess if there are more individuals we should send should things resume on the ground.
QUESTION: So the Bill Burns issue is completely out of picture now?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think, obviously, we're assessing day to day what's happening on the ground and what the needs are. And just like any senior diplomat, he's prepared, as any '' as Frank Lowenstein is prepared, if the situation on the ground warrants. But that's not where we are at this particular moment.
QUESTION: Jen, on North --
MS. PSAKI: More on this particular issue?
QUESTION: Yeah, it's a (inaudible) topic.
QUESTION: On North Korea?
MS. PSAKI: New topic?
QUESTION: No, not on North Korea.
QUESTION: Same topic.
QUESTION: Still the same thing.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. We'll go to North Korea next (inaudible).
QUESTION: One, are you aware of the senior '' a senior Iranian official saying that Iran helped Hamas improve the '' its missile or rocket capability? And even if you're not, I presume that you think that or your intelligence assessment is that Iran has supplied Hamas and others with this kind of thing. Do you have anything to say about that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have long known that Iran provides weapons training and funding to Hamas. I don't really have any more, and that remains a concern of ours. Obviously, as you know, our focus remains with Iran on the nuclear program and the nuclear negotiations. It doesn't mean we don't have existing concerns outside of that.
QUESTION: All right. And then just back on the one question '' I think, was it Nicole who said '' that you have zero to say at all about this report, this Spiegel report about the Israel spying or eavesdropping on the Secretary's calls? Is that --
MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm not going to comment on intelligence reports. Some have asked sort of what precautions we take --
QUESTION: Well, how about commenting on a German magazine report? Do you want --
MS. PSAKI: A German magazine report on an intelligence report. Just so you are all aware, and I think many of you are, but the Secretary and his senior staff and everyone in the U.S. Government is aware of the threat posed by potential intercepts of publicly available and unencrypted communications. We have at our disposal tools such as secure phones and computers for highly classified communications, but there are also times we communicate less sensitive information via open lines to world leaders and others. We're fully aware of the possible risks. We will continue to utilize open communications channels when appropriate and secure communications channels when necessary.
QUESTION: Are you aware of that being a particular risk or a similar risk to other countries in Israel? Does that apply '' what '' your statement that you just read there, does that apply to every country in the world?
MS. PSAKI: Applies to a range of countries.
QUESTION: Does --
MS. PSAKI: Certainly not going to list them.
QUESTION: Well, I'm not asking you to list them all, but should '' does it apply to all countries in the world?
MS. PSAKI: That was not a country '' that was not a how-we-handle-things answer broadly '' specific to '' I'm sorry. It wasn't specific to Israel. It's broadly our policy.
QUESTION: I know. Well, all right. Well, fair enough. But I mean, does it apply to every country in the world? I mean, does it apply the same way in Canada as it would in Russia?
MS. PSAKI: Depends on what you're discussing, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, so that would seem to be a global '' that would be a global policy that you're talking about right there.
MS. PSAKI: I think it's safe to say that we talk on classified lines sometimes --
QUESTION: Right.
MS. PSAKI: -- and unclassified lines other times.
QUESTION: But the risk or the concern of eavesdropping exists everywhere in the world, including in Israel, including in Senegal, including in Australia. Yes or no?
MS. PSAKI: Obviously, I'm not going to get into that level of specificity.
QUESTION: One more on this very point.
QUESTION: Why then '' can I just --
MS. PSAKI: Let's go to Nicole, and then we'll go to you, Said.
QUESTION: Why use unsecure lines at all, unless perhaps there may be a value to using them? Perhaps you don't mind being overheard. But why not always use secure lines?
MS. PSAKI: Because there are places and times where that's just not possible, and there are a range of conversations that we certainly feel comfortable having over unsecure lines.
QUESTION: So you're not surprised that the Israelis were spying on unclassified phone calls?
MS. PSAKI: Again, Said, I have no confirmation of those reports. I'm just speaking broadly to the precautions we take.
QUESTION: Well '' but were you surprised by the reports?
MS. PSAKI: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Were you surprised by the reports? Since it was '' he was conducting the peace talks at the time.
MS. PSAKI: I just '' I'm not going to have more specifically on the reports, Said. I will say that the range of times that the Secretary was in the region and the number of meetings he had, regardless of the reports, it's hard to see what wasn't said during those meetings.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) question. Avigdor Lieberman suggested today that perhaps making Gaza a ward of the UN, as it were, having it under international control similar to Bosnia or the earlier British mandate in Palestine, might be the way to resolve the conflict long term. Is that a realistic proposal from the U.S.'s view?
MS. PSAKI: I haven't seen those comments. I'd point you do the UN. I'm happy to check and see if that's something we're advocating or supporting or have views on.
QUESTION: If you could, that would be great.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
Do we have any more on this topic, or should we go to a new topic?
QUESTION: Yeah, it's '' yeah. It does follow up.
MS. PSAKI: More on this topic. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Somehow related, because it's '' the other day it was --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- in the part of the comparison, diplomacy, as we said, it was mentioned the issue of Egypt and if it's compatible to the supplying Egypt to the '' with arms is the same like Israel. And it was '' it seems that this is reflecting back at the Egypt. And over there the '' your counterpart in foreign ministry of Egypt is describing different words about unacceptable, ignorance, and all these thing. Do you have any comment about that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that, obviously, we were in Egypt just two weeks ago. For about a week we lived there as they were hosting the Secretary for '' as we tried to work through a ceasefire. We have a long and enduring strategic partnership with Egypt that will continue. But there are comments that we have made over the course of the last several months or longer, as Egypt has gone through this transition, when we've had concerns about issues, whether it's freedom of media or arbitrary arrests, or our view that there's more that they can do to continue to take steps on the path to democracy. And the comments made last week were completely consistent with that notion, so I would point you to that.
And I'd also say that we've long acknowledged that Egypt not only has a '' faces a significant and growing threat from extremist groups, particularly in the Sinai, but that Egypt has an important strategic and security relationship with the United States. And one of the reasons we resumed, excuse me, an additional tranche of security funding just a few months ago was, one, that there were certifications that were met, but also because the security partnership and relationship is one that's of vital importance to the United States.
QUESTION: So the issue is not how I understand it or accept it or realize it. It's the issue of how the '' your counterpart or the officials over there are understanding, especially when it was mentioned, according to them, it was mentioned that F-16 or Apache are not used against Egyptian people, as they said. Do you have anything to say about that? Because just Marie said that words. It's like those weapons are not '' are hold because Egypt using those weapons or Egyptian Government are using this weapon against their own people.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, I would just point you to the fact that there is certain funding that we have resumed with Egypt. There is additional funding that '' there are additional steps as Egypt continues on its transition to democracy that Egypt needs to take. The comments made were completely consistent with concerns we've expressed.
But I just wanted to reiterate the importance of our strategic relationship and partnership. And we have continued throughout the past year to provide military equipment. So I think that speaks to how important we think that relationship is. I'd also note that the prime minister is in Washington this week, we certainly welcome here, for participation in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which will proceed over the next couple of days.
QUESTION: Do you '' are you going to discuss this issue with him?
MS. PSAKI: I would defer to them if these are issues they want to discuss, but I think there are a great number of topics that we can spend our time with the Egyptians on, whether it's our security partnership or our work with them on the pursuit of a ceasefire in Gaza.
QUESTION: I have something.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. North Korea? Oh, Elliot, did you want to go?
QUESTION: No, no, no. That's fine. I had my questions answered already.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, all right.
QUESTION: On North Korea and on the --
MS. PSAKI: Oh, can we '' let's just finish the ceasefire. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. There were reports that Deputy Secretary William Burns was in Cairo over the weekend. Can you confirm it?
MS. PSAKI: He did not travel to Cairo over the weekend, no. Frank Lowenstein was there --
QUESTION: And is there any plans for him to travel there --
MS. PSAKI: We're continuing to assess --
QUESTION: -- for this --
MS. PSAKI: -- based on what the situation is on the ground, but he has no plans to travel there today.
QUESTION: Oh, yeah. On North Korea, the possibility of the North Korea using biological weapons '' does the State Department have any report on that? Because of last week reported by State Department on this. You have more detail on that?
MS. PSAKI: Can you repeat your question? Or what was your '' I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Possibility of North Korea using biological weapons, more than that, nuclear weapons, but they're more wanting to '' North Korea using biological weapons.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we've expressed and have continuously expressed our concern about not only the threats from North Korea, but the recent set of missile launches by North Korea. This is an issue we've referred to the UN and continue to be engaged with discussions with them. I'm not aware of a new concern that's ''
QUESTION: Can you take the question about these issues, they're using biological weapons instead of nuclear weapons?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I'm not aware of that specifically, but I will see if there's more to say.
QUESTION: Yeah, I have another question.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: North Korea is '' continue threatening United States and South Korea with their missiles or nuclear weapons.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What is your '' United States reaction on '' to do right away?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we would, once again, urge North Korea to refrain from taking provocative actions, and instead fulfill its international obligations and commitments. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the defense of our allies, including '' and we will continue to coordinate closely with South Korea. As you know, we've spoken out in the past about how such provocative actions continue to heighten tensions in the regions and our concern about that.
QUESTION: But UN remain the sanctions, it does not work North Korea. But do you have a new action to do?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think these actions have been referred to the UN, and I would refer you to them if there's more to say.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry will be traveling to Burma this weekend for ASEAN meetings.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you think the Secretary will be willing to meet with his North Korean counterpart if North Korea asks for such a meeting --
MS. PSAKI: No, there's no ''
QUESTION: -- bilaterally?
MS. PSAKI: There's no plan for that, nor do I anticipate that's something that would take place.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MS. PSAKI: Let's '' can we finish Asia --
QUESTION: Sure.
MS. PSAKI: And then ''
QUESTION: Can we move to Asia? Thanks.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: So Japan has named five disputed islands, and the Chinese have denounced it. I wondered if you had any comments on whether you thought this was a provocative action by Japan.
MS. PSAKI: Is this '' I'm sorry. I want to make sure I'm referring to the right thing. You said Japan has named '' can you say this one more time?
QUESTION: Yeah. There were I think '' what is it '' 158 islands or so, and as you know, there's some disputed islands.
MS. PSAKI: Of course.
QUESTION: Japan has named a handful of them, five of them on Friday I believe, and China has denounced it. And I wondered if you had any comments about that.
MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check with our team on that. We're happy to get you a comment on it. My apologies.
QUESTION: Thanks, Jen.
MS. PSAKI: I didn't have that with me here today.
Go ahead. Let's finish Asia. An Asia issue? Okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Republicans in the Senate are refusing to confirm Mark Lippert as new ambassador to South Korea, claiming he's a political appointee '' nominee. Do you have any comment on this?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I'd say that Mark Lippert, who has been the chief of staff at the Defense Department, has been a close advisor to the President, has served proudly his country in the military. I've had the pleasure of working with him on several occasions. I think his qualifications speak for themselves and he '' South Korea and the United States would be well served having him there.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: India.
MS. PSAKI: India, sure.
QUESTION: I hope you had all good time spending two days in India. What we would like to know, beyond joint statements that this was the historical visit by the Secretary under the new government of Prime Minister Modi, what do we get out of this year's '' this under the new government, strategic dialogue? Have we achieved anything, U.S.-India relations under this convention?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, it was the highest-level visit of a member of the Obama Administration to India since Prime Minister Modi was inaugurated. In addition to the strategic dialogue, he did have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister, and it was the Prime Minister's first cabinet-level meeting with a U.S. official. And discussions during that meeting covered a wide range of topics with considerable focus, in large part, on Mr. Modi's economic vision, how the United States can help to advance that vision, including through support to the energy sector and through clean energy initiatives.
There was also significant discussion of the WTO, with the Secretary reiterating our position that unraveling the Bali Accord was not in India's interests and was not in keeping with Mr. Modi's vision of opening the economy. They also discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as India's Look East policy. So I would hardly see this visit as an ending or a conclusive visit as much as a beginning of an important relationship with a new government and one that has great strategic value to the United States.
QUESTION: You think the Secretary has melted the ice from the past between the two countries, what had been going on?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it was certainly a warm visit and a warm meeting, so hopefully that will melt the ice.
QUESTION: Quickly one more on Afghanistan.
MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) He set it up for me.
QUESTION: Afghanistan, quickly. (Laughter.) Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Almost 15 years ago, people of Afghanistan were very thankful to the U.S. for getting freedom from the Taliban and al-Qaida. Again today they are asking the international community or the U.S.'s support or UN help to have a relief because they are still in the limbo '' I mean, as far as this presidential election and all those things, and al-Qaida is still coming back and all that. So what is the future they are asking now?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would '' I'm not sure what I can speak to what they're asking as much as where things stand now. The Secretary has been very engaged in this, as you know. He recently visited Afghanistan. We have senior officials who've been consistently on the ground. After a break for the Eid holiday, the election audit has resumed, and notably, both candidates are participating and sent candidate agents to observe the process. The IEC, along with the UN, has continued to improve the audit process so it will move forward more quickly and efficiently. We remain confident that the two candidates and their supporters will be able to work together effectively in the government of national unity. I think, of course, the people of Afghanistan want to see the conclusion of this process so that they can move forward. And the United States will, of course, continue to be an important '' play an important supporting role of the Afghan '' for the Afghan people.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Jen, could I ask a quick question on Lebanon?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Lebanon.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, can we go to Russia?
QUESTION: Sure, sure.
MS. PSAKI: Ladies first, and then we'll go to Lebanon.
QUESTION: Of course. I'm sorry. (Inaudible.)
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Russia.
QUESTION: I did.
QUESTION: Oh, I didn't hear it.
QUESTION: A couple of briefings ago, Marie said that you guys continue to see weapons shipments from Russia into Ukraine. I'm wondering what, if any, detail you can give us on what you're seeing, where you're seeing it going, when you saw it go.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: I will see, Nicole, if there's any other details we had beyond what we have '' we do continue, of course, to see evidence that Russia is supplying the separatists with arms, materiel, and training. I think Marie noted evidence last week that the Russians intend to deliver heavier, more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine. Since the shootdown of the MH17, multiple rocket launcher activity at '' there has been multiple rocket launcher activity '' sorry '' at a Russian site in southwest Russia. That has continued, and multiple rocket launchers continue to depart and return to this site at irregular intervals. Further, we think that Russia may be preparing to transfer heavier multiple rocket launchers to the separatists. Those are the recent updates that we've really had in terms of our concerns about the transfer and supply of weapons and movement on the ground.
QUESTION: Are you saying that that's new today, or that's what she said '' that sounds remarkably similar to --
MS. PSAKI: That's '' I'm not sure if she outlined all of that last week. I'd have to check back. That's the latest I have. I'm not aware of new information. It's something we're still seeing ongoing on the ground.
QUESTION: Okay. And when you say ''lots of activity'' in this southwestern area of Russia, what do you mean?
MS. PSAKI: Well --
QUESTION: Would you '' is it being moved across the border, or is it being moved '' like what, if you can say what --
MS. PSAKI: Well, we've expressed concern about that in the past. Obviously, providing --
QUESTION: Right.
MS. PSAKI: -- supplies to the separatists would, in most likelihood, require that in some capacity.
QUESTION: Right. I'm just trying to understand the language.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: You're concerned. You've seen lots of activity. I'm just trying to get more exact language about what that activity is.
MS. PSAKI: Well, there have obviously been reports of troops gathering. There have been reports of movement of supplies and individuals and materials across the border. So it's all of those.
QUESTION: It looks like today the biggest movement of supplies and troops across the border was actually from Ukraine into Russia. Do you have '' what do you make of that?
MS. PSAKI: I'm not actually sure which piece you're referring to, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers crossed the Russian border today, according to numerous reports and officials. And I'm just wondering what you think.
MS. PSAKI: Well, there's --
QUESTION: Presumably you would have asked the Ukrainians --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- what's going on with their troops.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: I mean, I don't think that they were invading Russia. But --
MS. PSAKI: I think that's fair to assume.
QUESTION: But what were they '' what's going on? I mean, this is just bizarre.
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are conflicting reports, and we really don't have verification one way or the other. The Russians claim they deserted. The Ukrainians claim they were forced across the border due to heavy fighting and are being held by Russia. We're unable, at this point, to confirm either of those accounts.
QUESTION: All right. Well, when you say you don't have verification, can I ask you what the verification is for the other troop movements that you just '' or the movements of the multiple rocket launchers and '' around the base, the Russian military facilities in the southwest?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have a range of information that we have available. I don't think I'm going to detail it further.
QUESTION: But you're not prepared '' but '' so you're not, at least at this point, prepared to make that public? You don't have '' I mean --
MS. PSAKI: We have been making information public --
QUESTION: Right.
MS. PSAKI: -- as we can. If we can make more information public, we will certainly venture to do so.
QUESTION: Could you '' yeah, well could you try to get this latest? Because the last time that you put out the '' so which was, what, a Sunday, two Sundays ago, right?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I mean, it was immediately '' people went over it with a fine-toothed comb. I think some '' I don't know how '' what their expertise was in looking at the satellite images, but they were less than compelling to some people. And frankly, the calls for more evidence, particularly on the plane, the downing of the plane, have been coming from a lot of different corners. So we eagerly await more.
MS. PSAKI: Duly noted.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: On this --
QUESTION: What about reports that the Russians may be conducting a vast military exercise along the border with Ukraine, including about 100 different fighter jets, Sus and MiGs?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are deeply concerned by Russia's plan to conduct a large military aviation exercise this week in areas bordering Ukraine. Exercises of this kind are provocative and only serve to escalate tensions. Russia has repeatedly called for a peaceful solution to the situation in Ukraine and must match its words with deeds by ceasing the flow of weapons, fighters, and money into Ukraine, and by moving its military forces away from the Ukrainian border.
QUESTION: And what more can you say about the impact on sanctions? Apparently, one of the Russian budget airlines today suspended all operations because it's afraid that it won't be able to either enter markets that are now honoring the EU/U.S. sanctions.
MS. PSAKI: Well, our view, as you know, is that the sanctions '' the United States sanctions, the sanctions from the EU '' have had a range of impacts on the Russian economy, whether it's capital flow or an impact on the market. And certainly, we're seeing that continue. I can check, Roz. I know we regularly update on this sort of data. We can see if we can get some more for you and I'll have ready for tomorrow as well.
QUESTION: But it doesn't seem as if it's changing the decisions within the Kremlin on how to engage politically or militarily regarding Ukraine. Is this a long-term exercise that the U.S. and the EU are engaged in?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we've seen impacts already, significant impacts on the economy. Whether or not President Putin decides that the economy and the well-being of the economy of his country matters is a decision for him to make.
QUESTION: Jen --
MS. PSAKI: But certainly we're seeing an impact of the steps we've taken.
QUESTION: -- did you happen to see the President's interview in The Economist, where he called '' Russia doesn't make anything, he basically reduced it to a third-world country that cannot deal with the economic situation, he doesn't see people running in droves immigrating to Russia and so on? What do you make of that? Does that indicate that relations between Russia and the U.S. really are at their lowest point?
MS. PSAKI: I think it indicates '' I don't know if you want to list out the natural resources that Russia has that they're --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, the question is --
MS. PSAKI: -- they used to export, Said. But I think there are issues --
QUESTION: Because the question was the --
MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. There are issues that we continue to work with Russia on, including the P5+1 negotiations and an effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. There are issues where we have disagreements. We also make clear where we feel there are challenges that they have in their economy of '' many caused by our sanctions, but it's important to remember that these are having an impact and the decisions by President Putin are having an impact on his own people.
QUESTION: Is a deteriorating Russian economy a cause for celebration or concern for the United States?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think our preference is to see an end to the conflict in Ukraine. We think President Putin has the ability to bring an end to these challenges that are being posed to the economy by the sanctions regime process.
QUESTION: Specifically on this Russian military exercise which you've said is provocative, is that '' and only serves to exacerbate tension --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- is that because of the conflict that's going on in the east?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: So in a normal time when there wasn't this, you wouldn't have any problem with the Russians doing an exercise like this; is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: I think we'd have far less concern, Matt. And they have had exercises in the past, but obviously, the context and the situation on the ground is, of course, relevant information.
QUESTION: Okay. But you might call it a conflict, but it's certainly not a war per se, right?
MS. PSAKI: That's why I called it a conflict.
QUESTION: Right, exactly. But there '' I just, I don't know '' the consistency is odd because when the North Koreans complain about you guys and the South Koreans doing military exercises '' and there still is, although it's not a state of war, but the war, the Korean conflict, never ended. There is actually a war and North Korea has nukes, and you dismiss and brush aside their concerns when you do these military exercises with the South Koreans in the midst of this state of limbo where the conflict still exists. So I guess I just don't understand why it is that you think that the Russians shouldn't be able '' shouldn't do a military exercise on their own land --
MS. PSAKI: Because our focus here and a focus that they have stated publicly they support is to de-escalate the situation on the ground. And obviously, actions speak to that.
QUESTION: Okay. So you think that this is intentionally provocative trying to further destabilize the situation in Ukraine; is that correct '' this exercise? Is that the reason?
MS. PSAKI: Well, whether it's intentionally or unintentionally, it certainly has an impact on the perception on the ground.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: I'm watching the clock. I'd like to get an Ebola question in, please.
MS. PSAKI: Sure, of course.
QUESTION: Back to Africa and the Nigerian announcement that there's been another case. Can you tell us anything about the doctor, how he was exposed, perhaps whether this ZMapp is going to be part of the treatment '' the serum again?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I will just make clear that, of course, the CDC and our health colleagues are going to be the most appropriate outlets for providing updates on the health of any individual. We are certainly working with the World Health Organization, other international partners, to help governments that are impacted in Africa and to contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa as quickly as possible.
You referenced Nigeria. I believe I have something on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Just give me one moment.
We are aware of the new confirmed and suspected cases in Nigeria. Senior-level U.S. Government officials have been in touch with key Nigerian Government officials and have discussed the current Ebola situation in the country, preparedness efforts, and the necessary response measures. These conversations are ongoing.
QUESTION: Anything about the patient himself, the doctor, how he was exposed?
MS. PSAKI: I just '' I'm not '' we're not the appropriate briefer on that particular type of information.
QUESTION: I'm not here all the time, so maybe you can help me --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- date back to when the State Department got involved in the whole Ebola thing. And does Secretary Kerry sign off on the various responses and actions that are taken here out of the building?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he's certainly kept updated and appropriately briefed. The role the State Department plays is to coordinate with local authorities within governments. We often serve as a liaison with families who are impacted, whether in this case or other cases. As you know, there have been past health cases, whether it was SARS in 2003 or drug-resistant tuberculosis in 2007, where American citizens were impacted. So those are the roles the State Department plays. Obviously, the CDC in cooperation with DHS, but really the CDC ultimately is the lead on a range of the steps that --
QUESTION: When did the State Department get involved in this, the current instance of the Ebola outbreak, though? Is there a date or --
MS. PSAKI: I don't have a particular date. I think it's safe to assume we've been engaged from the beginning, given there's been engagement with foreign governments and local authorities, and especially when American citizens are involved.
QUESTION: And does it make sense right now to bring patients to the United States for treatment, if the idea is to keep this contained in place?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, I'd refer to my '' our health colleagues who have quite a few more degrees than I happen to have, but they '' the CDC has been clear that it's very unlikely that Ebola will spread to the United States. We continue '' and they made clear that they continue to believe air travel is safe. As an appropriate precaution, we '' the State Department continues to work closely across federal agencies and with our African partners to make sure appropriate procedures are in place. DHS, of course, and other agencies have the lead on things like screening. But we work, of course, with countries, as is the case with Nigeria, in order to play any role we can play.
QUESTION: I have a hypothetical on Ebola. The --
MS. PSAKI: Uh-oh. I love how you pose it that way. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, this --
QUESTION: Ebola hypothetical.
QUESTION: The two Americans who have been confirmed '' the doctor who's already back, the volunteer who was said to be coming back on Tuesday '' apparently have been treated with this highly experimental, not cleared for general use yet, serum. If indeed there were a determination from the CDC and others in the U.S. Government that this medicine could be useful in stemming the spread of Ebola, is that '' is there a legal role for the State Department to facilitate the transfer of this serum to other countries? Or is this strictly done between health agencies and one government and another?
MS. PSAKI: That is a big hypothetical with lots of steps. I think the State Department, if we had any role, would be very far down the road. So I'm just not going to entertain that hypothetical. I think the CDC is probably the most appropriate place for that question.
QUESTION: Are you aware on this in Liberia of a small U.S. military team maybe working out of the Embassy or with the Embassy on Ebola-type issues in Monrovia?
MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check on that, Matt. We've been engaged --
QUESTION: I'll ask at the Pentagon (inaudible).
QUESTION: Yeah, there is.
MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check on the specifics.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. PSAKI: I just don't have them in front of me.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask on Azerbaijan and Armenia a borderline --
MS. PSAKI: Do you mind '' I promise I'll get to your question.
QUESTION: Sure.
MS. PSAKI: I just want to finish Ebola, if that's okay.
Go ahead, Ali.
QUESTION: On the specific plane in which this new Nigerian victim was, the other passengers were, per the Nigerian authorities not '' excuse me '' not screened or not '' there were no precautions taken to make sure that they hadn't been infected by the individual who perished from Ebola that got off that plane. Are there any concerns at this time that the State Department has that there were Americans on that flight who may be vulnerable to the infection at this time, given that someone else after the fact has contracted Ebola from that specific flight?
MS. PSAKI: Not that I'm aware of, Ali. I'm happy to check on that level of specificity. I think it's important to note '' I know this wasn't your question but I think in the interest of getting public information out there '' that we take '' the U.S. Government has a range of steps that the U.S. Government takes to make information available, to make sure individuals are properly screened to ensure minimal risk. These are steps that we take across the interagency. The State Department doesn't have the lead on most of those steps, but I think that's important to note as American citizens are thinking about this issue.
QUESTION: Since we've got the African summit underway, can you kind of characterize how much of a presence the Ebola discussion is having here?
MS. PSAKI: I would say minimal, at this point. I would remind you that we're talking about a handful of countries, of which there are more than 50 represented. Obviously, it certainly is an issue that is on the minds of the individuals from the countries that are impacted. As you know, many of these leaders were not able to come as they stayed home to address the situation. But I sat in a handful of bilateral meetings with the Secretary this morning. The focus of the conversations was much more about our economic partnership, their desire to have businesses engage with their economies, their need for investment in infrastructure, security concerns, cooperation on those issues. And that's really been the thrust of the discussion.
QUESTION: Did they have to go through a special screening '' these participants '' before departing and upon arrival in Washington?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me say first '' obviously, there's steps that are taken at ports of entry that DHS certainly has the lead on. But to our knowledge, no one entering the United States for this conference this week was prevented from entering at U.S. ports of entry. There are obviously a range of steps that are taken to protect the health and well-being of United States citizens.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. given any consideration to allowing additional Ebola patients, whether American or non-American, to come to the United States for treatment?
MS. PSAKI: Well, you're aware of the additional American citizen who, of course, we're working on evacuation '' medical evacuation for. Beyond that, I'm not aware of any other considerations. Again, I think the CDC would probably be the more appropriate entity for that, but I can see if there's more to share on that front.
Armenia?
QUESTION: Thank you. Jen, we saw the statement over the weekend on the fighting Azerbaijan and Armenia borderline, and at least 13 Azerbaijani soldiers are killed. What is '' and also the press reports that President Putin will be hosting the summit between Azerbaijan '' the meeting between the Azerbaijan and Armenian presidents. What's your reaction to that, and does the United States support this Russia-negotiated meeting?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we express first our deep concern about the escalation of violence along the lines of contact that has resulted in significant casualties since July 31st, and we certainly extend our condolences to the families of those killed or injured and call on the sides to take '' call on all sides to take immediate action to reduce tensions and respect the cease-fire. There can be no military solution to this conflict. Retaliation and further violence will only make it more difficult to bring about a peaceful settlement. We remain committed, as a co-chair of the Minsk Group, to helping all sides reach a lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In terms of the specifics of the meeting, I haven't talked to our team about that specifically. I'm '' we've traditionally been supportive of meetings to have a dialogue about these issues.
QUESTION: Approximately a month ago, U.S. Special Envoy James Warlick '' he laid out the U.S. policy regarding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and it was believed that the next round of meetings of the peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be taking place in United States '' a summit in (inaudible), Moscow, and the next will be United States. What happened there? Did the United States initiated to hold these peace talks? Did it fail? And where is the OSCE Minsk Group? Is it completely out of the scene? Is the United States co-chair even participating in these talks?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm not '' I mean, Russia has also expressed its concerns about the recent violence. I'm not aware that that was formally planned, or it certainly wasn't announced. I can check and see if there was a meeting that was planned or down the road in planning. It may have just been a rumor out there.
QUESTION: Your statement yesterday, I think it was, about '' this is Iraq.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: About the gains that ISIS has been making in '' against the Peshmerga. Do you have any specific concerns '' and you don't need to repeat the statement that you made yesterday, unless you really, really want to. But I'm just wondering, do you have any concerns about this dam that they seem to have taken over, and the possibility that they might use it for some kind of nefarious purpose?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are, of course, monitoring the situation closely. We know that the dam '' the Mosul Dam has been in the sights of ISIL since its offensive began in June to further threaten and terrorize the Iraqi people. While the situation is fluid, our understanding is that the Peshmerga remains '' forces remain in control of the dam. Certainly, we would be concerned if that changed.
QUESTION: Okay. And do you have anything to add to the statement from yesterday?
MS. PSAKI: I don't believe so, though I'm happy to --
QUESTION: Well, just that there seem to be a lot of minority '' religious minorities fleeing '' or not seem, there are. And I'm wondering if you have any update on that, any '' or any update on conversations that you all have had with the Iraqis about helping '' boosting assistance to the Kurds (inaudible).
MS. PSAKI: Well, Ambassador Beecroft, of course, remains our point on the ground. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk is working in close partnership with him, so U.S. officials from here and in Baghdad have been in contact over, of course, the last 24 to 48 hours with Iraqi officials in Baghdad and Erbil to discuss a coordinated response to the humanitarian situation you mentioned. There have been populations, including many vulnerable minorities, who have fled areas where ISIL has been attacking. That, of course, is of great concern to us and is an issue that we are closely watching and, of course, facilitating cooperation and direct assistance between Baghdad and Erbil as part of our focus.
I'm sure '' you may have the statement made by the Government of Iraq and their efforts to support with air power '' with airstrikes what is happening. We certainly welcome the statement made from officials in Baghdad that Iraqi security forces will provide air support to the Peshmerga as they counter this latest ISIL offensive. The Peshmerga have played a critical role in addressing this threat, and the focus of all parties needs to remain on enhancing cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil to not allow further advances. So that certainly is what we are focused on from here and in Baghdad.
QUESTION: Okay. I have one more very brief one, and that is: Do you have any update on the situation of the Americans detained in Iran?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are using all available channels to call for the release of those detained. We've requested consular access via our protecting power Switzerland to provide appropriate consular services. We're not able to comment further at this time due to privacy considerations, but, of course, we are making '' taking every step we can.
QUESTION: Well, when you say you've requested consular access, does that mean you haven't gotten it yet? Is that --
MS. PSAKI: As I understand it, there's not an update we can provide on that. I'll see if there's more specifics we can get into.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, when the Swiss do get '' finally get in to be able to see them, can you assure us that they will be offered the chance to sign a Privacy Act waiver so we can stop this back and forth --
MS. PSAKI: That is a standard operating procedure, yes.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Jen, I have one housekeeping question on the Armenia --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- Azerbaijan --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Has the State Department restricted travel of diplomats in those countries to the border area? Have there been any sort of safety precautions put into place?
MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check, Nicole, if there's been any travel advisory or anything like that that's --
QUESTION: Not for citizens, but for diplomats.
MS. PSAKI: For travel? Let me take it and see if there's anything specific on that front.
QUESTION: Thanks.
QUESTION: And just going back to Iran, is there any concern in the Administration that this move has '' that these detentions are in any way aimed at trying to '' a move by the hardline people in Iran to sabotage the nuclear talks?
MS. PSAKI: I don't think we're ascribing motivation at this point in time.
QUESTION: On Iraq, high ranking Iraqi Kurdish official said that the United States has agreed to provide arms to Peshmerga. Would you confirm or do you have anything to say about this?
MS. PSAKI: I don't have any confirmation of that. It's actually '' our focus remains encouraging cooperation and continued coordination between the ISF and the Peshmerga forces. And again, I just spoke to the statement by the ISF today about their plans to provide air support to the Peshmerga, and we certainly support that effort.
Thanks, everyone.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:41 p.m.)
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Ministry of Truth

Arwa Damon drunk.mp3
Wiki edits-rumsfeld alien.mp3

Words Matter

Obama tortured some folks redux-words matter.mp3
Pawnstars_odd vs weird.mp3
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