649: Scottish Do Over

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 7m
September 4th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Shannon Jario, Sir Don Tomaso Di Toronto, Dame Joan d'Audiffret, Sir James Pyers

Associate Executive Producers: Gavin Bowd

Cover Artist: 20wattbulb


Start of Show
Suggest a new chapter
Dutch Birthday Calendars
My Facebook trick
News Letter
Inappropriate birthday wishes
Time flies
50 and counting
Think half century instead of 50 years, sounds less (wtf)
Seeing Abraham
Old man
It only gets better
Hookers & Blow
The Party
Hugo like house - Steampunk
Agent Orange from Kandahar / Mess hall playing of NA show
Cut out JCD head
Rene Froger
35 minute Movie of my 'life'
Sisters singing
Suite upstairs - Lucky
School factory assembly lines
Scotland expect a 2% yes and a do-over- Braveheart!
War in Europe is not a hysterical idea - The Washington Post
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 04:30
Over and over again '-- throughout the entirety of my adult life, or so it feels '-- I have been shown Polish photographs from the beautiful summer of 1939: The children playing in the sunshine, the fashionable women on Krakow streets. I have even seen a picture of a family wedding that took place in June 1939, in the garden of a Polish country house I now own. All of these pictures convey a sense of doom, for we know what happened next. September 1939 brought invasion from both east and west, occupation, chaos, destruction, genocide. Most of the people who attended that June wedding were soon dead or in exile. None of them ever returned to the house.
Anne Applebaum writes a biweekly foreign affairs column for The Washington Post. She is also the Director of the Global Transitions Program at the Legatum Institute in London. View ArchiveIn retrospect, all of them now look naive. Instead of celebrating weddings, they should have dropped everything, mobilized, prepared for total war while it was still possible. And now I have to ask: Should Ukrainians, in the summer of 2014, do the same? Should central Europeans join them?
I realize that this question sounds hysterical, and foolishly apocalyptic, to U.S. or Western European readers. But hear me out, if only because this is a conversation many people in the eastern half of Europe are having right now. In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow. Some include Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, cities that are still hundreds of miles away from the fighting. Some place Novorossiya along the coast, so that it connects Russia to Crimea and eventually to Transnistria, the Russian-occupied province of Moldova. Even if it starts out as an unrecognized rump state '-- Abkhazia and South Ossetia, ''states'' that Russia carved out of Georgia, are the models here '-- Novorossiya can grow larger over time.
Russian soldiers will have to create this state '-- how many of them depends upon how hard Ukraine fights, and who helps them '-- but eventually Russia will need more than soldiers to hold this territory. Novorossiya will not be stable as long as it is inhabited by Ukrainians who want it to stay Ukrainian. There is a familiar solution to this, too. A few days ago, Alexander Dugin, an extreme nationalist whose views have helped shape those of the Russian president, issued an extraordinary statement. ''Ukraine must be cleansed of idiots,'' he wrote '-- and then called for the ''genocide'' of the ''race of bastards.''
But Novorossiya will also be hard to sustain if it has opponents in the West. Possible solutions to that problem are also under discussion. Not long ago, Vladimir Zhirinovsky '-- the Russian member of parliament and court jester who sometimes says things that those in power cannot '-- argued on television that Russia should use nuclear weapons to bomb Poland and the Baltic countries '-- ''dwarf states,'' he called them '-- and show the West who really holds power in Europe: ''Nothing threatens America, it's far away. But Eastern European countries will place themselves under the threat of total annihilation,'' he declared. Vladimir Putin indulges these comments: Zhirinovsky's statements are not official policy, the Russian president says, but he always ''gets the party going.''
A far more serious person, the dissident Russian analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, has recently published an article arguing, along lines that echo Zhirinovsky's threats, that Putin really is weighing the possibility of limited nuclear strikes '-- perhaps against one of the Baltic capitals, perhaps a Polish city '-- to prove that NATO is a hollow, meaningless entity that won't dare strike back for fear of a greater catastrophe. Indeed, in military exercises in 2009 and 2013, the Russian army openly ''practiced'' a nuclear attack on Warsaw.
Is all of this nothing more than the raving of lunatics? Maybe. And maybe Putin is too weak to do any of this, and maybe it's just scare tactics, and maybe his oligarchs will stop him. But ''Mein Kampf'' also seemed hysterical to Western and German audiences in 1933. Stalin's orders to ''liquidate'' whole classes and social groups within the Soviet Union would have seemed equally insane to us at the time, if we had been able to hear them.
But Stalin kept to his word and carried out the threats, not because he was crazy but because he followed his own logic to its ultimate conclusions with such intense dedication '-- and because nobody stopped him. Right now, nobody is able to stop Putin, either. So is it hysterical to prepare for total war? Or is it naive not to do so?
Read more from Anne Applebaum's archive, follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her updates on Facebook.
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The name
Outrage over this, but not over NSA? Wtf?
Apple Is Totally Screwed | Uncrunched
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:48
Apple has a very large problem right now.
I'm not talking about legal liability over the nude celebrity photos and videos being posted all over the internet right now (dubbed ''The Fappening''), although I think that's also an issue. Celebrities tend to have aggressive attorneys, and the damages here are extreme '' some celebrities have had careers ended from leaked photos (while others have benefited)
But a much larger crisis looms '' everyone, and I mean everyone, now knows that everything private they've done with their iPhone, if they use iCloud, is not only vulnerable, but extremely vulnerable.
The Next Web says that a tool that allows brute force attacks against the Find My iPhone service gives hackers a way in to iCloud.
That may or may not be what's actually going on. Hacker Nik Cubrilovic, for example, says it isn't slowing people down from accessing new accounts:
Apple patching FindMyPhone API isn't slowing down the celeb pic groups '' watching them attempt to break new accounts right now on a forum.
'-- nik cubrilovic (@nikcub) September 2, 2014
And it doesn't really matter. Even if Apple fixes the problem, or has fixed the problem with the patch they just released, or even if all of this was caused by something else entirely, they're still screwed. The damage, the massive damage, has already been done, and people associate it with Apple.
Because everyone now understands that their phones aren't secure. Even things they thought they deleted are vulnerable. That's something that will haunt Apple for a decade.
I'm not talking about people who trade their iPhones for Android devices. That isn't a big issue, and Android isn't any more secure than Apple anyway.
I'm talking about the fact that people won't feel the same way about their phones after this. Your phone is no longer a part of you. It's a weapon, pointed at you.
@stuartdredge@arrington My guess is Tim Cook's script is being radically re-written for next week.
'-- Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) September 2, 2014
The Police Tool That Pervs Use to Steal Nude Pics From Apple's iCloud | Threat Level | WIRED
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:49
As nude celebrity photos spilled onto the web over the weekend, blame for the scandal has rotated from the scumbag hackers who stole the images to a researcher who released a tool used to crack victims' iCloud passwords to Apple, whose security flaws may have made that cracking exploit possible in the first place. But one step in the hackers' sext-stealing playbook has been ignored'--a piece of software designed to let cops and spies siphon data from iPhones, but is instead being used by pervy criminals themselves.
On the web forum Anon-IB, one of the most popular anonymous image boards for posting stolen nude selfies, hackers openly discuss using a piece of software called EPPB or Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker to download their victims' data from iCloud backups. That software is sold by Moscow-based forensics firm Elcomsoft and intended for government agency customers. In combination with iCloud credentials obtained with iBrute, the password-cracking software for iCloud released on Github over the weekend, EPPB lets anyone impersonate a victim's iPhone and download its full backup rather than the more limited data accessible on iCloud.com. And as of Tuesday, it was still being used to steal revealing photos and post them on Anon-IB's forum.
''Use the script to hack her passwd'...use eppb to download the backup,'' wrote one anonymous user on Anon-IB explaining the process to a less-experienced hacker. ''Post your wins here ;-)''
Apple's security nightmare began over the weekend, when hackers began leaking nude photos that included shots of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kirsten Dunst. The security community quickly pointed fingers at the iBrute software, a tool released by security researcher Alexey Troshichev designed to take advantage of a flaw in Apple's ''Find My iPhone'' feature to ''brute-force'' users' iCloud passwords, cycling through thousands of guesses to crack the account.
If a hacker can obtain a user's iCloud username and password with iBrute, he or she can log in to the victim's iCloud.com account to steal photos. But if attackers instead impersonate the user's device with Elcomsoft's tool, the desktop application allows them to download the entire iPhone or iPad backup as a single folder, says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics consult and security researcher. That gives the intruders access to far more data, he says, including videos, application data, contacts, and text messages.
On Tuesday afternoon, Apple issued a statement calling the security debacle a ''very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions.'' It added that ''none of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone.''
But the conversations on Anon-IB make clear the photo-stealing attacks aren't limited to a few celebrities. And Zdziarski argues that Apple may be defining a ''breach'' as not including a password-guessing attack like iBrute. Based on his analysis of the metadata from leaked photos of Kate Upton, he says he's determined that the photos came from a downloaded backup that would be consistent with the use of iBrute and EPPB. If a full device backup was accessed, he believes the rest of the backup's data may still be possessed by the hacker and could be used for blackmail or finding other targets. ''You don't get the same level of access by logging into someone's [web] account as you can by emulating a phone that's doing a restore from an iCloud backup,'' says Zdziarski. ''If we didn't have this law enforcement tool, we might not have the leaks we had.''
Elcomsoft is just one of a number of forensics firms like Oxygen and Cellebrite that reverse engineer smartphone software to allow government investigators to dump the devices' data. But Elcomsoft's program seems to be the most popular among Anon-IB's crowd, where it's been used for months prior to the most current leaks, likely in cases where the hacker was able to obtain the target's password through means other than iBrute. Many ''rippers'' on Anon-IB offer to pull nude photos on behalf of any other user who may know the target's Apple ID and password. ''Always free, fast and discreet. Will make it alot easier if you have the password,'' writes one hacker with the email address eppbripper@hush.ai. ''Willing to rip anything iclouds '' gf/bf/mom/sister/classmate/etc!! Pics, texts, notes etc!''
One of Anon-IB's rippers who uses the handle cloudprivates wrote in an email to WIRED that he or she doesn't consider downloading files from an iCloud backup ''hacking'' if it's done on behalf of another user who supplies a username and password. ''Dunno about others but I am too lazy to look for accounts to hack. This way I just provide a service to someone that wants the data off the iCloud. For all I know they own the iCloud,'' cloudprivates writes. ''I am not hacking anything. I simply copy data from the iCloud using the user name and password that I am given. Software from elcomsoft does this.''
Elcomsoft's program doesn't require proof of law enforcement or other government credentials. It costs as much as $399, but bootleg copies are freely available on bittorrent sites. And the software's marketing language sounds practically tailor-made for Anon-IB's rippers.
''All that's needed to access online backups stored in the cloud service are the original user's credentials including Apple ID'...accompanied with the corresponding password,'' the company's website reads. ''Data can be accessed without the consent of knowledge of the device owner, making Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker an ideal solution for law enforcement and intelligence organizations.''
Elcomsoft didn't respond to a request for comment.
On Monday, iBrute creator Troshichev noted that Apple had released an update for Find My iPhone designed to fix the flaw exploited by iBrute. ''The end of fun, Apple have just patched,'' he wrote on Github. But Anon-IB users continued to discuss stealing data with iBrute in combination with EPPB on the forum Tuesday, suggesting that the fix has yet to be applied to all users, or that stolen credentials are still being used with Elcomsoft's program to siphon new data. Apple didn't immediately respond to WIRED's request for further comment, though it says it's still investigating the hack and working with law enforcement.
For Apple, the use of government forensic tools by criminal hackers raises questions about how cooperative it may be with Elcomsoft. The Russian company's tool, as Zdziarski describes it, doesn't depend on any ''backdoor'' agreement with Apple and instead required Elcomsoft to fully reverse engineer Apple's protocol for communicating between iCloud and its iOS devices. But Zdziarski argues that Apple could still have done more to make that reverse engineering more difficult or impossible.
''When you have third parties masquerading as hardware. it really opens up a vulnerability in terms of allowing all of these different companies to continue to interface with your system,'' he says. ''Apple could take steps to close that off, and I think they should.''
The fact that Apple isn't complicit in law enforcement's use of Elcomsoft's for surveillance doesn't make the tool any less dangerous, argues Matt Blaze, a computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania and frequent critic of government spying methods. ''What this demonstrates is that even without explicit backdoors, law enforcement has powerful tools that might not always stay inside law enforcement,'' he says. ''You have to ask if you trust law enforcement. But even if you do trust law enforcement, you have to ask whether other people will get access to these tools, and how they'll use them.''
New Web Order > Nik Cubrilovic - - >> Notes on the Celebrity Data Theft
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:59
Collectors aggregate the data stolen by other users and organize it into folders. The two most popular services to use are Dropbox and Google Drive. The collectors will create preview images for each set and email them around to their contacts. Email addresses for collectors or those willing to trade or sell are available by referral, usually via somebody offering a hacking or ripping service.Phishing template provided by one user for use by other users.
4. The frequent source of new leads for targets seems to be newcomers who know somebody they want to hack and have stumbled onto one of the networks offering services via search terms or a forum they frequent. The new contributor will offer up a Facebook profile link, plus as much information as is required by the hacker to break the account, plus possible assistance in getting a RAT installed if required. In exchange the hacker and ripped will supply the person providing the lead with a copy of the extracted data, which they will also keep for themselves. This was one of the most unsettling aspects of these networks to me '' knowing there are people out there who are turning over data on friends in their social networks in exchange for getting a dump of their private data.
5. In reviewing months worth of forum posts, image board posts, private emails, replies for requests for services, etc. nowhere was the FindMyPhone API brute force technique (revealed publicly and exploited in iBrute) mentioned. This doesn't mean that it wasn't used privately by the hackers '' but judging by the skill levels involved, the mentions and tutorials around other techniques and some of the bragged about success rates with social engineering, recovery, resets, rats and phishing '' it appears that such techniques were not necessary or never discovered.
6. iCloud is the most popular target because Picture Roll backups are enabled by default and iPhone is a popular platform. Windows Phone backups are available on all devices but are disabled by default (it is frequently enabled, although I couldn't find a statistic) while Android backup is provided by third party applications (some of which are targets).
7. Apple accounts seem particularly vulnerable because of the recovery process, password requirements and ability to detect if an email address has an associated iCloud account. The recovery process is broken up into steps and will fail at each point. While Apple do not reveal if an email address is a valid iCloud address as part of the recover process, they do reveal if it is valid or not if you attempt to sign up a new account using the same email '' so verification (or brute force attempts) are simple. The second step is verifying the date of birth and it will pass or fail based on that data alone so can be guessed, while the last step are the two security questions. It would be a good idea for Apple to kill the interface on signup that shows new users if their email account is available to use as an iCloud account or not. It would also be a good idea to make the recovery process one big step where all data is validated at once and the user is not given a specific error message. It would also be wise to attach rate limits and strict lockout on this process on a per-account basis.
Being able to POST an email address to https://appleid.apple.com/account/validation/appleid and getting back a response indicating if it is a valid account or not, with little to no rate limiting, is a bug.
7. a)edit To reiterate what the main bugs are that are being exploited here, roughly in order of popularity / effectiveness:
Password reset (secret questions / answers)Phishing emailPassword recovery (email account hacked)Social engineering / RAT install / authentication keys7. b) Once they have access to the account they have access to everything '' they can locate the phone, retrieve SMS and MMS messages, recover deleted files and photos, remote wipe the device and more. The hackers here happen to focus on private pictures, but they had complete control of these accounts for a period.
8. Authentication tokens can be stolen by a trojan (or social engineered) from a computer with iTunes installed easily. Elcomsoft provide a tool called atex which does this. On OS X the token is installed in the keychain. The authentication token is as good as a password.
9. Two-factor authentication for iCloud is useless in preventing passwords or authentication tokens being used to extract online backups. 2fa is used to protect account details and updates.
10. There is an insane amount of hacking going on. On any day there are dozens of forum and image board users offering their services. While many of those offering to rip alone based on being provided a username and password are scammers, they will still steal the data and sell it or trade it.
11. OPSEC level of the average user in these networks is low. 98% of email addresses provided in forums as part of advertising or promoting services are with the usual popular providers (gmail, outlook, yahoo) who are not Tor friendly. Most users speak of using VPNs when breaking into accounts and suggest which VPNs are best, fastest and ''most anonymous.'' It was also increadibly easy for some of those involved in distribution of the latest leaks to be publicly identified (more on that later) and for servers with dumps to be found, etc.
12. The darknet forums provide a lot of tips in terms of the hacking steps and also provide databases of passwords, users and dox but in terms of distributing content are usually a step behind the publicly available image boards. They are definitely more resilient in terms of keeping content up once it is published, and might become more popular with users if more data is leaked. Overchan and Torchan have in the past day or longer been full of new users requesting darknet links to the leaked content, and they receive them.
13. The different file name formats, data inconsistencies and remnants such as Dropbox files being found in the dumps can be explained by the different recovery software used (some which restores original filenames, some doesn't) and the dumpers and distributors frequently using Dropbox to share files. It is unknown how many hackers were involved in retrieving all the data, but the suggestion is that the list of celebrities was the internal list of one of the trading networks. Timestamps, forum posts and other data suggests that the collection was built up over a long period of time.
14. On the topic of OPSEC. Tracking down one of the distributors who was posting ransomed private images to 4chan and reddit was simple. He posted a screenshot as part of pitching the sale of 60 or more images and videos for a single celebrity but didn't black out his machine name or the machine names of the other computers on his local network. A user on reddit did a Google search and tracked down the company he worked for (although they picked the wrong employee). Tracking each of those names linked one of them back to a reddit account that had posted a screenshot of the exact same explorer interface (the guy had a bad habit of taking screenshots of his own machine). He has denied being the source of the images, but he is definitely a distributor who purchased them from within the network since the ransomed set he posted were all images that did not and have not yet leaked.
Screenshot posted to 4chan as part of attempting to sell this set of images and videos. The posted was initially asking for $100 per image.
edit: Turns out Maroney was underage when these pictures were taken, which means this screenshot is an admission of posesssion of child pornography. Reddit mods on the fappening sub are desperately asking users to remove any images of her and other underage celebrities.
Screenshot posted by redditor who had his real identity linked back to the ransom screenshot above.
15. I personally don't distinguish between somebody who stole the data directly and somebody else who ''only'' bought that data with the intention of selling it for a profit to the public.
16. It seems to have gone wrong for not only our identified friend but a lot of other members of this network over the past few days. It appears the intention was to never make these images public, but that somebody '' quiet possibly the previously identified distributor '' decided that the opportunity to make some money was too good to pass up and decided to try to sell some of the images. The first post from this set that I could track down was nearly 5 days to the story becoming public, on the 26th of August. Each of those post was a censored image with a request for an amount of money for an uncensored version. After numerous such posts and nobody paying attention to it (thinking it was a scam) the person behind the posts began publishing uncensored versions, which quickly propagated on anon-ib, 4chan and reddit. My theory is that other members of the ring, seeing the leaks and requests for money also decided to attempt to cash in thinking the value of the images would soon approach zero, which lead to a race to the bottom between those who had access to them.
17. In terms of staying secure the most obvious solutions are to pick a better password, set your security answers to long random strings and enable two-factor authentication. Further it is a good idea to ring-fence your email '' use one email address that remains private for sensitive accounts such as your online banking, cloud storage etc. and then a separate account for communications whose address is made public. There is no privacy mode in phones and they lump together all your data and metadata in one large bucket, and the only solution if you wish to retain a more private or more anonymous profile is to run a separate phone with the account on there belonging to an alias. There is a reason why drug dealers carry multiple phones, it tends to work in terms of segregating your real identity.
18. There is no software that users will ever be able to install or upgrade that will make them completely secure. The responsibility is on both vendors and users. Users need to be aware of good password practices (unique passwords, long, passphrases) as well as the basics of anonymity and security (more on this in another post '' attempting to tl;dr security tips in a few, small and simple to understand points)
The Fappening Is Happening
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:52
August 31st - The Fappening.
Mirrors: Main Site | m1.thefappen.in | m2.thefappen.in | m3.thefappen.in | m4.thefappen.in
Updates: Nothing recent, added couple more pics that I've missed, leaking seems to have slowed down. Will post if more leaks surface.Many have emailed me asking for a zip of all leaks. Being uploaded, be patient with my slow upload speeds.
Contact webmaster
This could be the iCloud flaw that led to celebrity photos being leaked (Update: Apple is investigating) - The Next Web
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:49
Update: ''We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,'' Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told Recode.
Update 2: On September 2, Apple said that the celebrity photo breaches were a targeted attack unrelated to iCloud, but did not address the vulnerability discussed here.
An alleged breach in Apple's iCloud service may be to blame for countless leaks of private celebrity photos this week.
On Monday, a Python script emerged on GitHub (which we're not linking to as there is evidence a fix by Apple is not fully rolled out) that appears to have allowed malicious users to 'brute force' a target account's password on Apple's iCloud, thanks to a vulnerability in the Find My iPhone service. Brute-force attacks consist of using a malicious script to repeatedly guess passwords in an attempt to discover the correct one.
The vulnerability allegedly discovered in the Find My iPhone service appears to have let attackers use this method to guess passwords repeatedly without any sort of lockout or alert to the target. Once the password has been eventually matched, the attacker can then use it to access other iCloud functions freely.
via Imgur
Users on Twitter were able to use the tool from GitHub '-- which was published for two days before being shared to Hacker News '-- to access their own accounts before it seems Apple patched the hole today. The owner of the tool noticed it was patched at 3:20am PT.
When we tested the tool, it locked out our accounts after five attempts, meaning that the Python script certainly tries to attack the service but Apple has patched the hole.
We discussed the tool with its creator, Hackapp, over Twitter, who said ''this bug is common for all services which have many authentication interfaces'' and that with ''basic knowledge of sniffing and reversing techniques'' it is ''trivial'' to uncover them. When asked if the method could have been used in the celebrity hack today, Hackapp said ''I've not seen any evidence yet, but I admit that someone could use this tool.''
Hackapp also posted a slideshow that details the tool, why it was created and identifies other problems in iCloud keychain's security. We're not able to verify all the claims in the slideshow, but the creator points out the flaws we mentioned in the slide below.
It's unclear how long this hole was open, leaving those with simple, guessable passwords easily attacked once hackers had an email address to target. There is still no concrete evidence that these images were leaked via iCloud and may have instead been obtained via multiple attacks, though the hacker that originally leaked the images claims that they were retrieved from iCloud.
A similar kind of attack has occurred before. Hackers have previously used Find My iPhone to hold victims ransom, locking their phones and demanding money in exchange for giving their phone back.
We've contacted Apple for comment but have yet to receive a reply. Meanwhile, The Independent reported that Apple has ''refused to comment'' on any security flaw in iCloud today.
Read next:Do you know where your photos are?
Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
'Hollywood hacker' who targeted Scarlett Johansson given 10 years in jail | Technology | The Guardian
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:48
Prosecutors said Chaney illegally accessed the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry. Photograph: Reed Saxon/AP
A federal judge on Monday sentenced a man who hacked into the personal online accounts of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and other women to 10 years in prison.
US district judge S James Otero sentenced Christopher Chaney in Los Angeles after hearing from a tearful Johansson in a videotaped statement.
The biggest spectacle in the case was the revelation that nude photos taken by Johansson herself and meant for her then-husband Ryan Reynolds were placed on the internet.
Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty to counts that included wiretapping and unauthorized access to a computer.
Chaney also targeted two women he knew, sending nude pictures of one former co-worker to her father.
The women, who both knew Chaney, said their lives have been irreparably damaged by his actions. One has anxiety and panic attacks; the other is depressed and paranoid. Both say Chaney was calculated, cruel and creepy.
Their accounts as cybervictims serve as a cautionary tale for those, even major celebrities, who snap personal, and sometimes revealing photos.
Christina Aguilera said in a statement issued days before the sentencing that although she knows that she's often in the limelight, Chaney took from her some of the private moments she shares with friends.
"That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy," Aguilera said.
Prosecutors said Chaney illegally accessed the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry between November 2010 and October 2011. Aguilera, Kunis and Johansson agreed to have their identities made public with the hopes that the exposure about the case would provide awareness about online intrusion.
Some of Aguilera's photos appeared online after Chaney sent an email from the account of her stylist, Simone Harouche, to Aguilera asking the singer for scantily clad photographs, prosecutors said.
Chaney was arrested in October 2011 as part of a yearlong investigation of celebrityhacking that authorities dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi." Chaney's computer hard drive contained numerous private celebrity photos and a document that compiled their extensive personal data, according to a search warrant.
A Letter To Jennifer Lawrence | TechCrunch
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:48
Dear Jennifer Lawrence,
You and I don't know each other, but I work in tech news and, as such, have read a lot of technical speculation and analysis of what happened to you and a group of other women who work in Hollywood over the long weekend.
While it is not exactly clear how your privacy was violated and your property was stolen, there is apparently an underground ring of people who spend their precious lives perpetuating these kinds of actions '-- ''collecting'' stolen, private images of both famous and non-famous women to gawk at in online backchannels.
Though I was aware through my job that this subsection of the Internet existed, I had no idea it was this orchestrated, at this scale. Quite frankly, this fact is terrifying.
Everyone has things on their phones they don't want other people to see. Everyone.
It sucks to be a woman on the Internet when there isn't some sort of bounty program for your private information. All day you are sized up and objectified and abstracted. Just read the comments. We are quite literally made inhuman online.
And we are dehumanized even further by whatever the hell is going on in Anon-ib and beyond. At its essence, this is a crime against all women, which is a crime against humanity, and no number of charitable donations can ever make amends for it.
If someone gives you generalized ''advice'' on what you could have done to avoid this, give them the bird. I'm sure you know by now how to pick a more difficult password and random answers to your security questions. If the theories are accurate, what went down is a bit more complicated than that, involving many different individuals and points of failure.
When the news first broke, I was angry that Apple makes people wait three days to enable two-factor authentication on their iCloud accounts. It turns out two-factor authentication may have not entirely protected anyone in this case. The criminals apparently used ElcomSoft, a law enforcement tool(!), to expedite the extraction of information from iCloud backups, not protected by two-factor.
''My iCloud keeps telling me to back it up and I'm like, 'I don't know how to back you up. Do it yourself,'' you joked once. I have had the exact same thought at that exact same notification, because iCloud can be quite complicated: If you have Photo Stream toggled on (the default), it automatically sends your photos to iCloud, where they exist even if you delete them from your phone.
There's a reason that a (technically inaccurate) movie was made about this process. The concept of automatic photo and video uploads is more fraught with issues than it seems at first, and there's no automatic way to see what's up there when it's up there.
If I and other industry reporters like Mat Honan don't know how exactly to absolutely protect ourselves, because the targets and tools are always changing, how will people who don't have our exposure to tech? The onus is on Apple and other tech platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft to keep their customers '-- us '-- safe.
Though stolen photos are being shared that have been extracted from Android and Windows Phone backups, too, I'm singling out Apple here because Apple, beyond any other tech company, prides itself on a seamless consumer experience. It's done a very good job of hiding the technical aspects of its products for the sake of user friendliness: ''It just works.'' Well, not in this case.
Finally, I'm so sorry '-- I only hope that the people behind this go to jail, and that the mass awareness of that fact prevents anyone else from attempting something this vile. They're to blame foremost.
Alexia Tsotsis
Co-Editor, TechCrunch
Sotloff Video
Nice dressing of the mic cable!
Original file: http://itm.im/newhead
'A Message in Blood': ISIS beheads Kurdish man in warning against backing US - The Times of India on Mobile
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:01
ISIS has released a video apparently showing the beheading of a Kurdish man in Iraq as a warning to Kurds fighting the group in the country.The video, entitled "A Message in Blood", was posted online hours after another video purporting to show the mass execution of up to 250 Syrian soldiers in the desert.
READ ALSO: ISIS militants execute 250 Syrian soldiers
It shows a group of captured men, believed to be Kurdish fighters, in orange jumpsuits sat in front of an ISIS flag.
Kurdish "peshmerga" fighters are trying to counter the militant's advances in northern Iraq. They are backed by US air strikes on Isis targets in the country.
Another man is then shown kneeling on the floor in front of a mosque with three militants behind him in Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, which was overrun by Isis when their insurgency began.
READ ALSO: US identifies citizens joining rebels in Syria, ISIS
The victim is then beheaded and the fighters warn others will face the same fate should Kurdish leaders choose to continue an alliance with the US.
It comes after the group posted a video on YouTube showing the American journalist James Foley being beheaded by a militant, who said his killing was in response to air strikes. The fighter, who is believed to be British, also threatened the life of another journalist, Steven Sotloff.
Picture of journalist James Foley just before he was beheaded
Video footage posted on Thursday appeared to show Syrian soldiers being marched through the desert in their underwear after ISIS seized the Tabqa air base in Raqqa.
"The 250 shabeeha taken captive by the Islamic State (ISIS) from Tabqa in Raqqa have been executed," a caption posted with the video read.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the soldiers were captured when they attempted to flee the fallen air base in Raqqa after days of fierce fighting. They put the death toll at 120.
An image uploaded on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State executing dozens of captured soldiers at an unknown location
On Thursday, President Barack Obama admitted the US does not yet have a strategy for confronting ISIS militants in Syria.
He approved air strikes against ISIS in Iraq earlier this month following the beheading of Foley but has not made public any plans for across the border.
He told a press briefing in Washington: "I think what I've seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than we currently are.
"Our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are safe and to do an effective assessment of Iraqi and Kurdish capabilities."
Islamic State militants 'behead Kurdish man' in Iraq - BBC News
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:05
29 August 2014 Last updated at 00:26
Men said to be captured Kurdish soldiers were paraded before the cameras Islamic State (IS) has released a video appearing to show the beheading of a Kurdish man as a warning to forces fighting the group in northern Iraq.
The video, entitled a Message in Blood, shows several men in orange jumpsuits said to be captured Kurdish fighters.
The victim is then seen kneeling near a mosque in the IS-held city of Mosul before he is beheaded.
The jihadists warn that others will be killed if Kurdish leaders continue to back the US.
Kurdish "peshmerga" fighters from the autonomous Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq have been trying to counter an advance by IS, backed by US air strikes.
Earlier, IS videos from Syria appeared to show the mass killing of Syrian soldiers taken prisoner after their base was overrun.
Activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the soldiers had been captured while trying to flee to Hama province after IS stormed the Tabqa airbase.
The Sunni militant group has declared a "caliphate" across the parts of Syria and Iraq that it controls.
Last week, IS drew worldwide condemnation after releasing a video showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley. It said his death was in retaliation for US air strikes in Iraq, and the jihadist group threatened to kill other US hostages.
Analysis by BBC Arab Affairs Editor Sebastian Usher
Entitled A Message in Blood, the latest video produced by the skilled propagandists of Islamic State is clearly aimed at the Kurds fighting them in northern Iraq.
It parades a group of Kurdish men who are said to be captured peshmerga fighters and who have all been put in orange jumpsuits. That detail is not the only way in which this video is reminiscent of the IS staging of their murder of the US journalist, James Foley.
The beheading of one of the Kurdish hostages is shown filmed from two angles - both to add extra documentary proof and to make it a slicker production. But the backdrop this time is not made as neutral as possible. Instead, the main mosque in Mosul looms behind - a provocation, trying to show that IS control of the city is assured.
The screen is then split showing the hostage and his captors on one side and photos of Kurdish leaders meeting President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry on the other. The jihadists threaten more such killings if the Kurds continue to ally themselves with the US. In a choreography of murder again very similar to the killing of James Foley, the kneeling man is then beheaded with a knife.
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama said he was sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East soon to discuss the Syria crisis with regional partners, especially those who adhere to the Sunni faith.
"I'm encouraged so far that countries in the region, countries that don't always agree on many things, increasingly recognise the primacy of the threat that Isil (IS) poses to all of them. And I've asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that's needed to meet this threat," he said.
Mr Obama was speaking shortly before convening a meeting of his national security advisers on a range of Pentagon options for confronting IS.
The video was called "A message in blood to the leaders of the American-Kurdish alliance" Islamic State also released images of its fighters after taking over Tabqa air base The IS video uses a mosque in Mosul as a backdrop for the execution Separately, other pictures posted online appeared to show dozens of Syrian men being marched through the desert Earlier on Thursday, a video posted online purportedly showed the aftermath of the killings of the Syrian soldiers - a long line of bodies of young men lying face down stripped to their underwear.
"The 250 Shabiha taken captive by the Islamic State from Tabqa in Raqqa have been executed," read the caption, using the name - Shabiha - given by the opposition to militiamen fighting for President Bashar al-Assad.
An earlier video appears to show the same men, also in their underwear, being marched through the desert at gunpoint. They are made to walk and run, with those at the back being kicked and beaten.
Militants shout "Islamic State" and "There is no going back".
Tabqa airbase - near the northern city of Raqqa, an IS stronghold - fell to IS on Sunday after weeks of fierce fighting.
The Observatory said 346 IS fighters and more than 170 members of the security forces were killed in the final battle, which lasted five days.
The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdul Rahman, told the AFP news agency that about 1,400 troops had been stationed at the airbase, 700 of whom managed to escape.
On Tuesday, UN investigators issued a report which said IS militants had committed "mass atrocities" in Syria and had recruited children as fighters.
The report said public killings were a "common spectacle" in areas run by the jihadist group and that local people were forced to watch.
At the same time, the investigators said that Syrian government forces had also committed atrocities by dropping barrel bombs and chlorine gas from helicopters, shelling hospitals and torturing and killing civilians.
ISIL Releases Videos of Another Beheading, Mass Execution of Syrian Soldiers - The Wire
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:03
According to reports, ISIL released a video of the radical Sunni terrorist group beheading a Kurdish peshmerga fighter as a warning to Kurds in Iraq. From the Times of India:
The video, entitled "A Message in Blood", was posted online hours after another video purporting to show the mass execution of up to 250 Syrian soldiers in the desert.
In the first video, over a dozen Kurdish fighters are said to be paraded in front of the camera before three of them make an appeal to their government to stop working with the Americans. As the Guardian reported:
Three of the men ask Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani "and the Kurdish government to end their relationship with the US '... military intervention in northern Iraq," the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service said.
One of the fighters is then beheaded in front of a mosque. As Sebastian Usher of BBC explained:
The beheading of one of the Kurdish hostages is shown filmed from two angles - both to add extra documentary proof and to make it a slicker production. But the backdrop this time is not made as neutral as possible. Instead, the main mosque in Mosul looms behind - a provocation, trying to show that IS control of the city is assured.
The Daily Mailadds: "The production of the propaganda video also differs - with the beheading shown alongside still images of American and Kurdish officials in an attempt to help convey the executioner's message."
Kurdish fighters, with the aid of American airstrikes, have been successful in repelling the advance of ISIL, dislodging the group from its recent hold over the highly strategic Mosul Dam. ISIL still remains in control of Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city.
The video comes just over a week after the grisly beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIL caused an international uproar. On Wednesday, Shirley Sotloff, the mother of one of the remaining American captives being held by ISIL, released a videotaped plea to ISIL leader and self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi begging for her son's release.
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:40
That Steven Sotloff is Jewish isn't exactly a secret. But what many media titles this morning have glossed over is that he studied at Tel Aviv'sInterdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) before beginning his career. Located on the same campus at the core of of IDCs philosophy is the International Institute for Counter Terrorism. Its links to Mossad are well known. The Slog tries to join up some dots.
Having watched the second 'beheading' video and looked into Mr Sotloff's background, my aim '' as with James Foley's apparent execution '' is to offer key observations that I find significant:
There is no blood at all in this video. This time the 'assailant' isn't even seen attacking his victim. There is no headless body seen at the end. The voice is identical to the first video.
Some excerpts from around the Web so far today: 'A video has been released today showing the gruesome murder of Steven Sotloff' (The Mirror '' it shows no such thing). 'The killing of Sotloff 'disgusting and despicable' (DavidCameron '' this film offers zero evidence that he is dead). 'A video that shows the beheading of American Steven Sotloff (CNN '' it doesn't show anything). 'Sotloff family watched grisly video of Sotloff's death'. (NBC '' well then, they didn't watch the one I did).
Youtube has blocked all copies of the video. Google is not showing any relevant results for 'watch Sotloff beheading video'. Once again, senior politicians and most news anchors are advising against any viewing, on the grounds of it being 'gruesome', 'gorey', 'disgusting' or 'disturbing'. Wikipedia already has an entry on him confirming his death.
Assumptions are being routinely presented as facts.
As with the Foley video, Mr Sotloff betrays no signs of fear whatsoever.
He may well simply be a very brave man, but the apparent calm of both 'victims' is, to say the least, odd.
As with James Foley (see last Slogpost about him) facts in Sotloff's background cast doubt on the 'innocent journalist just doing his job' line.
He worked in Egypt, Turkey and Bahrain for the Christian Science Monitor'....a tiny niche outfit favoured strongly for agent and story placement by the CIA. He then went on to work for Time Magazine '' the definitive CIA-linked publication whose close association with the Agency goes back to Allen Dulles in the 1950s.
Before that he worked for The National Interest '' a far-right conservative magazine. It's latest editorial opines that 'The Obama administration's dispatch of a few hundred U.S. military personnel [to Iraq] although they will be serving legitimate purposes, is probably best understood as a response to the pressure to do something. It was the minimum military measure the administration could get away with without incurring intense accusations of doing nothing.'
Earlier this year, Time Magazine co-sponsored, and gave extensive coverage to, The National Interest's highly critical seminar on 'pussy-footing' US foreign policy.
Steven Sotloff would appear to have come from the same stable as James Foley, in terms of the commonality of links involved. Like Foley's TGP employer Charles M. Sennott, he has also been remarkably lucky on being 'on the spot' to 'report' events that remain in doubt as to the motives and catalysts involved. For example, having gone to Yemen to become fluent in Arabic, Sotloff was in on the start of Egypt's 'Arab Spring'. And astonishingly, he just happened to be near the Benghazi compound when the US base there was stormed'...resulting in the death of Ambassador Stevens. This last event has been riddled with 'false flag' accusations from Day One.
Steven Sotloff isn't just Jewish '' he is connected to right-wing Israeli centres, which are in turn closely linked to Mossad.
Some time before learning Arabic in the Yemen, Mr Sotloff studied at Tel Aviv's Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya (IDC) before beginning his career. Located on the same campus at the core of of IDCs philosophy is the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (IICT). Its links to Mossad are far from covert.
Efraim Halevy, the former Director of Mossad, is a regular speaker at both the IICT and the IDC. The IICT liaises with Mossad specifically in relation to 'Targeted Killings' of jihadists and Hamas leaders.
In his Wikipedia entry, the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya is listed as Steven Sotloff's almer mater.
Here again, as with James Foley, we are left with multiple potential interpretations:
1. As suggested in The Slog's Foley piece, ISIS is simply letting the CIA/Mossad axis know they are on their case, are identifying their agents'....and will wipe them out if necessary.
2. The repeat of last week's ''far too gruesome to watch'' smokescreen and virtual blackout on social media suggest that the West is not keen for people to examine the video. The further attempt to ratchet up the jingoism is illustrated by an almost universal reportage of 'the beheading' of the victim. Nothing in the video shows or even suggests this, other than the 'assailant's' threat. All this might suggest a black arts op by intelligence agencies.
3. Having been knocked back by the electorates on Syrian involvement, the West is now softening them up in readiness for a new entry into Iraq. (A US poll this morning shows the percentage in favour of military action by the US is up from 43% to 72%).
4. Having failed to tempt the West into further 'attacks on Islam', ISIS is upping the ante. (But this wouldn't explain the news blackout by Western MSM titles and sites).
Stay tuned: the video ends by showing and identifying a British national. I am already researching this person's background.
You would be well-advised to read this post in the context of the earlier Slogpost on Foley's career
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Address coincidence
I don't know how strange you will find this but in looking at SITE's current address and immediate past address there's a common connection:
Past Address:
4200 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC
Current Address:
4938 Hampden Ln, Bethesda, MD 20814 (Which is a strip mall)
At both locations: A UPS Store (Formerly Mailboxes Etc).
In looking into the tenants of 4200 Wisconsin Ave NW I stumbled on
United States Department of State Telephone Directory of Chanceries. You'll never guess who also operates at that address:
Qatar, State of
4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW
(202) 274-1600
It's interesting that the woman who "found" the Bin Laden Just For Men for Beards video in 2007 at the same time had offices in the same building as the State of Qatar.
Things that make you go HMMMM....
US Cannot Verify Video Purporting To Show US Journalist Beheading
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:26
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday said it could not immediately confirm reports that Islamic State had released a video purporting to show the beheading of American hostage Steven Sotloff.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing that if there is such a video, it would be analyzed very carefully, adding that the administration's thoughts and prayers were with Sotloff's family.
Shortly before the briefing, the jihadi monitoring service SITE said the militant group had released the video.
Inside SITE Intelligence Group: Steven Sotloff Beheading Discovered By Nonprofit Research Organization
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:22
ISIS has allegedly beheaded Steven Joel Sotloff, the American journalist who appeared in the terrorist group's propaganda video of James Foley's beheading two weeks ago. In the first video, the executioners threatened Sotloff would meet the same fate if the U.S. military did not comply with the terrorists' demands.
The U.S. didn't. ISIS appears to have followed through.
The video was first obtained by SITE Intelligence Group (Search for International Terrorist Entities), also known as SITE Intel Group, a relatively under-the-radar yet apparently very powerful nonprofit research body that monitors jihadist movements. The Bethesda, Maryland, organization has published a shortened version of the beheading video and published a transcript on its news site, which has been largely inaccessible since news of the beheading broke, likely due to an uptick in Web traffic.
A description of SITE Intelligence Group on its Facebook page says its blog, INSITE, focuses on ''all dimensions of extremism in the 21st century: jihadism, white supremacy movements, hacker threats and everything in between. '... All articles posted to the blog are intended to elevate the discussion regarding extremist threats -- transcending the conversational buzz and shining light on the greater factors at stake.'' Among its products for sale is SITE Monitoring Service, which provides its subscribers -- government and commercial entities -- ''immediate and timely translations of the most important jihadist material published.''
SITE made the decision to publish the video of Sotloff's beheading when numerous mainstream news outlets in possession of it declined to do so, likely influenced by the overwhelming negative public reaction to the sharing of video and still images of Foley's beheading, which quickly and inescapably proliferated on social media before YouTube and Twitter removed them. The authenticity of the video obtained by SITE Intel Group has yet to be explicitly confirmed, but the White House released a statement Tuesday afternoon expressing ''deepest condolences'' for the ''brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.''
SITE Intelligence Group is an incarnation of the SITE Institute, founded in 2002 by former Investigative Project colleagues Rita Katz and Josh Devon. Katz remains the executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group. Her bio says she is fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, having been born in Iraq and educated in Tel Aviv. She has worked as a government consultant on terrorist operations and is the author of the 2003 book, ''Terrorist Hunter: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman Who Went Undercover To Infiltrate the Radical Islamic Groups Operating in North America.'' She is the subject of a 2006 New Yorker profile, which described a visit to SITE's offices (the location of which, at the time, Katz demanded the magazine leave unnamed):
''Each day, Katz finds about a half-dozen items on the Arabic message boards that are worth distributing. Her researchers, who monitor English-language jihadist websites, often find a few more. Some are propaganda: videos taking responsibility for attacks, statements of intents to attack, announcements of allegiances or splits. '... SITE tries to have the items translated and sent to subscribers within an hour and a half of their first appearance online.''
SITE Intel's speedy distribution of items likely explains why numerousmediaoutlets appeared to have obtained evidence of the beheading video, or the video itself, about the same time. SITE Intelligence Group did not immediately respond to an inquiry for more information.
The SITE Institute was credited in 2007 with obtaining and releasing the first video of Osama bin Laden in three years, the Washington Post reported. The Post said SITE beat Al Qaeda's own release of that particular video and shared it with government agencies and news media. The story said Katz ''declined to comment on the methods used to obtain the footage'' but told the Post she was first made aware of it via a jihadist message board.
IBTimes will update this story as more information becomes available.
Tech giants used Foley experience to halt spread of Sotloff video
TECH companies drafted plans to
scrub the web after a grisly video showing the beheading of an American
journalist by Islamic State militants — and implemented them this week
after a second killing, a Silicon Valley insider said.
Video showing the death of James Foley last month ricocheted
through social networks in what many feared was a propaganda coup for
the extremists.
The tech official said a YouTube video showing
another beheading — of American journalist Steven Sotloff — was deleted,
slowing the spread of posts linking to it. According to terms of
service for many social media companies, the posting of threats and
gratuitously violent content is cause for suspension.
official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because companies are
grappling with increasing pressure to impose more censorship on the
web, would not say whether the developments came at the request of
governments or ordinary users.
But after Foley’s death, “platforms were better prepared for it this
time around,” the official said, adding that tech companies are trying
to force out the Islamic State group “platform by platform.”
Accounts on YouTube, Twitter and other sites were closed within hours of the video’s release.
official with another major technology company said his organisation
worked to close multiple accounts quickly after the Sotloff video
appeared. That official spoke on condition of anonymity for the same
Even on Diaspora, a decentralised social network that
does not exert centralised control over content, Islamic State militants
are now often greeted with banners saying they are unwelcome. But they
will find newly sophisticated ways to get a message out, according to
Jamie Bartlett of the Demos think tank.
Other Casualties of War Obama did not mention
Sgt. Christopher W. Mulalley, 26, of Eureka, Calif., died Aug. 22, in Gardez, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett, 39, of Ruskin, Florida, died Aug. 20, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries received when he was engaged by the enemy.
Sgt. 1st Class Samuel C. Hairston, 35, of Houston, Texas, died Aug. 12, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.
Clancy Novels
Hi Adam and John... ITM,
Years ago i read the Tom Clancy novel "Executive Order".
The last month's the news about ISIS had a familiar storyline, so i started to dive in the boxes with old books and there i founde the this Clancy novel.
In this novel there is a merge of country's (Iran and Iraq) and is called the UIR (United Islamic Republic).
"The UIR makes a bid for superpower status by attacking Saudi Arabia.
Following a series of Iranian-backed terrorist attacks, including the release of an Ebola strain, the UIR declares war on both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, China "accidentally" shoots down a Taiwanese airliner."
Sounds familiar??
And it go's on and on with more CIA/new world order stuff.
Maybe it is time to start looking in more Clancy novel's??
Adam congrats with your 50th birthday i hope you have a unforgettable day celebrating you are seeing Abraham.
De groeten
Eric Roozeboom.
Here's What The Fully-Functioning 'Islamic State' Looks Like In Northeast Syria - Business Insider
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:06
An ISIS militant carrying the regime's flag in a propaganda video.
BEIRUT (Reuters) - In the cities and towns across the desert plains of northeast Syria, the ultra-hardline al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State has insinuated itself into nearly every aspect of daily life.The group famous for its beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions provides electricity and water, pays salaries, controls traffic, and runs nearly everything from bakeries and banks to schools, courts and mosques.
While its merciless battlefield tactics and its imposition of its austere vision of Islamic law have won the group headlines, residents say much of its power lies in its efficient and often deeply pragmatic ability to govern.
Syria's eastern province of Raqqa provides the best illustration of their methods. Members hold up the province as an example of life under the Islamic "caliphate" they hope will one day stretch from China to Europe.
In the provincial capital, a dust-blown city that was home to about a quarter of a million people before Syria's three-year-old war began, the group leaves almost no institution or public service outside of its control.
"Let us be honest, they are doing massive institutional work. It is impressive," one activist from Raqqa who now lives in a border town in Turkey told Reuters.
In interviews conducted remotely, residents, Islamic State fighters and even activists opposed to the group described how it had built up a structure similar to a modern government in less than a year under its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Reuters journalists are unable to visit the area for security reasons.
The group's progress has alarmed regional and Western powers - last month U.S. President Barack Obama called it a "cancer" that must be erased from the Middle East as U.S. warplanes bombarded its positions in Iraq.
But Islamic State has embedded itself so thoroughly into the fabric of life in places like Raqqa that it will be all but impossible for U.S. aircraft - let alone Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish troops - to uproot them through force alone.
A militant Islamist fighter uses a mobile to film his fellow fighters taking part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.
BRIDE OF THE REVOLUTIONLast year, Raqqa became the first city to fall to the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. They called it the "Bride of the Revolution."
A variety of rebel groups ranging from hardline Islamists to religious moderates held sway in the city, although Islamists clearly dominated. Within a year, Islamic State had clawed its way into control, mercilessly eliminating rival insurgents.
Activists critical of the group were killed, disappeared, or escaped to Turkey. Alcohol was banned. Shops closed by afternoon and streets were empty by nightfall. Communication with the outside world - including nearby cities and towns - was allowed only through the Islamic State media center.
Those rebels and activists who stayed largely "repented", a process through which they pledge loyalty to Baghdadi and are forgiven for their "sins" against the Islamic State, and either kept to their homes or joined the group's ranks.
But after the initial crackdown, the group began setting up services and institutions - stating clearly that it intended to stay and use the area as a base in its quest to eradicate national boundaries and establish an Islamic "state".
"We are a state," one emir, or commander, in the province told Reuters. "Things are great here because we are ruling based on God's law."
Some Sunni Muslims who worked for Assad's government stayed on after they pledged allegiance to the group.
"The civilians who do not have any political affiliations have adjusted to the presence of Islamic State, because people got tired and exhausted, and also, to be honest, because they are doing institutional work in Raqqa," one Raqqa resident opposed to Islamic State told Reuters.
Since then, the group "has restored and restructured all the institutions that are related to services," including a consumer protection office and the civil judiciary, the resident said.
An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Taqba city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014.
BRUTALITY AND PRAGMATISMIn the past month alone, Islamic State fighters have broadcast images of themselves beheading U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as well as captive Kurdish and Lebanese soldiers, and machine-gunning scores of Syrian prisoners wearing nothing but their underwear.
But the group's use of violence has not been entirely indiscriminate. The group has often traded with businessmen loyal to Assad when it has suited its interests, for instance.
According to one fighter, a former Assad employee is now in charge of mills and distributing flour to bakeries in Raqqa. Employees at the Raqqa dam, which provides the city with electricity and water, have remained in their posts.
Islamic State's willingness to use former Assad employees displays a pragmatism residents and activists say has been vital to its success holding onto territory it has captured.
They have been helped by experts who have come from countries including in North Africa and Europe. The man Baghdadi appointed to run and develop Raqqa's telecoms, for instance, is a Tunisian with a PhD in the subject who left Tunisia to join the group and serve "the state".
Reflecting Islamic State's assertion that it is a government - rather than simply a militant group that happens to govern - Baghdadi has also separated military operations from civilian administration, assigning fighters only as police and soldiers
Instead, Baghdadi has appointed civilian deputies called walis, an Islamic term describing an official similar to a minister, to manage institutions and develop their sectors.
Administrative regions are divided into waliyehs, or provinces, which sometimes align with existing divisions but, as with the case of the recently established al-Furat province, can span national boundaries.
Fighters and employees receive a salary from a department called the Muslim Financial House, which is something like a finance ministry and a bank that aims to reduce poverty.
Fighters receive housing - including in homes confiscated from local non-Sunnis or from government employees who fled the area - as well as about $400 to $600 per month, enough to pay for a basic lifestyle in Syria's poor northeast.
One fighter said poor families were given money. A widow may receive $100 for herself and for each child she has, he said.
Prices are also kept low. Traders who manipulate prices are punished, warned and shut down if they are caught again.
The group has also imposed Islamic taxes on wealthy traders and families. "We are only implementing Islam, zakat is an Islamic tax imposed by God," said a jihadi in Raqqa.
Analysts estimate that Islamic State also raises tens of millions of dollars by selling oil from the fields it controls in Syria and Iraq to Turkish and Iraqi businessmen and by collecting ransoms for hostages it has taken.
ISIS militant
BAGHDADI CALLS THE SHOTSAt the heart of the Islamic State system is its leader, Baghdadi, who in June declared himself "caliph", or ruler of all the world's Muslims, after breaking with al Qaeda.
Residents, fighters and activists agree Baghdadi is now heavily involved in Raqqa's administration, and has the final word on all decisions made by commanders and officials. Even the prices set for local goods go back to him, local sources say.
Residents say Baghdadi also approves beheadings and other executions and punishments for criminals convicted by the group's Islamic courts.
On the battlefield, fighters describe him as a fierce and experienced commander.
The Syrian fighter said Baghdadi led major battles, such as one to retake a Syrian military base known as Division 17 in July, the first in a series of defeats the group dealt to Syrian government forces in Raqqa province.
"He does not leave the brothers. In the battle to retake Division 17 he was also slightly wounded but he is fine now," the fighter said.
"He is always moving. He does not stay in one place. He moves between Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Mosul. He leads the battles."
NEXT GENERATION JIHADAlthough pragmatism has been a key to the group's success, ideology is also vital to the group's rule.
By declaring the caliphate and setting up a "state", Baghdadi aimed to attract foreign jihadis and experts from abroad. Supporters say thousands have responded.
At the same time, wealthy Islamists from across the world have sent money to Raqqa to support the caliphate, jihadis say.
According to sources in Raqqa, the group maintains three weapons factories mainly designed to develop missiles. Foreign scientists - including Muslims from China, fighters claim - are kept in a private location with bodyguards.
"Scientists and men with degrees are joining the State," said one Arab jihadi.
The group has also invested heavily in the next generation by inducting children into their ideology. Primary, secondary and university programs now include more about Islam.
The group also accepts women who want to fight - they are trained about "the real Islam" and the reasons for fighting.
Islamic education groups are held in mosques for newly arrived fighters, who, according to militants in Raqqa, have flocked to Islamic State-controlled territory in even greater numbers since Baghdadi declared the "caliphate".
"Every three days we receive at least 1,000 fighters. The guest houses are flooding with mujahideen. We are running out of places to receive them," the Arab jihadi said.
(Editing by Alexander Dziadosz and Giles Elgood)
This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2014. Follow Reuters on Twitter.
ISIS at the Mexican border: US attack imminent? - Allen B. West - AllenBWest.com
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 05:28
Even while unspeakable horrors are being committed abroad, most people here at home are concerned about the economy. But within a twinkling of an eye we could find ourselves on the precipice of a global conflagration with Islamic totalitarians and their jihadists envoys of terror.
Judicial Watch reports that ''Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED).''
''High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat. Specifically, the government sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas.''
And for those who need a lesson on geography, Ciudad Juarez is right across the river from El Paso Texas which is home to America's only tank division, the Army's 1st Armored Division.
But many of you will say, oh don't be an alarmist. Really? Well, what about this warning from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia?
As reported by the Washington Times, the king has a stark warning to America: ''The Islamic State's terror will visit American shores in one month if it is not confronted in Syria and Iraq. ''If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month. Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East. ['...] It is no secret to you, what they have done and what they have yet to do. I ask you to transmit this message to your leaders: 'Fight terrorism with force, reason and speed.''
Now, I gotta tell ya, I take anything coming out of Saudi Arabia with more than a grain of skepticism, but there is some truth in what King Abdullah states. And I guess he should know about terrorism coming to America's shores '-- since most of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudis. As well, many in the House of Saud are financing ISIS.
King Abdullah is watching his little Sunni terrorist monster running out of control and he doesn't want to take any responsibility. The time is coming when we must realize if this enemy comes again to our shores, we must respond without impunity and firm resolve to forever crush Islamo-fascism.
Resolute leadership would force the Arab street to take action itself against ISIS '-- we all know they possess the capability and resources to do such '' but perhaps they, as well as President Obama don't want to? And so as we again seem directionless, the enemy marches on '-- and their sponsors become more concerned.
We all remember the economic ramifications of 9-11. Imagine with our current weak economy what such another attack, along a more porous border, could inflict upon our economic system. I know the president yesterday was with his acolytes in Wisconsin '-- union members '' I guess he has a plan for them.
It's quite disconcerting that Obama '-- before another friendly crowd of Muslim Brotherhood members '-- in his 2009 Cairo speech seemed to hint that because of his background, the Islamic world would be very accommodating to his will and wishes '-- way wrong. As a matter of fact, they've seen his retreat as weakness and now since his ''pivot'' from the Middle East, we find a more explosive region.
We must realize this ISIS issue didn't just happen two months ago, it has been festering and growing for nearly four years '-- and dismissed for as many years. Now that the threat is knocking on our door, are we ready to confront it?
Ladies and gents, our economic security is directly related to our national security, the latter being the preeminent responsibility of the federal government. We can never experience growth, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people if we cannot keep them safe and secure. That is the challenge we currently face, and my concern is that either the fella in the White House doesn't have a plan, or the plan he does is for the wrong side.
Internet Of Things
Bluetooth data recorded
Had a meeting with the network operators of our state road and transport network last week. They were freaking out about the amount of data that will be forwarded when they migrate the registration cameras due to all the Bluetooth traffic. This got my attention and I asked for more information...turns out that the cameras track license plates AND Bluetooth emissions of all cars. This was news to me...I'm going to get myself one of those old cool Nokia dumb ass phones and a headset, either that or wrap my car in lead.
Please don't mention my name or state etc .... Although I'm sure this isn't news to you.
Stan the Ukranian - We are BRAINWASHED!
TIt is pain , more and more painful listening to your pro-Russian show. RT really brain washed you. Ukraine, country I understand and love, the country speaking at its TV Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian,.. experiencing war attack from a country where only Russian language allowed on TV, only pro-Pooteen speaches allowed. Russian army invaded to democratic European Ukraine, killing my ex-compatriots, HUMILIATING publicly captured Ukrainian soldiers as Let. Savchenko (female war prisoner!), publishing at YouTube how paratroopers from Russian St. Petersburg posing on dead bodies (!) of Ukrainian militaries. And you blind brainwashed can see only how Ukraine doing wrong. Enough for today. Sending video supporting mentioned evidence , if you care....
Interrogation of Let. Savchenko (hand stripped) by Russian intelligence http://youtu.be/hq46vtQTmXY
Russian paratrooper's from St. Petersburg selfi on corps of Ukrainian militaries (in Ukrainian city of Donetsk) http://youtu.be/OoEnVCitaL0
Pooteen nazi and murder. Stop Putin.
Stanislav the Ukrainian
600 hundred 'contractors' killed in Ukraine to date, including Academi
Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, all Baltic States
'Novorossiya,' the latest historical concept to worry about in Ukraine - The Washington Post
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:38
A map of the historical region of Novorossiya. (Laris Karklis/The Washington Post)
During an epic question-and-answer session with the Russian public Thursday, President Vladimir Putin dropped a reference that is likely to be obscure to many in the West. Talking about the Ukrainian elections and ethnic Russians in that country's east, Putin took a detour through history.
"I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya back in the tsarist days '' Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa '' were not part of Ukraine back then," Putin said. "The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained."
Putin's comment might be taken as it was portrayed '' as an aside, or a little tidbit of information '' if it weren't for the fact that Novorossiya has been brought up so often in recent days by pro-Russian activists, who have reportedly been chanting the word as they argued against staying with Kiev. Someone has even set up a Web site that appears devoted to bringing the historical region back.
If nothing else, Putin's comments are relatively accurate, historically: Novorossiya was won from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century. Its name, which means "New Russia," is a reflection of that. It became a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the early years of the Soviet Union, and remained a part of Ukraine after the collapse of communism.
Talking about Novorossiya fits in with Putin's broader habit of talking about a golden era of Russian empire, and using history to justify modern action. It's a similar action Putin made with Crimea, though in this case, the historical justification is a little harder to make: Crimea only became part of Ukraine in 1954, and you have to wonder what's to stop Turkey from deciding that its own claims on Novorossiya, earlier still than Russia's, are more valid?
In the modern world, things are more complicated. As the map below to the left shows, Crimea's large ethnic Russian population is not matched in any of the regions that once made up Novorossiya. However, as you can see from the map on the right, it makes up a big portion of the GDP of Ukraine.
(Laris Karklis/The Washington Post)
It's not clear right now whether Putin has any real plan to annex Novorossiya, or whether it is just talk. But if Putin is hoping to foment chaos in Ukraine, it would appear that Crimea has shown him that history can be potent weapon.
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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Member states of NATO - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:13
The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international alliance that consists of 28 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Article Five of the treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it should be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.[1]
Of the 28 member countries, two are located in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 are European countries while Turkey is in Eurasia. All members have militaries, although Iceland does not have a typical army (it does, however, have a military coast guard and a small unit of soldiers for NATO operations). Three of NATO's members are nuclear weapons states: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO has 12 original founding member nation states and through April 2009 it has added 16 more member nations.
Original and joining members[edit]NATO has added new members six times since its founding in 1949, and since 2009 NATO has had 28 members. Twelve countries were part of the founding of NATO: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, Greece and Turkey became members of the Alliance. In 1990, with the reunification of Germany, NATO grew to include the former country of East Germany. Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1997, three former Warsaw Pact countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO. After this fourth enlargement in 1999, the Vilnius group of The Baltics and seven East European countries formed in May 2000 to cooperate and lobby for further NATO membership. Seven of these countries joined in the fifth enlargement in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in the sixth enlargement in 2009.
Member states by date of accession[edit]Military personnel[edit]CountryActive personnelReserve personnelTotal Albania14,5005,00019,500 Belgium24,500100,500125,000 Bulgaria34,975302,500337,475 Canada68,25047,081115,331 Croatia18,00012,00030,000 Czech Republic21,05767621,733 Denmark26,00063,00089,000 Estonia3,20960,00063,209 France222,215100,000322,215 Germany148,99614,400163,396 Greece109,070280,000389,070 Hungary19,00019,000 Iceland210170380 Italy180,00041,867220,867 Latvia6,00011,00017,000 Lithuania14,9954,26019,255 Luxembourg1,0572781,335 Netherlands47,66057,200104,860 Norway26,20056,20082,400 Poland120,000515,000635,000 Portugal44,900210,930255,830 Romania73,35079,900153,250 Slovakia16,00016,000 Slovenia7,3001,5008,800 Spain123,00016,200139,200 Turkey612,900429,0001,041,900 United Kingdom224,500187,130411,630 United States1,477,8961,458,5002,936,396 NATO3,585,0004,300,0007,885,000Military expenditures[edit]CountryPopulation(2011)GDP (nominal)(2010, US$ millions)Military expenditures(2011, US$ millions)Military expenditures(2012, % of GDP)Defence expenditures,(2011, US$ per capita)Deployable military(2011) Albania3,011,40513,2921971.55110,000 Belgium10,827,519465,6765,5411.140435,000 Bulgaria7,351,23444,8437581.556429,000 Canada34,447,0001,574,05123,6851.349260,000 Croatia4,425,74759,9179701.516116,009 Czech Republic10,515,818192,1522,4481.116223,000 Denmark5,560,628310,7604,5181.463618,000 Estonia1,311,87019,2203891.71956,000 France65,821,8852,582,52753,4442.3666227,000 Germany81,802,0003,315,64348,1401.4500205,000 Greece11,306,183305,4156,4252.1427124,000 Hungary10,014,324128,9601,3781.011129,000 Iceland318,45212,767120.09370a Italy60,605,0532,055,11430,2281.4351352,000 Latvia2,003,90023,3852891.0765,000 Lithuania2,944,45935,7343510.8759,000 Luxembourg502,10052,4332790.54020.9 Netherlands16,667,700783,29311,3391.355348,000 Norway4,937,900483,6507,2321.5103621,000 Poland38,092,000468,5398,9081.7181100,000 Portugal10,636,888229,3363,6111.527439,000 Romania21,466,174161,6292,3801.36766,000 Slovakia5,435,27386,2621,0651.112616,000 Slovenia2,046,51046,4426651.32557,000 Spain46,148,6051,409,94613,9840.9241127,000 Turkey73,722,988741,85314,4792.3149495,000 United Kingdom62,008,0482,247,45563,5672.5994192,000 United States311,328,00014,657,800731,8794.82,0601,427,000 NATO906,002,05132,223,3441,038,1453.09873,515,000From "Data Relating to NATO Defence", estimates for 2011 and SIPRI estimates for 2012 percentage of GDP[2][3]a Iceland has no armed forces.References[edit]
'We won't be cowed by barbaric murderers' say Cameron and Obama | The Times
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:38
President Obama and David Cameron are seeking to ready the public for wider military action against Islamist fighters in Iraq as they make the case for confronting ''brutal and poisonous extremism''.
With the world waiting to see how the US president leads the response to the menace from Islamic State and Russian aggression in Ukraine, the leaders have dismissed calls to step back from conflict, saying that action is needed to prevent terrorism striking at home.
In a joint article in The Times today, Mr Obama and Mr Cameron insist at the start of the two-day Nato conference in Wales
Obama, David Cameron: 'We Won't Be Cowed By Barbaric Murderers'
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:37
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- World leaders, nervously eyeing a growing threat from Islamic State militants, will seek to build a united front this week against the violent extremist group and keep it from creeping beyond its borders.
Yet international plans to counter the Islamic State group '-- with combined military might, diplomatic pressure on abetting partners and economic penalties '-- pale in comparison to the extremists' ruthlessness and command of the swath of land it controls across parts of northern Syria and Iraq. For the second time in as many weeks, Islamic State militants released a video showing the beheading of an American journalist, and governments from Britain to Saudi Arabia to Australia warned of the potential of their citizens joining the fight '-- and then bringing the violence back home.
"Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it's no longer a threat," President Barack Obama said Wednesday during a visit to Estonia, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State. He later headed to Wales for an annual meeting of leaders of the NATO military alliance.
Separately, during an appearance in Maine, Vice President Joe Biden declared that the U.S. will pursue the militants to "the gates of hell."
In Wales, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was considering joining a nearly monthlong U.S. airstrike campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State group, adding to military aid that London has already approved.
"We'll always ask ourselves what is in our national interest," Cameron said, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper. "Not ruling things out, but going forward in a deliberate, sensible, resolute way."
Obama and Cameron co-authored an op-ed published Wednesday evening in the Times of London, accusing the militant group of ''brutal and poisonous extremism."
''If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong. Countries like Britain and America will not be cowed by barbaric killers,'' they wrote. ''We will be more forthright in the defense of our values, not least because a world of greater freedom is a fundamental part of how we keep our own people safe.''
And in the Mideast, the United Arab Emirates called for a coordinated international effort to tackle the "global scourge" of terrorism, raising particular concern about the threat posed by Islamic State fighters.
The heightened urgency reflected fears that the Islamic State was growing stronger in its quest to create a caliphate territory in the Mideast and systematically kill any who resist. The group is considered even more merciless toward its enemies than the al-Qaida terror network, and intelligence officials across the world warn that it may soon seek to seed its violence beyond its declared borders.
So far, the Islamic State has beheaded two American journalists it held captive for what the militants called payback for more than 120 U.S. airstrikes on its assets in northern Iraq since Aug. 8. Journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were two of what the State Department has described as "a few" Americans still being held hostage by the group. The Islamic State also had threatened to kill a British man it is holding hostage.
In a statement Wednesday, a family spokesman said Sotloff dedicated his life to portraying the suffering of people in war zones, but was "no hero."
Family spokesman Barak Barfi told reporters gathered outside the family's suburban Miami home that Sotloff "tried to find good concealed in a world of darkness," and to give voice to the weak and suffering in the Arab world. Barfi said Sotloff was "no war junkie," but was drawn to the stories of the turbulent Middle East, and his family has pledged to "not allow our enemies to hold us hostage with the sole weapon they possess '-- fear."
Sotloff, a 31-year-old who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines before he was captured in Syria a year ago, was also an Israeli citizen. But his Jewish faith and Israeli citizenship were not widely known before his death '-- in part because Israel's military censor apparently kept a lid on the story for his safety '-- and his killers are not believed to have known about his background.
In Washington, Obama administration officials maintained that the U.S. will not launch a ground war against the Islamic State militants. But they stopped short of ruling out airstrikes against the group in its safe haven in Syria, as the U.S. has resisted for years.
Obama has "been clear that we're not going to be limited by geography," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. She described a range of actions being considered against the Islamic State, and noted that decisions and discussions were ongoing.
Over the past day, Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials have reached out to leaders from Australia, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Israel to discuss how to combat the Islamic State. Psaki said the discussions focused on what each country might contribute '-- including weapons, humanitarian aid and other resources '-- and noted that some nations already have.
Obama "wants to build an international coalition," Psaki said. "That's not going to be overnight. We need capabilities from many countries."
The push also mirrors concerns that the Islamic State will lure foreigners to the fight '-- who will then return home to launch attacks.
A compilation of government estimates shows more than 2,000 people with European passports have fought or are fighting in Syria and Iraq, with most looking to join the Islamic State group.
In Australia, officials said Prime Minister Tony Abbott has mobilized public support for fighting the militants, and earlier this week singled out citizens and their supporters as a growing threat to his nation's security.
"People who kill without compunction in other countries are hardly likely to be law-abiding citizens should they return to Australia," Abbott told Parliament on Monday.
U.S. intelligence officials also believe a number of Americans seek to join the battle.
The Islamic State and other extremists in Syria "threaten our people and our interests" in the Mideast, Matthew Olsen, the retiring director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a think-tank audience in Washington on Wednesday. "Left unchecked, they will seek to carry out attacks closer to home."
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Julie Pace in Tallinn, Estonia, Tia Goldenberg and Aron Heller in Jerusalem, David Fischer in Miami, Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Lori Hinnant in Paris and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.
Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP
Missing Russian journalist Andrey Stenin confirmed dead in Ukraine '-- RT News
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:09
Published time: September 03, 2014 04:38Edited time: September 03, 2014 20:47Colleague lays flowers in memory of photo journalist Andrei Stenin killed in southeastern Ukraine, at the Rossiya Segodnya building. (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)
Russian journalist Andrey Stenin, missing in eastern Ukraine for a month, has been confirmed dead, RIA Novosti, the news agency where he worked, reports. He was in a vehicle traveling in a convoy of escaping civilians when it came under heavy fire.
READ MORE: 'I'll be home soon': The life and work of Andrey Stenin (1980-2014)
Stenin apparently died in a vehicle, on his way to an assignment, according to the agency's director, Dmitriy Kisilev.
''The car had been shot up and burnt on a highway in the vicinity of Donetsk,'' he said in a statement. ''The autopsy results came back this morning. He was indeed in that car '' the 33-year-old young man, a brilliant professional, someone who cared.''
Russia's Investigative Committee has determined that the car had come under fire as a Ukrainian attack on the self-defense forces was taking place. The car had been travelling in a convoy, together with those escaping the conflict. It was guarded by six members of the self-defense forces.
The unit that carried out the attack was also using a tank, according to the investigators.
More than 10 cars containing peaceful civilians had been shot up. The contents of the vehicles, including the civilians' belongings, had come into Ukrainian posession.
The following day Ukrainian commanders arrived at the scene. According to Vladimir Markin of the Investigative Committee and testimony gathered from bystanders, "they weren't only inspecting the wreckages and identifying bodies, but were also loading the contents of the vehicles into their own and searching the remains," he said.
"After the commanders had left the scene, it was fired on with Grad missiles," he added.
"The investigation will not stop at determining the exact details of the shooting. It also aims to find those responsible and bring them to justice."
Moscow has asked that Kiev carry out the same "impartial and thorough investigation."
It was only on August 27 that Russian authorities had been given the remains of the five persons who were in the car with Stenin at the time of the attack. "Russian experts studied the remains, which contained those of Stenin as well," Markin told journalists.
Kisilev also said that mediators on the Ukrainian side were earlier offering to negotiate Stenin's release - possibly an exchange - in this way giving credence to the view that he may be alive.
Stenin, 33, a photojournalist contributing to several leading Russian and international news agencies including AP, Reuters, AFP, Rossiya Segodnya (RIA Novosti) and ITAR-TASS, had been covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine before all contact with him was lost on August 5.
In mid-August, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said that Stenin had been arrested by the Ukrainian Security Service for ''aiding and glorifying terrorism.'' He later backtracked on the statement.
Stenin's disappearance prompted rallies in his support all over the world, as well as an online campaign #FreeAndrew.
READ MORE:#FreeAndrew goes global: Rallies demand Russian reporter missing in Ukraine freed
Stenin was an experienced war photographer. The work he did in Ukraine included pictures of Ukrainian troops captured by self-defense forces, the horrific results of Ukrainian artillery shelling of militia-held cities and the crash site of the MH17 plane that was downed over the Donetsk region in July.
Ever since Stenin went missing, Moscow has been putting a great deal of pressure on Kiev, calling on the Ukrainian authorities to assist in finding and rescuing the journalist.
Russia's Investigative Committee launched a criminal case over what was regarded as a possible kidnapping.
All major international human rights watchdogs - Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Federation of Journalists '' have called for an urgent investigation into Stenin's disappearance.
"Andrey's funeral will take place on Friday at the Troyekurovskoe cemetary in Moscow. He will be buried next to journalists Igor Kornelyuk, Anton Voloshin and Anatoly Klyan, who, like Andrey, were killed in Ukraine," the director added in his statement.
The Ukrainian interior ministry said it is ready to investigate the death of Stenin after Moscow's demand for a probe. But it would be difficult as the area where the journalist was killed is not controlled by Ukrainian troops.
''Without access to the body, without knowing how he was killed, we won't be able to conduct such an investigation,'' Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the head of Ukraine's interior ministry, told Ukrainian TV.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had hoped until the last minute that Stenin was alive and would return home to his relatives.
''We hoped that Andrey [Stenin] would return to his family and friends but bitter news dashed all these hopes. He performed his professional and human duty to the last. [He] did everything so that people, the whole world learnt the truth about the tragic events that are happening in Donetsk,'' said Putin's statement on the Kremlin website.
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev also expressed his condolences.
''It's a terrible sorrow when the life of a young, talented man who is full of energy is taken in war. A war in which his only shots were photos! He wanted to bring us photos documenting the atrocities and injustice,'' he wrote on his Facebook page.
''Maybe it's the highest manifestation of love for people '' to come under fire in order to show that there should be no wars,'' he added.
The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) has called on Kiev to investigate the circumstances of Stenin's death, the body said in a statement.
I urge Kiev authorities to investigate all cases of killing of media workers, do it quickly and thoroughly, said a statement from Dunya Miyatovich, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, which observes media developments.
Packet Equality
Join the Battle for Net Neutrality
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:38
Big Cable wants to slow down the Internet? Fine.Let's show the world what a web without net neutrality would be like.Join our open, international call for action to protect Internet Freedom.
Thanks! We'll send you developer updates!
Cable companies are spending billions to gut net neutrality and create fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet. We can't let this happen, but they're so powerful. To win, we need a response that pulls out all the stops and drives the maximum number of people to voice their support for net neutrality.
On September 10th, sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic "loading" symbol (the proverbial ''spinning wheel of death'') and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House. Major websites and services are lined up to push hard on this '-- it affects literally everyone who uses the Internet for work or pleasure. This is the moment to win this battle for the net.
We need all hands on deck for this. Think about how best to get your audience's attention and join the Internet Slowdown with your site or mobile app. The spirit of the slowdown is that everyone can join in their own way, but we're providing tools to make it easy. If you're going to participate, tell the world ASAP. Announce it on your blog and twitter. Help get others to join. Got a question? Contact us.
Oh it's on. September 10th.The Internet Slowdown starts at midnight eastern time on September 10th, and runs through midnight on September 11th. Whatever awesome stuff you've got planned, do it then! And remember: the goal is to drive as many emails and calls to Congress, the White House, and the FCC as possible.
Sites: Get the codeThere's a bunch of different ways for sites to participate. The best way? Run this modal. The runner up? This alert. You can also change your site's logo (or one of its letters) to a spinning wheel of death or embed this action tool in a high traffic page. We've got widgets for Wordpress.com, and Wordpress (self hosted).
NOTE: none of these tools will slow down your site; they just show a symbolic loading symbol. By default they link to battleforthenet.com, but you can change the URL if you like.
Modal:To show the modal on September 10th, paste this code into the of your site. More info.
Light banner:Paste this code into the of your site. More info.
var _bftn_options = { animation: 'banner' }( Note: this will only show up on Sept 10th, and only once per user )Dark banner:Paste this code into the of your site. More info.
var _bftn_options = { animation: 'banner', theme: 'dark' }( Note: this will only show up on Sept 10th, and only once per user )Apps: do a push notificationIf you have a mobile app, can you send just one push notification to your users? Tell them that ISPs are threatening to slow your app, and link them to https://www.battleforthenet.com.
Share these images!We need as many people as possible to see this site, write Congress and the FCC, and keep fighting until we win. Can you post these images everywhere?
Say you're in.Are you participating? Tell us so we can list you, announce it to the world, and invite others to join. Starting on 9/2 we'll be announcing which sites are in. Help us spread the word about the campaign by tweeting something like this or this. Want to show your support in real life? Get the Team Internet shirt (then post a photo, obv.)
You're our only hope.This is the time to go big, visible, and strong - that's the only way we can actually win this fight. We all need to get as many people in our respective audiences motivated to do something. We can make this epic, but only if you help. We need companies to be frontrunners, leaders, and heroes on this, that's the key ingredient to raising the bar and making sure everyone goes big.
We realize it's a big ask, but this is the kind of bad internet legislation that comes along (or gets this close to passing) once a decade or so. If it passes we'll be kicking ourselves for decades'--every time a favorite site gets relegated to the slow lane, and every time we have to rework or abandon a project because of the uncertain costs paid prioritization creates. Doing the most we can right now seems like the only rational step.
Let us know if you're interested in principle, and if there's something you need from us to join: [email protected]
Dear Chairman Wheeler, Don't Break The Net!
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:23
Today, TechFreedom officially launched DontBreakThe.Net, a grassroots petition campaign urging the FCC not to impose 1930s-style utility regulation on the Internet. Subjecting broadband to Title II of the 1996 Telecom Act would trigger endless litigation, cripple investment, slow broadband deployment and upgrades, and thus harm underserved communities. The website directs comments to the FCC and debunks several myths about the benefits of a government takeover of the Internet.
''This debate is no longer about net neutrality,'' said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom. ''A radical fringe has hijacked the conversation in an attempt to undo two decades of bipartisan consensus against heavy-handed government control of the Internet. Al Gore may not have exactly 'invented the Internet,' but President Clinton's FCC chairman Bill Kennard deserves much credit for choosing not to embroil the Internet in what he called the 'morass' of Title II. Kennard's approach of 'vigilant restraint' unleashed over$1 trillion in private investment, which built the broadband networks everyone takes for granted today. Abandoning that approach would truly break the Internet.''
''Net Neutrality supporters such as Google, Facebook, and the NAACP haven't jumped on the Title II bandwagon because they understand that Title II threaten would threaten the entire Internet,'' explained Szoka. ''Title II proponents claim the FCC can simply 'reclassify' broadband, but in truth, there's no such thing as reclassification, only re-interpretation of the key definitions of the 1996 Telecom Act. If the FCC re-opens that Pandora's Box, the bright line Chairman Kennard drew between Title II and the Internet will disappear forever. Startups and edge/content providers will inevitably be caught in the fray. And besides, the FCC has a long history of overstepping its bounds.''
''Invoking Title II would trigger years of litigation,'' continued Szoka. ''It's not clear the FCC could ultimately 'reclassify' broadband at all, and even less clear the FCC could, or actually would, follow through on talk of paring back Title II's most burdensome rules, like retail price controls. Even if 'reclassification' stood up in court, the FCC still couldn't do what net neutrality hardliners want: banning prioritization. The FCC would succeed only in creating a dark cloud of legal uncertainty. That would slow broadband upgrades and discourage new entrants, such as Google Fiber, from entering the market at all.''
''The best policy would be to maintain the 'Hands off the Net' approach that has otherwise prevailed for 20 years,'' concluded Szoka. ''Innovation could thrive, and regulators could still keep a watchful eye, intervening only where there is clear evidence of actual harm, not just abstract fears. As former FCC Chairman Bill Kennard put it, 'I don't want to dump the whole morass of Title II regulation on the cable pipe.' If we want to maintain a free and open Internet, and encourage broadband competition, the FCC would do well to heed his advice.''
VisitDontBreakThe.Netto read about or join the campaign.
Find/share this release on Facebook or Twitter, and see TechFreedom and ICLE's other work onTitle IIandNet Neutrality, especially:
Israel / Gaza
Israel's Leviathan Captures Another Gas Deal
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 05:23
The mere threat of additional Western sanctions against Moscow this week sent Russia's currency to new lows; it's down 12 percent this year. Inflation is expected to rise at least 1 percentage point. More than $100 billion in capital has already fled the country, by some estimates. Russia is feeling the Obama administration's intended financial pain. The only problem is that its faltering economy hasn't dissuaded President Vladimir Putin's Ukrainian ambitions.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine is hurting Russia in terms of lost investment, higher inflation, slower growth, and declining asset values. The ruble sank to new depths, dipping below 37 rubles to the dollar before recovering slightly, this week. Analysts' inflation expectations are up; according to a Reuters survey, 15 Russia watchers now expect inflation to hit 7.2 percent by the end of the year, in part because of Moscow's ban on Western food imports. According to the Russian government, $75 billion left the country in the first half of 2014, and officials predict that number will hit $100 billion by the end of the year. Others think that much is already gone. U.S. President Barack Obama said on Aug. 6 that between $100 billion and $200 billion has already fled the country. On Monday, Sept. 1, Russia's Economic Development Ministry downgraded growth expectations from 2 percent to 1 percent for 2015. Growth has already fallen below 1 percent for the first half of 2014, according to the World Bank.
The confluence of economic bad news with Putin's most aggressive stance in Ukraine brings to the fore a question that lingers under all sanctions programs: What if the targeted government doesn't care about the economic pain?
"The West needs to realize that economic and financial measures imposed to date haven't been effective in deterring Putin's ambitions in Ukraine -- and that even a maximalist financial isolation campaign alone may not be enough to stop Russian adventurism," Juan Zarate, a former senior Treasury Department official charged with overseeing sanctions for George W. Bush's administration, said in an email.
Investors' message to Putin is clear. A brief cease-fire agreement Wednesday pushed the ruble up 1.7 percent and sent the Russian Micex stock index climbing 3.5 percent, according to Bloomberg. But Ukraine quickly retracted the announcement after Moscow said it wasn't a party to the conflict and, therefore, couldn't strike a cease-fire deal. Putin later said that he had reached an agreement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine that included Kiev pulling troops out of the region, according to Russian state-owned media. Markets would doubtless welcome a return to peace, but uncertainty lingered Wednesday as to whether peace truly was on the horizon.
Obama greeted the cease-fire announcement with skepticism at a press conference in Tallinn, Estonia, where he was on a stopover before attending the NATO summit in Wales Thursday and Friday.
"No realistic political settlement can be achieved if effectively Russia says we are going to continue to send tanks and troops and arms and advisors under the guise of separatists, who are not homegrown, and the only possible settlement is if Ukraine cedes its territory or its sovereignty," Obama said on Wednesday.
The White House points to the billions of dollars moving out of Russia, the volatile Micex stock index, and the ruble's falling value as evidence that sanctions are inflicting economic pain. But if the goal of the sanctions was to get Putin to stop bullying Ukraine, then they have yet to hit the mark. Instead, Putin is telling the head of the European Union that he could conquer Kiev in two weeks -- if he wanted to. Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin foreign-policy advisor, told the Guardian on Tuesday that Putin's remarks were taken out of context. NATO plans to station rapid-response forces to protect Eastern Europe, though it's unclear whether the United States -- the most powerful military in the 28-member alliance -- will participate.
Meanwhile, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are again sifting through a variety of incremental financial measures to further isolate Russia's economy. Whether Russia would have been even more aggressive in the absence of sanctions is anyone's guess.
Yet Putin's unchanged stance toward Ukraine and Russian troops' engaging directly with Ukrainian forces have prompted calls for the West to send military support to Kiev. Top U.S. senators, including Republican John McCain and Democrat Robert Menendez, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, want to arm the Ukrainians. But that position is not expected to gain wider traction.
"My guess is that, absent a dramatic change in the situation in Ukraine, the West will soon apply additional sanctions," Steven Pifer, a former ambassador to Ukraine and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in an email. "Providing arms may be a tougher question for [the] U.S., [and] other Western leaders."
The EU is considering implementing a new round of sanctions this week, but observers expect those to only incrementally tighten existing restrictions. European leaders could still postpone their next step to see whether Russia's cease-fire plan sticks. The toughest sanctions proposal on the table would strengthen prohibitions on Western investors lending money to Russian state-owned companies, according to a draft obtained by the Financial Times. EU leaders might also boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia, according to the draft. The West's step-by-step approach has prompted criticism from some observers and ridicule from others.
"EU looking at banning double espresso sales in Russia," Tim Ash, head of emerging-markets research at Standard Bank, joked in an emailed analyst's note on Tuesday. "Single espresso sales will still be allowed for the time-being as the EU wants to give Putin plenty of opportunity to ramp down."
The West is going to financial war not with the weapons it has, but with the ones it is willing to use. For example, Europeans and Americans are not expected to restrict Western companies from handling Russia's sovereign bonds or ban Russia from using the international banking transactions system SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). British officials advocated the move last week, according to a draft policy document obtained by Bloomberg.
Shutting Iran out of the SWIFT system, a crucial communications network for international banking, in 2012 was a turning point in the West's effort to isolate Tehran financially in order to get the government to stop its nuclear program. Many see the actions taken against Iran as a template for sanctions against Moscow, though Russia's economy is much more interconnected with the global -- and particularly European -- economy and its GDP is at least five times that of Iran's.
"They're going to be moderate so that we can continue telephone diplomacy with Putin," Mujtaba Rahman, Eurasia Group's head of European risk analysis, said from London. He said the debate has shifted in Europe toward potential military options, because economic deterrents aren't working. However, he expects more sanctions will be central to the European response as policymakers are unlikely to agree on a military solution.
Sanctions are also limited by the amount of economic pain Western countries are willing to endure in order to punish Russia. Europe's dependence on natural gas imports from Russia means that the bloc's economy could be severely damaged if Moscow decided to retaliate by turning off the spigot.
But European leaders have become more willing to take measures that could hurt their own economies as Russia has become more menacing in their view. French officials said Wednesday that they wouldn't allow the delivery of the first of two Mistral warships Russia ordered. France will likely have to return whatever Russia has already paid of the $1.6 billion price tag. Russian officials said the two ships were already two-thirds paid for, according to Bloomberg. That's a reversal from July when France defiantly refused to reconsider the contract, even in the face of criticism from other Western leaders. The United Kingdom was viewed as unlikely to strike out at Russia, thereby preserving London's place as a global finance hub for Russian businesses. Now British officials are advocating some of the toughest financial measures yet against Russia. As the conflict drags on, Europe's pain threshold could increase further.
Former Treasury Department sanctions official Elizabeth Rosenberg, who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said that was the case with Iran. Initially, the United States had trouble getting other countries to sign on, but as European leaders saw Tehran as more and more of a threat, they became more willing to reduce their economic ties, no matter the cost.
"The more that political circumstances escalate, it might be that there is a growing appetite for economic pain," Rosenberg said about Europe's view of the Ukrainian conflict. "I would urge caution for anyone suggesting that sanctions have been a failure."
Israel to appropriate 400 hectares in West Bank for 'state use' - Middle East - World - The Independent
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:35
The announcement concerning land south of Bethlehem, inside what Israelis call the Etzion bloc of settlements, comes after Israel determined the land was not cultivated with enough intensity for the Palestinians to maintain their ownership rights.
Signs have already been posted on the land by military administrators saying ''state land '' no trespassing''. Dror Etkes, head of the Kerem Navot NGO which specialises in West Bank land issues, said: ''There is enough territory for a very big settlement with thousands of units.''
The notice published by the military gave no reason for the decision, but Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in the area in June.
The United States has criticised the annoucement and branded it counter-productive to peace efforts.
''We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,'' a State Department official said. ''This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue is counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.''
''We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,'' the official said in Washington.
Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, said the appropriation was meant to turn a site where 10 families now live adjacent to a Jewish seminary into a permanent settlement.
Danny Dayan, a settler leader, denied that rightful owners would be dispossessed, stressing that people with a claim can lodge an appeal within 45 days.
Other settler leaders praised the land declaration as an appropriate response to the murder of three Israeli teens. ''The goal of the murderers of the three youths was to sow fear and disrupt our living routine and our answer is strengthening settlement and building,'' Davidi Perl, head of the local settlements council, said.
In Israel's view, building in the area would not constitute a new settlement because the site is officially designated a neighbourhood of an existing one, Alon Shvut.
Construction of a major settlement at the location, known as "Gevaot", has been mooted by Israel since 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site.
Peace Now said the land seizure was the largest announced by Israel in the West Bank since the 1980s. A local Palestinian mayor said Palestinians owned the tracts and harvested olive trees on them.
Israel has been long criticised by the international community for its settlement activities, which most countries regard as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the creation of a viable Palestinian state in any future peace deal.
Netanyahu has warned Palestinian civilians to move away from areas used by Hamas for rocketing and other activities lest they be caught up in the targeting of the Israeli military (AP)
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel to cancel the appropriation. "This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza," Abu Rdainah said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke off peace talks with Abbas in April after the Palestinian leader reached a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates the Gaza Strip.
In a series of remarks after an open-ended ceasefire halted a seven-week-old Gaza war with Hamas on Tuesday, Netanyahu repeated his position that Abbas would have to sever his alliance with Hamas for a peace process with Israel to resume.
Israel has said construction at Gevaot would not constitute the establishment of a new settlement because the site is officially designated a neighbourhood of an existing one, Alon Shvut, several miles down the road.
Some 500,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order - WSJ
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:28
Updated Aug. 29, 2014 12:04 p.m. ET
The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis, writes Henry Kissinger. Above, a pro-Russian fighter stands guard at a checkpoint close to Donetsk, Ukraine in July. European Pressphoto Agency
Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan's young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.
The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.'--strengthened in its economy and national confidence'--began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace. The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen. The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order. Free markets would uplift individuals, enrich societies and substitute economic interdependence for traditional international rivalries.
In the Middle East, religious militias violate borders at will. Getty Images
This effort to establish world order has in many ways come to fruition. A plethora of independent sovereign states govern most of the world's territory. The spread of democracy and participatory governance has become a shared aspiration if not a universal reality; global communications and financial networks operate in real time.
The years from perhaps 1948 to the turn of the century marked a brief moment in human history when one could speak of an incipient global world order composed of an amalgam of American idealism and traditional European concepts of statehood and balance of power. But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.
First, the nature of the state itself'--the basic formal unit of international life'--has been subjected to a multitude of pressures. Europe has set out to transcend the state and craft a foreign policy based primarily on the principles of soft power. But it is doubtful that claims to legitimacy separated from a concept of strategy can sustain a world order. And Europe has not yet given itself attributes of statehood, tempting a vacuum of authority internally and an imbalance of power along its borders. At the same time, parts of the Middle East have dissolved into sectarian and ethnic components in conflict with each other; religious militias and the powers backing them violate borders and sovereignty at will, producing the phenomenon of failed states not controlling their own territory.
The challenge in Asia is the opposite of Europe's: Balance-of-power principles prevail unrelated to an agreed concept of legitimacy, driving some disagreements to the edge of confrontation.
The clash between the international economy and the political institutions that ostensibly govern it also weakens the sense of common purpose necessary for world order. The economic system has become global, while the political structure of the world remains based on the nation-state. Economic globalization, in its essence, ignores national frontiers. Foreign policy affirms them, even as it seeks to reconcile conflicting national aims or ideals of world order.
This dynamic has produced decades of sustained economic growth punctuated by periodic financial crises of seemingly escalating intensity: in Latin America in the 1980s; in Asia in 1997; in Russia in 1998; in the U.S. in 2001 and again starting in 2007; in Europe after 2010. The winners have few reservations about the system. But the losers'--such as those stuck in structural misdesigns, as has been the case with the European Union's southern tier'--seek their remedies by solutions that negate, or at least obstruct, the functioning of the global economic system.
The international order thus faces a paradox: Its prosperity is dependent on the success of globalization, but the process produces a political reaction that often works counter to its aspirations.
A third failing of the current world order, such as it exists, is the absence of an effective mechanism for the great powers to consult and possibly cooperate on the most consequential issues. This may seem an odd criticism in light of the many multilateral forums that exist'--more by far than at any other time in history. Yet the nature and frequency of these meetings work against the elaboration of long-range strategy. This process permits little beyond, at best, a discussion of pending tactical issues and, at worst, a new form of summitry as "social media" event. A contemporary structure of international rules and norms, if it is to prove relevant, cannot merely be affirmed by joint declarations; it must be fostered as a matter of common conviction.
The penalty for failing will be not so much a major war between states (though in some regions this remains possible) as an evolution into spheres of influence identified with particular domestic structures and forms of governance. At its edges, each sphere would be tempted to test its strength against other entities deemed illegitimate. A struggle between regions could be even more debilitating than the struggle between nations has been.
The contemporary quest for world order will require a coherent strategy to establish a concept of order within the various regions and to relate these regional orders to one another. These goals are not necessarily self-reconciling: The triumph of a radical movement might bring order to one region while setting the stage for turmoil in and with all others. The domination of a region by one country militarily, even if it brings the appearance of order, could produce a crisis for the rest of the world.
A world order of states affirming individual dignity and participatory governance, and cooperating internationally in accordance with agreed-upon rules, can be our hope and should be our inspiration. But progress toward it will need to be sustained through a series of intermediary stages.
To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?
For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions' histories, cultures and views of their security. Even as the lessons of challenging decades are examined, the affirmation of America's exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.
'--Dr. Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford. Adapted from his book "World Order," to be published Sept. 9 by the Penguin Press.
7 reasons women will lead the new world order - MarketWatch
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:10
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.''Men are losing their grip,'' wrote Jennifer Homans in her New York Times review of ''The End of Men and Rise of Women,'' Hanna Rosin's bestseller. ''Patriarchy is crumbling. We are reaching 'the end of 200,000 years of human history and the beginning of a new era' in which women, and womanly skills and traits, are on the rise.'' Warning guys, this is the last gasp of your male-dominated patriarchy.
Women will rule the future. Men hate it, are trapped in the past. Driven by tribal urges to fight change, hold onto ancient symbols of power. Like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Even more than chasing hot market tips, today's men frantically search for past glory ... in purple pills for ED, Low-T, aging cosmetics, magic solutions to belly fat ... playing fantasy football over a six-pack ... yearn for the freedom of America's 19th century Wild West ... hero-worship icons like John Wayne ... the good old days when old-guy paternalism ruled.
Even today's conservative war on women, the drive to control women's reproductive rights, comes from deep in the collective conscious of the male brain, as men feel threatened by this historic power shift.
Yes, ''a new matriarchy is emerging'' says Homans. ''For the first time in history, the global economy is becoming a place where women are finding more success than men ... run by young, ambitious, capable women ... taking matters into their own hands.''
Yes, it's a guy thing, after 200,000 years women make men feel powerlessBut the real tragedy is that today's threatened male ego is also sabotaging America's economy and our status as a world power. How? By fighting a losing battle to hold onto the old vestiges of their ancient macho-dominated patriarchy, the weak male ego is making matters worse, manifest in the GOPs seeming endless, self-destructive, do-nothing partisan political wars that at their core simply confirm how patriarchy is crumbling. First, their childish strategy opposing a black male president. Now their fear a woman could win the presidency, even lead till 2024. No wonder the ancient male brain is in panic mode.
Yes, history is changing, fast: There were only four women in my University of Virginia Law School graduating class. Now it would be half women. Same with other professions. So here's how we see the single biggest global trend that's defining the 21st century: How women are replacing men as leaders in America and around the world. Here's a summary of the seven elements of this rapidly emerging trend as identified in Fortune, the New York Times, Time magazine, money manager Jeremy Grantham and other sources:
1. The female brain is naturally wired with long-term strategic visionMoney manager Jeremy Grantham says our male-dominated patriarchal culture has created ''an army of left-brained immediate doers.'' Wall Street, Corporate America and Silicon Valley's social-media commandos all think short term, discounting to zero longer-term social costs, like climate change and resource depletion, while ignoring reality, that we're living on a planet incapable of feeding the 10 billion predicted within a generation
Grantham predicted a global crash back in 2006. Now he warns of a possible 50% market collapse by 2016. Till then, the Fed's misguided cheap-money policies will just keep pushing the S&P500 to 2,250. Why? The short-term thinking brains of our male-dominated capitalist world (closing process, quarterly earnings, annual bonuses) are not psychologically wired to solve the world's bigger long-term problems. The female brain is better designed.
2. Changing job needs are empowering women, leveling the playing fieldMen raised in macho cultures with traditional values feel even more threatened as women gain equality and power. As Homans put it in the Times: ''The end of men is really the end of a manufacturing-based economy.'' Six million lost jobs since 2000, mostly men, creating a vacuum. As a result, ''a new matriarchy is emerging: For the first time in history, the global economy is becoming a place where women are finding more success than men ... run by young, ambitious, capable women ... taking matters into their own hands.''
NYTimes: Getting Ferguson Majority to Show Its Clout at Polls
Mo. — Down the street from where the body of Michael Brown lay for
hours after he was shot three weeks ago, volunteers have appeared beside
folding tables under fierce sunshine to sign up new voters. On West
Florissant Avenue, the site of sometimes violent nighttime protests for
two weeks, voter-registration tents popped up during the day and figures
like the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. lectured about the power of the
this small city, which is two-thirds African-American but has mostly
white elected leaders, only 12 percent of registered voters took part in
the last municipal election, and political experts say black turnout
was very likely lower. But now, in the wake of the killing of Mr. Brown,
an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white Ferguson police officer, there
is a new focus on promoting the power of the vote, an attempt to revive
one of the keystones of the civil rights movement.
Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist? by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal Spring 2008
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:06
The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination. At a presidential primary debate this Martin Luther King Day, for instance, Senator Barack Obama charged that blacks and whites ''are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences . . . for the same crime.'' Not to be outdone, Senator Hillary Clinton promptly denounced the ''disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites.''
If a listener didn't know anything about crime, such charges of disparate treatment might seem plausible. After all, in 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, though they're under 13 percent of the national population. About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men. Eleven percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail. The dramatic rise in the prison and jail population over the last three decades'--to 2.3 million people at the end of 2007 (see box)'--has only amplified the racial accusations against the criminal-justice system.
The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement, and even prison itself. None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny. The black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem.
Racial activists usually remain assiduously silent about that problem. But in 2005, the black homicide rate was over seven times higher than that of whites and Hispanics combined, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. From 1976 to 2005, blacks committed over 52 percent of all murders in America. In 2006, the black arrest rate for most crimes was two to nearly three times blacks' representation in the population. Blacks constituted 39.3 percent of all violent-crime arrests, including 56.3 percent of all robbery and 34.5 percent of all aggravated-assault arrests, and 29.4 percent of all property-crime arrests.
The advocates acknowledge such crime data only indirectly: by charging bias on the part of the system's decision makers. As Obama suggested in the Martin Luther King debate, police, prosecutors, and judges treat blacks and whites differently ''for the same crime.''
Let's start with the idea that cops over-arrest blacks and ignore white criminals. In fact, the race of criminals reported by crime victims matches arrest data. As long ago as 1978, a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests'--a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes. No one has ever come up with a plausible argument as to why crime victims would be biased in their reports.
Moving up the enforcement chain, the campaign against the criminal-justice system next claims that prosecutors overcharge and judges oversentence blacks. Obama describes this alleged postarrest treatment as ''Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others.'' Jena, Louisiana, of course, was where a D.A. initially lodged attempted second-degree murder charges against black students who, in December 2006, slammed a white student's head against a concrete beam, knocking him unconscious, and then stomped and kicked him in the head while he was down. As Charlotte Allen has brilliantly chronicled in The Weekly Standard, a local civil rights activist crafted a narrative linking the attack to an unrelated incident months earlier, in which three white students hung two nooses from a schoolyard tree'--a display that may or may not have been intended as a racial provocation. This entrepreneur then embellished the tale with other alleged instances of redneck racism'--above all, the initial attempted-murder charges. An enthusiastic national press responded to the bait exactly as intended, transforming the ''Jena Six'' into victims rather than perpetrators. In the seven months of ensuing headlines and protests, Jena became a symbol of systemic racial unfairness in America's court system. If blacks were disproportionately in prison, the refrain went, it was because they faced biased prosecutors'--like the one in Jena'--as well as biased juries and judges.
Backing up this bias claim has been the holy grail of criminology for decades'--and the prize remains as elusive as ever. In 1997, criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen reviewed the massive literature on charging and sentencing. They concluded that ''large racial differences in criminal offending,'' not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms. A 1987 analysis of Georgia felony convictions, for example, found that blacks frequently received disproportionately lenient punishment. A 1990 study of 11,000 California cases found that slight racial disparities in sentence length resulted from blacks' prior records and other legally relevant variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country's 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution following a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial. Following conviction, blacks were more likely to receive prison sentences, however'--an outcome that reflected the gravity of their offenses as well as their criminal records.
Another criminologist'--easily as liberal as Sampson'--reached the same conclusion in 1995: ''Racial differences in patterns of offending, not racial bias by police and other officials, are the principal reason that such greater proportions of blacks than whites are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned,'' Michael Tonry wrote in Malign Neglect. (Tonry did go on to impute malign racial motives to drug enforcement, however.) The media's favorite criminologist, Alfred Blumstein, found in 1993 that blacks were significantly underrepresented in prison for homicide compared with their presence in arrest.
This consensus hasn't made the slightest dent in the ongoing search for systemic racism. An entire industry in the law schools now dedicates itself to flushing out prosecutorial and judicial bias, using ever more complicated statistical artillery. The net result? A few new studies show tiny, unexplained racial disparities in sentencing, while other analyses continue to find none. Any differences that do show up are trivially small compared with the exponentially greater rates of criminal offending among blacks. No criminologist would claim, moreover, to have controlled for every legal factor that affects criminal-justice outcomes, says Patrick Langan, former senior statistician for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Prosecutors and judges observe the heinousness of a defendant's conduct, for example, but a number-crunching researcher has no easy way to discover and quantify that variable.
Some criminologists replace statistics with High Theory in their search for racism. The criminal-justice system does treat individual suspects and criminals equally, they concede. But the problem is how society defines crime and criminals. Crime is a social construction designed to marginalize minorities, these theorists argue. A liberal use of scare quotes is virtually mandatory in such discussions, to signal one's distance from primitive notions like ''law-abiding'' and ''dangerous.'' Arguably, vice crimes are partly definitional (though even there, the law enforcement system focuses on them to the extent that they harm communities). But the social constructivists are talking about all crime, and it's hard to see how one could ''socially reconstruct'' assault or robbery so as to convince victims that they haven't been injured.
Unfair drug policies are an equally popular explanation for black incarceration rates. Legions of pundits, activists, and academics charge that the war on drugs is a war on minorities'--a de facto war at best, an intentional one at worst.
Playing a starring role in this conceit are federal crack penalties, the source of the greatest amount of misinformation in the race and incarceration debate. Crack is a smokeable and highly addictive cocaine concentrate, created by cooking powder cocaine until it hardens into pellets called ''rocks.'' Crack produces a faster'--and more potent'--high than powder cocaine, and it's easier to use, since smoking avoids the unpleasantness of needles and is more efficient than snorting. Under the 1986 federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act, getting caught with five grams of crack carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence in federal court; to trigger the same five-year minimum, powder-cocaine traffickers would have to get caught with 500 grams. On average, federal crack sentences are three to six times longer than powder sentences for equivalent amounts.
The media love to target the federal crack penalties because crack defendants are likely to be black. In 2006, 81 percent of federal crack defendants were black, while only 27 percent of federal powder-cocaine defendants were. Since federal crack rules are more severe than those for powder, and crack offenders are disproportionately black, those rules must explain why so many blacks are in prison, the conventional wisdom holds.
But consider the actual number of crack sellers sentenced in federal court each year. In 2006, 5,619 were tried federally, 4,495 of them black. From 1996 to 2000, the federal courts sentenced more powder traffickers (23,743) than crack traffickers (23,121). It's going to take a lot more than 5,000 or so crack defendants a year to account for the 562,000 black prisoners in state and federal facilities at the end of 2006'--or the 858,000 black prisoners in custody overall, if one includes the population of county and city jails. Nor do crack/powder disparities at the state level explain black incarceration rates: only 13 states distinguish between crack and powder sentences, and they employ much smaller sentence differentials.
The press almost never mentions the federal methamphetamine-trafficking penalties, which are identical to those for crack: five grams of meth net you a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. In 2006, the 5,391 sentenced federal meth defendants (nearly as many as the crack defendants) were 54 percent white, 39 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black. But no one calls the federal meth laws anti-Hispanic or anti-white.
Nevertheless, the federal crack penalties dominate discussions on race and incarceration because they seem to provide a concrete example of egregious racial disparity. This leads to a commonly expressed syllogism: crack penalties have a disparate impact on blacks; disparate impact is racist; therefore, crack penalties are racist. This syllogism has been particularly prominent recently, thanks to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's 2007 decision to lighten federal crack penalties retroactively in the name of racial equity.
The press has covered this development voraciously, serving up a massive dose of crack revisionism aimed at proving the racist origins of the war on crack. Crack was never a big deal, the revisionist story line goes. But when Boston Celtics draft pick Len Bias died of a crack overdose in 1986, the media went into overdrive covering the crack phenomenon. ''Images'--or perhaps anecdotes'--about the evils of crack, and the street crime it was presumed to stoke'' circulated, as the New York Times archly put it in a December 2007 article. A ''moral panic'' (Michael Tonry's term) ensued about an imaginary threat from a powerless minority group. Whites feared that addicted blacks would invade their neighborhoods. Sensational stories about ''crack babies'' surfaced. All this hysteria resulted in the unnecessary federal crack penalties.
Since the 1980s, the revisionist narrative continues, experts have determined that powder and crack show more pharmacological ''similarities than differences,'' in the Times's words, and that crack is no more damaging to fetuses than alcohol. The belief that crack was an inner-city scourge was thus a racist illusion, and the sentencing structure to quell it a racist assault. Or, as U.S. District Judge Clyde Cahill put it, in what one hopes is not a representative sample of the federal judicial temperament: ''Legislators' unconscious racial aversion towards blacks, sparked by unsubstantiated reports of the effects of crack, reactionary media prodding, and an agitated constituency, motivated the legislators . . . to produce a dual system of punishment.''
Leave aside the irony of the press's now declaring smugly that the press exaggerated the ravages of crack. (The same New York Times that now sneers at ''images'--or perhaps anecdotes'--about the evils of crack'' ran searing photos of crack addicts in 1993 that included a woman kneeling before a crack dealer, unzipping his fly, a baby clinging to her back; such degraded prostitutes, known as ''strawberries,'' were pervasive casualties of the epidemic.) The biggest problem with the revisionist narrative is its unreality. The assertion that concern about crack resulted from ''unconscious racial aversion towards blacks'' ignores a key fact: black leaders were the first to sound the alarm about the drug, as Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy documents in Race, Crime, and the Law. Harlem congressman Charles Rangel initiated the federal response to the epidemic, warning the House of Representatives in March 1986 that crack had made cocaine ''frightening[ly]'' accessible to youth. A few months later, Brooklyn congressman Major Owens explicitly rejected what is now received wisdom about media hype. ''None of the press accounts really have exaggerated what is actually going on,'' Owens said; the crack epidemic was ''as bad as any articles have stated.'' Queens congressman Alton Waldon then called on his colleagues to act: ''For those of us who are black this self-inflicted pain is the worst oppression we have known since slavery. . . . Let us . . . pledge to crack down on crack.'' The bill that eventually passed, containing the crack/powder distinction, won majority support among black congressmen, none of whom, as Kennedy points out, objected to it as racist.
These politicians were reacting to a devastating outbreak of inner-city violence and addiction unleashed by the new form of cocaine. Because crack came in small, easily digestible amounts, it democratized what had been a rarefied drug, making an intense high available to people with very little money. The crack market differed radically from the discreet phone transactions and private deliveries that characterized powder-cocaine distribution: volatile young dealers sold crack on street corners, using guns to establish their turf. Crack, homicides, and assaults went hand in hand; certain areas of New York became ''like a war zone,'' retired DEA special agent Robert Stutman told PBS's Frontline in 2000. The large national spike in violence in the mid-1980s was largely due to the crack trade, and its victims were overwhelmingly black inner-city residents.
Though the elites are furiously rewriting crack history, many people who lived through it are not. In April 2007, Los Angeles prosecutor Robert Grace won the conviction of a crack dealer who had raped and strangled to death ten strawberries between 1987 and 1998. The ''crack epidemic was one of the worst things that happened to the black and brown community,'' Grace asserts. Matthew Kennedy managed an infamous public housing project in Watts during the crack epidemic. ''Some of us remember how bad it was,'' he says. When children avoid school for fear of getting shot by drug gangs, ''you've just lost that generation.'' Lawrence Tolliver has witnessed his share of shootings outside his South Central barbershop. ''Sometimes it was so bad you had to scout the horizon like a gazelle at a watering hole in Africa,'' he recalls.
It takes shameless sleight of hand to turn an effort to protect blacks into a conspiracy against them. If Congress had ignored black legislators' calls to increase cocaine-trafficking penalties, the outcry among the groups now crying racism would have been deafening. Yes, a legislative bidding war drove federal crack penalties ultimately to an arbitrary and excessive point; the reduction of those penalties is appropriate. But what led to the crack-sentencing scheme wasn't racism but legal logic. Prosecutors rely on heavy statutory penalties to induce defendants to spill the beans on their criminal colleagues. ''An amazing public spirit is engendered when you tell someone he is facing 150 years to life but has the possibility of getting out after eight if he tells you who committed a string of homicides,'' says Walter Arsenault, who headed the Manhattan district attorney's homicide-investigation unit in the 1980s and 1990s.
Race activists endlessly promote the claim that the draconian federal crack laws are sweeping up mere sad sacks with a little extra crack to spare. But anyone who fits that description is exempt from the federal sentencing scheme. Traffickers with only a modest criminal history who didn't injure others or have a gun when arrested can escape the mandatory federal sentences if they don't lie to the government about their offense (there is no requirement to rat out others). In 2006, only 15.4 percent of crack-cocaine defendants qualified for this safety-valve provision, compared with 48.4 percent of powder-cocaine offenders; in 2000, even fewer crack defendants qualified'--12.6 percent. Crack sellers seldom merit the escape clause because their criminal histories tend to be much more severe than powder sellers' and because they're more likely to have or use weapons. The congressional distinction between crack and powder sellers, it turns out, had a firm grounding.
Equally misleading is the criticism that few crack ''kingpins'' can be found in federal prison. This is not surprising, because ''kingpins'' in the traditional sense'--heads of major drug-importing rings'--don't exist in the crack world. Crack is not imported but cooked up locally. Its supply and distribution scheme is more horizontal than vertical, unlike that of powder cocaine and heroin. Federal crack enforcement wasn't about stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the country; it was about stopping urban violence. And that violence was coming from street dealers.
Critics follow up their charges about crack with several empirical claims about drugs and imprisonment. None is true. The first is that drug enforcement has been the most important cause of the overall rising incarceration rate since the 1980s. Yet even during the most rapid period of population growth in prisons'--from 1980 to 1990'--36 percent of the growth in state prisons (where 88 percent of the nation's prisoners are housed) came from violent crimes, compared with 33 percent from drug crimes. Since then, drug offenders have played an even smaller role in state prison expansion. From 1990 to 2000, violent offenders accounted for 53 percent of the census increase'--and all of the increase from 1999 to 2004.
Next, critics blame drug enforcement for rising racial disparities in prison. Again, the facts say otherwise. In 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of the 1,274,600 state prisoners. If you remove drug prisoners from that population, the percentage of black prisoners drops to 37 percent'--half of a percentage point, hardly a significant difference. (No criminologist, to the best of my knowledge, has ever performed this exercise.)
The rise of drug cases in the criminal-justice system has been dramatic, it's important to acknowledge. In 1979, drug offenders were 6.4 percent of the state prison population; in 2004, they were 20 percent. Even so, violent and property offenders continue to dominate the ranks: in 2004, 52 percent of state prisoners were serving time for violence and 21 percent for property crimes, for a combined total over three and a half times that of state drug offenders. In federal prisons, drug offenders went from 25 percent of all federal inmates in 1980 to 47.6 percent of all federal inmates in 2006. Drug-war opponents focus almost exclusively on federal, as opposed to state, prisons because the proportion of drug offenders is highest there. But the federal system held just 12.3 percent of the nation's prisoners in 2006.
So much for the claim that blacks are disproportionately imprisoned because of the war on drugs. But a final, even more audacious, argument maintains that incarceration itself, not criminals, causes crime in black neighborhoods. Because blacks have the highest prison rate, this argument holds, incarceration constitutes an unjust and disproportionate burden on them. This idea has gained wide currency in the academic world and in anti-incarceration think tanks. Columbia University law professor Jeffrey Fagan offered a representative version of the theory in a 2003 law review article co‚­authored with two public health researchers. Sending black males to prison ''weakens the general social control of children and especially adolescents,'' Fagan writes. Incarceration increases the number of single-parent households. With adult males missing from their neighborhoods, boys will be more likely to get involved in crime, since they lack proper supervision. The net result: ''Incarceration begets more incarceration [in] a vicious cycle.''
A few questions present themselves. How many convicts were living in a stable relationship with the mother (or one of the mothers) of their children before being sent upstate? (Forget even asking about their marriage rate.) What kind of positive guidance do men who are committing enough crimes to end up in prison, rather than on probation (an exceedingly high threshold), provide to young people? Further, if Fagan is right that keeping criminals out of prison and on the streets preserves a community's social capital, inner cities should have thrived during the 1960s and early 1970s, when prison resources contracted sharply. In fact, New York's poorest neighborhoods'--the subject of Fagan's analysis'--turned around only in the 1990s, when the prison population reached its zenith.
Fagan, like many other criminologists, conflates the effects of prison and crime. Neighborhoods with high incarceration rates suffer disproportionate burdens, he claims. Firms are reluctant to locate in such areas, decreasing job opportunities. Police pay closer attention to these high-incarceration zones, increasing the chance that any given criminal within them will wind up arrested. Thus, incarceration ''provides a steady supply of offenders for more incarceration.'' But if business owners think twice about certain communities, it's because they fear crime, not a high concentration of ex-convicts per se. It's unlikely that prospective employers even know the population of ex-cons in a neighborhood; what they are aware of is its crime rates. And an employer who hesitates to hire an ex-con is almost certainly reacting to his criminal record, even if he has been given community probation instead of prison. Likewise, if the police give extra scrutiny to neighborhoods with many ex-convicts, it's because those convicts commit a lot of crime. Finally, putting more criminals on probation, rather than sending them to prison'--as Fagan and others advocate'--would only increase law enforcement surveillance of high-crime neighborhoods.
This popular ''social ecological'' analysis of incarceration, as Fagan and other criminologists call it, treats prison like an outbreak of infectious disease that takes over certain communities, felling people on a seemingly random basis. ''As the risks of going to jail or prison grow over time for persons living in those areas, their prospects for marriage or earning a living and family-sustaining wage diminish as the incarceration rates around them rise,'' Fagan says. This analysis elides the role of individual will. Fagan and others assume that once one lives in a high-incarceration'--that is, high-crime'--area, one can do little to avoid prison. But even in the most frayed urban communities, plenty of people choose to avoid the ''Life.'' Far from facing diminished marriage prospects, an upstanding, reliable young man in the inner city would be regarded as a valuable catch.
No one doubts that having a criminal record'--whether it results in community probation or prison'--is a serious handicap. People convicted of crimes compete for jobs at a clear disadvantage with those who have stayed crime-free. But for all the popularity of the view that the system is to blame, it's not hard to find dissenters who believe that individuals are responsible for the decision to break the law. ''My position is not hard,'' says public housing manager Matthew Kennedy. ''You don't have to do that crime.'' Kennedy supported President Bill Clinton's controversial 1996 ''one-strike'' rule for public housing, which allowed housing authorities to evict drug dealers and other lawbreaking tenants on their first offense. ''I'm trying to protect the good people in my community,'' Kennedy explains. ''A criminal record is preventable. It's all on you.'' Kennedy has no truck with the argument that it is unfair to send ex-offenders back to prison for violations of their parole conditions, such as staying away from their gang associates and hangouts. ''Where do they take responsibility for their own actions?'' he wonders. ''You've been told, 'Don't come back to this community.' Why would you come back here? You've got to change your ways, change the habits that got you in there in the first place.''
Though you'd never know it from reading the academic literature, some people in minority communities even see prison as potentially positive for individuals as well as for communities. ''I don't buy the idea that there's no sense to prison,'' says Clyde Fulford, a 54-year-old lifelong resident of the William Mead Homes, a downtown Los Angeles housing project. Having raised his children to be hardworking, law-abiding citizens, Fulford is a real role model for his neighborhood, not the specious drug-dealing kind posited by the ''social ecological'' theory of incarceration. ''I know a lot of people who went to prison,'' Fulford says. ''A lot changed they life for the better. Prison was they wake-up call.'' Is prison unavoidable and thus unfair? ''They knew they was going to pay. It's up to that person.'' What if the prisoners hadn't been locked up? ''Many would be six feet under.''
Robert Grace, the Los Angeles prosecutor, is acutely aware of the fragility and preciousness of the rule of law. ''As a civilized society, we can't allow what's happening in Latin America to take over here,'' he says. ''Venezuela and Mexico are awash in appalling violence because they don't respect the law.'' Thus, when prominent figures like Barack Obama make sweeping claims about racial unfairness in the criminal-justice system, they play with fire. ''For any political candidate to make such claims out of expediency is wrong,'' Grace says. ''If they have statistics that back up the claim, I'd like to see them. But to create phony perceptions of injustice is as wrong as not doing anything about the real thing.''
The evidence is clear: black prison rates result from crime, not racism. America's comparatively high rates of incarceration are nothing to celebrate, of course, but the alternative is far worse. The dramatic drop in crime in the 1990s, to which stricter sentencing policies unquestionably contributed, has freed thousands of law-abiding inner-city residents from the bondage of fear. Commerce and street life have revived in those urban neighborhoods where crime has fallen most.
The pressure to divert even more offenders from prison, however, will undoubtedly grow. If a probation system can finally be crafted that provides as much public safety as prison, we should welcome it. But the continuing search for the chimera of criminal-justice bigotry is a useless distraction that diverts energy and attention from the crucial imperative of helping more inner-city boys stay in school'--and out of trouble.
Punishment and Crime
Those who tar the criminal-justice system as racist often make a broader claim: incarceration doesn't even lower crime, making the nation's skyrocketing prison rolls a particularly senseless injustice.
Incarceration foes are right about one thing: the U.S. prison population has swollen dramatically over the last three decades. The per-capita rate of imprisonment increased three times from 1973 to 2000; the number of state and federal prisoners grew fivefold between 1977 and 2007, from 300,000 to 1.59 million. When inmates in jails are included, the total number in correctional facilities at the end of 2007 was 2.3 million, according to the Pew Center on the States. One in 100 adults is in custody.
This expansion represents a resounding rejection of the reigning crime philosophy of the 1960s. The 1967 report of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, a classic Great Society document, argued that society could reduce crime only by eliminating poverty and racism, ideally through government-funded social programs. Consistent with this theory, prison capacity began dropping during the sixties and only stopped falling during the late 1970s, when crime reached intolerable levels. Thereafter, the states started adding prison beds and passing laws to keep offenders locked up longer and to reduce judicial discretion to issue very lenient sentences.
Few subjects have proved more contested in criminology than whether this prison buildup lowered crime'--and, if so, by how much. Anyone entering the thickets of incarceration studies should abandon all commonsense assumptions, such as that locking away, say, a burglar, would reduce burglary rates. Not so, say the criminologists, and at first glance, the crime data from the late-twentieth-century prison expansion seem to support them. Only after 1991 was the rise in incarceration consistently accompanied by decreasing crime rates; in the 1980s, crime went up and down, even as the prison population steadily grew. And now that crime is falling, the criminology world finds itself even more puzzled by why the prison population keeps increasing.
Two of the most common theories as to why prison doesn't lower crime are logically weak and empirically ungrounded. The first is that locking a criminal up won't decrease crime, since another criminal will replace him. Yet while crimes meeting an illicit consumer demand may operate within a supply-and-demand framework, opportunities for violence and property crimes hit no natural ceiling. There are plenty of potential victims of violence and theft to go around; a potential robber need not wait for a competitor to go to jail before he can begin his own crime spree.
The second theory to explain why prison doesn't work applies the law of diminishing returns to incarceration. As we lock up ever more people, we start scraping the bottom of the criminal barrel, the critics say. The prisoners we incarcerate become more innocuous than those picked up initially, so we get a diminishing bang for the buck for every new prisoner sent away.
However impeccable the economic reasoning behind this claim, there is no empirical evidence for it. The diminishing-returns argument assumes that the universe of unapprehended and unincarcerated criminals is shrinking. It is not. The chances of getting caught and sent to prison remain extraordinarily low. The JFA Institute, an anti-incarceration advocacy group, estimated in 2007 that in only 3 percent of violent victimizations and property crimes does the offender end up in prison. In 2004, only 1.6 percent of burglars were in prison, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The people in prison today, says statistician Patrick Langan, are ''not very different from prisoners in the past, in terms of their prior records.''
In the overwhelming majority of cases, whatever the race of the convicted, prison remains what it has always been: a lifetime achievement award for persistence in criminal offending. Absent recidivism or a violent crime, the criminal-justice system will do everything it can to keep you out of the state or federal slammer. It can be disconcerting for the average law-abiding citizen to hear a prosecutor's typology of the crime universe: most thefts, for example, are considered ''nonserious crimes'' that do not merit prison sentences, unless they concern a huge amount of money or took place in the victim's presence. Steal an unoccupied car or burgle an unoccupied home and you'll probably get probation; hijack a car from a driver or stick up a pedestrian, however, and you'll probably go to prison.
Columbia University law professor Dan Richman had a chance to test the ''harmless offenders in prison'' claim as chair of New York City's Local Conditional Release Commission. Richman studied the criminal profile of Rikers jail inmates in late 2004. Jails are supposed to be where the most ''innocuous'' lawbreakers end up'--those with misdemeanor convictions or sentences of less than a year. ''It struck me how serious the offenders were,'' he says. ''I'd come from the academy, where there's persuasive writing about over-incarceration. I had assumed there would be mostly first-time offenders in jail, but it wasn't true.'' About 40 percent of the inmates had prior felony convictions, Richman discovered, and the inmates' most recent offenses, which had put them in jail this time around, were usually serious. People in for assault would have pleaded down from attempted manslaughter; possession pleaded down from distribution. ''These weren't people who were there by accident,'' says Richman.
One can also test the theory that locking away offenders doesn't lower crime by seeing what prisoners do when they get out. The Bureau of Justice Statistics studied the postprison careers of over 272,000 state prisoners released in 1994. Within three years, 67.5 percent of the group had been rearrested for 744,000 new felonies and serious misdemeanors. How many additional crimes they committed during those three years before getting arrested is unknown; estimates of the number of crimes that a typical unapprehended criminal commits per year range from zero to several hundred. And the ex-cons' post-release crime spree seems not to have resulted from the negative effects of prison itself, since convicts who spent the longest time behind bars had significantly lower rearrest rates than others.
Not all criminologists and law professors dispute that prison lowers crime. University of Chicago economist Steve Levitt hypothesized in 1996 that had incarceration rates not risen sharply from 1971 to 1993, violent crime would have been 70 percent higher and property crime almost 50 percent higher. More typical estimates attribute 10 to 25 percent of the 1990s crime drop to incarceration. And Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring rejected the diminishing-returns argument against incarceration in his 2007 book The Great American Crime Decline. The fact that crime started dropping consistently only at the end of the decades-long prison buildup makes perfect sense, he argued, since that's when the greatest number of criminals were off the streets.
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her latest book, coauthored with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, isThe Immigration Solution.
Agenda 21
We Can't Fix Climate Change Without Fixing Global Diets --- remember when they said that reducing meat consumption was a "conspiracy theory"?
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:22
Exposing the comprehensive UN plan to bring about an authoritarian world government via international regulations and treaties under the guise of environmentalism and social equity.
Remember, a lot of this is heavy doublespeak. I.E. "Commuter Friendly" = Commuter hell, at the mercy of public transportation, unfriendly-to-cars, no leaving the area etc., "Walkable" = car unfriendly, literally poverty infrastructure
New UrbanismTriple Bottom LineSustainability/Sustainable DevelopmentSocial EquityEconomic EmpowermentSocial Responsibility"Smart" i.e. Smart GrowthEconomic/Environmental JusticeCorporate Social Responsibility(CSR)Liveable/WalkableNew NormalComplete StreetsMixed-Use (property)"Green"Commuter Friendly"Well-Being"Community ActionResilience/Resilient CommunitiesTransition TownNext/New EconomySECTION I. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS: Chapter 2.1.
In order to meet the challenges of environment and development, States have decided to establish a new global partnership. This partnership commits all States to engage in a continuous and constructive dialogue, inspired by the need to achieve a more efficient and equitable world economy, keeping in view the increasing interdependence of the community of nations and that sustainable development should become a priority item on the agenda of the international community. It is recognized that, for the success of this new partnership, it is important to overcome confrontation and to foster a climate of genuine cooperation and solidarity. It is equally important to strengthen national and international policies and multinational cooperation to adapt to the new realities.
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We are all different here, and you may find that have different beliefs, but please be respectful of each other.
Bloomberg: Google Exec Headed to White House for Top Tech Job
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 02:15
According to the usual anonymous administration sources, Bloomberg is reporting that Megan Smith, VP of Google's shadowy R&D lab, will assume the role of Obama's top tech advisor:
The CTO serves as a kind of White House chief geek-in-residence, tasked with overseeing the government's use of technology, including finding ways to create jobs and increase the use of broadband. Park helped to lead the effort to fix the much maligned Obamacare portal, HealthCare.gov.
Smith joined Google in 2003. As vice president of business development, she oversaw many of its most important acquisitions, like Keyhole, the service that underlies Google Earth. She has led the company's philanthropic division, Google.org, and served as a co-host for Google's Solve for X forum, where distinguished thinkers and scientists brainstorm radical technology ideas with Google executives.
Smith has been an oft-cited half of one of Silicon Valley's top power couples'--her wife is Kara Swisher'--though New York magazine reported their separation last month.
Kara Swisher: Tech's Most Powerful Snoop -- NYMag
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:01
The combination of access and toughness has made her a preeminent arbiter of status.
Kara Swisher, center, talks with Jane Metcalfe, co-founder of Wired magazine, at a Fourth of July party in San Francisco.Photo: Bill McCulloughThe technology journalist Kara Swisher likes to call herself Sherlock Homo, but on a spring evening in Austin, where she'd come for the SXSW Interactive conference, she wasn't following any particular trail of clues. Padding through the crowd on the second floor of Perry's Steakhouse, where a venture-capital firm and a money-management firm were throwing a party, she'd chatted briefly with Steve Case, founder of AOL, who greeted her with the wary intimacy one might show a pit bull of uncertain loyalty. (Swisher's two books about AOL chronicled first its pioneering success and then its disastrous merger with Time Warner.) It wasn't until she ran into an investor named Tony Conrad that she scented blood.
Swisher layers charm and aggression to truth-serum effect. When Conrad tried to embrace her, Swisher squirmed out of his grasp, saying, ''I just don't like being touched by you''; proceeded to flatter him as ''a scene-maker'' and ''very good venture capitalist''; then, for good measure, threw in: ''He also dresses like a lesbian, but it's okay.'' (This is a go-to Swisher barb; she told Twitter CEO Dick Costolo he dresses ''like Ellen.'') Conrad, who was wearing a quilted vest, appeared to take minimal umbrage. ''It's my biking gear, man,'' he said. A few minutes later, unbidden, he was proudly spilling the lucrative specs of his investment in the 3-D-printing company MakerBot. ''Oh my God,'' Swisher said.
Conrad announced that he had a VIP party to attend elsewhere in the restaurant and left, but Swisher was undeterred. After a few minutes, she marched downstairs and approached a private dining room. Its curtains were drawn, but Swisher pushed open the door and strode blithely through.
Around a U-shaped table, more than a dozen tech notables enjoying a meal with expensive wine looked up in surprise. They included Kevin Rose, a founder of Digg, and Gary Vaynerchuk, the social-media entrepreneur. Swisher, who was wearing jeans, black sneakers, and a Marmot jacket printed with the name of her startup website, Re/code, gestured toward Conrad, who'd taken a seat near the door, and announced, ''He told me the fancy people were here.'' Conrad reddened and denied it, but Swisher talked over him and made her way around the table, hugging Rose and insulting blogger turned venture capitalist MG Siegler to his girlfriend: ''I don't like him,'' she said. By the time she left 15 minutes later, the guests seemed to have forgotten she wasn't one of them.
The creators of Silicon Valley, Mike Judge's show on HBO, salted its first season with cameos by real-life tech-world figures to enhance its verisimilitude, and in the June finale, which called for a journalist to grill an executive character, Swisher played herself: a short, defiantly unstylish reporter who wears aviator sunglasses indoors and asks blunt questions. ''Quite honestly, our very first choice was: We've got to get Kara Swisher,'' says Jonathan Dotan, the Valley insider the show's producers hired to help get the details right. ''She's iconic.''
One of the reasons for Swisher's unusual status in the Valley is her longevity. Now 51, she began covering tech in the early '90s and was already a senior industry statesperson when the Web 2.0 generation was coming of age. People who are powerful today sought her advice when they were just starting out. She met Jeff Bezos when Amazon was in short pants, Marc Andreessen as Netscape was going public. She was at the pitch meeting for TiVo. ''It felt like you were meeting Tesla, all these people,'' she says.
A second factor is her role as one of two impresarios of a leading Silicon Valley tech conference that she co-­founded and runs with her longtime business partner, the preeminent gadget reviewer Walt Mossberg; it's an event where Steve Jobs and Bill Gates came together onstage for a historic conversation, where Mark Zuckerberg broke out in such a sweat as he was pressed on privacy issues that he removed his ever-present hoodie, and where products like Flip and Slingbox and Jawbone and Sonos and Siri (before Apple bought it) made their debuts. For years, Swisher and Mossberg did this and blogged, under the rubric ­AllThingsD, which was the property of Dow Jones. In January, they went out on their own with their website and conference: Re/code.
Above all, Swisher's power derives from her reporting'--driven, in turn, by her deep sourcing'--and from the sense, unnerving to executives, that she has a red phone with a direct connection to the perma-class of venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road who fund their companies and fill their boards and decide their fates. She has regularly broken news about big deals (Google trying to buy Groupon, Yahoo buying Tumblr) and major personnel moves (Facebook's hiring of Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft's recent CEO search), and she dominates coverage of Yahoo (she broke the news of CEO Scott Thompson's r(C)sum(C) lies and his subsequent resignation and won a Loeb Award for live-blogging one of the company's earning calls). ''I love all my scoop children,'' Swisher told me. ''But consistency and persistence is really my aim. I try to get one really good one a week.'' The work she's most proud of is less ephemeral and more crusading: her ongoing scrutiny of Yahoo, the spotlight she's shone on the underrepresentation of women at the big tech companies, and, perhaps most personally, her reporting on the ethical laxity of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington's journalism.
Over the past decade, Arrington and Swisher have ostensibly been the two major power brokers of tech reporting, though each would recoil at being lumped together. Arrington, who was a Silicon Valley lawyer before he became a blogger, has always been reflexively pro-entrepreneur and took to heart the cynical maxim of venture capitalist John Doerr: ''No conflict, no interest.'' Online, as the traditional ethical standard of recusal gave way to a standard of disclosure, Arrington was an absolutist who believed you could do just about anything, so long as you were transparent. This included taking stakes in small companies even as he was writing about them. His staff joked about what a poor investor he was'--among his stinkers was DanceJam, MC Hammer's company'--but even they couldn't stomach it when he started an investment fund confusingly branded as CrunchFund.
During Arrington's tenure at TechCrunch'--through its acquisition by AOL and his eventual dismissal by Arianna Huffington in 2011 following the CrunchFund fiasco'--Swisher was outspoken about Arrington's ''hopelessly corrupt'' ways as well as his so-called process journalism'--applying the iterative, throw-it-against-the-wall approach of software designers to reporting'--which she deems ''a fancy word for being willfully inaccurate.'' Arrington and Swisher publicly traded insults, with Arrington dubbing Swisher ''the chief whiner,'' and Swisher responding, ''Oooh, burn!'' She called Arrington ''Yertle the Turtle'' and said that ''being lectured in journalism ethics by Michael Arrington is like getting parenting tips from Britney Spears.''
Arrington was also, until getting booted from TechCrunch, Swisher's chief rival for big scoops, and ''she and Mike Arrington hated each other more than anyone could,'' says Paul Carr, an ex''TechCrunch writer who now edits tech site PandoDaily. ''I think one of the reasons is they're actually very similar: people who consider themselves people you don't fuck with, who'll storm into rooms and demand answers, and when you hold them accountable they say, 'We don't answer to anyone.''…''
The questions of propriety that clouded Arrington's work'--and those of other sites funded, unlike Re/code, with VC or tech money'--aren't wholly irrelevant to Swisher's. However much she may strive to stand apart from what she has called an ''insidious, logrolling, back-scratching ecosystem,'' she still runs a conference that depends on participation and high-priced attendance by the same people she writes about. Many of her subjects are centimillionaires and billionaires who seem typically to operate beyond the reach of press scrutiny, yet Swisher has become a power broker among them, in part by perfecting the art of reporting as hazing. A mutual source told another reporter about a phone call with Swisher: ''She said, 'I'm getting mad '... I'm getting madder '... I'm getting really mad.' They weren't giving her what she wanted. She was like: 'Just tell me.''…'' ''I'll just search my email for 'Kara' and 'stupid' and probably come up with three or four things,'' says Twitter's Costolo.
All kinds of powers have been darkly imputed to Swisher. She's heard of current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer holding a meeting in which she graphed the impact on Yahoo's stock price of various Swisher posts. In the past six months, Swisher has broken news of the ouster of two tech CEOs whose boardroom problems she'd assiduously covered: Mozilla's Brendan Eich, whose donation to anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition 8 she'd also first reported, and RadiumOne's Gurbaksh Chahal, who'd been arrested and charged with 45 felony counts related to beating his girlfriend. Chahal pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of battery; later, in a tweet, he blamed Swisher for whipping up a frenzy on Twitter and forcing his dismissal (of which he'd learned from a Swisher post). ''It is a constant joke in the Valley when people write memos for them to say, 'I hope Kara never sees this,''…'' says Facebook's Sandberg.
The combination of access and toughness has made Swisher a preeminent arbiter of status in a Silicon Valley where constant turmoil is taken as a sign of innovation and vitality. She isn't exactly Bob Woodward, soberly transcribing the as-he-thought-it aphorisms of Washington potentates, nor is she Hollywood's Nikki Finke, holed up in her secret lair and firing off incendiary, career-vaporizing emails. Instead, she might be the Valley's Walter Lippmann, who occupied a nexus of journalist, counselor, and kingmaker in a mid-century D.C. being remade by the arrival of a new imperial Establishment.
People like talking to Swisher. She's both direct and playful, and I heard several stories of her personal generosity. She gives good text. ''I am a big proponent of being in touch with everyone even when I do not have a story to ask about,'' Swisher told me. ''Most reporters are so transactional, rather than strategic.'' Swisher emceed Sandberg's fund-raiser for (now-disgraced) Cambodian activist Somaly Mam. She has served as the Valley's update provider, via video interviews, on Brett Bullington, an investor who suffered a traumatic brain injury. As much as the Valley sees her as a reporter and a conference host, they know her as a connector (and, with the launch of Re/code, as a fellow entrepreneur). In Vanity Fair's 2012 ''New Establishment'' portfolio, in a photograph illustrating ''The Rise of Women in Silicon Valley,'' Swisher was one of six, sitting beside YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki. ''People are afraid of her, and they trust her,'' Barry Diller says. ''That's not an everyday combination.''
It's a balancing act that Swisher doesn't always pull off. She and Andreessen, Netscape creator turned prominent venture capitalist, didn't speak for several years, because, she says, ''some company he was involved with, he thought I was too mean to it.'' After the disastrous onstage interview with Zuckerberg, Swisher says, she and Ron Conway, a prominent early-stage investor who'd backed Facebook, ''had a big falling out '... He thought we were unfair to him, 'cause we made him sweat.'' Swisher continues: ''Smart people know it's a longer game, and I'm still going to be here. At least I know the history and context. I'm not going to give them a break, but I'm going to be fair, even if it's not nice.''
Kara Swisher at home in San Francisco with her dogs, Phineas and Leroy.Photo: Bill McCulloughAt the hillside home in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood that Swisher shared, until recently, with her wife, the Google executive Megan Smith, and their two sons (they've since separated after 15 years of marriage), a sign on the garage reads: IF YOU BLOCK THE DRIVEWAYS EVEN SLIGHTLY, VISUALIZE YOUR CAR BEING TOWED.
Swisher has always treated the world as a thing to be confronted without apology. Even when she was a toddler, her mother had named her Tempesta. When she was 5, her 34-year-old father, an anaesthesiologist, died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and until Swisher reached that age, she was convinced that she was going to die young. ''There's a theory, and a great book,'' Swisher says, ''about how kids whose parents die can be very high-functioning people, because the worst thing happened to them and they got over it.'' Swisher's brothers are a doctor and lawyer. ''We work like dogs,'' Swisher says.
Swisher arrived at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service thinking she might become a spy (her ringtone is the James Bond theme), but she was ''terrible at languages,'' she says, and ''being gay was an issue.'' Journalism seemed like an attractive alternative. While at Georgetown, she'd called up the Washington Post's metro editor to harangue him about the ''major errors'' in a story about a campus event (''It was like an eight-inch story,'' recalls the editor, Larry Kramer), and ended up stringing for the paper. There was a stint working for conservative pundit John McLaughlin, including ghostwriting his column for the National Review, an improbable job for a very liberal young woman (''He put in the right-wing invective''). Later, after McLaughlin was sued for sexual harassment, Swisher testified against him, and when the Post's Eric Alterman wrote about his office loutishness, he included Swisher's accusations (the case was eventually settled out of court). ''I essentially called him a pig, with my name attached,'' Swisher says. ''You have to stand up and not be embarrassed or victimized.'' When she subsequently saw McLaughlin at a party, she says, he told her, '''…'Most people in this town stab you in the back, but you stabbed me in the front, and I appreciate that'. I said, 'Anytime, you son of a bitch.' It was such a moment of fantasticness '... For an evil person, I got along with him rather well.''
Swisher wound up at the Washington Post's business section, then a backwater, where she was assigned to the retail beat before David Ignatius, then the Post's business editor, asked Swisher, an early adopter of email (to communicate with her girlfriend in Russia), to cover a small company called AOL, which had its office behind a car dealership in Vienna, Virginia. Because the internet had grown atop Defense Department infrastructure, many of the early companies seeking to commercialize it were based around D.C., and Swisher found herself present at the revolution, with few other mainstream reporters on her beat.
''These people were very accessible,'' Swisher recalls of a younger Bezos and his cohort, ''and you met them before they were who they are now. When people get rich, people lick them up and down all day, so some of them morph into thinking that being licked up and down all day is their reality and that everything that comes out of their mouths are golden nuggets. Everyone starts to rewrite history, but if you knew them, and have some historical knowledge '...''
Swisher took a leave of absence to write a book about AOL, whose executives all seemed to be on her AIM Buddy List. ''She would sit on instant messenger all day and harass the shit out of people,'' Andreessen says. ''She had the most extreme form of the thing where you play one source off the other. She'd say, 'Well, X says this,' and she'd word it in such a way that you'd get a sinking feeling, 'I'm fucked,' and rise to the occasion and tell her everything.'' By early 1999, the Industry Standard was calling Swisher ''the writer who has most influenced public opinion about the internet economy.''
It was through a shared interest in AOL that she met Mossberg, who'd written a prescient column for The Wall Street Journal touting it as the future. He soon recommended her for a job covering the web out of the paper's San Francisco bureau, but a few years later, after Swisher became involved with Smith and Smith joined Google, Swisher saw that it was going to be a problem for her to cover tech when Google was clearly going to be a very important company in that sector. ''There's no disclosure long enough that I could do it in the newspaper,'' she says. (At AllThingsD, and now at Re/code, she has offered a long ''ethics statement,'' now 1,207 words, much of which focuses on her relationship with Smith, her recusal from personally covering Google, and the meticulous separation of their finances, including Swisher's legal renunciation of ''future rights'' to Smith's wealth in the event of her death'--''I'm the worst gold digger,'' Swisher says.)
For a time, Swisher stopped covering the internet, and it was during this period that Swisher and Mossberg became partners. Mossberg has always been based in Washington, the better to represent consumers and not get too friendly with the industry whose gadgets he reviews, but he and Swisher would cross paths at soul-crushing tech conferences, and they became convinced that they could do better. No more dull slideshows and panels, no more speaker slots reserved for sponsors, no more vice-presidents from Cisco giving prepared speeches. Dow Jones already had a conference division, but Mossberg and Swisher were firm in their insistence that their conference be produced by the news division. It would be a different kind of news machine as much as a different kind of conference operation; they were going to do live journalism, interrogating the most compelling tech figures of the moment in front of an audience, breaking news and providing context. The first conference, in 2003, sold out and was profitable. It has only grown; every year since there has been a waiting list.
Soon after the conference debuted, Mossberg convinced Dow Jones to let him and Swisher start a spinoff blog, AllThingsD, which could accommodate more innovative reporting (and longer disclosures) than the staid newsroom would brook. Like him, Swisher was a voice-y, opinionated writer, not an easy fit at the Journal. ''If there was ever someone born to be a blogger,'' Mossberg says, ''I think it would be Kara Swisher.'' Mossberg has played a significant role in Swisher's personal life as well, pressing her mother for years over her disapproval of Swisher's sexuality. When Swisher married Smith in Marin Country in 1999, her mother initially said she wasn't going to attend, and Swisher asked Mossberg to walk her down the aisle. (In the end, Swisher's mother showed up and helped her daughter get dressed; Mossberg encouraged her to take over his bridal-escort duties, but she demurred, watched the ceremony from off to one side, and later gave a ''great and moving speech,'' Swisher says, about how proud her father would have been of her.)
Swisher and Mossberg's separation from Dow Jones was a long time coming. Over the years there was near-constant friction about the company's support for ­AllThingsD, much of it the inevitable chafing of entrepreneurs against the structures of a big corporation. ''Every time we wanted to add a reporter, it was six months of negotiations,'' Mossberg says. ''It was ridiculous.'' There were disputes over conference profit-­sharing, over issues of links and credit and resources. ''The staff of the Journal resented them because they were complaining all the time and going over people's heads, so the situation soured,'' a former colleague says. When Swisher and Mossberg suggested in 2012 that they might leave, the company didn't oppose them. AllThingsD was a roughly $12.5 million business, of which Dow Jones owned a third; even if the business grew to $30 million, a source says, ''you're talking peanuts in the end. The math just didn't get anyone very excited.''
All journalism about power runs on trade-offs. Don't use my name, and I'll tell you what you want to know. Wait to run the story, and I'll speak only to you. If you're fair, I'll keep taking your calls. Silicon Valley is no different from Washington or Hollywood in this regard, but it's still much more of a clusterfuck: In the land of the 23-year-old multibillionaire, unlike in D.C., some of the most powerful, newsworthy people are peers of the young reporters covering them, and thus more likely to form social relationships; and unlike in Hollywood, journalists aren't automatically assigned lower social status than their subjects. Here, too, the investors backing tech media are often from the same industry they're supposed to be covering, a uniquely sunny industry that encourages puffery. Most tech-media outlets, being start-ups themselves, are sympathetic to entrepreneurs, and upstart tech media don't necessarily have the ethical proscriptions'--such as gift policies'--that traditional print institutions do.
Which makes it all the more unusual that a writer sometimes characterized as snarky or bullying has thrived in a subculture that venerates rosy, self-­regarding idealism and that, in an industry that is constantly touting its transcendence of pedestrian mass media, a shoe-leather reporter should attain such stature. What's most curious about Swisher's role in the Valley is not whether her connections and conferences ­compromise her'--beyond grumbling about her Google conflict, not even her rivals can name a big story she's pulled up short on, and she's broken more big stories in the industry than anyone else'--but how she's managed to elevate herself into Silicon Valley royalty by writing about Silicon Valley royalty, often acerbically.
Swisher turned 50 last year, and hundreds of people gathered in the Tonga Room at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel for a birthday roast. Among those who got up to tweak Swisher were Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg (who serenaded her), Twitter's Costolo, Pinterest executive Joanne Bradford (who sits on Re/code's board), and ex-Yahoo chief Terry Semel. The event's inversion of power'--with tech muckety-mucks paying tribute to their putative watchdog'--raised a few eyebrows: ''Mike Arrington is in a refractory period,'' says one guest, ''but a couple of years ago he would have made a big stink and said, 'How could she do this?''…'' There were jokes about conflicts of interest and about Swisher's interview style, and ''lots of lampooning Kara's status and her drive, which borders on self-parody,'' according to the guest. But ''Yahoo was certainly the main theme,'' says Dave Goldberg, CEO of ­SurveyMonkey, who did a skit about Swisher and the company. There were jokes about her having bugged its bathrooms, about its email running slow because she was filtering it.
Because of the fear she instills, or because she's just not going away, or because of what her admirers would say is her fairness, Swisher has managed to keep professional relationships and even friendships with people she's annihilated in print. During the unsuccessful CEO-ship of Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, her coverage could be sadistic'--posts had titles like ''Raise the Yangtanic, Again!'''--but Yang visited her in the hospital after she suffered a transient ischemic attack, a sort of stroke, last year (as did Al Gore), and it was Yang who suggested she and Mossberg approach Semel to invest in Re/code. Semel himself was hardly an obvious choice, given that when he ran Yahoo, Swisher called him ''box-office poison,'' among other things. This didn't stop him from becoming one of Re/code's two backers (the other is NBCUniversal News Group), ''which a lot of people thought was hilarious,'' Andreessen says, ''given how thoroughly she savaged the shit out of him. It's like PTSD or Stockholm syndrome.''
One of Swisher's secrets may be her selective discretion. ''She knows way more than she ever writes,'' Goldberg says, ''because she doesn't have it really carefully confirmed, or because she doesn't want to write something that's going to be personally painful to someone but isn't relevant from a business standpoint.'' It was Swisher who was chosen to break the news last year of Sergey Brin's separation from his wife, Anne Wojcicki, but it was ''not something I wanted to do. They called, and at first we said no, but then they made a good point that there was a lot of stock involved.'' (Swisher assigned it to another reporter.) Even Yahoo's Mayer, who doesn't speak to Swisher, has been a beneficiary of her restraint. When Mayer was two hours late to a dinner with advertisers because she'd overslept a few weeks ago, Swisher says she declined to write about it ''unless it was in the context of a larger and well-reported piece on her struggles with advertisers,'' because it would be ''carrying water for her enemies.''
Not that such magnanimity has led to any sort of d(C)tente. When Scott Thompson was CEO, the company produced multiple versions of documents to try to isolate who Swisher's sources were. Mayer has clamped down on leaks even more than her predecessors. ''Marissa hates Kara,'' says another reporter.
Swisher dates Mayer's antipathy to her to an incident six years ago when she teased then''Valleywag editor Owen Thomas about not receiving an invitation to a Mayer-hosted Sex and the City movie-premiere party. ''She somehow figured out that I forwarded the invitation to him,'' Swisher says. ''So for some reason she's got it in her head that I leak to Valleywag all the time. I mean, honestly, the stuff I know about people, if I was their source, it would be a much better blog.''
Swisher insists, in any case, that the animosity isn't mutual. ''She's one of these CEOs who likes to be lauded,'' Swisher says. ''Personally, I think she's remarkable. She's really accomplished and smart, but she's not perfect, and she wants to look perfect.''
Just how hostile should the technology press be? This question, which Swisher has circled for most of her career, came into sharp focus at SXSW, where she was on a panel addressing the responsibilities of tech media in the surveillance era and titled ''Why Didn't a Tech Journalist Break PRISM?'' A co-panelist from the Guardian and the moderator both wore tiny plastic life-logging cameras around their necks that snap 120 images per hour. So, the moderator asked, why didn't you? ''We're terrible,'' Swisher said, to laughter, though ''we did tell you about the Lyft funding today.''
Self-flagellation was a recurring theme, even though it would be silly to expect the national-security story of the decade to break in a California business publication. Swisher and fellow panelist Alexia Tsotsis, the co-editor of TechCrunch, spoke of the non-investigative nature of the bulk of their coverage'--fundings, job changes, new product features. Tsotsis was especially abject, suggesting that even if she'd received the Edward Snowden documents, she probably ''would have succumbed to the pressure of the Obama administration now''; TechCrunch ''is just a cheerleader,'' she said, and ''a lot of tech media is sort of in the pockets of the people we cover '... We're inviting them to our parties. We might be dating some of them. We are right in the middle, in the thick, of the tech industry.'' (Tsotsis dates a partner at General Catalyst, a venture-capital firm.) She noted that TechCrunch was entrepreneur-friendly from its inception and said she stays up nights worrying about sources getting fired: ''There's a part of me that's like: No, don't leak this to us!''
''I never say that,'' Swisher said.
''That's why you're better than us,'' Tsotsis said sweetly.
Spencer Ackerman, a writer with the Guardian, stood up and said: ''It sounds like you've just gotten used to not having an oppositional journalistic culture.''
''I don't think we're completely non-oppositional,'' Swisher said. ''I don't think you can look at my history and say they love me to death in Silicon Valley.''
''A smart young person in the Valley thinks being a reporter is basically being a PR person,'' says one tech journalist. ''Like, We have news to share, we'd like to come and tell you about it.'' Reporters who write favorably about companies receive invitations to things; critics don't. ''They're very thin-skinned,'' says another reporter. ''On Wall Street, if you call them a douchebag, they've already heard 17 worse things in the last hour. Here, if you criticize a company, you're criticizing the spirit of innovation.''
Swisher has branded herself largely around her efforts to avoid these traps. When she and Mossberg were seeking backers for Re/code, they were determined not to take venture-capital money, instead going after media partners. First at ­AllThingsD, and now at Re/code, their site has had the most robust disclosures in the industry.
Being outspoken about the ethics of her peers has not endeared Swisher to them all. ''I don't buy into the meme of Kara Swisher the ass-kicker who says what she wants,'' says PandoDaily's Carr, ''like she's this honey badger who doesn't give a shit.'' There must, such thinking goes, be a price for all that access. How can Re/code cover Pinterest when one of its executives sits on its board? Even her friends take it as a given that Re/code's ability to cover Google aggressively is impeded by Swisher's relationship with Smith. ''Even if she writes disclaimers, she can't go after Google in the way she does other companies,'' Goldberg says. ''I think people understand why she can't do it '... It would be interesting to see, if Megan ever leaves Google, would it change?'' This question has been preempted by Swisher's separation from Smith; Swisher says it won't change her approach to Google.
At the SXSW panel on tech media's failings, Swisher seemed just as hard on herself: ''More and more, as I've thought about our new endeavor, at some point, we're going to have to start pissing people off more. And I think about that a lot. Sometimes I see people and I think: Soon, I'm going to screw you. I do, I think that a lot more '... Things are going to have to start to get a little tougher.''
*This article appears in the July 14, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.
Google's Smith Is Top Candidate for U.S. Chief Technology Officer - Bloomberg
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00
Google Inc. (GOOG) executive Megan Smith is close to heading to the White House.
Smith, 49, who was most recently a vice president at Google's X lab, is a top candidate for the role of U.S. chief technology officer, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.
Smith would become the third person to fill the CTO job, after Aneesh Chopra and Todd Park, who recently resigned and is returning home to California this month. Park will take on a new role for President Barack Obama's administration as a technology adviser based in Silicon Valley, the White House said yesterday.
Courtney Hohne, a spokeswoman at Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment. A White House official declined to comment and Smith didn't return requests for comment.
The CTO serves as a kind of White House chief geek-in-residence, tasked with overseeing the government's use of technology, including finding ways to create jobs and increase the use of broadband.
Park helped to lead the effort to fix the much maligned Obamacare portal, HealthCare.gov. He also helped start the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which teams government officials with private-sector individuals on various projects.
''I thank Todd for his service as my chief technology officer, and look forward to his continuing to help us deploy the best people and ideas from the tech community in service of the American people,'' Obama said in a statement.
Smith joined Google in 2003. As vice president of business development, she oversaw many of its most important acquisitions, like Keyhole, the service that underlies Google Earth. She has led the company's philanthropic division, Google.org, and served as a co-host for Google's Solve for X forum, where distinguished thinkers and scientists brainstorm radical technology ideas with Google executives.
Before joining Google, Smith was chief executive officer of Planet Out, a site for gay and lesbian Internet users. She got undergraduate and Masters degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been active in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which inspires kids to get involved in the field of technology.
To contact the reporters on this story: Brad Stone in San Francisco at bstone12@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net Jillian Ward
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The IRS Wants to Take a Bite Out Of Silicon Valley's Free Lunches
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:28
No employee perk in Silicon Valley is as cherished as the gourmet meals dished out in corporate cafeterias. But soon, Google's multimillion dollar chicken tab could come with a tax bill from the IRS.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The IRS, arguing that these freebies are a taxable fringe benefit, has given new attention to the issue in recent months during routine audits of some companies, tax lawyers said. When employers haven't been withholding taxes related to the meals, the IRS increasingly has sought back taxes that can amount to 30% of the meals' fair-market value, the lawyers said.
The recent push to tax catered meals is a "national directive by senior officials," according to theWall Street Journal. In the eyes of both IRS agents and tax professionals, company-provided meals are a fringe benefit, just like the use of a company car for personal purposes.
However, Silicon Valley firms are already pushing back against the tax, and the issue is expected to end up in court.
But it is a complex area of tax law, and there are exceptions. For example, meals can remain untaxed if they are served for a "noncompensatory" reason for the "convenience of the employer."
The exception generally applies to workers in remote locations, such as oil rigs, or in professions where reasonable lunch breaks aren't feasible. A Las Vegas casino won in court over the issue by arguing that stringent security made it impractical for employees to eat outside the premises.
Companies such as Google and Facebook, which are notorious for their lavish cafeterias and ubiquitous snack stations, could argue that free meals are a "time-saving" cost. By providing employees with meals, workers can return to their desks faster than if they left their suburban campuses for lunch. Thus feeding employees minimizes the downtime experienced by eating, boosting productivity and potentially satisfying the "convenience of the employer" exemption.
At least one company has found another more straight-foward way to deal with the tax. An attorney who spoke to the Wall Street Journal said one company simply pays its employees an additional bonus to cover the costs of the meal tax.
Or they could just do away with free food altogether and feed their employees Soylent.
Tocontactthe author of this post, please emailkevin@valleywag.com.
Photo: AP
Shut Up Slave!
Scientists Have Found an Algorithm That Could Turn Us All Into Sheeple
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:16
The sheepdog is truly a superhero. Somehow, it manages to convince a group of uncooperative sheep to move in a particular direction. It sounds simple, but it's not as easy as it sounds. What the sheepdog appears to do intuitively has baffled mathematicians.
Most attempts to understand optimal sheepdog behavior start from a theoretical perspective in which an algorithm is pre-defined. Computer models are designed in which each individual within a herd moves according to simple rules of attraction (to each other) and repulsion (from a shepherd), derived from studies of collective animal behavior, while the shepherd gets a different set of instructions.
In one such algorithm, the shepherd sweeps back and forth behind the herd, slowly nudging it towards the desired goal. That seems like a reasonable strategy, since that's what sheepdogs look like they're doing. And that sort of strategy works, but only for herds containing fewer than 40 individuals. Any larger, and it's too easy for the herd to break into sub-groups, leading to failure.
But a single real life sheepdog can effortlessly move more than 80 individuals, both in everyday working situations and in herding competitions. "So, what are the sheepdogs doing that the [computerized] agent shepherds (or the flocking agents) are not?" That's what a group of Swedish and British researchers led by Andrew J. King wondered.
Nature Will Find A WayKing's approach was unique in that he began with basic animal behavior observations, rather than with theoretical assumptions. His research group outfitted a herd of 46 three-year-old female merino sheep with small backpacks containing GPS transmitters. The sheepdog, a trained female Australian Kelpie '' a working farmdog '' was also given a GPS tracker. For each trial, the dog was simply verbally instructed to move the sheep to the gate of a 5-hectare (12.3 acre) field.
Then, using data from the GPS trackers, the researchers derived a mathematical model describing the rules governing the movement of both the computerized sheep and a computerized shepherd.
What they found was that sheepdogs use just two simple rules: when the sheep are dispersed, she moves them together. They called that collecting. When the sheep are already aggregated, she moves them forward. That's called driving. If one sheep strays too far away from the group's center, then the dog shifts from driving to collecting. Once that sheep is close enough to the rest of the herd, the dog shifts from collecting to driving.
"At every time step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not. If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it's already cohesive the dog will push the herd towards the target," said the study's lead author, Daniel Str¶mbom in a statement.
King explains that they started by thinking about what the dog could actually see as they developed their model. "It basically sees white, fluffy things in front of it. If the dogs sees gaps between the sheep, or the gaps are getting bigger, the dog needs to bring them together," he said. Dogs, after all, don't have a bird's-eye view of the flock.
By appearance alone, the dog's behavior is very similar to the sweeping back and forth of earlier efforts to understand the shepherding algorithm. But by starting from actual animal behavior rather than a theoretical model, King and his colleagues were able to more accurately define the rules that guide the dog's behavior, resulting in computerized shepherds that, like sheepdogs, can herd groups of more than 100 individuals. In other words, their algorithms produce shepherds that act more like actual sheepdogs.
Compare the behavior of the digital dog and sheep on the right in the video below, with the behavior of the actual dog and sheep on the left, to see how the researchers' algorithm accurately reflects real animal behavior.
I, For One, Welcome Our Robot OverlordsCracking the sheepdog's code isn't just an exercise in understanding animal behavior. The researchers think that having a more effective, efficient mathematical model for shepherds has important implications for robotics. Some more obvious applications of the algorithm are for robot-assisted herding of livestock, or for keeping animals away from sensitive areas, like airports. But King stresses, "we never said we wanted to replace sheepdogs with robots!" This would be useful instead where a living dog would be impractical or undesirable.
More interesting is the notion that groups of robots could be shepherded by an additional robot. Rather than implement instructions within each robot to guide a group to a target, "a simple alternative," the researchers write, "is to shepherd such groups'...this would be particularly useful for guiding robots back to a base after completion of some task."
They also propose that their sheepdog-derived collecting-driving algorithm would be useful for multi-robot systems designed to clean up marine oil spills, and to contain spills from spreading wider.
Finally, King and his group suspect that the sheepdog algorithm would prove tremendously useful for human crowd control, especially in situations in which groups of people have little information or are likely to imitate the behavior of others. "This is especially common where visibility is poor, and people need to escape from a smoky room," they say. It also seems useful more generally for any emergency situation in which people need to be efficiently driven away from some hazard or danger: explosive devices, shooters, gas leaks. "In such situations, it may be possible to herd the movements of people to exits using a shepherd robot," they add.
[Journal of the Royal Society: Interface]
Header image: Bird's-eye view of a flock of sheep, copyright S. Hailes. Used with permission.
Drone, ham radio destroyed amid headbutting assault | KXAN.com
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:24
By KXAN NewsPublished: September 2, 2014, 3:41 pmUpdated: September 2, 2014, 6:25 pm
AUSTIN (KXAN) '' An Austin man is facing charges after police say he tossed a drone and a ham radio over the fence because he was tired of his neighbor ''getting in his head.''
Steven Anthony Garza faces an assault charge in connection with the incident. According to the arrest affidavit filed by Austin Police, Garza stormed into Matthew Hammons' yard while Hammons was using his amateur radio equipment to talk with his father. Hammons told police Garza charged him while making gestures indicating he was looking to fight. Hammons told officers Garza first broke his radio's antenna and then headbutted him; Hammons went inside.
While inside his home, Hammons told police he watched as Garza threw his Yaesu 857D radio and a personal DJI Phantom drone over the fence causing $4,000 in damage.
Garza told the officers Hammons was using the equipment to spy on him and was using ''triangulation'' to speak to him in his head.
Garza was arrested and booked into the Travis County Jail on charges of assault causing bodily injury and criminal mischief. He was still in jail in lieu of $10,000 bond at the time this story was published.
In 1951, the FBI recruited Alaskan amateur radio operators for underground resistance after a Soviet invasion of Alaska
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:27
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Taraxacum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:22
Taraxacum// is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North and South America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide.[2] Both species are edible in their entirety.[3] The common name dandelion (//DAN-di-ly-Én, from Frenchdent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth") is given to members of the genus, and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.[4]
Description[edit]The species of Taraxacum are tap-rootedbiennial or perennialherbaceous plants, native to temperate areas of the Old and New Worlds.[clarification needed]
The leaves are 5''25 cm long or longer, simple and basal, entire or lobed, forming a rosette above the central taproot. The flower heads are yellow to orange coloured, and are open in the daytime but closed at night. The heads are borne singly on a hollow stem (scape) that rises 1''10 cm or more[2] above the leaves and exudes a milky latex when broken. A rosette may produce several flowering stems at a time. The flower heads are 2''5 cm in diameter and consist entirely of ray florets. The flower heads mature into spherical seed heads called "blowballs"[5] or "clocks" (in both British and American English)[6][7][8][9] containing many single-seeded fruits called achenes. Each achene is attached to a pappus of fine hairs, which enable wind-aided dispersal over long distances.
The flower head is surrounded by bracts (sometimes mistakenly called sepals) in two series. The inner bracts are erect until the seeds mature, then flex downward to allow the seeds to disperse; the outer bracts are always reflexed downward. Some species drop the "parachute" from the achenes; the hair-like parachutes are called pappus, and they are modified sepals. Between the pappus and the achene, there is a stalk called a beak, which elongates as the fruit matures. The beak breaks off from the achene quite easily, separating the seed from the parachute.
Seed dispersal[edit]A number of species of Taraxacum are seed dispersed ruderals that rapidly colonize disturbed soil, especially the common dandelion (T. officinale), which has been introduced over much of the temperate world. After flowering is finished, the dandelion flower head dries out for a day or two. The dried petals and stamens drop off, the bracts reflex (curve backwards), and the parachute ball opens into a full sphere.
False dandelions[edit]Many similar plants in the Asteraceae family with yellow flowers are sometimes known as "false dandelions". Dandelions are very similar to catsears (Hypochaeris). Both plants carry similar flowers, which form into windborne seeds. However, dandelion flowers are borne singly on unbranched, hairless and leafless, hollow stems, while catsear flowering stems are branched, solid and carry bracts. Both plants have a basal rosette of leaves and a central taproot. However, the leaves of dandelions are smooth or glabrous, whereas those of catsears are coarsely hairy.
Other plants with superficially similar flowers include hawkweeds (Hieracium) and hawksbeards (Crepis). These are readily distinguished by branched flowering stems, which are usually hairy and bear leaves.
Classification[edit]The genus is taxonomically complex, with some botanists dividing the group into about 34 macrospecies, and about 2000 microspecies;[10] approximately 235 apomictic and polyploid microspecies have been recorded in Great Britain and Ireland.[11] Some botanists take a much narrower view and only accept a total of about 60 species.[10]
Selected species[edit]Taraxacum albidum, a white-flowering Japanese dandelion.Taraxacum brevicorniculatum, frequently mis-identified as Taraxacum kok-saghyz, and a poor rubber producerTaraxacum californicum, the endangered California dandelionTaraxacum centrasiaticum, the Xinjiang dandelionTaraxacum platycarpum, the Korean dandelionTaraxacum japonicum, Japanese dandelion. No ring of smallish, downward-turned leaves under the flowerhead.Taraxacum kok-saghyz, Russian dandelion, which produces rubber[12]Taraxacum laevigatum, Red-seeded dandelion; achenes reddish brown and leaves deeply cut throughout length. Inner bracts' tips are hooded.Taraxacum officinale (syn. T. officinale subsp. vulgare), common dandelion. Found in many forms.Taraxacum ceratophorum, Northern dandelion[14]Cultivars[edit]'Am(C)lior(C) Coeur Plein' - Yields an abundant crop without taking up much ground, and tends to blanch itself naturally, due to its clumping growth habit.'Broad Leaved' - The leaves are thick and tender and easily blanched. In rich soils they can be up to 60 cm wide. Plants do not go to seed as quickly as French types.'Vert de Montmagny'- Long dark green leaves, some find them mild enough to be palatable without blanching. Vigorous and productive.[15]History[edit]Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia.[16] They have been used by humans for food and as a herb for much of recorded history.[17]
The Latin name Taraxacum originates in medieval Persian writings on pharmacy. The Persian scientist Al-Razi around 900 (A.D.) wrote "the tarashaquq is like chicory". The Persian scientist and philosopher Ibn SÄnā around 1000 (A.D.) wrote a book chapter on Taraxacum. Gerard of Cremona, in translating Arabic to Latin around 1170, spelled it tarasacon.[18]
The English name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French dent de lion[19] meaning "lion's tooth", referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. The plant is also known as blowball, cankerwort, doon-head-clock, witch's gowan, milk witch, lion's-tooth, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, monks-head, priest's-crown and puff-ball;[20] other common names include faceclock, pee-a-bed, wet-a-bed,[21]swine's snout,[22] white endive, and wild endive.[23]
"The English folk name for the plant "piss-a-bed" refers to the strong diuretic effect of the plant's roots.[24] In various north-eastern Italian dialects, the plant is known as pisacan ("dog pisses"), because they are found at the side of pavements.[25]
In Swedish, it is called maskros ('worm rose') after the small insects (thrips) usually present in the flowers.[26]
Properties[edit]Edibility[edit]Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered for food since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness.[17] or sauteed in the same way as spinach.[27] Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called Mari (Î'αρί), Mariaki (Î'αριάκι) or Koproradiko (ΚÎÏρÎράδικÎ) are eaten by locals, either raw or boiled, in salads. Taraxacum megalorhizon, a species endemic to Crete, is eaten in the same way; it is found only at high altitudes (1000 to 1600 m.) and in fallow sites, and is called pentaramia (ÏενÏαράμια) or agrioradiko (αÎ"ριÎράδικÎ).[28]
The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee.[29] Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.
Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.[30]
Medicinal uses[edit]Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds.[31] Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America and China.[31] It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems,[31] and as a diuretic.[31]
Food for wildlife[edit]Taraxacum seeds are an important food source for certain birds.[32]
Dandelions are also important plants for northern hemisphere bees, providing an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season.[33] Dandelions are used as food plants by the larvae of some species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). See List of Lepidoptera that feed on dandelions. They are also used as a source of nectar by the pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), one of the earliest emerging butterflies in the spring.
Benefits to gardeners[edit]The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinatinginsects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen.[34]
Cultural importance[edit]Four dandelion flowers are the emblem of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.[35] The citizens celebrate spring with an annual Dandelion Festival.
The dandelion is the official flower of the University of Rochester and "Dandelion Yellow" is one of the school's official colors. The Dandelion Yellow is an official University of Rochester song.[36]
Dangers[edit]Dandelion pollen may cause allergic reactions when eaten, or adverse skin reactions in sensitive individuals. Contact dermatitis after handling has also been reported, probably from the latex in the stems and leaves.[37] Due to its high potassium level, dandelion can also increase the risk of hyperkalemia when taken with potassium-sparing diuretics.[38] The consumption of dandelion leaves has also been implicated in occurrences of fasciolosis.[39]
As a noxious weed[edit]The species Taraxacum officinale is listed as a noxious weed in some jurisdictions,[40] and is considered to be a nuisance in residential and recreational lawns in North America.[41] It is also an important weed in agriculture and causes significant economic damage because of its infestation in many crops worldwide.[40]
As source of natural rubber[edit]Dandelions secrete latex when the tissues are cut or broken, yet in the wild type the latex content is low and varies greatly. Using modern cultivation methods and optimization techniques scientists in the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Germany developed a cultivar that is suitable for commercial production of natural rubber. The latex produced exhibits the same quality as the natural rubber from rubber trees.[42] In collaboration with Continental Tires, IME is building a pilot facility. The first prototype test tires made with blends from dandelion-rubber are scheduled to be tested on public roads over the next few years.[43]
See also[edit]References[edit]^Adrian John Richards (1985). "Sectional nomenclature in Taraxacum (Asteraceae)". Taxon34 (4): 633''644. JSTOR 1222201. ^ abLuc Brouillet. "Taraxacum F. H. Wiggers, Prim. Fl. Holsat. 56. 1780". Flora of North America. ^"Wild About Dandelions". Mother Earth News. ^J. Doll & T. Trower. "Dandelion". WeedScience. University of Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. ^"blowball". McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2003. Retrieved 26 January 2013. ^[1]^[2]^"dandelion clock - Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online". Ldoceonline.com. Retrieved 2010-07-03. ^[3]^ abA. J. Richards (1970). "Eutriploid facultative agamospermy in Taraxacum". New Phytologist69 (3): 761''774. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1970.tb02461.x. JSTOR 2430530. ^Richards, A.J. (1997). Dandelions of Great Britain and Ireland (Handbooks for Field Identification). BSBI Publications. p. 330. ISBN 978-0-901158-25-3. ^"Plants for a future: Taraxacum kok-saghiz". ^"Flora of North America". Efloras.org. Retrieved 2012-08-29. ^"Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute - Taraxacum ceratophorum". Retrieved 2013-08-29. ^"Dandelion cultivars". Edible Plants. January 27, 2011. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-29. ^"Gardening in Western Washington: Dandelions". Gardening.wsu.edu. 2003-05-04. Retrieved 2012-08-29. ^ abMcGee, Harold (2004). "A survey of common vegetables". On Food and Cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen. New York: Scribner. p. 320. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. ^Reported in An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter W. Skeat (1888) (Downloadable at Archive.org). In An Etymology Dictionary of Modern English by Ernest Weekley (1921) it is reported that Arabic tarashaqun is derivable in turn from Persian talkh chakok, bitter herb (Downloadable at Archive.org).^S. Potter & L. Sargent (1973) Pedigree: essays on the etymology of words from nature. Collins New Naturalist series Volume 56^Britton, N. F.; Brown, Addison (1970). An illustrated flora of the northern United States and Canada: from Newfoundland to the parallel of the southern boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102d meridian. New York: Dover Publications. p. 315. ISBN 0-486-22644-1. ^"Common Dandelion_Family: Asteraceae". ^Loewer, Peter (2001). Solving weed problems. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press. p. 210. ISBN 1-58574-274-0. ^Jonas: Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (c) 2005, Elsevier.^Taylor, Joseph (1819). Antiquitates curiosae: the etymology of many remarkable old sayings, proverbs and singular customs explained by Joseph Taylor (2nd ed.). T&J Allman. p. 97. Retrieved 25 May 2010. ^Anon. "Dandelion - far more than a weed". Frapez.com. Frapez soothie spa. Retrieved 30 May 2010. ^"Den virtuella floran: Taraxacum F. H. Wigg. - Maskrosor" (in Swedish). Linnaeus.nrm.se. Retrieved 2010-07-03. ^[4]^Kleonikos G. Stavridakis , ΚÎ>>εόνικÎς Î'. ΣÏαυριδάκης (2006). Wild edible plants of Crete - Η ΆÎ"ρια βρώσιμη χÎ>>ωρίδα Ïης ΚρήÏης. Rethymnon Crete. ISBN 960-631-179-1. ^Castronovo Fusco, MA (2008-04-15). "Dandelion as underrated as underfoot". New Jersey On-Line. Retrieved 2011-03-07. ^"Dandelion greens, raw". Nutritiondata.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07. ^ abcdKatrin Sch¼tz, Reinhold Carle & Andreas Schieber (2006). "Taraxacum'--a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile". Journal of Ethnopharmacology107 (3): 313''323. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.021. PMID 16950583. ^D. L. Buckingham and W. J. Peach (2005). "The influence of livestock management on habitat quality for farmland birds". Animal Science81: 199''203. doi:10.1079/asc50700199. ^Pellett, Frank Chapman (1920). American Honey Plants; Together With Those Which Are of Special Value to the Beekeeper as Sources of Pollen. American Bee Journal Publication. p. 178. ISBN 1-152-86271-5. ^Anon. "Companion Planting for Vegetables & Plants". Country living and farm lifestyles. countryfarm-lifestyles.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07. ^"Welcome to Main Street White Sulphur Springs...Make it home". Wssmainstreet.org. Retrieved 2010-07-03. ^"Songs of the University of Rochester". Lib.rochester.edu. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-07-03. ^Bill Church (2006). Medicinal Plants, Trees, & Shrubs of Appalachia '' A Field Guide. Lulu.com. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-4116-4486-1. [unreliable source?]^Lourdes Rodriguez-Fragoso, Jorge Reyes-Esparza, Scott W. Burchiel, Dea Herrera-Ruiz & Eliseo Torres (2008). "Risks and benefits of commonly used herbal medicines in Mexico". Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology227 (1): 125''135. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2007.10.005. PMC 2322858. PMID 18037151. ^Dieter A. St¼rchler (2006). Exposure: a Guide to Sources of Infections. ASM Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-55581-376-5. ^ abStewart-Wade, S.M.; S. Newmann, L.L.Collins, G.J. Boland (2002). "The biology of Canadian weeds. 117. Taraxacum officinale G.H. Weber ex Wiggers". Canadian Journal of Plant Science82: 825''853. doi:10.4141/P01-010. ^Richardson, Jonathan (1985). "In praise of the archenemy". Audubon87: 37''39. ^"Making Rubber from Dandelion Juice". sciencedaily.com. sciencedaily.com. Retrieved 22 November 2013. ^"Fraunhofer and Continental come together when the dandelion rubber meets the road". Retrieved 31 May 2014. External links[edit]
Lois Lerner's emails aren't missing after all, lawyers say | Mobile Washington Examiner
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:58
Attorneys for the Justice Department say that they have copies of every electronic message ever sent from Lois Lerner, a former top IRS official who is a key figure in a targeting scandal involving conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Government lawyers have told a watchdog group suing over the Internal Revenue Service scandal that Lois Lerner's emails aren't missing after all.
Attorneys for the Justice Department surprised Judicial Watch, a right-leaning watchdog group, on Friday by saying that they have copies of every electronic message ever sent from Lerner, a former top IRS official who is a key figure in a targeting scandal involving conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status.
The IRS told Congress that thousands of Lerner's emails sent prior to 2011 were hopelessly lost thanks to a hard drive crash that left the data unrecoverable. A back-up system, they said, had also been erased. Officials told Congress about a half dozen IRS officials in addition to Lerner, some affiliated with the targeting, had also lost emails due to computer crashes.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Justice Department lawyers informed him that the federal government keeps a back-up copy of every email and record in the event of a government-wide catastrophe.
The back-up system includes the IRS emails, too.
''So, the emails may inconvenient to access, but they are not gone with the [broken] hard drive,'' Judicial Watch spokeswoman Jill Farrell told the Washington Examiner.
Judicial Watch is now seeking the release of the emails, which Justice Department lawyers say would be hard to find because of the significant size of the backup system.
House lawmakers in May voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about accusations that she helped to orchestrate a targeting scheme against right-leaning and Tea Party groups applying for 501(c)(4) status.
House Republicans investigating the matter subpoenaed Lerner's records and emails, but learned from the IRS in June that it had lost most of the emails she sent before 2011 because of the computer crash.
According to Fitton, the attorneys told him the backup system would be ''too onerous to search,'' but acknowledged that Treasury Department inspectors were investigating it.
''This is a jaw-dropping revelation,'' Fitton said in a statement. ''The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner's missing emails.''
Justice Department officials have not yet responded to a request for comment by the Examiner.
Editor's note: Judicial Watch is representing the Washington Examiner in the newspaper's federal lawsuit seeking access to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau records under FOIA.
IRS Shocker: Filing Reveals Lois Lerner Blackberry Destroyed | New York Observer
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:32
Lois Lerner, the IRS head whose Blackberry was destroyed along with her hard drives. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
The IRS filing in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan's court reveals shocking new information. The IRS destroyed Lerner's Blackberry AFTER it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. As an IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury, the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner's hard drive.
We all know by now that Lois Lerner's hard drive crashed in June 2011 and was destroyed by IRS. The emails of up to twenty other related IRS officials were missing in remarkably similar ''crashes,'' leading many to speculate that Lois Lerner's Blackberry perhaps held the key. Now, the Observer can confirm that a year after the infamous hard drive crash, the IRS destroyed Ms. Lerner's Blackberry'--and without making any effort to retain the emails from it.
Judge Sullivan has had to pry information from the IRS to learn anything about Ms. Lerner's Blackberry. Now, with these latest revelations, I'm confident he's not finished.
In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her ''Outlook'' and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.
With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry ''was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.'' This is a year after her hard drive ''crash'' and months after the Congressional inquiry began.
The IRS did not even attempt to retrieve that data. It cavalierly recites: ''There is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this investigation,'' according to Stephen Manning, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Strategy & Modernization.
Lerner was issued another Blackberry for Valentine's Day 2012'--also after she came under fire for her targeting
A Blackberry Q10 (Kārlis Dambrāns '' Flickr: Licensed under Creative Commons/Wikimedia Commons)
of conservative groups. The IRS still has that Blackberry. It's now in the possession of the Inspector General of the Treasury, but the new device would not have the data from the prior three years. That was most likely the point of getting the new device.
According to Mr. Manning, however: ''standard IRS practice and policy in the collection of electronic data does not include collecting data from Blackberry devices because the email of a Blackberry user is collected through the process of collecting the contents of the user's Outlook mailbox files.'' Notably, the affidavit does not explain IRS standard procedure for handling the technology of individuals who are the subject of Congressional oversight hearings or of retrieving data on a Blackberry after its owner's computer has crashed. One would think that was a ''no-brainer.''
This most recent revelation of destruction of evidence and refusal to retain data and documents despite a Congressional inquiry is beyond outrageous. It screams of guilt and creates a presumption in the law that the evidence would prove what those who were targeted and harassed claim. Judge Sullivan, like most Americans, wants the ''missing'' emails that we all know are there somewhere.
Aside from the fact the IRS was required to keep hard copies, we now know they should exist on Blackberry servers as well as Google and perhaps others. Indeed, the Department of Justice has disclosed that they all should be on a government server'--as we suspected.
Judge Sullivan has already appointed federal Magistrate Judge John Facciola to assist the parties in finding the emails on other devices. Between the two of them, they can demand production of the emails from the servers, and there are still more questions to answer.
What are all the servers the emails went through? Blackberry is touted as the most secure, so surely the emails should be found there. All of the data on her current Blackberry should be provided immediately to Judge Sullivan, for whatever insight it might provide. There's no reason for the IRS to hold out on that. It should be given to Darrell Issa and Congress also. Nothing required in the production of the emails through the Blackberry could possibly hamper the Inspector General's investigation.
And what about ''ghost'' email accounts? The IRS should be able to determine, or Judge Sullivan can, whether any of the officials whose emails are missing used personal accounts or other names for business emails they didn't want going through the federal system even though they were required to do so.
One thing is clear: the IRS has no interest in recovering the emails. It has deliberately destroyed evidence and another direct source of the emails it claims were ''lost.'' It has been blatantly negligent if not criminal in faiing to preserve evidence and destroying it instead.
Don't be surprised if Judge Sullivan decides it's time to order production of everything on that Blackberry, issue subpoenas to third party servers including Blackberry for the dates covered by the Blackberry the IRS destroyed, unleash Judge Facciola, allow Judicial Watch more discovery, prohibit the IRS from destroying anything else, and start a list of lawyers who would make a good special prosecutor.
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:06
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Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:41
VIDEO_An open letter to Barack Obama: World War III is here | Fox News
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:25
Dear Mr. President,
It's been quite a summer. The world is not a pretty place right now but I see you have had a chance to play golf. In fact you've played golf through the worst of it. Right after announcing that American journalist James Foley had been beheaded.
Now I play golf and I enjoy it. But I'm not president of the United States'... so I have a little more time.
But I digress. Let's skip on down to the really important part... I hope you'll read closely. There will be a quiz.
We are at war, sir, whether you like it or not.
One of your predecessors said this when our country was being threatened'...
"Hostilities exist. There is no blinking to the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. I ask that that congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Empire of Japan. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. With confidence in our armed forces, with the un bounding determination of our people-we will gain the inevitable triumph--so help us God."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt uttered those words on a December day almost 73 years ago.
In the name of that same God invoked so eloquently and powerfully by that president, I ask that you, Mr. President -- if you're not too busy playing golf, campaigning, orchestrating the cover ups of all the "phony scandals," and just being cool -- could again declare war on the enemies who have unleashed "unprovoked and dastardly attacks" on the United States.
This summer we have now seen two American journalists beheaded by the ''Islamic State'' '' ISIS or IL or IS. We are at war, sir, whether you like it or not.
Over 2,400 members of the United States military were killed that December morning long ago, in an attack not really on the United States mainland. It happened in Hawaii. I know you are familiar with Hawaii. The Aloha State was just a territory of the United States at that time.
That war would last for 4 long years and would kill 60 to 80 million people, including 291,557 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
That terrible toll was exacted in a war wherein the enemy combatants of the Axis powers, Japan, Germany, and Italy, had no means whatsoever of successfully mounting a military strike against the United States homeland.
Even if we hadn't won the war, and even if we hadn't captured/liberated Werner Von Braun and the other German scientists at Peenemunde before the Russians got to them, it would have been at least 10-15 years before Germany would have had a rocket/missile capable of reaching the U. S. mainland. And yet President Roosevelt galvanized, mobilized, and energized, and united the American people like never before.
Then America, in its "righteous might" unsheathed and unleashed the most devastating war machine in the history of mankind.
Guess what Mr. President, THE GOOD GUYS WON!! They won because President Roosevelt had the "cojones" to "pull the trigger," giving no thought to his legacy, but giving thought only to the preservation of the American way of life.
Forget the fun on the golf course, Mr. President. Does that way of life mean anything to you, sir, or are you still so hell bent on "fundamentally changing" the American way of life that you cannot, or will not, change course and "pull the trigger?"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that, for Israel, the question of the current conflict with the enemies of Israel is an existential one.
In my opinion, sir, and in the opinions of most of the grown-ups in our military apparatus, and other expert military analysts, the United States is now engaged -- or not really engaged -- in no less an existential conflict.
Please pay attention sir. It's not your shot yet. It's Alonzo's shot.We are being told every night on TV that the American people don't have the stomach for more war 10,000 miles away. Well sir, I think you should conduct another of your seemingly endless polls and ask those Americans a few simple questions:
Do Americans have the stomach to see planes crash into our buildings again, or citizens running through the streets of New York City with the residue of those buildings and the ashes of those who were burned alive on their faces again, or a man and wife holding hands and jumping out of an 80th story window, together, to keep from being burned alive again?
Sir, why don't you ask Americans these simple questions and see what their answers are.
Whether you like it or not sir, World War III has already started and it is time for America to "take arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing," try to keep 9/11 and other attacks on America from happening again.
From 1941-45, 291,557 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines died to defeat an enemy that had absolutely no means of attacking the United States mainland. And now, we are being told that after more than 10 years of fighting those ruthless bastards in Iraq and Afghanistan where "only" 6,802 of our warriors have been killed, America doesn't have the stomach to go do what needs to be done?
Please understand the context of the word "only." With all my heart I thank all thank these warriors and their families for the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make. And now we are giving up the fight? We are surrendering? We are being told that AMERICA DOESNT HAVE THE STOMACH TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE????????
Well sir, you need to have enough stomach, GUTS, COJONES for all of us. It's called LEADERSHIP!!
If that is so, that America doesn't have the stomach to do what needs to be done, I say shame on us, and especially, shame on you, Mr. President. We deserve what we will get.
I believe that it is time for America to go on wartime footing, all the way up to and including a "peacetime" draft if necessary. Heck, pay the soldiers what congressmen, senators, and your White House spin doctors make.
Go save Iraq -- AGAIN. Take 20% of their oil revenue until the money we have spent freeing them -- TWICE -- is paid back. Leave a residual force there to keep this from happening again (see Japan, Germany, and Italy) and tell anyone who doesn't like it to kiss AMERICA's happy, safe rear end.
I am 66 years old, I'm in pretty damn good shape and I will go right now. I've lived a good life and I want my granddaughters to have the chance to live one too.
I was #296 during Vietnam... I didn't have to go, but I would have gone if I had been called.
I will go now if called'... Unfortunately, I know that I never will be called, so I will answer a different call.
I will call on you, Mr. President. Do you have the stomach to lead our scared, uncertain, worried, "tired of war" American citizens in a fight to the death against the Islamic murderers, even if the "tide of public opinion" is against it?
Anyone can lead people who are willing and eager to go. Can you, will you lead people who are not willing, but need to go?
Finally, while it is long past time to start treating our veterans with the dignity and care they deserve, it is also long past time to stop treating our current soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. They have been trained to defend the United States, Mr. President, to the death, if it comes to that.
We have trained them, fed them, housed them, equipped them, armed them, and stationed them in close proximity to hot spots all over the world, in order to be ready for the start of World War III.
Well, Mr. President, WORLD WAR III is here.
It's high time we turn our troops loose to let them GO KILL THE BAD GUYS. Turn them loose, sir, and give America another, "righteous might, so help us God" moment.
Please, sir, before it's too late...
Larry Gatlin is a country music singer and songwriter.
VIDEO-LiveLeak.com - "Terrorist group ISIL reportedly beheads commander over spying for MI6"
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 05:36
Abu Ubaida Almaghribi was accused of reporting information on the ISIL activities, movements, and plans to the UK. According to the terrorist group, he was executed a day after video footage of American journalist James Foley's beheading emerged on the Internet. Almaghribi was the head of the ISIL security in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He was once in charge of a prison where Foley and other Western hostages were held. Abu Ubaida is believed to be a Dutch national of Moroccan descent, although his real identity is not known.
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VIDEO- The Nuclear Scare Scam | Galen Winsor - YouTube
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:00


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