Cover for No Agenda Show 643: Brand Snowden
August 14th, 2014 • 2h 54m

643: Brand Snowden


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

DTNS 2299 '' Unlawful Content (BGP Uber Alles) | Daily Tech News Show
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 23:33
Adam Curry joins us to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Daily Source Code show and podcasting as we know it.
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Show NotesToday's guest: The Podfather, Adam Curry of the No Agenda podcast and
James Bamford, author of the Puzzle Palace and Shadow Factory published an account on Wired of his 3 days spent interviewing Edward Snowden in Moscow. Among the many revelations, Snowden cites two main discoveries that caused him to do what he did. On was the data center built in Blufdale, Utah to store intercepted data. For the other, he describes a tool called MonsterMind that would monitor all digital communications and 'auto fire' without human supervision if it detected an attack. Snowden also claims he was told the US caused the Internet outage in Syria in 2012 when covert software installation on an ISP went wrong. He also expresses disapproval of cyberattacks on China which he says target civilian institutions like universities and hospitals.
Samsung announced the Galaxy Alpha, a 4.7-inch Android phone with a metal ring around it that causes many reporters to write the word 'iPhone.'. The screen is 720p, runs on Samsung's octa-core Exynos with 2 GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The Alpha will come in five colors and be available at the beginning of September. No word yet on price.
The Next Web reports WeChat now has 438 million active users, up from 396 million last quarter and hot on the tail of Facebook's WhatsApp with its 500 million users. The gains come in spite of the fact that 20 million Chinese WeChat accounts were closed last quarter due to a new law that requires public account owners in China to register real identities and receive permission to disseminate news.
You may have heard that the Internet broke recently because of the 512K limit. The problem is that global routing tables, which must be stored on every border router, have grown to the maximum number of routes supported on some older hardware platforms. That number os 524,288 or 2^19. Jim Cowie at Renesys writes that the situation is more of an annoyance than a threat. All of the routers that operate core infrastructure have plenty of room and are unaffected. Affected routers may cause local connectivity problems but those can be quickly identified and hardware upgraded. Thx to CdrMarks.
News From You
spsheridan submitted the story of a murder suspect who allegedly asked Siri where to bury a body. Ars Technica reports Gainesville, Florida detective Matt Goeckel presented evidence in court Tuesday showing the suspect telling Siri, ''I need to hide my roommate.'' The Gainesvilel PD has clarified that the queries in the screenshot were not necessarily connected to the alleged murder.
KAPT_Kipper submitted an Engadget report that Amazon is stepping into the ring 'em up fight with Square, unveiling Local Register, a credit-card reader and app for small businesses. The online retailer is offering a flat charge of 1.75 percent per payment until January 2016, compared to the 2.75 percent charged by Square and the 2.7 percent charged by Paypal. (The fee rises to 2.5 percent on Jan 2, 2016). The card reader costs $10 and is available for Android, iOS, and Fire devices, and a bundle that includes a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 for $380.
Turns out Amazon v Square was just the undercard. KAPT_Kipper, our designated grudge match correspondent, also submits a Tech Crunch report that, compared to the 5,000 cancellations that Lyft alleges were generated by Uber. TechCrunch reached out to Uber to see how the company is getting that 13,000 number, but until then perhaps the two mobile-car hailing companies can settle this the old-fashioned way, with a drag race down main street at midnight.
Discussion Links:
Plug of the day: Alpha Geek Radio:
Pick of the Day: Satechi Universal Smartphone Slot Mount via Artem Russakovskii
Hey Tom, I just listened to the episode where you mentioned the need to get a phone mount for your car. Just like you, I was into the concept of dash mounts for years, but none really worked the way I wanted them to, and I've tried many. Someone recommended a CD slot mounted'... well, mount. And I have to tell you '' it has fulfilled all my desires, for under $20. Nobody uses CDs anymore, so why not put the CD slot to good use instead? It's located in a much more convenient place that's both closer to you and doesn't obstruct the view. It's sturdy and doesn't move unless you want it to (it does swivel every which way). The mount easily expands to fit a large phablet (my Note 3 and OnePlus One had no issues at all).The mount is made by Satechi, a company with great history and track record: Just like it already did for many people, it will change your life. It changed mine, and everyone I've recommended it to loved it so far.
Check out The Novelization Realization, a podcast by Rich in Lovely Cleveland
Thursday's guest: Breki Tomasson
What All This Bad News Is Doing to Us -- Science of Us
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:05
Could a fixation on tragic news stories make us more reactionary in the long run?
A terrifying jihadist group is conquering and butchering its way across big swaths of Iraq and Syria. Planes are falling out of the sky on what seems like a weekly basis. Civilians are being killed in massive numbers in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Others are falling prey to Ebola in West Africa. The world, in short, is falling apart.
That's how it feels, at least, to those of us who sit at a blessed remove from the death and destruction, but who are watching every bloody moment of it via cable news and social media. It raises an important question: In an age when we can mainline bad news 24/7 if we so choose, what's the psychological impact of all this exposure to tragedy at a distance?
Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a professor at the University of Texas''San Antonio and leading researcher on the connection between media consumption and stress, said the current trend of breathless, protracted coverage of tragedy and calamity can be traced back to the Oklahoma City bombings. ''That was really the first event where it really went viral, just 24 hours of news coverage, and that's really become the norm,'' she said.
Almost two decades later, news outlets '-- facing pressure from an endlessly multiplying array of competitors all zeroing in on the same stories '-- have greater incentive than ever before to ramp up their coverage of scary, emotionally wrenching stories. The outlets all feel ''they have to be sensational, they have to grab your attention,'' said McNaughton-Cassill. It can be hard, sometimes, not to see media coverage as an ''unrelenting flow'' of negativity, especially when it's so loudly amplified by social media. (In a related video, Science of Us asked visitors to the High Line what stories they were most freaked out about, and how they coped with negative-information overload.)
Before getting into the effects of all this, it's important to state what a steady diet of bad news won't do. It won't give you PTSD, anxiety, or depression if you weren't predisposed toward those conditions, McNaughton-Cassill said. Causation is tricky here: It may simply be that depressed or anxious people are more likely to seek out bad news, and bad news could in turn worsen the effects of these conditions in certain ways.
But those of us without mental illness could be affected in different, subtler ways that could have a major long-term impact. ''When I've done studies and people watch coverage of, say, 9/11, they don't then meet criteria for depression in the DSM,'' she said. ''But if you ask them how they feel about the world, what they end up with is this malaise: 'Everything's kinda bad' and 'Why should I vote? It's not gonna help' and 'I could donate money, but there's just gonna be another kid who's starving next week.'''
In addition to a burgeoning sense of helplessness, she said, cognitive shortcuts triggered by the news can also lead us to gradually see the world as a darker and darker place, chipping away at certain optimistic tendencies. McNaughton-Cassill's research suggests that that all things being equal, if you ask people, regardless of their circumstances, to evaluate what's going around them '-- Do they think their neighbors are good people? Do they think the local schools are solid? '-- ''People always say yes in their immediate setting.''
Zoom out a little, though, and people have less to go on. The average San Antonian doesn't know much about what's going on in New York (and vice versa), let alone the Middle East, and therefore has to rely on shortcuts: What did I see on the news most recently? What's the general impression I get when I turn on CNN? ''As soon as you get out of your zone, most of your information's from the news,'' McNaughton-Cassill said, ''and the news by definition covers the extreme things.''
The consequences of this are one thing if you live in an age in which, once or twice an evening, you'll see a short, bloody dispatch from a war going on across the world. They're quite another today, when you can have news of every civilian death in Gaza or every Islamic State military advance streamed to you in real time. People could be forgiven for adopting a hell-in-a-handbasket stance toward the rest of the world.
That's a problem, because when people are led to believe things are falling apart, it affects their decision-making and their politics '-- whether or not their pessimism is warranted. We already know from political-psychological research that the more threatened people feel, the more likely they will be to support right-wing policies. And people who believe in the concept of unmitigated evil appear more likely to support torture and other violent policies.
It's hard to fully sketch out these mechanisms, of course. Could years and years of exposure to negative news heighten your belief in a Manichean world and in turn make you more reactionary? It's an open question. But history '-- even recent history '-- is rife with examples of society making bad choices because of pessimistic hysteria. One can make a convincing case that belief in the now-debunked notion of ''superpredators'' contributed to the rise of draconian sentencing laws, for example, or that the recent spate of parents being arrested for letting their children play unsupervised stems from the false but persistent idea, blown up by coverage of high-profile kidnapping cases, that the world is crawling with kid-snatching strangers. And then there's the example that probably screams loudest in the liberal imagination: George W. Bush drummed up support for the war in Iraq, which at the time of the U.S. invasion sat at 75 percent, by painting a world in which Al Qaeda and its radical affiliates posed an existential threat to the Western world.
So when people overestimate the world's awfulness, there do appear to be real consequences. And while, as has eternally been the case, there are certainly pockets of the planet that really are getting worse on a daily basis (Syria), on a broader level there's solid evidence '-- perhaps gathered most comprehensively by Steven Pinker '-- that the world is in the midst of a decades-long trend of actually becoming better: safer and healthier and more humane. We just have the bad stuff shouted into our ears louder than ever before.
How can we fight back against the unnecessary coarsening of our outlook that may be occurring every time we glance at one of our gadgets? The simplest technique is, as McNaughton-Cassill put it, to ''Just turn it off.'' That is, take a break from the news. Switch off CNN and shut down TweetDeck for awhile and don't sleep next to your phone.
This sort of advice isn't realistic for everyone, though, so she had other suggestions as well. ''What I tell people is that you really have to get conscious,'' she said. That is, stop consuming news like a hungry teenager wolfs down a Pop-Tart '-- rather, seek out a bit of context and a bit of understanding as to why certain pieces of information affect you in certain ways.
''You can't change the externals,'' she said. ''You have to get some control mentally.'' What's most important is ''getting a handle on why you get anxious and worried about things that probably aren't going to happen, or knowing what your triggers are.'' The more you understand your own reaction to the news, the easier it will be to shape your news-consumption habits in an adaptive way.
It's also useful to see the bigger pictures, of course. ''Consciously focus yourself on the evidence around you that the news is picking out the extremes and the bad things,'' McNaughton-Cassill said. In other words, understand that you're seeing a lot of bad news not because the world is an inherently evil place, but because news outlets '-- not to mention individual Twitter and Facebook users '-- have lots of incentives to broadcast explosively negative news stories.
Overall, of course, it's both unrealistic and undesirable to construct bubbles that keep out the world's bad news. But there's a difference between being informed and being obsessive, and it's a line that's very easy to accidentally slide across in an age when there's so much scary information zipping around.
Statement by the President on the Passing of Robin Williams
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 07:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 11, 2014
Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien '' but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most '' from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin's family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.
FACT SHEET: Improving and Simplifying Digital Services | The White House
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 07:08
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 11, 2014
''I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make a real difference in people's lives.''
'-- President Barack Obama
Late last year, a team of digital and technology experts helped to turn-around Today, building on the same proven strategic approach that ultimately enabled millions of Americans to sign up for health insurance, the Administration is launching the U.S. Digital Service. This small team of America's best digital experts will work in collaboration with other government agencies to make websites more consumer friendly, to identify and fix problems, and to help upgrade the government's technology infrastructure. Mikey Dickerson, a top private-sector engineer who was part of the team that helped fix will serve as the new Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer.
The team has one core mission: to improve and simplify the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government by:
Establishing standards to bring the government's digital services in line with the best private sector services;Identifying common technology patterns that will help us scale services effectively;Collaborating with agencies to identify and address gaps in their capacity to design, develop, deploy and operate excellent citizen-facing services; andProviding accountability to ensure agencies see results.With today's announcement, the Administration is also releasing for public comment two crucial components in our growing IT toolkit that will enable agencies to do their best work'' the Digital Service Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook.
Leveraging Best Practices with the Digital Services Playbook. To help the Digital Service achieve its mission, today the Administration is releasing the initial version of a Digital Services Playbook that lays out best practices for effective digital service delivery and that will serve as a guide for agencies across government. To increase the success of government digital service projects, this playbook outlines 13 key ''plays'' drawn from private and public-sector best practices that, if followed together, will help Federal agencies deliver services that work well for users and require less time and money to develop and operate.
Using Agile Processes to Procure Digital Services with the TechFAR Handbook. Too often, the lack of guidance encouraging agency use of innovative contracting practices results in narrow and overly rigid interpretations of federal acquisition rules that complicates the government's ability to adopt smarter ways of acquiring high-quality digital services. To ensure government has the right tech tools to do its job, and can be more agile and flexible to meet rapidly changing needs, the Administration is also today launching the TechFAR Handbook, a guide that explains how agencies can execute key plays in the Playbook in ways consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which governs how the government must buy goods and services from the private sector. This document will help agencies take advantage of existing authorities to procure development services in new ways that more closely match the modern software development techniques used in the private sector.
Obama takes step to improve government technology
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 23:57
By JULIE PACE and STACY A. ANDERSONPublished: YesterdayCHILMARK, Mass. (AP) - The White House on Monday announced the creation of a team of digital experts tasked with upgrading the government's technology infrastructure and making its websites more consumer friendly.
The move is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the website debacle that marred the rollout of President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation last year. While the administration ultimately surpassed its enrollment targets, the opening weeks of sign-ups were riddled with website troubles that raised questions about the administration's competence.
The new digital team will be overseen by Mikey Dickerson, an engineer who took leave from Google in order to oversee fixes to the site.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to shift the focus of government IT delivery from compliance to greater impact and meeting the needs of real citizens," Dickerson said in a statement. "We can make services a lot more effective and cost efficient with better use of technology."
In the midst of the health care website's troubles, Obama bemoaned the limitations of government IT procurement procedures and called for changing to the system.
The White House said Dickerson's team would seek to bring government digital services in line with the private sector and collaborate with federal agencies to identify and address gaps in their capacity to design and operate customer-facing services. Officials said this new team would be comprised of about 25 people, including some new hires from outside government.
As part of the digital team launch, the administration also released a playbook of best digital practices for government agencies and a handbook with ways the government can act with existing regulations to procure services that mirror the private sector.
The White House announced the new digital team while Obama was in the midst of his two-week summer vacation to the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.
Anderson reported from Washington.
Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution Regarding Iraq
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:58
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 08, 2014
August 8, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
As I announced publicly on August 7, 2014, I have authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted airstrikes in Iraq. These military operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to protect American personnel in Iraq by stopping the current advance on Erbil by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there.
Pursuant to this authorization, on August 8, 2014, U.S. military forces commenced targeted airstrike operations in Iraq.
In addition, I have authorized U.S. Armed Forces to provide humanitarian assistance in Iraq in an operation that commenced on August 7, 2014. These operations will also be limited to supporting the civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar.
I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. These actions are being undertaken in coordination with the Iraqi government.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Health Center Week, 2014
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:58
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 08, 2014
- - - - - - -
In the United States of America, no one should have to live in poverty just because they get sick. Families deserve quality, affordable health care and the peace of mind that comes with it -- regardless of who they are, where they live, or what language they speak. Today, nearly 1,300 health centers provide primary care and preventive services at over 9,000 locations across our country. During National Health Center Week, we acknowledge health centers' vital role, and we salute the professionals who work long hours to deliver these essential services.
In small towns and big cities, health centers serve as a trusted network, connecting patients with community resources. Nearly 5 million people received enrollment assistance at their local health center to help them access coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Many of the newly insured -- who for so long were priced out of the market or denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition -- will have the opportunity to receive their first covered checkup at a community health center. With more Americans getting health insurance, the Affordable Care Act has made substantial investments in health centers so they can open their doors to record numbers of patients. Earlier this year, my Administration announced new funding to help our Nation's health centers expand their hours, offer additional services, and hire more medical providers.
Health centers emphasize education and healthy lifestyles, and they help reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care. They lift up families and create jobs that power local economies. By encouraging regular checkups and routine screenings, health center staff help patients get timely care and reduce the need for emergency treatment. Americans can find a health center near them by using the "Find a Health Center" tool at
What started as an experiment to expand the promise of health security today delivers quality care across America -- at prices people can afford, with the dignity and respect they deserve. This week, we recognize the importance of health centers and the critical support they provide to communities that need it most. Let us celebrate the progress health centers have helped us achieve and build on this foundation as we work to expand access to affordable care.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the week of August 10 through August 16, 2014, as National Health Center Week. I encourage all Americans to celebrate this week by visiting their local health center, meeting health center providers, and exploring the programs they offer to help keep families healthy.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Hands up Don't Shoot - Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
media blackout
Hey when you talk about the riots in Ferguson Missouri... you might want to mention that from what I have hard was that charter pulled the plug so that the surrounding areas did not get to see what was happening on TV. Also a friends iPhone stopped auto adding the qeo location tags for Facebook. Aka his pics no londer said Ferguson Missouri. Like they always did before.
4/2599 NOTAM Details
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:39
Affected Area(s)TopAirspace Definition:Center:On the ST LOUIS VORTAC (STL) 129 degree radial at 11 nautical miles. (Latitude: 38º44'28"N, Longitude: 90º18'12"W)Radius:3 nautical milesAltitude:From the surface up to and including 3000 feet MSLEffective Date(s):From August 12, 2014 at 1315 UTCTo August 18, 2014 at 2000 UTC
Herman Cain, Booker T. Washington, and Barack Obama By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:19
Herman Cain, Booker T. Washington, and Barack Obama By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USAHome
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Herman Cain, the "Black conservative" candidate for President, calls to mind Booker T. Washington. Washington was promoted as a "responsible Negro" by the powers-that-be'--and was actually the darling of open, aggressive white supremacists'--during the period of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror, because Washington insisted that Black people should not fight their oppression but should work to "better" themselves by accepting and working within their horribly oppressed conditions. Cain today, in this era of New Jim Crow and supposedly "colorblind" oppression, is treated as a serious political contender, and is a favorite of the'--yes, racist'--"Tea Party," because Cain acts the part of a 21st century Minstrel Show clown, posturing and proclaiming: that he made it all by himself...that America is the greatest country, and there are no racist barriers, no racist oppression to be angry about...And if you don't have a job and aren't rich'--blame yourself.
And then there is President Obama, who uses his "blackness" to help enforce and "justify" the "modern-day" enslavement of the masses of Black people, along with the deepening divide between the haves and have-nots, the violation of the environment, the robbing of the future from the youth, the wars, torture and assassinations, and other abominations carried out by the ruling class of this country, and its machinery of violent repression, death and destruction, all around the world as well as "at home."
From Booker T. Washington to his "successors" today...from second-class servant of the system to actual or wannabe's all about perpetuating a capitalist-imperialist system based on exploitation and oppression'--committing countless crimes against humanity.
The masses of people, and humanity as a whole, must and can do better.
Herman Cain, Booker T. Washington, and Barack Obama By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USAHome
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Herman Cain, the "Black conservative" candidate for President, calls to mind Booker T. Washington. Washington was promoted as a "responsible Negro" by the powers-that-be'--and was actually the darling of open, aggressive white supremacists'--during the period of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror, because Washington insisted that Black people should not fight their oppression but should work to "better" themselves by accepting and working within their horribly oppressed conditions. Cain today, in this era of New Jim Crow and supposedly "colorblind" oppression, is treated as a serious political contender, and is a favorite of the'--yes, racist'--"Tea Party," because Cain acts the part of a 21st century Minstrel Show clown, posturing and proclaiming: that he made it all by himself...that America is the greatest country, and there are no racist barriers, no racist oppression to be angry about...And if you don't have a job and aren't rich'--blame yourself.
And then there is President Obama, who uses his "blackness" to help enforce and "justify" the "modern-day" enslavement of the masses of Black people, along with the deepening divide between the haves and have-nots, the violation of the environment, the robbing of the future from the youth, the wars, torture and assassinations, and other abominations carried out by the ruling class of this country, and its machinery of violent repression, death and destruction, all around the world as well as "at home."
From Booker T. Washington to his "successors" today...from second-class servant of the system to actual or wannabe's all about perpetuating a capitalist-imperialist system based on exploitation and oppression'--committing countless crimes against humanity.
The masses of people, and humanity as a whole, must and can do better.
BOB AVAKIAN The vision, the Works, the Leadership for a New Stage of Communist Revolution
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:18
From The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have. A Message, And A Call, From TheRevolutionary Communist Party, USA
In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s'--taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution'--the shortcomings as well as the great achievements'--and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world'--and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership' find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads' learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world' build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core' defend this leadership as the precious thing it is'...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.
If you have not heard about this'--if you don't know about the revolution we need and the leadership we have'--that is because those who now hold power do not want you to know'...they keep this from you, or lie about it when they can't keep word of it from getting out. And it is because our Party itself has not, until now, been consistent enough and bold enough in getting the word out, and acting on it.
We must spread the word to every corner of this country' people the means to become part of this revolutionary movement, and organizing into this movement everyone who wants to make a contribution to it, who wants to work and fight, to struggle and sacrifice, not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being.
We mean what we say, and we will not back off or turn our backs on what we have started, on the people who need this revolution. We will keep coming back and digging in, to strengthen this movement for revolution, to build up the bases, spread the influence and organize the forces we need to make revolution. We will not be scared off, backed down or driven away.
As our Party's Constitution says: "The emancipation of all humanity: this, and nothing less than this, is our goal. There is no greater cause, no greater purpose to which to dedicate our lives."
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Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:16
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Israel / Gaza
The ceasefire ends on 13 August. The Egyptian mediators are trying to arrange its extension. Hamas, however, has indicated its delegation will depart Cairo on the 13th because Israel refuses to build a seaport or permit an airport to be opened unconditionally. Israel is willing to help rebuild, to permit more trucks to enter Gaza and allow funds transfers from the Palestinian Authority to enable Hamas to pay salaries. Israel will not discuss the seaport and airport - which is de facto lifting the blockade - unless Hamas agrees to disarm. Hamas refuses.
A senior Hamas official described the talks as difficult and said this is the second and final ceasefire. A senior Hamas official also told the Palestinian delegation to make no concession and told Gazans to prepare for a long war with Israel.
Comment: Unless the Hamas officials are bluffing, Hamas will fire more rockets upon expiration of the ceasefire on Wednesday.
Hamas' armed wing the al-Qassam Brigades claim they have Israeli prisoners and that the highest priority for Israel at the Cairo negotiations was their release.
Wilders daagt extremisten uit | Binnenland |
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:20
Exclusieve artikelen van de Telegraaf redactie
wo 13 aug 2014, 05:30| 23 reacties|
lees voordoor Alexander Bakker en Jorn JonkerDEN HAAG - Er dreigt een veldslag in de Haagse Schilderswijk. PVV-leider Wilders roept iedereen op om deel te nemen aan de tweede Mars van de Vrijheid op 20 september. In antwoord op dit protest rekruteren inmiddels groepen allochtone jongeren 'troepen' om de buurt met grof geweld te verdedigen. Burgemeester Jozias van Aartsen keert vanavond terug van zijn vakantie. Hij moet morgen bij de gemeenteraad op het matje verschijnen om tekst en uitleg te geven over alle onrust.
Volgens de PVV-voorman ergeren talloze mensen in het land zich eraan hoe moslimextremisten en jonge relschoppers uit de wijk afgelopen zondag een anti-ISIS-demonstratie verstoorden met een blokkade, geweld tegen agenten en aanvallen op journalisten.
OmleidingDat de politie de eerste Mars voor de Vrijheid, die wel officieel aangekondigd was, omleidde in plaats van de andere uit elkaar sloeg, bewijst volgens hem dat er in Den Haag 'een klein kalifaat' gevestigd is. 'žWe moeten laten zien dat we dat niet pikken'', zegt hij over zijn oproep tot demonstratie. 'žWe moeten er met tienduizenden heen.'' En als zo'n protest verboden wordt, weet Wilders nog wel wat: 'žDesnoods loop ik er in m'n eentje met de Nederlandse vlag. Al zullen de mensen die mij beveiligen dat geen goed idee vinden.''
Schilderswijkers en moslimradicalen willen de demonstratie, waar afgelopen zondag types uit extreemrechtse hoek aan deelnamen, opnieuw blokkeren op de Hoefkade. 'žWe gaan ons zwaar bewapenen'', waarschuwt Zakaria. 'žDit keer zijn wij met honderden. Daar kan de politie echt niet tegen op. We beschermen ons tegen traangas en waterkanonnen. Als het moet leggen we spijkermatten neer om de Mobiele Eenheid weg te houden.''
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'Stuur leger naar Schilderswijk' | Telegraaf tv nieuws |
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:18
NieuwsWilders vindt het tijd voor een opstand. Hij roept iedereen op in actie te komen tegen de IS-aanhangers die in de Haagse Schilderswijk de dienst uit lijken te maken. Verder: grootste geldroof ooit en campinghouders verslagen. Dit en meer in het Telegraaf TV Nieuws met Suzanne Lesquillier. - Amerika moet in Irak de zelf aangerichte schade herstellen
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:23
Reagan met Mujahidin-leider Yunis Khales in 1987 - Foto: AFP
Alleen de Verenigde Staten hebben het vermogen de terreurgroepen in het Midden-Oosten te ontmantelen. Voor de een is de Amerikaanse bemoeienis puur eigenbelang, voor de ander is Uncle Sam nog altijd de bewaker van de wereldvrede.
Moet de wereld dankbaar zijn voor de Amerikaanse aanvallen in Irak tegen ISIS? Het antwoord op deze vraag hangt af van wat historici 'standplaatsgebondenheid' noemen.
In Europa wordt het oordeel over die aanvallen vooral bepaald door de 'Atlantische reflex' - wij staan achter onze grote bondgenoot de Verenigde Staten. Terwijl de gemiddelde Arabier in elk Amerikaans ingrijpen de hegemonie van de oliebelangen ziet.
Pijnlijk'Onschuldige' Amerikaanse intenties bestaan in dit opzicht niet, ook niet bij de hoogopgeleiden van wie sommigen aan Amerikaanse topuniversiteiten hebben gestudeerd.
Deze houding manifesteert zich het sterkst rond het Syrische conflict. Menig opiniemaker, vooral in Egypte, bespot het gebrek aan historisch besef bij het zogeheten Vrije Syrische Leger en roept de pijnlijke vertoning in 1983 in herinnering.
In de ruim 100 pagina's dikke uitgave Ronald Reagan '' Ter herinnering 1911-2004 brengt de redactie van Elsevier het rijke leven van de Great Communicator in beeld. Toen Ronald Reagan in 1981 president van de Verenigde Staten werd, dachten veel Europeanen dat er een B-acteur in het Witte Huis terecht was gekomen. Maar Reagan ontpopte zich tot een van de best gewaardeerde presidenten die Amerika heeft gehad. BESTEL NU >
In dat jaar ontving de toenmalige Amerikaanse president Ronald Reagan de voorlopers van de Taliban, de Afghaanse Mujahidin, in het Witte Huis als 'vrijheidsstrijders' met de volgende woorden: 'Het zien van de moedige Afghaanse vrijheidsstrijders en hun gevecht tegen moderne wapenarsenaal met simpele handgemaakte wapens is een inspiratie voor hen die van vrijheid houden.'
LieverdsIn december 1983 zei Reagan in een toespraak dat de Mujahidin 'de standaarden hebben gezet voor iedereen die universele vrijheid waarderen.' Nog geen twintig jaar later werden de Afghaanse lieverds tot de belangrijkste vijand van de Verenigde Staten verklaard.
In de Arabische wereld werd dit gezien als het ultieme bewijs dat Amerika ongure krachten eerst groot maakt om ze later te bestrijden. De Syrische rebellen zou hetzelfde lot te wachten staan.
'You can't break me because you didn't make me,' zo presenteerde de film The Hurricane (1999) een vuistregel over de Amerikaanse handelwijze.
Uncle SamAlleen de Verenigde Staten zijn in staat hun - dubieuze - vriendennetwerken af te breken omdat zij weten hoe ze die hebben opgetuigd. Daarom ligt de sleutel tot ontmanteling van de terreurgroepen die het Westen in Syri al drie jaar helpt en traint louter bij Uncle Sam.
Hiervoor zijn geen gevoelens van dankbaarheid nodig. Wie schade aanricht, moet deze herstellen. Zo simpel is het.
Arabische opiniemakers refereren ook maar al te graag aan 2012, toen CNN erachter kwam dat een vooraanstaand lid van terreurgroepering Jamaa Islamiya, bekend van onder meer de aanslagen in Luxor in 1997, naar Washington werd gehaald om topambtenaren en Congresleden te ontmoeten.
Vol op het orgelKort daarvoor was hij gekozen als parlementslid, waardoor hij Amerika in mocht terwijl Jamaa Islamiya sinds 2001 op de Amerikaanse lijst van terreurorganisaties staat. Op de Egyptische tv werd hierover vol op het orgel gegaan.
Presentator Omar Adib gaf zijn kijkers het volgende advies: heeft u altijd het Witte Huis en Capitol Hill willen bezoeken? Dan volgt hier uw routebeschrijving: word lid van een terreurorganisatie, organiseer hier en daar wat aanslagen, blaas hier en daar wat westerlingen op, stook jongeren op tegen de Verenigde Staten en hun bondgenoten, en de rode loper zal voor u worden uitgerold.
WantrouwenDaar waar de Arabische houding, voor zover we daarvan kunnen spreken, jegens de Verenigde Staten vooral door wantrouwen wordt gekenmerkt, weerspiegelt de 'Atlantische reflex' een onkritische opstelling, overgebleven na de Koude Oorlog maar voor jongere generaties moeilijk te begrijpen.
De aanslagen op het World Trade Center in 2001 hebben deze reflex geactiveerd. Concreet betekende dit dat precies twaalf jaar geleden, in augustus 2002, Nederland op basis van allerlei volkenrechtelijke rechtvaardigingen politieke steun verleende aan de Amerikaanse inval in Irak.
De commissie-Davids, die deze rechtvaardigingen later onderzocht, oordeelde dat het volkenrechtelijke aspect van die steun 'niet goed te verdedigen viel'.
BevrijdersCommissielid en topdiplomaat Peter van Walsum plaatste toen een belangrijke kanttekening bij deze conclusie. Volgens hem laat 'een verantwoordelijke regering zich niet alleen door de regels van het volkenrecht leiden, maar ook door de eisen van de internationale politiek'. En precies daarmee had Nederland te maken in het Midden-Oosten. De Amerikanen stippelen de lijnen uit en wij mogen eroverheen lopen.
Wanneer ik mijn Arabische vrienden uitleg waar de 'Atlantische reflex' vandaan komt, begin ik bij 1944-1945, de grondslag voor de eeuwige dankbaarheid voor onze bevrijders.
Maar dan zeggen zij terecht dat de Russen op identieke gevoelens zouden mogen rekenen omdat zij evenzeer bevrijders waren. Dus er moet meer zijn.
GlimlachDe Koude Oorlog en de confrontatie tussen Oost en West - en het feit dat de Verenigde Staten als winnaar uit die confrontatie kwamen - hebben die reflex versterkt.
Maar het belangrijkste is dat Europese landen in de 21ste eeuw de free riders van de internationale gemeenschap zijn wat betreft het schuilen onder de Amerikaanse veiligheidsparaplu. En een free rider heeft niet meer te willen dan met een glimlach ja en amen te zeggen en Amerika dankbaar te zijn voor de aanvallen op ISIS.
Wie zijn handen in het water heeft, piept anders dan wie zijn handen in het vuur heeft. De Europeanen worden niet onderworpen aan de middeleeuwse praktijken van ISIS, en de Arabieren wel.
Voor hen is Amerika bezig zijn eigen vrienden een kopje kleiner te maken en de schade te herstellen die zij heeft aangericht. Daarom zijn gevoelens van dankbaarheid niet op hun plaats. They break what they made. Zo simpel is het.
George Clooney Fianc(C)e Turns Down UN Post, Remains Anti-Israel
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:18
However, she did not turn the position down before clearly enunciating her own personal anti-Israel bias with regard to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The UNHRC will conduct a probe into violations of international law and allegations of human rights abuses in Gaza. Here is what Clooney's hand-picked, future wife had to say:
"I am horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian causalities that have been caused, and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed," Alamuddin wrote, according to the Times of Israel.
What Alamuddin failed to mention is the need for an "independent investigation" and probe into the fact that numerous stockpiles of rockets have been found over the course of the conflict in Gazan schools that are run and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The UNRWA "has a well-documented history of using their U.S. taxpayer-funded facilities to promote anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. It has in the past been accused of aiding and abetting radical Islamists in Gaza and elsewhere," according to Breitbart News correspondent Jordan Schachtel.
The Gaza Strip is not "occupied" by Israel, as Alamuddin claims it to be. Years ago, Israel withdrew its "occupation" from that region. In fact, Israel "continues to control the population registry for residents of the Gaza Strip, years after it withdrew its ground forces and settlements there," according to Human Rights Watch.
The Boston Globe has similarly pointed out that what is present in that region are "Israeli-imposed buffer zones," and that they "now absorb nearly 14 percent of Gaza's total land and at least 48 percent of total arable land. Similarly, the sea buffer zone covers 85 percent of the maritime area promised to Palestinians in the Oslo Accords, reducing 20 nautical miles to three."
Speculation had surrounded the UN's appointment of Alamuddin over the possibility that the organization was trying to inject some "Hollywood publicity" into the mix to incite fanfare.
International lawyer and executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, wrote that "She [Alamuddin] has some experience, but at 36, she will be the youngest ever to serve on any UN inquiry, raising suspicions that the UN is trying to inject some Hollywood publicity into the process," he wrote.
Alamuddin resides in England. Her mother is an editor of the Arabic news site, and her father is a retired professor of the American University of Beirut.
The reason Alamuddin said she was unable to take on the role was that she was overwhelmed with eight other legal cases, but she made it a point to wish her "colleagues who will serve on the commission courage and strength in their endeavours," notes the Times.
Information on the other two "unbiased" UNHRC appointees can be read by clicking here.
Visa database working again - insider
In regards to the Consular Consolidated Database issue I wanted to share some insights on the program itself since I work at the National Passport Center and have been affected by the outage. The system is used for more than just visa applications and the biggest issue is that it is a system that integrates a number of programs into one portal. If one system is down it affects the whole of CCD. Here is an article about the FBI making use of one aspect of CCD through our law enforcement branch, Diplomatic Security, Like most government programs it was designed to have a lifecycle of 10 years and is on year 14 so we are currently waiting for the new program to be finished once they get done playing games with contracts and bring the new people up to speed. The system is functioning but due to the huge backlog of applications on both the passport and visa sections it is currently being used as needed only.
Haider Al-Abadi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:18
Dr Haider Al-Abadi (or Ibadi,Arabic: حيدر اÙعبادي'Ž) is an Iraqi politician and spokesman for the Islamic Dawa Party. He was nominated for the role of Prime Minister of Iraq on 11 August 2014 by President Fuad Masum, even while incumbent Nouri al-Maliki seemed to cling to power.[1]
Al-Abadi was appointed Minister of Communications in the Iraqi Governing Council on 1 September 2003. A Shia Muslim and electronic consultant engineer by training with a PhD degree from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1980, and a BSc degree from the University of Baghdad in electrical engineering in 1975. Al-Abadi lived in exile during the time of Saddam Hussein in London.[2]
While in exile Al-Abadi's pre-2003 positions included:[citation needed]
Owner and manager of a relatively well known Arabic dumpling shop in London ( kubba), which earned him the nickname Haidar Abu Al Kubba.The shop became a meeting place for exiled Iraqis London. His dumplings (kubba) were very good and I highly recommend them.DG of a small high tech vertical and horizontal transportation Design and Development firm in London, (1993''2003).a top London Consultant to the industry in matters relating to people movers, (1987''2003).Research Leader for a major modernization contract in London, (1981''1986).Registered a patent in London in rapid transit system, (2001).Was awarded a Smart grant from the UK Department of Trade and Industry, (1998).Politically, he is one of the leaders of the popular Islamic Dawa Party, the head of its political office and a spokesman for the party. He became a member of the party in 1967 and a member of its executive leadership in 1979. The Baath regime executed two of his brothers and imprisoned a third brother for ten years.[citation needed]Return to Iraq[edit]Under the CPA[edit]In 2003, Al-Abadi became sceptical of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) privatization plan, proposing to Paul Bremer that they had to wait for a legitimate government to be formed. In October 2003, Al-Abadi with all 25 of the Governing Council interim ministers protested to Paul Bremer and rejected the CPA's demand to privatize the state-owned companies and infrastructure prior to forming a legitimate government. The CPA, led by Bremer, fell out with Al-Abadi and the Governing Council. The CPA worked around the Governing Council, forming a new government that remained beholden to the CPA until general elections had been completed, prompting more aggressive armed actions by insurgents against U.S. led coalition personnel.[3]
While Al-Abadi was Minister of Communications, the CPA awarded licenses to three mobile operators to cover all parts of Iraq. Despite being rendered nearly powerless by the CPA,[4] minister al-Abadi was not prepared to be a rubber stamp and he introduced more conditions in the licenses, among them that a sovereign Iraqi government has the power to amend or terminate the licenses and introduce a fourth national license, which caused some frictions with the CPA. In 2003, press reports indicated Iraqi officials under investigation over a questionable deal involving Orascom, an Egypt-based telecoms company, which in late 2003 was awarded a contract to provide a mobile network to central Iraq. Al-Abadi asserted that there was no illicit dealing in the completed awards.[5] In 2004, it was revealed that these allegations were fabrications and that a US Defense Department review found telecommunications contracting had been illegally influenced in an unsuccessful effort led by disgraced U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw and not by Iraqis.[6]
Post-CPA[edit]In 2005, he served as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq in the first elected Government.[7]
He was elected member of Iraqi Parliament in 2005 and chaired the parliamentary committee for Economy, Investment and Reconstruction. Al-Abadi was re-elected as member of Iraqi Parliament representing Baghdad in the general election held on March 7, 2010. In 2013, he chaired the Finance Committee and was at the center of a parliamentary dispute over the allocation of the 2013 Iraqi budget.[8]
Al-Abadi's name was circulated as a prime ministerial candidate during the formation of the Iraqi government in 2006 during which Ibrahim al-Jaafari was replaced by Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister.
In 2008, Al-Abadi remained steadfast in his support of Iraqi sovereignty, insisting on specific conditions to the agreement with the U.S. regarding presence in Iraq.[9]
In 2009, Al-Abadi was identified by the Middle East Economic Digest as a key person to watch in Iraq's reconstruction.[7]
He is an active member of the Iraq Petroleum Advisory Committee, participating in the Iraq Petroleum Conferences of 2009-2012.[10]
He was one of several Iraqi politicians supporting a suit against Blackwater as a result of the 2010 dismissal of criminal charges against Blackwater personnel involved the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians.[11]
Al-Abadi was again tipped as a possible Prime Minister during the tough negotiations between Iraqi political blocs after the elections of 2010 to choose a replacement to incumbent PM Nouri Al-Maliki. Again in 2014, he was nominated by Shia political parties as an alternative candidate for Prime Minister.[12]
References[edit]^ Iraqi President appoints new Prime Minister^Iraq's post-war cabinet , [1], September 1, 2003, BBC^Naomi Klein, Baghdad Year Zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia, [2], published in Harpers Magazine, September 2004^Yochi J. Dreazen and Christopher Cooper, Behind the Scenes, [3], May 13, 2004, Wall Street Journal via Global Policy Forum^US probe fails to stop mobile licence awards, [4], December 20, 2003, TeleGeography^T. Christian Miller, Iraq Cellular Project Leads to U.S. Inquiry, [5], April 29, 2004, Los Angeles Times^ abPeople to Watch 2009: Twelve Key Figures for the Region in the Coming Year,[6], January 2, 2009, Middle East Economic Digest, Vol. 53, No. 1^Omar al-Shaher, Iraqi Parliament Struggles to Ratify Budget Amid Political Crisis, [7], January 17, 2013, Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse^Crocker: No permanent bases will be set up in Iraq,[8], June 5, 2008, USA Today^Advisory Committee,[9], Iraq Petroleum Advisory Committee^Susan Webb, Iraq sues Blackwater over killing spree, [10], January 5, 2010, People's World^BBC NewsExternal links[edit]PersondataNameAbbadi, HaidarAlternative namesShort descriptionIraqi politicianDate of birthPlace of birthDate of deathPlace of death
Meet Haider al-Abadi, the man named Iraq's new prime minister - The Washington Post
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:17
Iraq's president on Monday named Haider al-Abadi as the country's new prime minister, an appointment that came amid speculation that the embattled incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, would cling to power even after his country had dissolved into chaos and the United States made it clear that it would not support him as leader anymore.
But who is Abadi? Born in Baghdad in 1952, Abadi was educated at the University of Baghdad and later received a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain. He lived in Britain for many years after his family was targeted by Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime. He was trained as an electrical engineer, but he entered politics after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He became minister of communications in the Iraqi Governing Council in September 2003, then was a key adviser to Maliki in Iraq's first post-invasion elected government. Just weeks ago, he was elected deputy speaker of parliament, and he has been considered a contender for prime minister after the past two elections.
The bigger question, however, is whether Abadi will be able to overcome the challenges confronting Iraq more successfully than Maliki. Like Maliki, he's a Shiite Muslim and is a member of the ruling State of Law coalition. One of the chief criticisms of Maliki was that he entrenched Iraq's sectarian politics, filling the government with Shiite politicians and limiting Sunni and Kurdish power.
Earlier this summer, Abadi gave a striking interview to the Huffington Post's Mehdi Hasan in which he discussed the possibility of Iranian intervention in the fight against the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group that has taken over vast swaths of Iraq.
"We are waiting for the Americans to give us support," he said in the June interview. "If U.S. air strikes [happen], we don't need Iranian air strikes. If they don't, then we may need Iranian strikes." Abadi has also had differences with Iraq's Kurdish community at points: Last year he warned that a dispute over Iraqi Kurdistan's oil exports could lead to the "disintegration" of the country, and he was criticized by Kurdish politicians during the negotiations over the 2013 budget.
However, Abadi does seem to be aware that the Iraqi government and security forces have made serious mistakes in the current conflict. He told Hasan that the government needs to listen to stories of the "excesses" of the security forces to decide how to respond. And he was clear that Iraq needed to avoid being dragged into the type of war the Islamic State clearly desires.
"We have to be careful not to become involved in a sectarian war," he told Hasan. "Shias are not against Sunnis and Sunnis are not against Shias."
Reidar Visser, an academic expert on Iraqi politics, says that although Abadi comes from the same political faction as Maliki, he enjoys much broader support, especially from Kurds and Sunnis.
Part of this is his more distinguished background. "Many of the elites from the governing council-era consider him one of their own in terms of a prestigious family background, whereas Maliki was seen as more of an upstart from humble origins," Visser notes in an e-mail. "Things like that count in the (old-fashioned and traditional) Iraqi establishment."
President Fouad Massoum, a Kurd, seemed confident Monday that Abadi could lead the country. ''Now the Iraqi people are in your hands,'' he said as he shook Abadi's hand. Now Iraq waits to see whether Maliki will acquiesce.
Rick Noack contributed to this report.
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
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Readout of the President's Call with Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:50
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 11, 2014
President Obama called Dr. Haider al-Abadi today to congratulate him on his appointment as the Iraqi Prime Minister-designate. The President expressed his support for the formation of a new government in Iraq, consistent with constitutional requirements. The Prime Minister-designate discussed the need for Iraqi leaders to take practical steps to address long-stalled political issues and to partner with the United States to strengthen the Iraqi Security Forces in order to effectively and sustainably counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Both leaders agreed on the importance of forming an inclusive government representative of all communities as soon as possible. The President emphasized that the United States stands ready to deepen political and security cooperation with Iraq as political leaders seek to implement political reforms. Dr. Abadi thanked the President for his call and expressed his support for a strong partnership between the United States and Iraq.
Capitalizing on U.S. Bombing, Kurds Retake Iraqi Towns
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 04:05
Capitalizing on U.S. Bombing, Kurds Retake Iraqi Towns
GWER, Iraq -- With American strikes beginning to show clear effects on the battlefield, Kurdish forces counterattacked Sunni militants in northern Iraq on Sunday, regaining control of two strategic towns with aid from the air.
The American airstrikes, carried out by drones and fighter jets, were intended to support the Kurdish forces fighting to defend Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, according to a statement by the United States Central Command. They destroyed three military vehicles being used by the militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and damaged others, the statement said, adding that the warplanes also destroyed a mortar position.
The wreckage of three heavily armed trucks lay twisted and scorched in Gwer, one of the recaptured towns, a few hours after the strikes, and body parts from at least three militants were scattered nearby. Kurdish militiamen, known as pesh merga, confirmed seeing the airstrikes, and celebrated Sunday afternoon near the still-smoldering wrecks.
The American air support encouraged the Kurdish militiamen to reverse the momentum of the recent fighting and retake Gwer and the other town, Mahmour, both within a half-hour's drive of Erbil, according to Gen. Helgurd Hikmet, head of the pesh merga's media office. General Hikmet said some pesh merga fighters had pushed on beyond the two towns, which lie on the frontier between the Arab and Kurdish areas of Iraq.
The developments came as political tensions mounted in Baghdad. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki went on state television early Monday and redoubled his demands for a new term.
American air power in the north also appeared to alter the situation at Mount Sinjar, where members of the Yazidi ethnic and religious minority have been driven into rough country by an ISIS dragnet. Four American airstrikes on the extremists surrounding the mountain on Saturday, along with airdrops of food, water and supplies, helped Yazidi and Kurdish fighters beat back militants and open a path for thousands of Yazidis to escape the siege. The escapees made their way on Sunday through Syrian territory to Fishkhabour, an Iraqi border town under Kurdish control.
Tens of thousands more Yazidis remain trapped on the mountain, and American officials cautioned that the limited airstrikes alone could not open a corridor to safety for them. Neither, they said, would the American airstrikes be the decisive factor in the fight to stop ISIS.
"This is a focused effort, not a wider air campaign," said Col. Ed Thomas, spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. "It's important to understand that our military objectives are limited in purpose."
President Obama and other American officials have said that more ambitious American support would be predicated on the Iraqi political leadership breaking a long political deadlock and appointing a new prime minister, one who would head a more inclusive government than the Shiite-dominated administration of Mr. Maliki, and could reach a political settlement with Iraq's disaffected Sunni population.
But the political crisis deepened at midnight Sunday as a deadline expired for President Fouad Massoum to choose a nominee for prime minister. Mr. Maliki angrily accused Mr. Massoum of violating the Constitution by not choosing him. "I will complain to the federal court," Mr. Maliki said.
One senior Iraqi official said that Mr. Maliki had also positioned more tanks and extra units of special-forces soldiers loyal to him in the fortified Green Zone of government buildings in Baghdad overnight. The official said Mr. Maliki had "gone out of his mind, and lives on a different planet -- he doesn't appreciate the mess he has created." A Kurdish news agency reported that presidential guards were "on high alert to protect the presidential palace," and the capital swirled with rumors about what might happen next.
In Washington late Sunday, a senior administration official said that the United States had not confirmed reports of abrupt military movements in Baghdad, including rumors that tanks had surrounded the presidential palace, but that it would monitor the situation closely.
Though the American airstrikes have been narrow in scope, their effects were on clear display Sunday. "For sure, the airstrikes have buoyed the spirits of the fighters and the civilians, and they're all very happy," said Dick Naab, a retired American colonel who acts as an informal adviser to the pesh merga.
Pesh merga forces retook Gwer around midday, pushing through the center and methodically searching for snipers, stragglers and booby traps that ISIS might have left behind. The main threat turned out to be north of the town. In three spots a mile apart, ISIS had concealed trucks of a type used by the Iraqi Army, mounted with machine guns.
According to pesh merga accounts, when those trucks emerged around 3 p.m. from hiding places in farmhouses and barns near the highway in an apparent attempt to attack the Kurds from the rear, American jet fighter-bombers streaked in and blew up the trucks with cannon fire and bombs.
"With the support of the Air Force of the United States, we are winning now," said Taha Ahmed, a Kurdish volunteer fighter and an activist with the Kurdish Democratic Party.
Both Gwer and Mahmour are about 20 miles from Erbil, and advances by the militants last week briefly panicked residents in Erbil, which had been regarded as a safe haven. The American airstrikes seemed to have quickly restored confidence, with international flights into Erbil resuming after a pause, and business returning to normal.
Still, a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said Sunday that some staff members from the consulate in Erbil had been relocated to Basra, in southern Iraq, and Amman, Jordan, because of the security situation.
Mr. Maliki once enjoyed American support, becoming prime minister in 2006 largely because of its backing. Now, though, his government is buckling under the assault from ISIS, and much of his support among the parties representing Iraq's Shiite majority has turned away, including some members of his own bloc, State of Law. American officials have been working behind the scenes to oust him.
Brett McGurk, the senior State Department official on Iraq policy, posted on Twitter: "Fully support President of #Iraq Fuad Masum as guarantor of the Constitution and a PM nominee who can build a national consensus."
The political machinations in Baghdad mattered little in the north, where the Kurdish region is largely autonomous. Cheering truckloads of pesh merga fighters cruised the highway between Erbil and the battle front on Sunday, and when word spread in Gwer about the airstrikes here, fighters and civilians gathered, many of them taking celebratory photographs in front of the smoldering trucks.
"Your country has saved the Kurds twice," said Yassin Mustafa Ahmed, a farmer from Gwer who had fled the militant takeover, referring to the no-fly zone imposed in 1991 and the American invasion in 2003. "Now you have to save us again."
American military officials were uncomfortable with that view, and cautioned on Sunday that there were no plans to expand the air campaign.
At Mount Sinjar, Pentagon officials said, breaking the siege would require a longer ground campaign by the Yazidis, Kurds and others fighting ISIS, and the strikes were only a start. Establishing a corridor to get the Yazidi civilians to safety could take days or weeks, they said.
A senior Obama administration official said Sunday that the escape of some Yazidis through Syria was an "ad hoc" effort by the refugees, and that the American military had not directly helped clear the way. The official said it was not seen as a significant part of a solution for rescuing the Yazidis on the mountain; rather, Iraqi and Kurdish forces would have to get them to safety.
Rod Nordland reported from Gwer, Iraq, and Helene Cooper from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Alissa J. Rubin from Dohuk, Iraq; Tim Arango and Omar Al-Jawoshy from Baghdad; Michael D. Shear from Edgartown, Mass.; Michael R. Gordon from Darwin, Australia; and Thom Shanker and Elena Schneider from Washington.
Snowden: I Left the NSA Clues, But They Couldn't Find Them
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:53
If the NSA still doesn't know the full extent of the greatest leak of secrets in its history, it's not because of Edward Snowden's attempts to cover his tracks. On the contrary, the NSA's most prolific whistleblower now claims he purposefully left a trail of digital bread crumbs designed to lead the agency directly to the files he'd copied.
In a WIRED interview published today, the 31-year-old megaleaker has revealed that he planted hints on NSA networks that were intended to show which of its documents he'd smuggled out among the much larger set he accessed or could have accessed. Those hints, he says, were intended to make clear his role as a whistleblower rather than a foreign spy, and to allow the agency time to minimize the national security risks created by the documents' public release.
The fact that NSA officials have told the press that his haul may have been as large as 1.7 million documents, says Snowden, is a sign that the agency has either purposely inflated the size of his leak or lacks the forensic skills to see the clues he left for its auditors. ''I figured they would have a hard time,'' Snowden tells WIRED, describing the agency's attempts to reverse-engineer his leak. ''I didn't figure they would be completely incapable.''
In a speech late last year, NSA director Keith Alexander said that Snowden had given reporters ''between 50,000 and 200,000 documents.'' But in later statements to the press, NSA officials have said only that Snowden ''accessed'' 1.7 million documents, without specifying how much of that access was part of his authorized NSA duties. And Alexander also admitted in an interview after his resignation that the NSA still doesn't know the full extent of Snowden's leak. Indeed, an agency official said in a 60 Minutes interview that its post-leak investigation removed from the NSA's classified network from every computer Snowden could have ever accessed, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars, for fear that he might have planted spyware on the machines for future data collection.
That image of Snowden as a stealthy spy contrasts sharply with Snowden's own depiction of his leaking actions. As journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in his book No Place To Hide, Snowden claims he could have left no trace on the NSA's network due to its lack of audit controls. But he said he instead left behind some ''footprints'' to show NSA investigators that he had acted alone and to prevent suspicion of his coworkers.
Snowden's new claims go further: That he intended those footprints to outline exactly what he'd taken. In addition to shedding light on his motives, Snowden says he meant the clues to allow the NSA to avoid collateral damage from his leaks, changing codenames and plans to anticipate the release of some of its most sensitive secrets.
The repetition of the 1.7 million number by political figures and the press is at least partly intended to mischaracterize Snowden's intentions, argues his lawyer Jesselyn Radack, who is also national security director for the whistleblower-focused Government Accountability Project. ''I think they probably didn't spot the bread crumbs,'' she says of the NSA's investigators. ''Even if they did get them, I think this [1.7 million] number is manufactured out of whole cloth to give the impression of a wholesale data dump. In fact, Ed very carefully selected exactly what he wanted to turn over and why.''
When WIRED asked an NSA spokesperson to comment on Snowden's new claims or its internal estimate of the size of his leak, spokesperson Vanee Vines responded with this statement: ''If Mr. Snowden wants to discuss his activities, that conversation should be held with the U.S. Department of Justice. He needs to return to the United States to face the charges against him.''
In a followup inquiry through his ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner, Snowden wouldn't offer any more details on how exactly he left his network bread crumbs for the NSA or the real total number of documents he took. In forensic analyses of a typical computer network, a leaker's behavior could be found in everything from logs kept by network monitoring tools to changes in operating system files like Windows' system registry, which can be analyzed to show what documents a user has opened.
Despite his early intention to make the NSA aware of the scope of his data theft, Snowden may have good reason to now keep the extent of his leaks secret. That knowledge could serve as an important bargaining chip if Snowden seeks to return to the U.S. and negotiate a plea deal, an option he's hinted at exploring.
In the meantime, Snowden tells WIRED'--perhaps with a certain amount of schadenfreude'--that the government's overestimation of the size of his leak has left it to imagine the worst. ''I think they think there's a smoking gun in there that would be the death of them all politically,'' Snowden says. ''The fact that the government's investigation failed'--that they don't know what was taken and that they keep throwing out these ridiculous huge numbers'--implies to me that somewhere in their damage assessment they must have seen something that was like, 'Holy shit.' And they think it's still out there.''
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:58
An old friend once told me that when 'public spectacles' happen, like the non-existent 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' or the Edward Snowden Saga, the plan behind them always has more than one goal. That's not to say that every newsworthy event is planned, but there will always be a plan to spin the public's interpretation of that event'' to do otherwise would be a wasted opportunity.
My old friend would probably have said, ''a.nolen, you thought too much about what the Snowden revelations mean to people like you, and not enough about what the revelations mean to the people who use these abusive programs every day.''
I do not know every purpose behind what Snowden did, but I feel strongly that one such purpose was to reign in intelligence outsourcing. Intelligence outsourcing is a threat to full-time, 'lifer' spooks because it takes away their power base. Intel outsourcing has existed for a long time, but it started to get scary for intel 'lifers' in the 1990s and turned into a feeding frenzy after 9/11.
As much as I wanted Snowden to be a hero, he ain't. Now that I've dropped those blinders, what should have been clear all along has slowly come into focus: immediately after Snowden's revelations, establishment pundits began to call for an end to intelligence outsourcing. ''Put the Spies Back Under One Roof!'' shouted Tim Shorrock of the NYT on June 13th. The Washington Post was there one week earlier: ''The outsourcing of U.S. intelligence raises risks among the benefits'' said Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Neither the NYT or WaPo had to work hard to come to these conclusions, because dear old Dianne Feinstein spelled it out for everybody:
''I'm very concerned that we have government contractors doing what are essentially governmental jobs and, I think, particularly with highly classified information,'' Feinstein said. ''Government people, who take an oath to keep that information secure, should be the ones'' handling sensitive intelligence.
In fact, if you Google 'intelligence outsourcing', you'll get a ton of links to mid-2013 news stories about Snowden's leaks, followed by a rash of 'outsourcing analysis' from 2007, when outside contracting last drew fire and prompted the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to request a study on the phenomenon.
Back in 2007, this is what the AFCEA, a US military think-tank/lobby, had to say about outsourcing:
Since the mid-1990s, intelligence outsourcing has increased 38 percent to reach $42 billion in 2005, with an estimate of 60,000 to 70,000 contracting personnel. According to multiple press accounts, more than $34 billion, or 70 percent of the intelligence community's budget for fiscal year 2007, was spent on private contractors for tasks ranging from intelligence collection to dissemination. Media reports suggest that 60 percent of the Central Intelligence Agency is supported by contractors, and 70 percent of its counterintelligence field activities are as well.
Congress estimated that the government spent on average $126,500 annually to support a full-time intelligence civilian. At least $250,000 is necessary to support a core contractor with overhead fees. Many supporters of outsourcing argued that even though a core contractor costs substantially more than a full-time civilian, the total expenditure to pay for the civilian benefits and retirements far exceeds the short-term cost.
I doubt things have got any better under Obama. So you see, if your power-base really is the CIA (for example) and you're not just at the Agency to further business interests somewhere else, then outsourcing is a big problem for you: you're loosing control of the information flow and being bled dry in the process. The US intelligence community isn't used to being on the receiving end of that type of deal!
How did the Intelligence Community find themselves in this position? The fall of the USSR didn't help, but more than that, they fell victim to their own predation. It's in their culture to exploit. If you hire people whose big talent is to manipulate events towards their own ends, guess what type of management you'll end up with'...
James the Gnome
Managers like James Clapper, the current Director of National Intelligence, who took office in August 2010. Clapper is a man with many fingers in many pies. He's worked as an intelligence contractor himself, according to the LA Times:Four months after James R. Clapper left his federal job as head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in June 2006, he joined the boards of three government contractors, two of which had been doing business with his agency while he was there.
It was not the only revolving door entered by Clapper, who is now President Obama's nominee to be director of national intelligence.
In October 2006 he was hired full-time by DFI International, which was trying to boost its consulting with intelligence agencies. In April 2007, when he returned to public service as the chief of the Pentagon's intelligence programs, DFI paid him a $50,000 bonus on his way out the door, according to his financial disclosure statement. Five months later, DFI landed a contract to advise Clapper's Pentagon office, though company officials do not recall collecting any revenue from the deal.
Clapper's first private-sector stint came after he retired from the Air Force in 1995 as a lieutenant general. He worked for Booz Allen and SRA International, both major intelligence contractors. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he was tapped to lead the geospatial agency, which purchases satellite imagery from private firms and analyzes it for military and intelligence agencies.
Clapper left in June 2006 and joined two corporate boards '-- 3001, a mapping and surveying company whose main clients included the geospatial agency; and GeoEye, whose predecessor firm in 2004 had won a $500-million contract from the agency while Clapper was chief. Clapper also joined the advisory board of Sierra Nevada, an Air Force contractor.
Booz Allen Hamilton'' ya'know like Snowden'' is part of the Carlyle Group, George Bush Senior's old haunt and current employer of one of Bill Colby's boys, Johnathan E. Colby. Check out Jonny's corporate bio. Ken Delanian goes on:
Now, however, Clapper is poised to become intelligence chief at a time when Congress is asking questions about the explosive growth of private contracting in the $75-billion U.S. intelligence operation. With lawmakers calling on the Obama administration to reduce the outsourcing, a logical question is whether a veteran of the close alliance between government and contractors '-- Clapper strongly defended the practice in response to a lawmaker's question about a Washington Post series last week '-- is best suited to bring that system to heel.
Was Clapper's head in the game?
''I worked as a contractor for six years myself, so I think I have a good understanding of the contribution that they have made and will continue to make,'' he said. ''I think the issue is, what's the magnitude? And most importantly '... how do we ensure that we're getting our money's worth?''
While that attitude must have made his patrons happy, I guess it's not what his new team wanted to hear, 'cause now Clapper's got to deal with the Snowden mess'...
But Clapper is more than just a 'squirrel trying to get a nut' in the outsourcing phenomenon; he helped lay the foundation. Way back in the 1990s, in what appears to be the Autumn/Winter 1993/94 American Intelligence Journal, Clapper showed himself to be an advocate of 'rationalization', which is the first step to outsourcing*. His article, titled Reorganization of DIA and Defense Intelligence Activities by Lieutenant General James R. Clapper, USAF, Director Defense Intelligence Agency, starts this way:
''Gentleman, we have no more money. Now we must think.'''' Ernest Rutherford, British Physicist and Noble Prize Winner, 1871-1937
Rutherford used those words in the early 1890s while addressing a poorly-funded British Government committee assigned the task of determining the feasibility of splitting the atom. Little did Baron Rutherford of Nelson know at the time, but his insightful declaration would, in many ways, define the principal challenge the US defense intelligence community faces today, almost a century later.
Clapper, I'm sure it would warm the cockles of Lord Rutherford's heart to know he gave voice to your concerns!
Clapper goes on to describe how he (and his staff) trimmed the fat in various intelligence activities:
As part of the DIA reorganization we sought to drive authority down the management chain to the lowest level, and shifted the agency's previous analytic orientation from a regional to a functional basis.
The restructuring also cut supervisors by 169, or by approximately 30%, and reduced burdensome layering across the agency'...
The article details more layoffs, restructurings, stream-linings, etc. which freed up military talent so that men like Clapper could rent it back to the government at twice the price later'... a practice which Lord Rutherford's generation first instituted back in Britannia. (Clapper does not draw out his historical reference to make that connection! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, James.)
So you see, from an intelligence-lifer's point of view, making Clapper DNI was putting a fox in charge of the hen-house. DNI is an Obama-appointed position, which tells us that the power behind the president has more to do with 'Money That Likes the Use Intelligence', rather than grisly 'intelligence-lifers', who are powerful only as information gatekeepers. This is the lifers' 'meme', courtesy of Jonah Gale's 2011 'Masters in Security' thesis at Georgetown Uni:
This thesis finds that intelligence outsourcing'--while a useful tool'--may be financially and structurally deleterious and undermines American constitutional governance when contractors are allowed to perform inherently governmental activities.
Mr. Gale has a bright career ahead of him. What that means to you and me is that the right people were being conditioned with this message as far back as 2011, while the actual 'take down' operation came two years later. Make sure everybody knows what to do when 'it' happens!
What does surprise me about the Snowden operation is that it appears intelligence gate-keepers' interests are going to trump the money interests. Michael Woods, VP of Verizon Communications, made a statement on June 5th this year addressing the ''inappropriateness'' of outsourcing intelligence. Whatever Verizon's real reasons for this request for distance, the message is clear: time to take eavesdropping in-house. Woods' statement is one that the Senate Intelligence Committee decided to make prominent on their website.
However, intelligence-lifers' victory isn't complete: note that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2014 pretty much puts a band-aid on the outsourcing problem. After all, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein's own millions come from military contracts'' she's gonna put numero uno first, even if she has to give lip-service to the other team. (Feinstein's vice-chair, Saxby Chambliss, was part of the post 9/11 intelligence inquiry which was supposed to pinpoint where spooks failed. Whatever Chambliss actually found, we ended up with an outsourcing bonanza. So guess which team he's on.)
My guess is that Snowden himself knows what he's doing, because in his NBC interview he made hints about 'more regulation' making PRISM-like programs safer; a view which is very naive. Snowden's not naive.
The ugly truth here is that the 'lifer' intelligence community's answer to their outsourcing problem was to disgorge state secrets. I'm happy that these secrets came out; in an attempt to save their own butts these spooks actually did something good for the country. However, their intentions do matter: the lifers did a noble thing for small-minded, selfish reasons. They betrayed what they say is in the US's best interests to protect their own power-base. That's a Bill Colby-worthy move; somebody's been taking notes these past 40 years.
If you needed more proof that these folks can't be trusted with mass surveillance tools, you've got it right here. The intelligence community exists to further the interests of the intelligence community. We can do better.
'--* Clapper championed two 'pinch points' in the flow of intelligence also, 1) the National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC) which controls what 'Combat Command' hears from eight other intel gathering outfits, including the NSA and CIA and 2) the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) which tells every different military operation what they need to know when they need to know it'... what Clapper ominously calls a ''classified CNN''. Is that what you really wanted to say James?
Clapper's Intel Pinch Points, courtesy of this 1993 paper.
Yikes. Tell me those two creations aren't ripe for exploitation.
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Snowden critic resigns Naval War College after online penis photo flap | Ars Technica
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 01:51
John Schindler, the former National Security Agency analyst and an outspoken critic of Edward Snowden, resigned Monday from his position as a professor at the US Naval War College months after a picture of his alleged penis surfaced online. The professor of national security affairs announced via Twitter his resignation from the Rhode Island institution, effective August 29.
"Sorry to say I'm severing my affiliation with Naval War College. I had a great time there but it's time to move on. Thanks for your support," Schindler tweeted.
John Schindler.
Naval War College
A former National Security Agency analyst who was part of a task force that claimed Saddam Hussein maintained weapons of mass destruction, Schindler was employed by the college since 2005. He was put on leave in June as the college ordered an investigation to determine whether the picture of his genitalia was falsified.In June, a text message conversation with "John Schindler" at the top circulated widely on Twitter. The picture was accompanied with the message: "Got this?" It has not been revealed of who posted the text message conversation.
A college spokeswoman, Cmdr. Kelly Brannon, refused to disclose the inquiry's findings. She told The Washington Times that Schindler was notified of the results in late July.
Schindler had often criticized Snowden, the NSA leaker, and journalist Glenn Greenwald. In December, Schindler said on MSNBC that "Passion is nice, passion is good. Joseph Stalin was passionate. Adolf Hitler was passionate. We just buried Nelson Mandela who showed us how to enact passion in the cause of justice. Is what Edward Snowden is doing about justice or about a personal agenda? I'd really like to know."
Schindler's e-mail bounced, and he could not be immediately located for comment.
NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting - The Intercept
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:37
On August 1, NPR's Morning Edition broadcast a story by NPR national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston touting explosive claims from what she called ''a tech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.'' That firm, Recorded Future, worked together with ''a cyber expert, Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs,'' to produce a new report that purported to vindicate the repeated accusation from U.S. officials that ''revelations from former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.''
The ''big data firm,'' reported NPR, says that it now ''has tangible evidence'' proving the government's accusations. Temple-Raston's four-minute, 12-second story devoted the first 3 minutes and 20 seconds to uncritically repeating the report's key conclusion that ''just months after the Snowden documents were released, al-Qaeda dramatically changed the way its operatives interacted online'' and, post-Snowden, ''al-Qaeda didn't just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it.'' The only skepticism in the NPR report was relegated to 44 seconds at the end when she quoted security expert Bruce Schneier, who questioned the causal relationship between the Snowden disclosures and the new terrorist encryption programs, as well as the efficacy of the new encryption.
With this report, Temple-Raston seriously misled NPR's millions of listeners. To begin with, Recorded Future, the outfit that produced the government-affirming report, is anything but independent. To the contrary, it is funded by the CIA and U.S. intelligence community with millions of dollars. Back in 2010, it also filed forms to become a vendor for the NSA. (In response to questions from The Intercept, the company's vice president Jason Hines refused to say whether it works for the NSA, telling us that we should go FOIA that information if we want to know. But according to public reports, Recorded Future ''earns most of its revenue from selling to Wall Street quants and intelligence agencies.'')
The connection between Recorded Future and the U.S. intelligence community is long known. Back in July, 2010, Wired's Noah Shachtman revealed that the company is backed by both ''the investment arms of the CIA and Google.''
Indeed, In-Q-Tel'--the deep-pocket investment arm of both the CIA and other intelligence agencies (including the NSA)'--has seats on Recorded Future's board of directors and, on its website, lists Recorded Future as one of the companies in its ''portfolio.'' In stark contrast to NPR, The New York Times noted these connections when reporting on the firm in 2011: ''Recorded Future is financed with $8 million from the likes of Google's venture arm and In-Q-Tel, which makes investments to benefit the United States intelligence community, and its clients have included government agencies and banks.''
Worse, Temple-Raston knows all of this. Back in 2012, NPR's Morning Edition broadcast her profile of Recorded Future and its claimed ability to predict the future by gathering internet data. At the end of her report, she noted that the firm has ''at least two very important financial backers: the CIA's investment arm, called In-Q-Tel, and Google Ventures. They have reportedly poured millions into the company.''
That is the company she's now featuring as some sort of independent source that can credibly vindicate the claims of U.S. officials about how Snowden reporting helps terrorists.
Beyond all that, the ''cyber expert'' who Temple-Raston told NPR listeners was ''brought in'' by Recorded Future to ''investigate'' these claims'--Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs'--has his own significant financial ties to the U.S. intelligence community. In 2012, In-Q-Tel proudly touted a ''strategic partnership'' with ReversingLabs to develop new technology for the Department of Homeland Security. Vuskan hailed the partnership as vital to his company's future prospects.
If one wants to argue that a government-mimicking report from a company that is funded by the CIA, and whose board is composed in part of its investment arm, and which centrally relies on research from another CIA partner is somehow newsworthy'--fine, one can have that debate. But to pass it off as some sort of independent analysis without even mentioning those central ties is reckless and deceitful'--especially when, as is true here, the reporter doing it clearly knows about those ties.
Beyond all these CIA connections, the conclusion touted in the NPR report'--that al-Qaeda developed more sophisticated encryption techniques due to the Snowden reporting'--is dubious in the extreme. It is also undercut by documents contained in the Snowden archive.
The Recorded Future ''report'''--which was actually nothing more than a short blog post'--is designed to bolster the year-long fear-mongering campaign of U.S. and British officials arguing that terrorists would realize the need to hide their communications and develop effective means of doing so by virtue of the Snowden reporting. Predictably, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker promptly seized on the report (still concealing the firm's CIA connections from readers) to argue in The Washington Post that ''the evidence is mounting that Edward Snowden and his journalist allies have helped al-Qaeda improve their security against NSA surveillance.''
But actual terrorists'--long before the Snowden reporting'--have been fixated on developing encryption methods and other techniques to protect their communications from electronic surveillance. And they have succeeded in a quite sophisticated manner.
One document found in the GCHQ archive provided by Snowden is a 45-page, single-spaced manual that the British spy agency calls a ''Jihadist Handbook.'' Though undated, the content suggests it was originally written in 2002 or 2003: more than 10 years before the Snowden reporting began. It appears to have been last updated shortly after September 2003, and translated into English by GCHQ sometime in 2005 or 2006. Much of it is found online in Arabic. The handbook appears to be an excerpt from a 268-page document called ''Abu Zubaydah's Encyclopedia.'' The encyclopedia, uploaded in Arabic to the internet in 2011, describes itself as the ''cumulative result of efforts of the brothers who walked on the path of jihad'' and contains highly specific and sophisticated instructions for avoiding electronic surveillance.
The first section of the decade-old handbook is entitled ''The General Security for all Means of Communication'' and includes directions on how to keep landline and mobile telephone calls, emails, and online chats secure. It also includes a detailed discussion of how SIM cards in cell phones can be used by the NSA as tracking devices: exactly the subject of the very first story The Intercept ever published from the Snowden material. The manual further instructs operatives that merely turning off one's cell phone is insufficient to avoid tracking; instead, it instructs, both the battery and SIM card must be removed. It extensively describes how code words should be used for all online communications.
So sophisticated is the 10-year-old ''Jihadist Manual'' that, in many sections, it is virtually identical to the GCHQ's own manual, developed years later (in 2010), for instructing its operatives how to keep their communications secure:
Long before the Snowden reporting, then, those considered by the U.S. to be ''terrorists'' have been fixated on avoiding electronic surveillance, which is why Osama bin Laden communicated only through personal courier. The ''Jihadist Handbook'' demonstrates how widespread and sophisticated these techniques have been for many years (GCHQ declined to respond beyond its routine boilerplate claiming that its operations are legal, which has nothing to do with this story).
Then there are the glaring and self-evident fallacies in the report itself. The principal claim on which its conclusion is based is the chronology that extremist groups announced a roll-out of ''the first Islamic encryption software for mobiles'' in September, 2013 (3 months after the first Snowden report), followed by a new encryption product in December (''The Mujahid's Security'').
But it should go without saying that this proves nothing about causation; it is a basic logical principle that ''A precedes B'' is not evidence that ''A caused B.'' The original Recorded Future report literally did nothing more than assert that there were visible encryption improvements from al-Qaeda that post-dated the first Snowden story, and then, based on no evidence, just asserted the causal link.
Beyond that obvious post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, there is no question that ''jihadists'' have been working for years on sophisticated tactics for communications security; the fact that they continued to be after the Snowden reporting began literally proves nothing.
Indeed, in September of last year, The New York Times made clear that the ''jihadists'' began developing their own advanced encryption methods years before the start of the Snowden reporting:
Al Qaeda's use of advanced encryption technology dates to 2007, when the Global Islamic Media Front released the Asrar al-Mujahedeen, or so-called ''Mujahedeen Secrets,'' software. An updated version, Mujahedeen Secrets 2, was released in January 2008, and has been revised at least twice, most recently in May 2012, analysts said.
The program was popularized in the first issue of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's quarterly online magazine, in a July 2010 post entitled ''How to Use Asrar al-Mujahedeen: Sending and Receiving Encrypted Messages.''
Since then, each issue of Inspire has offered a how-to section on encrypting communications, recommending MS2 as the main encryption tool.
All the way back in February, 2001, USA Today reported that al-Qaeda and other groups have been using ''uncrackable encryption'' since the mid-1990s; the 2001 article stated: ''encryption has become the everyday tool of Muslim extremists in Afghanistan, Albania, Britain, Kashmir, Kosovo, the Philippines, Syria, the USA, the West Bank and Gaza and Yemen, U.S. officials say.''
As has long been clear, ''the terrorists'' did not need Snowden reporting to know that the U.S. and its partners are doing everything possible to monitor their communications. It is certainly possible that some extremists,like ordinary users all over the world, are more conscious now than before about the need to secure their communications'--just as some extremists became aware of interrogation techniques they may face if detained by virtue of reporting on American torture (which is why torture advocates argued that such reporting also helped terrorists). But the key revelation of the Snowden reporting is that the surveillance system built in secret by the NSA and its partners is directed athundreds of millions of ordinary peopleandentire populationsrather than ''the terrorists.''
Responding to one of the criticisms about the glaring flaws in its report (the obvious absence of causation evidence), Recorded Future admits that ''in 2007 Al-Qaeda (AQ) had one encryption product (Asrar) for one platform (PC) which has since been periodically updated (e.g. in 2008).'' They claim there was a ''significant uptick'' after the Snowden reporting but still offer no evidence of a causal connection nor any explanation as to what ''the terrorists'' learned from those reports that could help them better safeguard their communications or that would provide added motivation to shield those communications.
Critically, even if one wanted to accept Recorded Future's timeline as true, there are all sorts of plausible reasons other than Snowden revelations why these groups would have been motivated to develop new encryption protections. One obvious impetus is the August 2013 government boasting to McClatchy (and The Daily Beast) that the State Department ordered the closing of 21 embassies because of what it learned from an intercepted ''conference call'' among Al Qaeda leaders:
An official who'd been briefed on the matter in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, told McClatchy that the embassy closings and travel advisory were the result of an intercepted communication between Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri in which Zawahiri gave ''clear orders'' to al-Wuhaysi, who was recently named al Qaida's general manager, to carry out an attack.
As The Daily Beast put it: ''Al-Qaeda leaders had assumed the conference calls, which give Zawahiri the ability to manage his organization from a remote location, were secure. But leaks about the original intercepts have likely exposed the operation that allowed the U.S. intelligence community to listen in on the al-Qaeda board meetings.''
It does the U.S. government no good to attribute these new encryption efforts to leaks from the U.S. government itself. Recorded Future thus ignores that possibility altogether and suggests'--with absolutely no evidence'--that it was due to Snowden revelations.
They do so even though The New York Timesreported a month after the ''conference call'' leak that ''senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by Al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden.'' The NYT added: ''The drop in message traffic after the communication intercepts contrasts with what analysts describe as a far more muted impact on counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures by Mr. Snowden of the broad capabilities of N.S.A. surveillance programs.''
Then there's the completely unproven yet vital assumption that this series of events'--even if they happened this way'--actually helped the terrorists evade monitoring. Bruce Schneier, the security expert quoted at the end of the NPR report, thinks exactly the opposite is true. He notes numerous journalists, in the wake of the report, asked him ''how this will adversely affect US intelligence efforts,'' and he explained:
I think the reverse is true. I think this will help US intelligence efforts. Cryptography is hard, and the odds that a home-brew encryption product is better than a well-studied open-source tool is slight. Last fall, Matt Blaze said to me that he thought that the Snowden documents will usher in a new dark age of cryptography, as people abandon good algorithms and software for snake oil of their own devising. My guess is that this an example of that.
Chris Soghoian, technologist for the ACLU (whose lawyers represent Snowden) noted that these types of stories have been emerging long before Snowden reporting, telling The Intercept: ''every few years, a think tank or security company puts out a report on the use of bespoke encryption software by terrorists, and then media eats it up.''
In the wake of such criticism, Recorded Future issued a supplement to its report, this time claiming that the terrorists ''are not using home-brew crypto algorithms'' but rather ''off the shelf'' methods of cryptography. But like Schneier, Soghoian suggested that the developments claimed by Recorded Future would make it easier, not harder, for the U.S. government to monitor the communications of extremists:
If we assume that these programs are developed and distributed by jihadist sympathizers, and not an intelligence service, then the fact that they continue to develop new encryption tools and advocate their use is only further evidence that they don't really know what they're doing. Using terrorist-specific encryption tools will only attract the attention of intelligence agencies. If smart terrorists are using encryption, they're likely using tools like Tor and PGP, the same tools used by government agencies, corporations, journalists, activists and security experts.
Then there are the bizarre implications from embracing the claims of the Recorded Future report. For years, both privacy advocates and experts in cryptography have published guides for how internet users can protect the privacy of their online activities using encryption programs such as PGP email and Tor. Recorded Future claims that terrorist groups are using ''open source'' and ''off the shelf'' encryption to shield their communications: does that mean that anyone who publishes information on encryption is guilty of helping the terrorists?
In sum, Recorded Future is a CIA-dependent company devoted to spreading pro-government propaganda, no matter how absurd. Among its lowlights is its boasting of how it monitored media coverage of Occupy Wall Street, whereby it claimed to detect Iran's ''growing influence'' over that coverage: ''We recently Tweeted a shared link showing coverage and gaining online momentum for the Occupy Wall Street movement. When we look more carefully at influencers in this discussion using our Influencer Map, we find that Iran Press TV is the second largest influencer after the US Media!''
None of these serious doubts, fallacies, or questions about this company and its ''report'' were even alluded to by Temple-Raston in her NPR story, beyond a cursory and very limited Schneier quote tacked onto the end. It's hardly surprising that these kinds of firms, linked to and dependent on the largesse of the U.S. intelligence community, produce pro-government tripe of this sort. That's their function. It's the job of media outlets to scrutinize these claims, not mindlessly repeat and then glorify them as NPR did here.
Nadine Chalak contributed additional reporting to this article.
1newsjunkie: The U.S. Plans To Bail-In The Banks '' Federal Reserve Vice Chairman
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:48 Bank Bail-ins are coming to the United States
In a speech yesterday, in Stockholn Sweden, Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve and former governor of the Bank of Israel and former chief economist at the World Bank, Stanley Fisher noted:''As part of this approach, the United States is preparing a proposal to require systemically important banks to issue bail-inable long-term debt that will enable insolvent banks to recapitalize themselves in resolution without calling on government funding''this cushion is known as a ''gone concern'' buffer.''
Mr. Fisher gave no details as to whom in the United States was preparing the bail-in proposal and what ''bailinable long term debt'' is.It Happened in Cyprus, But Can It Happen Here?
In spring of 2013 the failing European Bank of Cyprus performed a bail-in that required depositors to help save the bank by foregoing a large portion of the money they had deposited in the bank. In return for their forebearance, depositors were given equity shares in the failing bank.
Customers who deposit money in banks are lending that money to the bank. Depositors are in effect, unsecured creditors. If the bank fails, depositors get in line with other unsecured creditors to see how many cents on the dollar, if any, they can retrieve.In the United States to offset this result, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) since 1933 insures bank deposits up to $250,000*. THe FDIC, however, is woefully underfunded to handle payouts in the event of a large bank failure. The new proposal is designed to allow failing banks to get back on their feet ''without calling on government funding.''
Under the proposed bail-in scenario, the faiure of a ''sytematically important bank'' (a.k.a. ''too big to fail'') will receive no government funding to stay afloat. In order to keep their casino doors open, a too big to fail bank will just call on their loyal depositors to help out by taking whatever percentage of the depositors' money they need to stabilize the bank.
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Ukraine Slams "Provocation By A Cynical Aggressor", Refuses Russian Convoy Entry
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:59
With the Russian humanitarian convoy approaching the Ukraine border, there was much confusion yesterday whether Kiev would or wouldn't allow the roughly 280 trucks carrying "stuff" to enter its territory. The confusion rose yesterday afternoon when Russia's Lavrov told reporters in Sochi that Russia, after it asked for Germany's aid in getting Kiev to agree, received Ukraine's permission for the convoy to enter after agreeing to Ukraine's proposed route, agreeing that the convoy trucks will carry Ukrainian license plates, and complying with Ukraine's demand for Ukrainian govt representatives to be on trucks. Turns out Ukraine was just kidding, and as Reuters reports this morning, the Kiev government once again denounced the dispatch of a Russian humanitarian aid convoy to eastern Ukraine as an act of Russian cynicism on Wednesday and said it would not be permitted to enter.
"The level of Russian cynicism knows no bounds," Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said at a government meeting. "First they send tanks, Grad missiles and bandits who fire on Ukrainians and then they send water and salt."
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page: "No Putin 'humanitarian convoy' will be allowed across the territory of Kharkiv region. The provocation by a cynical aggressor will not be allowed on our territory."
The comments reflected suspicions in Kiev and Western capitals that passage of the convoy onto Ukrainian soil could turn into a covert military action to help pro-Russian separatists now losing ground to government forces.
Today, Finland too joined in, perhaps to make it seem that there is a western consensus against Russian humaintarian aid: "Finland's government said in an e-mailed statement that the conflict in Ukraine ''must be resolved through negotiations and to make that happen, it's of primary importance that Russia stops aiding separatist groups."
However, just to keep the world on its toes, and to make the Ukraine government, now engaging in 4 months of civil war against its own people appear less heartless, it was not immediately clear if this was an outright rejection of the Russian aid or a refusal to allow the Russian trucks onto Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine said on Tuesday that the cargo would have to be unloaded from Russian trucks at the border and transferred under international Red Cross aegis onto other vehicles. The European Union (EU) said the contents would have to be scrutinized.
Kiev accuses Russia of supporting and arming the rebels - who now appear to be on the verge of defeat by government forces - with tanks, missiles and other weapons. Moscow denies this.
To be sure, expect this plotline to change at least several more times before the trucks finally arrive at their border destination, at which point it is anyone's guess just how Russia will escalate tensions should Kiev continue to dig in and refuse to help out the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and ethnic Russians caught in Europe's most deadly civial wars in years.
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Pussy Riot Members Set To Appear In New Season of House of Cards: DCist
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:27
File this under "?": Two members of Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot are set to appear on the next season of House of Cards.
While the show was filming in Baltimore over the weekend, two of Pussy Riots members, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina'--who were arrested in 2011 for an impromptu anti-Putin performance inside a historic cathedral in Moscow'--were spotted on set. A staffer of the show confirmed to the Baltimore City Paper that the duo were filming scenes for the hit show's upcoming third season.
For a show about the ruthless, cutthroat politics of one American politician'--who will stop at nothing to take down those who stand in his way'--it's an interesting choice for Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina to appear in it. They were released from prison in 2013 after serving a 22-month sentence for their "punk prayer" performance, and at the Sochi Winter Olympics, they were attacked by pro-Putin militia members.
According to the City Paper, the nature of their appearance in the upcoming season of House of Cards is unknown, but the paper writes that "their appearance may signal a shift towards foreign policy in the show's third season, but [City Paper's] source would confirm no more than their presence."
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About Tonight: August 11, 2014
Ebola / Africa
Presidential Memorandum -- Drawdown Under Section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 for France to Support its Counterterrorism Efforts in Mali, Niger, and Chad
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:58
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 11, 2014
August 11, 2014
Presidential Determination
No. 2014-13
SUBJECT: Drawdown Under Section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 for France to Support its Counterterrorism Efforts in Mali, Niger, and Chad
Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, 22 U.S.C. 2318(a)(1) (the "Act"), I hereby determine that an unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to France in its efforts to secure Mali, Niger, and Chad from terrorists and violent extremists. I further determine that these requirements cannot be met under the authority of the Arms Export Control Act or any other provision of law.
I, therefore, direct the drawdown of up to $10 million in defense services of the Department of Defense for these purposes and under the authorities of section 506(a)(1) of the Act.
The Secretary of State is authorized and directed to report this determination to the Congress, arrange for its publication in the Federal Register, and coordinate the implementation of this drawdown.
Ebola crisis: US send experimental Ebola treatment to Liberia, after direct plea from Liberian president - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:50
Updated August 12, 2014 11:42:45
A US company that makes an experimental drug for treating the often deadly Ebola virus said it has sent all its available supplies to west Africa.
US president Barack Obama and the Food and Drug Administration have approved a request from Liberia's government to send sample doses of an experimental drug to treat Liberian doctors infected with Ebola, the Liberian presidency said in a statement.
The statement, posted on the Liberian presidency's official website, said the experimental drugs would be delivered to the west-African country this week by a representative of the US government, following a direct appeal to Mr Obama by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organisation, has also authorised the dispatch of additional doses of the experimental drug to Liberia to support the treatment of affected doctors, the statement said.
Doses will be delivered by a WHO expert this week.
Some 961 people have died from the hemorrhagic fever in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria since March during the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
The biomedical collaboration between US and Canadian researchers involves a drug that is manufactured in tobacco leaves and is hard to produce on a large scale.
"In responding to the request received this weekend from a west-African nation, the available supply of ZMapp is exhausted," said a statement on the Mapp Bio website.
"Any decision to use ZMapp must be made by the patients' medical team," it said, adding that the drug was "provided at no cost in all cases".
The two American missionary workers who fell ill with Ebola while working in Monrovia last month were given doses of the drug.
Both have been transported to an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where they are receiving continuous care.
A Spanish priest who was sickened with Ebola has also been given a dose.
The ethics of distributing experimental medications to some people but not others was the focus of a special meeting of the World Health Organisation on Monday.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly stressed that the drug's effects are unknown, since it has not been through a process of rigorous clinical trials.
There is no medicine or vaccine for Ebola on the world market.
Topics:diseases-and-disorders, infectious-diseases-other, pharmaceuticals, health, epidemiology---epidemics-and-pandemics, liberia, united-states
First posted August 12, 2014 10:36:14
BBC News - Ethical to use untested Ebola drugs, says WHO
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:26
12 August 2014Last updated at 09:06 ET Untested drugs can be used to treat patients infected with the Ebola virus, the World Health Organization says.
The WHO said it was ethical in light of the scale of the outbreak and high number of deaths - more than 1,000 people have died in West Africa.
The statement was made after its medical experts met in Switzerland on Monday to discuss the issue.
But officials warned there were very limited supplies of potential treatments.
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Dr Marie-Paule Kieny from the WHO said that their has been "unanimous agreement" among experts
The WHO said where experimental treatments are used there must be informed consent and the results of the treatment collected and shared.
In a statement, it said: "In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention."
But the organisation conceded there were still many questions to be answered including how data could be gathered effectively while the focus remained on providing good medical care.
It was also unclear where the funding for the treatment would come from.
Last week the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak was a global health emergency.
The move came as Liberia said it was getting an experimental drug, Zmapp, after requests to the US government.
But the WHO said there were only 12 doses.
Zmapp has been used on two US aid workers who have shown signs of improvement, although it is not certain what role the medication played in this.
A Roman Catholic priest, infected with Ebola in Liberia, who died after returning home to Spain is also thought to have been given the drug.
However, the drug has only been tested on monkeys and has not yet been evaluated for safety in humans.
What drugs exist currently ?
There a handful of drugs that have been shown to work well in animals.
One is Zmapp - the drug requested by the Liberian government. This contains a cocktail of antibodies that attack proteins on the surface of the virus.
Only one drug has moved onto early safety testing in humans. Known as TKM-Ebola this interrupts the genetic code of the virus and prevents it from making disease causing proteins.
The drug was trialled in healthy volunteers at the beginning of 2014 but the American medicines regulator asked for further safety information. The manufacturer says human studies may soon resume.
Another option would be to use serum from individuals who have survived the virus - this is a part of the blood that may contain particles able to neutralise the virus.
Vaccines to protect against acquiring the disease have also been shown to work in primates. American authorities are considering fast-tracking their development and say they could be in use in 2016. Trials are likely to start soon according to the WHO.
But experts warn ultimately the only way to be sure a drug or vaccine is effective is to see if it works in countries affected by Ebola.
There is no cure for Ebola, which has infected at least 1,779 people since the outbreak was first reported in Guinea in February.
'Hard place'The Liberian government said it was aware of the risks associated with Zmapp, but the alternative was to allow many more people to die.
"The alternative for not testing this is death, a certain death," Information Minister Lewis Brown told the BBC.
"This is not even the rock and the hard place for us.
"We think those who have been infected should be given the chance to have that tested on them if they give their consent to do so.
"We know there may be risks associated with it," the minister added, "but choosing a risk and choosing dying I am sure many would prefer to see that risk happen".
Ebola's initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure. Patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage Fatality rate can reach 90% - but the current outbreak is about 55% Incubation period is two to 21 days There is no vaccine or cure Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery Fruit bats are considered to be virus' natural host Are you in West Africa? Do you have family or friends there who are affected by the outbreak? You can email your experiences to using the subject line 'Ebola trial drug'.
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EBOLA-Defyrus News
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 01:33
August 6, 2014Defyrus Inc. and H&P Labs Inc. enter into a Collaboration and Licensing Agreement on DEF201
August 4, 2014ZMapp Information Sheet
July 15, 2014Monoclonal Antibody-based Filovirus Therapeutic Licensed to Leaf Biopharmaceutical
July 29, 2013International Joint Venture to Drive Commercialization of Filovirus Therapeutic via Monoclonal Antibodies
March 22, 2013Minister Toews Announces Investments in Manitoba Projects to Enhance Canada's Safety and Security
October 4, 2012US Patent and Trademark Office Allows Patent on Defyrus' Breakthrough Broad Spectrum Antiviral Drug (DEF201)
June 13, 2012Ebola-specific monoclonal combination drug ''ZMAb'' extends treatment window to >1 day, study results published in Science Translational Medicine
March 28, 2012NIAID completes pilot DEF201 safety and toxicology study at SRI International
November 15, 2011Defilovir' is an effective treatment against Ebola virus infection in two animal models; study results published in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense
March 11, 2011US Army and Defyrus sign Collaborative R&D Agreement
March 4, 2011Defyrus Expands Antiviral Testing with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to Include Testing Against 5 Additional Pathogenic Viruses
Jan. 1, 2011AdVec Inc. Licenses Adenoviral Vectors and Manufacturing Patent Portfolio to Defyrus Inc
Dec. 16, 2010Defyrus international patent application entitled ''Administration of interferon for prophylaxis against or treatment of pathogenic infection'' PCT/CA2010/000844 published
April 16, 2010Pilot Manufacturing Contract Signed with Robert Fitzhenry Vector Laboratory, McMaster University
March 29, 2010Defyrus and NML sign CRA to jointly pursue R&D on adenovirus vectored vaccines and broad spectrum antivirals
Oct. 23, 2009Defyrus Completes Secondary Equity Financing
Aug. 2, 2009Dr. Jack Gauldie and Mr. John Hyshka Join Defyrus Board of Directors
Mar. 12, 2009Defyrus & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sign Non-Clinical Evaluation Agreement
Feb. 19, 2009Vaccine Patent Portfolio Licensed from UK Ministry of Defence
Oct. 23, 2008Defyrus completes equity financing raising $3.1 million
Sept. 19, 2008Defyrus & DRDC sign Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on biodefence R&D
THE EURODEFLATION THREAT: Bad for banks, bad for business, deadly for ClubMed, all power to Berlin | The Slog.
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 23:58
Bulgaria is facing an increasing danger from the sort of deflation that doesn't go away very easily. A Bulgarian bank is in deep trouble. Italy's deflation trend suggests it isn't far behind. The troubles of its bigger banks are partly known, but more spectacularly dangerous than is generally realised. Portugal has crashed into deep deflation, the Daily Telegraph reports today. Portugal's Bank BES is being given hourly plasma transfusions under Draghi's capacious table. The price of Spanish property has fallen 44% since the eurocrisis kicked off. That's not so much deflation as implosion. Spanish banks are burdened with as much as '‚¬40 billion of repossessed real estate. They're under increasing pressure to sell off these 'assets', but the buyers are missing. The degree of desperation became apparent in late June when, despite months of heated denials, the Madrid Government finally announced a tax on bank deposits. This is a bailin whose only USP is that it is stealing customer funds before the sh*t hits the fan. You have to hand it to Mario Rajoy, he's keener than most on the Djisselbloom template.
Anyone detecting a trend here? Even if you aren't, it was more than a little disturbing earlier when the ECB's SuperMario dismissed Italian deflation as something to do with vaguely seasonal transport costs, whateverTF they might be. You get the feeling at times that Signor Draghi is not taking this problem seriously.
Why should he? There are two terrifyingly simple reasons why.
1. Banks make most money from getting confident people to borrow tons of money at rates offering the banks a decent aka indecent margin. But if people are anxious, and Zirp rates apply, and deflation has arrived'....few people borrow from banks '' and those who do make the banks very little margin.
Zirp was a thinly-veiled attempt to help the banks finance torpedo holes in their Nottingham Lace balance sheets. But it comes at a price in the medium term'...and not just for banks: hold that thought.
2. If it seems likely that a month from now, that car/house/TV/paint/freezer will cost less than it does today, consumers hold off from purchasing. Ultimately, after a certain point, deflation is self-fuelling.
I can report to Sloggers my quantitative first-hand experience of the syndrome in France. This should not be dismissed as Sample of One research: it has been undertaken over six months'....and it has involved 14 product sectors, 10 multiple retailers '' comprising in all a grand total of 73 purchases.
My experience was as follows: every month since March, prices have fallen. On most purchases over '‚¬300 it was easy to do a deal'....the resultant discounts ranging from 5% to a staggering 42%. Most retailers selling domestic durables and DIY goods have been on a permanent Sales/Bargain footing since January.
The fridge/freezer I bought for '‚¬320 last November (25% off for one tiny dent) now costs a dent-free '‚¬280. Parquet flooring that cost '‚¬14.50 a square metre in April was being knocked out at '‚¬7.90 two weeks ago. (Admittedly, it's bankrupt stock'...but, um, why did they go bankrupt?)
The simple reality is that French retail durable consumption is on its arse, with its legs pointing to the heavens. As early as February this year, Wolf Richter at Testosterone Pit (now renamed Wolf Street) observed that ''The [French] economy shriveled or had no growth in five of the last eight quarters'....private-sector GDP actually declined during that period by 0.2%. And it remains 3.2% below the pre-crisis peak'.....In 2013, there were 63,452 business failures, up 5.3% from 2012. Particularly nasty were the second and third quarters when business failures jumped respectively 9.8% and 8.2%'....''
All of the nation States I've looked at in this piece have one thing in common: very high levels of public debt. Five paragraphs ago, I asked you to hold a thought. This is the new thought that may make you inadvertently drop that old thought: deflation aggravates the problem of sovereign debt, because the debt becomes bigger in real terms during a period of sustained deflation.
Pretty much the whole point of QE (apart from giving the Wall Street Kids free money) was to try and inflate away the real value of US Government debt. Thus in the eurozone context, the hare-brained austerity policies of Brussels-am-Berlin not only truncated the very economic growth ClubMed needed: they depressed consumption, exacerbated deflation, and made the capital owed 'worth more''....and thus even more onerous when interest rates rise '' as they must. Effectively, Sch¤uble and his fellow loons ensured that the eurozone's north/south divide would get worse.
Now of course, this suited all those German politicians facing reelection recently: the BundesRepublik's exports rose (mainly to countries beyond the eurozone, thanks to the euro's falling value) a feelgood factor was created, and Berlin's Grand Alles Klar Coalition came into being.
But then came the backfire: two consecutive months of falling German exports. The reason? Lack of demand within the eurozone.
I'm a simple, straightforward sort of chap, and so the conclusions I draw are these: Germany is heavily implicated in the creation of eurozone deflation; this creation has made France's position more parlous'...and ClubMed's even worse; Germany's export business is less and less dependent on the EU; thus Berlin faces two equally juicy prospects '' quitting the eurozone while leaving behind a trail of central/south east European debt for someone else to clear up, or being so powerful within the eurozone, it can effectively run the region as Grossdeutschland.
Above all, however, there is something here we all need to face up to: eurozone deflation is neither myth nor questionable prediction: it is here. Denial of it is no longer an option.
Related at The Slog: Is Merkel to turn East in her quest for power?
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Europe's Next Recession Risk: Germany? - Business Insider
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:38
Aug. 10, 2014, 2:51 PM1,964Columbia Pictures
Italy is contracting after GDP shrunk by 0.20% in the second quarter. But Italy is not the only Eurozone economy with growth going nowhere. France is too. So is Spain. The only remaining star seems to be Germany, with a 0.8% growth rate in the first quarter, Eric Reguly from the Globe and Mail said. But even the brightest candles eventually burn out.
"It may be a flat-liner in the making," Reguly added. "Last month, the German central bank warned that the economy probably stagnated in the second quarter and today's report on industrial orders confirmed that growth is almost certainly waning. German industrial orders fell for the second consecutive month, at a 3.2% rate, following at 1.6% fall in May."
Western sanctions placed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine have had a "weak, fragile and uneven" effect on the recovery, Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank said on Thursday.
The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard said that "Hopes for a swift rebound in Germany are fading. In June, new orders in manufacturing dropped by 0.32%; orders from the rest of the eurozone shrunk by 10.4%."
"What this shows is that Europe is nowhere close to recovery," Steen Jakobsen from Saxo Bank told The Telegraph. "Monetary policy has run out of traction," a reference to the European Central Bank's yearslong policy of keeping interest rates at close to zero percent.
Gay Games 9 Presented by the Cleveland Foundation
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:42
The 2014 Gay Games presented by the Cleveland Foundation is one of the most inclusive sports & cultural festivals in the world and comes to Cleveland+Akron, 9-16 August. The Games are open to all adults - regardless of sexual orientation or athletic ability.
Want to watch and experience the Concert Band, Choral Performance, Figure Skating, Bodybuilding, DanceSport, Pink Flamingo pool show or join us for Closing Ceremony? Buy tickets here or at door.
Click here to view Schedule of Events.
Tennis: The Mayfield Village Racquet Club tennis courts (indoor) is under water. All matches are being moved to Cleveland State University.
The 10K has been rescheduled for tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. Same timeframe and arrangements as originally scheduled.
Softball brackets are up for Wednesday, August 13. Click here to go to the Softball page.
We are continually evaluating weather forecasts and current conditions. Any schedule changes or news will be posted on website and shared on Gay Games' Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Gay Games - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:41
Not to be confused with Outgames
The Gay Games is the world's largest sporting and cultural event organized by, and specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes, artists and musicians.[1] The 1994 Gay Games, held in New York City to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the modern start of the LGBT movement, "overtook the Olympics in size" with 10,864 athletes compared to 9,356 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 10,318 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.[1] Founded as the Gay Olympics, it was started in the United States in San Francisco, California, in 1982, as the brainchild of Tom Waddell, whose goals were to promote the spirit of inclusion and participation, as well as to promote the pursuit of personal growth in a sporting event. It retains similarities with the Olympic Games, including the Gay Games flame which is lit at the opening ceremony.[2] The games are open to all who wish to participate, without regard to sexual orientation and there are no qualifying standards. Competitors come from many countries, including those where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden.
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) is the sanctioning body of the Gay Games. From its statement of concept and purpose:
''The purpose of the Federation of Gay Games is to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbians and gay men throughout the world and to engender respect and understanding from the nongay world, primarily through an organized international participatory athletic and cultural event held every four years, and commonly known as the Gay Games.[3]''Host nations and cities[edit]YearNo.Host City1982ISan Francisco, California, United States1986IISan Francisco, California, United States1990IIIVancouver, British Columbia, Canada1994IVNew York City, New York, United States1998VAmsterdam, Netherlands2002VISydney, New South Wales, Australia2006VIIChicago, Illinois, United States2010VIIICologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany2014IXCleveland-Akron, Ohio, United States2018XParis-Paris, France1982 Gay Games San Francisco[edit]The 1982 games took place in San Francisco from August 28 to September 2, 1982. Singer Tina Turner performed at the opening ceremonies.
1986 Gay Games San Francisco[edit]The 1986 games took place in San Francisco from August 10 to 17, 1986. Singers Jennifer Holliday and Jae Ross were the featured performers during the closing ceremonies.
1990 Gay Games Vancouver[edit]The 1990 games took place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from August 4 to 11, 1990. Approximately 7,300 athletes took part in 27 sports, with another 1,500 cultural participants attending. Opening and closing ceremonies were at BC Place Stadium (20 years later to be the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony and the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony). This was the first games to be held outside the United States, and it is also notable for being the first games in which Masters world records were set (two, in swimming).
The event was also heralded by controversy from social conservatives. A Fraser Valley church's members took out full page ads in The Vancouver Sun and The Province condemning the event as proof of an "impending sodomite invasion" and encouraging residents to gather at Empire Stadium to pray against the event. The government of then-PremierBill Vander Zalm refused to fund the event.[4]
1994 Gay Games New York[edit]The 1994 games took place in New York City, New York, from June 18 to 25, 1994.
The games coincided with the 25th-anniversary events of the Stonewall riots and were themed on "Unity".[5] Actor Sir Ian McKellen gave the closing address at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 1994.[6]
1998 Gay Games Amsterdam[edit]The 1998 games took place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from August 1 to 8, 1998. The opening and closing ceremonies took place in the Amsterdam Arena.
2002 Gay Games Sydney[edit]The 2002 game took place in Sydney, New South Wales, from November 2 to 9, 2002. Sydney won the bid to host the games from other contenders which were Montreal, Toronto, Long Beach/Los Angeles and Dallas.
2006 Gay Games Chicago[edit]Main article: 2006 Gay GamesGay Games VII were held in Chicago, Illinois, from July 15 to July 22, 2006. For more on the controversy surrounding Chicago's selection as host city, see Schism in LGBT sports communities over Gay Games VII below.
2010 Gay Games Cologne[edit]Main article: 2010 Gay GamesOn March 16, 2005, the FGG announced that Cologne, Germany; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Paris, France, were the official candidate cities for Gay Games VIII in 2010. Cologne was elected at the FGG annual meeting in Chicago on November 14, 2005.
The games were held in Cologne from July 31 to August 6, 2010. This marked the second time the games were held in Europe, with the first being in Amsterdam in 1998.
Future Gay Games[edit]2014 Gay Games Cleveland and Akron[edit]Main article: 2014 Gay GamesOn March 17, 2009, the FGG announced that groups from Boston, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio; and Washington, D.C., were finalists for the bidding to host Gay Games IX.[7]
On September 29, 2009, at the FGG Site Selection Meeting in Cologne, Germany, Cleveland was chosen as presumptive host of Gay Games IX in 2014.[8] The host organization, Cleveland Special Events Corporation, later expanded the host city to include nearby Akron, Ohio. They also chose to style their event as "Gay Games 9" rather than the traditional Roman numeral "Gay Games IX".
The Cuyahoga County Republican Party is hoping to use the event as an opportunity to showcase how welcoming and friendly the Republican Party can be to the LGBT community. They hope that this will help them attract LGBT voters. [9]
2018 Gay Games Paris[edit]Main article: 2018 Gay GamesOn July 31, 2012, the FGG announced that six groups in seven cities had been approved as prospective bidders. The groups were from Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Limerick, Ireland; London, United Kingdom; Orlando, Florida, United States; Paris, France; and a group proposing to host the Gay Games in either Rio de Janeiro or S£o Paulo, Brazil.
By August 31, 2012, a letter of intent to bid were received from all groups except those in Brazil.
In December 2012, the FGG announced that several requests from bidders to add new sports to the program of the games. Of these requests, that for the inclusion of polo was rejected, while those for archery, boxing, fencing, p(C)tanque, roller derby and wheelchair rugby were approved. Of these, boxing, p(C)tanque, roller derby and wheelchair rugby were included in the bids of the three finalist bidding organizations.
Bid books were provided by February 28, 2013 with a Q&A held over April & May 2013. A shortlisting vote took place on May 31, 2013 resulting in the shortlisting of Limerick, London and Paris as the final three cities to continue on the 2018 Bid cycle. Shortlisted cities received a 4-day visit (inspection sites) from a team of FGG inspectors (4 delegates + 1 CM) in July 2013. The final vote took place in Cleveland (Ohio, USA) during the 2013 Annual General Assembly. On 7 October Paris was elected host city for the 2018 Gay Games.
Controversies[edit]Lawsuit over 'Gay Olympics' name[edit]Dr. Tom Waddell, the former Olympian who helped found the games, intended them to be called the "Gay Olympics", but a lawsuit filed less than three weeks before 1982's inaugural Gay Olympics forced the name change.[10]
Event organizers were sued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) under the U.S. Amateur Sports Act of 1978, which gave the USOC exclusive rights to the word Olympic in the United States. Defendants of the lawsuit contended that the law was capriciously applied and that if the Nebraska Rat Olympics and the Police Olympics were not similarly prohibited, the Gay Olympics should not be either.[11]
Some, like Jeff Sheehy, coauthor of San Francisco's domestic-partner legislation and former president of the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club, believed homophobia to be a motivation behind the lawsuit. They cited the authorized use of the word "Olympics" by the Special Olympics and other organizations as evidence of this homophobia.[11]
Others, like Daniel Bell, cite the IOC's long history of protecting the Olympics brand as evidence that the lawsuit against the "Gay Olympics" was not motivated by discrimination against gays. Since 1910 the IOC has taken action, including lawsuits and expulsion from the IOC, to stop certain organizations from using the word "Olympics."[12] Annual "California Police Olympics" were held for 22 years, from 1967 through 1989, after which, the word Olympics was no longer used for the event.[13] The Supreme Court ruled for the USOC in San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc. v. United States Olympic Committee.
A 2009 documentary film, Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial, was created in the United States and was previewed at several film festivals.[14][15] The subject was also included in a 2005 film by David Sector, Take the Flame! Gay Games: Grace Grit & Glory.[16]
In the years since the lawsuit, the Olympics and the Gay Games have set aside their initial hostilities and worked cooperatively together,[citation needed] successfully lobbying to have HIV travel restrictions waived for the 1994 Gay Games in New York and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Plans to launch Gay Winter Games in Fall 1986[edit]Plans to launch a complementary Gay Winter Games, slated for February 1986 in Denver, Colorado, collapsed, due to a lack of sufficient funding and logistical problems. There have been no subsequent attempts to launch a Gay Winter Games since, although Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, hosts an annual gay winter-sports festival.
Schism in LGBT sports communities over Gay Games VII[edit]In 2001, the bidding organization from Montreal, Canada, won the right to negotiate with the FGG for a licensing agreement to host the 2006 Gay Games, but after two years of failed negotiations Montreal broke off talks at the 2003 FGG annual meeting in Chicago. There were three main points of contention, over which neither party could agree:
The size of the eventThe size of the budget '' especially the planned break-even participation pointFinancial transparencyIn a weakening global economy following international terrorist attacks, including September 11, the FGG wanted Montreal to be able to plan for a successful Gay Games even if participation did not meet Montreal's optimistic projection of 24,000 participants, twice the level of participation of the previous Gay Games in 2002. Due to financial problems in previous events, the FGG also asked for transparency into Montreal 2006's financial activities. After Montreal refused to continue talks, the FGG held a second round of bidding in which Chicago and Los Angeles bidders, who had put forth well-received bids to host the 2006 games in the first round along with Montreal and Atlanta, chose to bid. Ultimately, the FGG awarded Gay Games VII to Chicago Games, Inc.
The Montreal organizing committee nevertheless decided to proceed to hold an athletic and cultural event without the sanction of the FGG; this plan developed into the first edition of the World Outgames, and the creation of its licensing body, the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association.
Due to limited personal and organizational resources, many individual and team participants were forced to choose between Gay Games Chicago and World Outgames Montreal, a situation exacerbated by the two events being a week apart. The closing ceremony of Gay Games Chicago on July 22, 2006, was only seven days before the opening ceremony of World Outgames Montreal on July 29, 2006. This meant that those who competed or performed in Chicago would have little recovery time before Montreal. The split resulted in a lower quality of athletic competition at both events because neither could claim the whole field of competitors. Team and individual sports were hurt alike. Few teams were able to field complete squads for both events; In wrestling, 100 wrestlers competed in Chicago (comparable to previous Gay Games), but only 22 competed in Montreal, by far the lowest number for any major international tournament. There were some advantages to the games being so close together time wise and location wise. For some overseas participants who had to travel far, the convenience of the two events being only a week apart and not far from each other enabled them to attend both. Many did not attend at all. After Chicago drew 9,112 sport and cultural participants, of which 7,929 were from the USA. Montreal drew 10,248 athletes, 1,516 Conference Attendees and 835 people to the cultural component of the games reflecting more than 111 countries '' more 60% of the organization's original projections."
Since 2006, the need for a secondary global multisport event has been the subject of much debate, especially after the final financial figures for 2006 were released. In 2012, a round of negotiations between the FGG and GLISA ended after a mutually agreed deadline.[17] The board of GLISA unanimously agree to the proposal set forth by the negotiation teams, however the FGG board did not reciprocate. The Chicago Gay Games VII ended with no debt and all bills paid. In contrast, the Montreal World Outgames ended with 5.3M Canadian dollars of debt.
In addition, the lack of attendees and participants at both events resulted in GLISA (the organization which heads the Outgames) changing the years of the event to precede the years of the Gay Games, meaning that the World Outgames were held in 2009 in Copenhagen and the Gay Games held in Cologne in 2010, while the World Outgames are being held in 2013 in Antwerp and Gay Games held in 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThe History of LGBT Participation in the Olympics^"Cologne gears up to play and party as host to Gay Games".^Federation of Gay Games. "FAQs". Retrieved July 5, 2010. ^Thomas, Sandra (July 25, 2011). "Outgames kick off in Vancouver". Vancouver Courier via Global Toronto. ^"Gay Games IV '' Unity '94". Federation of Gay Games. Retrieved February 6, 2009. [dead link]^"Gay Games IV Closing Address". Ian Retrieved February 6, 2009. ^"Federation of Gay Games press release on submission of bid books for Gay Games IX". Federation of Gay Games. March 17, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2013. ^"Federation of Gay Games blog post on choice of host of Gay Games IX". Federation of Gay Games. September 29, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2013. ^Kucinich, Jackie. "Cuyahoga County Republicans welcome Gay Games to Cleveland". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2014. ^Blackwell, Savannah (September 5, 2001). "Crushing the Gay Olympics: The USOC's homophobic past". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Archived from the original on May 27, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2006. ^ abClark, Joe (1994). "Glory of the Gay Games". Retrieved January 4, 2006. ^Bell, Daniel (1998). "Why Can't the Gay Games Be the Gay Olympics?". International Games Archive via Archived from the original on March 7, 2006. Retrieved June 12, 2010. ^^"Home". Acquarius Media. Retrieved June 7, 2011. ^Claiming the Title at the Internet Movie Database^Take the Flame! Gay Games: Grace Grit & Glory at the Internet Movie Database^ links[edit]
Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in plane crash
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 19:13
Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in plane crashTop News
Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in plane crash
Wed, Aug 13 14:59 PM EDT
By Gustavo Bonato
SANTOS Brazil (Reuters) - Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash on Wednesday, throwing the October election and local financial markets into disarray.
A private jet carrying Campos and his entourage crashed in a residential area in bad weather as it prepared to land in the coastal city of Santos. The accident killed all seven people on board, the Sao Paulo state fire department said.
Campos, 49, was running on a business-friendly platform and was in third place in recent polls with the support of about 10 percent of voters.
While he was not expected to win the Oct. 5 vote, he was widely seen as one of Brazil's brightest young political stars and his death instantly changes the dynamics of the race. Some analysts said it could make it harder for leftist President Dilma Rousseff to win a second term.
His running mate, environmentalist Marina Silva, is a former presidential candidate and was even better known than Campos at this relatively early stage of the campaign.
If she runs in his place, as electoral law says she can, Silva could eat into Rousseff's support among leftist voters. An evangelical Christian with a strong record on the environment, she could also attract more votes from Brazil's growing pools of young and evangelical voters.
In the hours after the crash, politicians from all sides expressed grief for a charismatic young former governor who even opponents privately whispered was likely to become president - probably not in 2014, but someday.
Rousseff, who is leading the race, announced she would suspend all campaigning for three days. "All of Brazil is in mourning," she said.
Senator Aecio Neves, the centrist candidate from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party running in second place, said he was "immensely saddened."
Rousseff is ahead in polls with about 36 percent of voter support. Neves has enjoyed about 20 percent support and was widely expected to face Rousseff in a second-round runoff on Oct. 26.
Brazil's stock and currency markets initially fell on the news of Campos' death and remained volatile as investors struggled to grasp what the impact would be on the election. Markets have gone up in recent months with each poll or other development suggesting Rousseff might lose, due to investors' distaste for her interventionist economic policies.
Some investors worried that Silva's entry into the race could leave Neves as the only candidate with strong backing from financial investors and big businesses. Others focused on what they saw as the increased likelihood of Rousseff facing a runoff in which both opposition camps lined up against her.
Campos, the leader of the Brazilian Socialist Party and a former governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, was running as a market-friendly leftist and had strong support from many banks and industrial groups.
His running mate Silva placed a strong third in the 2010 presidential election, but her pro-environment agenda means that many in Brazil's powerful agribusiness sector distrust her.
Silva, who was not on the plane that crashed, did not immediately make any statements following Campos' death.
Brazil's main stock index lost as much as 2 percent following initial reports that Campos was on the crashed plane, but later regained ground and was down a little more than 1 percent in afternoon trade. The currency also fell sharply on news of Campos' death but later bounced back.
The entry of Silva into the race could increase the odds of Rousseff facing a runoff, Brown Brothers Harriman said in a note to clients.
"She is very well known and arguably has a closer electoral base to (Rousseff)," the bank said in the note.
On Tuesday night, Campos was in Rio de Janeiro for an interview with Brazil's most-watched nightly news program. Several pundits praised his performance as confident and authoritative, and said he might rise in polls as a result.
Campos was a protege of popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva before breaking with the ruling Workers' Party in preparation for his presidential run last year.
"Surely he would have had an important role in Brazil's future. Brazil needs leaders like him, with the ability to understand the situation and not store up hatred or animosity. Eduardo was like that," said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, another former president and a member of Neves' party.
(Reporting by Brazil newsroom; Writing by Brian Winter; Editing by Todd Benson and Kieran Murray)
Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in plane crashTop News
Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in plane crash
Wed, Aug 13 14:59 PM EDT
By Gustavo Bonato
SANTOS Brazil (Reuters) - Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash on Wednesday, throwing the October election and local financial markets into disarray.
A private jet carrying Campos and his entourage crashed in a residential area in bad weather as it prepared to land in the coastal city of Santos. The accident killed all seven people on board, the Sao Paulo state fire department said.
Campos, 49, was running on a business-friendly platform and was in third place in recent polls with the support of about 10 percent of voters.
While he was not expected to win the Oct. 5 vote, he was widely seen as one of Brazil's brightest young political stars and his death instantly changes the dynamics of the race. Some analysts said it could make it harder for leftist President Dilma Rousseff to win a second term.
His running mate, environmentalist Marina Silva, is a former presidential candidate and was even better known than Campos at this relatively early stage of the campaign.
If she runs in his place, as electoral law says she can, Silva could eat into Rousseff's support among leftist voters. An evangelical Christian with a strong record on the environment, she could also attract more votes from Brazil's growing pools of young and evangelical voters.
In the hours after the crash, politicians from all sides expressed grief for a charismatic young former governor who even opponents privately whispered was likely to become president - probably not in 2014, but someday.
Rousseff, who is leading the race, announced she would suspend all campaigning for three days. "All of Brazil is in mourning," she said.
Senator Aecio Neves, the centrist candidate from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party running in second place, said he was "immensely saddened."
Rousseff is ahead in polls with about 36 percent of voter support. Neves has enjoyed about 20 percent support and was widely expected to face Rousseff in a second-round runoff on Oct. 26.
Brazil's stock and currency markets initially fell on the news of Campos' death and remained volatile as investors struggled to grasp what the impact would be on the election. Markets have gone up in recent months with each poll or other development suggesting Rousseff might lose, due to investors' distaste for her interventionist economic policies.
Some investors worried that Silva's entry into the race could leave Neves as the only candidate with strong backing from financial investors and big businesses. Others focused on what they saw as the increased likelihood of Rousseff facing a runoff in which both opposition camps lined up against her.
Campos, the leader of the Brazilian Socialist Party and a former governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, was running as a market-friendly leftist and had strong support from many banks and industrial groups.
His running mate Silva placed a strong third in the 2010 presidential election, but her pro-environment agenda means that many in Brazil's powerful agribusiness sector distrust her.
Silva, who was not on the plane that crashed, did not immediately make any statements following Campos' death.
Brazil's main stock index lost as much as 2 percent following initial reports that Campos was on the crashed plane, but later regained ground and was down a little more than 1 percent in afternoon trade. The currency also fell sharply on news of Campos' death but later bounced back.
The entry of Silva into the race could increase the odds of Rousseff facing a runoff, Brown Brothers Harriman said in a note to clients.
"She is very well known and arguably has a closer electoral base to (Rousseff)," the bank said in the note.
On Tuesday night, Campos was in Rio de Janeiro for an interview with Brazil's most-watched nightly news program. Several pundits praised his performance as confident and authoritative, and said he might rise in polls as a result.
Campos was a protege of popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva before breaking with the ruling Workers' Party in preparation for his presidential run last year.
"Surely he would have had an important role in Brazil's future. Brazil needs leaders like him, with the ability to understand the situation and not store up hatred or animosity. Eduardo was like that," said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, another former president and a member of Neves' party.
(Reporting by Brazil newsroom; Writing by Brian Winter; Editing by Todd Benson and Kieran Murray)
Shadow Puppet Theatre
White House Reverses Course: Now Allowing Lobbyists To Serve On Insider Government 'Advisory' Boards | Techdirt
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:58
For many years, we've talked about the very questionable practice by the USTR to set up "Industry Trade Advisory Committees" (ITACs), who had full access to the various documents concerning the trade agreements that were being negotiated. Obviously, for big companies, being one of the very small group of people on the inside, helping to shape trade agreements, is enormously powerful -- especially since industries long ago learned that you can "launder" policy changes that Congress doesn't want to make via the international trade agreement process, thereby putting pressure on Congress to act. It's why we've pointed out that it seems rather unfair that the RIAA has direct access to the TPP agreement, but Senate staffers (including experts on international trade) have been refused access.Of course, one of the lame responses from the USTR and others is that, technically President Obama's ethics rules forbade "lobbyists" from being on those and other committees. But that was already very narrowly focused just on people who met the official definition of lobbyist. And, you could still have other people who work directly with lobbyists on the committee. So, for example, Neil Turkewitz, a VP with the RIAA is currently on the IP advisory committee. He can do that because he's not technically a "lobbyist" -- he just happens to work for an organization where the main function is lobbying, and where most of his colleagues are lobbyists.
Apparently, that sort of looseness wasn't enough. The White House has now changed the rules to make them even friendlier to lobbyists:
In new guidance issued Tuesday, the administration said registered lobbyists will once again be allowed to serve on the boards so long as they are representing a client.
The new rules now say:Under the Memorandum and this Revised Guidance, federally registered lobbyists may not serve on an advisory committee, board, or commission (hereinafter, ''committee'') in an ''individual capacity.'' In this Revised Guidance, the term ''individual capacity'' refers to individuals who are appointed to committees to exercise their own individual best judgment on behalf of the government, such as when they are designated as Special Government Employees as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202. The lobbyist ban do es not apply to lobbyists who are appointed in a ''representative capacity,'' meaning that they are appointed for the express purpose of providing a committee with the views of a nongovernmental entity, a recognizable group of persons or nongovernmental entities (an industry sector, labor unions, or environmental groups, etc.), or state or local government.
The original ban was one of President Obama's apparent "sweeping" changes, and which the President insisted showed how he was reducing the influence of lobbyists in government. Here's what he said back in 2010 about this:My Administration is committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests that for too long has shaped the national agenda and drowned out the voices of ordinary Americans. Special interests exert this disproportionate influence, in part, by relying on lobbyists who have special access that is not available to all citizens. Although lobbyists can sometimes play a constructive role by communicating information to the government, their service in privileged positions within the executive branch can perpetuate the culture of special interest access that I am committed to changing.
Apparently, the administration is a little less committed to changing that these days. Admittedly, the White House was somewhat pressured into this by a lawsuit from some lobbyists who (I'm not joking) argued their First Amendment rights were being violated. While a lower court rejected this argument, earlier this year, the DC Circuit appeals court claimed it was a legitimate First Amendment issue and that "the ban pressures them to limit their constitutional right to petition."Frankly, that's ridiculous. Almost no one is allowed on these advisory committees. The Intellectual Property Advisory Committee has a grand total of 16 people. I'm sure there's no way in hell I would be allowed on it. Does that mean that my constitutional right to petition the government has been denied? Of course not, because that's a ridiculous interpretation of the First Amendment.
The Appeals Court ruling wasn't the end of the case, as it was was sent back to the lower court for further review -- but it appears that the Obama administration has effectively thrown in the towel and will allow the lobbyists back onto the committees that none of us are likely to ever be allowed on. Because that process wasn't corrupt enough already...
23 & Me
23andMe uses data from DNA kits for new biotech research | Circa News
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 09:17
Science - August 12, 2014 4:36PM
23andMe, the DNA testing company, was told last year it couldn't market its kit as a health service. It has, however, partnered with drug maker Pfizer to study inflammatory bowel disease using its backlog of genetic information.
In July the National Institutes of Health awarded 23andMe a two-year $1.4 million grant to build a research engine for genetic discovery. The same month 23andMe contributed data from more than 66,000 customers to research that identified new locations of specific genes that are associated with Parkinson's.
"The long game here is not to make money selling kits, although the kits are essential to get the base level data. Once you have the data, [the company] does actually become the Google of personalized health care." Patrick Chung, 23andMe board member
23andMe has also partnered with biotech company Genentech to study metastatic breast cancer and drugmaker Janssen Pharmaceuticals to study rheumatoid arthritis.
"'... we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply with the [FDA's] directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process. We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe's interpretation." 23andMe statement
23andMe announced Dec. 5 that it would stop selling its "health-related genetic tests." The company says, however, that it will continue to provide services to customers that purchased the service prior to Nov. 22, when the FDA sent the company a letter saying 23andMe was violating federal rules.
"The Food and Drug Administration is sending you this letter because you are marketing the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act." Alberto Gutierrez, Food and Drug Administration
In a Nov. 22 letter to the company, the FDA said it held 14 face-to-face meetings, video conferences and "hundreds of email exchanges" with 23andMe to try to resolve issues. The FDA says there are still outstanding issues to address regarding false positives and false negatives.
Obama Nation
Public Interest Groups Call for CIA Director to Resign
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 07:00
Public Interest Groups Call for CIA Director to ResignAugust 12, 2014
CIA Director John Brennan
The Project On Government Oversight and a coalition of public interest groups called for CIA Director John Brennan's resignation Tuesday, citing abuses of power that include obstructing and spying on a Senate committee that was looking into the agency's use of torture.
In a letter to President Obama, the groups said that Brennan's belated apology and his referral of the matter to an internal CIA ''accountability board'' are not enough. The groups urged the president to request Brennan's resignation.
The call for his resignation follows the CIA Office of the Inspector General (IG) finding that CIA employees had improperly accessed confidential Senate computer files, surreptitiously read Senate staffers' emails, filed a false criminal referral of Senate staff and ''demonstrated a lack of candor'' in interviews with the IG.
The IG report confirmed allegations that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, made against the CIA earlier this year. At the time, Brennan had publicly denied Feinstein's charges.
The coalition letter to Obama said that since 9/11, the CIA has repeatedly tried to conceal and obstruct oversight of its use of torture.
''Director Brennan did not begin this pattern, but he has continued and reinforced it,'' the groups said. ''The ongoing misconduct of the CIA, both prior to Mr. Brennan and under his leadership, sends a message to CIA employees, and creates an impression to the public that it is an agency without limits.''
Follow the link to read the letter.
Image from the CIA.
Joe Newman is the Director of Communications for the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics:Government Accountability
Related Content:Checks and Balances, DOD Oversight
Authors:Joe Newman
POGO on Facebook
Latest PodcastPodcast; Social Media, Internet Provides Opportunities, Challenges for LawmakersThe Congressional Management Foundation offers the Gold Mouse Awards annually to members of Congress who make the most of the opportunity the digital world offers them. POGO spoke with members of Rep. Mike Honda's communications team about their award.
Agenda 21
The climate change money machine | TheHill
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:42
The period of atmospheric and surface warming that began in the late 1970s ended in the mid- to late 1990s, but the climate change industry is hot. Witness a new effort by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to use unsupported assertions about the hugely adverse effects of greenhouse gas emissions purportedly now looming large to justify federal auctions of "carbon" permits, with the revenue inevitably used by the political class for purposes of redistribution to favored interest groups.
Van Hollen has introduced The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014, which would impose steadily declining limits on "carbon pollution" '-- a classic example of the political propaganda at which the climate change industry is so practiced '-- by auctioning permits to the "first sellers" of oil, coal and natural gas in the U.S. market. The goal would be an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 2005 levels by 2050.Let us begin with the central congressional "finding" (that is, bland assertion) in the Van Hollen legislation: "The warming of our planet has led to more frequent, dangerous, and expensive extreme weather events, including heat waves, storms, fires, droughts, floods, and tornadoes."
Wow. With respect to the explicit assumption about the "warming of our planet": The most recent warming period ended 15or more years ago. More generally, global temperatures increased roughly from the middle of the 19th century (the end of the Little Ice Age) through the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, and then from about 1910 through about 1940. They were roughly constant through the late 1970s, increased until approximately 1998 (a year with a strong El Ni±o), and have exhibited no trend since then. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report summarizes the relevant data as follows: The total increase between the 1850-1900 average and the 2003-2012 period (in short, approximately a century) was 0.78 degrees Celsius. For the period 1951-2012, the increase was 0.12 C per decade, or about 1.2 C per century.
In short, it appears to be the case that the earth has been warming in fits and starts since the end of the Little Ice Age. That more-general observation in a sense is a bit tautological '-- the "end of the Little Ice Age" is defined as the beginning of a warming trend '-- but it does highlight the underlying reality that no one knows the degree to which this longer-term warming is anthropogenic. The climate models are of little help, in that they simply do not predict the recent temperature record, although some satellite observations of slight warming at higher latitudes in cold, dry air masses in the Northern Hemisphere, and some observations of slight cooling in the lower stratosphere, are consistent with standard global warming theory. Taken as a whole, this suggests that anthropogenic warming is real but small, and that assertions of imminent apocalypse are not to be taken seriously, as the IPCC does not.
The language of the Van Hollen bill goes downhill from there, particularly in terms of the "finding" of "extreme weather events" and associated effects. The past two years have set a record for the fewest tornadoes ever in a similar period, and there has been no trend in the frequency of strong (F3 to F5) tornadoes in the United States since 1950. The number of wildfires is in a long-term decline. It has been eight years since a Category 3 or higher hurricane landed on the U.S. coast; that long a period devoid of an intense hurricane landfall has not been observed since 1900. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season was the least active in 40 years, with zero major hurricanes. There has been no trend in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones, and global cyclone activity and energy are near their lowest levels since reliable measurements began by satellite in the 1970s. There is no long-term trend in sea-level increases. The record of changes in the size of the Arctic ice cover is far more ambiguous than often asserted, because the satellite measurements began at the outset of the warming period from roughly the late 1970s through the mid- to late 1990s. The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows no trend since 1895. Flooding in the United States over the last century has not been correlated with increases in GHG concentrations.
Van Hollen's willingness to make unsupported assertions about temperatures and weather is in sharp contrast with his loud silence on the effect of the proposed 80 percent GHG emissions reduction in terms of future temperatures and "extreme weather events." If we apply the climate model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, used by both the Environmental Protection Agency and IPCC, the Van Hollen "carbon pollution" policy would reduce global temperatures in the year 2100 by about 0.14 degrees under the highest climate sensitivity assumption made by the IPCC. As the annual variability of our temperature measurements is about 0.11 degrees, this effect would be barely measurable, and not different from zero as a matter of statistical significance. Under the second-highest IPCC climate sensitivity assumption, the effect would be less than 0.11 degrees, and so not distinguishable from natural variability.
But the true low point of the Van Hollen argument is his assertion that the proposal will "boost the purchasing power of American consumers" by "returning the resulting (auction) revenue to everyone equally." Wow, again. Put aside the reality that there is no reason to predict that the bargaining process in Congress would yield an outcome in which the revenue would be divided equally among all Americans. It is impossible that "purchasing power" '-- that is, the size of the aggregate economic pie '-- would increase, because the proposal would make energy artificially expensive, thus distorting resource use and so reducing "purchasing power" '-- that is, increasing the aggregate level of real prices '-- unambiguously. That is what it means to implement a system transferring revenue '-- real resources '-- to the government, and the choice among the alternative ways in which government distributes the revenue is irrelevant. Ordinary people will pay more for energy, for goods made with it, and for goods complementary to it. Moreover, because different economic sectors have varying energy (or "carbon") intensities, relative prices would shift; the proposal would cause a resource reallocation process across industries and regions, the short-run effect of which would be recessionary. "Short-run" does not necessarily mean a short period of time.
Back to consumers: People are different, making decisions under vastly differing circumstances, and so consume very different baskets of goods and services. It is obvious, therefore, that some would be hurt more than others. Accordingly, it is no answer to say that the auction revenue would be returned "to everyone equally," even if that were possible politically. And "consumers" are producers also; even Van Hollen would be too embarrassed to assert that producers would be affected "equally," and so, again, the net outcome would be massive wealth redistribution, a smaller economy and net adverse effects for many or most. Van Hollen's gambit of "returning the resulting revenue to everyone equally" is fraudulent.
Beware politicians promising gifts. By taking resources from one set of pockets and returning (some of) them to others, the federal government cannot improve aggregate economic performance. In the context of climate policy, it can have only the most trivial effect. But it can reward friends and punish adversaries, the inexorable result of disingenuous environmentalism run amok.
Zycher is the John G. Searle scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
The Pentagon is preparing for societal collapse due to Climate Change
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:46
Most of us on this site are well aware that climate change impacts will exacerbate marginal living in poor and desperate nations particularly those in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. These humanitarian and natural disaster impacts will be occurring in multiple places all around the world, possibly occurring all at once and on a scale human civilization has never seen before. But what about the developed world, particularly the United States?
National Security and the threat of Climate Change prepared by CNA and released in 2007 with an advisory board of 11 of the country's top retired generals and admirals summarizes those threats and how the military will need to adapt.
The report finds that in the US, security threats will consist of an unimaginable need for worldwide humanitarian aid and increasing migrations to the US from our neighbors to the south. This does not take into account that we will be dealing with our own catastrophic climate change impacts. There will be scarcity of water and melting of glaciers which currently provide water for millions of people. Drought and decreased rainfall will cause more severe droughts and devastate food production. For example, the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides 27% of the irrigated land in this country, is very stressed from human impact. The water table level is down 100 feet in some areas. Three of the top grain producing states, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska each get 70 to 90% of their water from the Ogallala which will be stressed even further with the predicted lack of rainfall. The Colorado River Basin, the source of water for 10's of millions of people, is already experiencing reduced river flow. The World Meteorological Organization predicts an increase in tropical hurricane speed strength and increased rainfall amounts potentially devastating coasts up and down the eastern seaboard, GoM, and the Caribbean as the climate continues to bake.
From Earth Island Journal:
"As greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, opposition to the fossil fuel industry has taken on a more urgent and confrontational tone. Some anti-fracking activists have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience and the protests against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline have involved arrests at the White House. Environmentalists and civil libertarians worry that accusations of terrorism, even if completely unfounded, could undermine peaceful political protest. The mere possibility of surveillance could handicap environmental groups' ability to achieve their political goals. ''You are painting the political opposition as supporters of terrorism to discredit them and cripple their ability to remain politically viable,'' says Mike German, an FBI special agent for 16 years who now works with the ACLU"
Given this information the Department of Defense has created the Minerva Initiative."The Minerva Initiative is a DoD-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense that focuses on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. Its objectives are to foster and improve the Defense Department's social science intellectual capital in order to address future security challenges and to build bridges between the Department of Defense and the academic social science community. Minerva will do this by bringing together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars; and by supporting multidisciplinary and cross-institutional projects addressing specific topic areas determined by the Department."
Nafeez Ahmed reports that "NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism".
But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three.
"Unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic "emergency" or "civil disturbance"
"Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances."
Other documents show that the "extraordinary emergencies" the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.
In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:
"Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response."
Two years later, the Department of Defense's (DoD) Army Modernisation Strategydescribed the arrival of a new "era of persistent conflict" due to competition for "depleting natural resources and overseas markets" fuelling "future resource wars over water, food and energy." The report predicted a resurgence of:
"... anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability."
In the same year, a report by the US Army's Strategic Studies Institute warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke large-scale civil unrest. The path to "disruptive domestic shock" could include traditional threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside "catastrophic natural and human disasters" or "pervasive public health emergencies" coinciding with "unforeseen economic collapse." Such crises could lead to "loss of functioning political and legal order" leading to "purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency...
"DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance."
That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong troop force who would be on-hand to respond to "domestic catastrophes" and civil unrest - the programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security strategy which emphasised "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents."
The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for a US force presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.
Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by the US Joint Forces Command - designed to inform "joint concept development and experimentation throughout the Department of Defense" - setting out the US military's definitive vision for future trends and potential global threats. Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:
"... tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural catastrophes... Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within the United States itself - particularly when the nation's economy is in a fragile state or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are broadly affected - the damage to US security could be considerable."
The study also warned of a possible shortfall in global oil output by 2015:
"A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions."
That year the DoD's Quadrennial Defense Review seconded such concerns, while recognising that "climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked."
Privatization of intelligence just happens to coincide with "increasing domestic surveillance operations against political activists, particularly those linked to environmental and social justice protest groups".NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a computer systems administrator for Booz Allen Hamilton, where he directly handled the NSA's IT systems, including the Prism surveillance system. According to Booz Allen's 2011 Annual Report, the corporation has overseen Unified Quest "for more than a decade" to help "military and civilian leaders envision the future."
snip!Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a "systematic effort" by the agency "to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations" linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
Similarly, FBI documents confirmed "a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector" designed to produce intelligence on behalf of "the corporate security community." A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show "federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America."
In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People's Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace.
I have often suspected that the increase in intelligence such as spying on American citizens, the crackdown on OWS and the militarization of our local police forces is no coincidence. The government is indeed preparing, with the help of the 1%, to crush the inevitable angry pushback against the government and the corporations once the climate change shit hits the fan.Nafeez Ahmed concludes his article as follows.
The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA's global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.
The entire video is fascinating, but you can skip to the 4:37 mark for the discussion on the Pentagon's preparation for societal collapse due to climate change.
Readout of the President's Call with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 07:01
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 12, 2014
The President spoke today with Prime Minister Erdogan to congratulate him on his election as the 12th President of the Republic of Turkey and wish him well as he begins his term later this month. The President praised the Prime Minister's speech on Sunday and noted that as Turkey's first directly elected President, the Prime Minister has an historic opportunity to further move Turkey forward. The President and Prime Minister agreed on the importance of close cooperation on Syria and Iraq and the terrorist threat emanating from the region. They also discussed ceasefire efforts in Gaza. The President welcomed Turkey's humanitarian aid to vulnerable Syrians and Iraqis, and both agreed on the need to ensure cooperation and such assistance continue. They also expressed hope that a new Iraqi government will bring all communities together.
VIDEO- George Clooney snaps Iranian style and praises Iranian filmmakers - YouTube
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:37
VIDEO-George Clooney Mulls Run for Governor of California
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:18
This San Francisco Chronicle reports that a friend of the man who was once deemed Hollywood's perpetual bachelor--but has seemingly broken that myth with his pending nuptials to British-Lebanese attorney Amal Alamuddin--told the Mirror that Clooney, 53, is in fact looking to run for governor of the Golden State. If he does, and if his run proves victorious, then he will be joining the likes of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Talk of the potential political move for Clooney has been attributed in great part to his fiance Alamuddin. A source identified as a Clooney "pal" told the Mirror recently "now he has Amal by his side it will give him more credibility to run for office." Amal Alammuddin is an international lawyer who resides in England and whose mother is an editor of the Arabic news site and whose father is a retired professor of the American University of Beirut.
The Mirror also reported that President Obama himself has been courting Clooney to consider a run.
Clooney has been an avid supporter of President Obama. He campaigned for him in 2012 and in April of this year Clooney defended the POTUS at a private dinner in which he and billionaire Steve Wynn had a few unsavory exchanges in what was reportedly an inebriated "hissy fit" by Clooney. Wynn had criticized Obama, whom Clooney considers a friend.
The president and Clooney also seem to share similar views on foreign policy and humanitarian efforts, specifically with regard to strengthening relations between the US and Middle East. Obama chose to give his first nationally-televised interview as President of the United States of America to Arabic-language satellite TV network Al Arabiya.
A video from 2013 recently resurfaced over the internet of Clooney praising Iranian filmmakers during a red carpet interview in which he said "and your hope is that as Iran becomes more and more integrated into the United States -- I mean, into the would hope that banning them would seem archaic," he said. And then added, "because it should be."
VIDEO-Khaled Sharrouf: The Australian radical fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:35
Updated August 14, 2014 22:23:02
With a single photo of his seven-year-old son holding a severed head, Khaled Sharrouf has shot to global infamy.
He has become the public face of a band of Australian terrorists who are operating in the killing fields of Iraq and Syria.
But who is Khaled Sharrouf and how did he end up as the poster boy for Western jihadism?
His history reveals a very different picture '' a drug-addled petty criminal whose substance abuse led to chronic mental illness.
"He was a drop-out at school. He was ultimately expelled at a very early age for poor behaviour," former Supreme Court justice Anthony Whealy said.
"He soon took up drugs and became involved in petty criminality and it seems that part of the people he started to mix with introduced to him a very extreme form of radical Islamic religion."
It was this that led to his first serious run in with the law.
In 2005 Sharrouf was charged, along with eight other Sydney men, over the biggest terrorism plot in Australian history.
He was charged with possessing items to be used for a terrorist act '' six clocks and 140 batteries he stole from a Big W store.
Sharrouf a 'very ill man', had severe schizophrenia: judgeJustice Whealy presided over the terrorism trials and heard evidence from psychiatrists who diagnosed Sharrouf with chronic schizophrenia, likely caused by his earlier sustained use of LSD, ecstasy and amphetamines.
"He was very ill mentally. He had very severe schizophrenia, he suffered from delusions - every report was very clear on this point," Justice Whealy told 7.30.
"His symptoms were quite severe, he was quite delusional.
"He was overheard talking to other people when no-one was there. This was observed on quite a few occasions and it was a state of mind that persisted for some time.
"He was unfit to plead and that means in legal terms that he was simply incapable of understand what the court case would be about."
Justice Whealy thinks nothing has changed.
"Sharrouf now says, of course, that he tricked everybody, but I don't believe that for a minute," he said.
"He was a very ill man and I believe he still is."
Prominent Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet represented one of the co-accused and observed Sharrouf in court.
"The one characteristic that I saw was that he was a class clown," he said.
"Much of his attitude and tactics with the group was to get a laugh. One put it down to dimwittedness a little bit, but he was really playing the clown.
"He would be voted the least likely to be holding a head in Iraq if one had to pick it."
Mental illness influenced radicalisation, psychiatrist saysIn a report tendered to the Supreme Court, Sharrouf's psychiatrist Stephen Allnutt, detailed how his patient's mental illness had influenced his radicalisation.
"After he realised he had a problem, he began to hang out with Muslims," Dr Allnutt said.
None of us could've foreseen that he would've gone back to the radicalism that he's now displaying.
Justice Anthony Whealy
"They always reminded him of God. [He] began to hang out with people in the mosque, attended each time prayers were on - this relaxed him.
"He found that every time he felt paranoid, the thought of God would relax him."
Sharrouf fell in with a crowd at Australia's most infamous prayer hall, located on Haldon Street in Lakemba.
In August, 2005, Sharrouf was recorded on a listening device proclaiming his hatred for Australia.
"Forget Australia law ... Australia law get stuffed, finished ... give us all back our passports and we [sic] leave," he said.
"I swear to God I'll be the first to get out of this stuffed up country.
"Sons of dogs ... I swear I'd rather be locked up and tortured and everything in a Muslim country rather than be locked up one day in this country."
The group's spiritual leader was Melbourne sheikh Abdul Nacer Benrika.
In 2009 Benbrika was jailed for 15 years for his part in the plot to blow up targets in Melbourne and Sydney.
Sharrouf was sentenced to a minimum three years and 11 months but, with time served, the now-convicted terrorist had only three weeks until his release.
"You have to bear in mind that his crime, although a serious crime, was a pretty pathetic crime," Justice Whealy said.
"Stealing some clocks, some batteries and potato chips from the supermarket doesn't really warrant a long time in jail."
He disagrees with people who say he should he have been locked up for longer.
"The punishment must fit the crime," he said.
"If people say that, they're probably saying [that] because they're expressing their disgust at what he's doing now, but that's not what he was charged with.
"None of us could've foreseen that he would've gone back to the radicalism that he's now displaying.
"We all hoped that he would not and there was every indication, although expressed with caution and hesitation, that he would not."
Sharrouf always wanted to join fight for Islam, friend saysOn his release Sharrouf fell back into the criminal world.
Police say Sharrouf was carrying out violent extortions in the construction industry, while claiming a disability pension for his mental illness.
He's a very sad, pathetic figure. He remains a highly unintelligent man who has no perception of himself.
Justice Anthony Whealy
It was a dangerous game - a year ago his business partner, Vasko Boskovski, was shot dead in a suburban Sydney street.
Sharrouf threw himself back into hardline Islam.
He began attending the Al Risalah prayer centre in Sydney's west three years ago.
Last December Sharrouf slipped out of Australia, travelling on his brother's passport, headed for Syria.
The director of the prayer centre, Wissam Haddad, has been a close friend of Sharrouf's for three years.
He told the 7.30 the fight for Islam was something Sharrouf had always wanted to do.
"He's fulfilling that and he was willing to give everything up to do that," Mr Haddad told 7.30.
"He never wants to come back. He wants nothing to do with Australia.
"He's happy doing what he is and he's hoping to be granted that gift from God to die as a martyr."
Justice Whealy says Sharrouf'a actions should not be glamourised or the danger he presents to Australia overstated.
"He's clearly over there playing a role of the master terrorist '' but he's anything but, of course," he said.
"He's a very sad, pathetic figure. He remains a highly unintelligent man who has no perception of himself.
"The only danger he represents, I think, is that he is cast as a sort of proselytiser of this radical Islam image, and Facebook and Twitter and that sort of thing can carry that message across here to young men who might be in the position he was - young men who are angry, dissatisfied, rebellious, looking for a cause."
Topics:terrorism, unrest-conflict-and-war, security-intelligence, defence-and-national-security, syrian-arab-republic, australia, nsw, sydney-2000
First posted August 14, 2014 22:07:54
VIDEO-Marlon Wayans: Antidepressants may have caused Robin Williams' suicide -- Fusion.
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:30
Marlon Wayans spoke with Fusion Live host Yannis Pappas about the passing of Robin Williams.
One of the things that impressed Wayans the most about Williams' work was his range as an actor.
"Robin was a great dramatic actor as well as a comedian," Wayans said. "Great with improv, incredible at character, great at physicalization. The man lacked nothing."
Wayans also had some thoughts about the manner of Williams' death.
"I think there's something in these medicines that people are taking for depression that's making them depressed and making them commit suicide," Wayans said. "I don't think it's depression. I think it's chemical. ... He was such a joyful dude."
VIDEO-State Department Briefing | Video |
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:30
August 12, 2014Marie Harf briefed reporters and responded to questions on a variety of international issues.'‚She addressed concerns that Secretary of State John Kerry stayed in a Myanmar hotel owned by a blacklisted businessman.
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VIDEO0Sen. Graham on Fighting ISIS: 'It is About our Homeland' | MRCTV
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:44
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VIDEO-MSNBC's Ronan Farrow: Are Black Americans 'Under Siege?'; WaPo's Capehart Confirms | MRCTV
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:37
In a discussion about the recent unresolved shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily touted the idea that there is a war on black men in America.
Host Ronan Farrow cited a piece from Jonathan Capehart in the Washington Post regarding recent deaths of African-Americans including Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, and Michael Brown. The article discussed the idea that black people '' and particularly black males '' are under siege in America. Farrow brought Capehart onto the program to ask him the question himself, wondering: ''Are black Americans, as you put it, under siege.'' Capehart responded without hesitation:
VIDEO-MSNBC Guest: Police Shooting of Teen Was 'Execution-Style' Murder; Chris Hayes Fails to Rebuke Heated Charge | MRCTV
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:26
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
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Amid 'Foreign Fighter' Concerns, Kerry Comments on Photo of Boy Holding Severed Head in Syria | MRCTV
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:21
patrick.goodenoughPatrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for 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's roster of international stringers.
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VIDEO-NBC Touts 'Defiant' Edward Snowden Telling Wired Magazine: 'I Feel Like A Patriot' | MRCTV
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:18
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
On Wednesday, NBC's Today devoted a nearly four-minute segment to promoting a fawning interview that Wired magazine conducted with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Despite introducing the story by labeling Snowden as "the man U.S. officials have called a traitor and a coward," co-host Willie Geist went on to proclaim: "Out from the front of the flashbulbs. Appearing at times exhausted, at times defiant..."
With a musical score playing throughout the segment that made it sound like an action movie, a sound bite ran of Snowden declaring: "My name is Ed Snowden. I used to work for the government and now I work for the public." Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich explained the magazine's cover photo showing Snowden draped in an American flag: "He came in actually quite nervous to the shoot. And he said, 'I love my country, I feel like a patriot.' And it was at that moment that we knew that we had the cover."
VIDEO-MSNBC's Kornacki Grills State Dept's Harf: Is The Goal To Destroy ISIS? Why Isn't This Our Fight? | Video | RealClearPolitics
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 00:23
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STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: What is the goal here for the United States? Can you define success when it comes to these air strikes and these humanitarian drops? Ultimately, what will make it a successful venture for the United States?
MARIE HARF, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, Steve, thanks for having me on today. What he said yesterday is completely inline with the goals the president outlined when he announced this military action last week. First to prevent ISIL from being able to move on Erbil which these air strikes have done. They have succeeded in that mission over the past few days.
And it was also to prevent a worsening humanitarian catastrophe from turning into a full scale genocide on top of Mount Sinjar, and they have done that in combination with humanitarian air drops and also the air strikes over the past 36 hours around Mount Sinjar to protect these people. The two very discrete goals the president outlined in announcing this action has been met.
Now, there is a broader question here which is what you are getting at. How do we fight ISIL long term in Iraq and in Syria? There is a broader strategy in place and it is one that's not at the end of the day fully an American military solution. We have been clear about that. The Iraqi military forces working with the Kurds need to regroup, retrain and reequip. And we're going to help them do that but at the end of the day that's really the long-term strategy here.
KORNACKI: So, Marie, as a long-term goal then is it the goal of the United States to defeat ISIS?
HARF: Well, clearly we want to see this terrorist group not able to threaten people anymore.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know you want to, but is that the goal? Is that the goal of the United States to defeat it?
HARF: Well, of course the goal is to defeat them operationally, yes. But what does that mean when you're looking at a terrorist group? What does that mean when you're looking at their ideology? If you've looked very specifically at what they have done in Iraq, what we want to do is not allow them to take more territory, not allow them to move on Erbil, of course further down towards Baghdad and help the Iraqis push them back. Basically retake territory. So we are helping the Iraqis do that now.
But it's a broader question. Look, you're always going to have a terrorist threat. It's how you contain it and when they try to go after your interests as we have seen them do in Syria, in Iraq, how we can bring our capabilities to bear to fight that. It's different every place you look and you have to use different tools to fight the threat.
KORNACKI: I guess the reason I'm asking so specifically there is when you hear what Secretary Kerry was talking about. When you hear Chuck Hagel, these are top officials in your administration who are talking about a threat to the civilized world. And then I hear you saying on here that ultimately this is not the fight for the United States -- you told me this is a fight for the Iraqis. It does raise the question, given how you are describing ISIS, given these very real things that people in your administration are pointing to, it raises the question, why isn't this the United States's fight?
HARF: Well, look. To be very clear, Steve, this is a fight we are invested in and we feel very deeply about and we're going to continue to be invested in. In terms of Iraqi territory specifically at the end of the day, that is a long term fight the Iraqi security forces need to be able to handle with our support, but to be able to handle on their own.
We will work with them as we did with many countries around the world who faced very serious terrorist threats to share intelligence, to share surveillance and reconnaissance, help them find targets to go after these guys. So just because there is no long-term massive American military solution doesn't mean that we're not going to play a role and it doesn't mean that we're not going to be helping. But at the end of the day we can't do it for them. (Hardball, August 12, 2014)
VIDEO-DRUNK HAGEL-'Not a Combat-Boots-on-the-Ground Operation,' Says Hagel, Announcing 130 More Troops to Iraq | CNS News
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 00:20
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a town hall meeting aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (Photo: DoD/Lance Cpl. John Baker)
( '' Around 130 more U.S. troops have arrived in northern Iraq, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday, saying their mission was to ''take a closer look and give a more in-depth assessment of where we can continue to help the Iraqis.''
Speaking to Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif. after flying in from Australia, Hagel stressed that the latest deployment ''is not a combat-boots-on-the-ground operation.''
''We're not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions that we once were in in Iraq,'' he said.
The troops, who include ''a lot of Marines,'' arrived Tuesday in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region. The city is home to a U.S. Consulate and one of two joint operations centers '' the other is in Baghdad '' where a total of about 250 U.S. military advisors have been based since President Obama announced their deployment in June.
As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) jihadists captured territory across northern and western Iraq, Obama also sent hundreds of additional military personnel to reinforce security at the U.S. Embassy and the international airport in Baghdad.
The U.S. mission in northern Iraq, as outlined by Obama last Thursday night, is twofold: to provide humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people, many of them minority Yazidis, trapped on a mountain about 100 miles west of Erbil after fleeing the ISIS advance; and to carry out airstrikes against ISIS fighters.
Airstrikes would be launched in three sets of circumstances, Obama said: to stop ISIS fighters from advancing on Erbil; to protect U.S. forces or personnel anywhere in Iraq, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil; and to help forces in Iraq in their efforts to break the jihadists' siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there. Those limits were again outlined in his formal notification to Congress the following day.
Hagel said at Camp Pendleton that the new troops sent to Erbil will help to evaluate options for rescuing the civilians trapped on the mountain.
He stressed that their mission was not a combat one.
''As the president has made very clear, we're not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions that we once were in Iraq,'' he said. ''Very specifically, this is not a combat-boots-on-the-ground operation.''
''We're not going to have that kind of operation,'' Hagel added. ''But short of that, there are some things we can continue to do, and we are doing.''
Hagel described ISIS as ''an ideology that's connected to an army.''
''It's a force and a dimension that the world has never seen before like we have seen it now.''
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Twitter that Obama had authorized, at Hagel's request, ''temporarily sending approximately 130 additional U.S. military personnel to northern Iraq. They will assess scope of the humanitarian mission and develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond the current airdrop effort.''
At the department's daily briefing earlier, Harf said the administration was ''working on'' options to rescue the civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar
''We are looking at ways to see if there's a humanitarian corridor that can be established, if there are safe locales for people to go to, because ultimately you can't have tens of thousands of people trapped on a mountain even with the airdrops,'' she said.
''So there needs to be a long-term humanitarian solution. We're looking at that right now. It's a really, really tough security challenge, also humanitarian challenge.''
U.S. Central Command said late Tuesday that the military had carried out a sixth airdrop of food and water for those on Mount Sinjar, bringing the total delivered so far to ''up to 100,000 meals and more than 27,000 gallons of fresh drinking water.''
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 23:03
VIDEO-Robin Williams' body was found by personal assistant, official says - LA Times
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:27
A Marin County sheriff's official on Tuesday offered the most detailed description of the death of Robin Williams, whose body was "cool to the touch" when it was discovered by a personal assistant.
Rigor mortis had already set in by the time Williams' assistant discovered the body in a slightly elevated position with a belt around the neck, said Lt. Keith Boyd, assistant deputy chief coroner in the Sheriff's Office.
The distraught assistant, whose name was not released, called 911 at 11:55 a.m. Monday to report the discovery.
Williams, 63, also had recent but superficial cut marks on his left wrist. A pocket knife was found near his body, with a dried substance resembling blood.
In front of a bank of media cameras, Boyd offered the most detailed statement yet on the death of the Oscar-winning actor and comedian at his home in unincorporated Tiburon.
Boyd declined to say whether Williams had left a note, but he said Williams had been receiving "treatment for depression" and confirmed that suicide was suspected. Boyd wouldn't answer questions about any prior suicide attempts or the treatment Williams was receiving for depression.
Toxicology tests, which are expected to take two to six weeks, will reveal whether Williams had any alcohol or drugs in his system, Boyd said.
Williams and his wife, Susan Schneider, were alone Sunday night in their home, which fronts San Francisco Bay, Boyd said. Sheriff's officials had previously said Williams was last seen at 10 p.m., but Boyd said Schneider retired to a bedroom at 10:30 p.m.
It was not known when Williams went to bed in a separate bedroom.
Schneider left home at 10:30 a.m. the next day, believing her husband was OK, Boyd said. At 11:45 a.m., the personal assistant became concerned when Williams failed to respond to knocks at his door, Boyd said.
When the assistant entered, Williams was unresponsive, "clothed" and "cool to the touch," Boyd said. The belt was wedged between the closet door and the door frame, Williams' right shoulder was touching the door and his body was "slightly suspended," as though in a seated position.
Tiburon Fire Department personnel pronounced Williams dead at 12:02 p.m., Boyd said. Due to concerns about photos being taken or released, his body was taken to Napa County for an autopsy, Boyd added.
Preliminary results of the forensic exam indicate the cause of death was "asphyxia due to hanging," Boyd said. A time of death has yet to be established.
The department will hold another news conference when the autopsy results are finalized.
Follow @leeromney for news from Northern California.
Copyright (C) 2014, Los Angeles Times
VIDEO-Al Sharpton Heckled at St Louis Presser '' ''Are You Here To Snitch On The Rioters?'' | Progressives Today
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 02:43
Rev. Al Sharpton was in St. Louis Tuesday at the request of the family of the deceased 18-year-old Michael Brown. Sharpton held a press conference in front of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis at 12:30 Tuesday afternoon. FOX 2 reported that Sharpton spoke out against the violence in Fergurson and other parts of the area. He also pushed for the arrest of the police officer who shot Brown.
''Snitches Get Stitches'' was spray painted on the side of the QuikTrip that was looted and destroyed on Sunday.
Sharpton was heckled by Progressives Today reporter Adam Sharp on his informant past with the FBI.
Adam Sharp: Sir, the term ''Snitches Get Snitches'' was spray painted on the burned out QuikTrip. Since you are a federal snitch, sir, do you fear for your life?
Al Sharpton: I'm not a snitch. (Not true) But today I want to tell the feds about a cop that needs to go to jail.
Sharp: Are you in fear for your life being a federal informant and'...
Sharpton: I want to inform on this policeman today.
Sharp: Are you here to snitch on the rioters?'... Are you here to work with your FBI partners?
Sharpton: (no response)
Al Sharpton Confronted Over Being a FBI Snitch from Sharp Elbows on Vimeo.
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Wed, 13 Aug 2014 02:00
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VIDEO-Iraqi Political Leaders Clash Over Prime Minister Post - WSJ
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:51
Updated Aug. 11, 2014 7:44 p.m. ET
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community, which has come under attack by Islamic extremists, cross the Iraqi-Syrian border Monday. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
BAGHDAD'--Iraq's president appointed a candidate to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki but the longtime leader refused to step aside, setting up a confrontation as the government struggles to combat a rapidly advancing Sunni insurgency.
(Iraq Crisis: Read the latest)
President Fuad Masum designated Haider al-Abadi, a member of Mr. Maliki's Shiite Islamist Dawa party, to form the next government. Mr. Maliki, who was vying for a third four-year term, angrily rejected the nomination in two televised appearances on Monday and vowed to challenge a decision he called a subversion of the constitution and a betrayal of the public will.
"What happened had no value at all," Mr. Maliki said in one address, flanked by a few dozen of his political allies. "My nomination is still valid and we will correct this mistake for sure."
Iraq's president appointed a candidate to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki but the longtime leader refused to step aside, setting up a confrontation as the government struggles to combat a rapidly advancing Sunni insurgency. WSJ's Matt Bradley discusses. Photo: AP
President Barack Obama congratulated Mr. Abadi in a phone call and urged him to form an inclusive government that will represent all Iraq's major sects, including the Sunnis and the Kurds, as quickly as possible to help unify Iraq. The U.S. accuses Mr. Maliki of fomenting divisions between Iraq's Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish populations, raising sectarian tensions in the country.
Mr. Masum's move marked a stunning reversal of fortune for Mr. Maliki, who in recent weeks had seemed poised to weather the massive Islamist insurgency that has swallowed about a quarter of the country since June.
But the prime minister's defiance, including an 11th-hour rollout of security forces that many politicians saw as a prelude to a coup, seemed only to deepen his isolation, as the political machine he had so carefully cultivated collapsed around him.
What President Obama's support for new Iraq Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi and the U.S.'s support of the Kurds means to efforts to calm tensions. Daniel Serwer, professor of conflict management at John Hopkins University discusses on the News Hub. Photo: Getty
Mr. Abadi, if he is able to form a government, will have to prove that he is more capable of guiding Iraq out of a security crisis that led to the first U.S. military intervention in Iraq since American troops withdrew nearly three years ago at the end of a decadelong war.
The U.S. has launched airstrikes for the past four days aimed at halting the insurgent advance toward the Kurdish capital Erbil. The U.S. government is also providing direct, covert military aid to Kurdish forces struggling to repel well-armed militants that have seized key parts of northern Iraq, officials said Monday.
But fighters from the group Islamic State still made gains against Iraqi forces in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, seizing the town of Jalawla on Sunday night from Kurdish military forces linked to the Iraqi military, according to a Diyala official.
The Pentagon said the U.S. airstrikes have slowed the militants' advance in northern Iraq, but have had limited impact and were unlikely to disrupt the group's overall strength. Targeting the fighters will likely become more difficult as Islamic State militants go into hiding, the Pentagon added.
Mr. Abadi now has 30 days to select a new cabinet and put it to parliamentary approval'--a window that may allow Mr. Maliki to marshal his remaining supporters in parliament and stage a comeback.
While Mr. Maliki grew increasingly sectarian and autocratic during his years in power, Mr. Abadi has an aversion to sectarianism, according to those who know him. He has lived for years in exile in Britain while Iraq was under the rule of Saddam Hussein, something experts say gave him an outward-looking and international perspective.
Though Iraq's hastily drafted constitution offers few specifics on the interim period of governance, constitutional experts said Mr. Maliki was likely to continue to govern through the next month.
During that time, he will likely play the spoiler to Mr. Abadi's efforts to build the coalition needed to form his government.
There were fears the political showdown would explode on the streets and Shiite militias'--already controlled by various and rival groups'--would face off. Iraqi and Western officials predicted that for now, these militias are more likely to look to higher instruction'--Shiite religious leaders or Iran'--and exercise self restraint.
During the final hours before Monday's announcement, as Iraqi leaders scrambled to firm up an agreement on a new prime minister-designate, U.S. officials said they remained in constant contact with Mr. Masum and other leaders.
State Department officials have not-so-quietly worked behind-the-scenes for weeks with Iraqi politicians to try and find a replacement for Mr. Maliki.
Although the Obama administration had made clear its desire to see a new prime minister installed, a senior U.S. official said Sunday night that the administration continued to communicate regularly with Mr. Maliki.
U.S. officials have voiced concern that Mr. Maliki could use force against his political rivals in a bid to stay in power.
Secretary of State John Kerry publicly warned Mr. Maliki against that.
"There should be no use of force' introduction of troops or militias into this moment of democracy for Iraq," Mr. Kerry said in remarks to reporters in Sydney.
Still, the Obama administration is walking a delicate diplomatic path in so overtly seeking to remove Mr. Maliki. U.S. officials said Washington has remained in close contact with the Iraqi leader and some of his top aides in a move to closely coordinate the international military response to Islamic State fighters.
Opponents of Mr. Maliki and Western officials say his persistent argument over his constitutional right to form a government is baseless.
Mr. Maliki has seized on a point of constitutional vagueness on what defines the largest bloc, they say, to make up his own guidelines in an effort to cling to power. Under the constitution the president must allow the largest bloc to choose a candidate to form the government.
In recent weeks, the aggressiveness with which he has defended his seat while large swaths of territory were seized by militants began to erode his support base, Iraqi and U.S. officials say. Particularly alarming for some of his allies was the way he appeared to dismiss repeated warnings from the country's highest Shiite authority, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, known in Arabic as the Marjaiya.
Ammar Touma, a lawmaker within the National Alliance who wasn't initially opposed to Mr. Maliki's bid for another term, said the "position of the Marjaiya was the main factor" that led some factions, including Mr. Maliki's Dawa party, to begin to break away.
For many, the unity of Iraq's Shiite political representation was at stake and given a choice of preserving the prime minister's increasingly personal bid for power or preserving the broader Shiite National Alliance umbrella, they chose the latter.
On Thursday, senior Dawa party members met with Mr. Maliki at his home in a social visit designed to break it to the prime minister that they were cutting support, said a person briefed on the meeting.
The encounter was so tense, the person said, that one of the participants started to cry as he told the prime minister that his continued quest for power was pitting Dawa party members against Ayatollah Sistani, who had clearly urged Mr. Maliki to go. Mr. Maliki was unfazed, the person said.
Dawa representatives sent Mr. Maliki a message on Friday asking him to step aside, Mr. Touma said, but he refused.
Several lawmakers from the party concluded then they had to side with the National Alliance, he and others familiar with the recent deliberations said.
With negotiations reaching a stalemate, the president set a 3 p.m. Monday deadline for the largest political bloc'--the pan-Shiite National Alliance'--to nominate a candidate to form the government.
An Iraqi soldier stands guard amid tight security measures by Iraqi security forces during a pro-government demonstration to show support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Associated Press
Outraged by the delay, Mr. Maliki threatened legal action against Mr. Masum in a televised speech on Sunday night, accusing him of subverting the constitution's timeline. Mr. Maliki also ordered security forces to deploy throughout Baghdad, an ominous signal that he might use force to defend his premiership.
But the speech backfired: Politicians who had once stood beside Mr. Maliki were appalled by his aggression. The speech also struck a dissonant note with one of Mr. Maliki's stronger allies: Iraq's Shiite-majority neighbor Iran.
Senior officials in the Islamic Republic had long felt snubbed by Mr. Abadi, who had neglected to visit the regional Shiite powerhouse, even on religious pilgrimage, for the past 10 years.
But Iranian diplomats lifted their objections to Mr. Abadi only after watching Mr. Maliki's speech, said a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
Late on Sunday night, the State of Law held a meeting at the home of Hussain Shahristani, the deputy prime minister who also heads a bloc within the State of Law, and agreed after several hours on Mr. Abadi as a replacement, lawmakers familiar with the meeting said. They immediately sent a lawmaker to notify Mr. Maliki of their position.
Write to Matt Bradley at and Nour Malas at
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VIDEO-Texas A&M Economists Show Cash For Clunkers Was Epic Debacle | The Daily Caller
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:46
''Cash for Clunkers,'' the 2009 Obama administration stimulus program designed to spend $2.85 billion to jumpstart the auto industry, turned out to be a complete disaster '-- for the auto industry.
In the minds of Obama's team of advisers and economists, the program made total sense, of course. The plan was to dangle a $4,500 credit to persuade car owners to trade in their older automobiles for new cars with better fuel efficiency. It would stimulate an economy then in the midst of a deep recession. As a bonus, it would mean less oil consumption and cleaner-running cars.
The law of unintended consequences is a brutal thing, though, especially for inexperienced, shortsighted policymakers.
According to the findings of three Texas A&M University economics professors, ''Cash for Clunkers'' ultimately caused auto industry revenue to shrink by about $3 billion in less than a year
The professors issued the results of their research last month in a National Bureau of Economic Research-sponsored working paper entitled ''Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending.''
''This highlights how '-- even over a relatively short period of time '-- a conflicting policy objective can cause a stimulus program to instead have a contractionary net effect on the targeted industry,'' the trio of economists wrote, according to The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch.
''By lowering the relative price of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, the program induced households to purchase vehicles that cost between $4,000 and $6,000 less than the vehicles they otherwise would have purchased.''
For one month, the nearly-$3 billion program increased the sales of tiny, low-profit-margin vehicles. In the next few months, though, all sales faded rapidly.
Overall, the Obama administrative initiative produced exactly no net increase for the number of automobiles Americans purchased.
''In this particular case, environmental objectives undermined and even reversed the stimulus impact of the program,'' the professors wrote, according to Market Watch.
In October 2013, researchers from the Brookings Institution came to a similar conclusion, notes The Washington Post.
In a paper called ''Cash for Clunkers: An Evaluation of the Car Allowance Rebate System,'' the generally centrist think tank's Ted Gayer and Emily Parker similarly determined that the Obama administration scheme failed to stimulate the economy. To the extent the program improved the air quality and the environment, Gayer and Parker wrote, the cost was exorbitant.
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Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:43

Clips & Documents

Bandcamp Girl
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